Thursday, December 22, 2011

What does a farmer do in the winter?

There is still of course farm work going on, but really farming is not a full time job in the winter. There are no late nights, you can take Saturday off if you want and generally things are pretty relaxed.
During this slow period of time I enjoy cooking (well baking mostly) and I love to make things with stuff we have here on the farm. Tonight for diner we are serving potatoes and salad from the farm. People often ask what I do with things we grow so here is what I did with the potatoes.

Potatoes on a Clay baking sheet

So I sliced the potatoes into a french fry like shape, mostly because I enjoy dipping them in things like honey (yes it delicious if you haven't tried it). You can see that we are serving two different kinds of potatoes here. The yellow ones are yukon golds and the other I don't know but they have beautiful purple skin and stunning white flesh. I think the two colours will make our plates pretty fabulous.

Vegetable Seasoning

 So once the potatoes are sliced I spray olive oil on them (I have one of those refillable pump bottles). This just helps them get a little crunchy around the edges. I then liberally sprinkle the above (yes its from the grocery store although I'm sure I could make my own) which is delicious. Then stick those taters in the oven and bake for aprox 40 min at 400 F. Be sure to flip them throughout the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
As for salad well I think you all know how to do that :)

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 1, 2011


So here are some pictures of the finished hoop houses inside and out. I've also included some pictures of what is going into this weeks CSA. Also please note the picture of the jeep. The fair vehicle decided to no longer run after I was at the furthest point from the house with all the veggies picked. 

Dead Jeep

Our two hoop houses

The length of one House

Fancy door latch


Harvested Vulcan lettuce

Leeks, mini cabbages and Komatsuna Red

Monday, November 21, 2011

First winter CSA

Well it has been pretty quiet around here lately. Mostly we have just been cleaning things up and getting ready for our winter CSA. Our first Winter CSA went out last Wednesday and things went pretty smoothly.

Well it appears that I have gone back to my old slacking was and have to write on the blog for almost a month. I will admit that it has been a little slow around the farm with just the daily hub a bub going on. We did finish the hoop houses out back which are now guarding a lovely crop of lettuce, and greens for the winter. And with our first snowfall yesterday having those lettuces protected is a great relief.

Other than the hoop houses going up I guess the only other eventful thing that has happened it that we had 100 chickens butchered for community care (our local food bank). This is something we have been planning since the beginning of the summer and it is nice to have it accomplished. The most time consuming part of the process is actually packing the chicken when they come back from the butcher. We pick them up in big coolers (to keep everything cold of course) and then when we get home we put the chickens into food-saver bags and suck the air out so that they stay fresh longer in the freezer. We did on a positive note only do 50 chickens at a time otherwise it would have taken us all  night to get those bad boys into the freezer.

The first little bit on the top there is old and we are now on our third week of winter CSA and I think that it is going well. This week people got an assortment of lettuces and greens, squashes, garlic, leeks, mini cabbages and a pie pumpkin.

       Boxes from our first winter CSA delivery. How many CSA's can you fit in a Yaris?                                                   Well i fit 14 and there were room for more.


Oats up in the cherry tree

Parsley holding strong despite the cold weather and snow

Also some people might find of interest this interesting article i just read on etsy about art CSA's. An interested idea. Take a look

Friday, November 4, 2011

Its been too long my good friend...

To all our faithful readers I have to sorry for the slack on the blog over the last month. Just when one thinks that things will be winding down a new stretch of work seems to await. So what has been going on around the farm in the last month?
I have to say that I have probably forgotten about 50% of what we have done (I'll blame it on stress, colds, loads of work and little rest) First off during October we put up two cold frame hoop houses. These are just like little greenhouses but they have no heat. They are pretty much used to keep frost and snow off of the crops. The crops in the cold frames are all winter greens, including; bok choy, dandelion, lettuce, spinach, rapini and other fun stuff.
To the left you can see us putting the hoops up the greens are now about 3 or 4x bigger than that.

