NOVEMBER 30, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden has gotten pretty cluttered as acquired “stuff” gets piled in the first convenient space.

Around in front of the red SUV another view of the garden. . Cherry trees down the centre with the garlic under the leaves to the left side covering the garlic. The garlic bed on the right beside the cherry trees is poking up quite nicely.

As is usual we were very busy again this past week. The weather has been not so bad really though the temperature is getting lower on average. We had a few dry days too which was very nice and though the thermometer did not read high it was quite warm in the sunshine. Though it started raining here at around 8 a.m. today, Monday, the forecast is for snow a little later on and lasting through Wednesday.  The satellite maps show the snow maybe arriving early evening. It is not forecast to be below freezing for too very much of the time so it seem unlikely that the snow will stay. However it is December tomorrow.

Dandelion flowers are quite rare now. But wait’til May.

The cilantro still is perfectly fine but it has gotten a little flattened and is growing but very slowly.

This week we spent a good bit of time cutting fire wood and also bringing wood in to the woodshed. We have a lot of wood stacked but this season we are going to be pretty close to not having enough. We will be able to get through the next three coldest months and through March but will likely need to find more to get us through April and to the end of the heating season. The hunt is on.

Turnips still looking much the same and as tasty as always.

A Welsummer rooster. He is a pretty good looking one too.

A silver laced Wyandotte hen. They are also a pretty good egg layer and if kept quite comfortable will lay pretty well through the winter.

A Welsumer hen. The details in the feathers are really interesting.

We still need to get the chicken houses fully winterized for the comfort of the chickens but they are not so bad off. We are not so careful now with the ducks, allowing them to roam more or less where they want. We can’t do this with the chickens as they would scratch up around the many places where we really don’t want them to scratch. The ducks don’t scratch but merely snuffle around with there bills doing far less or no damage. Even their big flat webbed feet do little or no damage.

Morning turnout and it is good to have room to stretch one’s wings. Notice the two little curled feathers at the tail. All the drakes have them. the hens don’t.

The two young ducks with the pompadours, the bunch of little feathers on their heads. These two ducks hatched in May. A fine photo from Anca Gaston. Thanks Anca.

A fine closeup of one of the pompadoured ducks. Another really nice photo by Anca Gaston. Thank you again.

One of our three hen ducks, the small one. These three seem to be mostly either buff or more likely Campbell. Although mostly the one rather dull colour there is a lot of tiny exquisite detail in the feathers. This photo also from Anca. Once again thanks.

Aerron and Ashley prepared more rows for next season’s vines, the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers and the like. Shallow trenches were scratched with the plow attachment on the wheel hoe with row spacings of 4 feet. A heavy layer of leaves was placed between the rows with and heavier vegetation, things such as weeds and small branches, were placed on top to help keep the leaves in place. Thanks Ashley for the help.

The squash and vines area for 2021 readied with leaf mulch. No prep work required then except to make sure the seed row is clear and then put the seeds in.

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NOVEMBER 23, 2020


Sunday noon view of the garden at the height of the snowstorm. All of the pictures in today’s post were taken during the snowstorm on Sunday.

WordPress, our site host, I think that is what you’d call it, is frequently changing things, ostensibly improving things, and maybe they are. But it also makes a bloggers job more difficult. So as I prepared to write this week’s blog, meaning I had to figure out once again how to bring up the proper editing and writing tools to get things done, I noticed immediately that the last blog I’d published, I hadn’t. So I tidied it up and hit, for a second time I think, PUBLISH. A week less a day late. I blame, with unsubstantiated evidence, WordPress. Of course I didn’t forget. Why would you suggest that?

Still in the snowstorm looking across the edge of the north gardens at the trees on the fence line

This week past has been somewhat cooler than before and bottomed out on Sunday with a good dumping of snow. Bare ground at 8 a.m. and near six or eight inches of snow by dark. Snow fell all day. Nights this were cool, right around, sometimes just below, freezing, and days were cool but well above freezing at around 10 or so and even a couple of days around 20. So the vegetables still in the garden are doing quite good for this time of the year, and the snow will be gone maybe as soon as this afternoon. Every kale plant will have another leaf by week’s end.

A kale plant just visible under a blanket of snow.

This is chard under the snow. The kale will be unaffected by this snow but the chard while still being alright will have had more leaves looking quite unwell.

The rapini, like the kale, will be fine witht this snowa dn the flowers still liook great. The other rapini variety that we have does not bolt so readily and has much larger leaves.

The broccoli flower buds tend to go purple with the cold and sometimes the flavour of chilled broccoli is not as nice.

A lot of time this past week was spent bringing wood into the wood shed and cutting wood as well. Much of the cut wood was smaller branches that could be cut with the 12 inch blade on the table saw. We filed one end of the shed with a neatly piled stack of branches ready for cutting on the table saw. Our firewood supply is not as good as in previous years and it will be very close this year. We have burned through a good lot already and have been burning wood now only since October 11, a total of only 49 days and I think that for 3 of those days it was warm enough that we did not fire the stove in the morning as is usually done. We’ll likely have to run the stove for at least another 170 days. So we are at least a quarter way through this season’s firewood pile. We’ll scrounge and find enough to keep us warm and the coffee hot until the weather turns hot in May.

The holder flock of ducks . They, unlike the chickens, are perfectly happy t go out in all weathers.

The younger ducks. The drakes can easily be distinguished by the little curled feathers at the base of the tail. The three hen ducks are in the centre of the photo. The one being closest to the camera and the other two are immediately behind her. 

Chickens and ducks do well and sheep, cows and horses are finding a good bit of their food still from pasture though they are getting hay regularly. The poultry houses still need to be winterized but the hens, except for the older ducks and chickens, are still laying quite well.

Looking across the middle field the three horses are standing in a bit of shelter from the trees along the fence line.

 

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NOVEMBER 16, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view mid morning Monday

Another week closer to winter but it was not so bad. The weather has become just a bit cooler though on sunny days quite warm … for a couple of hours in the afternoon almost hot. But that changed on Sunday when it rained and the temperature dropped from around 12.2°C to around 5 or 6 by 7:30 p.m with a bit of snow forecast. But it was Sunday’s very high winds, which for a while between 3 and 5 in the afternoon were at 55 kph, gusting to a high of 81, that were the unusual feature this week. No real damage done other than a unused window placed against the porch wall getting smashed when blown over. Plenty of other things blown around but no damage done. Lots of trees down but have not noticed any around here.

Turnip with mostly huge leaves. The turnip itself, the swollen stem, is white and medium to small in size. Quality is very good though with nice smooth skin, very little or no damage from the root maggot. The leaves also make a great cooked green.

Perpetual spinach. Most likely it will fail to exist in perpetuity though it may come back next year. A very good green to grow.

We still have vegetables growing in the garden. Not quite enough to do the CSA, but quite a bit considering that it is the middle of November. These are the cool season vegetables such as turnip, cabbage, broccoli, kale, lettuce and more. This will all keep growing as long as we do not get it staying too long below freezing and anytime we get above freezing and heading past 10°C.

A chard plant right at the end of the row. There is still a good amount of chard left but leaves are small.

A very small Romaine lettuce which has self seeded.

Red Russian kale.

Radicchio. Like a lot of the coles these are small plants.

Green curled kale. Small plants therefore small leaves so more needed for a bunch. Better quality though.

A nappa or Chinese cabbage. This variety forms a more rounded head.

A different variety of nappa being more cylindrical in shape and taller.

Most of our broccoli is much smaller than these but perfectly good stuff and the leaves are good as well.

Kohl Rabi, small immature plants but nice and tender, not at all woody.

Rapini. Huge tender leaves

Cabbage, small and loose heads at this stage but very tender and perfectly useable.

The Farmall 100 tractor’s motor. The distributor, located alongside, just below the spark plugs, with the black cap, likely needs to be timed properly.

We are trying to do many things and some of it is preparing the gardens for next spring. The garlic, except for a small trial planting, was all planted some time ago and leaf mulch spread on. The leaves were finished on Wednesday. Hopefully they’ll have not all blown off today. We still need to get in our fall planting of potatoes and that needs to be done right away, covered deeply with leaf and straw mulch. that will be another trial planting.

The last 100 feet or so of the three garlic beds now well covered by leaves that stayed put pretty much in spite of Sundays winds.

The truck has been in for repairs for over a week now. Fuel pump, exhaust pipe, back window and fuel filler pipe all need to be repaired. The tractor has not been running. another go at doing the ignition timing is needed. The horses have not been used. the three year old stallion needs to be broke to harness. Or at least to lead. I was going to do the Monty Roberts thing with him this past year but heart surgery got in the way of a lot of things including that. And the tractors. And I haven’t even mentioned building buildings.

Chickens are well and laying a bit. New ducks still laying but usually only 66.6666٭ %. That is the three hens have been laying 2 eggs per day. Old ducks none. New chickens about 80 to 85 %.

A hen sitting on the roost doing a bit of deep preening.

The peacock about 3 feet to the right of the preener. Looking to peck the photographer on the head.

Chickens at their water.

 

 

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NOVEMBER 9, 2020 FARM NEWS


 

Monday morning November 10. A brilliant sunny afternoon with a high today of 22.4 degrees Celcius at 2 p.m.

A little flower and other small plants growing in the crook of an Acer negunda, what we know as a Manitoba Maple. Enough debris has accumulated to provide a bit of soil for these plants at about 3 feet from the ground.

And a little higher up, another 2 feet, at a more distinct crook, are more plants. Looks like maybe Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is one.

The week previous to last week was the last for CSA vegetable pickups for the 2020 growing season. It was a timely last pickup on Thursday, October 29, as the temperature the next overnight went to about -5°C and it became cool and wet the rest of the week. Our first snow this fall was on Sunday evening, November 1, and a very little bit was still on the ground in the morning. But this week past has been superb with near 20°C weather with lots of sunshine. Very un-November like.

Kale, cabbage Nappa and on the far right, broccoli

Nappa cabbage, not the taller variety, regular cabbage to the right and harvested kale further to the right.

Rapini, quite large plants.

Kale, not so large plants but great quality and young and tender.

Brocolli plants just now making small florets. They’ll not likely have time to get nice sized heads so we’ll use them as is and cook up or salad many leaves along with the tiny florets. more like rapini this way.

There are still a lot of vegetables growing in the gardens: lettuce, chicory, carrots, chard, green onions, spinach, cilantro, turnip, parsley, green onion, kale, cabbage, various Asian greens and a few other things too. We’ll sell a bit, we’ll eat a lot, maybe we can freeze much of it though.

A perfect little dandelion flower on a rather small plant though there are several quite huge dandelion plant, no flowers, but wonderful looking leaves, growing throughout our gardens.

Growing not more than a foot or so from the dandelion was this tiny goatsbeard (Tragopogon dubius. Not the other one)

We have collected lots of leaves to go on the garden. Aerron has and still is collecting bagged leaves in the nearby urban subdivisions. A total of just over 1000 so far. Many bags and loose leaves were brought to us by others. So very nice that friends made an extra effort to bring us their leaves. Leaves are an important resource for the garden providing many nutrients. I have not researched this but I suspect that leaves are rich in many minerals that trees dredge up from deep in the soil. When we sell vegetables these minerals and various nutrients are leaving the farm and without things like manure and leaves, that which is sold off would not be replaced. A lot of manure has been moved from the cattle and sheep pens and spread over much of the garden during the past year and that will continue through this winter. We have spread leaves on about two thirds of the garlic and straw mulch will go on top of the leaves. We will spread leaves over the animal manure too and work that into the soil in most areas.

