August 3, 2015 Farm News


The very dry weather was finally relieved last night when we had about 2 mm or 3/4 of an inch of rain.  Because of the drought we had been watering quite a bit and though everything really needed a very thorough soaking we haven’t the capacity or access to a large enough reservoir of water to do that.  Instead it is some soaker hoses, a sprinkler or two and a lot of hand watering.  This rainfall has been very nice. It did not come down hard enough at any time to cause any washouts, which was just as well as we have some newly seeded beets which would have been at risk of being widely dispersed had that happened. It is not nearly enough rain, unless we get more within the next few days, within the week for sure, but is very welcome none the less.

In spite of the drought and inadequate watering from us, the garden still looks good.  It would look better and everything would be larger had  it rained earlier. If we could now get some more warm sunshine and more rain then everything will respond and put on a huge growth spurt.  Just what we need.

The animals are all alright but they are running out of pasture due to the drought.  It will take some two or three weeks for the fields to recover adequately but already they are growing back. The somewhat lower temperatures are probably better for pasture plants especially the grasses.

Hope that the photos will load to this blog.  Not quite sure but it seems that they will load better if the blog is published first. so if you look at it early, check back again after an hour or so.  Go to our Facebook page too as we can usually load pictures there more easily, so there should be several of this morning’s photos there.

Happy Monday. Happy whatever holiday this is.  And Happy growing whether it is kids or gardens or both.

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July 27, 2015 Farm News


The usual garden view on this early Monday morning

The usual garden view on this early Monday morning

Another very busy week made all the busier because of the very dry weather making a lot of watering in the garden a very necessary job.  There is a lot to be watered and some things, such as newly seeded or transplanted things and leafies such as chard and lettuce and spinach, require more water and need it more often. We only have garden hoses and water from two wells to use so we have a very limited capacity and not a great deal of pressure. The result is that it takes a lot of time to get watering done. No rain is in the forecast so watering in the garden is going to be an ongoing all important job.

Kale plants looking pretty good.

Kale plants looking pretty good.

The vegetables are growing well though.  So long as we can keep giving the plants their needed water the heat and sunshine this week will really make them grow. The Kale is looking very god and we should be harvesting it this week. More beans too.

Chickens, ducks, sheep, donkey, cows and horses are al doing fine.  The pastures are not however.  The pastures really do need a lot of rain and soon or we will have to start feeding out hay and then we will be into our winter food supply and that is not good.  We did bring up some more loose hay from our neighbours but only a small amount and it had been rained on and lain out for a long time. Not the best but it will help.

Still having trouble loading photos to the website so they will appear on Facebook instead.

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July 20, 2015 Farm News


The big news this week was the success of the Celebration of Food event organized by Jennie Rideout, a friend and a masters program student at Laurier Brantford.  This event was for the CSA sharers at our farm.  Jennie had organized this and had made contact with Liaison College, a school for chefs here in Brantford who were persuaded to be a part of the event as a part of their school course.  Five student chefs and two instructors planned and cooked a meal partly made up of ingredients from the farm … veggies, beef, lamb, milk and eggs. We had thought they were going to use only ingredients from the farm but it turned out otherwise and am unsure why.  The meal was excellent none the less and all those in attendance seemed in agreement on that point.

The chefs did all the work of meal preparation but there was considerable other work needed for which we have many volunteers to thank; Jennie first, of course, for getting it organized and for helping with weeding and with general cleanup moving stacks of lumber among other things; Rob Feagan and Max Feagan for the construction of a lovely roomy outhouse built as solid as a brick one for sure; Jake, Max’s friend, who dedicated the better part of a day in assisting with the building of the loo; Rob Feagan for much other work organizing, getting stuff, and being the man behind the successful effort to erect a tarp canopy over the eating area in a pretty stiff breeze;  Peter Farrugia for bringing out supplies, eating utensils and dishes, being available as an extra hand when needed and being the co-conspirator, along with Rob in the erection of the canopy; Bree Akesson for donating some of her honey and doing some running around to get last minute items and being a stalwart member of the canopy up putting team; Paul Mathers for scaling to great heights to make critical tie offs to the canopy and; I’m forgetting who else, I apologize for not mentioning you by name, but thank you too for being a part of this great effort; all hands involved were much needed. The rain of the morning did not return as was threatened, in the afternoon and, except for that stiff breeze, the weather was perfect.