One injury of the day was this nice cut I got. It really wasn't that bad and luckily I had just refreshed my tetanus shot ( I cut it on a freshly cut piece of rebar).

Since we put up the cold frames we have also done a lot of end of season work. We finished harvesting our pumpkins. Which seemed to be a big hit with our CSA customers. We have pulled out all our tomato post, Ryan has been mowing down all the crops that are finished and I dug out our few sweet potatoes.

This is where my memory starts to go blank and I'll skip ahead to more recent times. So due to the heavy frost we had probably 2 weeks ago most stuff would have died accept for Ryan's forethought to get some frost cloth. Frost cloth is a fairly think fabric that you can put over your plants to protect them from frost. We put it over peppers, cauliflower and peas. The cloth worked great and we were able to harvest everything in excellent condition still.

Just today I harvested some garlic chive seeds to save for next year. I have a friend of saves seeds for me so I thought I would return the favour. I had a fun picture but as usual my computer savy is not working ( I blame it more on my poor e-mail).
That's all for now

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Creek Shore on the Internet

So being the popular people we are we had a video made about our farm by Scotiabank. We saw it for the first time yesterday and it will be part of there small business week promotional stuff. Hope you enjoy it!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another point for organic farming...

My friend Liz just sent me this great article about a study done at Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute. Take a moment and read why organic is the wave of the future.

Study debunks myths on organic farms


The results are in from a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute. Contrary to conventional wisdom, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every measure.
There are about 1,500 organic farmers in Saskatchewan, at last count. They eschew the synthetic fertilizers and toxic sprays that are the mainstay of conventional farms. Study after study indicates the conventional thinking on farming - that we have to tolerate toxic chemicals because organic farming can't feed the world - is wrong.
In fact, studies like the Rodale trials ( fst30years) show that after a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields. What is more, the study showed organic crops were more resilient. Organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional in years of drought.
These drought yields are remarkable when compared to genetically modified (GM) "drought tolerant" varieties, which showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.
More important than yield, from the farmer's perspective, is income, and here organic is clearly superior. The 30-year comparison showed organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems. The average net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/ year versus just $190/acre/year for the conventional systems. The much higher income reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.
But even without a price premium, the Rodale study found organic systems are competitive with the conventional systems because of marginally lower input costs.
The most profitable grain crop was the organically grown wheat netting $835/acre/year. Interestingly, no-till conventional corn was the least profitable, netting just $27/acre/year. The generally poor showing of GM crops was striking; it echoed a study from the University of Minnesota that found farmers who cultivated GM varieties earned less money over a 14-year period than those who continued to grow non-GM crops.
Importantly, the Rodale study, which started in 1981, found organic farming is more sustainable than conventional systems. They found, for example, that:
. Organic systems used 45 per cent less energy than conventional.
. Production efficiency was 28 per cent higher in the organic systems, with the conventional no-till system being the least efficient in terms of energy usage.
. Soil health in the organic systems has increased over time while the conventional systems remain essentially unchanged. One measure of soil health is the amount of carbon contained in the soil. Carbon performs many crucial functions: acting as a reservoir of plant nutrients, binding soil particles together, maintaining soil temperature, providing a food source for microbes, binding heavy metals and pesticides, and influencing water holding capacity and aeration. The trials compared different types of organic and conventional systems; carbon increase was highest in the organic manure system, followed by the organic legume system. The conventional system has shown a loss in carbon in recent years.
. Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off. Water volumes percolating through the soil were 15-20 per cent higher in the organic systems. Rather than running off the surface and taking soil with it, rainwater recharged groundwater reserves in the organic systems, with minimal erosion.
Organic farming also helps sustain rural communities by creating more jobs; a UN study shows organic farms create 30 per cent more jobs per hectare than nonorganic. More of the money in organic farming goes to paying local people, rather than to farm inputs.
With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias.
Still, the global food security community, which focuses on poor farmers in developing countries, is shifting to an organic approach. Numerous independent studies show that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future. In fact, agroecological farming methods, including organic farming, could double global food production in just 10 years, according to one UN report.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Another week has begun and it appears that we are going to be getting more rain. Currently it is drizzling outside and it seems that it is going to be doing that for most of the day. Despite today's drizzle yesterday was a very productive day on the farm. After taking care of the items we have in the green house (just some leeks and shoots), my dad and I got to work harvesting some of our squash. We had already picked some last week but it is best to leave them out for a bit to get them ready to store. So our first squash job was collecting all of the ones that we had already picked. This included honey boat and baby blue squash. In order to get all the squash from the field to the barn we used the lawn tractor with a trailer attached. You can see in the picture below that we were loaded down and this was only our first trip.
We only lost one pumpkin from the back of the field to the barn.
All stacked in the barn. Not there permanent home but a good start.

