Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last Farmers' Market!

The photo is Wee Man, the Green Spot's Vice President in charge of Rodent Control. We know exactly how he feels - found a warm, cozy spot and got comfortable! That's what Farmer Boy gets to do, at least for a while! Today was the last Market of the season, and we are ready for a break. It was a good Market, and we have really enjoyed October inside at the lovely Green Spot. But this year, with the addition of the new Friday Night Market at Shoppers Mall, we have done over fifty markets. Hard to believe just five years ago we started this adventure with twelve markets - every Saturday morning at Riverbank Discovery Centre. Time to curl up for a little nap!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pigs 'n Pumpkins 2

We got a call yesterday from one of the members of the local chapter of the Lions' Club. They had been having a pumpkin sale to raise money, and had some green pumpkins left over. The gentleman had been speaking with Farmer Boy on the weekend and knew our pigs liked pumpkin. Would we like to take these pumpkins? Well, we sure would! Farmer Boy went and picked up a truck load; literally, the box of the F150 was loaded to the top! He chops the pumpkins up into large chunks and throws them to The Berks. Whole, the pigs don't seem to know what they are, but even just a crack must release the scent. Those pumpkins with just a crack seem to cause some consternation, but The Berks figure it out and bring those hooves into play! An enjoyable feast, and just in time for tea!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chicks Are Becoming Hens!

A banner day on the farm! Six eggs from The Chicks - four small, a medium and a monster! Probably has a double yoke; we'll find out at breakfast tomorrow! We started with two eggs the first few days, then none (that we found), then four yesterday and six today! The Chicks are getting bolder, too. Farmer Boy had them out for a little walk today. Only five went, but he had the barn door wide open while working in the area and the group was following him everywhere so they went for a stroll. We've not been able to pasture The Chicks like we have The Girls, so this was quite an exploration for them. They seemed to pay absolutely no attention to Rocky and The Girls, who were quite close by in their pasture. The other Chicks stayed in the pen, settling into all the new straw Farmer Boy has put in. So cute as they were taking little dust baths in all the new straw. We thought, perhaps, they were also creating nests, but no eggs so far in that area.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Doggie Play Date?

Now, we have some dogs. Blaze, the Border Collie, you've met, if you've been reading this blog. We also have three 'Little Bears', three small lap dogs. We seem to attract the neighbour's dogs on a regular basis. Copper, who lives just west of us, is over here almost every day lately. They are such sociable dogs, and I don't think her people are home much. To the east of us are two mixed breeds, an Akita-cross named Sam, and a mix named Libby. These two don't come hang around like Copper, but if we're out in the east field they'll come by for a visit. Everybody gets along quite well, and it's fun and romping in the field!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Potato Harvest Finished - Whew!

Finally, the potatoes are all harvested. Now, crates of them are in the garage curing before their trip down to the root cellar. So, harvest is not really finished completely but enough that it is getting crossed off the 'to-do' list. (Cleaning the garage is still, needless to say, on the list). Farmer Boy decided the old potato digger we possess was beyond it's useful life, so he took up rows with the plow. Then, we have to pick up anything the plow turns up. Fortunately, Serhiy was here to help or it would have been a very long day of bending and stooping! We had to be careful to watch for signs of frost damage on the tubers, and immediately discard damaged potatoes in the field. We'll go through them again before putting them in the root cellar.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rocky's Babies

New photo from Linda of the chicks (as apposed to The Chicks). The little one that had black spots seems to have lost the spots and is fluffy white. Linda has only Isa Browns, so the two fluffy white chicks are Rocky's babies but The Girls DNA seems to have over-ruled. Linda is quite sure the bigger chick is a rooster, so he will probably return to Aagaard Farms because Linda doesn't really want anymore roosters. Rocky has more ladies than he can handle now, and we intend to introduce The Chicks to The Girls soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Do Pigs Love Pumpkin?

Yes, they do! Farmer Boy has been harvesting some of the damaged pumpkins and squash for The Berks. These are unripe squash that we didn't bother with before the storm. They got frozen enough that they have soft spots on top, but otherwise are fine. This is our first time uploading video so ................

The Chicks Are Growing Up!

Farmer Boy went out early this morning to let the chickens out. What did he find? Two little brown eggs in the pen with the Isa Brown chicks! One, unfortunately, was broken but the other is a perfect little egg. And not a real tiny egg, like some of the first from The Girls - a really decent-sized, medium egg in a gorgeous shade of brown, like coffee with a lot of cream!

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Early Winter Storm

Usually, in Manitoba, the question is: 'Will it snow for Halloween, or not?'. This year, we had an unusual storm for Thanksgiving; night time temperatures dipped to -8 C (about 16 F), and we received a couple of inches of snow. We knew some bad weather was coming and harvested everything we could, packing the garage with winter squash, boxes of tomatoes and crates of peppers. What is left in the field is gone, done, dead. The picture is of the spaghetti squash field, many left in the field. Had the temperature stayed closer to 0 C, most of the winter squash and pumpkins would have been fine. But, it was cold enough to damage them and make them unsaleable. Now, if Farmer Boy stopped and thought about it, he could get pretty depressed about thousands of dollars of product left in the field. But what Farmer Boy sees is pig food! It's just a matter of getting the tractor out there, loading it up and then off to see the pigs! And with the weather returning to normal October temperatures and the snow melting, it's a rather enjoyable task!

