May 14, 2015
Sweet Joy; It's Spring AND the Website is back!
I can't believe it; last September the website mysteriously disappeared. You could type in the url but nothing would come up. It was frustrating and annoying. Also, speaking as a luddite, I had no clue how to 'fix' it. Some tech friends assured me it was not Host Papa but the Soho platform (or somesuch) I was on. I have contact info for Host Papa but not a clue what to do for Soho. This website was kindly constructed by some apprentices we had one year. They knew far more than I want to know about computer stuff. Mind you working at the library has taught me lots and they are very good about training us whenever there's a change or shift.
A few days ago Hannah answered the phone and it was a potential customer asking us questions about what they saw on the website. What they saw on the website? As soon as I could (several days actually since we don't have the internet at home but use the public library facilities) I entered the website url hopfully. Lo and behold there it was! At long last! Immediately I tried to log in but...I had forgotten our login. talk about stupid. You are suppose to write this kind of stuff down somewhere right? Apparently I hadn't. I racked my brain; some keyparts did come back to me but it was almost a day later when I finally remembered the whole login and password. Thank heavens!
So just in case you all are wondering, Winter was hard here too. Very hard. Here are some pictures:
Every storm brought so much shovelling.
And ice. Forget hanging out laundry.
We were constantly trying to get wood to fill the wood stove in the kitchen. Fortunately we didn't quite run out of wood as we waited, almost despairingly, for Spring.
But now it's definitely Spring. Oh I know it frosted last night and there's suppose to be another heavy frost tonight but the skies are no longer grey and everything is growing. Danny and Eben and Adam and sometimes Sam have been walking the fences for almost 2 weeks. You know it's Spring because the ticks are back! (Why I think that's something to be happy about I'm not quite sure.)
So her are some more pictures:
I'm surprised they looked up when I took the picture.
So far we've had 16 calves. We're expecting a few more but I can't wait to see the calffies frisking about when we let them outside.
Finally I can do the massive amounts of laundry that have been gathering all winter; I have no dryer so can only dry a small amount at a time.
Of course no blog would be perfect without a garlic picture.
Tulips, hollyhocks and dandelions! Nothing says Spring like dandelions (and soon I must eat some).
So here we are; back in the green green grass of Spring. we'll be letting the cows out in a week or so. I can't wait. And don't worry we have lots of eggs for those among you who would like there Spring omelette. The Farmer's Market will be starting Saturday and we will have beef, lamb, jam and lots of eggs.
Doesn't the sun make you feel like be kind to each other!
June 5, 2014
I know it's the best part of Spring when I go outside and all I can smell are lilacs and appleblossoms.
I know it's the best part of Spring when I walk under a blossoming chestnut tree and am overwhelmed by the dull roar of pollinators: bees, wasps and ants.
I know it's the best part of Spring when we atart planting the vegetable garden. Not that it ever amounts too much; we seldom get around to weeding or caring for the plants. Most of the limited harvest is miraculous. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, my garden is the Autobahn.
This is the year of lots of old hay. So Danny decided to spice it up and have some fun by building a bed with walls of old square hay bales and filling it up with compost:
From here he planted some potatoes and covered them up with more old hay.
Then he decided to plant some more potatoes on the other side of the house in the old raspberry bed he had tilled up. he and Roger, the neighbour who has been helping him this Spring, covered the bed with the grass from the lawn Roger had whippersnipped the day before (it was too long to mow).
From there they spread out more seed potatoes and waited for Eben to arrive with more bales of old hay.
The guys started to spread the hay. I told them to shake out the flakes as I dont think the plants would make it through a mat of hay but to put the hay on thickly so the potatoes wouldn't burn.
Not everyone appreciated my advice. But the potatoes did get covered. My way.
Also since few blogs would be complete with out a garlic report here goes. Last Fall i was too busy to get my garlic planted (and lazy). You can however plant your garlic in the Spring if you plant it early enough. With Danny and Roger's help I did mange to do this. So here are some pictures:
Be kind to each other.
