Archives for category: This week’s update

My Danish in-laws brought with them rain…
…so I get to write this week’s update from the cottage they rented this week instead of watering plants for 4 hours! After today’s showers I did a quick check and the rain is slightly less than 1 inch saturated into the soil, but I will gladly take it.

This week’s blog view! Slight change of scenery for this garden slave 🙂

Garlic Harvest
I managed to get out last week and harvest all our garlic. It ended up being about 175 Music (large white bulbs, with medium strength) and another 550 Small Russian Red (small white and red garlic bulbs, rather strong). I found only 5 bulbs with possible evidence of Leek Moth damage, which may have come in the seed garlic I purchased last year – since the field is virgin soil. While the Leek Moth is a devastating pest, I am told that with so few garlic damaged I can still control this problem and that I just need to be sure to plant the biggest and healthiest garlic this year and keep an eye out for the Leek Moth next year. Most of the garlic was fairly dry already, but I spent some evenings hanging it in small bunches to dry further. You can expect to see garlic regularly for the remaining weeks of CSA baskets.

Hanging up the garlic…

Family to the rescue
One of the many problems with drought, when coupled with organic farming, is that there are many opportunistic weeds that can grow easily without much moisture and can soak up what little water there is in the ground left for the plants for which the moisture is intended for. Plus after something like 2 months without any significant rain, the earth is starting to get real crispy and it takes much more time to carefully weed without pulling out heaps of earth with each weed (and the good plants with it). This is where family comes in! Emily and Jeremy were back for another weekend of intensive weeding backed by my visiting Danish in-laws – Tinne and Peter. We were a force out there and managed to get all the Pigweed and Lambs Quarters out of the onions. Emily took on all the beans, chard, and kale. We were tackling tomatoes today. All in time for the afternoon rain. The patches are looking much better and we’re hoping that without the weed competition, we can look forward to better yields in the coming weeks.

Beans are lookin’ good!

Bob is extremely happy about our progress.

Harvest days
CSA and Market days start early and I head out with the truck, clean bins, scissors, pruning shears, twist ties, elastics, my iPod Shuffle, and a big cup of locally roasted coffee. I need to get especially the greens in from the field early to prevent them from turning bitter. I love these days. I read in an article recently that talked about how we have evolved to enjoy harvesting… when we spot a fruit on a plant, ripe and ready for harvest, the act of plucking it actually releases dopamine – the article called it “Harvest High”. We evolved to love this stuff. I even see how happy my urban friends are, posting updates and photos of their balcony gardens. Growing food is such a natural pleasure.

Loading the truck with a few early morning goodies.

Best day at Market this year
Saturday was our best day at market so far this year. We were so pleased to come home with only 5 items from our table. Check out the assortment we came with! It is a joy to deliver such beautiful wholesome food to the masses!

Lots of goodies at the market!

Please keep supporting your local farmers
As this severe drought persists, I feel I haven’t emphasized enough the devastation this has brought upon the livelihoods of our local farmers – those who have spent their entire lives building their farms and flocks. I have heard numerous heartbreaking stories this past week, including one from a local beef farmer who rents our hay fields. He is doing herd cull as he does not have enough hay to feed his cattle over the winter. Another neighbour and close friend of our family is selling his dairy quota this year (getting out of dairy farming). He has spent the last 30 years building his herd – placing much attention and resources into breeding, record keeping, etc. This farmer who knows the names of each dairy cow cannot even sell his cattle to another herd since no one has enough hay and feed to take on more animals. As such, these dairy cattle will very likely go for meat. Knowing the unimaginable work that my own parents and grandparents put into building our own dairy herd, this brings tears to my eyes. I also heard about a local pig farmer who needs to cull 75% of his flock due to food shortage.

Please, for the sake of all our farmers, families, and farmland in Renfrew County, consider focussing your grocery spending/dispensable income on supporting local farmers whose livelihoods are suffering huge at this time. Check out the local farmers’ markets, roadside stands, the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op and other vending locations who sell REAL local food. Beware of falsely advertised “Local” food. Sorry stores, but Niagara Falls is not local.

Natural beauty everywhere. A neat find while harvesting garlic. One lone garlic scape… a perfect companion for this little vine.

Thanks for reading, have a great week and as usual, keep those rain dances going!

Battling the heat, drought, and weeds… with a few friends.

It has been another busy week on the farm and out in the garden.