Th leaves on the first two thirds of the three garlic beds are staying in place for the most part in spite of some pretty windy days.

Looking at the garlic beds at about midway with the last 100 foot just visible with few leaves yet and some of the bags of leaves to the side in the centre of the photo.

Our pickup truck, a 1995 GMC Sierra, is getting some repairs made after refusing to start. It is really needed to move a lot of things from manure to wood to leaves and hay. We really make good use of it. We need to fix our tractor too as there are many little jobs we could do with it. Jobs that are really hard and tiring to do by hand and which can be done in a fraction of the time with the tractor. We should get the horses working again too for those small jobs that take more time and for which the extra time spent getting the horses harnessed and unharnessed would be justified.

The truck loaded with a bale of hay for animal feed and pumpkins recovered from bags of leaves. The next day it would not start.

The bull, a shorthorn, munching on the pumpkin. It has taken less than a week and all those pumpkins and more have all been eaten by the cows, the calves, the bull and the sheep.

Trying to break up, to smash, the pumpkins with out getting in with the bull.

The chickens today really liking dust baths in near 23 degree sunshine.

All the animals have benefited from the warm weather and the wet autumn. The cows and sheep really liked all the pumpkins that they had tossed at them. Many thanks to Kari and Russ Bishop, Bishop Family Bees, for bringing two trailer loads of pumpkins, many, maybe most, brought to them by neighbours and friends. We also salvaged a good number from bags of leaves. Aerron also set aside several pumpkins that were interesting and we’ll retrieve seeds for next years planting from these.

Gabriel, chopper of much wood.

Setting up for another swing at the wood, with the two runners, William and Devon, suppliers of wood to be chopped, looking on.

We have a good supply of firewood this year but as usual were far to busy in July to put it into the woodshed and to cut and split it. Another spell of fine weather is nearly done and again we’ve missed an opportunity to get the winter wood under cover. So cutting and splitting continues when we can get at it.

The younger boys are quite good at observing all the rules of safety when wood chopping is in porogress.

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OCTOBER 26, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the gardens but this one taken a couple of days earlier. The calendula flowers in the next photo can be seen in the above photo at the centre on the left side edge.

Calendula flowers with long stems from arugula rocket. They look so good for this late in the season.

Again this week the weather has been quite good with one exceptional day, Friday, when the temperature was over 20°C, for nearly the whole day. We have had much more rain that we immediately need but probably this amount is good for replenishing the aquifer. Another light frost Saturday night/Sunday morning but little damage We have though, already taken off all of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and most everything else was either little damaged or not at all damaged by the several light frosts that we have had.

The pick list this past week. we’ll have just about the same things for our final pickup this week. Amounts have not been specified and we allowed for a ‘take what you think you can use’ policy last week and will again this coming week. For most things anyway.

In this past weeks veg baskets and for this week too. Carrotts, beets, green onion, arugula far right.

Arugula, mustard greens,  green onion, welsh onions, radishes in front.

Daikon radish in front, spinach on the right, Aisian greens on the left

Chard, blue potatoes in front. More potatoes in the green bin to the right with garlic above.

Chinese (Nappa) cabbage, a head making cabbage that has not yet made heads and a bin of Kale on the right.

Chickory plants with roots in the round galvanized tub and more garlic, three different varieties.

Lettuce plants, reds and greens. The bin on the left has chickweed which is the plant growing profusely in this, the ‘basil boat’. Chickweed is a salad green and like all greens is great in stir fries as well.

We have only one more week of this 2020 CSA season. CSA share members will come out to the farm, some on Tuesday and some on Thursday of this the last 2020 CSA vegetable pick up. This will be our 20th week of CSA vegetable pickups this season. We have a pretty good number of different vegetables available this our final week, much the same as the last several weeks actually. It is getting more uncomfortable picking veggies now. We got quite wet two Thursdays back when it rained nearly the whole day but it was not too cold. This time of year of course, we cannot be certain what might happen over the course of just a few days. We could quickly go from a day of calm sunny warm fall weather to wind snow and freezing rain. So it is a good idea that we make this our last week. We are now also very nearly out of vegetables so we’ll soon have nothing to put on the tables anyway.

Beets, I think the yellow variety. They are growing really nicely, getting lots of rain, a good amount of warmth though like most could do with more heat.

Our first planting of spinach is also now doing quite well. spinach does best with lots of water and soil temperatures a bit on the cool side.

The chickens are doing well and though some of the heritage breeds have really fallen off in the number of eggs being laid each day, the new pullets, the hybrid commercial type egg layers, are doing quite well. We have 51 red sex-link hens from Fry’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs and they are now about 25 weeks old. So we have a good supply of eggs right at the moment. 

The hens outside even though it is a real dull day with a threat of rain and cool as well.

This guy does the same thing every morning. Up on the fence, a big crow and then down in with the hens and roosters and the peacock, on the other side.

Here he goes with his cock a doodle. The hens just ignore him.

All the garlic has been planted and some of the first planted garlic has now sprouted. More leaves need to go on the last 200 foot of the garlic rows and then when it is up and growing in the spring we’ll spread straw down as well.

The earliest planted garlic, the music variety, is now poking above the leaves. Little green stems at centre each side of the photo.

Aerron has fetched home well over 600 bags of tree leaves scavenged from the curbside in the nearby urban neighbourhood. And we’ll scavenge more, as much as we can. These leaves will be used as mulch throughout the gardens and around trees, shrubs and bushes. They, along with straw in some places, will be beneficial adding nutrition to the soil and retaining soil moisture for longer and lowering the soil temperature during those real hot summer days. All good things. Leaves also make pretty good litter in the chicken and duck houses though they can some times stain eggs so we’ll have to be careful of that.

Part of the growing pile of bags of leaves. Growing at this end of this garden are beets on the left then carrots in the centre, still growing spinach, and rows of garlic on the right, and in the upper right there are some sweet pepper plants, the end of a 300 foot row.

 

In the immediate foreground is the first 100 feet of 9 rows of garlic, 3 beds, nealy covered with leaves. The next 200 feet has none on yet and the bags of leaves at the side will be spread on this area.

 

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OCTOBER 19, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday view of the garden. A wet day. That is ashes spread on the ground a bit to the right.

Looking down in to the valley. Leucan, Nell and Marta and plenty of nice coloued trees.autumn colour in the leaves.

Each week the heading picture, the first picture in our weekly blog, is about the same, as I stand at approximately the same spot each time. Mostly the picture from one week until the next is not much changed but at this time of the year changes come much quicker and last weeks picture is going to show clear differences from what was seen the week previous. The changes are now sometimes quite significant, such as when the leaves all drop from a tree, or we do a lot of work in a particular spot of the garden. Take note of the changes from week to week.  

The laneway coming up to the veggie pick up area is showing a little muddy today. It was far worse on Thursday as it rained all day long and there was a steady flow of vehicles coming in.

The pick list for Tuesday October 13. This was the list of vegetables available to the CSA sharers that day. In the purple bin is arugula and in the black bin is lettuce with dill flower in front.

The weather this past week has been alright considering it is mid-October. There has been quite a lot of rain which, since the ground was quite dry from the June until September drought, is probably a good thing. The aquifer needs this replenishment. We are still getting a lot of work done. The CSA has this week and one more week before ending for the season. Wet weather and a muddy laneway have been features the last two weeks but we still have had a pretty good selection of vegetables to offer all the CSA members.

On the table for pickup is cabbage s from thinnings, chard bundles, potatoes and nappa cabbage.

More of the vegetables on the table for Tuesday. Tomatoes, sweet pepper, carrots and turnips with the greens, the leaves still on.

We have some nice little lettuces that we’ve just started to harvest, this one is a romaine.

Yesterday, Sunday, Aerron went round with his SUV and picked up bags of leaves that residents of a nearby subdivision had set out at the curb. He managed to snaffle between 180 and 190 bags. Most of them were near full. We’d had some help this past week in distributing the last of last season’s leaves on the newly planted garlic. Nearly one third of the garlic area had leaves spread on it and now that we have more leaves we can finish with the  garlic. Aerron had much appreciated help from some of the working shares with the spreading of the leaves on  the garlic.

The first 100 feet of garlic nearly all covered now with leaves.

About one third of the newly acquired bags of leaves. These will be put on the garlic which is just this side of them. Sunflowers just in front.

The chickens and ducks are all doing fine and the new chickens are finally, within the past three days, laying near to their maximum rate of egg laying with these 50 hens laying over 45 eggs a day now. The three young hen ducks are laying three eggs a day nearly every day so they are doing good too. We need to do a little work on the chicken houses in order to make them more comfortable with minimum air leaks causing uncomfortable drafts on the hens.

Two fine looking roosters though mr. Barnevelder may have a little frost damage on his comb. Mr Orpington does better in the cold weather.

The hens seemed to be enjoying being outside even though it was cool, damp and cloudy. there was no wind and the rain had stopped.

 

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OCTOBER 12, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden view. The leaves have not yet fallen on the fence line trees and the yellow leaves on the Manitoba maples and hackberries have not changed much it seems for the past couple of weeks.

This just looks so nice. The young cherry trees add some height and the flowers, though many were damaged by earlier frosts, still make things so attractive.

The weather has been really good this past week. We have had some nice warm fall days, though the nights have mostly been quite cool. No more frosts though. We had a good selection of vegetables for this weeks CSA pickups, our 17th week too. There were a good lot of tomatoes and we still did not get them all picked. The tomato quality can sometimes be a bit wanting now however, due to the cool weather and those earlier frosts. We had really nice carrots, beets and turnips on offer in nice sized bunches and the roots themselves were mostly good and large. We had lots of greens, things such as Komatsuna, mibuna etc., but also nice carrot, beet and turnip tops , kale , cabbage, nappa (Chinese) cabbage, bok choi and chard. still some sweet and hot peppers and we also had tree mushrooms from the Manitoba maple. We still had plenty of garlic to give out. We had plenty of herbs too, sage, mints, thyme, sorrel.

The CSA pick list for this past Thursdays pickup. We also encouraged as many as we could remember to encourage, to take as much as they thought that they might need. Because of Thanksgiving.

Some of the vegetables available on the tables. Here are carrots, beets, mushrooms and radish. This was not a half of what would eventually be needed for the day.

Dill, nappa cabbage, chard, potato. again, much more chard and nappa would be picked before the evenings end.

Looking out on the vegetable tables from the other, the behind side.

We started our kitchen wood stove for the first time since the spring. Sunday the 11th. That is a real performance as the stove and the stove pipe must be cleaned out first. Even under

ideal circumstances this means a lot of black soot on and around the stove and this time was a little worse than usual as the bag leaked catching the soot that drops as the cleaning brush is pulled up the chimney. An extra amount of soot everywhere which needed a lot of vacuuming and wiping down to clean up. But we fired up the stove and cooked most of Sunday’s Thanksgiving supper on the woodstove. And as a bonus we heated the house. So nice to have that warm spot in the house.