June 6, 2013
The Bees have a Mind of Their Own
Tuesday morning I got back from stretching and as I got out of the van I heard a loud buzzing noise. Odd; it's not unusual to hear insects on our farm, easpecially on sunny days when there are lots of flowers out like the chestnut trees. But this was really loud. I ommediately headed over to the apple orchard where we have a few hives. Danny called me over and sure enough we were witnessing a bee swarm
There wer lots of them and they were all sort of looking around for a place to hang out. We were having a swarm. When a bee hive gets fullish and the nectar flow is high then the bees will start to make queen cells. A good beekeeper can avoid swarms by regualarly checking their hives, say once a week, and destroying any queen cells that they find. They will also but on new supers so the bees won't feel so crowded and will focus instead on making more honey. We're not good beekeepers. I like having bees but it doesn't go much farther. Anyhow before we knew it the buzzing had settled down and there was a beachball of bees up about 15 feet in a spruce tree.
Bee swarms are amazing sights because suddenly you have a mass cluster of bees walking all over each other and you have no idea what you're looking at unless you look really hard. The naked eye has trouble believing what it's seeing.
Danny was anxious to capture the swarm and start another hive but it was up high in a tree. No one wanted to climb up the tree and try to put it in a bag or do anything to capture it. I pointed out that for a farmer who was stressed about all the things that aren't getting done in a timely fashion on our farm stopping to catch some bees was rather pointless; esopecially since one of our most important plant crops: grass is wind pollinated and doesn't require bees to pollinate. They're great for the garden, the orchard and the strawberries but they are small potatoes compared to the beef that we grow and need to be working on.
I felt I was successful in my arguements and proceeded to get ready to teach a 4H foods meeting later that afternoon.
While I was gone a friend of ours came by to check out the farm and the livestock. Danny told him about our swarm. Turns out our friend had been debating getting into bees himself.
At this point I need to apologize. I was not home and so no pictures were taken.
Apparently the guys decided to get that swarm. First they tried to get some brood from a hive because bees like to look after brood (babies). A good way to capture a swarm is to put some brood in a super, collect the bees, shake them into the hive and if you've got the queen in the hive with the rest of the swarm (not that hard) there's a good chance they'll decide to stay. No brood but Danny did get stung near his hive. I suspect that rather discouraged the brood attempt.
So our friend got in the front end loader ( I don't know if they used a pallet to make a platform or quite what the logistics were) and lifted our friend up up up to the swarm with a feed bag. The bees were shaken in to the bag. This probably isn't as hard as it sounds because in the early hours of a swarm the bees are actually quite docile. Our friend was then lowered and the bag shaken into the prepared super. It looked like they were accepting to super. There was a cluster of bees on the front of the super but most seemed to be inside. The guys were jubilant and our friend made plans to pick up the hive one evening soon.
The hive had initially been placed on a broken down mower that was near the tree. we tried adding some honey to sweeten the pot so to speak. When I came back home from my foods meeting I received a call from our friend explaing what they had done. I couldn't believe it but when Danny got back home he confirmed their foolhardiness.
Two nights later he came by for his bees. They ducktaped the joins in the hive so no bees would escaped and carried it over to his truck.
And the bees were taken to their new home. Or so we thought. This morning I received a phonecall saying the hive was empty when he went out to check on them. And then when I came home from running an errand in Middleton I opened the van to a now familiar buzzing noise. I went back out to the bee area but couldn't find the source of the buzzing. There were some in the air but I couldn't find the source. The sound started moving and then all of a sudden it was gone. The bees had decided on a new home and we hadn't been able to convince them to stay. I hope they've found a good home near all sorts of flowers and nectar. Farewell bees. I'll try to keep an eye on the rest of the hive that remained.
In the meantime be kind to each other. And to the bees.
June 1, 2013
Hello; Long Time No Talk
Spring is going ,not all the work is done. Is it ever on the farm? I think lambing and calving are over, shearing has started. I am hoping for a WWOOFer or someone who would want to learn to come and help.
Sandie says she'll write a blog soon but I don't know...
Anyone looking for a farm vacation?
September 13, 2012
September and New Beginnings
September always feels like a new beginning; perhaps because of the beginning of school. Eben and Hannah were thrilled to start school and do something different for a change. All that farming is hard work! As far as they are concerned going to school is a lot less work than making hay.
