Fun at the Market

I’m just back from the Sackville Farmer’s Market and thought I’d take a minute, while I drank my tea, and write a few things for the blog. The Sackville market is great and it’s amazing how many farmers are being supported by that small town. Today I brought a couple of watermelons to go with the carrots, potatoes, kale, squash and tomatoes that are our usual marketing mainstays. I cut one open, planning to sell them by the slice but the first person who bought a slice, bought one of the whole ones. Then, the next person who bought a slice bought the other whole one plus the rest of the sliced one – end of watermelons! I also brought some ground cherries, chard and basil from Allain and Eva’s farm (they are done with markets for the year) and sold all of it. We are talking about marketing cooperativelly at farmer’s markets next year: they’ll do Shediac and we are thinking of doing Sackville and Dieppe. If we can combine our forces and sell each others’ produce then we go to fewer markets and get to spend more time on the farm, growing more produce! Cooperation is really the key to making a living as a small farmer.

I think I need to put up some more photos because our steel building is up and looking fantastic! Our amazing, supportive and highly talented family gathered on the farm for four days of construction and great things were achieved. Our first day started out badly as we tried to pull an entire arch up with six people, some ropes and scaffolding. The arch was both too heavy and structurally not strong enough to handle that sort of manipulation and, to make a long story short, no lives or limbs were lost and we found a better way of doing it! We ended up putting each arch up in two pieces with Will and I on the scaffolding pulling the ropes and Peter, Bert, Mom and Dad steading, lifting and positioning the bottom of the arch into the baseplate. Then Will and I bolted everything we could reach at the top together and the rest of the team worked at the base. Will and I spent the days between crew days filling in bolts and putting together more pieces to make the arch halves. What an amazing team we are and now every one of us can put “steel building erection specialist” on our resumes!

The ends of the building are left to do and then Will needs to finish putting insulation around the base of the building, below the foundation. We will leave the construction of the concrete pad for the wash area until the spring, since we’re rapidly running out of frost-free time for pouring more cement. I need to prepare beds for garlic and raspberries, find garlic seed and order canes for raspberries. Unfortunately my oat cover crop failed: we had a week of super hot weather (well into the mid 30’s) after I scattered oat seed over the 3 ½ acres of land we plan to grow on next year. Then, huge flocks of blackbirds descended on our fields, two days after planting, and ate all the seed. It rained almost continuously after the heat wave so no seed has been sown since. It is too late to plant more oats though I might still be able to put in fall rye. I just may need to be content with a cover crop of weeds, which, depending on the weeds that grow, is not necessarily that bad of a cover crop.

I’m also working at cleaning up the coldframe: weeding and pulling out the tomatoes that are done, and planting some things that will hopefully feed us through the winter. The carrots are coming along nicely and I’ve also seeded spinach, turnips, arugula, leeks, onions, beets and peas. We will see how things do over the winter and I’ll put in some early spring stuff as well. The tomatoes continue to produce and I think we’ve set a few records for overall tomato size: my largest recorded red monster weighed in at 2.5 lbs with an average beefsteak size of over 1 lb apiece. Yes, way too big to sell easily but great for processing! We’ve been putting lots of tomato sauce in the freezer and we spent a very productive and entertaining evening with Sylvie and Charles making a big batch of salsa – yum!

Hurricane Earl turned out to be not too impressive but it did manage to knock down the corn and sunflowers. The corn was ready to be picked and processed anyway, so that worked out okay, and the birds are still able to harvest sunflower seeds, so they’re happy! Now we’re on the lookout for frost. There’s lots of squash that will need to be picked as well as the celeriac and onions. The watermelon and cantelopes have been wonderful and I hope the frost holds off a bit longer so we can continue enjoying them as they ripen. I think the tomatoes in the coldframe will be able to handle a bit of frost, though we’ll pick lots, too, for ripening in the house. I have a feeling that fall will come faster than we expect!

The goats are slowing down in the milk department and soon I’ll be milking just once/day. This means I’ll be able to sleep in past 6:00 a.m.! I do look forward to that, though will miss all the milk and cheese. Breeding season is coming up and the bucks are getting ready for the girls: peeing on their beards and exposing themselves regularly, just in case one of the girls is watching!

Well I think I’ll get out into the sunshine now and do something farm-like. We are expecting some days of sunshine now, after days of rain, and there’s so much to do!

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