So after we finished collecting and stacking all the squash we went out and picked some more. What kind did we harvest you may ask? Well we harvested spaghetti squash, gourds, pie pumpkins, some more honey boats, and a few other stragglers that were growing in the wrong row. In about 10 days we will go and collect these ones that are nicely piled in the field and add them to our barn collection.

By the time we were done with the squash it was about 4:30 so we called it a day, well my dad did anyway. At 6:30 Ryan and I went out and planted some kohlrabi that has been growing in the greenhouse. It was in the ground now or never and we worked until we couldn't see anymore. then we called it a day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Farming for One

Christmas Lima cool
 So what happens when a person is left all by themselves for a week on a farm? Well one thing is for sure no blog updates are done and you spend your time running around like a crazy person picking for 37 CSA baskets and getting ready for marker. I was lucky to have Jesslyn come on Friday to help me out in the morning though. Our week was made extra busy because Scotiabank came and shot a little video and we had a cooking show come and do an episode here on the farm. Both were lots of fun but we obviously didn't get much done on those days.
 This is a bean plant from our winter crop section. They are coming up like crazy but so are the weeds. This afternoon/morning I am going to spend some time doing lots of hoeing. It is supposed to rain later so I think I will work on putting more tomatoes in the freezer.
 When one is alone and there are cute kittens they also take up a lot of ones time. I mean who could just leave that cute face all alone in a barn all day???
A fun project, dehydrating hot peppers. They turned out really well but too longer than I expected to dehydrate about a day and a half! Warning they do make your house smell/ stink a lot like hot pepper and remain spicy even when dried.

Well I had better go do some work now. I just got back from picking up 16 bags of food and everyone is happily fed which means its off to the field.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


So when you decide to freeze some corn on a warm Saturday afternoon (last Saturday) these are the things that I collected to do it. Computer to keep myself entertained, bowl to catch the corn, bags to put the corn in , a corn peeler and of course some water.

Oh and of course a big bucket of fresh picked corn!

This is the corn peeler that I picked up at the hardware store actually. I have seen it at kitchen stores as well but was glad to pick it up here locally. It is just like a peeler but it has a curved blade to cut the corn.
Ryan was so excited about the corn zipper that he came to help making the computer unnecessary. You can see that it works very well. Much faster than a knife I think.
That's a close up of the corn zipper after use. It cleaned really well I just washed it carefully because I imagine it is very sharp. We have some other peelers by Khun and they are all very sharp.
That is all the corn we got from that big bucket. It tempts us now every time we open the freezer. But we are going to save it for the dead of winter when we are really craving some corn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

weeding, canning and growing

Well despite the fact that we are reaching the end of the summer there is still a lot going on around here. Not only are we busy growing new things we are still weeding. Luckily we are more on top the weeding now then we were in the spring. Today my dad and I weeded cabbage, leek, and asparagus transplants. We did about 16 rows in an hour and a half which just goes to show that there are not too many weeds out there yet.

After we finished the rows we went over to take a look at my row of sweet potatoes. Ryan had little faith that I would be able to grow the sweet potatoes but over half of the slips survived and are now growing like crazy. The weeds were also growing like crazy around them so we started to dig them out. I think there is going to be a great bunch of sweet potatoes come the fall!

