July 31, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view this morning with some progress evident.

The garden view on July 24

This is the July 31 blog but a week later I discover that it was not published as I thought it was last week.  So I shall try once more to publish this blog before I start this weeks blog:

I am pretty sure that last week was the first week since doing this weekly post that I did not have a blog or photo or anything posted.  We were really pressed for time last week, a lot seemed to be happening and when trying to do this blog I could not get access to my website for more than 24 hours and by that time there was no time, to do the blog.

The barn floor half filled with the 4 X 5 bales of oat hay. Good stuff.

So we’ll try again this week. So far so good !!

Some of the chicks that we acquired as day olds on the 28th of April. They can hardly be called chicks now. they should start laying eggs in about two months, the beginning week of October though we expect few eggs until November.

The whole day Monday was taken up, from about 10 in the morning on, with getting hay into the barn and we finished up around 8.  We had 79 of the large round bales delivered and we got over 40 tucked in the barn with the remainder in long rows just outside. The outside bales will be covered with a plastic sheet to keep the rain and snow off them. we’ll need a few more to be able to see us through the winter.  We transplanted about a half of the third lot of lettuces and are well started on getting leaf mulch and straw down on them. Lettuce is not at all keen on hot weather so a thick layer of straw mulch should help the lettuce do well. Straw mulch helps reduce the numbers of weeds and grasses that will germinate, helps retain moisture, shields from the sun thus somewhat reducing soil temperature, provides a nice shelter and a bit of food for insects and microbes and in the end is really great at building soil structure and fertility for the next season.

The cattle herd photographed near two weeks ago. They were quite happy to be on this pasture which had no animals on it until then.

We have several different varieties and this black and white one is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.

This Blue Indian Runner duck illustrates the typical very upright stance of these ducks with the contrasting stance shown by the Cayuga drake just behind her. the two white birds behind are Leghorn chickens, hens.

Last week was also the week we finished planting the potatoes. The first planting is almost ready for harvest. We took advantage of the short dry spell to do a lot of weeding and hoeing, usually and mostly with the wheeled hoe, which is easier and so very much faster and it actually does a much better job at getting the weeds

The sheep flock out eating the horse pasture and wrecking the fences too.

 

 

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July 17, 2017 FARM NEWS


This is the usual weekly garden view taken unusually on the Sunday evening. Yesterday. Change since the rain is quite noticeable.

We had a small amount of rain yesterday, Sunday, which was nice to have to follow up on the 50 odd mmm that we got on the 13th, last Thursday. Previous to that we last had a good rain on July 1, but that was only 2.8 mm. So lots of moisture now and lots of growth. Vegetables as well as weeds. Total precipitation in April was 107 mm, May was 109mm and June was 73. So much better than last year.

The rows oriented north-south with potatoes looking good and just starting to flower and in the foreground left newly prepared rows for the last late seeding of potatoes.

We still have a lot of things to be seeded and a few things yet to be transplanted. But this week again we did get a lot in.  So we are very late with our planting but slowly catching up. Much will be coming ready over the next few weeks including kale, potatoes, broccoli and basil and more. Everything is looking good.

To the far right are the lettuces, many of the early planting have bolted toe seed, next are three rows of kale and on the right is a row of Brussels sprouts.

In the centre of the picture is a row of cabbage with two more rows to the left and two rows of broccoli to the right.

Nine rows of onions some of which are being pulled as green onions. most will be allowed to mature as slicing onions and keepers.

All the animals are well. New calf last week, must get a photo. The calf and the mother are doing good and are on pasture with all the other cows. The young ducks have been moved to another spot so that they now will be sharing pasture with the older ducks. They will need to be kept in their house separate from the old ducks until the young ones are familiar with their new house. This will be only two or three days then they’ll be free to explore the new location and wander more or less freely. They won’t be allowed near the garden, ducks love lettuce. The chickens continue to lay eggs though the lay rate for the older flock of hens is dropping off and there are more frequent breakages.

The young ducks, nearly full grown, in there new location. They, like all ducks are a nervous bunch.

 

 

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July 9, 2017 FARM NEWS


A pretty hectic week as this was the first week for the CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) veggie pick ups here at the farm. The daily work is all aimed at getting caught up in the garden. We have had a lot of volunteer help over the past few weeks and also working share help this week.  We are getting a lot planted, it is just that there is a lot to be planted and as always we have a lot planted and a lot more to go in. Big thank yous to all who have helped, it is very much appreciated.

 

The usual Monday morning garden view

The chickens and ducks are all well.  The chicks that were day olds at the end of April are now getting to be quite large.  They will begin laying eggs around the last week of September. They will not be laying at a good rate until mid-October at the earliest and the egg size will be small for the first month or more.  We have several different chicken breeds. Several are for trial.  We are looking for a hen that will lay a good number of eggs over the year and will have a good weight and be suitable for a meat chicken, not just a soup hen, at the end of lay, and for a chicken that is still good as a meat chicken after more than two years. We got the various breeds knowing some seemed to have these characteristics. The chicken also has to do well under our conditions.

