Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm Gonna' Fly Now....

Mother Nature is so amazing! It was just a few weeks ago that we found a little broken shell, and assumed our little swallows had successfully hatched at least one egg. A few days later, we could see five tiny, fuzzy heads reaching up anytime Mom or Dad swallow flew to the nest. Just a few short weeks later, and the nest 'runneth over'! There are baby swallows coming out everywhere! Farmer Man put a little platform by the nest; we were a little worried that the babies had no place to go as they tried to learn to fly. Landing on the ground or the small bench by the front door would have made them easy targets for The Old Cat and Blondie the Cat. This morning, the babies are thinking about it....this afternoon the nest is empty! And tonight, seven swallows have been joyously romping around the skies about the house! They are so beautiful in flight! And rather amusing, too, as the babies are still not very good at landing and have been almost falling off the arbour in the flower bed!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Karen Chrest Meets My Worms!

Another gardening segment on Host Karen Chrest came over and met my 'friends with benefits', of a sort. We're discussing worm composting this time. Check it out here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CSA for July 27, 2010

There's so much to say, I almost don't know where to start! We're really excited this week; this is the best share yet, with lots of variety. First, did you notice the comments from last week CSA post? Yoko shared some fabulous (like, really fabulous!!) ways she's using some of the veggies. We hadn't even thought about grilling the Oriental greens - awesome. Check out the comments from last week, really. Go now! And please, do jump on there to share any of your cooking/preserving/serving ideas.

Our CSA partners have made a huge contribution to this weeks' share. Linda Boys has sent along spinach, tatsoi, kale, snow peas and summer turnip. If you're not familiar with kale, it's the dark, curly one. It's a super nutritious food - one of the few greens with good calcium levels, among other healthy things. It can be eaten raw or cooked like Spinach or Chard. It would be great in a stirfry with the tatsoi and the snow peas. Summer turnip is not the big yellow things in the supermarket all winter. It's a light, crispy guy, excellent raw, sliced thin into salads or used for a veggie dip. It could also be used in a stirfry!

Our Farmers Market buddy Hugh Moffat came through with carrots this week. Ours are poking along and his are fabulous, so he dug enough for a good bundle for everyone. Thanks, Hugh! And our neighbours Ed and Amanda Wiebe brought the beets. You all know, I hope, that the beet leaves are excellent and nutritious. We steam them like Chard, but you could also slice them into a stirfry!

We've included our Spicy Mesclun mix. This has some very tasty additions like arugula, cilantro and some members of the horseradish family. If you see something like parsley - proceed with caution! The cilantro is the ferny looking stuff. We've also including some 'Grand Rapids' leaf lettuce, so you can 'water' down your Spicy Mesclun, if needed!

So, for the FULL SHARES: 2 bags 'Sangria' red potatoes, 1 bag green beans, 1 bag mixed yellow and purple beans (the purples cook up green!), large bag snow peas, 2 summer turnip, 1 bag Msclun mix, 1 bag 'Grand Rapids', 1 Romanesque summer squash, 1 zucchini, 2 bunches carrots, 1 bundle beets, 1 bag kale, 1 tatsoi and 2 pints 'Red Mammoth' raspberries.

For the PART SHARES: 1 bag 'Sangria' red potatoes, 1 bag green beans, 1 bag mixed yellow and purple beans (the purples cook up green), 1 summer turnip, 1 small bag snow peas, 1 bag Mesclun mix, 1 bag 'Grand Rapids' lettuce, 1 bag spinach, 1 bundle carrots, 1 zucchini, 1 tatsoi and a pint of 'Red Mammoth' raspberries.

Enjoy!! Any questions about what something is or how to use it, email us or post a comment on this blog post!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Are You Crafty? Got Iris?

A great little piece from the fabulous blog Faire Garden. She's showing how to make baskets with braided iris leaves!! Who knew! Check it out here!


It's raspberry season at Aagaard Farms. That means it's nuts around here! People coming and going for U-picking, our little staff picking like crazy Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for CSA and the Farmers' Markets. I've been jammin' and jellin' like a person obsessed - more than ever before. And freezing, don't forget the freezing!! The piglets have had a few treats of the pulp left over from the jelly process - and they've decided they like raspberries, a lot! Even Rocky and The Hens are getting in on the act - they get a little of the leftover berries after the Farmers Markets. Only the doggies are kind of left out on this one - they show absolutely no interest whatsoever. However, they do enjoy all the attention they get from the U-pick people!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Animal Planet at Aagaard Farms!