We must also say thank you to all of the CSA veggie sharers who were able to come.  We are considering the possibility of doing another gathering of sorts, perhaps a potluck farm day on a Saturday afternoon in late September.  Maybe we can get more of you out then too.  I am always greatly impressed by the wonderful things that people tell me they have done with the food that we have grown, and hopefully we could get you to bring a little of these great dishes to a pot luck. But all that is only now just at the preliminary thinking about stage.  Any body have wants or suggestions ?

The admission ticket to the event was suggested as $5, or $10 for families, as a farm fund raiser.  We had suggested that we could use the money to help obtain another single row horse drawn cultivator., so we will have to start asking around as to the price and availability. They were somewhat commonly available just last year so hopefully we’ll be able to get one.  The intention is to rig one with a particular set of tools suited for one range of jobs and to rig the second with another set of tools to do very different jobs.  The problem with having one cultivator and changing the tools on the beams is that it takes quite a bit of time to just make the changes, at the very best it would be a half hour, but probably a bit longer … especially if something breaks or goes missing.  Then once installed it must be adjusted to do the job. and readjusted and likely readjusted and after that a test run is done and it might need readjusting once or twice more.  On the other hand it might take just ten minutes to do the change and it will be perfect and … not likely though.  So with two machines,it is a matter of dropping the heel chains from the one walking the horses ’round and hooking the heel chains to the second machine.

Weather has mostly been o.k. for moisture and day time temperatures, but too many nights are really not warm enough for some veggies, peppers in particular are showing signs of stress from too much cold.  The recent very hot weather is really much to the benefit of most of the veggies.  We are still doing reseeding and transplanting and we really need to do a whole lot more weeding as weeds are starting to take over just a bit too much in lots of places.

Thank you to all of those who have been out doing weeding and planting in the garden,  the work done by the volunteers and the working shares in our garden has been vital in our being able to harvest what we have.  I cannot emphasize that near enough. You get us inspired, give us great company and conversation.  Thanks !

Go to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/devonacres for photos.

 

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July 15, 2015 Farm News


A slightly different position for the usual garden view.  Looking down the three beds (nine rows) of carrots in the centre of the picture.

A slightly different position for the usual garden view. Looking down the three beds (nine rows) of carrots in the centre of the picture

I am unable to upload more pictures.  No more time now to do the fix, all attempts so far have not worked.  I’ll try again a little later. Much later.

We have now completed much of the seeding and transplanting.  Weeding, of course, is on going.  Since we have had little rain over the past while, we are watering some of the more sensitive veggies.  The new transplants need a heavy watering at transplant time and again a few days later.  A real good  soaking rain about now (or Tuesday)  will be much appreciated.

We are now going into the third week of CSA vegetable pick ups at the farm.  We have had just a few veggies ready; lettuce, spinach, green onion, peas, carrots Korean mint and a very small amount of garlic scapes.  The broad beans (fava beans) should be ready very soon, perhaps this week, potatoes maybe this week likely the week after.  Kale is about two to three weeks from being ready, purple snap beans ready soon too. The summer squash is coming along very nicely so that too should be ready for harvest in three weeks time. So though we are later than we would have liked on a lot of things, the garden does look very good and we’ll have a very bountiful harvest before long.

We have had another new calf; a little bull calf born to the Canadienne cow June.  He is in excellent shape and both he and his mother will be perfectly fine. So the herd is now up to 12 cattle beast and more calves to come. The new calf is called Julius … what else?

We have used the horses several times this week on the disc and on the single row cultivator working the team mostly in the evening as it is usually cooler and the flies are slightly less of a bother. Aerron finished up at 10 one moonless evening so it was getting very hard to see.  He was making up beds for seeding into and they’ll need  a couple more passes to get them ready. The previous evening was until a quarter to 10, but the moon was bright that night so it was much easier to see what was happening. No time lately do any work with the young colt. The horses are doing well and working better each time we have them harnessed.