However when you're a farming September feels in no way like a begining. It feels frantic and rushed and crazy!!! Everything is ready to harvest and it's looking at you like it's your fault it's not in a bottle or a bag in the freezer. The fruit flies are anxious to make the most of whatever you're trying to save but haven't quite got around to yet. The squashes are lying in the garden calling for help to get up to teh attic. My garlic called and I almost missed it but here it is:
Hanging up in the cowshed drying. This year I harvested over a 1000 bulbs! (Where am I going to store it? I know - I'll plant it ). Just when I despaired of ever eating homegrown garlic again here it is.
It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment to go out to the shed and look at it hanging there. And it tastes divine.
The pullets, known as the white ladies here on the farm, have just stared laying. So far the eggs are tiny but they're timing couldn't be better; the older hens are almost done before their molt. Although we keep our hens until they go to the great pasture in the sky they do need to go through a molt periodically and take a rest for a while. They'll probably start laying again in March but they'll never lay as much as they did their first season.
Did I tell you that they refuse to stay in their home and every night Hannah has to catch them out of the tree they like to roost in and put them back in their house. Soon we'll move them to the bigger chicken house with the older birds but in the meantime they have their own condo. They already know one another from bumping into each other as they scratch in the yard.
Danny is still making hay, second cut mostly. With the dry summer we had the grass grew back really slowly after the first cut. And the cows kept getting out of their pastures. Thank heavens for our wonderful neighbours who let us know everytime they found one grazing in their yard and never complained. Eben and Hannah developed eagle eyes for spotting which cows were on the wrong side of the fence.
In a few weeks the kids and I will be heading to the 4H Provincial Show. Both of them are going on in several categories and I am so proud of both of them. Maybe by then I'll be able to get my new camera to speak to the computer; it takes fabulous pictures.
Until then we'll all be busy like the bees preparing for winter. Be kind to each other
June 9, 2012
Danny shares his thoughts at the beginning of June
This week we started shearing. Our summer helper,Adam and Stacey(his freind) were learning. Hannah also tried, but she wanted to do it with the hand shears .The goats had knocked over some lumber with shut off the power and we were half way a sheep. We tried the hand shears and when the power problem was solved, Hannah started her own sheep by hand . She did very well, taking a couple of breaks to rest her back. The sheep was very well behaved.We sheared ten sheep between us . We(I hope all) will be back to work at them soon.
March 22, 2012
After (another) Long Silence
This blog is dedicated to my Aunt in BC. You know who you are. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a faithful reader.
My Boss is finally back to work, while still not fully recovered she is gamefully doing her best to work at the library full time. Of course this means I'm home more and I know what's going on. Which in turn means I can blog.
Most Canadians know that cold nights and warm days in the Springtime means that the sap is running in the trees. It also means some of us will not be able to help ourselves and will collect this sap, boil it down a bit and make maple syrup. We would fall into that category.
Over March Break he started tapping but this weather is hard on tractors and roads - look at all the ruts!
It does however appear that our woods road is being selectively widened. Just for the record I walked, but when you've got lots of tools, buckets and paraphenalia to carry you opt for the tractor.
Last Fall Danny decided he wanted to clear a bit of land in our woods for pasture so he's been working at it slowly:
Being a scotchy kind of guy he decided that he's going to wait to cut down the maples that are on the piece of land he's clearing. He's going to tap them first. He tells me this means they'll dry out faster and be ready for the furnace sooner but I think he just can't help himself.
Using a drill he makes a hole (or 2) in the tree and puts in a spile or a tap for the sap to run out of and into a container. Sometimes he just uses plastic tubing. Did I tell you he was scotchy?
As you can see we'll collect the sap in just about anything
Every day or so it needs to checked; no point in letting the buckets overfill and spill the precious sap onto the ground. If this night is really cold and the day really warm it can run quite hard. Unfortunately we've been having some really warm weather lately so it hasn't always run very hard. With a cold snap forecast for tonight I'm more optimistic about tomorrow's collection.
Eben's collecting the sap to bring it home here. The 5 gallon water jugs are easier to carry than some of our other buckets so he patiently pours it in. From here it goes home but not before I appreciate some of the wood that's been cut to burn in the woodstove and furnace next winter. It helps me feel warm.
The tractor slowly heads home, widening the road a little more but the sap can be heavy so I guess I understand.
