We have finally gotten some seeds in the ground outside and the row cover on! All the hoop houses are up! The directly seeded greens in them are coming up and the transplants are growing well. I peeked under some row cover today and found that the head lettuce planted on April 5th is sizing up well. Yea hoop houses and row cover! They really make a difference when we have a spring like this one! Our Greenhouse is filling up and we have mixed up another batch of potting soil to be ready for the next big planting of squash, melons and brassicas – scheduled for next week.
The apprentices have been enjoying learning to drive the horses. Charlotte Giard-Laliberte has come from Quebec as our fourth apprentice and she is a great addition to the farm team. She is taking part in the Draft Horse Workshop this week to learn the basics as a foundation for her work here with the Suffolks this season.
The CSA is filling up, but we still have a hand full of shares left. The rhubarb is poking up and the grass is green again after the long winter. The horses are looking forward to going out on fresh pasture soon!
What a backward spring! We are all ready to go, waiting for the weather to warm up to let us out on the land! Ken and the apprentices have drug out and serviced our equipment. Earlier in the week Ken was able to do a bit of “snow ploughing” with our Suffolk horses in the field, because the ground was thawed under the snow, but this morning the snow is gone and the ground is frozen again! I feel like we are horses chomping at the bit waiting to get on the land! However, we are getting a lot of odd jobs done and it is important to have things in place so that when the window does open we are ready to take off running. Hopefully, we will be able to do some more ploughing this afternoon. Four of our five hoop houses are up and planted we have one more ready for its new plastic and then we will plant it. Once things warm up the everything should come along quickly.
Last Saturday we hosted an Ecological Farmers of Ontario composting workshop. Ken taught the course and we have some pictures courtesy of EFO staff member, Emily Hansen.
CSA member Chantelle Diachina sent some pictures along that she took during the CSA season last year. It’s nice to see the beautiful flowers, herbs and aray of popcorn in her pictures from the 2013 CSA season. It gives me confidence that warm weather will come and we will again have a bountiful harvest to share with our CSA members. We still have some shares available for the 2014 season.
We put the first plants into the ground in one of our hoop houses last Saturday! Since then we have been doing some more seeding and transplanting in the greenhouse and have been trying hard to get the other hoop houses ready for planting. The big snow dump at the end of November last year ruined about 150 feet of hoop house- bending the hoops and tearing the plastic. It has been a major job to take apart the old hoop houses, clean up the plants and trellis that were inside, and salvage what hoops and plastic we could to rebuild one 50 footer. We have purchased a new 100 foot hoop house to take the place of the one big one. We are getting closer, but the strong winds today mean that it is not the day to cover a hoop house with plastic!
The Suffolk horses are becoming accustomed to jumping up on the treadmill and Ken milled some more flour, with their help, last Saturday. Our small mill is slow and we are wondering if we should buy another small mill and run two at once or purchase a larger mill. We’ll see.
Our chickens are starting to lay more eggs as they gear up after a winter “off” getting ready for the CSA season. We have ordered some young ready-to-lay pullets for the middle of May to replace some of our older hens. They are really enjoying scratching around since the snow has disappeared. We will have some extra eggs for sale at the farm before the CSA season begins for anyone who wants to come out for some real free range eggs!
As the snow disappears we are getting ready to work land and hope to have some seeds in the ground next week. Ken is happy that the horses are in good shape to start the spring work because of all the logging and treadmill work they have done already.
Our CSA membership is gradually filling up, but we still have some shares available for the 2014 season and welcome new members.
“Digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety.” I have always believed that getting my hands in the earth was good for my soul, so reading the above quote intrigued me. It is from 10 Ways to ShowLove to Someone with Depression from Health Counselling Services of Simon Fraser University. Spending much of my March “farm time” in the greenhouse with the extra light, green plants sprouting and hands in the soil has been good. With this warm weather we will soon be able to get the early hoop houses planted and perhaps some outdoor seeding, that we tuck in with row cover.
We are very happy that our intern/apprentices from the U.S. arrived a week ago. We are enjoying their beautiful smiles, positive energy and enthusiasm for farming with draft horses. After a week of introductions to various aspects of the farm and lots of firewood cutting and splitting they are now taking a Draft Horse Workshop. Our Suffolk Punch horses are patient teachers along with Ken and Grayden. The field work portion of the workshop will have to wait until the ground thaws out! We have a workshop scheduled for April 24-26 where outside participants will come to the farm for a three day Draft Horse Workshop. This is a good trial run for Ken and Grayden.
CSA memberships are rolling in each day and the CSA is gradually filling up. There are still shares available for the 2014 Main Season CSA. It is a special experience to be able to share our farm with so many families and individuals through the CSA model. It really does work to form a connection to the land, where their food comes from. Our working share option allows for CSA members to get their hands in the dirt too! It is always affirming when members come to help and are surprised to find out how much fun it is. Maybe it is connected to the release of seratonin from the dirt…