Thanks very much to all those who have been out either as volunteers or as part of their working share.  The work done has been crucial, very important to us, cannot emphasise how much.  We hope that all who come here and do work for us in the garden will get satisfaction from the jobs well done and maybe learn a few things as well.

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Farm News July 6, 2015


Early Monday morning garden view.

Early Monday morning garden view.

Our vegetable garden is looking very nice and is steadily filling up.  We are still a little bit behind where we would like to be but things are coming along very well.  We have had two Thursday and one Tuesday CSA vegetable pick ups at the farm. The number of items was small but the quantities of each were large:  Spinach, Lettuce mix, Green Onions, Korean Mint and Garlic Scapes have been available so far.  This week may just be similar.  On the list of vegetables that will be ready very soon, if not this week, then almost certainly next week, are; Broad Beans (also known as Fava or perhaps Butter Beans) and small Carrots.  Potatoes very likely in two weeks time.

That is garlic to the left but those are the broad beans and some of the large pods, still not filled out completely, can be seen on plants near the garlic row.

That is garlic to the left but those are the broad beans and some of the large pods, still not filled out completely, can be seen on plants near the garlic row.

The Onion harvesting gang last Thursday.  the younger ones were very helpful, the very youngest not so much.

The Onion harvesting gang last Thursday. the younger ones were very helpful, the very youngest not so much.

Today Monday we will be bringing up the hay from the neighbours, 49 of the 4 X 5 foot round bales.  Our neighbour will bring them up for us with his tractor and wagon as this will complete the job in a single afternoon.  If we were to do the hauling with horses and wagon it would take us two and likely three days.  We have too much work to be done in the garden to be away from it that long.  The hay was baled the Friday before last but of course got rained on that weekend.  It needed to be left in the field from then until now in order to dry out as much as possible.  Since it is predicted to rain tomorrow we have to get it in now.  The more rain it gets the more it will deteriorate and hopefully the rain that it did take will not have made for too much loss.

The horses in the mist doing an odd little move.

The horses in the mist doing an odd little move.

All of our animals from cats and chickens to goats and horses are doing well.  We still have issues with pasture rotations and fencing problems related to necessarily quickly done work but these are slowly being resolved. It has taken much more time at the wrong time but had to be done.

A view to the right, cultivator resting, the drum roller on behind.

A view to the right, cultivator resting, the drum roller on behind.

We have done much work cultivating with the horses and Aerron usually does this in the evening as it is cooler and the air likely to be stiller so we are often going quite late. Last night it was 10 p.m. when he unharnessed and before that it was a quarter to 10 when he finished up.  Gets a little difficult to see everything though the time before there was strong moonlight.

A wider angled view of the garden.

A wider angled view of the garden.

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June 29, 2015 Farm News


The usual weekly garden view.

The usual weekly garden view.

Sorry, unable to upload any photos to this post.  Don’t know why.  Check our Facebook page.  Hopefully I will be able to load photos there. After having writtenthe previous sentences, I managed to get the photos uploaded by doing a systems restore to my computer.

Lots of rain this past weekend.  Too much rain now.  We really do need some more dry and warm weather so as we can get at the weeds that have been germinating and growing madly with all the rain and to do more planting.  Aerron and the team of Nell and Marta on the single row horse cultivator went over the potato patch, all 12 or so rows, and did quite a good job at getting rid of a lot of weeds.  That was the day before the rains.  It had been nice and dry and warm for a few short days and we did get a lot of weeding done with the horses and with much appreciated help from volunteers and working shares, much hand weeding and planting was done.  Many, many thanks to our helpers here; Anca, Jennifer,  Ken, Khanh, Rick and Shawn. Their work has been crucial.

Looking down the recent cultivated potato rows.  Not perfect but most of the weeds have been demolished and in a day or two or three we'll run the cultivators down the rows again and in the meantime will try to do the interplant weeding to get the spuds really nicely cleaned up.

