Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Rescue Mission May Be In Order!

Seems some little feline has had kittens in the old temporary chicken coop. No sign of any momma cat around now, but four young kittens seems to be living in the coop. Farmer Man has spotted them 'ghosting' around this summer, and we finally went looking for them. They seem to live in the coop, and hang around and play in the piles of old machinery and building materials not far away. They are extremely cute but very shy of humans! There is a short-haired blond with an amazing striped tail, looking rather like Loud Cat - a cat who has showed up in our garage on-and-off for a couple of years( hmmmm, maybe Loud Cat is a daddy). There's a short-haired gray and white, a fluffy brown, gray and white striped and an extremely adorable fluffy blond, who does look somewhat like our Blondie, who cannot be the daddy but could be an older brother. It's possible someone dumped the kittens out here - it happens, unfortunately, but we'll never know how they got here.

Thing is, within the next few months we're about to get cold - very, very cold. I worry about the little ones surviving. In the winter here in Manitoba, we can have temperatures of minus 35 Celsius - yes, that's MINUS 35 degrees! That's minus 30 something in Fahrenheit - killing cold no matter what scale you use! As frosty nights have already been happening, Farmer Man dumped a fresh bale of straw into the coop for the kittens to cuddle up in. We were bringing bales of straw for the pigs to burrow into, anyway - so what's one extra? I've started this week to feed and water them every day. I find the short-haired blond will come up to me, the gray will watch from close by and the two fluffy cats will scamper off and watch from far away. I have not tried to handle or pet them in any way yet. I'm just hoping they will get familiar and comfortable with me. I'm hoping eventually to get them so comfortable that I can entice them into a crate and get them over to our vet Dr. Sherry at Wheat City Vet Clinic. If anybody has experience with wild cats I'd appreciate any comments and info! In the meantime, I'll continue to sneak away from our dogs to go visit them everyday!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Last Outdoor Farmers Markets!

Friday and Saturday when by in a blur - a grey, sodden blur. However, the Markets were certainly better than Thursday night at Riverbank Discovery Centre! The Friday Night Farmers Market at Shoppers Mall was well attended by vendors and shoppers. Friday's weather held great promise, and it was actually nice for a while in the early afternoon while we were harvesting and packaging. But, on our way there it clouded over, and shortly after start time began to rain quite steadily. it only lasted a while, though, and the shoppers continued to pull up and jump the puddles to check out the wares. Saturday morning's final market at Riverbank Discovery Centre was very grey: solid, gloomy grey but no wind and no rain. We were a little shy on vendors and customers, but it was a fine day! Now, we look forward to going inside for Saturdays in October! We'll be at the delightful Green Spot Home and Garden Centre where it's too easy to spend as much money as we bring in! I'll have to be careful and stay out of their store! And away from the houseplants! And the pots! And the trees and shrubs, which are probably on sale big time! Hope to see you there in October: Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Last Thursday Night Farmers Market!

This is the final weekend of outdoor markets, and with the weather the last little while - I can hardly wait for it to be over! Don't get me wrong; Farmer Man and I really love 'growing good food for our neighbours'. But I'm tired of getting rained on, frozen and blown over to the next province! I mean, really! The weather in September has been less than pleasant. And the perfect topper was the final Thursday night market at Riverbank Discovery Centre. It has been cloudy, cool and rainy for a few days, about noon it began to rain quite steadily. We proceeded undeterred: it has to be really awful for us to cancel a market. Besides, most of the time the weather clears before the market starts. But not Thursday! We went to Riverbank Discovery Centre to find we were the only ones who bothered to show up! Tent up first to protect from the rain, we set up and at start time, had a few of our hardy regulars and a couple of people just leaving some event at the Discovery Centre. And then nothing......for almost forty minutes! So, just before 7:00 PM we shut her down. I must confess we stopped to pick up the makings of a cocktail on our way back to the farm - for a wee celebration and to warm us up! Fortunately, the forecast is much better for the final Friday Night Farmers Market at Shoppers Mall and for the final Saturday Morning Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre! Hopefully, the work gloves have dried out as we get back to harvest and prep.........

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Girls Say It's Fall For Sure!

Finally, The Girls and Rocky are going to bed before us! It's kind of embarrassing when your chickens want to stay up later than you do. However, as the days get shorter, and cooler ( high of 7 Celsius today!!!), The Girls and Rocky are sleeping in a little later and going to bed a little earlier. They have also started to molt - a nice array of feathers decorates the coop every morning. And, egg production is down - way down. Now, commercial poultry people augment the light their chickens get to keep up production. They 'fool' the chickens into thinking it's still summer. We're letting ours go the natural way - although once it gets really cold we will put in a heat lamp, which will increase production somewhat. We've also noticed that the Leghorns (the white chickens) are laying smaller and smaller eggs. Now, we've always gotten the occasional tiny egg; we figured it was from Funky Butt, a chicken with a crooked tail. But all of a sudden, we've gotten two tiny eggs a day for a couple of days. We hope - and our loyal customers hope - that it's not the wave of the future!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Is Here - Oh, Yeah!

