Orchard Hill workforce Fall 2010

Ken has been wanting to take a picture with “all our workers” for sometime and last Friday when Michelle was here he got her to take the picture. Chester didn’t make it in because he isn’t working in the field yet… This fall when his testosterone levels drop (and hopefully we have all our mares bred) we can introduce him into the herd and he can start working along side the other heavy horses.

Here’s the line up from left to right: Sassy (our new mare traded for Whinnie); Ken; Gwen (sweet Gwen who gets along with everyone); Martha; Buttons (young Mare / granddaughter of “Goldie” one of our all time favorite horses); Verena (agriculture student from France); Gena and Jasmin (our two- 13 year old – hard working well trained mares); Nora (full season apprentice from Maryland); Sam (young gelding in training); Andy (aspiring future farmer from New Zealand); Ziggy (young gelding in training); Jesse (full season apprentice from Sarnia).

On the general farm front things are in good shape. Our second cut hay is all baled without rain! Ken has almost finished his green manure fertility transfer onto future garden plots and fields that need a boost. Nora and Jesse have prepared their fields to be planted to fall grain in a couple of weeks.

The harvest for the CSA continues to roll in with what appears to be a bumper crop of tomatoes. Ken is trying to get our new used potato digger up and running before we dig the majority of our potato crop. The sweet potatoes are still small, but Andy dug a few to test and they were yummy. We hope that they size up in the next month! Raspberries are coming along well.

Nora and Ethan harvesting herbs

Tomatoes have finally begun to roll in! The hoop house tomatoes have done really well and now the heirloom and paste tomatoes that we planted outside are ripening as well. It’s a great change from last year! We have also begun the fall raspberry harvest. Summer squash and melons have come to an end, but the winter squash and pumpkin crop looks very promising.

Gradually the garden is coming out of production and we are seeding it down to an oat cover crop to keep the weeds down and cover the ground to protect it from erosion.

We managed to get two small fields of good second cut hay into the barn this week before the rain today. Ken has also been working with Siggy and Sam and they are doing well discing in a three horse hitch. Chester has managed to breed all five our our mares and we are hoping that they catch and we have a lot of Suffolk foals in another year. Mable is growing and continues to be a big hit with our CSA members.

August Draft Horse Workshop

Our August three day Draft Horse Workshop has just been successfully completed. We had another great group of individuals come to the farm for three days to learn about driving draft horses. Nora assisted Ken with teaching the workshop while the rest of us cooked meals and got the Saturday pick-up ready. We were very grateful to the working shares who came out and pitched in to help us get the pick-up ready. We also managed to get our oat straw into the barn. We have never had a year when it has been so difficult to get straw dry!

The garden is exploding with produce and our hoop house tomatoes are coming into full swing just as our out door tomatoes are beginning. It is a big improvement over the near corp failure in our tomatoes last season. It just reminds us how every year is different. Fall raspberries are about to begin. We hope to be able to start picking next week.

Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup from Vegetarian Cooking, by Linda Farser

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
about 3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
2/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
whole basil leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until foaming. Add the onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring, until the onion is softened but not brown.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and garlic, then add the stock, white wine and sun-dried tomato paste, with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, half-cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the cream and heat through, stirring. Do not allow the soup to approach the boiling point. Check the consistency and add more stock if necessary, then season with salt and pepper. Pour into heated bowls and garnish with basil. Serve at once.