The 20 year old Pioneer Maid cookstove. Amish made near Aylmer. Cleaned up and warming nicely.

Gabriel’s plate looked prettier than mind even with his arm partially blocking the view. I think that theonly items on our plated not from our farm were the Cranberry, cheese in the salad, the turkey, and the squash which came from Don, Paulene and Keith McCallister’s farm Macland Farms on Bethel road. Go there if you need any squash or pumpkin.

The young ducks, actually three ducks, three hens and 6 drakes are now in their new duck house, the one made by Rachel and Anca, thanks again you two and seem quite comfortable and happy there. We can move it on the convenient wheels and have a roll of fencing to set up an enclosure to give them lots of grass and weeds to roam but still keep them a bit contained and safe. the chickens all seem just fine too though we really must get to work and soon winterize their quarters.

The young ducks hatched at the beginning of may. they started laying eggs just last week.

The heritage chicken flock now near two years old and finished laying eggs for the season. They will start back again laying at a pretty good rate in around the end of March net spring.

The garlic, as I think I’ve noted last week, has been planted. If we did no more to it would be just fine but Aerron will go along each side of the rows with the hand plow to throw more earth up on the garlic. We’d then like to place tree leaves down in the trench between the rows and in the spring when the garlic is up and growing we’ll cover with straw so the crop will be well mulched to aid in retaining moisture. We got a pretty good harvest with no irrigation at all doing this method and we did not have to do any weeding. I think that the garlic was hoed with the wheel hoe early this spring just before putting down the straw.

Aerron doing the extra plowing to better cover the newly planted garlic. There are27 rows each 100 feet long that are gone over with this hand plow from each side. Aerron has the thing quite deep so it is no easy task. 5400 feet of row in total..

Mihaela planting garlic. The two of us were just finishing up the last three rows. The cloves are going in 4 inches apart in rows one foot apart and are at a depth of about 2 inches to maybe three inches when all is finished.

 

 

 

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OCTOBER 5, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden pictured on October 5.

Looking back towards the spot from where the previous photo was taken. The dark skies are the clouds that rained on us so long that one day last week. They are moving off to the east.

A very short blog this week as it is late Monday morning, I need to do a dozen things today, all of them taking some time, most will remain not done. It has been really difficult to be able to write my bog. No boring details for you to wade through, suffice to say that if you want to start a blog look very carefully at all the alternatives to WordPress.

The rain approaching. One bed of garlic, 3 by 33 foot rows has been covered  Another bed  (centre left edge) has three, one hundred foot rows, planted with garlic cloves, but still uncovered.

Bee on a mint flower.

It has rained about 30 mm worth this past week which is quite good and probably, no, most certainly, more than we got in the three months of June, July and August. Maybe even including September. Late but still needed for the fall crops and to get the ground table recharged with water.

These transplanted lettuces from this years seed are growing quite nicely and will be ready soon.

These new lettuces are still small but growing well and are ready now.

The fall vegetables including the late planted lettuce are all doing well and the rain has really helped all these vegetables. We could do with more sunshine and more warmth. It is now getting a little long into the fall so we cannot expect too much in the way of warm temperatures. We should have a pretty good variety and quantity of good quality vegetables for the CSA for Thanksgiving.

The garlic planting crew at work planting the variety Music in the first of three beds. William is the lone member of the tam breaking the garlic heads into individual cloves for planting.

The harvest crew, Maggie and Aerron, are seen upper left, harvesting carrots and beets, while the lone member of the garlic planting crew resolutely stuffs cloves into the ground and the four boy garlic head demolition team has paused for a lunch break.

The new hens are starting to lay a little more now and will get up to a much better lay rate soon even though this is exactly the wrong time of the year for them to do so.

Turkeys. It is coming up thanksgiving.

A rather nice rooster and a rather nice laying hen.

Because this is a nice, though very short, row of dill.

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SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden on Sunday

The Turkey flock on their routine scavenging walk through the garden.

The turkeys also regularly show up here in the early morning.

A white Cosmos. We had a real nice selection of flowers this year available for cut flowers. The frost last week badly damaged most, though some of the varied species are frost hardy. at least to a light frost.

As I write this Monday evening it is raining lightly and is the first rain that we’ve had in over a week, a week and more that has been mostly quite warm, at times quite windy and often quite sunny. So the gardens have dried out again and were in need of a good drink. Hopefully we will get a nice rainfall of at least 20 mm. That would do a lot of good. It is supposed to get cool again though and daytime temperatures forecast for high teens and lows overnight of 12 and lower. The long, slow, descent into winter, interrupted by this now passing period of warmth, has resumed.

Devon trying out the brand new duck house from Rachel and Anca.. He and William decided to sleep overnight in there but awoke at midnight to a bright moon. they mistook it for morning a decamped for home where they spent the rest of the night.

These are the chickens hatched from our eggs by Rachel’s Dad and now coming up on 21 weeks, ready to lay very soon, any time really. they are temporarily housed here but will move tonight to the house with the newly acquired pullets.

A busier than normal week. We had to ready quarters for two batches of soon to be acquired chickens. We got 28 hens from our neighbour just a mile down the road. these are older birds now but still laying well and will do so well into the winter. They started their first year of egg laying last fall about this time. We have them living in our old non-road worthy horse trailer which needed some quick repairs before we could install the hens. The second lot of hens are pullets from Frey’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs. We got 51 just this morning and have them installed in the hen house behind our own house. We had 40 two and three year old hens in there and they were laying very poorly. They were moved in with a batch of roosters and in a week or three will be sent off to the poultry processors an we’ll sell them as soup hens for which they’ll be excellent. It took two days of work to clean the hen house.

Some of the 51 new pullets checking out their roomy new house.. These are 18 weeks old so may not lay much for the next 4 weeks.

One of the new pullets. This breed of chicken, it is really a hybrid hen, is an excellent layer of large light to dark brown eggs of excellent quality.

We have also been busy, with a lot of help, in clearing weeds from areas of the garden: the onion area about two weeks ago and now seeded in oats, which have begun to grow; and this week the potatoes and the area where the garlic will be planted this fall. We should start planting the garlic cloves this week depending on the weather. A little later for garlic planting than we’d like but still o.k. It will begin to grow and maybe even poke through the ground before freeze up. It will be undamaged by being frozen and will resume growth as the soil warms in the spring and be ready for harvest in mid July.

Hard at work clearing weeds for the garlic planting.

Hard at work picking for the Thursday CSA

The boys are often very helpful

The CSA pick list. What was available for the CSA sharers last week. Basically the same for both Tuesday and Thursday.

The frosts that we’d had earlier did major damage to tomatoes, pepper, potatoes, eggplant, cucumber and all the vines. We still have a lot in the garden including some fall crops that do need some more warm weather including rain. They were planted later than they should have been because it was so hot and sunny and dry during late July and early August. We’ll get a lot to harvest from these plants though in spite of them not growing to full maturity. There are still a lot of vegetables to be harvested from the garden over the next two or three weeks.

Sweet peppers and turnips with greens.

There are at least three different colours of carrots

Chard always looks so nice, so colourful.

We usually have two or three different types of beets.

Some of the vegetables for the CSA this past week.

 

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SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view Sunday morning. It is as dry as it looks, we need rain. The trees are still mostly green though.

Potatoes, sunflowers and blue jays. There were about 20 jays throughout the gardens picking away at the ripe sunflower heads. There were maybe 4 or 5 in this group of sunflowers and one can be seen flying off to the left.

We had a rather severe frost early Saturday morning with a low temperature of -0.1°C having been recorded at the Environment Canada weather station located a half kilometre from our farm. A lot of damage occurred to those tender species of vegetables; tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, eggplant and beans in particular. It seems that none were entirely destroyed but the upper most leaves were all blackened. The plants have mostly all survived but have suffered major damage. We’ll see next week, as the plants recover, how serious the damage was.

Frost damaged tomato with beans behind that and beyond that is Swiss chard which is undamaged but thirsty.

The clock says 7:30. Morning of course. The plants in this, the pick up area and the garlic and basil garage were untouched by the frost. This photo and all the above except the first were taken Saturday morning.

There has been plenty of sunshine this week and the temperatures have been rather warm during most of the day but of course the shortening hour of daylight are not the best for getting plants to grow. Our fall planting in mid to late August was predicated on a warm fall, warmer than so far, and no frost. If we could have planted the fall crops in late July the timing for maturity would have been better. They would have done the fast early growth at a time of more sunlight hours. But we were up against hot and dry which made starting vegetables very difficult. we will get some harvest from all that we have planted for the fall and we will still have much from the early summer and the spring plantings too.

The ducks are doing a good job emptying this water bucket. They are not usually in this area but have discovered a way through the fence and we have not yet discovered the same way.

These are the younger ducks, just coming up 20 weeks old. The ducks in the previous photo are the older flock. The chickens here tolerate the ducks, the ducks avoid the chickens, the peacock is suspicious of them lot.

 

The chickens and ducks are not minding the weather so much and probably prefer it to be a little cooler than July. We got an egg from the spring hatched ducks at 19 weeks, 4 days of age. We have had 4 eggs so far to date from the three hens. They are quite small still at about half the size of an average duck egg. There size will slowly increase and soon they should be laying one egg per day.

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SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday morning. The little trailer is being re-purposed as a chicken house on wheels. It will be pulled around by hand to give a small flock of chickens a regular change in pasture.

Looking at the gardens from about 30 feet to the left of the previous photo and at the CSA pick up tables.

This photo is from the other end of the garden looking back towards where the previous photo was taken from. The are spots in this and the previous photo are because crops are finished and this is the area that will soon be planted in next season’s garlic and some of it is in newly seeded vegges for this fall.

No rain this week until Sunday morning early when 5 mm showed in the rain gauge. Things are still looking good since it has not been hot but that small amount of rain was most welcome. Some days did get quite warm for a brief time though we had a couple of nights that were quite cool, less than 10°C. This is far too cool for the basil which suffers damage at temperatures approaching 10C so we have put several of the basil pots in our garlic shed which is a plastic covered green house affair. They have a lot of re-growing to do. Most other vegetables would much prefer a good bit more heat than we are now getting, but it is fall, and this is fall weather. We will have veggies until the end of October and maybe beyond but we will have a frost, and a hard one, sometime between now and then.

These are the youngest ducks hatched the first week of May and now looking very well grown. They are mostly drakes and are having great fun, as they always do, in the ‘duck pond’.

A buff hen. This is a 3 year old bird now and looks really good though she was never a great egg layer. Maybe 150 eggs per year whereas a real good layer will lay 250 or more in a year. But she will continue to lay eggs for more than just one season and is a much longer lived and hardier bird than some of the more productive hens.

This rooster is quite cocky. Actually is so by definition but is also a big chicken when it comes right down to a push and shove by anyone other than another chicken.

The pastures are looking much more green now, much more like pastures and we’ll soon put the cows out on a through the pastures rotation and also move the horses to a good spot where there is food. Meanwhile the sheep continue to roam where they please, except for the gardens, and have made it difficult  for some of the pasture to recover. Chickens are pretty happy these days.

