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June 24, 2010
Summer
It's hard to believe it's still June; we're so busy that it feels like it should be at least the middle of July!

Sadly many of the things we're busy with are not blog worthy; no one needs another tale of exams taken, the church financial report for Revenue Canada or the plumbing work that needs to be done (thank heavens this last is under control!).

However it's June and that means that finally we have strawberries!



Here is Hannah with the huge to overflowing box she picked her teacher today. She wanted to give it to her teacher on Monday night at her grade 6 graduation but I explained to her they would not keep well over4 days. Now I get to enjoy them at work. We spent today sewing a dress for her to wear to graduation (personally I don't think we need to get excited about grade 6 grad but a lot of other parents do). It was a lot of fun because Hannah likes to see how things go together. This was especially apparent when she was getting ready for crazy day yesterday at school and was experimenting with paper to see how to get a bustle and how to make sleeves.




Tilt your head! Okay so it's not farmy but Hannah was proud of her costume and I was proud of watching her learn as she putzed with paper sleeves (not in picture) and figured out how to make a bustle.

On a more farm oriented note, as I reported last week we have chicks now. Mostly meat kings but some egg layers. Danny has been patiently saving blue eggs and getting a friend to brood them out. Eventually ha had about 24. Hopefully some will be hens. For now some of them are living here:



Eventually when they are old enough, and the hens can be separated from the hens easily we will put them in with the egg layers. The meat kings are all together in a big house.

School is over now so the kids are home to help more. Eben is a big help making hay; he teds and rakes. Hannah will be helping with strawberry picking, making meals and finishing up all her 4H projects that she's really behind on. I finally feel like i can catch my breath before diving into all the work that beckons.

Enjoy the summer. Go to a U pick and pich some strawberries. Have all the strawberry shortcake you can and make jam with the rest.






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June 17, 2010
Summer Weather
Well this is the week we brought home our new camper/bus:


See we've decided to change careers; we're going to sing and make music as we travel around making everyone get happy!
Well actually not; first of all Danny can't sing and secondly the bus has no radiator. Sunday morning, way early, it was towed to the farm and parked near the house by the wood pile. As soon as we get all the yard sale items out of the bus and a good wiping out we're going to move it a little farther away from the house and voila! Our new apprentice/wwoofer home. So if you've ever wanted to live on a bus come work for us!

Yesterday I drove up country and picked up some dayold chicks for our meat chicken coop. They're all cute, yellow and fuzzy now; hard to believe that they'll grow into these big white chickens that want to eat all the time.



We got our first bit of hay in 3 weeks ago; last weekend we brought in another 500 bales. It was great when the last bale went in. (Actually I was in the house making supper at the time but they tell me it was great.) Usually we don't start making hay until the end of June. Harvesting and curing hay this early certainly adds to the feelings of overwhelmedness Danny and I both share right now. It's hard not to look around and see what hasn't been done. The garden still isn't planted for the most part and everything needs picking up or fixing. Add to that all the jam one needs to make, yesterday I made 3 cases, and all the other little jobs that fill ones day it's hard not to be overwhelmed. That's why farmers don't like early seasons. Come to that though farmers always complain about the weather.

Tuesday Wendy's Daycare visited; they've been doing this for over 10 years now. We saw the chickens, Danny caught a goose to show them, then we checked out the cows and the baby goat. Of course one of the highlights of such a tour is the comments on all the manure. It's a farm and it's everywhere; of course the kids must comment on it. I'm waiting for the day a parent comes with their child and tells me they remember visiting us when they were a kid. Hopefully it will be a few years yet.

Now for the update you've all been waiting for: my garlic:



Look; you don't even have to tilt your head! Now if only I knew how I did that.
If you look up in the left hand top corner you will see a curly thing. That curly thing is a garlic scape. If left to its own devices the garlic scape will flower and eventually set seed. Because I want the plants to put all their energy into growing nice fat bulbs I went out and cut off as many garlic scapes as I could find before coming to work. It was therapy from paperwork. This is really exciting in some ways; it means in another 3 weeks or so I will have garlic. But what concerns me is I already have scapes and my strawberries are several days from being ready to pick.

See this is what is making this such an interesting but overwhelming year for us. Most things are ready several weeks before they usually are. It's hard to make good hay when the grass is ready but because the days are still short; summer solstice is next week, the hay takes longer to cure. It's hard to get the garden planted when the jobs you usually do a few weeks down the road are standing there demanding your attention. This is one of the reasons farmers are so stressed out right now. What do you do first; the rythm of the season is out of whack. The weather may be warmer but the daylength hasn't changed.

I think i'll go stand in my garlic and breathe a little. Until next week.


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June 10, 2010
In the Garden
It's odd that I should be writing a blog about our garden since we haven't even planted it yet. I know bad farmers, bad farmers! But despite the fact that I haven't planted any lettuce, tomatoes or potatoes yet a lot of my thoughts this week have been on the garden.

Tuesday the library where I work graciously provided a training day to help me understand how the new eaudio and ebook technology would work so i could help our patrons should they so desire. I wasn't a hundred percent sure when my ride would arrive and so was ready before 9am. What to do? Housework? Blech! Dishes? Blech!! I know; I'll weed the garlic.



Isn't it beautiful! And whenever I stood up this was the view I got to enjoy:



Sheep, pastures, winding rivers, trees: I love where I live.

