Monday, February 27, 2012

The Aftermath of Wind

Well this last weekend saw some pretty strong sustained winds with gusts of over 80km/hr.  While most things around the farm seemed to go unharmed and almost nothing but the cat's water dish blew away (it was later recovered), we did end up experiencing one small problem:

Both of our hoop houses where we keep our winter greens and rutabaga warm enough to survive winter suffered damage to the plastic from the wind (oddly enough these two houses have had survived harsher winds over the winter).  House 3 above (we only have 2, but the end panels are recycled) suffered the worst damage with the plastic ripping right off the east side for the entire length of the house.  House 4 suffered less damage with just some tearing on the bottom near the front as can be seen above.  There are also some other smaller tears on house 4 along the top where it rubbed on some exposed steel in the wind.

If you enlarge this picture you can see why we had the problem.  Despite being U-bolted to the arches the wooden frame ended up sliding up the arches which relaxed the plastic allowing to flap in the wind, which slid the wood up even higher.  Closer inspection has also revealed that the arches seemed to be pushed further into the soil then we had which also slackened the plastic.

In this photo you can see the end wall of house 4 bent in on an angle as it bent the rebar which was holding the top straight.  In the next photo you can see an arch I found while taking photos that came out of its rebar anchor....the only one I found but it gives you an idea of the power of the wind.

While disappointing the houses did get nearly to the end of our winter CSA.  This next week is warm so we shouldn't have a problem with finishing the season.  Hopefully we can fix up house 4 enough to get an early spring crop in there, but the plastic on both houses, which should have lasted 4 years, will need to be replaced this year after only a single season of use.  In the end I chalk it up to a learning experience and hopefully we will be able to build a better, stronger hoop house for next winter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ryan's Winter Projects: Part 1, The Shed...

Well I know I have not been very busy on here, but I am going to try and post a few of things I have been doing around the farm this winter.  One of my first projects was to build an insulated shed so that we could store potatoes and squash for our winter CSA. While it took me a while I was eventually able to finish before things got too cold.
For insulation I managed to source 4" thick foam for a really great deal that I cut to fit in between the studs (I need some more pictures).  The floor and ceiling also have an added layer of 2" foam which finished it off nicely and made for a really nice, warm and well insulated shed.

You can see off the back of the shed 2 pipes I use for ventilation.  While 1 may have been sufficient I wanted to be able to ventilate either half of the shed independently in case I made a separation wall as potatoes and squash require different temperatures.  Alas, as is often the case I ran out of time and they were both kept at the same temperature, but seem to have done alright.  Next year we will likely have 2 of these sheds and then we can get different temperature and humidity zones for each.
Hopefully I will get more photos of the shed, and for those who are interested stay tuned for more of my winter projects...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The Crostata all finished.

Sideways picture of the rhubarb waffles. They were really good but did not really have a rhubarb flavour.

Frozen Rhubarb

As you can guess there is currently no rhubarb growing here in Ontario. We in fact do not even grow rhubarb. However our neighbour does and he kindly let me collect some throughout the summer. As summers are very busy for us I chopped it up and stuck it in the freezer. Well now its February and I look in my freezer and see bags of frozen rhubarb and think to myself what shall I do with it??
Well my favorite summer item is strawberry rhubarb pie but I am not that great at making pie. Really they generally fail. Not just the crust but I also fail at pie filling (I know its sad). So i went on the search for some interesting things to do with rhubarb.
The first recipe I found was for whole grain rhubarb waffles. I have not tried them yet but I think they are on the docket for lunch today. The recipe can be found here:
So I still needed something else to make and I decided on a Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata. For those who are versed bakers yes this is basically a pie. However I am always will to give things a go. We don't have any raspberry's so i threw in strawberries instead. Instead of one giant one that the directions called for I made two medium sized ones and four small ones (to give away). The filling tastes good (I licked the spoon) and the crust seems pretty good although now that they are in the oven they are looking a little wobbly.
There is sixteen minutes left on the timer and then I will post a picture and let you know how they turned out.
This is the recipe that I used:

So for anyone thinking of freezing some rhubarb this coming summer, I would say good plan!