Ah, Country Life!

It's evenings like this that make us stop to count our blessings. Such a beautiful day Sunday, and a gorgeous fall evening. We took the dogs for a walk before dark, and saw this beautiful scene from the front of the house. Love seeing the neighbour's horses; they were having a little run yesterday.

It's been a tough week. I had to go to Alberta on some family business, and Farmer Boy was suppose to come and enjoy Thanksgiving with my sisters. But, unusually early cold temperatures and snow meant Farmer Boy had to stay home alone. The freaky cold froze the water lines to the animals. Now, it's one thing to ask the neighbour to pop over to open the coop and dump some feed into the pigs and the chickens, but it is a little much to ask him to haul water three or four times a day. So, Farmer Boy stayed and worked. No turkey for him! Sunday's fine weather meant that the snow disappeared and we're back to looking like fall in Manitoba.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dark Days Challenge '09

The excellent blog '(not so) Urban Hennery' is having the third annual challenge to eat local through the winter. Called the Dark Days Challenge - all she's actually asking is eating a meal from locally produced food once a week. '(not so) Urban Hennery' is, I think, officially a food/cooking website which has won some awards. It is a delightful mix of cooking, growing, gardening and living on the land with some great photography! This is the third year for the challenge, and the blog and reader comments have lots of great ideas and recipes. Check it out: Dark Days Challenge 2009.

We think it's sooo reasonable to ask for eating local once a week. The 100 Mile Diet is a little hard out here on the Prairies. But, once a week is completely doable. We ourselves will have our own eggs, pork, potatoes, winter squash, carrots, onions and beets. We've got some frozen currants and raspberries, as well as some canning. Canola oil for cooking, we've got some beautiful chickens from Maple Valley Farms, honey from Mann Apiaries. Wish we could find some local butter and cheese!! We'll start looking - and we'll share with you what else we can find local!! (Oh, yes - Bob Gasse's Manitoba Maple syrup, I think "Two Farm Kids" carries it!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hard Frost in the Forecast!

Every market gardener dreads the call for hard frost. It means the end. (Most market gardeners are also slightly relieved because we're all worn out by the end of the season!) Last night's forecast called for a low of -6 C (about 20 F). Frost has actually come late to us this season. We've had a light touch a couple of times, but last night was harsh. Even winter squash can be damaged at that temperature and although it wouldn't really affect the quality of the vegetable, it looks ugly and people don't want to buy it. So, Farmer Boy got really, really busy yesterday. All day and right into the evening with a flashlight, he was cutting squash and pumpkins, loading the tractor and hauling it up to the garage. I picked tomatoes and peppers. Fortunately, Serhiy was here to help; he started out on potatoes and then moved to beans. We ignored root vegetables like carrots and beets, and abandoned the potatoes because they will all be fine.

The very sad thing about yesterdays' harvest is that there is still sooooo much out in the fields that will largely go to waste. We have boxes and boxes of green to orange to red tomatoes; and there were so many more. In this funny growing season the tomatoes should have been full on by the end of August but are ripening slowly through September and into October. The peppers were still flowering, thanks to the warm temperatures at the end of September. We know we've done everything we can - the rest will provide some nice treats for the local deer, mice and gophers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Farmers' Markets Move Indoors

And just in time, as our temperatures take a big dip this week. Frost was possible overnight last night and the rest of the week looks cool and cooler. For Thanksgiving, we will probably get a bit of snow, according to the weather people! But, we'll be okay - because our Farmers' Markets will be indoors at the delightful Green Spot Garden Centre every Saturday morning in October. It's a great venue for a market - they've cleared out all the annuals and opened up a nice big space. Before or after the Market you can check out house plants, pots, great gifts and furniture and say 'hi' to all the fish and birds they've got.

It's great to have an extended season - we've still got loads of potatoes and a great selection of winter squash, carrots and beets. Last week we had summer squash but we'll find out a little later this morning if it survived last nights temperatures! We've got a garage stuffed with tomatoes in every shade, so hopefully they'll ripen over the next few weeks (note to self: move some of the green tomatoes into the sunroom to ripen faster....) We've pulled a few herbs to dry, we've got a little raspberry jam we made this summer - we can certainly fill a booth! And it will be quite warm and cozy for the sale - it's just the getting ready that will be chilly!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Multi-tasking Fall Chores

Farmer Boy is very busy, even though CSA and Farmers' Markets are largely over. We will still have indoor markets every Saturday morning at the Green Spot Home & Garden Centre, but it's pretty mellow to prepare for one rather than four. However, Fall clean up has started; harvesting of potatoes and other storage vegetables continues and, of course, the animals still have to be fed! Well, this is Farmer Boy doing fall clean up and feeding the pigs! Corn stalks with small undeveloped cobs are a new favourite of The Berks. Now, Farmer Boy could load up the tractor but sometimes he likes the personal touch......