I was also extremely fortunate to have just enough time to finish weeding the garlic before Dorothy and Ken came to whisk me off to the training session.

On Wednesday I decided to harvest some red clover blossoms. Red clover is very good for you, it's one of those tonic herbs that you should enjoy whenever possible. I picked young flowers to dry for tea. The red clover has infested the strawberry patch so I decided to harvest it from there; that way I could also see how the strawberries were faring. I have worried this year how they made it through pollination. While i was picking the clover i noticed butterflies and bumblebees enjoying the nectar. Where are the honeybees I wondered? But then I remembered. Pierre Blanchette, who started keeping bees when he was just a kid once told me that honeybees can't collect the nectar from the first blossoming of the clover; their tongues are too short. They can collect nectar if the clover flowers a second time in the season because these blossoms will be shorter. Cool eh. Which is great because the roses came out last Friday and there is nectar there and a host of other places. The bees are busy; let the bumblebees and butterflies do this. I always enjoy trying to figure out who is doing the pollinating when a plant is in blossom; I see ants, beetles, wasps, wild bees, honeybees, bumblebees and insects I don't recognize looking after the various blooms and it fills me with wonder. I would never be clever enough to design a world where the interdependence between species was so finely balanced.

Wednesday when Hannah came home from school she harvested some more clover and some rose blossoms for tea.



This is the old fashioned June rose we have just before the barn gate. The clover and the roses are drying together and they smell heavenly. Hopefully it will work out and they won't mold.

Finally I wanted to share a book with all of you. Last year Ruth Owen was in touch with me by email asking questions about organic livestock farming for a childrens book she was writing. We are featured on page 25. There are no pictures from our farm; she asked for some but I wasn't smart enough to send any then. Here's the book:



It features farms from many countries and covers a lot of organic issues. This would be the perfect gift for any 10-12 year olds on your shopping list. No I'm not on commission and I requested the book from the library to have a look at it. But I think it's pretty good for the  age group.

So now it's time to think about next week and what to get done. Danny still has 2 fields to finish walking the fences on, the garden needs planting; I can't buy all my vegetable. I want back into my sewing room and the porch and veranda floors need painting. Hannah will have her grade 6 graduation in 2 weeks time and asked to me to help her sew a dress. It's not a question of what to do but how to do it all. Oh well, me and everybody else.

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June 3, 2010
June
So the end of may saw us bring in about 475 square bales for the sheep barn. We have NEVER made hay in May before. But the grass was ready and to wait any longer meant it would be too mature when we started. Thankfully the hay turned out pretty well; although it took almost 5 days to cure it was a nice green (not bleached out or dusty), not too heavy or too light. Another blog will see a more in depth discussion of hay (I bet you think it's just grass!)

The past 2 weeks have seen me working off farm a lot but this week I did get the chance to check out a few things around the farm:



My garlic again. I checked it today and it's up to my waist! Imagine if I get it weeded next week. And now that it's rained I want to plant the garden finally. It just seemed so pointless when the earth was so dry. Plus Danny disced it just before it rained. We're both getting sweaty palms just thinking about it.

The bees have been out all week; you should hear the roar under the chestnut trees which are in blossom now. I find it quite comforting. And since our strawberries are still in bloom they are probably getting fertilized which 2 weeks ago when they first came out I was worried about. As well the red currants have set their fruit:

Red currants are vastly under rated. The fruit is red of course and tart. It makes a lovely jelly but even better, it teams up with other fruits to make outstanding jams. My mother in law taught me to make a raspberry jam/red currant jelly combo when I first started out that my 5 year old son preferred to just raspberry jam. You also find it blended with different fruit to make more artisan style jams like Jewel Jam or Best of Summer Jam. Jewel is a combo of sour cherries,gooseberries, raspberries and red currants. It's tart but tasty. And every bite is different. Best of Summer is made with black currant, red currants, strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries. The black currants give it a more adult taste; I compare it to wine on toast when I'm trying to describe  it to people at the market. They are 2 of my best sellers at the market. The only thing I don't like about red currants is picking them but I have a few days yet.

Finally i want to share a treasure that Danny found when he was down at the Hicks'es place moving cattle. He was looking in Willoughby's old shop and what did he find?



Willoughby Hicks was Danny's great uncle. There is a picture of him in the May 6 blog fixing barrels. He died about 8 years ago. But this is the thing: Willoughby, and many of the people born in the first half of the 1900's saw so much change. They have lived through one or both of the World Wars. They saw the the introduction of radios, cars and tv's, never mind computers. When I was a child (I'm 46 now) we would come to NS on vacation to visit family and some of my great aunts were still using an outdoor privy. I remember my great aunt Helen showing off her newly installed bathroom when I was in elementary. They were use to not having any money but not being poor. They were able to make something from nothing and mend it when it broke. Many of these people are still alive and when you get the chance to talk with them you realize what a different world it was only a few decades ago. They worked so hard and they knew so much, much of what doesn't seem relevant now but we still find ourselves wishing we knew when the power goes out or when we're trying to live more simply or greener.

I want to clean up the sign, restore it, and hang it out on the side veranda when we finish having it rebuilt. I want to remember how much everything has changed, not just his lifetime but in mine. And I want to stop and think about what's important to me and my family and about our legacy.

Until next week.

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