It's a cacophony of critters here at the farm! If you've seen the previous post about the swallows, they built their nest right outside our front door. They're a little nervous every time we come and go, and we really wondered how that would work out. But, Saturday morning we found a broken egg shell, so we were hopefully all was well. Within a couple of days, five little beaks are peaking over the edge of the nest! It's really hard to get a picture; the nest is very close to the ceiling, it's dark there and every time we come out Mom and Dad swallow call to the babies to hide! I'll keep trying for a photo op but....

Meantime, Friday night/Saturday morning showed some great thunder and lightening. We woke up in the night to the dogs fussing a bit - not completely unusual in a storm. This time, though, Farmer Man couldn't quiet them (especially Panda Bear) so he switched on the bedside lamp. I woke and he poked me and pointed to the corner of the bedroom. I looked: there's Blaze curled up in the corner, shivering and shaking. Farmer Man points again and I realize that that is not our Border Collie! That's not our dog. Sweet, little, older Border Collie, very frightened. We ascertain that she's a nice, sweet dog looking for protection so we go back to sleep. Long story short: her name is Babe, she belongs to the acreage a couple over and they were away for the evening. She must have been on the run in the storm, found our doggie door and helped herself. Our little ones are so well socialized that they fussed, but didn't attack. Adorable doggie - she went home Saturday afternoon! I would have kept her in a minute.........

Then there is also the gopher Grizzly Bear chased into the garage, the baby mourning dove who spent a couple of days on the ground in the windbreak, apparently unable to fly up into the trees and an assortment of baby birds in all the trees! And yes, the piglets are settling in fine and The Hens and Rocky are enjoying the summer!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CSA for July 20, 2010

We're hoping you see this 'cause we're having some Internet/router problems. And if you do see it, it may not be until Wednesday 'cause it takes us sooooo long to upload a photo right now. Anyway, here goes.....

Still a rather small box for this week. We are so close on carrots, beets and Chard, but not quite! Next week! (That's the most common saying, probably, for market gardens. Or, 'Next year!'.) Linda Boys has come through again with tatsoi for everyone (great stirfries last week!), beautiful spinach and some lovely snow peas! The snow peas are the edible pod peas - great raw in salads, with a dip or awesome in a stirfry with the Chinese greens! We're welcoming our neighbours, Mike and Naomi Waddell and Ed and Amanda Wiebe, growing chemical-free not far from us on Veteran's Way! They've contributed some beautiful lettuce for the mesclun mix and all the glorious dill! I personally am in heaven to have dill to go with the baby potatoes! And Evelyn and Menno Isaac are back with CSA, with beautiful salad bags for the full shares!

So, for the FULL SHARES: 2 lbs. baby Norland red potatoes, 2 lbs, baby Yukon Gold potatoes, a bag of tatsoi, bag of spinach, Evelyn's special salad mix, small bag mesclun salad mix, three pints raspberries, a small bundle of Spanish onions and a bouquet of fresh dill!

For the PART SHARES: 2 lbs. baby Norland red potatoes, a bag of tatsoi, small bag of snow peas, bag of mesclun salad mix, two pints raspberries, small bundle of Spanish onions and a bouquet of dill!

If you've got favourite recipes or uses for the veggies or herbs, please leave them in the comment section for this blog post! We've been told it's a little complicated to post a comment, but what my sister Keltie always does is choose anonymous, but signs her comment! Share what you know with the rest of us! We'd be delighted to hear how you used something that you found in your box!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Smell Gopher!!

Blaze is on the trail! He's got the scent! And he's not giving up......until dinner time! Anytime Farmer Man is working around the farm, Blaze is with him. The only time Blaze abandons him is when Farmer Man is working around the large north field, which is in alfalfa and grass. Soon, the siren call (or squeak) of gophers lures Blaze away. And he becomes obsessed. And he never gets one! But we give him full credit for never giving up!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Somebody's Been Eating.....

the 'Grand Rapids' lettuce, the Romaine, the Swiss Chard, and they've been nibbling delicately at select leaves on the beets!! Up and down the rows, in the plantings farthest away from the house, are a number of little delicate hoof prints - and big chomps out of the product!! We've never had much of a problem with deer; too many dogs in the neighbourhood, we figured. Over the winter, our neighbours the Webers had to put down their big Akita, Sam. Well, old Sam may have been giving us more protection than we realized on the east side of the farm. And those darn deer have a real knack for nibbling the best, centre, juicy parts. Deer and critter repellents are a multi-million dollar business - but nobody is really happy with the results! So what to do? Can't spray a chemical deterrent on our crops. Don't have handy hook-ups for shooting water and things like that. Our friend Hugh Moffat swears by his good, old-fashioned scarecrows! Maybe we'll give that a try - with dangling, swinging-in-the-breeze CD's!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Piglets Are Here!

