Digging the last of the (delicious frosted) carrots

The pace of winter life on the farm is critical part of the whole. The speed and pressure of the spring and summer season is balanced by the introspective and intellectual focus of the fall and winter. This year has been especially slowed by the lack of Fall CSA – we were able to close up the garden particularly early and get the cover crop (rye) planted in October so that it would have a chance to get some roots established over the winter. Even if there isn’t much visible above ground growth, there are a lot of small roots that extend into the soil and help build up the soil’s resiliency during the cold season. This year we are experimenting with a plot of daikon radish as a cover crop in the section of the garden that we would like to plant to the earliest chard, carrots and beets. The daikon was planted in August and grew vigorously until the first frost. It winter kills and breaks down quickly so hopefully it will be easy to (gently) work up the ground in the spring for the first planting. We are always struggling to get the cover crop killed, worked in and planted when it first warms in the spring – and hopefully having a section with this already dead daikon will speed things up!

Mulched strawberries

As always, one of the last field jobs was to mulch the strawberries – they like to be good and frozen before being mulched in the fall, and a lot of times that takes until December.
We have also been taking care of construction projects that seem to take too much mental focus in the summer – even if we have time, we don’t have the mental capacity! We dug a hole 5 feet down (before it froze!) to expose a leaking water faucet in the barn and replaced it. We’ve got three new pigs in the barn – Della has named them Sprinkles, Cream Cheese and Greenie. Florence, the calf born the summer before last, is pregnant and due to calve in June! We haven’t decided whether or not to milk her (for our own use) – it’s so much milk! So many dishes…

Two of the new piggies

This year we will be training two new work horses – Flynn and Sadie. They’re now not 3 1/2 and ready to train to work! All the rest of the workers are 15-18 years old. Flynn is a character – he regularly hops up into his manger, or onto the sleigh in the paddock.
I am in the thick of garden planning right now – mapping the garden, planning a planting guide for the field and for the greenhouse. We will be experimenting this year with some permanent raised beds, and some intercropping of flowers in the vegetable garden – to help attract predators for pests as well as pollinators! Somehow the kids don’t have school and/or daycare for most of January, so I’m trying to get all my important tasks done before the end of the week! The first week of February I will be in Colombia visiting friends, and then it’ll be time to fire up the greenhouse!!
Have a healthy and happy holiday –
Ellen

Order now and pick up any of the next three Fridays before Christmas – a big bundle of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, leeks, beets, rutabaga, parsnips, kohlrabi, winter squash, winter radish and garlic! We also have a lot of eggs if you need some rich yellow yolks for that holiday baking, for only $5/dozen – all organically fed and pastured.

Here’s the Order Form – or just send an email to┬áinfo@orchardhillfarm.ca and tell me what you’d like!

It would make a great gift, help you with all of that holiday cooking – and we all know that lovingly raised, local food tastes better, right? Happy holidays!!