Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fast growth

Well it has been a busy week here not just farming but everything in general seems to be happening this week. The most exciting part of today was that the broccoli, cauliflower and flowers are all starting to come up today!! Talk about super quick. That is only three days since we planted them. Needless to say I was very happy to see them coming up. As I was thinking about writing this little tidbit I was also thinking that it is probably about time for some more greenhouse photo's. It is starting to get full and everything is nice and green. The cabbage and kale from previous weeks are all starting to grow true leaves which is really neat to see. The tomato plants are also starting to pop out some real leaves which is good.
The weather seems as though it will remain nice over the next couple of days which is good because the plants sure love the sunshine as long as you don't let the greenhouse get too warm.

That's all for now

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ducks like Paska too!

So it is the Easter season and a family favorite food is paska, which is a sweet bread that you eat covered in icing and sprinkles (ya its really healthy). Well there was one piece left over that got stale on the counter and the ducks are fed scraps from the kitchen on a regular basis. So out i went with a pile of veggie left overs and one piece of paska. Well that paska was gone faster than you can blink. I can't blame the ducks because paska is a pretty terrific Easter treat. They are also getting to enjoy some more light rain today which has led to them being brown rather than white. Ducks are just so messy I don't believe there is any hope for them.
So after a long pause (I've been gone for 3 hours) for a planting session and some lunch I'm back. This afternoon my dad and I planted 20 flats of plants. We had a great time chatting and its really cool to be able to watch all the new varieties come up over the coming week of so. Today we planted a selection of broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, kale, cabbage and herbs. I also planted three flats of wild flowers that i accidentally got wet on the counter over the weekend. They are intended to go straight into the garden but it's too early for that to happen.
Our weekend was rather busy as we spent all day Saturday working on our summer fencing for the sheep. We had hopped to fix an old dilapidated fence that is currently around the property but it seems to have turned into more work than it is worth. We are now work towards having some temporary fencing which I'm sure that Ryan will have lots to say about in the coming week.

That's all for now

Thursday, March 25, 2010

World Mud Wrestling Tournament

Well the last few days have been rather wet and it is starting to show in the duck pen. Ducks are messy on the best of days, but during these last few days they have started digging around their pen looking for lost scraps in the straw base. I am not entirely sure where the mud is coming from as they have a good 4" of straw base in the pen, but needless to say they are getting quite dirty. The picture doesn't really do them justice and a couple of times we have seen them with their heads completely brown and mud running down the front of them. Regardless they seem to enjoy it and we are glad to have them around.

Seedlings keep popping up in the greenhouse and we are well on our way to having lots of healthy seedlings for planting later in the spring. We are always excited to see the first seedlings pop up from a planting and this week a second planting of kale and cabbage have not failed to disappoint. Next week we are planting quite a few things so check back to see where things are at.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Day Of Spring

Well the first day of spring has come and passed and managed to keep me quite busy outside as the weather was reasonably nice (although I would have liked to see some of the warmer weather we had earlier in the week).

Started out the day replacing the starter on the Farmall A with the mower deck as it had quit working mid winter. Luckily I have a couple parts tractors for these things so I managed to change it over. It was not quite a straight swap as grandpa had converted this tractor to a key start and the starter came off an original pull start (where you pull a wire attached directly to the starter) so I had to switch the wires around a bit, but overall it went quite well.

After I had the tractor running and moved it out of the muddy field (the mud made most of the days work interesting) and onto the driveway I worked on finally installing hinges and a couple latches on the gate in the sheep pen. Up until now it had been tied in place with rope and every time you wanted to get in the pen with a tractor, or didn't want to jump over the sides you had to untie the gate, which always took a while as I had it tied really well. Now the gate is easy to open and with a latch on the top and bottom they will have a hard time pushing it open.

Next loaded up the trailer with a bunch of scrap steel from the pasture out back that had been there for a while. I decided I needed to start cleaning things up as we are getting closer to closer to the day when I can let the sheep out of their winter pen and onto the larger pasture. My main goal for the day had been to finish, or at least get close to finishing the perimeter fence, but alas, I never even worked on it once. Oh well.

When I dropped the scrap off I also picked up a smaller germination table that Randy had built. Him and I loaded it up into the van and brought it over to our greenhouse. That thing was crazy heavy with all the sand in it, but we managed to sneak it out of the van and into the greenhouse. This should give us just enough room for all of the seedlings we need to start when things get busy and our tray capacity is now at 51 trays.

Next came the hard part, cleaning some of the manure out of the sheep pen. This job needs to be done about 3 times over the winter in our pen as the pack tends to build up from some of the hay the sheep waste next to the feeder. As the manure pack gets thicker it starts getting closer to the feed trough and they start wasting more as they don't like to eat anything that falls onto it. It is quite a big job as I have to load it into the trailer by hand and then out of the trailer by hand again as I don't have any equipment to make the job faster. Needless to say I actually enjoy the work and don't mind the smell either. I get really excited about manure because I see the potential it has for fertilizer once it breaks down.

Our low-tech sheep barn is still holding strong after the winter and only requires minor maintenance on the open ends of the walls where the doorway is because the sheep rub up against it and wear them down. Maybe next year a bit of plywood will help keep it up. After cleaning out the manure I put down a fresh layer of straw to keep the floor of the pen a bit clean.

Except for a few other little things that was mostly my day on Saturday. Overall I am happy with what I got done, although I am a bit disappointed the fence was never repaired. Maybe next week!

Some (more) pictures of the seedlings:

Cabbage (Blue Vantage and Red Dynasty)

Kale (usually a late fall crop, but we have some here for the spring!)