Sweet Potato Vine

For a little bit of fun today we also made a batch of applesauce. I may be a bit biased but i have to say it turned out fabulously. I also think that applesauce is super simple to do. If you have never done it you should give it a try. All you have to do is through some apple chunks in a pot with a pit of water, boil until soft and voila applesauce. If you like it not so chunky just use an immersion blender to get rid of the lumps.

We also have two new members here on the farm. As you can see from the photo they are the two cutest kittens ever. We have named them oats (the gray one) and beans (the orange one). They are both very spirited and are adjusting to life here on the farm very well.

Well I think I will make some more muffins now and maybe another pot of applesauce.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall is in the air

Well it seems that fall is on its way here with the wonderful cool that we have been having. It is definitely a nice change to be out working in cooler weather. This week has been a filled with planting, weeding and getting ready for our winter CSA. Yesterday I was out hoeing in the asparagus and found that our farm seems to be very happy.

The happy face which I found just as you see it is made of two peach pits and a stick.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Chicks

It has continued to be a busy week with lots of picking and some planting for our winter CSA (information can be found on our website We also received a bunch of new chickens. We got 120 new chickens 100 of them were baby chicks who are jut adorable and 20 were ready to lay hens. The baby chicks went into one of our moveable pens that has chicken wire as part of the pen structure. Well I was a little concerned that because the chicks were so small they would be able to fit through the holes. And of course they good. So my dad had to deal with a stream of chicks who thought they should be out wandering the yard. We solved the problem by putting boards up around the outside of the pen, which has seemed to deter them so far.

This is what I like to call exploded corn!
I don't know what causes it.

This week we also picked our first batch of corn. Growing corn organically can be a bit risky because you can easily get lots of bug damage. However it seems this year we have only had a little bit so far which is great. This week we picked peaches and cream corn (it is actually the variety peaches and cream not just bi-colour corn). We have not eaten any yet but it is on the menu for tonight diner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garlic Day's

Yesterday was another great day despite the fact that they had called for a bit of rain we only received some late in the evening. So if you have a splendid day to work with what do you do? Well my father (David) and I decided that we had best be getting our garlic out of the ground. We probably could have done this two weeks ago but it is one of those things that is in the forefront of ones mind. So we harvested 1 3/4 of a row all of which was Music garlic. Our first batch was a bit small but our second batch all of the bulbs were very large.

Garlic right after it was pulled out of the ground

My dad shoveling garlic out of a very grassy patch

So after the garlic was all picked we took it back to the barn where it has to be dried for a number of weeks. It is important to keep lots of air circulation around the bulbs so that they dry well. You can see in the picture below that they are on wooden boards with slats between to encourage air circulation.
Once the garlic is dry we will clean them (they are pretty dirty), cut off the stems and roots and have them ready for our winter csa (information available on our website

So because I don't have enough to do already I have again been making raisins. I bought my first batch of grapes at the farmers market from my neighbour vendor Kathrine. They were sovereign coronation grapes and they make wonderful raisins. They are very sweet but they make wonderful snacks and are excellent in muffins or any baked good.

Dried grapes!

You may ask well what is the process to make raisins. All I can say is simple. So purchase some grapes i did a 1.5 liter basket. This only made one ziplock bag full of raisins. Remove them from the stems place on dehydrator sheets whole (I sliced them last year to make the processes quicker but I would not do it again. The whole raisins are better). Slide the sheet into the dehydrator and turn onto high. Let them stay in there for about 48hours. And you have raisins. Making raisins may not be cost effective but it sure beats store raisins!

There is a falcon in this picture possibly an ospray?
It is basically impossible to see though. It is around the
farm all the time.

Another visitor to our farm last week. A blue heron.

CSA veggies

The sheep eating some Kale

Our stand at the Niagara on the Lake farmers market

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pictures from around the farm

Eggplant and Peppers


Chickens enjoying some tomatoes and summer squash

CSA basket

Apricot that rolled under the stool at market

My dad hard at work