The cabbages, cauliflower and broccolli

Four buff ducks . They are very good layers though they have just now started to fall off a little bit in egg production.

The pastures could do with more rain as could all of the vegetable garden. We have not had a good rain since July 1, and though things are not nearly desperate as yet, it is getting a bit dry, and we have to do a lot of watering of the vegetables. Ideally we would like about an inch of rain every week. Not too much to ask? But the temperatures have not been too warm in the day, not over 30. and the nights are comfortable in the range of 15 to 18ºC.

The tomatoes in our version of a hugelkulture bed.

The cows, horses and sheep are eating up there pastures at a pretty good rate but are not down to eating just hay, just yet. We have not harnessed the horses for work for a week now but should soon as a few empty garden beds could do with another cultivation to get the weeds down.

Nell and Marta on an extended break

An ordinary week seeing Aerron working late; until 1:00 in the morning and the usual quitting time being around 10 or 11. Not so good really but only because we were overwhelmed in the spring. Lots of reasons which I’ll have to delve into another time.

This is the little silkie rooster that has decided to move in with the ducks. they get along well.

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July 3, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view at a somewhat earlier hour than normal. about 8 am. should finally be able to see things growing out there.

This week will be the first week of pick ups for our 2017 CSA season.  Look at our CSA page in this website for more information on how that works. A very busy and productive week transplanting veggies from the growing trays into the garden. Still more to be done and more seeds to go into the ground.  We also have to hoe and mulch a lot of the garden and even put down some more compost in places. What is planted is growing well and though we have been late getting things into the ground there will likely be a very good harvest.

Onions to the left and centre, Broad beans to the right and the Garlic far right.

Broccolli , Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Kale all needing a quick hoeing.

The weather has been both good and bad for us. Good because we have had a lot of rain and the temperatures have not been too hot.  Bad, but not really so bad, because it has been a little too cool daytime and often too very cool at night. And the rain has been a little much at times though we’d always like to have too much rain than too little.

Looking across at the lettuces and the cole crops. empty growing trays at the right.

All the animals are doing well. the horses were worked quite a little bit over the past two weeks and they have not been too bad. They don’t stand well and the one, Marta is quite fidgety especially before setting out and when we are trying to hook to a piece of equipment. Can be difficult most times and somewhat dangerous. We have to be very careful and one of us has to be on the lines at all times. No setting the lines down for even a brief few seconds with this team.

The hugel bed with two rows of tomatoes, thanks to Mihaela. A lot of sticks and branches covered with compost and soil and then rye straw on top. Welsh onions to the left.

The roadside stand should have a small selection of our veggies in it this week for the first time.

Nell and Marta having a rest in the pasture.

 

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June 26, 2017 FARM NEWS


This is our version of a hugelkulture garden bed. All the straw in the immediate foreground is straw off the big round bale just waiting to be spread. There is a row of Welsh onions to the left but in the spread out straw can be seen the two rows of recently transplanted tomato plants and between the rows is a mound with sticks and earth and composted manure covered with straw and with the straw under the plants. too. All this to suppress weeds, retain moisture, provide nutrients and eliminate soil splash to the foliage thus reducing the spread of molds and the dreaded blight.

I have been unable to load more than this one photo. It can take more than 10 minutes to load a photo to WordPress and after 5 more tries I could not get another photo loaded.  It comes up as an http error, which is a pretty meaningless concept to me.

We cannot complain too much about the weather this season. We do have abundant rain, a lot of rain but better this than to be like last year when we were so dry. Temperatures, while sometimes somewhat cool , especially at night, are not nearly so cold as last spring and the hot days not nearly so hot. Hopefully the trend will continue throughout the summer.

I’ll have to be quick with this blog as this week there has been so much more to do with planting and with preparation for the start, with the first week of July, which is next week, of our vegetable CSA pick ups. Earlier today I had to go out to put the trays of peppers under the tables to give them some shelter in the event of a repetition of yesterday’s hail. We’d had two separate storms drop some hail on us on Sunday and though most everything was just fine, a lot of the peppers and a few eggplant suffered damage to leaves and many pepper leaves were knocked off.  Not so much that the peppers will not recover but still there is no point in subjecting them to more damage. More damage from Sundays hail may show up in the coming days.

We have a lot of the seeds and transplants in but there is much more still to be planted. We are somewhat behind where we’d really like to be but once it is all in we should have a much better result this year than we had last.

If anyone has been thinking of getting a CSA share from us please do contact us right away to let us know. The small share is $400 and the large share is $700. And as mentioned it all starts July 4,  Some sharers will pick up veggies on Tuesday July 4 and others will pick up on Thursday July 6.  There is not going to be a lot at first nor for the next few weeks but come the end of July and into August we should be overwhelmed with produce. that’s the plan!