Looking down the recent cultivated potato rows. Not perfect but most of the weeds have been demolished and in a day or two or three we’ll run the cultivators down the rows again and in the meantime will try to do the interplant weeding to get the spuds really nicely cleaned up.

The first of this season’s CSA veggie pick up days was this Thursday passed.  As usual for a first time, it was a bit disorganized, but all went well.  We only had the five veggie items: Green Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Garlic Scapes and Korean Mint.  It will be the same for the pick up on Tuesday (tomorrow). The garlic scapes are in short supply and that will be the last of them as we are still building our stock after having lost much of our garlic last spring.

Looking over the most recent seeded and transplanted portion of the garden.  In that bare-ish patch are seeded and planted Kale, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, carrots and far down at the opposite end a short length of row in Parsnips.

Looking over the most recent seeded and transplanted portion of the garden. In that bare-ish patch are seeded and planted Kale, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, carrots and far down at the opposite end a short length of row in Parsnips.

We have several things that we must get done fast.  First among these is to finish planting all of the veggies.  Second is to get caught up on weeding what is there before it gets unmanageable.  Third is to get a structure, a building erected, so we have a shelter for the pickup days.  And fourthly we have a whole host of other time consuming chores; from fencing for chickens, horses, cows and donkey to more work on the driveway to get it a smoother less damaging ride, to training a year old colt and innumerable little things all of which take time.  And some where in there is 49 of the large round bales, 4 x 4’s, sitting in our neighbours field, waiting for three or four days of decent dry sunny not humid days to get them in a dry enough condition to haul home and stuff in the barn.  If we use horses and wagon and the pickup truck we should be able to manage about 24 bales in four trips in one day, so we’ll need two full days to get the job done.  We might be able to get our neighbour, Laverne, to bring them home for us with his loader tractor and larger wagon, in which case it will likely take about one full day.

All this is nothing new of course as it happens more or less in this fashion every year and we’ll get it all done and things will work out well in the end.  Things should work better this season as we do have a lot of extra help from our working shares and wonderful volunteers.

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June 22, 2015 Farm News


The garden view on sunny Monday. Everything is growing well.

The garden view on sunny Monday. Everything is growing well.

This has been a very busy week for us as we try to get as much planted and seeded as we can and also try to get ahead of weeds.  We have had a lot of help from volunteers and from some of the CSA working shares.  Thanks very much to Anca, Jennifer, Jim, Ken, Mihaela, Khanh and Shawn for spending time doing what can sometimes be tedious and very time consuming work. Planting and seeding is all done by hand so nothing really goes in quickly.  The beds are made, but very roughly, with the horses pulling the single row cultivator with a drum roller attached behind to flatten and break lumps.  We then have to use various hand tools, depending on what is going in, to do the final prep work for seeding or transplanting.Tools include rakes, shovels, wheel hoes with different attachments and plant spacing marker. To get ready for a tiny seed such as carrots we need to do a more careful bed preparation and then lay boards over the seed and mulch the bed heavily. Most everything needs to be watered and sometimes the watering is done into the row beforehand with transplants as well as after seeding or transplanting is complete.

Onions, Broad Beans and more Onions

Onions, Broad Beans and more Onions

"...the old brown mare she ain't what she used to be 20 odd years ago..." Marie mare is recovered from her bout with 'slobbers' but she is still underweight, looking just a little thin and still has a persistent cough.

“…the old brown mare she ain’t what she used to be 20 odd years ago…” Marie mare is recovered from her bout with ‘slobbers’ but she is still underweight, looking just a little thin and still has a persistent cough.

The cows, sheep and horses are on pasture though only the cows are being rotated through properly,  The main flock of chickens still needs to have another run set up to get them on fresh pasture.  So more time in setting up, checking and maintaining fences.

Ducks and water, chickens stay back a bit.

Ducks and water, chickens stay back a bit.

The garden is looking very good and though some things have gone in late we will catch up soon and in a short few weeks will have lots of fresh veggies for the CSA members. We will try to load pictures here but of late WordPress has not been loading properly. I can’t get the picture up that I want.  Check our Facebook page too as we might be able to load more photos there.

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