I was fortunate to have a couple spontaneous WWOOFers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) drop in – my friend Ben and a new friend Kat. They spent a few days at the farm camping and working during the mornings, doing weeding and watering, and then paddling the Ottawa in the hot afternoons. In the 7th week without rain, it was such a blessing having a helping hand from these two. Since most of my mornings and evenings are spent watering, I’m suddenly limited with how much time I am spending out there weeding! Thanks again guys!

Kat and Ben ready to leave with their catnip, stinging nettle, and lambs quarters.

Speaking to Pembroke’s Boys and Girls Club

Today I was fortunate to be invited to speak a little bit about what I do to an incredible group of children a the Boys and Girls Club in Pembroke. I brought in a few props including:

  • A double yolk egg – to show that eggs don’t always come out perfectly uniform. We cracked it then and there as well!
  • An old and new garden hoe – to show how old tools are still used today and to show the wear and tear on the old hoe… that generation worked hard!
  • Hay and straw for comparison – to teach the children the difference.
  • Heirloom Flamingo Pink Swiss Chard – to help explain how there used to be many varieties of veggies, compared to the common varieties we usually see now.
  • Seeds and Beets – to show how incredible it is that we grow big veggies from tiny seeds in only a couple months.
  • Seeds, Seedlings, and full grown Kohlrabi – to show the impressive progress of veggie growth. We left the kids with a kohlrabi – a new and interesting veggie that many there have never tasted before.

The kids were completely attentive and loaded full of questions, it was such a pleasure to speak to  a crew of keen aspiring locavores!

Wood for the Winter

Dad has been busy bringing up fire wood from the bush. Did you know that our farm is heating 100% with fire? We have a fantastic out door furnace that we use to heat the farm house and water year round. While we are not heating the house in the summer, we still fire up the furnace about once a week for a few hours to heat our water boiler for hot showers and dishes for a few days. It’s also a good way for us to use up the slabs from the Peterson sawmill. We hope to run a hot water pipe from the outdoor furnace to the seedling nursery to heat the space in the spring.

Dad and 1/3 of our woodpile… great piling!

Life changing potato bug picking technique

Finally thee most exciting part of the week: I can finally pick potato bugs on mass thanks to an idea from a couple new vendor friends at the Carp Farmers Market. The technique requires one of those wooden harvest baskets you can get at M&R Feeds and a good ol’ badminton raquette. Place the bin with the mouth facing the plant and just whack the bugs off the plant with the raquette! They fly straight in the basket. My sister Emily and her boyfriend Jeremy were here on the weekend working in the garden with me and Jer and I covered almost an acre of potatoes in a matter of a few hours – and effectively! If you have quit growing potatoes because of the bugs, give this method a try.  I will try to get a photo posted of our impressive collection of bugs!

I will never tire of our incredible sunsets here…

Better than TV

Have a great week all! Looks like a bit of rain in the forecast…. that will certainly help me sleep better at night!

Still thirsty as ever.

Happy drought everyone! Today I have a sore throat from weeding… I actually had to turn my head away from the dusty earth to breath.

This week I have purchased some extra hose and so I have upgraded my “irrigation system” from me carrying cans, to me walking around with a hose. Already the plants are looking better!

I thought this week I would post photos to accompany a few points of interest on this organic farm…

The Wildlife Ditch

Lively habitat for ducks, birds, frogs, toads, butterflies, etc.

We have a neat ditch that runs across the middle of our farm and is home to wildlife including ducks, birds, toads, frogs and butterflies. It is especially busy in the spring as this ditch runs along the bottom of the fields, collecting runoff and creating a long strip of wetland for ducks and in particular a couple of mallards who come and nest here every spring.

The Original Silo House

Spooky echo of the past.

Our old silo house – perhaps the last of its kind in the area. This silo house is beautifully built with beams and I hope to use this space in the future to dry garlic etc. We were thinking of putting in some different levels and stairs on the inside. Any ideas out there, throw them my way!

Beautiful beams. This photo is showing the mid-section looking up.

Gardens, Grass and Flowers

A laying hen about to embark on an adventure in one of our many patches of bee balm, just outside the barn’s milkhouse.

Although subtle, it is extremely important that we keep our farm bee friendly – we refrain from using any kind of chemical on our grasses and weeds and we leave areas with wild flowers and clover to grow… the bees love it! I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I have purchased packages of bee garden wildflower seed which I intend to plant around the farm next spring – patches of wild flowers for our pollinators! Many areas of the farm are purposely keep un-mowed to allow for habitat for our welcome wildlife, our roaming laying hens and our precious bees.