Everything else and everyone else (chickens and all 4 legged critters) is fine.

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June 19, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view. a few changes from last week.

William standing beside the kale plants from last year which have gone to seed. The seed heads are quite a bit higher than William.

It rained nicely on Sunday which was a great relief as we had been getting pretty dry. It was not a lot of rain, but it did wet the ground down a good 6 inches or so. the environment Canada weather station just down the road from us recorded 8.7 mm of rain for yesterday. Before that we had only 3.4 mm on the 4th of June and it was on the 25th of May that we last had a real significant amount of rain, 23.8 mm, and prior to that 14.9 mm on the 21. A total for May of some 109 mm of rain so May was a good, moist month. We do though need a little bit more rain over the next few days to keep us happy.

Some of the trays of veggies awaiting transplanting to the garden.

The onions and broad beans with straw mulch. Broccolli to the left.

So much work still needs to be done, so many plants and seeds need to go into the ground yet. Having had the rain will make it easier too, ground is not hard as concrete in places and cultivating and digging is so much easier.  Seeds will germinate quicker and transplants will need less water and will not be so stressed. The slightly cooler temperatures will also be better. We can also work faster and for longer periods of time when it is a little cooler. Much is planted in the garden and much more still needs to go into the ground.

The chicks which are now about 7 weeks old. They have grown a lot but not near as much as the ducklings. The ducklings are about 8 weeks and are very near full grown.

The 8 week old ducklings waddling quickly to their favourite spot under the little apple tree.

All the animals are doing just fine. Still mostly adequate pastures and as with all plants, the pasture plants will now be growing much better now that they have had some rain.

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June 12, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden. Hard to yet see the changes as everything is still very small.

We have downsized our chicken flock somewhat over the past two weeks. The two older flocks were combined over a month ago and we then selected out those that seemed to be laying. This is done by a physical examination of the hen looking at it’s general appearance, especially around the head looking at the eye and the colour of the comb and wattles and the tissue surrounding the eye. The vent is examined as it is obvious from the vent appearance whether or not the hen is laying and we look for signs of obvious unhealthiness.  From this the hens that were retained as still laying, were passed on to Aerron and Maggies friends and to Heather and Kevin next door as older layers, and the ones culled out went on Monday last to ENS Poultry near to Elora where they were killed, plucked, cleaned, weighed and packaged.  We took them there, a one and a half hour journey the one way, for 8 in the morning and returned there for 4:30 in the afternoon to pick them up. This facility is well run by Mennonites and provincially inspected.  I actually was talking to the inspector while unloading.

The ducklings in their favourite spot to take it easy. Under the small apple tree.

The remaining birds are all younger. There are two flocks of layers, one acquired as ready to lay early last fall and the other acquired in March again as ready to lay.  The fall gotten flock will be retired out at about a year old, as older layers to be given away and the non laying of them  will go for more soup hens. At about this time our chicks acquired as day olds at the end of April will be starting to lay. The chicks are all older heritage unusual even somewhat rare breeds.  They mostly do not lay near as well as our present laying flock but they will do better over all as a free range farm flock on whole grains and scraps. And they really look nice. Some of these are a dual purpose chicken making nice roasters when young and being good though not excellent layers. Some of these breeds should make very good roasters when they are well matured too.

Vegetables in trays and various plants in pots all awaiting transplanting into the garden.

The garden planting continues though very much more slowly than we’d hoped. We are doing too many things too slowly. The present hot weather slows us down too and we cannot do transplants when it is this hot but tomorrow is to be cooler and transplanting can resume.  Still much to go in. The transplants look really good and things will grow very quickly as long as we keep them well watered.

A look across the garden. Lots of bare ground so far. Lettuce growing in amongst left over garlic with this seasons garlic and onions growing in the far background, straw mulch all around.

Aerron has used the single row horse drawn cultivator a lot to prepare the garden.  We have reduced our tillage. as at one time, years ago, we would have plowed, then used the disc harrows and then used the cultivator to finish the ground preparation. Now only three to six passes with the cultivators works well. We are also putting down compost in each bed, not a lot, but not a lot is needed and will mulch with straw to retain moisture, provide cover for life and more food for the critters in the soil as the season and the year goes along. The horses also are making more work for us as they are still not all that well trained to work. We got them that way. They do not stand well and do not back well. They need a lot of training work but we don’t have time for that so their training is as they do garden or wagon work. It requires two of us to hitch to an implement and one of us always has to be on the lines at all times. This is a real nuisance.  Flies have been bothering the horses too. We know how to eliminate the tiny gnats that get in the horses ears but the face flies and body flies are another matter and these are the major nuisance.  Deer flies are not too bad but horse flies can cause a real dangerous situation as horses get real agitated and hop around a lot when they buzz about. Fortunately they are rare.

Cows, sheep and horses are well and grass is good. No hay in yet though.

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