The bees are very busy with the sunflowers.

This sunflower head should be ripening nicely now but a significant amount has been eaten by the bird, most likely golf finches and possibly the hairy woodpecker who may be looking more for insects in the seed head than the seeds.

In the front, yellow beets, then red beets with purple carrots in the next row with yellow and orange carrots beyond that.

The root crops; the beets, carrots and turnips are all growing well and this is perfect weather for them. The various greens, collectively called Japanese, or Chinese or Asian greens are also doing great. These are komatsuna, koho, mibuna, fun jen mustard, tatsoi, and mizuna. The cabbage family crops are growing well too but are still quite young. These include, as well as cabbages, kale, cauliflower and nappa cabbage.

Komatsuna

Koho, similar to bok choi

This is mustard, fun jen

Tatsoi, another which is similar to bok choi

Mizuna

 

 

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SEPTEMBER 7, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday morning since Monday was forecast to be rainy

The cut flower patch between the new cherry trees with the row of sweet peppers running behind.

Sunflower. This fine looking lot are all from seeds spilled by the birds last year as they feasted on the ripe sunflower heads.

Nearly all the sunflowers are like this one: multiple heads on a single stalk. They are mostly smaller in size than the mammoth types but make good cut flowers.

This particular potato variety has done really well. Most varieties did poorly with drought and potato beetles killing off many plants. This variety is a blue potato and is growing well with no gaps., no losses, and though it is a late maturing variety it should produce a lot of late potatoes for us.

THE WEATHER: Sunday morning the temperature was at 6.1°C. The previous temperatures this past week have not been so bad, Saturday morning’s being the next l0west at about 11 . These temperatures are not so good for growing vegetables and can be and likely were, quite damaging to the likes of basil, tomato and cucumber. It might take a day or two for the basil damage to show up and the damage to tomato will be in their not setting or developing fruits. We’ll see what happens. No rain last week though it looked promising a few times and we got some scattered drops a couple of times. Saturday we had enough to moisten the ground but it did not register on the rain gauge. Still it dampened the newly seeded cabbages types and the newly transplanted lettuces.

The newly seeded cabbages, kale and broccolis with a stray zucchini wondering what happened.

GARLIC: We pulled all our garlic about 4 weeks ago now. We did well with the garlic this season. It grew well having survived the winter without loss. We had mulched this spring with leaves and some straw but only after the green eaves were growing and we were careful not to bury them. They were scaped early unlike previous years, and we had the whole lot pulled in one day. We had a lot of good help this year. The garlic bulbs were a medium size on average, somewhat smaller than we’d hoped and likely because of the drought as the garlic got no irrigation. But there were far fewer small garlic heads than in previous years. Next seasons garlic will be planted soon.

The garlic shed is a temporary structure that has worked well to store and sort the garlic.

Turned to look in the opposite direction from the previous photo of the cabbage, kale and broccoli

These are newly seeded rhubarb plant which germinated about two weeks ago. They will remain in pots over winter and be planted out likely next spring. we have a lot of them so will have a lot of rhubarb in a couple of years.

OTHER VEGETABLES: Most everything is doing ok and of course would have done better with a little less heat and a lot more rain. The chard is doing excellent even though it gets quite wilted at times of dry and no irrigation. The beets and carrots have done well with only the occasional watering. The first lot of carrots, a variety called Yaya, would normally have produced lots of good sized carrots but the have been smaller than usual. Some of the later varieties which we are not yet harvesting, are larger. Beets are a good size. The tomatoes have been unusual this year. The quantities have not been as large as expected but the quality is excellent. The tomatoes did well in spite of most having no watering, they had been heavily mulched with straw. The straw and the heat and dry kept the usual diseases including blights away. The cool nights, especially the below 10°C nights in May, just after the tomatoes were set out, were likely the reason for the smaller quantity of fruits. We have just seeded more peas, while cabbages, kale and broccoli were seeded a couple of weeks ago and lettuce transplants were set out last week.

These are two of our older Marans hens. We’ll have to hatch eggs from them next winter, early spring. These hens lay the very dark , chocolate brown eggs.  The lump of grey feathers to the right is a feather legged and footed cochin hen.

This is a really nice hen, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. Unfortunately the egg size is medium to small.

These are the young ducks. Only three are hens and they won’t have any eggs until late in the fall.

LIVESTOCK: Horses and cows are still getting hay and are not being moved around the pastures since the grass is still not grown back and may not this season. The sheep get some hay and wander all the pastures. The chickens are staying with one pasture per flock so as not to scratch up too much while the older duck flock still has a large area to wander. The young ducks are restricted to a smaller area with the peacock and their daily chicken visitors. The chickens fly over the fence to get in with the ducks and also come through a hole in the fence dividing the interior of the chicken house into a chicken side and a peafowl side.

Hot pepper plants in pots with morning glory growing all round.

PROJECTS: We have a number of long delayed projects that we may tackle this fall. We have work to do on the house and on the yurt. This urgently needs to be done before winter. Another urgent before winter project is the digging of our irrigation water storage pond. Other smaller projects are a couple of small sheds and several poultry houses. Even small jobs take an enormous effort and time. We also need to do a cleanup at the barn.

 

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AUGUST 31, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday late morning.
Looking pretty wildly overgrown and, though perhaps some parts are, mostly the vegetables are not too weedy.

The Basil Boat at the pick up area. The old skiff, now no longer sea worthy, has been filled with earth and planted in Basil with a very few (5) Okra plants.

We did not get any rain this past week except for 2 mm on last Monday. But it has not been very hot and the days are getting shorter too meaning that there is less moisture lost to evaporation. The garden is now looking much better than it has all summer and the grass is greening again in the pastures.

We have all these pepper plants and some herbs growing I pots and planters at the pick up area and since they can more easily get regular waterings they are growing quite well. They are hot peppers so a hot September will be to their liking.

We are pretty sure that we saw 5 eagles at one time just briefly on Sunday late morning and saw four of them for quite a long time. We are quite surprised and pleased at this. We do frequently see one or two eagles, mostly circling high overhead and towards the river about a quarter mile from us,but very rarely directly above us and low down. Lots of Canada geese these days as the field dent corn is now maturing, have not noticed any ducks yet but they will also be around in the corn fields soon too. The wild turkeys frequently walk through our gardens though they have not caused any damage and do not seem to overly concerned when we are out there too. But they do then slowly move off.

Two eagles soaring high up in the sky just to the north west of the gardens.

Two nice sunflowers growing at the edge of the cabbage garden

Same sunflowers but just past them, soaring over the Grand River, are those two eagles again.

Most of the vegetables are growing quite well now though a lot is now quite mature and not so much left. We do have other vegetables that coming along well, broccoli, cabbage, more lettuce, kale and various greens.

The newly planted cabbages, kale, broccoli and Chinese cabbage.

Looking down rows of pepper, greens and cherry trees.

The cows and horses are still not yet back in a pasture rotation as though the grass is growing back it is not yet enough to sustain grazing except  by the sheep. We need another rain to keep it growing well.

This rooster and his three hens had free run of everywhere and were locked away every night so they’d not get eaten by racoons or coyotes. But they have been scratching were they should not be and have begun venturing into the garden and hide their eggs where only the racoons and skunks can find them. So they now have a proper little moveable overnight house with an egg lying box and an attached outside run. It was really nice to have them just run about but they have been getting into too much trouble.

The chickens and ducks could also do with better pasture, they all like fresh green grass and weeds. They have plenty of bare areas to dust bathe in. A favoured pass time or chickens, ducks would rather have mud.

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AUGUST 24, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual morning view of the garden. But I have moved over about 5 feet to the left of where I’d stood before. Anew normal spot to stand as there are hosta plants at the old spot.

LONG DELAY: It has been 4 weeks now since we’ve published a blog. The farm is still here, we are still here and the vegetables and all the various farm animals are still here. The lack of blogging is a result of a combination of factors, but mainly that I have been much restricted in what I can do as a result of heart surgery and also because of the prolonged drought and consequent need for near constant irrigation. No one has had the time.

Potted and planter vegetables at the pick up area. Sweet and Hot pepper basil, tomatoes and herbs.

More of the potted plants at the pick up area.

MYSELF: I am now still recovering, but recovering quite well, from heart surgery on July 10 when I had a valve replaced and another repaired. It is a testament to the wonders of modern medicine that I have had such a rapid recovery even though I’m still very restricted in what I can do and will be for a long while yet. But I do feel much better than before surgery.

The garden looks pretty dry  here. Beans to the far left , Chard, Beets and carrots

A little further back up the row, same vegges as before. Looks very dry here too though.

DROUGHT: We have not had much rain since the middle of May and the temperatures have been quite hot. I don’t have a record of rainfall amounts through May and June but do know that from mid-May it was minimal. The total for July was 23.5 mm and to date this month 22.6 mm. The rain over these past 7 weeks or so has occurred on 12 separate days and the maximum was only 8.4 mm on August 2 followed by 1.9 0n the 3rd and 4.8 on the 4th of august. But with temperatures for July averaging 30.6 C and a maximum of 35.9, and, for August so far an average of 28.1 and a maximum of 32.3, those rainfall amounts were far too little. June’s temperature averaged 26.4 with a maximum of 32.5 C. Even though May’s average temperature was 17.5 C we did have a maximum of 30.7 C. Lots of numbers but good to record. We now have many trees dropping shrivelled up leaves adding to the long ago dried up grasses. It has been very difficult to keep the garden going and we have lost a lot of vegetables to both excessive heat and to lack of moisture.

Newly seeded cabbage and kale. The black line crossing the first two rows, on the left, is the shadow of a small tree there with the white things which are disintegrating paper bags full of leaves. The other bit crossing the rows further on is a squash plant. And those are birds off to the right.

Tomato plants and ripening fruit. Not so many fruit, probably to hot and ry when they were pollinating.

A mix of flowers, borage and basils between cherry trees with sweet pepper and eggplant beyond.

VEGETABLES: As mentioned, it has been very difficult to keep things growing this summer and many of the mid-summer plantings simply failed to germinate because of the excessive heat and difficulty keeping the seedbed moist. We shade most newly seeded vegetables with boards laid directly on the soil or with mulches to provide shade and to retain moisture. It is a trick that usually works well for us with the difficulty being that the boards must be remover immediately on germination and mulch cannot be too thick for most things. With the boards, their removal immediately exposes the emerging seedlings to the sun so a cloudy day is ideal for their removal. That does not always happen and unless we can acclimatize them and keep them constantly moist for their first few days then we’ll simply have the whole lot die off. That happened several times. We really should have done the seeding into trays and later transplanted to the garden but we were not expecting such prolonged severe weather. We do have several trays of lettuce as that is especially difficult to germinate in the garden during a hot dry summer.

Sunflowers with the fuzzy centres. I think the dark spot on the right of the far right flower is an insect.