Leeks (and lots of them...maybe we should fix them?)

Tomatoes (with cool water drops)

Something Randy told me to stick in the soil that we found on his germination table. I already forgot the name of it (and now Randy is reading this shaking his head).

Friday, March 19, 2010


Growing Ontario

So it has been another beautiful day here on the farm. The sun is shining the plants are growing. Some of our newest plants to show growth include kale, cabbage, and even one tomato plant. I will post some pictures along with blog so you can all see how things are coming along. We are still fervently watering with chamomile tea which is supposed to stop the plants from dying when they are growing (that is the short story) so far that seems to be working well. It was really neat to see the kale and cabbage come up so quickly as it was only planted on monday of this week and its expected germination period is needles to say longer than 4 four days (they were already coming up yesterday).
The ducks are doing well and seem to be enjoying the spring weather. We gave them some stale nacho chips a few nights ago which seem to be among there favorite foods (although muffins would rank higher). Hopefully soon there nesting boxes will be finished and they will start to lay some eggs.
The sheep are also enjoying spring as it arrives. There is no direct sign of another lamb coming but it could really be anytime now. Snowball is growing like an weed and get friendlier everyday. She will now come right up to the fence and let you pet her little nose.
Also today we received an order from Foodland Ontario of a wide selection of things to use at the market. We got some signs both blank and with information about different veggies as well as an array of stickers. It came in three large packages which was a little shocking when the mail man came to the door as I had order the items a while ago and had forgotten that they were coming.

Well that's all for now

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So everything has been going really with our germination process so far. Our only problem has been that we have a bit of a crummy watering can which makes watering precisely rather difficult. Hopefully we will remedy the situation on the weekend. There are currently a plethora of seeds sprouting. The basil is growing like crazy and some oregano has also started to sprout over the last couple of days. The leeks have also taken off like crazy this morning i noticed a lot of them have poked out of the soil. It is very exciting to go out everyday and see how things are doing. My dad and I planted some more celery on Monday of this week but we don't expect to see anything for a couple of weeks as celery has a long germination period.
The weather has been really nice here over the past week or so and this has meant that we have started to roll up the sides of the greenhouse more regularly to reduce that daytime temperature. At 10:30 this morning it was already well over 30 which is just too hot for the little plants. It has been a big process rolling up the sides but Ryan and his uncle fixed it so it is much easier now.
We have been also working hard over the past week to start arranging markets for the summer which hopefully will be settled soon. We are also excited at the plan to offer vegetable boxes (more info to come soon).


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunny Day

So Ryan and I have been up and about this morning working in the green house. Everything is looking really terrific and our first seed sprouts are now visible. The first sprouts are seen on the basil and cinnamon basil (i'm excited to try out the cinnamon basil). We also removed the clips that hold the sides of the plastic down on the greenhouse. This way we are able to vent in some cooler air as it gets very warm in there during the day.
We also visited with the sheep for a brief time which was lovely as usually. I took out some grain pellets as a treat and they all really liked them. Rosy was the most excited and tried to climb up on me to get the pellets out of my hand. It was pretty funny. Snowball is acting a bit shy now but is full of energy and bound around the pen like she owns the place.

I'm sure i'll have more to say later but that's all for now

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things Moving Along

Well the last couple of days have been busy with Amanda and I getting the germination table ready for starting our seeds. It turned out to be a bit more work than we thought it would be to get it built, but that is what happens when you are modifying something and doing it for the first time. Here are some photos of the table being built:

First a roll of plastic is laid down on top of the bench to keep everything in since there are holes in the bottom of the bench for drainage.

Next we lay down alternating foam and wood slats to insulate the bottom of the germination table and to keep the heater cable separated. Even with the slats it is still quite hard to keep the cable separated, but once you get the sand in there things seem to work out. The sand helps to both spread and hold the heat in and protects the cables from crossing which would short them out.

Once you fill the table up with sand you need to level it out. Here Amanda is doing a great job with one of the spare slats. While we were leveling it out the wires would pop out now and then, but you just needed to push them back down and they would stay there if you packed the sand down.

Next came another layer of plastic on top of the sand and then the hoops. If you look carefully at the hoops you will notice that all but the last ones in the picture have a very sharp bend at the top. This was a mistake I made by drilling a large hole in the top of each hoop so a screw could be inserted through the hoop into the pipe that runs between each hoop. Turns out I created a stress point and basically all the hoops split. Luckily we caught it before we got too far and made another trip to the hardware store to buy some more conduit. The second time we drilled up from the long pipe into the bottom of each hoop which got rid of the splitting. Lesson learned!

Finally we put the plastic over the hoops to cover up the top. You can see the little green box at the bottom which controls how hot the bench gets. Since this picture was taken ends were also installed on the table so that the heat generated in the table would stay there. Today Amanda is planting leeks and celery so we shall see how it all works out.

Many of you have asked for a new picture of Snowball so here you are:

Oops! Wrong picture. That is a picture of our neighbours/aunt and uncle's dog Jazz who loves to help with all the farm chores, including chasing sheep. She is next best thing we have to a farm dog since Kes passed away.

This is a little better although Bess, another one of our ewes, has gotten in the way of a good shot to show off her new hair style she created with some hay. Nice look!

Finally a clean shot of Snowball, although she is hiding in the barn. She is still as healthy as ever and is always trying to mimic the adults. Last night I caught her with a mouthful of hay trying to eat it. She also likes climbing on straw bales and leaping off of them and then running around with much intensity.