January 8, 2015

This view last week was wet with puddles and foggy.

This view last week was wet with puddles and foggy.

The holidays are over and we can now get down to serious work with a lot less distraction.  There are many little winter time projects that still need doing; maintenance and repair stuff in the main.  One priority now is to finish the updates and changes to the annual Devon Acres Farm brochure.  This is where we describe us and what we do, where to find us, how the CSA works, how to find out more and to contact us.  I have done the updates to the various pages on this website to bring the whole thing up to date, with the exception of the brochure and the CSA which will have to wait at least another two weeks, hopefully not much longer than that.

The garden looks much more wintery than just a week ago.

The garden looks much more wintery than just a week ago.

The other major bit of work is planning for the coming 2015 growing season. We already have the main seed catalogue, the one from William Dam Seeds near Dundas and many of the others that we will be checking will be on-line.  Most of the seed planning is merely modifying what we have done over the previous years and by remembering things from conversations with CSA share members (I have written a lot of these thoughts down) and what sorts of things seem to be most popular.  We are expanding the CSA for 2015 so we need to be sure to plan to grow enough for the CSA and for sales from an on the farm store or roadside stand and maybe even at a farmer’s market.

The horses at a windless area of their pasture.

The horses at a windless area of their pasture.

Leucan the colt keeping warmer.

Leucan the colt keeping warmer.

Wednesday is very cold and Wednesday evening is supposed to be mmmmuch colder.  Lots of wood burned during weather like this;  very cold and very windy.  A good guess would give us something like 70 to 80 days before we can get anything into the ground and that would be with a warmish March. We’ll see, but spring is a coming.

From the left, a REd Silkie rooster, a Welsumer hen, a Barnevelder hen.

From the left, a REd Silkie rooster, a Welsumer hen, a Barnevelder hen.

One other major bit of work to be done is with the horses, the new team and the young colt.  Nell and Marta must be worked up over the winter so that come spring they be reliable enough to use in the garden.  At the beginning, in early spring they likely will be used full days all week each week, as weather allows, for about two weeks, maybe even three.  This will all be ground preparation and hauling compost from the barn to the garden.   That work should have them trained enough that they will be able to be used for the finer work: running the single row cultivator down rows of delicate young seedlings that don’t like to be trod on, run over with the cultivator, or have dirt thrown all over them.  Over the next few weeks we will hitch them to the wagon with Leucan the colt trotting alongside and go around fetching up fire wood to draw back to the firewood pile near the house.

Welsumer hen.

Welsumer hen.

A Barnevelder hen.

A Barnevelder hen.

Black Copper Marans Hen.

Black Copper Marans Hen.

A Grey Silkie hen.

A Grey Silkie hen.

The hens continue to lay really well.  The laying rate is way up around  90%, consistently, for the main flock of ISA Brown chickens while the special flock; Silkies, Brown Leghorns, Welsumers, Barnevelders and Marans, is now laying very much better than before.  They are around 25%, which for these breeds is, we think, a good winter lay.  The colder than usual and windy weather may begin to affect the lay.  The chickens and ducks mostly stay inside these days and they are usually shut up a little early.  The eggs are liable to freezing if not gathered often and everyone’s water gets frozen quickly too.

The ducks in the yard just outside their door.

The ducks in the yard just outside their door.

The ISA Brown hens, our main laying flock, all huddled and keeping warm inside.  Unlike the ducks, not single hen ventured outside.

The ISA Brown hens, our main laying flock, all huddled and keeping warm inside. Unlike the ducks, not single hen ventured outside.

 

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2 Responses to January 8, 2015

  1. Robert Feagan says:

    it must be me hankering for a simpler life, and a chicken on your farm sounds like a good way to go (though they must be pretty hardy to handle this current weather!)

    • devonacres says:

      It only appears to be simple, or maybe we just make it complicated. Even if you are a chicken it can be a little complex navigating the very real and potentially (for the chicken) dangerous pecking order and avoiding predators. Considering that the ancient forbears of our present chicken breeds originated in S.E. Asian tropical rain forests it is quite amazing that they can thrive under sometimes pretty cold conditions. They are prone to getting frostbitten combs and wattles though, especially the roosters possessing the large flashy variants but other than that they’ll do o.k. Cheers to all.

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