September 25, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view on the day before.

A bit of a short blog and few photos this week as I have not been able to find very much time to spend on it and the photos are very slow to  load to the website.

A very hot week again which is really quite nice for the vegetables. But we are also getting quite dry which is really not so nice for the vegetables.  We have been doing some watering in the garden now for the past week and more. We have only a single sprinkler head that we move every hour or hour and a half. The water source is our well which is capable of supplying the water that we are taking out this way but we have no other easily gotten water. Hopefully we will get some rain within the next three days but it does not look too promising though cooler weather seems to be coming after Wednesday.

Peppers. The worm’s eye view.

On Saturday we had our annual potluck supper and farm tour for our CSA members. We had a pretty good turnout though we missed several who were unable to make it that day. The supper was really nice with some very inventive delicious dishes of veggies served up. we did a bit of a farm tour before the meal but we need to rethink how we do the tour as it takes too long because we spend a lot of time talking about everything. We need to do more of these throughout the season.

Setting out on the farm tour and already bogged down in a long detailed explanation.

Moving along nicely on the tour through the garden.

We are now a little better stocked up on beef and we have another beef going to the butcher’s on October 3 and several lambs will be going in over the next month too. Contact us if you are interested. Send an e-mail, don’t use the comments section as It is difficult to use from my end.

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September 18, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view

Now, with only three days until the end of summer we are getting some really nice, sustained warm weather. But it has been very dry. We have started to do a bit of irrigation but as usual our supply of water is not very great and we don’t have the means of getting a lot on to the garden anyway. So hopefully we will get a good dump of rain before too long but also we hope that the warm weather continues long into the fall.

Without the rain the Kale while still looking good has slowed in growth. There are 4 different kinds of kale in this photo

We have split a good lot of wood over the past two weeks and have gotten a pretty good pile, just a little more than a full cord is now stowed away out of the rain in the woodshed. We begin preparations for the coming winter.  Much of the work throughout the garden from now on will be to get the garden prepared for next season so that our workload will be eased in the spring. We will be planting garlic and mulching the garlic with straw very soon and we will also be making up and preparing beds and rows and then covering the empty rows with straw. Then come planting time in the spring we will pull back the straw just a bit, do our seeding or transplanting, and push the straw back around the new plants. We will try to do as much of that as we can.

These two rows are prepared for planting but will just be covered with straw for the winter so that they will be ready to plant into in the spring.

The sheep and cows on the middle pasture Sunday afternoon. Heather’s photo.

We have about 30 bales of hay coming soon and these along with the ones that we got earlier in the summer, will do to feed the horses, cows and sheep until the grass grows again in the spring and maybe we will have two or three left over. We are also getting more straw bales, mostly for garden mulch.

A grey Cochin hen, one of the spring hatch.

Blue Cochin rooster.

Chickens and ducks doing great and they are still laying quite well with the young ducks beginning to lay and the young chickens, hatched at the end of April, expected to begin laying mid October.

 

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September 11, 2017 FARM NEWS


The Monday morning view of the garden. A fine, warm, no wind Monday morning.

A short blog this week. Photos have been loading very slow, up to 10 minutes to get a single photo to upload to WordPress,  So that has delayed the publishing until now.

The cabbages half mulched.

The weather has been less than ideal because of the very cool nights, down to as low as 4 C some nights and the days are often only about 20 if that. This is, of course, nice weather for working but less than ideal for growing things such as basil, tomato, pepper, eggplant. These are not producing well at all and though they do not seem to have any cold damage yet that is always a possibility and that will finish them. If we could get a warm period with night temperatures not less than 18 and some day temps around 25, then we should get a lot of fruit growth.

To theleft is the basil after harvest and very slowly growing back, Basil needs a lot of sun and heat. Next, to the right is the ground cherries which are producing slowly and have a lot of yellowed leaves that are likely due to cool weather and damp. To the far right are the hot peppers which have a lot of nice green foliage and are mostly a good size but have not so many fruits.

Some of these potato varieties are only slightly bothered by blight and others significantly affected.

 

The cabbages half mulched.

Sweet peppers looking very good with lots of healthy foliage on sturdy tall plants and quite a bit of fruit though none is near mature.

The celery is looking good though it is not all that tall and we did not attempt to blanch it.

We have some things doing quite well though nothing is producing as well as it could and plant diseases have been evident in nappa cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes and tomatillos. The tomatoes effected by blight, and that is nearly all of them, are pretty much destroyed and our harvest of tomatoes has been and will remain very, very tiny compared with what should have been there.

A khaki Campbell hen duck doing the usual duck snuffle looking for tasty insects.

All the chickens and ducks are thriving and some of the ducks hatched mid April, have begun to lay eggs. Not so much yet but in about a month they might be laying well though we expect none to lay well over the winter.

Nell and Marta. Their forelocks need deburring.

Nell and Marta just snoozing and enjoying a nice quiet warm morning.

The horses, cows and sheep are doing well and w have not fed out much hay yet as the pastures have mostly stayed good with the plentiful rain.