CHICKENS, OTHER POULTRY AND FOUR FOOTED BEASTS: We have been drawing down our winter hay supply for over a month now as pastures have dried right up. This hay goes to the horses, cows and sheep. We’ll need to get more before the start of winter and it will not be cheap. We do need our own home grown supply and we have some. We need a hay mower for our tractor and we need a mower that can get into tight places. Perhaps next year. The horses and cows are not being moved on much so as to keep pastures from being to badly cut up and also so they will recover quickly when the rains come. Even with rain it will take a month before they can be grazed again. chickens also have no pasture now and are restricted so they don’t scratch up and turn everything to dust. The young chicks will be laying by October and the young ducks a little while after. We’ll need to get some replacement laying hens as most of those we have now are just too old and with the heat and lack of pasture are not laying well at all.

One of the few coloured sunflowers in the garden.

I need to write about garden pests this year, how well the garden grew this year so far and what we expect in the fall and more. but another time soon.

 

 

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JUNE 29, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden late this Monday morning. Already was getting quite hot.

Moving from the green barrel to the right the first three rows are the latest lettuce planting, the next three rows are the oldest and the ones that we are harvesting. Beside those lettuce are two rows of peas, then a new planting of spinach, carrot rows, beets, chard, beans then tomato.

The weather this week was much better than it has been. We had several days with a good lot of cloud cover and we had 4 separate days with small amounts of rain. The total over the week was about 24 mm. This was an ok amount though it did dry out between some of the rains. One rain for instance was only 2 mm and a  warm sunny day passed before we got more. The next few days are forecast to be 30°C and over with a small chance of rain expected on Tuesday and Wednesday. If we get any at all it will be very nice.

The potato patch looking just a little too weedy.

The garden is growing very well now and looking quite weed free except for the potatoes where the weeds and grass got far out of control. We have gotten a good start on the weeds there and on controlling the potato beetles and their larva which are at large undesirable numbers. Daily walking of the rows is needed to look for and pick of the beetles, their larvae and eggs. Some significant damage has already been done but it is manageable still.

The carrots and the chard.

There are three tools, cultivator shovels, mounted on the bar at the rear of the tractor. One in the centre, one behind each rear tire.

The tractor is still not operating properly The fuel tank was removed, cleaned and re-fitted. and the fuel problem has been fixed. But when we ran it the engine was still rough running and further looking determined that numbers 1 and 2 cylinders are not firing so no wonder it runs the way it does. The battery is also not getting charged so likely a generator problem there too. More investigation needed.

The garlic patch is relatively weed free but has a lot brown leave tips because of the lack of rain.

This week will be the third week for CSA vegetable pick ups for this season. We will likely have the same vegetables available this week as for the first two: lettuce, nice looking, tasty and large and as many as one can use; green onions, small, about 6 inches but very nice looking and a good diameter; green garlic, or spring garlic being the entire garlic plant consisting of green leaves as well as the developing cloves; garlic scapes, the long stems of the developing garlic flower; lambs quarters, a wild green used much as one would use spinach; stinging nettle for a cooked green or a tea ; camomile for tea was available for the first week but unavailable now until it regrows;  spearmint or Korean mint again for teas or for salads and wild greens, mostly dandelion and wild lettuce, nice bitter greens.

The chickens were pretty hungry.

The sheep sometimes disappear in the long grass. Too long.

Four week old chicks, young ducklings, chickens, ducks, turkeys are all well and pretty happy with a warm summer. The sheep, cows and horses are still on pasture, and the rain, though not enough, was sufficient enough to help get the grass growing again. A lot more is needed though.

 

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JUNE 15 TO JUNE 22, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden. The grass is quite dried out. We are long overdue for a good rain.

This view is just a little to the left of the previous. The rows of growing vegetables that are doing well are from the left; two rows of peas, three rows of the early transplanted lettuce and then three rows of the early spring seeded lettuce.

We were quite unable to find the time last week, last Monday,  June 15, to write up the weekly blog. We have been working more this past two weeks than at anytime during the whole spring and we have had quite a bit of good help too. Much of the work was in maintaining the gardens; weeding and watering as well as a very little bit more seeding. It has been very hot and very dry. Very good for weeding and very good for growing, so long as things can get enough to drink. We are watering a lot but our water supply is meagre and the means of getting it to the gardens is slow.

A closer look at the lettuces. Those are the sweet cherries extending in a line beyond the green water barrel. Sweet peepers and eggplant to the right of the cherry tree line.

Moving a little more to the left again. In the centre is a newly seeded bed of three rows of spinach. Three rows of carrots to the left and then three rows of chard, beets then tomatoes.

The gardens are looking very good though there is still some planting to be done. A lot of weeding has been done, and that makes those areas of the gardens looking really well tended. There are still some parts where the weeds could do with a good bit of thinning out. The potatoes in particular need a lot of work. We did some tractor cultivating of the potatoes on Friday just before a very brief and very light rain. Then the tractor quit working.

These are the walking onions with their curious curled scapes at the tip of which are little garlic like cloves. As the plant ages these tops bend down and the cloves are planted at a little distance and thus the onion has walked, just a little, to a new position.

The garlic is still looking good but with a lot of tip browning of leaves it is definitely showing that it has been much too dry.  This will likely reduce the eventual mature size of the heads. A very good rain in the next few days would fix things though. The garlic is scaping now and they all need to be removed for the garlic to give maximum growth to the developing heads.

The tractor has proven to be quite valuable to us this spring in allowing us to get more work done than we would have if we’d been doing it all by hand or even with the horses. It has been quite frustrating at times trying to figure out how to use it under conditions very specific to the way we do things. We leave a lot of debris such as straw and other plant material in the garden for instance, and this can be difficult to work in to the ground when there is a lot of it. But after getting various bits and trying different ways of mounting tools we were getting it to work pretty good. But then the engine quit because chronically unlubricated distributor gears were stripped and had to be replaced. Easy enough that was but the re-timing of the distributor has been difficult. This has been compounded, we think, by an ongoing problem with bits of foreign matter in the fuel tank. This includes what appears to be rust particles and tiny bits of the filler cap gasket seal which had been deteriorating and crumbling. So much fine debris will accumulate on the screen on the sediment bowl that fuel cannot get through and the engine starves for gas and quits. It looks like the only real solution is to flush the tank thoroughly to rid it of all debris. Once we have the fuel system back together and working properly we’ll then be able to go back to attempting to retime the engine.

The tractor sitting idle, carb removed, and gas tank to come off next for cleaning.

Devon and a young duckling being moved from the chicken house, where they stay overnight, to the outdoor box on the grass where they’ll stay the day.

The hens are off their lay quite a bit which is disappointing and, though we are not sure why, they are getting quite old now and the hot weather might not agree with them. We will try to get some ‘ready-to-lay’ hens. These are hens that are aged 18 to 21 weeks. Hens begin to lay at about 21 weeks but will lay only sporadically for the first two to four weeks. Good production, 9 or 10 eggs per hen per day, 90 to 100 % lay rate, will happen sometime around week 25, that is, 5 to 7 weeks after we get them.  We’ll have to build one or two moveable structures to house them as we have no spare room and we’ll need to retain the old birds until the new lot is up to speed on egg laying.

The hens are up on the roosts and the rafters settling down for the night. A bit of a dark photo as the flash would not work.

Horses, cows and sheep are doing fine and the pastures are ok for now. It is getting quite dry and if we get no rain this coming week we’ll have little or no pasture left for them and  they’ll be back on hay. That will not be good.

The potato patch has a lot of weeds and is going to need a lot of work to get it cleared up.

Last week was the first week for the CSA pickups here at the farm. We had available only a few vegetables; lettuce, green onion, green or spring garlic, garlic scapes, lambs quarters (or bathau if you are from northern India), stinging nettle, mints and camomile as well as very limited quantities of rhubarb and asparagus. We’ll have about the same for the next few weeks. Much more will be available as the season goes along.

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JUNE 8, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual photo taken on Sunday with Gabriel out with the watering can in the background just to the left of the top of the straw bale.

The tall stuff is radicchio from last seasons. Being a biannual it is going to seed. But it still tastes like radicchio. Onions to the right.

The weather this week has been very good for planting even though we have had some pretty hot days. The weather has also been very dry which is not so really good. We did not record the rain but we may have gotten only a few mm during the whole week. It is more than likely that the weather will now follow what for us is the usual summer pattern; no significant rainfall until September. We hope though that we do get some good rainstorms during the season to keep things growing well. Ideally we would get an inch of rain each week. But that won’t happen.

These are the white onion sets, the radicchio is just out of the photo to the right.

The boys are watering the new planted sweet corn.

Little Xander is only 4 years old but insists on helping and manages to haul a watering can out near full out of the barrel. Again and again.

The first lot of sweet corn was planted this week, a 65 days to maturity variety and a 73 day variety will follow in about another week. we have been busy, with a lot of help, with watering and weeding, the onions now look real good and another lot of the white onion sets were stuck in the ground.  We should have a lot of onions. More tomatoes were planted last week and many thanks go to Mihaela for growing them from her saved seed and then bringing them out when they had grown a nice size and then, on top of all that, helping me to plant them. Getting water to everything is major work and does take a lot of time. Aerron’s four boys have been helping quite a bit in the garden and have done their share of watering, especially Gabriel who has spent much time with hose and watering cans. Maggie and Jerusa and I think Gabriel too, have weeded a lot in the lettuce and that is a finiky, painstaking job.

The ducklings in their outdoor box. Just lazing around Their routine is to eat , snuffle and splash in the water, laze around, repeat.

Our 11 little ducklings are now 4 weeks old I think and getting quite big. They have been out of the heat lamp for more than two weeks and outside on the grass for over a week. They now stay inside a large covered box with the peacock for overnight. Protection from raccoons is our prime concern; not during the day so much but overnight and the very early morning.

A closer look at a little fuzzy chick with the wing feathers already started to show.

The 21 four day old chicks. These are a mix of our special breeds of chickens.

The chicks were hatched out on Friday. They are nice big fluffy healthy things. They will stay in the broodhouse under a heat lamp for about a week then we’ll have them out ion grass like the ducklings.

There are many fine lettuce plants growing.

The garlic scapes are developing quite rapidly. The scape is the white shoot in the photo

The CSA will be starting very soon. We don’t have much ready yet. Lettuce, green garlic, garlic scapes, green onion, mints, stinging nettle and other wild bitter greens such as wild lettuce, and dandelion.

The chives with their purple flowers, then the welsh onions just starting to scape, a bed of two rows of white slicing onions, newly planted and not yet sprouted, with two rows of the Egyptian walking onions with the little topsets just developing.

The animals are all doing just fine. This is their best time of year. Lots of lush new green grass, nice and warm.

The hens from which We collected the eggs that we had. hatched.

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JUNE 1, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly view of the garden. things are growing ever so slowly.

All of the area in the foreground has been seeded and some has germinated. Tomato transplants in alongside the straw to the left and the newly planted cherry trees along the far right.

A very productive week though the weather has turned quite cool the last two days and nights. More seeding was done during the week, more potatoes and onion sets were planted.   We got the trees and shrubs from Whiffle tree Farm and Nursery on Saturday morning. The strawberries, raspberries, dwarf cherries and the peaches were all in the ground by Saturday evening and well watered in. A little more panting was done on Sunday and on Monday the entire lot remaining were all planted. There were a total of eleven persons over the course of the afternoon all working away digging holes hauling water and transplanting. Not only were the trees planted but also the tomatoes, rhubarb  and some marigold. A large amount of work done and we thank all of the working shares and some who just volunteered their time.  A big job well done. Now we have to work hard to keep them growing.