We'd avoided the few light frosts that hit the Brandon area last week, but this weekend hard frost hit us. And how! Now, we are fortunate to have a lot of well-established shelter belt, which did give some parts of the gardens good protection. But, the open areas and the low areas are pretty much finished! Our late-seeding of lettuce got a touch of frost, the summer squash are all pretty much toast, the tomatoes (which never really ripened) are done and gone. The winter squash plants are dead but the squash is mostly fine - except those that the deer have started to crack and gnaw. The sweet potatoes, well protected, seem to be okay. The basil is finished but the calendula next to it is okay. The garage, our staging area, is crammed with things we tried to save like watermelon, cantaloupe, summer squash, peppers and tomatoes. So, we'll still have a good supply for the final outdoor Farmers' Markets this weekend; it's hard to believe there are only three more regular markets: Thursday night and Saturday morning at Riverbank Discovery Centre and Friday Night at Shoppers Mall!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Talkin' Squash in Hartney!

The Hartney Hort Club had talked to me about a fall presentation about squash. Last night was the event - and it was good timing because we still had summer squash as well as winter squash. This was a 'tag-team' presentation with Farmer Man, something we don't get to do that often! We prepped some Papaya Pear by marinating it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and we baked both a Buttercup and a 'Winter Sunshine' Kabocha. The meeting was at the adorable 'Red Door' restaurant in Hartney, so Farmer Man sauteed some crookneck and patty pan, grilled the Papaya Pear and warmed the winter squash. I talked about the differences between summer and winter squash, different varieties in both groups, growing them, using them and preserving them. Farmer Man came out of the kitchen a few times to add his knowledge! And everybody got to try both raw and cooked varieties! We were quite late arriving (totally on me, I won't lie) and in the flurry to get going I totally forgot to get a picture of the packed restaurant! A great group! Thanks for having us, Hartney!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CSA for September 14, 2010 - Last Day!

Whew, it's a done deal for another year! We've finished CSA earlier than ever this year - largely due to consistent rain throughout the season. The weather has been a good thing and a bad thing - we never did bring our own tomatoes to CSA (they are still mostly green and, now, splitting). But lettuce did well, the late-seeding did much better than it would in most hot years, and beans did fabulously (hope everyone got some frozen for winter!).

This being the last CSA we brought larger bags of potatoes and left them dirty! Dirty potatoes will store better than washed, really! Keep them someplace cool, dark and dry. We also brought, of course, some serious weight in winter squash. These too, will store a long time: keep them cool, dark and dry. Winter squash benefit from something like a shelf, not touching each other. Turn them once a month or so; if rot starts it is often where the squash was sitting on the shelf. We brought a wide selection of winter squash: Part Shares could take up to 15 lbs., Full Shares could take up to 20 Lbs. We were totally willing to deal - especially if someone was interested in one of the monster Hubbards or Boston Marrows (weighing in at 24 - 34 lbs!). We've already had a couple of emails about the round yellow thing - it's a heirloom cucumber called Lemon Ball. We usually take our veggie brush to the skin as it tends to have little bristles and then it's just good eating!

Our growing partners came through today to top things off! Menno and Evelyn Isaac brought some of their luscious organic, hot house tomatoes. Linda Boys provided gorgeous red cabbage for the parts, fresh celery for the fulls, some of the basil and some great Long English cucumbers. Amanda and Ed Wiebe provided the beautiful large onions. Ed and Marilyn Clayton of Clayton Organic Orchard, in Elkhorn provided the awesome apples.

So, for the FULL SHARES: 5 lbs. German Butterball potatoes, 5 lbs. Alladin red potatoes, apples, Long English cucumber, a Lemon Ball cucumber, a mix of bell pepper, Hungarian hot and jalapeno peppers, bundle of Swiss Chard, bag of lettuce, bag of tomatoes, fresh basil, celery, a small winter squash in the box plus a choice of up to 20 lbs of winter squash.

For the PART SHARES: 5 lbs. German Butterball potatoes, 5 lbs. Alladin red potatoes, apples, cucumber, Lemon Ball cucumber, a mix of bell pepper, Hungarian hot and jalapeno peppers, bundle of Swiss Chard, bag of lettuce, Bag of tomatoes, fresh basil, red cabbage, a small winter squash in the box plus a choice of up to 15 lbs. of winter squash.

Also in everyone's box this week is an invitation to 'The Green Keys Tour' featuring Canadian composer and muscian Frank Horvat. We hope everyone can join us October 3. We hope everyone has enjoyed this years' CSA! It's been great fun to help feed everyone all summer! And enjoy!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just For Fun - Carrie the Merengue Dancing Dog!

Just for laughs!! We love our doggies and we love doggie videos! This is huge fun (but I'd never put my dogs in the outfit.......).
Check it out here!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Small Farm Dreams?

Are you dreaming of running a small farm? Help is on the way! The Manitoba Farm Mentorship program will be running a workshop here in Brandon to help you make your dreams a reality! Check it out here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Family Fun at Aagaard Farms!