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September 4, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view. The bags in the foreground brought 15 minutes earlier by the wood guys from Paris. Compostable twigs and vegetation.

September already but we are hoping for another two months of vegetable growing. It has been unusually cool for much of the summer and is now quite a bit cooler, especially the nights. Warm weather would certainly help things to grow and hot weather would be even better. The cool nights are especially bad for growing vegetables such as tomato, basil, cucumber, pepper, and eggplant. Yes, we need a good July heat wave about now.

The cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli straw mulched half way and wqith a wheelbarrow of compost headed for a little bit more at the other end.

And, just to the left of those cabbages, with an empty bed in between, is the Kale and to the far left again is the lettuce.

The eggplant and the cherry tomatoes with to the far left I a bed of peppers, two rows and over to the far right a single row of sprawling tomatillos.

Blight has affected the potatoes to varying degrees depending on the variety of potato. there are two blights that affect potato as well as tomato. Late blight, Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete and is what caused the great potato famine in Ireland. The other, and likely the one that we have, is called Early blight, Alternaria solani which is fungal.  Difficult to treat once established and they happen fast. Less than 5 days from start to doomed plants, fruits and tubers when conditions are right, and the first stages are barely noticeable. We still have potatoes but the tubers are likely going to be affected too and the longer that we leave them in the ground the more damage will occur. Tomatoes are badly affected with only a few fruits not severely damaged.

The blue potatoes are to the left and though they do have some blighted leaves they appear ok in the photo. In the centre are 3 rows of finger potatoes which hve been severely affected by the blight but the tops are still green and growing. Off to the right are several rows of white potatoes, Kennebecs and Superior and they too are somewhat affected though not seen in the photo.

The oldest flock of chickens is declining significantly now in egg production. These are the ISA type from Pullets Plus which are coming up on one year of laying. The spring flock from Frey’s Hatchery are still laying good but we have a half dozen os so which have gone broody so they are not laying eggs at all. The young chickens, hatched at the end of April will not be laying eggs until at least the end of the month and likely not well until the end of October. We will not give them any extra light so as e can delay the start of egg laying and thus have somewhat larger eggs.

Some of our hen’s from Frey’s hatchery, red sex links. A photo last week by Lauren Simon.

We hope to get a young bull off to the butcher’s an Tuesday morning so we’ll have more freezer beef in two or three weeks. Then we have a second one to go and several lamb as well. All the horses cows and sheep are doing well and still have a good amount of pasture.

Nell and Marta just snoozing and enjoying a nice quiet warm morning.

We will also be getting about 30 more large round bales of hay, soon, and that will give us enough hay with what we already have, to see us through the winter.

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August 28, 2017 FARM NEWS


The heading shot, the usual Monday morning garden view taken early this afternoon.

Cabbages looking good. Photo by Briar Simon.

The weather this whole season has been a mix of being both very good for growing vegetables but at the same time just the opposite.  The almost steady regular rainfall has been very good for growing but the temperatures have not always been that high especially overnights. We have had both a shortage of money and a series of equipment failures making it difficult to get things done and we just slowly got behind where we would have really liked to have been. So many things did not get planted this season and of the veggies we do have in and growing we are very late with the harvest.  Tomatoes are now suffering badly from blight and we will lose many of the less resistant varieties,  The tomato plants themselves were growing quite well. The pepper and eggplant also are growing very well and though we do have fruit set  is not as much as we’d expect and it is slow to grow and mature. But we do have a lot of other things that did grow very well and which we’ve been harvesting all summer long so there is always some silver linings.

The cabbages , cauliflower and broccoli being mulched with a wheelbarrow full of rye straw in the foreground.

The cabbages from the from the west end still unmulched. Photo by Briar Simon

The pastures for the animals have all held up well so that really helps and that is due to the frequent and adequate rain and also due to the more moderate temperatures.

Leucan and Marie, youngest and oldest. Photo by Briar Simon.

If some one comes Leucan has to check them out. Photo by Lauren Simon.

Leucan seeing what the girls have brought. He was disappointed. Photo by Lauren Simon.

The chickens are laying eggs at a good rate still and the new chickens, gotten as day olds at the end of April, are growing nicely and should start laying eggs at the end of September or more likely into mid October. When they are laying reliably good which will likely be about the end of October, then we’ll have a lot of soup birds from the older laying flock. They are still laying good but the quality is deteriorating and the lay rate has declined somewhat and will go down further.  We should have some roosters ready for roasters about then too.

Aerron and the garden cat weeding the Kale. Photo by Lauren.

We are proceeding slowly with the mulching of the garden but this all should have been done so much earlier. It will still have a benefit this season but all of it will also help for next year too.

The straw mulching crew, all two of us, Marc and myself. Bryan, the third member of the team had just left. Photo by Lauren Simon.

