Archive for August, 2011

Scenes from the Summer

August 11, 2011

One of the things I love about summer is having my brothers and sister visit with their families. It’s nice to be able to show the farm to my neice and nephews and they are getting to the ages where they can actually appreciate some of the wonders of the farm (tractors, goats, potatoes!). My sister-in-law, Nina took these pictures, some from this summer and some from last.

Sam drives the tractor while Alyson supervises

Cory, worn out after playing with kids

Allie making friends with Snowball

Allie meets Keehay, a lovely goat who is no longer with us

Sam and Snowball

Allie digs potatoes

Lewis, absorbing the fiddle sound

August 11, 2011

Veggie fields in the summer

Lots of broccoli this year

Rapidly growing carrots, beets and brassicas

Lots of fruit and we await ripening

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago and everything is already much bigger, greener and further along in production. We have been picking cucumbers and zucchinis every day for the past week or so and there are lots more to come. I love experiencing what I call the “zucchini miracle” where you pick every zucchini over 6 inches long one day and go back the next to find a 3 foot long monster zucchini suddenly visible! Where was it yesterday? Hiding its massive bulk in the foliage? One wonders about the ability of vegetables to be cunning.

We have been experiencing almost constant rain for the past two weeks. There have been enough dry, sunny breaks to prevent outbreaks of mildew and late blight – thank goodness – so my only real concern is trying to get hay for the goats for the winter. We need at least 3 dry days, though now that days are shorter and cooler, 4 would be better, in order to make good hay. We had a hay window back in July and lots of keen farmers got their first cut in. Unfortunately our hay guy wasn’t able to make hay for us and we continue to wait. At this rate, hay will be in short supply and therefore very expensive this winter. I am not planning on overwintering the boy goats and may do them in earlier than planned. I will also have to think about how many girl goats I can keep, too, though I am quite attached to all of them.

Our veggie weighing and CSA bag packing station

Front view of the wash station, all ready to go

We are very happy with how our work area in the steel building is working out. It is so nice to have a ergonomically and efficiently designed, clean, bright space to work in. Most of our design was adapted from John’s setup at Glen Valley Farm with a few adaptations for our specific needs. Will has been working on the rainy days, wiring the steel building for outlets and lights. It is smart to do it bit by bit because this way you know exactly where your work stations are and therefore, where you need lights and plugs. Will just bought a secondhand steel workbench through Kijiji and will be setting it up soon. This will free up some of the surfaces I use in the veggie area – yay! I notice that our station is built for tall people so we don’t have to bend down over a wash table or lean over too often to pick things up and I realize this may be challanging for any less tall apprentices! We may have to have little stepping stools strategically located around the work area.

Early August full share of veggies at Windy Hill Farm

Our farmer's market stall at the Dieppe Market

We have been selling at the Dieppe market since we’ve started the CSA and things are going well. It is very different from our approach to farmer’s markets in BC because there, they were the main sales avenue for our vegetables. Here, the CSA is our focus and the purpose of the farmer’s market is to sell those extra veggies, the excess of what we can put in boxes that won’t hold for another week. This means that our stall isn’t near as diverse and interesting as what we would have if farmer’s markets were our marketing focus. I’m a bit conflicted with this because I want to have a stall bristling with carrots, broccoli, potatoes and green onions but am saving these items for the boxes. Eventually we will have excess carrots though I’m inclined to still hold onto them and store them for the late season boxes – who knows what things will be like in November and we may need every carrot, potato, turnip and beet we can get!

The Cheese Team waxing a gouda

Adrien and Sophie continue to explore the lengths and breadths of cheesemaking! In order to combat the problem of hard, dry, not terribly tasty gouda, they have been making larger cheeses (using 5 1/2 gallons of milk instead of 4) and coating them in cheese wax to help prevent moisture loss during aging. Gouda should be aged at least 3 months at 50 degrees Farenheit and 85% humidity. I have a fridge set to that temperature but it does not maintain the proper humidity so the cheese dries out and doesn’t gain the flavour it should. Hopefully waxing will make a difference. Next week they’ll be trying to make crotins, a small bloomy rind cheese that ages for 10-14 days at high humidity. These will age in the same 50 degrees cheese fridge but in a container with a lid, to help maintain the 95% humidity they need. I am reading “American Farmstead Cheese” by Paul Kindstedt, an amazingly readable book that goes into the scientific detail involved in making cheese. I am learning more about pH, protealytic enzymes and salting than I ever thought possible and after reading about the intricacy of making good cheese, I wonder how I ever managed to make anything even remotely edible in the past!

View of Dixon Point from Will's bike ride

Farmer's day off - Will in motion on a nice biking day