At this point it becomes my job to boil the sap down. It takes more than 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. If we had proper equipment we'd have an evaporater: a shallow container with a lot of surface area to help the steam boil off quicker. With 5 gallons of sap we don't warrant an evaporater:
Out comes my collection of preserving pots and I make Hannah fill up the woodbox again. All the sap is strained to get out any bark or moss or whatever out and I fire the stove up. Everytime it looks like the fire is dying down I fill the stove back up again. Since the stove is in the kitchen and I'm usually working in here I get quite warm. Many Springs this would be a fine thing: even on warm days, above freezing, it would still be cool but not this year. I get quite hot and look for chores in other parts of the house that still require me to pop back into the kitchen every 45 minutes or so.
As the sap boils down I consolidate it in fewer and smaller pans. Finally I'm left with one small pot with some sweet brown syrup in it. I have to be really careful at this point that it doesn't boil down too far and crystalize or turn into sugar. Maple sugar is great but it's not what I'm trying to make. 5 gallons of sap become less than a cup and a half of syrup:
It took 2 days to make but it's going to taste great on pancakes next Sunday!
We'll do this several times but we'll probably only get a litre or so of syrup in all. Oh well- we'll also be a little more self sufficient and that has it's own charm.
Although I can't help wondering if maybe Hannah isn't making a wiser use of her time.
I'll try to blog again soon - the kids and lambs have started arriving! But in the meantime be kind to eash other.
November 30, 2011
Guilt, guilt guilt
So I'm feeling guilty because I haven't blogged. All month. Ostensibly it's because I've lost/misplaced my camera. What's a blog without pictures? A frame of reference for the stories and events I tell you about? Plus my poor boss is on sick leave again; she has the worse luck. I try to console myself with the notion that if I'm at work with the books than I'm not home to take the pictures anyway. So we'll just have to muddle along.
In the big picture the structure we are building for a walk in freezer is more or less complete. It has yet to be wired though. We hope that will happen in the next week or so. At that point the question becomes do we move the freezers outside on our front porch into the building for the winter or do we continue on and finish the walk in freezer. It's a hard call. I think it's a lot of work to unpack, move freezers and repack freezers. On the otherhand the stress of committing to the project and continuing on building the freezer box and installing a compressor; it might be better to wait until Spring. I have decided to leave it all in Danny's hands. After all it's mostly work he will have to do one way or the other.
The ACORN Conference was a lot of fun. We brought Eben and Hannah with us and they attended a few of the workshops, although they both agreed with me that the Space channel is pretty cool. I gave a talk on our CSA as part of a panel on alternative CSA's and did not make too big a fool of myself which is certainly something to celebrate.
In the meantime we have moved most of the cattle home; we did that during the snowstorm last Wednesday - a snowstorm meant that there was very little traffic which made it easier to get the cows across the road. The last few nights we have been serenaded with their singing as we have weaned the cows from their calves and they constantly call to one another. Perhaps tonight will be more restful...
In the meantime we are preparing for our last Market, a Christmas Market this Saturday. Maybe we’ll see you there and you can check out the new recipe for a raspberry jalapeno chutney I’ve been trying out.
Either way be kind to each other.
November 2, 2011
This Thursday November 3rd
|This Thursday November 3rd Danny or I or both of us will be attending a focus group at Acadia University. The focus group will be discussing beef, particularly organic and/or grass fed beef and consumer conceptions. It will take place at 7 pm at Acadia University in the K. C. Irving Centre in the library room (which is apparently downstairs). Please come too if you can.
October 27, 2011
And so it begins
Actually it seems silly to start this blog with "And so it begins" but that's what it's felt like for the last 3 weeks. We've finally started our walk in freezer. Not without a lot of thought and consideration and not without the fear that it's not a good infrastructure decision. And the money for this new structure...don't even get me started. Where is it going to come from?
But here goes:
Once we decided where to locate the new walk in freezer therewas nothing for it but to start digging. Dick Brooks, the neighbourhood guy who can build anything, came by with his skid steer and started to prepare the site; it's mostly done here.
Setting the base was the first step and then came the call to the cement guys:
Notice who's in the trench and who's just watching...
After that the forms are brought in and set up and then more cement:
That was hard, heavy work but we're still not done with the cement:
It was a lot of work and a lot of cement.
I couldn't believe the amount of handwork that goes into making sure the foundation is fairly level and what hard work it is - but you have to do a good job here or the next part is going to be harder than it has to be...
