Friday, March 25, 2011

Farmers Market

Although we are still enjoying the snowfall from a few days ago summer is on my mind all the time. One of my favorite parts of summer is going to the farmers market. Last year we were privileged to be part of the Niagara on the Lake farmers market. This market is fairly small but the community there is very supportive and the vendors are all fantastic. Last year we had a great time there and are going to be back again this year. I just update our profile on their web page and thought I would post it here to see if anyone thought we should add anything.
Last year we did nothing except write a mildly sad little blurb about ourselves and put up a cute picture of Ryan holding a lamb. So I took things to next level!
Check our our blurb here:
Don't forget to take a moment to look around and see the great vendors who are there. And if you feel like a drive one sunny Saturday morning this might be a great destination for it :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

There Was Frost This Morning

Well Amanda and I went outside this morning to feed the animals before taking off and what did we discover but yet another and final addition to the family.

Lambaroo finally had a lamb. We were never sure if she would lamb this year or not as she was quite young in the fall last year, but here we have one healthy new lamb to join the flock. Given the strange weather conditions we have found ourselves in over the last day we named her: Frost. Congratulations to Muncher (Lambaroo's mother) on becoming a grandmother.

Well the little seedlings continue to grow in the greenhouse and you can now see radishes, peas and spinach all poking out of the ground. While Amanda is busy with the last few weeks of the CSA and starting more seedlings in the greenhouse, I have been busy with other things, getting equipment ready for summer...

This is one of our 3 running Farmall A tractors I inherited from my grandfather and the first one I have finally finished prepping for summer. Being 60 years old it is understandable why most of the bolts and the like were seized on the cultivation equipment making it hard to adjust last summer on the fly. But now they are getting new life breathed into them and I can finally easily adjust everything I need to with little effort. Someday I hope to restore these old tractors, but for now some new oil, grease and a bit of love will take them well through the summer to another round of winter maintenance.

So that makes 6 healthy lambs we have running around the pen now. You will remember a few posts back we talked about Jeff the lamb (Mutt's twin) and his struggle with illness. Well after a week of getting better and showing lots of energy, Jeff tanked, and one sad morning he passed away, while we held him in our arms trying to keep him comfortable. That was a 2 and half weeks ago, I guess nobody had the heart to write about it till now...

Jeff with a happy milk grin on his face during the recovery process, while being held by his favourite, Amanda.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh Baby it snowed outside

It appears that the forces of nature have struck again and we get to enjoy the snow that comes with that. I have not been out yet but looking out the window the fresh covering of snow does make it seem very peaceful outside.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone for all the voting they have been doing for us in The Small Business Big Impact Challenge. As of right now we are at 1159 votes. Thank you also to everyone who wrote lovely comments on our page.
If you have not seen our entry yet you can check it our here :

Voting is open until the end of April so don't forget to keep voting!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why You Can't Find Good Eggs in Toronto

Amanda recently posted this on her facebook and I thought it bore repeating here on our blog:

Why You Can't Find Good Eggs in Toronto

For us, the closest grading station is over 40minutes away, making it very difficult, if not expensive to get our eggs graded. It is funny how it is okay for people to be able to come to the farm to buy eggs, but it is illegal due to "health reasons" to sell eggs off the farm when ungraded, whether people know they are or not.

This same rule prevents us from donating eggs when we have too many to organizations such as Community Care. While it would be so beneficial for them to be able to receive fresh eggs the Health Department will not allow ungraded eggs to be donated to them.

Equally as difficult is what we face when we try to market our meat poultry. The law states that this must be done in a government inspected facility, and cannot be done on our own farm. Not to dissuade people from purchasing from us, but I have several issues with this:

1. When we take our poultry to a place like this (the closest is currently in Smithville) we have no guarantee that we are getting back what we took. While they make the claim that we do, historical evidence across a wide range of growers would suggest otherwise. In our own experience on one occasion we took 21 ducks to be butchered and were given 22 back. The operator insisted that we had brought 22, which was wrong, and one of the 22 had some black feathers left on, clearly not a member of our pure white Muscovy flock.

