Summer is Ending

It’s hard to believe that we are getting to the end of August and approaching the start of th fall season. Another couple of months and we’ll have been in NB for a whole year – it feels as much like we’ve just arrived here as it does that we’ve been here forever!

Sunflowers are in full bloom and we actually sold some at the Shediac Market yesterday. It never ceases to amaze me how much people will pay for flowers and how little they choose to pay for food, often compromising their own health and health of the environment in the process.

The Shediac market is a fun distraction though I seem to have had a falling out with the market manager. I’m not quite sure what I did or said that offended him but he was quite rude to me on my first day and totally avoided me yesterday! Oh well, we all have our problems and I seem to be his. The market is fun, though nothing like a BC market. It actually isn’t “make/bake/grow” as I’d thought but there enough local farmers and craftspeople to make up for the guys selling sunglasses and bed sheets. I’m meeting some nice people and making enough money to justify the day away so can’t complain.

I visited the Sackville Farmer’s Market last Saturday. It is a very small market but is made up of almost all farmers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a market with that high a proportion of farmers: veggies, fruit, meat, eggs, herbs and lots of value added stuff (apple juice, sausages, preserves). I bought some wonderful peaches that came from NS, my first peaches of the season. I talked with a young organic farming couple from NS, near Tidnish, and they seemed to think the market could handle yet another farmer. Sackville is a very charming university town (Mt. Allison U.) and a very artsy place, located about an hour’s drive from here towards NS. I’m thinking of finishing the season of Shediac markets (Sept. 9) and then continuing to sell in Sackville until we run out of stuff. This market goes for another month outdoors and then switches to indoors for the winter.

I mowed down and tilled in the buckwheat last week and the fields are ready for the winter cover. I started to spread the first pile of goat manure, the second one we’ll keep for over the winter because it has some stuff in it that needs more time to break down (like Pearl). Well, I’d spread one load and was loading up the second when I drove the loader tractor too close to the spreader, bumped the wheel and it fell off! Now I’ve bumped lots of spreader wheels in my day (that’s how you tell you’re close enough to the spreader) and this never happened before – was I just lucky in the past or was there something wrong with this wheel axle? Will managed to remove the piece and is in the process of finding a new one. Meanwhile, we operate the spreader with just three wheels and it seems to do fine! Tomorrow I’ll till in the manure and then start sowing oats soon afterwards.

Nessie’s sore teat has erupted into abscesses again and I had to stop milking her on that side. I checked with the vet and she said it was okay to continue milking one side while the other dries up. So twice a day I milk out half of Nessie, then spend the next 15 minutes soaking, irrigating and sponging up gooey stuff from the other teat as Nessie stepdances on the milk stand. It is no fun at all and I feel almost as bad for me as I do for Nessie! I’m hoping that all these tumours or cysts or whatever they are finish their erupting soon, her teat heals and on her next lactation, everything is fine again. I know this is hoping for too much but what else can one do?

Will and I killed our first 11 chickens last week and what a sight we made – the Keystone Cops of poultry processing! We started to get a bit better at it towards the end and the carcases look a little better, but I don’t think our butchering skills will ever be much in demand! We will try and finish the rest off this week. We’d borrowed a chicken picker for removing feathers which did an okay job but we are wondering if we could do as good and fast a job ourselves, thus saving the trip to borrow and return the picker. We will see. We ate our first bird that evening for dinner – the biggest one at 6 lbs – and it was delicious! For the most part, the birds average 5.5 lbs and this is the recommended weight. Much bigger than this and they start to put on too much fat. Soon our freezer will be full!

Will and my Dad worked like demons for a good 10 days and created the mat of rebar necessary to stablize the concrete of the steel building foundation. Then, after all that hard work, we got the cement trucks in and they covered it all up! Fortunately we have some photos to remember it by. Four truckloads of cement later, a couple of days of drying and curing, and we have a lovely smooth concrete pad for our new building. Will is now drilling holes in the concrete to bolt in place the base plates which the steel building will be attached to. Soon this impressive structure will be built and then it’s on to the next project! The steel building will change the look of the farm from the road – unfortunately our beautiful big barn will no longer be what you see as you drive by – but I have plans to plant grapevines all along the road side of the building (southsoutheast) so it will one day be beautiful again.