The cherry trees along the right side with the perennials herbs to be planted alongside.

The garlic rows. There are different varieties growing and have differing heights,the trees are the newly planted columnar apple beside the garlic and on the right are newly planted and hard to see strawberries.

The tractor suddenly stopped on Thursday. It took a bit of work with crucial help from Brian Enes to diagnose the problem. Thank you Brian. The distributor was not turning, and disassembly revealed that the gear at the bottom of the distributor was stripped. On Saturday morning we went to Lynneville Farm Equipment down towards Delhi and picked up replacement gears. Being unable to help with the planting I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up all the distributor parts prior to reassembly. I managed to clean up a rather hard to access casting without using any solvents which was very nice. On that same trip we went to the farm of a Farmall tractor enthusiast who provided us with parts for the PTO and belt pulley. With this we will now be able to run the tractor mounted mower. We have still some cultivating to do but when we have done we’ll remove the cultivators and attach the mower. It is a real performance to make the change over and it would be a lot easier to have one tractor for mowing and another for cultivating, but for now we have to make do with the complicated switch from cultivator to mower.

The tractor distributor disassembled. Gasket material at the top. The new gears are the small shiny parts. All ready for assembly

The distributor has been removed with a plastic bag stuffed into the opening where the distributor assembly is fastened.

On Monday we managed to get the distributor parts reassembled and now the last little job remaining to be done is to reset the ignition timing. Easy enough really but not having done it before means it will take a bit of special care and time.

The distributor assembly back in place and just needing to be timed and some wires re-attached.

Chickens are doing well and laying a good number of eggs still and liking the weather. The ducks are now older so they have not yet come up to their usual lay rate and we expect that they probably will not. They do still lay a good number of eggs and are at about 60% although that can fluctuate quite a bit. We have some young ducklings that will be laying eggs come fall.

The sheep on the pasture to the east of our house. The tree is one of two Comfort sugar maples that the boys and Aerron planted last year.

The cows and horses are being moved in their regular cycle ; a few days on one pasture then on to the next for another few days. The sheep just roam at will and we need to finish the fence that will keep them out of the garden. Haying starts soon but for us that only means buying delivered bales and rolling them into the mow. It would be ideal to have our own field and do the cutting, raking, gathering and stowing it away in the loft. We need more acres and those are rather pricey.

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MAY 25 2020, FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden on a fine sunny Sunday

watering newly seeded carrots and spinach

We are just a little late in getting this blog, this report on the week that has passed, written up and posted. The weather has been excellent for getting things done, we have had a lot of help, sometimes as many as seven or eight of us working away. The boys will help for short times but it is difficult to have them out for more than a three hours, We have a those with working CSA shares coming regularly and it is then is that we get so much more done.

The perennial onions on the left and newly seeded beds of onions on the right.

The cultivator setup at the rear of the tractor. They leave three furrows spaced at 12 inches in the right spot for use as rows to seed into.

This week we have finished the moving of strawberries from one spot to another in the garden. The onions are nearly all seeded and today, Tuesday, should see the last of them seeded and all the onion sets are now in the ground. These are all much later than we’d like as weather, availability of seed and circumstance all conspired to delay. But the filling up of the garden is now going quite well. We got our main seed order from William Dams Seeds just yesterday but are still awaiting the tree order from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery. The Whiffletree order will have to be looked after right away when it does arrive. These are all bare root trees and other plants and as it is now very late in the season and warm the 100 fruit trees, 200 strawberry plants and 100 raspberries will need to be put in the ground as immediately as we can manage.

A tom turkey with chickens. We always run the turkeys with the chickens no problem

The turkeys always look enormous beside the hens

In the ground now are onion sets, onion seed, broad (fava) beans, chard, spinach, carrot, lettuce, potato, and more. Sweet corn, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cucumber, squash, zucchini, tomato and pepper will be going In this week.

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MAY 18, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly view with once again a vehicle in the way. The SUV was carrying the bags of seed potatoes and was in a convenient spot.

At each of the stakes is an apple tree. This is the lot of trees that Aerron has grafted, mostly Melba. If you squint you might make out the bands of tilled ground running across the photo. Trees of many sorts will eventually be planted here.

Much accomplished this past week. A large number of small trees, mostly Manitoba maple, but a few silver maple and black walnut, were transplanted in a wide row just east  of our house. No edibles in there  yet except for the few walnuts but we’ll put in a lot of blackberry, raspberry, current and other small edibles in coming years. We have nearly finished spreading leaf mulch in the garlic beds, we have set out nearly all the Dutch sets onions, we transplanted 3 rows about 200 foot long of tiny lettuces, we planted 11 rows of potatoes, each 300 foot long, and transplanted more strawberry. Much more to be done of course but two days out of the garden now as it is too wet from a welcome rain.

The potatoes all in the ground but only the single rows covered

The potato beds fully covered. There are 11 beds, each 300 foot long. Four beds have two rows, three beds have a single row.

Looking at the disc hillers mounted underneath the tractor towards the front. This was their position to cover the single rows of newly planted seed potatoes. To cover the double rows the hillers were located more to the left in the photo and still covered a single row at a time but a pas in one direction covered one row in the bed and a pass in the opposite direction covered the second row in the bed.

We rented a small tractor with an attached 55 inch wide rotor tiller for the day on Tuesday. We used it to till the entire garden and also to till rows in the adjacent pasture and around the garden where we want to plant trees. We had gotten behind on the garden preparation and though we burned a bit of fuel we got more done in a singe day than we could have gotten done in three weeks working it by hand or three or more days working it with the horses. Most of the garden had two passes with the tiller and some areas with a lot to turn in and mix got three passes.

The rented tractor and tiller at work. Did a great job.

A typical untilled portion of the garden.

The tiller incorporated a lot of straw that was thick on the top into the soil. Most areas were gone over twice.

A blurred photo but it shows the 55 inch wide tiller attached at the end of the tractor.

The cows are  out on pasture now, as are the sheep and horses and are being moved from one pasture to another after two or three days grazing the same one. All except the sheep who more or less are free to roam where they like. We do of course have to keep the sheep out of the garden.

Freshly tilled ground either side of a row of radicchio.

Three rows of very tiny lettuce plants just transplanted into the freshly tilled seed bed.

Weather is much improved now though still a little cooler than we would like it to be for this time of year. Especially overnight. After Wednesday the forecast looks to be much better and we may get the thermometer reading in the high 20s. Soon we can complain that it is too hot. So long as we continue to get some rain each week we’ll be very happy with the warm weather.

Nearly all the garlic has been mulched with leaves. The garlic is growing really well.

 

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MAY 11, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday view of the garden. The truck is being loaded with leaves to be spread on the onion area and between the garlic rows.

Same photo but pulled back a bit.

I have to post this once more without all the photos that I wanted. I still have to use a phone for the photos and it is of poor quality and the only way that I can get them on to my computer in order to load them to this blog is to e-mail. I contacted a shop in Brantford to get my Canon camera repaired but they say they are still under the lockdown. No idea why they just can’ t ask to have the camera to be out in a box their door knocked on, and the camera left on the doorstep. Reversing the process for pickup. I’ll add photos to the post as I’m able to get them.

Here we are eleven days into May and the forecast is for snow again.  We had a few flurries two days ago and ait again early this morning and a bit even stayed on the ground for a very short while. Temperatures have been as low as -5°C overnight and are forecast to go there again and down to -6°C Tuesday night. Not so good for blossoms and we have peach and apricot trees in bloom. Unsure yet if they have been damaged as they still look good. This is apparently the result of a stationary counterclockwise rotating vortex of air around Baffin Island which is bringing cold air down to us from the arctic. It would be rather nice if it would just move off. The vortex appears to moving slowly north and west. A good warm spell would be welcome and it is forecast to warm considerably by next weekend. We need warmer weather to get many of our vegetables growing.

Aerron and the gang have been working at spreading manure on that area of the garden where the corn will be grown and are working towards the squash, cucumber and pumpkin area. They have also gone all over the garden to tidy things up in preparation for having the whole garden tilled. We are renting a tractor and a tiller for Tuesday and hopefully will be able to get the whole of the garden tilled up so as it will be ready for planting with only a minor raking out. We have what is apparently a fuel flow problem with our little Farmall 100 tractor and that is my job to sort out. I cannot do it when it is cold and windy nor when it is wet and raining. The job has to be done outside and is likely to take a few hours. I’m looking for a blockage at the screen over the sediment bowl beneath the fuel tank first and after that moving down the fuel lie to the carburetor and taking that apart if needed. They are pretty simple affairs but this one has paint all over it gumming up the exterior. It looks good until you get close.

The sheep have been out each day this week for a short while and really do appreciate the new grass. They have been out just a short while each day and after having first had some hay so as not to get any digestive problems from gorging on fresh grass which can cause bloat. that can quickly be fatal to them.

The chickens and the ducks are still quite happy outside and the egg production is still getting slightly better each week. The cold weather has not diminished their egg count. The lengthening days have more to do with it than any of the other factors; temperature, winds, insects and grasses for food.

A photo from the 14th of May a year ago. This is one of our blue egg laying hens.

Next week we should have a better report on gardens progress. And the weather I hope.

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MAY 2, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view on Sunday. Grass is a little greener each week and tree buds swell more and more.

 

 

Tuesday May 5. Three photos have been added.

The weather has noticeably improved. We are definitely moving into spring and not back into winter. No heat waves yet, the temperature has barely made it to 20°C this spring and that was but just once, in March, not April, but March 29th, when it reached a high of 20.6. The average of the high daily temperatures over the month of April was 10.2°C and for April 2019 was 10.9°C. I’m guessing that May will be a little cool but that should be good for us. Last May was a little cool too I think. So far we have adequate moisture.

Newly planted apple trees, one at each of the slender bamboo stakes. these are the newly grafted wood on dwarfing roots.

We got a dozen pieces of apple rootstock from Silver Creek Nursey and this past week Aerron took some scion wood from some apple trees and grafted them on to the rootstock. The last of these was planted on Sunday. Some of the scion wood, short straight twigs taken from a tree and about the same diameter as the rootstock, were from our neighbours Melba apple and some from a nice apple tree, variety unknown, growing here on the farm.

Setting out to do some garden bed making.

We finally got the cultivators mounted on the Farmall 100 tractor, it has taken us nearly three weeks, and tried it out. We have, probably, an unconventional arrangement of cultivators but for our purposes it worked rather well on the first try without having to make any adjustments. Some areas that we need to use the cultivators on have too much grass and mowing with the lawn mower is needed we think to get the ground nicely worked.

I’m using a cell phone for photos and have not yet learned to make good photos with it yet. It does not take good photos into the sun but the centre mounted cultivators can still be clearly seen.

I’m not sure just what they found so interesting here but they were pretty busy and ignored the photographer.