Finally, the new pasture is fenced and Farmer Man went and picked up the piglets. Six little Berkshire pigs, from our friends at Logan Farms Organic Meats! It was quite the trip home; something akin to a gale blew up when Farmer Man was driving along wide open fields. The wind came up and actually tore the roof off of the large wooden crate holding the piglets. The truck, apparently, was shuddering in the force of the wind! A couple of scary minutes while he sought some sort of shelter and then repaired the roof before continuing home! Everyone made it safely, and then the piglets were unloaded in their new, larger pasture! They seemed to start enjoying the alfalfa and grasses in the pasture immediately, and bedded down in their shelter, snuggling under the straw. If only the chickens would go to bed as early, 'cause Farmer Man and I were certainly ready for bed!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSA for July 13th, 2010

We've delayed the start of CSA one week, because nothing was growing very well. On the eve of the first share: a huge downpour over-night, making us and the veggies muddy and damp. So, for all our shareholders, we've washed the spinach and the mesclun mix, but I would definitely give it another rinse!!

Linda Boys had a beautiful addition to this weeks' boxes! She came through with gorgeous spinach, awesome mesclun mix and some beautiful tatsoi! Not enough tatsoi for everybody, but it's an awesome start to the season! The tatsoi (also known as Tah Tsai) can be used in salads or stir fries, or just steamed like you might use Swiss chard or beet greens. If it's a little wilted, just stand it in water and it will bounce back nicely! The little spinach leaves in the bag - that's ours. The big fat gorgeous leaves are hers; don't know how she does it! Our neighbour Lillian Weber supplied the saskatoons; we may be her only customer this year - saskatoons, and especially organic saskatoons, have been a hard crop the last few years, very prone to rust and a few other diseases in the wet spring weather. Her u-pick will not open at all this year, so we're very fortunate to have this little pick!

So in your boxes this week:

FULL SHARES: 3 lbs Warba potatoes, 1 tatsoi, 1 bag of spinach, 1 bag of mesclun mix, a bundle of green onions, 2 bundles of basil, 1 sprig French oregano, 2 pints raspberries and one pint saskatoons.

PART SHARES: 2 lbs. Warba potatoes, 1 bag spinach, 1 bag mesclun mix, 1 bundle of green onions, two bundles of basil, a sprig of French oregano, two pints raspberries and one pint saskatoons.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Prairie Sweet Potatoes!

And 'they' said it couldn't be done! You may have read a previous post about Aagaard Farms finally scoring some cuttings of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes don't really grow around here; our season is no way near long enough. It has been almost impossible to find plantable tubers anywhere in Canada, and they can't come across the border from the U.S. because of restrictions about soil moving across borders, etc. We were so excited to find cuttings offered at Vesey's, one of our fav seed suppliers. Well, the cuttings arrived very late, with an apology note that Vesey's had anticipated rooted cuttings and received unrooted cuttings. Instructions said to plant, expect them to almost look dead and then they'd rebound. Well, we did, they did and they are!! They're now growing quite well in large nursery tree pots. The pots are filled with a mix of garden soil and compost. We haven't been getting our usual hot summer weather, unlike Eastern Canada, so I'm a little worried about them producing much. We put them in pots so that we can move them into the hoophouse and even into the sunroom, if we have need, in late fall. If I even get some wee tubers, at least I'll have those to plant next spring! Crossing the fingers now.......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


'Tis the season to be jammin' and cannin'. Now, it's too bad for us market gardeners that jamming season is in the midst of our busy season. But, of course jamming season is in the middle of our busy season 'cause that's when the berries are ready! Our raspberries are just coming on strong; we got a little pick but they will be on full force next week and we'll have u-pick people here. We always find a few surprises in the berry patch - so far this year it's been an awesome little nest of babies, mmmmm, wrens maybe, by the size of the beaks. I haven't seen the mom so I'm not sure.

The jamming started on Sunday with strawberries. I scored some beautiful berries from Sugar 'n Spice at the Farmers' Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre. Rocky and The Hens seemed to enjoy the leftovers and scraps! Today has been our own raspberries, and I'll do more of those - large quantities of jam and jelly, hopefully, for sale at the Farmers Markets!

