Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chicken Coop - Raw!

Farmer Boy certainly has his work cut out for him now!! Delivered today: chicken coop construction material. Twenty five chicks arrive in five days, and they will need a home. Granted, they cooould start out in the sunroom but we haven't quite figured out how to tell the two cats that the little creatures will NOT be for amusement purposes. So, Farmer Boy must build, seed, plant seedlings, water, cultivate areas to be planted, keep up with the weeds, feed and tend 'the girls', and well, it's really great when he makes dinner, too!!

Farmer Boy has his design settled on and will have a proper door and a small window. Lo and behold!! At the dump today he finds an excellent triple-paned window. In great condition! How to reuse and recycle!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frank gets into the Raspberries!

For his first chore this morning Frank had to wade into the raspberries and continue to prune and dig out weeds. It's not a great way to start the day: the raspberries are quite prickly and they can 'sting' you on the arms and in the face. That's why it's an early morning job, when you can still wear long sleeves! He's doing an excellent job; with his help it may be the first time since we took over the family farm that all the raspberries may get pruned in one spring! It really helps with picking to have them pruned: easier to get in at the berries and less damage on the berries from other, old stems bashing the new fruit. And no, we didn't make Frank do it all day - there's many other things to do and we don't want him to get bored!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It Helps a Farmer Sleep Nights

The dug-out is full this year, and it is a beautiful sight. Last year, due to weather conditions, it was only half full to start the season. That's a scary thing for a farmer! Here on the Prairies we can be very hot and in a drought situation from mid-July to end of August. That's just when so many things need a good drink to fill out - especially squash, pumpkins and melons. We do all our irrigating from the dug-out, so having it full now just gives us a little extra peace of mind. And all farmers can do with a little extra peace of mind!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Asparagus IS Alive!!!

Farmer Boy insisted on tilling through the asparagus field late this spring. The worry was that he might damage emerging stalks, because really, it was rather late. But at least some of the asparagus is still alive!! After the weekend heat and yesterday's rain, about seven little stalks have popped up. Now, it has all come up in one row and there are four rows..........well, we'll keep our fingers crossed!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It......

Farmer Boy has his work cut out for him! We want all these seeds planted, in the next five days! Too bad it's raining today, no planting today; but yeah, it's raining today so what is in will get a good soak! Farmer Boy wasn't very productive yesterday; we were at an absolutely lovely dinner party at our friends' Joe and Calla's new house the evening before. Calla is an awesome cook and they are gracious hosts. Also included in the fun were the ever-amusing Bruce and Diana. Calla made a chicken and prune dish that was incredible, and a side-dish of red quinoa stuffed in tomatoes. Yummy! It was waaaaaay past our bedtime when we got home. So, not too much went on yesterday (plus, there were Hockey Playoffs on TV). Weather predictions are better for Tuesday so hopefully some planting gets done then. Because there is still the hundred flats or so of seedlings we've started this winter........
The pile on the right in the picture is all squash. We LOVE squash: winter, summer, odd, weird - we haven't met one yet that we don't like and won't try to grow! We're growing over thirty five varieties this year and particularly the winter squash need to get in the ground now!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Long, Hard Day....

Every farmer needs a faithful companion. Blaze is Farmer Boy's. He is with Farmer Boy constantly during the day; he'll follow the tractor up and down the field (finally, he'll get smart and go lie in the shade and just watch the tractor go by). He's there for the hoeing and weeding, he's there for the feeding of the chickens, he's there for transplanting seedlings although he occassionally likes to lie down on the flats of plants. There is only occasionally some seperation if a gopher calls it's siren song and Blaze must response. After a long, hard day he loves to go for a swim in the dugout, where he emerges dripping, kind of slimy and smelling bad but very happy! And then, the only reward he craves a good rub on his belly! (Which, of course, is kind of slimy and smelly)

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Girls Are Settling In!

All our little hens seem to be settling in well. They are spending all day outside, scratching and clucking. It's so.....farmyard! It's adorable! They immediately head to the row of old spruce we incorporated inside their pen - good protection from the red-tail hawks we know are in the neighbourhood. They finally used the nest boxes Farmer Boy faked up for them from old nursery pots. Much better then trying to collect eggs off the floor! We do also find at least a couple of eggs under the spruce trees - a hard crawl to collect those. We've noticed the eggs are getting to be a better size everyday; they've been very petite so far, with yolks the size of quarters. Now, to get Farmer Boy to build the proper coop.........

