Ken, Bill and Grayden harnessing up Gwen, our Suffolk horse

We have finished up a good year here at Orchard Hill Farm and are anticipating a good season in 2012. Our apprentice positions for the 2012 season are filled. We interviewed for our last apprentice position this week with and on farm visit.  Another 2012 apprentice,  Bill van Zanten, came to drive horses for the morning on Wednesday.

Planting Garlic into our Oat Cover Crop

We spent today planting more garlic just for insurance for next year. The weather has been so mild and we had some extra garlic left over so we decided to pop it in.

Ken finishing the west side of the Greenhouse

The greenhouse construction is continuing and we finished putting the poly carbonate on the west wall today. We are waiting for the ground to freeze up so we can mulch the strawberries…I getting ready to order seeds and map out the gardens for the coming season. Already I am noticing the days starting to lengthen out bit by bit and am excited as I anticipate a new greenhouse to start our seedlings in.

Tamworth Pigs with their beautiful red hair

Our composting pigs are tamworth, a rare breed, and their winter coats are beautiful red hair that glistens gold in the sunlight. I couldn’t help wanting to take a picture to share.


Plucking the spent laying hens for chicken soup

December is already half over and we wonder where the time goes. Our last Fall CSA pick-up was on December 3 and it finished up well. The mild fall certainly worked in our favour. I enjoyed the extended harvest of the fall crops in the garden and the ability to share the bounty with our CSA members. The greenhouse greens were a help especially on the last pick-up, but it was surprising how well even the outdoor greens were growing with the use of row cover. Once the CSA customers stop coming to the farm we don’t have much of a sale for our free range eggs and because we don’t push our hens with lights through the winter they usually stop laying when it gets cold. We decided to butcher our old hens and only winter over the hens that were new this year. It is not an easy thing to do, but whenever that time roles around I always  remember my Aunt Betty and my grandmother, who were both very practical farm women, showing me how to eviscerate a chicken when I was a young women and we had our first old hens to butcher. We do eat meat and it seems fair to me that I should be able to kill a chicken that has had a good life. Many people think nothing of buying chicken wrapped up in plastic at the supermarket and don’t consider that it has been fed antibiotics and  genetically modified grain and  lived it’s whole life indoors.  I have the chance to humanly butcher my own chickens that have been raised organically  and allowed to run around outdoors and it seems wasteful not to do just that.

Greenhouse ready for poly-carbonate plastic panels

Our greenhouse is coming along. We are now waiting for some special screws to arrive and a calm day to put on the poly-carbonate plastic sheets that will cover the roof and wall areas. I look forward to having the greenhouse to start our early transplants in.

Our Suffolk Punch Draft Horses are having a much deserved rest after all the work of the season. Unfortunately, the mild fall weather and all the rain has made their paddock a muddy mess. I will be happy when everything freezes up and we get a nice cover of snow. Mabel, the Jersey cow, has been bred three times by artificial insemination and we think that she took the last time which means we can look forward an August calf.