We're onto something new this year: Pomona's Pectin. We're always looking for something different for the Farmers' Markets. Pomona's Universal Pectin allows for low sugar jams and jellies, and you can even can with honey, stevia or other sugar replacements. I'm loving this product! It is a 100% citrus based pectin that gels with calcium and contains no dextrin, like common pectins. The procedures are simply and you can double or triple a recipe no problem; the product itself has a shelf life, if stored properly, of up to three years! It's a Danish product, which Farmer Man approves of, of course! It's available in Brandon in small packages at Two Farm Kids; I went right to the website to order a larger quantity from the Canadian distributor: check out Pomoma's Universal Pectin!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

But, There's Thunder Out There....

Some of the residents of Aagaard Farms just don't like thunder. Some seem oblivious. There's nothing like a ninety pound Border Collie trying to get into your lap! (Good dog, Blaze!) Some, however, deal with it by lots of whining, following around Farmer Man, and eventually, hiding.....

Farmers Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre is On!

Farmers Market season is now officially on for us! Yes, we've done the Friday Night Farmers Market a few times already, but with opening day at Riverbank Discovery Centre under our belts, it's full tilt from now on! CSA and the Neighbourhood Market on Tuesday evenings starting July 13, Thursday nights at Riverbank starting this coming Thursday, Friday Night Farmers Market and Saturday mornings at Riverbank Discovery Centre. That's our life from now until the end of September!!

We call Saturday morning's market at Riverbank Discovery Centre 'the mellow market, where we let you sleep in until 10:00 AM'. It's a later start to allow out-of-town vendors to arrive. We didn't have much to prepare so it was a mellow morning for us: not the usual frantic scurry from 4:00 AM on! The market itself was very mellow - not that many vendors, not a whole ton of customers. Thursday being our national holiday, I know a lot of people took Friday off and went out to the lake or off for a visit. I know because I spoke to a whole bunch of them at the Friday night market as they loaded up for the weekend! Everything will just get busier and busier as more and more of the crops are ready! If you're in the area, you can download the schedule for all our Farmers Markets here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Contemplating Hemp on Canada Day!

Yes, it's Canada Day, our national holiday celebrating the birth of this wonderful country! And I'm thinking about hemp! As an old (sort of) hippie chick, I've been wearing hemp clothes for years; really, like decades. I introduced Farmer Man to them; Farmer Man can kill a t-shirt in one growing season, well, he can kill numerous t-shirts in one growing season. Doesn't matter if it's the cheapie from the box store or a high-end performance shirt from one of the 'lifestyle' stores - Farmer Man can trash it. Hemp, though, wears fabulously and just gets softer with each washing. Farmer Man has some that are two years old and looking good!

Manitoba has been very progressive in allowing cultivation of the hemp plant. It is really an exceptional crop for the Prairies: grows quickly, doesn't have any known pests and diseases, doesn't require much water or fertilizer. Hmmmmm, hardy, reliable and doesn't require much inputs - it's almost the perfect plant. And so useful - you can make fabric, rope, paper and it's an extremely nutritious food source and is great for skin care, as well. Did I mention it's almost the perfect crop plant? Now, before anybody freaks: yes, it's related to marijuana, but it has minuscule amounts of the active ingredient that makes marijuana illegal.

Hemp as a food is awesome! The oil is one of the best sources of Omega-3 and 6 Essential Fats. It is not for cooking, it can't take high heat, but it is beautiful and nutty tasting as a salad dressing. Hemp seed, as a snack like sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds, is yummy and imparts all the health benefits. Hemp flour, hemp protein shakes, hemp seed butter: they are all yummy and good for you! And the best part, for me, is that they are local! Hemp foods can replace many of the things that come from 'far, far away', as we pursue a more local diet! There is lot more great info at Manitoba Harvest. We ordered a starter kit from Manitoba Harvest and we're enjoying it immensely. Some of there products are also available locally at Two Farm Kids, and the products are carried at health food stores and natural stores across the country.

I've been looking for something to replace my off-the-farm income; I've been thinking about getting goats and making soap and cheese. However, goats require infrastructure like extremely good fences, so it's not immediately possible. So, maybe I'll become the hemp queen of Brandon. I found an easy recipe for lip balm (which I'm addicted to) in the charming magazine The Herb Quarterly. Hemp oil can replace some of the other carrier oils used in cosmetics. Hemp soap is excellent for the skin, I've used hemp lotions before and enjoyed them immensely. Hemp flour can go into the homemade bread! Hemporama at Aagaard Farms!