The chickens and ducks are rather liking this weather and it shows in the numbers of eggs that the hens are now laying. The hens are all  quite happy with the warmer weather, the warmer and brighter sun, the increase in day length, a few insects to be found, and some green things growing in their other wise bare run that they are stuck in until the grass grows enough.

Nearly the same photo with the white hen on the left now coming over to see what the others are up to.

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APRIL 27, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view at noon time today

No photos of a spring snowfall from this week. The weather has not been the greatest, a little cooler than usual, but we should not complain too much about the rains as, for us if not for others elsewhere, wet is better than dry. We dry out quite quickly here so even if we might have a heavy rain early in the morning we can likely get to work in the gardens in the afternoon. Not so if we were on clay. A bright, clear, sunny morning, about 10°C  as I write this, and little wind. This is perfect working weather for this time of year and I think that our chickens will completely agree.

In the foreground are the daffodils, their first year, with newly planted dwarf apple trees in a row with chives behind and the walking onions behind that.

It has been too cool to not run the woodstove so it is rekindled and relit early each  morning and runs all day. It is a cookstove too and so much nicer to use than the electric. We have an ample supply of wood and have a pretty good lot ready for next season as well. We will likely have the stove going regularly well into May.

A really nice little carpet of flowers between onion rows.

The hens are liking today but they have been down just a very little on the numbers of eggs laid each day. Warmth, especially with sun and no wind will see an improvement in the numbers. We still have them on their overwintering areas. A little too soon yet to have them out on good pasture again. They’ll wreck it far too quickly when it is growing so slowly still.

The hens out in the sunshine on a particularly bare spot in their run.

We are progressing well on getting the cultivators set up on the tractor. We got the sets of spring tooth units from our neighbour and they work well the way we have mounted them. We still have another two to mount behind the rear wheels and we want to put a pair of disc hillers on the outsides to delineate the outside edge of the plant beds. It will take a bit of time to get it set up just the way we want and then it will be a matter of making careful note so that when we do eventually dismount the lot we will be able to mount it all back the same. It would be ideal to have a tractor devoted solely to cultivating so that the cultivators could be left on untouched.

The tractor in the garden with the cultivators on.

The main order of seeds from William Dam Seeds has been sent, it might be several weeks before we get it, and we still have not yet heard from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery regarding our tree and shrub order but that should come available soon. The trees from Silver Creek Nursery have all been planted with the exception of rootstock. We will be getting scion wood for these any time now and get them in the ground and grafted.

The rows of garden looking over the tractor. Yhe rows here have compost dumped on that will be worked in with the tractor cultivators and things like lettuce, carrots, beets and many other vegetables will be planted here.

So much still to be done but still early for planting directly into the garden. We do have a lot of saved seeds that we can seed directly and also seed into trays for later transplanting.

 

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April 20, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden on this Monday afternoon. Sunny, plus 6 degrees and calm

The usual view of the garden earlier in the week on the morning after alight snowfall.

Spring is still very slowly unfolding with nice, sunny but not really very warm days and then some cloudy and rainy not very warm ones. And then there has been the occasional little snowfall which is pretty thin and stays not long at all and then there are the cold nights down to -2°C, even -4°C. But then there are the spring flowers and the swelling buds on the trees, the growing grasses and scores of various herbaceous plants; dandelion, wild lettuce, stinging nettle, clovers being just some of the common edibles along with garden plants such as mints, onion, chives, garlic and lettuce.

We can get these greens from the garden now along with carrots from last season still keeping in the basement. The greens on the plate are onion, then going clockwise, lettuce, chives, dandelion leaves and stinging nettle. All gently stir fried or with an egg omelette. Carrots separate.

The forsythia in flower with a light dusting of overnight snow.

This onion was in last weeks post and is now a bit bigger even though it got snowed on.

Straw bale, water barrels and garden tools with a thin uneven blanket of snow.

The chickens are really liking the weather when it is calm, sunny, warm and dry but not so much when it gets cool, windy and wet. They’ll mostly stay inside then. The hens are laying a little better this week in spite of the variable and not so really warm weather.

Chickens and Turkeys really liking this days warmth.

Digging a big hole in the ground and having a dust bath is a great thing … if you are a chicken

This rather nice buff rooster is living what fro a rooster is the ideal life… a few hens and a nice hole in the ground to sit in.

The cows and sheep are still ok with being inside but will soon be getting quite anxious to be out in the warm sunshine with fresh green grass up to their knees.

The dwarf apple tree line along the garden edge is now complete

Aerron picked up a small number of fruit trees from Silver creek nursery along with  paw paw a single Kentucky coffee and a few others. The trees were mostly dwarf apples to finish the line along the edge of the garden. We did also get some root stock which Aerron will use to graft on some cuttings including from our neighbours Melba apple tree; if she is willing to let us take some. We are still waiting for the larger order from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery.

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APRIL 13, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view , a photo taken on Saturday. the grass is growing, green coming along everywhere now.

The Forsythia flowers are starting to open up.

Spring is having a little set back. But in spite of a little bit of snow and some much cooler weather at times, even below freezing a couple of overnights, everything is continuing to grow and spring flowers continue to appear. The sun shone nicely yesterday again and it was warm with a only slight wind. Now. Monday afternoon, as I right this the rain has ended, sun comes and goes, temperature is plus 9.1 and it is quite windy. Interesting that the environment Canada weather station just a quarter mile down the road is measuring temperature at 9.1 and our thermometer reads 8.8. Often they disagree, sometimes we are a little under, sometimes a little over the Environment Canada reading. Unsure just why, maybe a quarter mile makes a big difference sometimes.

The garlic survived the winter with no losses and has been growing well. needs to have leaf and straw mulch spread on it now after a pass with the wheel hoe to clean up the roads from weeds

Things are growing well in the garden, buds are swelling quite noticeably on the trees. Much work needs to get done.

A nice Welsh onion growing in the wrong spot. It is in the tomato row and there are garlic and other onion there too.

The horses have been moved to a new bit of ground where they quickly cleaned off the grass and have thoroughly manured a portion of the area; they have been pretty good at dumping manure at around the same spot. But they also have the bad habit of making it at about roughly the same spot where they get their hay. Horses are as lazy as the rest of us.

Leucan and his mother Nell. In the upper right hand corner I the sky some distance off, are crows chasing either a hawk or an eagle. I did not notice when I took the photo

We got the cultivator arms set up on the tractor and tested out the two Spider wheels  and they did a fine job. These are an 18 inch diameter wheel consisting of curved spikes radiating out from the centre that dig into the ground. they work fine but the width of ground is narrow. We need at least one more set of spiders, one more set of clamps, the two sets of spring teeth from out neighbour, and a set of wide, 18 t0 24 inches would be nice, sweeps to follow the rear tractor tires.

The spider wheel is near the top, tool shanks the right with a clamp near the bottom of the spider and a sweep on a tool shank on the right.

Aerron continues to bring from the barn pickup truck loads of manure  for the corn and vine areas. All that needs to soon be spread out evenly and worked in. He’ll soon be bringing up the well rotted, the composted manure, to be put on other areas of the garden.

A very nice looking Buff Orpington rooster feathers blowing in the wind.

It would save a lot of time and effort if we had a loader tractor for this job. We have a 1947 Cockshutt 30 that we want to put a loader on. We know of a loader in Brockville that is for a 30 we have no way of getting it here. It is in working order and at a good price too.

Chickens wondering if I might just have something they’d like.

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APRIL6, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly garden view photographed later in the afternoon of Sunday

Because the corona virus pandemic is still a huge source of concern we are discouraging anyone from coming to the farm for the next while.  We are not properly set up for sales at this time. That will have to wait until we have our roadside stand up and running which will be a week or more away. Keep watching this weekly blog, which I try to have posted by Monday evening at the latest, though sometimes I am days late, and we’ll have the latest on our situation here.

These are the rows of garlic which survived the winter really well and is now growing quite vigorously. Garlic crop should be a good one this year. We’ll try to get a straw mulch on when it is grown a little taller so as to be ready for when the hot weather comes and the rains are less frequent.

The weather has as you know, has been very nice and spring like. We are still at the in between, with lots of preparation work underway but nothing started in the garden yet. There are a lot of wild greens coming and the garlic and green perennial onions are doing well.

Dandelion will soon be ready for harvesting and as usual there is a lot of it. A real nice spring green for salads and to gently cook just as you would spinach.

This is the wild lettuce which will be large enough to harvest in a few days. This like dandelion is a bitter green but when young like this not so much. Mix with something else, do it up in an egg omelette or have it with a tomato sauce and the bitterness is not noticed.

The radicchio is coming along nicely

On Saturday we went to our neighbours to look at a set of cultivators for the tractor. These were not complete. We still needed the lift arms, which are a substantial part of the entire mechanism. We had found a set of cultivators on Kijiji so we arranged to get those and went on Monday. That was an entire afternoon’s outing as they were located in Vienna, near to Port Burwell. Price was reasonable and he was very helpful to us in providing much information on the setup and use of the cultivators. We are still trying to get these fitted to the tractor then we’ll have to do work with them in the garden likely with much adjustment until they work to our satisfaction.

Some of the bits for the cultivators. It will all become obvious when we have it installed on the tractor.

Aerron moved the horses to another pasture on the east side of the house. They had been on the same large area all winter long so as the grass is starting to grow it was past time to move them to  a smaller area and allow that winter pasture to recover and grow.

The he perennial green onions and chives are coming along nicely.

These spring bulbs were planted last fall and will gradually increase in number over the years. They just look nice in the early spring. Some colour for the drabness of winter which is still everywhere.

Chickens and ducks are still slowly increasing the number of eggs that they are laying but not yet recovered to their maximum though we expect that will happen soon. They are all older hens so their lay rate is going to be less than in their first year. The older heritage breeds whose lay rate declines substantially in the winter are much better layers than the special hybrid chicken which though they lay large numbers in the first year, substantially decline in second and third years and are generally a less robust healthy chicken. Laying large numbers of eggs in the first year seems to be somewhat detrimental to their life expectancy. But the chickens really do like this nice spring weather.

The hens are outside nearly all the time now just searching around for morsels of food or digging up a dust bath in a warm sunny spot.

A nice looking rooster staed between me and his hens. Not aggressive just more curious.

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March 30, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday. a very nice warm but windy day. The clouds were quite stormy looking but little rain in the afternoon and temperature was a very high +18C.

Cat and a crocus. No reason except that it is sort of interesting and there must be some tale for telling here. There is a tail for sure.

The corona virus pandemic must be foremost in our minds and actions still this week and for a good many more weeks to come. We are mostly staying isolated at home here on the farm. Thursdays and Fridays we deliver eggs leaving them on doorsteps, knocking at the door or ringing the bell  and retreating a safe physical distance with payment by money at the step or by e-transfer. Much better than having anyone come to the farm at this time of year and this stage of the pandemic. This will change as we start putting out vegetables at the roadside stand and as we start having CSA vegetable pickups at the farm. We will then have to work out procedures to ensure that everyone maintains social distancing as I’m sure that much of these precautions and mitigation efforts will still be in force by June. That is but two months away. Nine weeks.  Sixty three days. I wonder what the world will look like then?

