February brings our annual Logging Workshop. Ken marks the trees in the woodlot and then fells them to be ready for the big day. He then spends several days “sharp shoeing” our Suffolk Punch horses so that they have good traction for pulling in icy conditions. One team moves the logs down to the trail in the woods and lines them up ready for the other team to pull them out into the field. Some of the small and damaged logs will be cut up and split for our 2014 winter firewood and other good logs will be sawn into lumber with the sawmill. We were happy to have good conditions for logging – enough snow for the logs to skid along on without getting dirty, but not so much that it was hard to walk around in the woods. The sun came out and made for a very pleasant day in the woods.
The sun also makes the greenhouse warm up and we are ready to start the first onions, leeks and head lettuce the beginning of March.
We are very happy to be having what feels like a real winter! After all the insect pressure last season after a very mild winter I am hopeful that the cold weather this year will result in fewer pests. Time will tell.
In January there was a big push before the Guelph Organic Conference around here. Bill spent most of the month working on his future farm plans and building wheel hoes to sell. All but one of them was picked up at the conference. He is now back to helping out around here and today he is working on getting ready to rebuild our old rototiller. Ken co-taught a soils course for Ecological Farmers Ontario on Thursday before the conference and spent some time revising the course. There is always a lot of desk work in the winter. I spent considerable time ordering our seeds for the CSA garden. The first batch arrived yesterday and Caesar and I had our annual seed order picture…I have also been mapping out the 1013 CSA garden plan. Now I need to plan the greenhouse schedule. Around the edges of making “Mabel Cheese” I have been experimenting with sourdough bread and have been pleased with the results most of the time. It seems you can mimic a bread oven by using a dutch oven to bake the rounds in. It works pretty well, but I can only bake two loaves at a time. It feels like it is time for an outdoor oven. I am excited that Grayden has promised to come home this summer to build one.
The Suffolk Punch horses have been having a well deserved holiday, but will soon be back to work logging. Eli and Wendel, our foals from 2011, are due to be trained this season. We will keep one as a stallion and geld one, but Ken keeps going back and forth on which one he wants to keep as a stallion. I think that Eli is winning out. We will try and breed our younger mares for some replacement horses. We have a 1-Day Logging Workshop scheduled for Saturday, February 23. We also are offering one 3-Day Draft Horse workshop to teach people how to drive April 11 – 13.
People often ask what we do in the winter. It seems like winter is never long enough around here to get all the winter jobs done. However, as the days get longer and the new seeds arrive I feel the familiar itch to get the greenhouse going again. I always enjoy greenhouse work and our new greenhouse is a pleasure to spend time in. I am also looking forward to the arrival of our new apprentices the end of March.