It's great to introduce children to local food, we think it's so important that people know where their food is coming from and what real food is. At the Farmers' Markets, it's so fun to see kids' reactions and hear their observations as they check out all the vegetables and fruit. The most fun we have, though, is here at the farm. We rent out garden plots, and we so enjoy the children that come: we'll introduce them to the pigs and chickens, let them help weed or harvest. As their parents work in their gardens, the kids will quite often follow Farmer Man around asking a million questions and playing with the dogs. Of course, some of them find the tractor fascinating! On Saturday, our renters Joan and Larry brought some family out to help, including some of the youngest additions. We missed it, we were at the Farmers Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre doing our thing, but Joan and Larry were nice enough to share pictures. The captions are theirs. Apparently, big fun was had by all!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CSA for September 7, 2010

We got busy today!! Yes, we did! Having to cancel last week put the pressure on to keep up the volume of veggies our shareholders have received. Fortunately, the weather cooperated today! We certainly do see the results of this cool, rainy weather! Our tomatoes and peppers won't ripen, the basil suddenly has brown spots and the cucumbers haven't grown an inch in the past five days! Not much we can do about all that, though, so we just got busy - and made some calls.

Menno and Evelyn came through with beautiful hothouse tomatoes, Linda Boys was a star (!) with celery and leeks for everybody, some broccoli and some cabbage. Amanda and Ed found some gorgeous onions and some great cucumbers. Couldn't do it without our growing partners!!

Everyone is receiving today a large patty pan or scallopini summer squash called 'Marlborough', a pale green, crown shaped patty pan. Now, you can do anything with this that you would do with a zucchini: dice, slice, cube, saute, stir fry, BBQ. But, when the patty pans get larger, one of our favourite things to do is stuff 'em! Slice off the stem and remove the little seed pouch. You can remove some of the flesh or leave it in place. Stuff it with whatever you might use to stuff a pepper or tomato: rice and ground beef, bread crumb or crouton and herb stuffing, fruit and nuts are awesome!! One of our favs is cream cheese, a can of crab meat, diced red pepper and/or diced red onion, salt and pepper to taste and an herb like tarragon or dill. Yummy! Bake the squash whole until the skin is easily pierced with a fork, around 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Slice and serve pie-shaped wedges, either as a side dish or as your main course.

Everyone is also receiving a nice selection of assorted baby summer squash today. The young, small squash are the gourmet way to enjoy them! We took a good selection, because with frost possible at any time, enjoy them while you can!

So, for the FULL SHARES: 2 lbs 'Linzer Delicatese' Fingerling potatoes, 2.5 lbs 'French' Fingerling and 2 lbs of 'Alaska Sweetheart', the all red potato. 2.5 lbs tomatoes, onions, leeks, cabbage, Swiss chard, celery, a couple of cucumbers, a bag each of 'Romaine' and 'Buttercrunch' lettuce, a couple of assorted zucchini, a crookneck summer squash, and a 'Marlborough' patty pan, one of an assortment of winter squash, bunch of basil, carrots, a head of garlic and apples.

For the PART SHARES: 2 lbs 'Linzer Delicatese' Fingerling potatoes, 2.5 lbs 'French' Fingerling and 2 lbs of 'Alaska Sweetheart', the all red potato. 2.5 lbs tomatoes, onions, leeks, broccoli, Swiss chard, celery, a couple of cucumbers, a bag each of 'Romaine' and 'Buttercrunch' lettuce, a couple of assorted zucchini, a crookneck summer squash, and a 'Marlborough' patty pan, one of an assortment of winter squash, bunch of basil, carrots, and a head of garlic.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things You'll Never See at the Grocery Store!

Our current industrial food system only allows perfect looking food to be for sale in the grocery stores. The growing interest in organic food has started to change perceptions somewhat; early on in the 'movement' growers brought vegetables and food as is - blemishes, bug bits, etc. However, as the organic movement has grown, even those growers are striving harder for blemish-free, flawless looking vegetables and fruit. But, that certainly isn't how Mother Nature always presents it! This year we've gotten some interesting specimens. Due to heavy rains regularly, cucumbers and zucchini have 'blown up' and look more like little bowling pins. And Siamese twins are everywhere in the summer squash: twinned crookneck squash and twinned patty pans. And how about the little 'people' carrots! You never see those in the grocery store! (Face courtesy of Travis)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hummingbird Farewells?

I suppose because there has been so much rain, we've been hanging around the house a bit more than usual. Among other things, it's given us the opportunity to view our hummingbird feeder more frequently. In the last few days, it's suddenly been very busy at the feeder. Of course, we have no good way to tell if this is activity is all one hummingbird or different hummingbirds. But, it has definitely been a pleasure. The little guy in the picture hang around for a couple of hours in the rain. He'd rest in the ninebark shrub, have a good, long drink and then return to the shrub. We've never witnessed such a thing before! He even chased off another little hummingbird a couple of times! Although it's a joy to watch, it's rather sad, too. It means to us that the hummingbirds are getting ready to head south. They always leave early - and who can blame them, a small bird like that probably can't take too much frost, and frost could come at any time now.