Our sunflowers are being visited by lots of bees. We have a neighbor with bees who said this has been a great honey year and we can see why: lots of flowers around. I also planted a small wildflower patch in the veggie garden and it is also buzzing with pollinating insects. The elderberry bushes near the house were loaded with berries which Mom and I picked today. The Cedar Waxwings arrived recently so I knew we’d better pick them soon before they were all picked over. Don’t worry, we left lots of berries for the Waxwings. The elderberries are in the freezer for now and we will make jelly from them in the winter. I think these are a type of cultivated elderberry – they look like the wild ones but flower and fruit much later in the season and much more heavily. Eva’s mother is from Czeckoslovakia and recognized the bush from ones they cultivated at her home when she was young. They dried the berries and used them in tea.

We have two cormorants on the pond. Cormorants eat fish and we think they may just be cleaning out our trout, though the biggest fish are probably too big for them to handle. The hummingbirds are still here and still sucking up a couple of litres of sugar water/day. We’ll enjoy them while we can since they’ll be heading south soon – or at least we hope they head south and don’t decide to hang around here too long eating sugar water!

Will and I, after agreeing to not buy any more equipment, went out and bought a walk-in cooler. It was a second hand one in excellent shape for an excellent price and we just couldn’t resist! It is quite large and we won’t come near to filling it next year, so may try and rent out a bit of our cool space. On the other hand, we do tend to fill the space we have so we may just use the whole thing. Its about 88 square feet in size and we’ll probably put it outside the steel building on the concrete pad where the wash area will be located. We’ll eventually add some extra insulation to it, to make it more efficient, and of course build some shelves inside. For this winter we will use it as a root cellar and put it together in the barn, for storing potatoes, carrots and other rooty things.

Our potatoes are pretty much done for the season and we’ve been selling the reds at the farmer’s market. We’ve been averaging about 3.5 lbs potatoes per plant for the reds, and 2.5 lbs/plant for the yellow and white potatoes. The reds are getting really scabby, though, and they are not great keepers so we are eating the scabby ones and selling the nice ones. The whites and russets will be kept in the ground till the weather starts to turn into winter, then dug up for storage. The yellows we’ll eat once the reds are done. None of the other varieties are showing signs of scab so we’ll probably not grow those reds again.

I planted purple carrots this year, just for fun, and they are a real hit at the farmer’s market. I bunch the orange and purple carrots together – the colours go really well together – and bring along a sample of the small purple ones for people to taste. The purple carrots are meant to be the most susceptible to rust fly but we have had no rust fly here at all. I hope this continues though I’m sure that once we grow more carrots, we’ll start to see more pests. Flea beetle were a problem in the spring but not much of a deal in the summer, and the cabbage looper has been really hard on the slower growing brassicas (cabbage and brussel sprouts). I have turnips that have been in the ground since spring and they are virtually root maggot-free so that’s quite encouraging. Its nice to not have all the pests we had in BC!

Will and I have been talking about what we are growing where next year and we’ve decided to plant a couple of rows of raspberries in one of our fields. I’m thinking of locating the pastured poultry between the raspberry rows, so we’ll leave enough space for this. This year, the birds travelled up and down our lawn and did a loop of the house in their little pen and I don’t like having all that manure so close to the house at all! We can put up an electric fence around the raspberries to keep the birds safe from predators.

Well, I’ve gone on and on once again and it’s time for chores. Thanks for tuning in and I’m signing off for another couple of weeks!

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3 Responses to “Summer is Ending”

  1. Vivienne Says:

    Wonderful to hear all the farm news Al. It’s amazing how much there is to do, eh? Poor Nessie and her sore teat – hope it doesn’t take too much longer to heal. How many teats do goats have anyway??? haha. Little do I know about such things. Not sure I could kill a chicken. Do you just break its neck or just chop off the head or what? Also loved hearing about purple carrots – take a photo for the blog – I wanna see! Do they leave you with purple teeth?? If so, they’d be good for Halloween. Love, Viv.

    • wjpedersen Says:

      Hi City Girl!
      Unfortunately purple carrots do not stain your teeth – I wish they did!

      Nessie is doing better and my bruises are healing, too!

      Chicken killing is no fun at all. If you want to see some techniques there are lots of good chicken killing videos on youtube. We used the single slash to the jugular method – messy but effective.

      See ya!

  2. S.Watkins Says:

    Hi Alyson and Will
    Wonderful to read all your hard working news from the Farmer’s Market and Food. I was at the Market this Sunday Alyson and thinking of you as always while visiting the GV booth. Andrew and I were interviewed for a documentary film on Farmer’s Markets and Organic Farming. Of course your names came up and I told them they must contact you for an interview. Hope this was OK, can’t talk about Glen Valley or the WR Farmer’s Market without Alyson! Your building looks strong I was hoping the hurricane gave you a miss and all is well with you and your Family.
    Lots of Love Susan

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