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August 21, 2017 FARM NEWS


The garden from the usual spot taken this morning

We had a good amount of rain this week. On Thursday alone we had just over 21 mm or just under one inch of rain.  An additional 4.3 mm had come on Tuesday and a bit of mist on Friday added another 0.5 mm. Rained pretty much all afternoon. It was the CSA pick up day, and since rain seemed a certainty, we thought it best to throw a cover up on the shelter frame. The shelter first had to be repaired and then the heavy cover hoisted and pushed up and over the side beams and the ridge pole.  That went without any problems and though the cover had numerous leaks, we were able to keep dry under it if we were careful where we stood. We had the cover in place just before the rain began. But there was of course no cover over the garden when we were out there harvesting.

The partially covered shelter for the pick up area

We had been getting quite dry and though it was not yet desperate, we had started to irrigate, and things were looking decidedly dry and in need of a good drink. What a difference a good rain makes and it is evident when comparing photos of the garden this Monday with the photos taken the past two Mondays. See the heading photos for each week, this and last.

The cabbages this Monday morning before we started to lay down straw mulch

The cabbages after the mulching has been started.

Although we have weeded a good amount of the garden  over the past week, the weeds are growing faster than ever all over.  Weeding is a never ending chore but with straw mulch on the garden the chore does become easier. So we are mulching as there is still enough of a season left for mulch to be effective and it is also an investment in the following season.

The two pepper rows on the left, cherry tomatoes with staking and mulching just started, egg plants and tomatillos beyond that.

the feather footed flock lolling around the hen house just taking in the sun and enjoying dust baths.

A really nice looking Blue Cochin Hen.

The pastures for the animals have been holding up pretty good this year. We have overall had a good amount of rain though the dry spell of the first part of August was starting to slow grass growth somewhat.  We do have to change the pasture for the one chicken flock as it is overdue and they have pretty much eaten all their grass. The chickens we acquired as day olds at the end of April are now getting to a good size and Aerron has opened up a bit of grass run for them. They should start laying around the first or second week of October. We have several breeds; Buff Brahmas, Blue Cochins, Partridge Cochins, (those first three are feather footed chickens and are a separate flock from the others), Ameracaunas, Whiting True Blue, (these two breeds are both layers of blue/green coloured eggs), Buff Orpintons, Black Australorps, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buckeye, Barnevelder and Welsumers.  Just a few of each, 10 of each breed mostly and a good number are roosters. The duck flock seems to be doing well and the older and the younger (acquired April 21 as day olds) ducks are getting along well housed and pastured together. The younger ducks should be laying well by the end of September or the beginning of October. The younger duck breeds are all good egg layers; Saxony, Chocolate Indian Runner, Fawn Indian Runner, Blue Indian Runner, Cayuga, Welsh Harlequin and Khaki Campbell.

The hen and cock peafowl or more commonly just peacocks in their new roomier house.

A Whiting True Blue

A buff Orpington scratching around under an apple tree.

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August 14, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly garden view taken this morning, August 14

The usual garden view last Monday morning, August 7.

The lettuces with Kale to the right.

We keep plugging away at things. This past week we were able to get a lot accomplished. The weather was good for us as we did have a bit of rain but plenty of dry weather too. If anything we did not get near enough rain though we’ll be alright if we get another 10 mm or more in the next few days. We really need an all day soaker with a total of at least 25 mm with near 50 being much better. But the vegetables are growing well as are all the things that veggie growers consider to be weeds … that is, of course, anything that is not a vegetable that we planted.

Eggplant, Sweet Pepper, Tomatillo

Six rows of cabbage and cauliflower nicely cleared of weeds – mostly, two rows of broccoli far right.

A really nice potato flower from a plant in our front yard. This photo taken by William.

We have managed to get the potatoes well hoed and hilled and then on Saturday we held a working bee here with 9 of us spreading straw on the spuds. These are a late planting of potatoes and the straw mulch laid thick will suppress much of the weed growth, will help to keep the soil moist, will moderate the soil temperature somewhat and ultimately as the straw breaks down over the fall and winter will provide some additional nutrients and will help greatly to improve the soil structure as it retains moisture and hosts a whole community of microbes and insects.

The young potatoes, thirty 100 foot rows of them, heavily mulched with straw.

The Blue and Partridge Cochin and Brahma chickens. These are not great egg layers but should be laying some eggs by the beginning of October.

We finished weeding 5 rows of cole crops, cabbages mostly,  and cauliflower, in preparation for spreading straw mulch there too.  We also separated some of the new chickens, the ones we acquired as day olds at the end of April. The feather footed types, the partridge Cochin, the blue Cochin and the Brahma, 37 birds, hens and roosters, are now in a separate house. We started irrigating the cole crops with a sprinkler but then it rained. we’ll start again now. We rebuilt two wheelbarrows this week. A job long overdue and they have been used quite a bit over the past few days.

Jonny D Duck by William again, wandering through the sage and oregano in the duck’s pasture.

William filling up the duck pond with ducks waiting impatiently or just doing their snuffle while the chickens could care less and in the background maybe 2 or 3 hundred thousand bees.

A buff Runner duck with a larger Saxony duck. They were the best of friends maybe they are still.

All the rest of the ducks and chickens are doing well as are the four footed critters, the horses, cows and sheep and our herd of cats.

Sleeping ducks all tucked up against the fence, the whole lot of the young ducks.

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