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Going thru the Hoops!

Farmer Boy built us a hoop house or high tunnel a few weeks ago. We'd love to be using it but our nights have really been too cold. The house is a single layer of poly so it does not have any insulating value. If the night is below freezing, the hoop house is below freezing. Well, the weather is on the up-and-up so we're getting ready to move in. We intend it for growing sensitive crops like tomatoes and peppers. It will provide us with a longer season of harvest, offering some protection from fall frosts. Right now, we're going to move in some of our cold tolerant seedlings like cabbage. (Yeah, I'm getting some of this stuff out of my house!!). Farmer Boy is going to do a little hoeing and then laying down landscape cloth to suppress weeds. We'll plant tomatoes and peppers right into the soil. But for now, at least a few of the flats are going out of the house. We knew we were on the right track after reading an excellent article in 'Small Farm Canada' magazine,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pruning Raspberries...and We Meet Frank!

Cold, windy, nasty day - so a perfect day to prune raspberries!! We have about 2000 feet of raspberries for U-pick, as well as picking for Farmers' Markets and CSA. The picture isn't great but shows all the canes Farmer Boy has cut and then pulled out of the row. Good thing it was cold so we could wear long sleeves because those old canes are prickly! Still, we all got scratched up a bit between our gloves and sleeves and a little bit on our faces.

It was all okay though because Frank was helping!! We were sooooo excited to have Frank here. Frank wants to work for us!! We got connected to him through our acquaintance Blake at the Marquis Project who said Frank was an a great volunteer at the community garden. And Frank WANTS to work here. We always have a ton of trouble finding staff. Most kids want to stay clean and tidy at the mall; they don't want to come out to the farm and get dirty and work hard. Frank seems like an outstanding young gentleman; he's going to college in the fall, already has his mind set on a business after college, loves meeting people and loves learning knew things. He also just seems kind and warm and community-minded. We hope he stays to work the summer! Fingers crossed!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Girls Are Here!!!!

Well, the girls are here.....twenty little hens, just starting to lay eggs. About nineteen weeks old. Now, I am aware of how trendy it is to have chickens but we have been planning on it for a couple of years, really! We're on a farm, so we can have a few, too!! We got 'the girls' rather on short notice, so we had to fake-up a quick home. Straw bales and an old camper top. Farmer Boy has been looking over plans and getting quotes on lumber but no proper coop yet. It will come quickly now, though, because we have 25 chicks coming on June 4.
The makeshift coop seems to be working well. We were told to keep 'the girls' inside for two days so that they would know that the coop was their home. We kept them in three days because the third day was soooooo cold. They've been roamin' around outside for a day, now. We're getting about five small to medium eggs a day, yolks the size of quarters. So far, so good!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nice to Meet You!

Welcome to the Vine, Aagaard Farms blog! Nice to meet you! We're growing and blogging from the Canadian Prairies in Brandon, Manitoba. For those of you not familiar with this area we are just north of North Dakota in America. And no, we do not live in an igloo - that's for Canadians waaaaay farther North than us! And, actually, even they don't live in igloos any more - igloos are like their winter get-aways.

We are gardening in a rather tough climate here on the Prairies. By the Canadian Hardiness Zone Map we are officially a Zone 2B (although we like to think of ourselves as a Zone 3, it makes us more hopeful.) Here on the farm, the tulips are just barely beginning to peek out of the soil and buds are just starting to swell on the trees. Tomorrow, May 14, our weather predicts the evening low as -3 Celsuis (roughly 28 F.) Friday, it's possible we may get a dusting of snow, according to the weatherman.

We are gardening organically and sell our produce directly to the consumer through a Community Supported Agriculture program, as well as through Farmers' Markets. We have U-pick raspberries and we rent out small garden plots. This year, new for us, are chickens! 19 week old layers arrived a couple of days ago and chicks are coming in early June. Last year we raised a couple of pigs for the first time and we'll be doing that again this year. The piglets will come sometime in June.

Today is rather chilly but we hope to be planting potatoes! The Farmer is going out right away to do a little cultivating and to decide if it is a good day to plant. We're late with the potatoes this year - we'd really like to get them in soon. We'll let you know!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Welcome to THE VINE!

Please note that this blog site is just in the stages of being constructed ... please check back soon to see how it has 'grown'!