Of course that wasn't all we were doing. We planted some garlic: 5 rows so far though I should really go out and plant a few more. The rows this year are more then twice as long as the rows I planted last year. I have noticed that some of my garlic has fusarium, a bacteria but I hope not too much - I shouldn't have planted any of the garlic with the little brown spots. Hopefully next years crop will be come out okay and I will be more diligent when I plant more.
And then there were the strawberries that we planted in the Spring but never got around to weeding. Danny planted beans between the rows of berries and they needed to be picked too.
It was great to see the plants again. Now to make time to weed the raspberries we planted.
Danny combined some hulless oats that a neighbour had planted. After they were combined they had to cleaned as Danny hopes to use some of them for seed next year.
It's a noisy, rattly job, as the oats go through several differently sized screens, 'sifting" out the weed seeds.
Here is the new building as I left for work this afternoon; the walls are starting to go up and the siding from the shed it will be attached to is starting to come down. Hopefully everything goes smoothly, cross your fingers everyone!
And be kind to each other.
October 7, 2011
Short and Sweet
This Blog will have to be short and sweet. Not because we're in the throws of harvesting, even though we are. Not because Nothing interesting has happened; a great deal has. The reason this will have to be short and sweet is because I have accidentally erased all the %*@##$% pictures I had to amuse you with.
So here's the brief summary:
Danny and Gary have plowed, harrowed and seeded 2 fields. The field we had wheat in this past summer has been seeded to rye and a field at his brothers was seeded for more winter wheat. I had a great picture of them pulling the old seeder too.
Last Sunday we returned home from an eventful 4H weekend to attend a cider pressing party at Hope Seed's. There were 3 presses there: an old one from the 1800's that was driven by hand, and 2 electric ones. Ours was the noisiest but also the most efficient, pressing more juice than anyone else but also requiring greater dedication because of the noise. It was a lot of fun and very interesting. Sorry but I deleted all those photos too (sometimes computers really piss me off even though I know it was my human error that caused the deletion).
However a few photos were saved and those are the ones from the 4H Provincial Show.
The night before we went I packed a cooler with some food in it because past experience has taught me that the food at pro show isn't the greatest.
Despite my bad carrot karma, the carrots that Hope Seeds planted for us have grown beautifully and we continue to enjoy them. Even this size they are not woody at all!
So Friday morning we loaded up and hit the road with Dad driving in the truck with Alex and Eben, pulling the cattle trailor and the rest of us following behind in a car. Just outside Windsor the trailor blew a tire with a loud bang. we all pulled over and tried to deal with the problem:
Even though we had a spare, it was full of air, we could not get the bolts off the tire to make the exchange. Even with two strong 16 year old boys reefing on the wrench we couldn't get the bolts to budge! Finally Mom, Hannah and I drove back to Windsor and managed to find a tow truck that would help us. They came, saved the day and 2 hours later we were back on the road.
We pulled into Truro, unloaded our lifeskills projects, unloaded the cattle and proceded to enjoy the weekend. It amazes me that 7 people (4 of them 16 yr old males) can share a cattle trailor, in the rain (did I mention it leaks?) and have a fabulous time. Yes we did. Eben's wood working projects did very well; his table got 2nd and his carriage seat gort reserve champion recycle project. Hannah came in 10th as Jr Foods Judge and the cattle shone too. Of course all the work the boys put in preparing their animals helped:
Of course getting too close had its hazards:
But we all had a lot of fun.
Certainly the highlight for me was when Annapolis and Kings County Tug of War teams met in the ring Sunday morning to pull for 3rd and 4th place. Eben had been recruited Friday night to pull and was acting as anchor for the Annapolis Team. And they started pulling and I started screaming. And so did Hannah and Mom. we screamed encouragement and cheerd but it looked like King's was going to get it. And then, in the last minute, King's made a mistake and Annapolis pulled them, with all their heart, right across the arena.
I was so hoarse. And so proud of the Annapolis Team. What a way to end the weekend because after thatwe were on our way home. This time uneventfully thank heavens.
4H starts up again October 23rd, maybe I'll see you then. In the meantime be kind to each other.