Clover growing around the cool room – a place that I would normally mow, but just before I did, the bees asked me to keep it there for them. No problemo!

Big Chicken Barn and its Ammenities

This week we moved the baby chicks over to the big barn. You’ll notice many waterers and feeders – more than what is recommended for just 150 chickens. In the large barn it is important for the little ones as they should never be far from a feeder or waterer… but it is also good when the chickens get larger as it helps reduce competition and aggression in our chickens and therefore helps keep everyone hydrated, fed, relaxed and injury-free. Notice loads of windows for air movement and natural light.

Big bright chicken barn for our happy chickens.

Back to work, lots more weeding and watering to do! Have a great week and keep praying for that rain.

It is pouring rain as I write and I cannot express how important this is for the farmers and your food! To say the rain is nice is an understatement… it’s like my face hurts I’m smiling so hard right now! I had been out in the garden this past week attempting to water but the soil was so dry the water was running off the dust. Weeding has been a real challenge – especially with the carrots. The seedlings are quite delicate and fine and so this is the perfect rain to soften the soil around the little guys… can you guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow morning?? It’s a million dollar rain for me and probably every farmer in Renfrew County.

It was a real chicken week indeed. My second batch of chicks arrived. Our lovely Danish guest Aljosa assisted in greeting the babies and helping them get acquainted with their new surroundings. When chicks arrive, each little fluff ball needs to have its beak dipped in water and then food. Believe it or not, if you don’t do this there is a good chance they will never find it. The chicks are doing great so far and the warm weather sure helps keep them comfortable.

Monday July 2nd was also the date our first batch of chickens met their fate. (check out that rhyme… if you have the time) I was happily up on Canada Day Monday by 6am ready to go with the processors who came to the farm for 7am. We are fortunate to have a portable abattoir here in the valley. This means that we can avoid imposing the stress of transportation on our chickens and wow, is it every convenient! We had our chicken pick up Monday night and although the batch was a little on the smaller side for farm chickens, the birds looked great and were still very healthy in the end with very little leg and heart problems.

Saturday was a successful second day at market indeed! It’s the first day that I completely sold out of every last green at my table. I would love to bring more but I really try to prioritise my CSA pick up on Thursdays. I guess I’ll be planting loads more next year! Check out our pretty booth from the Carp Market on Saturday June 30th.

Have a great week everyone and thank the skies for the rain!

The garden is starting to produce like mad! I managed to get a few pattypan squashes off the plants as well as the first 8-ball zucchini. Kale and chard are just about ready for the CSA and I plan to pull up my first garlic this week to take a peek. We have green tomatoes on the plants and the eggplant, potato, and pepper plants are all starting to blossom.

Our friend Aljosa is visiting from Denmark so in his honour we are having our first BYOPBC party… that’s Bring Your Own Potato Bug Cup! As you may guess, the potato bugs are going insane out there so we’re having a little “culling party” on Sunday.

I’m happy to report that the first CSA pick up went well. We decided to keep everything in the cooler and invite customers in to collect their goodies due to the 40 degree weather. All baskets were received and we have had lots of great feedback so far! A note to CSA members: we will have eggs available each Thursday in the cooler. They are $2.50/dozen.

Mathias and I attended our first Carp Farmers’ Market day this year and it went very well! Great vibe and beautiful weather. The salad mix, lettuce, radishes, kale, chard, and basil plants were all very popular. We almost sold out! We had a much better selection on our first day this year than our first day last year… you can be the judge:

This year….

Last year….

After a heavy rain this week everything is growing like crazy out there… the weeds too unfortunately, so with some help from my aunt Kiki (a fine CSA member) and friend Colleen we have been making our way through the garden picking heaps of Lambs Quarters and Canada Thistle. On top of that there has been a major need for Colorado Potato Bug Picking as well as control for the infestations of Cucumber Beetles. Even some Flea Beetles have been snacking on the Eggplant. We have been busy out there!

We have finally gotten around to making improvements to our chicken barn, adding 6 new windows the the lower part of the barn. The chickens have been enjoying the added fresh air, especially on the warmer days. The processing date is booked for July 2nd so if you are interested in ordering some fresh farm chickens, please let me know!