2. The classic argument is that this helps control the safety of the meat you, the consumer are getting, so that you know it has not been contaminated. This is absolute bull sh!&.(I apologize for this, but I have a lot of passion for this issue, and it really bothers me) For anyone who has ever been to certain slaughterhouses, I have no idea how they are considered sanitary. Joel Salatin, a prominent American farmer who has a loud voice for the kind of farmers we want to be, slaughters all his own poultry. Several years ago the government attempted to shut him down, but they failed when he was able to prove that the amount of e-coli contamination in his chicken was far less than that found in the grocery store that came from the slaughterhouse. At Creek Shore Farms we raise a premium product and that demands a premium processing of the poultry, which just cannot happen when you have no control over it.

3. I noticed that our local slaughterhouse was recently listed for sale as the owners are retired. If they were to not be repurchased we would no longer be able to market fresh poultry to our customers as the closest chicken processing facility would be an hour away and the closest duck and goose facility over an hour and a half making it no longer economically feasible for us to raise and sell the meat.

These rules directly prevent us from being able to sell a high quality product that our consumers demand and subject many people to the low quality, factory farmed food that is forced on us by marketing boards at the grocery store. I am deeply saddened by the difficulties we face in trying to help our consumers eat in healthy ways, while at the same time supporting the type of agriculture that will help sustain our environment for years to come.

The rules may someday change, but we can't do it alone.

Another Spring Day

It turns out we are having another drizzly morning here in Jordan. Its not raining but there is wet mist occasionally which really is not too much of a bother. The first job of the morning was feeding all of the animals. They always seem to be starving as soon as you walk out the front door. The sheep start bahing and the chickens start flapping there wings.

This is one of our chickens that live with the sheep.
We sprinkle the food outside the fence so the sheep
cannot reach it.

We are very excited to have gotten new feed for our chickens as well. Our old feed was fine but we are getting fresh locally made food now that had whole grains, flax, and all kinds of great stuff. It also is not in pellet form and smells great. The whole drive home on Saturday I wanted to try some as a little snack. The food is made at Comfort Farms which is just a short drive away from us. One thing that we really like about the food is that it is GMO free, which is not an easy thing to find especially if you purchase commercially made feed. So far there have been no complaints from the animals about the change!

Old Feed

New Feed

This morning the chickens and ducks also received some fresh hay. They really enjoy eating green matter and I think they are getting a little stir crazy. Every morning the chickens in particular try to make a getaway into the field. It won’t be too long until they are out on pasture as Ryan and I started to put up our fencing on Saturday.

Chickens eating hay and new feed

My second job this morning was to go and pick some leeks for our CSA drop off tomorrow at the food co-op. Due to the lovely weather we have been experiencing it was not a tough job. Post pick I washed them to get all the mud off and later this morning I will trim the roots and tall leaves so that they look presentable.

Bleu de Solaise Leeks

After I picked the leeks I went for a little jaunt in the field to see what was going on. Well apparently there has been a lot going on in the past few days. As you will see in the picture below our garlic is starting to sprout out of the ground! This is the first new outdoor growth of the season and it was a great delight to my morning. We also have a survivor from the winter. What is it you ask well spinach. The current growth does have some frost burn on it but I am hopeful that with a few warm days some more new growth will appear. I was very tempted to start eating it off the plant but there was a considerable amount of dirt on the leaves and my better judgement told me that I may not want to have dirt in my mouth.

The Spinach

Signs of Growth

Well, as Amanda mentioned in the last post we were busy a week ago planting some early crops inside a greenhouse. As of Saturday we have seen the first signs of growth in the greenhouse with some seedlings just starting to grow.

If you look closely in the middle of the picture you can just make out a tiny radish seedling coming out of the ground.

In this picture you can see a couple of pea seeds that have floated to the surface. Again, if you look closely you can see that one of them has a tiny little white shoot, just reaching out of it.

As with growing vegetables in the field, our arch nemesis has made its appearance as well. Let the battle begin!

Much of the planting this year will be done with our new Jang Clean Seeder. Larger seeds such as corn, peas and beans will be done with the EarthWay, but we find that with smaller seeds it tends to get jammed up so we needed to look for a different option. The Jang is quite a bit more expensive than the EarthWay, but it has a whole range of adjust-ability and can handle seeds as small as carrots or as big as peas with gracefulness. So far we are quite happy with it, but will see what happens once more seedlings pop up so we can get an idea on the quality of spacing.

Amanda hard at work planting lettuce.

The Jang Clean Seeder. It weighs 10kgs so it has enough weight to feel tough and push-able in the soil.

