December 18, 2014 Farm News

The garden on Wednesday morning, December 17.

The garden on Wednesday morning, December 17.

We are working on details of changes we need to make to the CSA program for the coming 2015 season just as we have to do every year about this time.  A new brochure/information sheet is being slowly drafted and we hope to finish it before Christmas.  In  planning for 2015 we are thinking of  increasing the number of CSA sharers from 45  to somewhere around 80 for 2015.  The final number will depend on the mix of small and large shares that we accumulate through the winter months. In order to expand to 80 or so shares we need to get more help from interns as well as the help that we have been getting from our wonderful group of loyal, dedicated volunteers and working shares.  We would like to have one or two more interns who are most interested in the vegetable growing portion of our farming operations. We have advertised on the internet site GOODWORKS CANADA and if you or anyone you know is interested in an internship position here at Devon Acres Farm, read our advert at: http://goodwork.ca/job=27938 for more details.

The woodshed after repairs and replacement of poles and recovered in plastic.

The woodshed after repairs and replacement of poles and recovered in plastic.

The great winter snow storm of last Thursday gave us only a couple of centimetres and no accumulating drifts, so, for us on the farm, it caused no trouble.  We had worked late on Wednesday evening to get the plastic cover on the repaired and strengthened woodshed to keep our firewood supply free of snow.  There are still a couple of tears in the old cover that need to be taped but little snow filtered in at those points.  It looks good now and it cost little.  We only had to buy the plastic cover, nails and screws .  The wood was scrounged, costing only gas in our truck to get it here.

The ducks muddying the chickens water and the ground around.  Probably a good reason not to run chickens and ducks together.

The ducks muddying the chickens water and the ground around. Probably a good reason not to run chickens and ducks together.

Chickens not impressed with the snow but though nearly all stayed close to the chicken house entrances or perhaps even stayed inside, some ventured away nearly as far as they would on a pleasant sunny afternoon.  There were even eggs found in the usual out of the run hiding spots.  If we were to clip wings and raise the fence height then we might be able to keep them all in the chicken run and get all eggs laid inside.  That would be nice. We have the chicken house light on a timer so that the hens get around 16 hours of light each day to keep the egg lay rate up.  The chicken house is now reasonably draft free so that makes the chickens comfortable and that also keeps the lay rate up.  We are going to experiment with their feed just a little bit by giving them sprouted oats, wheat and maybe even corn.  Even on a diet entirely of sprouted grains, they should still be laying as well.  They should be getting some alfalfa hay regularly when the snow prevents foraging and covers and vegetative matter.  The ducks about a month or more ago were giving us an egg a day but have not laid any eggs at all for the last three weeks.  Don’t know why, neither do they.  I expect that they will start again soon and once the winter solstice is passed then the increasing light levels will stimulate laying I’m sure.

The planning for the 2015 season takes on new vigour now as the first seed catalogue arrived in the mail this week.  The 2015 William Dam Seeds catalogue is full of description and photos of all sorts of wonderful seeds and we’ll go through it constructing lists of old favourites as well as new stuff to try.  If anyone needs seeds for the garden or the flower beds no matter how small or large the amount required; then we recommend  that you get them from William Dam Seeds.   Their website is:   http://www.damseeds.com . They are located on Hwy 8 just north-west of Dundas so they are easily reached from Brantford and it is always nice to visit their store.

Horses, cows and sheep are happy with this weather as their is still some grass that can be reached when they go out for their day on pasture.  Cows are brought back each night to a pasture beside the barn and the sheep are put away in the barn each night.  The horses stay out on the same pasture day and night.  The colt continues to do well and the pregnant mare looks the same.  That is, she does not look pregnant.  We should find out if she is or is not in about a month or so.  Maybe sooner.  The chickens like this no snow weather just fine as they wander quite far from their quarters in search of ground to scratch and peck at. Cow and horse manure is great fun to scratch through.  If you are a chicken it is.

Many types of vegetables are flourishing in the garden even after hard freezes and drying cold winds.  There is not much of anything though. If we can get a greenhouse up and have this all grow under cover we could have veggies easily harvested well into January. All the following photos were taken on Wednesday December 17.

Satellite image of a kale plant.  Note that the leaves on the left are starting to show a little tip burn. Freeze-thaw cycles and sun and wind dry the plants. All still perfectly edible.

Satellite image of a kale plant. Note that the leaves on the left are starting to show a little tip burn. Freeze-thaw cycles and sun and wind dry the plants. All still perfectly edible.

A bird-on-the-ground's eye view of the dwarf scotch kale row

A bird-on-the-ground’s eye view of the dwarf scotch kale row

Lancinato Kale (dinosaur or black kale) with the more commonly recognized dwark Scotch kale in the background.

Lancinato Kale (dinosaur or black kale) with the more commonly recognized dwark Scotch kale in the background.

Siberian, red Russian kale with a turnip growing in between kale plants.

Siberian, red Russian kale with a turnip growing in between kale plants.

A daikon type radish  still perfectly fine and growing when the weather warms.

A daikon type radish still perfectly fine and growing when the weather warms.

An arugula plant though a little wind dryed is mostly still just fine.

An arugula plant though a little wind dryed is mostly still just fine.

A small lettuce plant perfectly fine. Wish that we had a lot more.

A small lettuce plant perfectly fine. Wish that we had a lot more.

The regrowth on a Chinese (Nappa)cabbage after the head was cut.

The regrowth on a Chinese (Nappa)cabbage after the head was cut.

Most of the Swiss chard leaves lye mortally wounded but some of them especially those small ones near the centre are perfectly fine.

Most of the Swiss chard leaves lye mortally wounded but some of them especially those small ones near the centre are perfectly fine.

 

 

 

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