September 15, 2011
There's something about Fall. It's my favorite time of year; the light is beautiful, the nights are cool, not so many bugs...But it's also the most stressful time of year. Everything needs to be done right now! Much like Spring only in fall it's your last chance. You've sone all the work to make the crops grow so if you don't get them harvested, canned, pickled or whatever you've really blown it. So this morning I started with the onions:
It was really satisfying to have an onion crop this year. I haven't had much luck with onions ever but this year is the year for root crops! Voila my beautiful onions. I left them out to dry in the sun all day and got to work and realized they are still lying outside. A frantic call home and hopefully someone will get them picked up in time.Of course Danny is feeling frenzied about his hay and silage and he to is trying to race the moody looking sky.
Monday we headed down to the marsh and Danny started mowing second cut hay for the sheep and cows this winter; look he showed up and watched us from across the creek! William is Eben's big hereford bull , 4th from the right. I hope he's doing his job. He seems to need a lot of alone time and can often be found resting under an apple tree.
In the meantime here is some of the hay we mowed. You may notice the color is different from the right and the left side. That's because the hay on the left was cut the day before. Danny mowed some of the hay on Saturday but ran out of time and had to leave it.
In the meantime our farming neighbours are going through the same sense of urgency we are and yesterday we received a phonecall from Jim Inglis down the road. He has an organic orchard and is making cider; did Danny want a load of fruit pomace to feed out to the animals?
Early this morning Danny went to fetch it and feed it out; some to the sheep and some to the cows. The sheep loved it!
They wasted no time polishing it off.
Here's what pomace looks like close up. It's apples and blueberries with as much of the juice as possible pressed out of it. The cows and the sheep know they're getting a treat; we're thrilled because with the animals eating the pomace then the pomace does not have to be composted. Composting it properly would be really important; you'ld want to be absolutely positive the apples had reached a high enough tempature that the pathogens had been destroyed. Rotting apples are a beacon to apple moths and worms, not to mention fruit flies.. If the apples were composted improperly and then Jim spread the compost back on his orchard he would be spreading all these pests onto their favorite meal. Instead our animals are eating them, potential pests are being digested and we can recycle the manure without worrying about the vulnerability of apple trees in our neighbourhood. Woop! Woop!
In the meantime here are two sights (sites) I thought I would share.
Here is the site of next years garlic bed. It is at least 4 times bigger than this years and, dare I say it, I'm really excited.
This is going to be the site of our Walk in Freezer. It's exciting but super scary. We are adding important infrastructure to our farm but we're both scared we're going to make several stupid mistakes along the way. Regardles, here we go! Now maybe you'll understand why the dance feels a little more frenzied than usual.
In the meantime let's all be kind to one another.
August 18, 2011
It's the Ex Week (but I haven't had time tosee anything yet)
It the Lawrencetown Agricultural Exhibition this week. Monday was 4H day and the kids have done quite well for themselves. Eben's woodworking and calf is going on to Pro Show in October, Hannah is going on as the Junior Foods Judge. It's all quite exciting. Monday was a lot of fun; it's 4H day and all the classes in the livestock ring are 4Her's.
Eben wasn't going to smile for me until I told him I would put the picture on our home page unless he smiled. It worked. I have been working several shifts in the 4H canteen so if you make it to the Ex I might be the person cooking your western sandwitch. I work tomorrow from 2-6 if you're interested.
While the kids and I were away at the Ex Danny couldn't help but notice what a beautiful sunny day it was. He decided it was imperative he get the wheat combined.
Since I was at the Exhibition with the camera no pictures were taken of the historical moment but here he is driving the combine yesterday just before we augered out the wheat.
Here's the field now where we combined. As you can see the straw is still lying there but Danny will get it baled in the next day or two.
It's not a big field so there wasn't much wheat but I have shared a few pictures of our winter wheat over the year. With all the rain we've been having we were very lucky it didn't get lodges. That when it gets beaten down to the ground and isn't standing up straight any more. Because it's lying down it's a lot harder to combine and there's a good chance the grain will have been beaten off or been contaminated with mold spores. The combine stores the grain in a tank so Wednesday Danny decided to get it out and into an apple bin for the time being.
We got it set up to go. The red apout is where the auger is that will empty the wheat out of the tank and into the bin.
Whoops! It's a little too close; better move the bin over a bit.
