Archive for October, 2011

Rewards of Cheesemaking Night

October 21, 2011

Sample of our cheesemaking: waxed Gouda, Brie and Castle Blue

Delicious! The Blue was the best, then the Gouda and then the Brie which was quite firm and probably should have aged a bit longer

Pictures from Daniel

October 20, 2011

Some of the girls

Two of this year's little boys

Freyja, in all her beauty!

Snowball

"Cuore di Bue" or "Ox Heart" tomatoes

Cory looking cute for the camera

Milking Ruby

Cluster of lovely, ripe tomatoes in August

Thank you, Daniel, for these lovely pictures! Daniel Vautour has been visiting our farm every now and again throughout the summer, taking some great pictures. He helps out his partner, Nicole, who works for La Recolte de Chez Nous/Really Local Harvest co-operative doing promotion of farms on websites, facebook, radio, newspaper and every other medium she’s been able to access. They are both very talented photographers and great promoters of local agriculture and we really appreciate their dedication to the cause.

It’s a rainy, windy, cold day on the farm after many warm, sunny days. This autumn has been extraordinarily mild and dry which has been great for the late crops still in the ground and for the farmers working outdoors in October. Some crops didn’t do very well because of the cool, wet summer but many managed to recover over this nice fall and we were able to finally pick some nice looking beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage and will soon pick our leeks and finish picking carrots. Our potatoes, parsnips and celeriac are in the cooler now and squash and onions are in another storage area. Tomatoes are still alive and ripening in the coldframe though we have had two hard frosts already. I haven’t planted garlic yet, partly because I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit and also because we were waiting for a load of compost. Well, the compost arrived yesterday and the days ahead look to be dry, sunny and cool so we should get garlic in the ground and covered in straw mulch by Monday next week. Once this is done, once tomatoes are finished and coldframe cleaned out, strawberries are mulched and carrots are harvested, then this season’s field work will be pretty much finished. Our CSA continues until November 19 but by then, all crops will be in storage so if the ground is frozen or covered in snow, our CSA members will still get their veggies.

I’m in the process of getting our girl goats bred to a buck down the road. We sold our Nubian buck last summer though we still have a smelly family in the boy’s area (this year’s boys), which is helpful in detecting heat in the females. Our neighbor has a Boer buck, a meat breed, who I think will help us in building some meaty kids for next year. We had hoped to pick him up and bring him here for a little holiday but he wasn’t interested in letting me get anywhere near him. So Plan B has been to bring the girls to him. He has done the job with three of them but we still have to confirm their pregnancy when their next heat comes around (or not). It is so much easier breeding does when you have a buck on property so I’m re-thinking my plan to avoid over-wintering bucks and maybe we’ll find ourselves our own little Boer buck to keep (with a friendly wether to keep him warm in winter) on property.

We decided to finally get rid of our old washer and dryer (came with the place) and invest in a new, low energy, low water using front loading washer. We ditched the dryer altogether after confirming, after a year of not using it at all, that we don’t need one. The space the dryer occupied will sport shelves for storing wine and beer-making equipment. Now how is that for getting one’s priorities sorted out? The new washer is a real treat because it washes great and spins clothes so dry, you barely need to hang them out. Considering that we dry our clothes outdoors in the dead of winter on sunny days, or else on a rack in the living room in front of the fire, the less water there is to remove from the cloth, the better.

What else is new? Well, after obtaining his Canadian citizenship, Will immediately applied for his passport and will re-enter Canada after this winter’s trip to California, as a Canadian! I’m tickled at how much Will loves being a “real” Canadian (with documentation to prove it!), it makes me realize how lucky I am to be born here. Of course Harper is doing his best to make Canadians world-wide pariahs with his outdated, backwards thinking policies like supporting tar sands developments, giant oil pipelines and building more prisons at the expense of rehabilitation. When Canada starts getting advice from Texas’s governor about how to better and more cheaply manage crime and punishment, we know we’re heading desperately down the wrong road. The saddest thing of all is that most Canadians didn’t vote for this man – how’s that for irony?

Enough of my ranting. I will be attending a workshop on organic greenhouse management in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to learning more about managing crops under plastic. There will be a tour of local greenhouses and our farm is part of the tour. We will be demonstrating the low cost, low input option and, boy, do I need to tidy up that structure before lots of farmers descend on our place. It’s one thing to give tours to the interested public and something else altogether to open your farm up to other farmers. It’s kind of like when Nathalie MacMaster plays traditional fiddle tunes in Cape Breton – she’d better get them right! So I’ve started picking up fallen fruit, pulling out plants that are done for the season and removing some of the larger weeds. It won’t be beautiful but it will at least look like it’s been taken care of for the past few months!

I am looking into putting up some high tunnels on the farm next year. A pipe bender is on my Christmas list so we can make our own high tunnels out of fencing material. These are structures that support plastic only in the summer so we don’t have to construct them for winter snow load. This means using a lot less galvanized steel though we’ll still need to make sure they won’t blow away in heavy spring and fall winds. I’d like to cover our raspberry beds to get an earlier and better quality raspberry crop (fewer mouldy berries if they don’t get rained on) as well as create another covered area for early spring crops and heat loving crops. We tried to grow ground cherries this year and managed to get very large, healthy looking plants but they set fruit too late to get a crop before the frost. Ground cherries are wonderful, tasty little things and they yield hugely if they get the heat. We had an abnormally bad spring and early summer this year but with climate on the change, we can’t count on anything much better in the future. I think we’ll need to be more creative in how we use our land to get as long a growing season as possible and, though plastic isn’t terribly sustainable, well utilized plastic structures can give us more production in our short growing season. That can only be better than having to count on imported food for half the year.