Our new water station. If found these tanks for sale on Kijiji for $50, and bought 3 because they were an awesome deal. Since the water is turned off in the greenhouse we needed a way of efficiently filling the watering cans and this has worked great.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Planting We Will Go

It was a beautiful day today, and there are sure signs of spring such as blue jays, and the green grass on our lawn. The past few days have been pretty full. On Saturday Ryan and I had the opportunity to start some early crops at Whitty Farms in there green house. We planted, peas, lettuce, radishes, and spinach. We hope that these crops will be ready in time for our first markets in May. This early planting also allowed us to try out our new Jang seeder. I'm sure Ryan has a load he would like to say about the seeder but we were very happy with it performance. Much better than our Earthy Way seeder.
I started writing this two days ago and have lost my train of though a little bit but I will carry on.
This week has also been filled with a lot more planting. Our germination bench is pretty much full but tomorrow we will be moving some of the sprouted items off to make room for more planting. Our seed order arrived yesterday from West Coast seeds which means a lot of planting is about to happen. We still have a few small items that have not arrived yet but I'm sure they will be here soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Small Business BIG Impact Challenge

It appears that we are in for another rainy day here in Niagara. I have just been sloshing about in the mud feeding all the animals who are still in need of food and water (not as much water) as they are if it is a beautiful sunny morning. So the animals are done and the eggs are collected although there will be more this afternoon and preparation for this afternoons CSA is already underway. Overall it will probably end up being a pretty quiet day.
Yesterday we planted more items in the greenhouse. Our leek, onion and shallot seeds finely came so we planted those. Overall we planted 11 trays yesterday which is not really very many considering that we probably plant hundreds of trays over the season.
We have also entered our farm into the The Small Business BIG Impact Challenge. There are a load of entrants and in order for us to be considered as finalists we need people to vote for us. So if you have a few moments you can check out our write up at .
And if you go and take a look don't forget to vote for us. There is a cash prize for three winners in just under two months.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tastey toilet brush?

Well Jeff has only been getting better over the past few days and is show lots of interest in the world around him. He currently likes to sniff everything insight. He also will munch on a little hay now and also will drink small amounts of water from a bowl. We are pleased with his progress thus far. Among Jeff's funny antics is a strange interest in trying to eat the handle of our toilet brush cleaner, as well as trying to eat the box our mailbox came in. Needless to say we don't let him actually eat anything strange but if he finds a moment to escape he is after some strange and wonderful new thing he thinks might fill his belly.
We also had another lamb born today. Muncher is the mother and we named him Robin after the great fairly tale legend Robin Hood. This was to carry on the theme of Marion who was born a couple of weeks ago. We are not sure when he was born just sometime during the day today. He is big and looks very healthy. I look forward to posting some pictures once his mom relaxes and lets visitors in!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Its warm in the greenhouse

On a cool morning or afternoon this early in the season it is a wonderful experience to go to the greenhouse and do a little planting. It feels like a warm summer day inside with a temperature usually around 30 C. This week I have been in the greenhouse twice and enjoyed the nice tropical temperatures inside. On Tuesday I planted sprouts for our winter CSA. I tired a few new kinds including, beans, radishes and beets. Already on Wednesday you could see the shoots starting to pop out. I love bean shoots and am hoping they turn out really well.
On Wednesday I took a trip to the greenhouse with my dad and we planted our first trays for summer. It feels a bit wierd starting seeds when there is still snow outside but it has to be done and I enjoy the job most of the time. So on Wednesday we planted Leeks (ours have not arrived yet but we had some leftover from last year that will hopefully give us some earlier leeks in the fall), we also planted basil and tomatoes. The tomatoes we are going to grow in the greenhouse in one gallon pots for early sale at the farmers market. Last year this worked out well for us so we are hoping for a repeat on the success.
This week we also found little Jeff (one of the twins) outside just shivering and seeming to be ill. He was very thin and not looking at all well, so we brought him inside and have been bottle feeding him. He came in on Sunday and over the past two days we have seen him improve slowly. He would not even get up on Monday but now is happy to take a little walk and is eating a lot more. We are hopeful that he will fully recover and be able to go back outside with his sister.
I also cleaned up the tractor mower this week. It was all covered in grass and muck and just needed a good wipe down. I threw a before and after picture in above.