We need to have a little bit of fun. A result of efforts by William, Gabriel and Aerron. I leaned my back against this bale today sheltering fom the high winds. I could feel the bale jiggling slightly from the wind.

In the meantime a lot of work needs to be done and we still have not been able to seed though it does look much better now and we’ll be sure to get something going in the garden in the next few days. In addition the stinging nettle, rhubarb, wild lettuce and dandelion will soon, maybe as soon as two weeks but likely a little longer, be ready for harvest. Our first greens which will sustain us well into June.

These are perennial onions which are growing quite nicely now and will be harvested by breaking off individuals from the cluster for use as green onions.

This is one of the cabbages planted last fall. Most came through the winter and are growing back nicely. we’ll likely have to harvest them early as they are going into their second year and may realize it.

Also coming in the garden are some things from last season. The perennial onions are doing well and should be ready soon. Some of the cabbages planted late last fall are coming and may be O.K. to harvest young in a few weeks.

The chickens, outside sorta being chicken hiding from the wind but running up when I came ’cause a hen never knows what goodies people might throw out to them

This rooster waled along with his hens, head up and alert all the while as his hens looked for tasty morsels on the ground.

The chickens and ducks are doing well and the hens are starting to lay a little more again. They had shown a spurt in numbers laid a couple of weeks ago but then leveled off in numbers and showed no increase for a week and there were a large number of broken eggs. The ducks though have shown a slow but steady increase. Ducks are so much more reliable than a lot of chicken breeds. We have been collecting the chicken eggs more frequently to avoid breakage.

Pretty little perfectly formed flowers giving needed colour to the winter drab that still pre dominates.

This was the only spring bulb that has come up so far that is not yellow.

Well into spring now, the spring bulbs have begun to bloom and we still have about three ewes left to lamb with about 10 lambs running about now. There are two new calves under two months and a third due within weeks. The cows and sheep will have to stay inside for another month at least, until the grass is ready for them. We did not have a suitable outside area for them this spring. the horses are still out on the area they were wintered on but will move any day now to a smaller area and stay there until the pastures are ready. it is far more important to have the horses outside than the cows or sheep as they much more  easily run into problems with dust from hay when indoors. Our horses are always fed outside, hay on the ground not in feeders. When we give the horses a grain supplement to help them through the coldest part of the winter they get it in small shallow rubber containers again to keep dust breathed in to a minimum.

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MARCH 23, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view early on Monday after an early spring snowfall. This disappeared quickly. Looks nice though and it was not too cold and there was no wind.

The first thing to be talked of is the Coronao virus and how we will be affected and how we are going to change to accommodate things such as physical distancing. We expect to have some vegetables to be ready for sale at our roadside stand as early as the first weeks of April and vegetables ready for the CSA to begin at the end of May. It is only about 60 t0 70 days away when sharers will be coming to the farm for veggie pick ups. We have to work out just what we will do, perhaps we will have to deliver for at least some of the while or work out a carefully planned schedule of pick ups at the farm so as not to have more than one at a time getting veggies. That should be something that we can work out easily enough. Thing change quite rapidly. We are all well so far.

We are still taking on more CSA sharers for the 2020 CSA vegetable season. Small share $400.00. Large share $700.00. Small working share $200.00. Large working share $350.00.

The tractor is under the plastic at the right foreground. The blade is still on the tractor but no longer needed and will come off so as we can put the cultivators on.

Spring was set back Monday morning as cold air along with a snowstorm has left a nice covering of snow here. The temperature  slowly rose and was -0.2°C at 8 a.m. on it’s way to a forecast high of +5°C. It has been a bit cooler this past week with at least two nights very cold at around -7 to -9°C and day time temperatures at closer to zero than we’d like.  All this means we have been burning through a lot of firewood to keep the house and yurt warm. The side effect of this is that we use less electricity as cooking is done on the woodstove instead of using the electric, but produce more air pollution in the form of fine particulate matter and small amounts of various not so good for us chemicals. We run the stove hot for a very large percent of the time so we do usually, probably, have a more efficient combustion. And so long as wood growth stays well ahead of wood burning then we are neutral in the production of CO2, I think, though this really amounts to a carbon offset, unless we are growing enough to take from the atmosphere the same amount of carbon that we put into it over the course of our heating season.

We still have not yet begun planting. No seeds yet directly into the ground though if next week warms and dries a bit we’ll do that. The first seeds to go in will be lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other greens. We’ll try some radish and turnips though they are a bit of a gamble because of the root maggot. Flea beetles can devastate some of the cole crops such as kale, cabbage, mizuna and other Asian greens. we’ll also seed some summer squash, zucchini and the like and though they do need well warmed soils the seeds will be there ready to go when it gets warm enough. That is the plan anyway.

The dwarf apple trees that we planted last spring along the gaden edge at the driveway can be seen in the middle foreground along the right as a line of sticks each with a bamboo pole to mark where they are and to provide support if needed.

The orders for trees, shrubs and berries has gone in and we are now waiting for a pickup date. The sooner the better. There are a lot of trees to go in and they need to be planted as soon as possible.

Chickens in the snow .This was over a week ago and they just huddled at this spot for quite a long time.

The chickens are mostly liking the somewhat warmer weather.  The egg production has been up a bit though we expect that it will go up quite a bit more as the weather warms over the next few weeks.

Hay delivery earlyTuesday morning. This should give us all the hay we need until the grass has grown enough to feed all the herbivores on the farm.

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MARCH 16, 2020 FARM NEWS


The garden late in the day on Sunday. My car parked their as the lane and ground nearer the house is soft.

I’m starting to write this blog late Sunday evening and am having difficulty getting my photos loaded so this post may eventually go out with no photos. My trusty Canon camera of the past 11 years has in untrustworthy fashion, quit, and until I can either get it repaired or replaced then I have to rely on a phone camera and the photos e-mailed to me so I can load them to my computer. There is a little patch cord to connect camera directly to computer but nothing happens.

The chickens really like to get out in the sun and warmth and the recent much better weather, even though cold at nights has seen a big increase in the number of eggs that the chickens and the ducks are laying.

The e-mail with photos are not gong through apparently because of traffic on out internet service provider Silo wireless. Hopefully sometime it the night the photos will go through and then in the morning I can begin the process of loading the to the computer then to this post. Writing now on Tuesday I can report that the photos did come through on the e-mail late in the morning yesterday and I was able to load more yesterday quite quickly. But other things have since gotten in the way and now here it is, mid-afternoon Tuesday. Corona virus takes up a little time. I’m in that small proportion of the population that is most vulnerable, is most at risk, so it behooves me to pay attention.

The cutting and stacking of firewood continues. All of this wood is for the next season.

But the farm goes on, spring marches closer though the weather the past week and projected into next week, seems to be a bit stalled in following the calendar.  Days sometimes in the high plus single numbers then the nights still getting well below freezing. Still spring arrives at 5:37 a.m. on the 20th, almost three whole days from now. Still all the other signs are around us, spring bulbs poking up here, snow drops in the most unlikely spot, no more Tundra Swans, they have been gone past us on their way to Manitoba for about a week now. Killdeer heard last week, a sure sign, lots of other bird species returning. The coyote a lot more interested in take out chicken dinner the last while, Pups no doubt under development  and due to appear soon.

Where the tractor is now parked was a pile of lumber but now nicely cleaned out and the ground scraped. after this photo some of the wood in the previous picture has been piled to the right side of the tractor.

We will soon be able to start working in the garden, just a little too soft still though if we can do something with just hand tools we could maybe get a row or two of some early vegetables planted, lettuce, radish, spinach, broccoli, things that frost, which is bound to come again several times, will not much affect. We’ll see about getting the tractor fitted with cultivators so that we can prepare one or two rows as we need them. We need to get a bucket loader for our Cockshutt 30 tractor to move stuff, dirt, bales, manure but the only one I can find so far is in Brockville and we have not figured out how to get it here. Aerron still frequently brings a daily load of manure to the garden though lately soft ground has frustrated that work several times.

A few snow drops have popped up in one of the planter boxes at the CSA pick up shed area.

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MARCH 9, 2020 FARM NEWS


The garden view late on the Monday afternoon. Everything looking a little drab in a bright sun, and a lot muddy.

On Monday morning last at 8, I went to the emergency at the Brantford General hospital (BGH) because of chest tightness and shortness of breath, which had been getting steadily worse over the previous week. The system eventually spat me out and I was home by 4 p.m. on Friday having been diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation and prescribed a blood thinner and a beta blocker.  The care given was first class, the entire staff from cleaners to doctors was professional, courteous and caring, Even the food was perfectly fine. Whether or not they cured me is another thing and only a little more time will tell me that. I feel a lot better but still sometimes have some of the same symptoms that sent me to the emerg.

Looking up the muddy drive, next season’s firewood pled either side.

Looking back down the driveway to the firewood piles and the woodshed beyond.

However the farm went on with Aerron shouldering all the burden of keeping up the supply of firewood, taking care of the poultry and daily coming to check on me in the hospital. Marie started the fire in the mornings and kept that woodstove  fire going all day, looked after the cats and the parakeet in addition to keeping the house going. The weather has been warming and this Sunday was the warmest in a while, maxing out at +10.3°C and still at +6.6°C at 10:00 p.m. Todays forecast is for+12°C with sun (as of 8 a.m. it is +6°C) and then we get into a few days of rain.  As I finish this I notice that Environment Canada has the max recorded today at +14.1°C. Though temperatures are not to be quite so warm, these temperatures, along with the rain, will be sufficient to rid us of any lingering frost and the good bit of mud we are already dealing with will get worse long before it gets better. The truck and tractor will remain parked and no manure, straw of wood moved around until the ground firms up.

The muddy, impassable lane way at the pickup area. The little guy’s car looks to be mired. Today’s warmth, sun and wind dried things up a lot though.

There have been a few lambs born and the two new calves are doing well. Everyone is very anxious to be out and the warming and increased day length are going to make the cows and sheep all that more anxious to be out on pasture. That will have to wait until the grass gets some good growth and that is not likely to be until mid May.

The morning flock at breakfast. The roosters alert as always and cluck clucking away so as to get hens to come see their wonderful food find

The overwintered perennial onion are just imperceptibly starting to green up.

We had submitted the order for trees, shrubs and berries with Whiffletree Farm and Nursery a couple of weeks ago and the quote has come back. We need to make a small adjustment to our order then that is done and we’ll get our trees likely sometime in April. They will go into the ground as soon as we get them, no delay, they are bare root. In order to be ready we’ll start preparing planting holes as soon as the ground has firmed up a bit. Next week? Some seeding of vegetables into trays in the house will start this week. Just a few things, kale, broccoli an early cabbage variety. We can clean up last season’s chard as a large part of it appears to have survived the winter and is now looking to grow back. The perennial onions will also need to be cleaned up and trimmed back and some can soon be transplanted. The rhubarb bed needs cleaning up and a bit of well done compost spread on it. We can also seed some lettuce into the garden just as soon as the ground can be walked on. We’ll get some other things in as the ground dries and warms and begin to work on the various structures here, a roadside stand, the pond, repairs to the house, the CSA pickup shed, an addition on the yurt. The ‘Get-things-Done’ list is long.

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