Update on the Farm

I’ve just finished filling and sealing 27 bottles of salsa made from our own tomatoes, garlic, onions, sweet peppers and hot peppers. Unfortunately we don’t have any cilantro but this batch is strongly tomato-y, cayenne hot and delicious so I don’t think we’ll miss it too much. I cooked up about 20 lbs of tomatoes to make a thick sauce and then added the other ingredients plus vinegar and salt. We’ll enjoy it all winter long. Will and I cleaned and organized the freezer this morning (a good, cold morning for freezer work) so we have a better picture of what we have to sustain us for the winter. There are still lots of frozen chickens (from 2010 but still good), a bit of goat meat and quite a lot of broccoli, beans and cauliflower. I am still cooking down and bottling tomato sauce and I want to blanch and freeze more kale and chard before I consider the freezer full. We are starting to cure squash for the winter, the garlic is curing nicely and we have plans for converting our cooler into a root cellar for winter storage of potatoes, carrots, turnip, beets, parsnips, cabbage and celeriac. Unfortunately our onions are not looking great for winter storage as they are still bulbing up and may not dry down before cold weather hits, though you never know, we may get lucky and get a few pounds of storage onions out of them.

Our CSA and farmer’s market are all going really well. We get so much positive feedback from our CSA members that I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do a CSA, it’s such an ego boost! We appreciate that our hard work is appreciated though I know some of our members are challenged by some of the unfamiliar or unpopular vegetables. Our market stall started out modest but is starting to look like something reminiscent of my days selling Glen Valley vegetables: big piles of beautiful carrot bunches, glowing white cauliflower, fine lettuces and flawless garlic – great stuff that is beginning to attract some regular customers. It’s starting to get quite cold out and the 6 1/2 hour market is a long one to spend outdoors on the north side of a building in a cold climate in late September. Hopefully we’ll be able to move indoors before it gets really cold because we’d like to continue the market for as long as we have our CSA veggies going out (late November).

Ripening tomatoes

We are getting amazing tomatoes this year, both from inside the coldframe and outside on black plastic. We’ve been putting them in every CSA box for the past 4 weeks and selling lots of them to other keen sauce and salsa makers. The hybrids did best, especially after disease hit the coldframe, but we did have one heirloom variety do really well: the old Italian plum type of tomato (seeds I saved from fruit I got from my Aunt) set huge, tasty, saucy fruits on very vigorous vines that showed absolutely no sign of disease. The fruit, averaging about 1.5 lb each, are making their way into pretty well every batch of sauce and salsa we’ve created this year.

View of the fields in early September

Racoon-proofed corn

Racoons are the scourge of anyone trying to grow sweet corn out in these parts. The only way of protecting the corn, other than late night shotgun patrols, is electric fence. Will built this fence with three wires powered by a solar-powered fence charger (the corn is far from farm buildings and electrical outlets). It seems to be working and good racoon control means that the corn is actually making it into the CSA shares. Unfortunately we haven’t found as effective a solution to the corn earworm, a nasty critter that gets into the corn ear and eats the good part. We’ve been cutting the tips off the cobs (we’re at pretty well 100% infestation) and cleaning out the worms before sending them out in the boxes. Fortunately the corn is tasty enough that you can overlook its truncated appearance.

Garlic curing in the hayloft

Our garlic harvest has been very successful with the Glen Valley garlic far outperforming the local. We will definitely be keeping it for seed for this fall’s planting. We saved a lot of the bulbils, the tiny little garlic bulbs that grow from the scapes that come up in early summer. These will also be planted this fall with some to be harvested as green garlic in the spring and some to keep to grow again for eventual garlic seed.

Elderberry bush loaded with fruit

It’s another good year for elderberries and this year I plan to try to make some elderberry wine. I need 17.5 lbs and have managed to pick 12 lbs so far. I’m sharing them with the birds, who love them, and if I can’t get enough for the recipe, I’ll add a few blueberries to make up the total. Last year I made lots of elderberry jelly and still have quite a bit; the wine will be an interesting experiment that will be low cost and possibly quite delicious! I got the recipe off the internet, from a bit of a long winded description that takes 20 minutes and 4 youtube videos but sounds tried and true and well worth a shot.

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3 Responses to “Update on the Farm”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Quite some time ago, my husband showed me a link to a tiny house. I can’t recall when… I suppose it was maybe 4-5 years ago. We were so impressed and started searching the web for these tiny houses. Not that we were going to build one but because in some ways it reminded us of a place we stayed at while honeymooning on Salt Spring Island. We would later talk about how simple we could live our lives in a place like that cabin on Salt Spring.

    I used to live in Abbotsford but my trade eventually took me to the city. The place you speak of (in Yarrow) and left is now home to my good friend and her husband. They are waiting to move into their place as it’s near completion.

    Last summer, my husband and I were passing by a farm in McKees Mills and he said, “Look. There’s that tiny house I showed you. I read somewhere that he moved to NB.” This got me searching the web for that tiny house and eventually to this blog.

    We moved here, not too far from you, in May of 2005. When I happened upon your blog, I started reading from the beginning to see how and why you made such a huge transition. I still have much reading to do between the move and now but I’m impressed with your success to date. I’ve connected through the blogging world with a few ladies (one in PEI who has visited your blog) who made the big move from West Coast to East Coast with their husbands. I’m always intrigued with the story they share on such a big move. It takes a lot of guts to pull roots and move so far away to an unknown land. I’m not a complete stranger to the Maritimes but there was a time when I said I would never live here again. Well… never say never!

    I drove by your place the other day and was tempted to stop in and introduce myself. I love what you’re doing and have learned a few things about this area via your blog. I used to visit the local market in Bouctouche to buy free range chicken and freshly made butter but the butter lady quit making her fabulous butter and I found the free range chicken a tad expensive so I don’t go there much anymore. I did happen upon some pickled (dilled) fiddleheads last summer. To die for!

    Anyway… this was not meant to be a mini-novel. I just wanted to connect and share a bit this and that.

    • wjpedersen Says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I would have replied to your email address but Will seems to have deleted it so I hope you get this. Thanks for making contact and I’d love to meet you. Where do you guys live? I took a look at your blog and it is great – amazing pictures! Please drop in the next time you’re in the neighborhood.

  2. Michelle Says:

    Alyson, you can reach me at beansgood@gmail.com but all my blog comments will reach me at that address before I publish them. I did publish your comment on my blog since I love to have some level of feedback posted. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings. :o)

    We’re in Ste. Marie and I would love to drop by although it would be a random visit. I follow no set schedule but I do respect times when people would be busy preparing supper or some such thing.

    Thanks for your nice compliments. I’m a hit and miss/ point and shoot photographer.. lol but I’m also 25 years in the print industry at many levels (technical and design) so I guess that counts for something. Did you happen to see my other blog that should be listed in my profile? I’m looking to venture into new territory after quitting a very toxic job of some five years. New ventures are easy when you’re 20 something cause you think the world is your oyster. At a ‘seasoned’ age, it’s feels more like walking on very thin ice even though you’re (in reality) much better equipped.

    At any rate, I have lots of free time for the time being and would love a tour of your place and to visit. Be forewarned… I’m never at a loss for words. I’ll try to discipline myself!

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