Our harvest was not large; less than an apple bin (an apple bin holds about 18 bushells). We got about 10 -12 bushells of wheat. A bushell of wheat weighs from 50 - 60 pounds so we figure we got about 550 pounds of wheat. After it dries a bit I'm going to grind myself some flour and see how it bakes up into bread.
Since Danny was dealing with his wheat I decided it was time someone checked on the garlic. This time Danny figured I was the one who should poke my head into the rafters and look after things.
It was a little high but I managed to keep my head and check on things.
It's all starting to dry (I was worried with all the rain and humidity it would be molding. So far I seem to be all right)
And it wasn't too bad up there once I got use to it.
But the best part was when I found a big head of garlic, such a big head of garlic that I had to bring it in the house with me and weigh it.
Just so you appreciate what you're seeing let me tell you that that bulb of garlic weighs 185 grams or .4 pounds! It fills my hand up. I think there are about 9 cloves of garlic in it. Mazumba garlic! Yes I am just a litlle impressed with myself.
Tomorrow is my last shift in the 4H canteen and I will try to ge tsome pictures of the Ex so you can enjoy it vicariously. It's really great tosee so many people together, all interested in similiar things. I'm looking forward to checking out the hay competition and the vegetables. I wonder if any of the garlic there is as big as mine?....
Be kind to one another.
August 5, 2011
It's all about the Garlic!
It's all about the garlic. Well not really but the garlic really was the highlight of my week last weekend. But first let me share 2 little experiments we began last week.
Both involved mulching. The first began when Danny went to help his brother George chip up some spruce trees that were no longer required:
What does one do with all this bounty? First off you kind of hesitate to put in your compost heap because all these spruce chips could very easily make your compost more acidic. Not a good thing; one of the reasons people lime their gardens and lawns is to lower the acidity of the soil and make the land more fertile. But still one hates to see it go to waste; all this mulch must be good for something!
Danny of course immediately had an idea. Currently we use electric fence in a lot of places on our farm. One of the issues that comes up with electric fence is that you have to keep the grass down around/under an electric fence. All the grass that grows up around and hits the electric fence shorts out the fence. A few stalks of grass is okay but a lot is not. Often we have to send someone to mow out underneath the fences when we wish to move cows or sheep. The job is usually hot and boring, not to mention well attended by flies of the biting variety. I have never offered to do this job. Neither does anyone else; they usually have to be told to do it and not infrequently paid. What if we mulched under the fence, killed off the grass and then we didn't have to mow under that fence again?!!!
It sounded like a pretty good idea so off to the field Danny went with his intrepid crew, Eben and Hannah as well as a Wwoofer, Sarah.
First we laid some cardboard.
Next comes the spruce chips and...
Hopefully this fence will no longer require as much upkeep. We didn't do the whole fence but Danny assures me there are lots more woodchips and that we can do this fence and some others if this idea works out. Just in case your sitting there saying wait a minute, how can this not work? Let me point out a few things. It might not work well becauseas I pointed out before the ground around the fence may become too acidic to produce good pasture. It's a tricky thing, we're going to wait and see. we want some of the grass to die out but most of the grass to produce as well as it ever did. If it doesn't we'll go back to the original wayuntil we come up with another idea.
Our second experiment was very similiar to the first one. This past winter I started saving all my coffee grounds. I had an idea that it might be a good idea to mulch around my beehive with them. All that excess coffee would kill the grass, preventing it from blocking access into and out of the hive. My hive did not make it through the winter, to be perfectly honest I'm more a bee haver than a bee keeper. My management of the hive was not that great but it did survive for several years in spite of me. Anyhow I decided to try out my idea anyway; mostly because I hated to see all those grounds go to wasteand since Danny was trying out his idea...
I'll check both places out in a few weeks and letyou know how everythings working out.
In the meantime let me tell you about the most important thing that happened last week. I harvested my garlic!!! Yes I did and there was a lot of it. First off let me be honest and say that it was not the resounding success I had hoped it would be; I should have harvested it at least a week or two sooner. I think it really was a little on the too mature side and some of the leaves that cover the bulbs were too far gone. I should be all right though because I have decided to plant it all anyway so I can grow even more garlic next year. (Vampires beware!)
