The second half of July has flown by! We held our July Southern Ontario Draft Horse Workshop with relative ease and a great group of participants. The apprentices looked after the farm, while Ken and Grayden taught the workshop and Martha cooked. Our CSA harvest and pick-up on Saturday, during the workshop, went smoothly with added help from our working shares and other extra helping hands.
I continue to be amazed at the beauty of the produce as we gather it together twice a week for our pick-ups. The bountiful time of year is approaching and we are looking forward to the start of the sweet corn and early potatoes. Our first tomatoes from the hoop houses are ripe and a few of the outdoor tomatoes are starting to turn colour.
The sweet corn has grown too tall to cultivate with a riding cultivator that straddles the row. Instead, we cultivated for the last time with a walk behind single row cultivator. One person rode a horse and the other followed behind to steer the cultivator. We spread cover crop seed before we cultivated. It will grow on to cover the ground after the corn is harvested and we mow off the stalks.
The next three big jobs on the list are 2nd cut hay, taking off the spelt and straw and harvesting the garlic and hanging it to dry. All three jobs require dry weather and it doesn’t look very likely for the rest of this week. We are hoping the forecast will be wrong.
The Season is moving along! Strawberries are well over and the summer squash is rolling in. Our hoop house cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen and hopefully the full size ones won’t be too far behind.
On the horse front, some of our most reliable horses for apprentices to drive have developed sore necks from too much time working. Well-trained Suffolk Punch horses are hard to come by …so we have welcomed two older reliable horses into the herd. Queen is a Belgian mare who blends in well. Ned makes me do a double take because he is a white Percheron gelding. Ned is a sweet natured horse and has become a star already because of his previous experience on a vegetable farm cultivating, spraying and standing. (Some of our other horses take great exception to the smell of fish emulsion when it is being sprayed and caused a run away, which thankfully ended without disaster). Ned has a taste for all sorts of vegetables and enjoys nibbling on whatever is within reach. The added horsepower has given our other horses some needed rest.
Our young stallion, Eli, is a stallion no longer. We hope that some of our mares are in foal for next season, but decided that we didn’t want to cary on breeding after this year. The hope is that Eli will make a fine working gelding. Ken hopes to spend more time training him this season.
Haying has been a challenge again this year with rain coming just in time to spoil our hay, we have our last field of 1st cut hay down now and are hoping to get it into the barn later this week.
The apprentice team has been working hard getting the gardens into tiptop shape. We have the tomatoes trellised, beds weeded and a beautiful crop of cabbages. Our last planting of fall broccoli and cabbage were seeded in the greenhouse on Monday. The fall carrots, beets spinach and rutabaga have been direct seeded in the garden. The lettuce this season has been particularly good. Many of our CSA members have commented how much they are enjoying it. We wonder if it is the biological sprays we added to the soil or the cover crops , compost and soil amendments. Likely it is a combination, but it is gratifying to know that all Ken’s care and study of soil fertility is paying off.
We have appreciated all the help from our working shares with harvest. The children are also a wonderful addition to our pick-up days as they enjoy our bushel basket of farm toys and of course picking flowers.