Anyway last Friday night Angela and George wanted to go out for some quality time so they brought Eben's cousins by. I think they thought they would be allowed to play and have lots of fun with Eben and hannah but not so:
Everyone was put to work pulling and digging (some of the stalks broke off without the bulb coming up to the surface; it was Eben's job to dig these up for me).
As we pulled up the garlic it was moved off to the shed and laid out there to rest for a day or two.After some fooling around.
Eben did a great job sorting it out and laying it out in the shed. But it was obviously way too much for the space so we left it there Friday night and all day Saturday because we had the Market and it was raining anyway. Come Sunday though we got back to business.
Everyone sorted through the garlic, tied into bunches of 10 and piled it on a pallet attached to the tractor to help it get to it's next destination.
Danny hauled it off to the barn for me. we had discussed it quite a bit and racked our brains trying to think of a good drying location that wasn't too light and that had good air circulation. We came up with one (good?) idea and yet again my farmer husband proved his love for me.
Now how did he do that you may wonder? Well let's just say that neither of us has a head or liking for heights. And the best space that we could come up with was hanging from the rafters of the leanto portion of the barn!
It turned out there were over 450 bulbs of garlic ( I had thought therewas only about 250).
So while all my garlic dries everyone try to be kind to each other.
July 28, 2011
So This is Summer...
So this is summer. So far anyways. The weather is a little confusing but by and large it is hot and sunny so summer it must be. And as is often the case the time is racing right along.
So far we are still making our first cut of hay but that should change in a week or two. we haven't done the Stephen's Marsh yet and I believe that's the prettiest place on earth. I may have to drive the tractor that day.
Since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy last Monday we decided to go to the Small farm Celebration. It was held out at the Northville Farm Heritage Centre. There were lots of interesting workshops including the one on compost tea that I made Hannah go to so I could check out the women's panel and another great one on marketing. Danny and Eben really enjoyed the animal power demonstration.
Here the 2 men talk and discuss all the things they've seen so far.
ONe of the highlights of the day for Danny and Eben.
It was kinda a sad day because we lost Carlos, a wwoofer who had been with us for a few weeks but who has said he'll return in a month or so. I tried to entice him with the thought of harvesting my garlic but apparently that's a bigger deal for me.
There was a blacksmithing demonstration at the Small Farms Celebration. I had hoped Eben would get involved with it but he was too shy. Here's Carlos looking on and asking intelligent questions.
But I digress; let me get back to my garlic. It's interesting because now it's dying back and I think it's time to harvest it. What I really notice is not just that the plantsare dying back but that the colour gren has changed. Here's what I mean:
Notice that the bluey green is gone and now thw plants are more a greeny green (yes that is the technical term).
With the garlic planted just above the leeks and the onions which are still that onion blkuey green this is easily noticeable:
See what I mean?
However as you can see the garden is starting to look pretty good and we are eating peas, beans, beets. lettuce, kale and all sorts of yummy things out of it. I won't let Danny pick the onions because I keep hoping they'll grow bigger. While we haven't had any hodge podge yet I know that coming just as soon as the potatoes are ready. Thanks again to Andrea and Katie at Hope Seeds for the fabulous kitchen garden they've planted me. I was thrilled last night to find a few zuchinnis; zuchinnis reek of summer, almost as much as tomatoes do.
Life is full of unexpected treats these days.
Tuesday was our 4H aceivement day. I was really proud of all the kids in our club for all the hard work they've done but one thing that has made me especially proud this year is the way Eben will jump in and help with the jobs that come up at these events that you need someone to take on:
Here are Eben and Ian barbequing hotdogs for everyone to enjoy with the potluck.Good work guys!
Another thing that I have been enjoying lately is my echinacea or coneflower. It's a perennial that's in blossom right now.
I like the way the petals start off tall, spiky and green, standing straight up in the air. As the flower matures and opens up more the petals gradually turn pink and turn down in a gracefull gesture. As well the centre of the flower gradually gathers itself up and turns orange.Yes my echinacea is definitely making my heart sing these days.
Finally there is the winter wheat. It's definitely past the milk stage but it's still drying. This is from thesmall field that we planted in front of Louise's house. With good luck we shall be combining it soon (but not before we harvest the garlic. As I have a flour mill I anticipate grinding some up and making bread or something with it. I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime be kind toeach other. and wish me luck harvesting and curing my garlic.