This is our first week of sweet corn! We tried a new variety this year and while it is really good tasting, I'd like to see larger and better ears. We have lots for the boxes and lots for the stand so whether you are a box customer or whether you just want to stop and buy at the stand, I think you will find the sweetness and flavour very rewarding. This first variety is all yellow then starting next week most of the corn will be the typical bi-colour variety.
Kirsten's brother and family came up from North Carolina this past weekend and I think they brought the heat with them! Other than a few crops that are a bit short on moisture, most of our crops are enjoying the heat; Us not so much... We are so grateful for the warehouse with good coolers to provide a nice place to work and allow us to keep the quality good in spite of the heat.
Sweet potatoes took a while to get started but are growing well now with most plants having roots that are an inch in diameter or more. Speaking of hot weather, North Carolina is probably the sweet potato capital of the US so the hot weather is something they are right at home with.
If you remember I mentioned earlier that our squash crop had low germination and a slow start. The plants have now pretty much filled in the missing areas and there are lots of small squash coming. As long as we have a relatively warm September and the mildew does not take the plants down, we could still have a good squash crop in spite of their earlier difficulties.
Here is a young butternut squash. Butternuts are probably my favourite squash. This is due to my lazy nature (they are easy to peal) and due to the fact that they are generally sweeter than others like the Acorns and in addition they are firm enough to be fried or baked and taste like sweet potato....
It is a time of plenty on the farm and from what I can see everyone's gardens are coming in now. There are vendors selling from tables by the main road in town and signs and small farm stands popping up all over. It is great for small farmers but not so great for wholesalers or those who sell them product.
This is one of the benefits of the box program. You sign up for the season and take the product as it is ready so we have a market all season long. The box program market does not fluctuate so much like the other markets do and it is predictable. For us our strongest markets outside the box program are in the spring and later fall when most growers do not have product. The new warehouse will help us to serve these shoulder seasons even better.
It has been an eventful few days. We drove our old John Deere tractor with a load of pigs on a trailer in the Woodstock Old Home Week parade. We finished our haying for the season, we survived a hail storm, and have tons of product to pick all in a holiday week with less help....
Yesterday we baled our final batch of hay for the season so we now have a barn full of good hay for the winter. It is always fun for me to have young people help with hay for the first time. Can you really be called a farmer if you have never thrown hay bales?
Three years ago we purchased a used walk-in cooler and freezer. Kirsten's brother put it together on skids in an old woodshed on the farm. We knew it would have to move someday. Well yesterday was the day! Sharpe's towing brought it down and put it in the warehouse for us. It was a tight fit but everything went well and it was wired and running again within a few hours.
The next job was to remove the old building from in front of the warehouse. It was too big and heavy for Sharpe's to move so we jacked it and put logs under it. The surprise came when the skidder could not pull it! In the end we hooked the tractor to the skidder and the two of them were able to move it. We may have to wait until the ground freezes this fall to move it to its final resting place, but for now it is out of the way.
Our hens have been moved down over the hill to next year's veggie fields. They will clean up weeds, feed on insects and grubs, and leave their fertilizer behind enriching the soil for next year. They mobile hay wagon trailers make moving the hens much easier.
We have one cat that always manages to find the best places to sleep. Thought you might appreciate this picture. Now if we could just teach him to run the mower ...
We've had a busy week with lots getting done. Piglets have learned to stay in their fence, another 60 round bales of hay have been made, our first 230 broiler birds have come off pasture and are in the freezer and lots of garden care has been done.
We are starting to see a few crops wilting in the field and are hoping that there will be rain tomorrow. We are in a better position than many because organic practices help to maintain good organic matter which holds water better in dry weather.
Our new warehouse is coming along well and we are waiting for NB Power to hook up power. There is a farmer tour scheduled for July 26 and we hope to be moved in by then even if everything is not completely finished. We believe that savings in efficiencies will in themselves be enough to pay for the warehouse so we are excited to be almost ready!
You can see the warehouse in the distance in this next photo.
So far our celery and celery root are the best crop we have ever seen. They like steady moisture and the plastic mulch helps but we really need to irrigate. I tried to irrigate with a garden hose from our worker's house and unfortunately it drained the shallow well...
Once there is power in the warehouse we will be able to water from there. The new well provides 6 gallons per minute so that will provide a good amount for drip tapes and light irrigation. We are expecting a little rain tomorrow so I'm hoping it will be enough to hold us over until their is power to the well.
The dry weather has been good for making hay. We have enough hay to get through the winter but I'm hoping to make a little more so we can sell some hay as well.
We have put a lot of effort into preparing land for future crops. This includes seeding about 20 acres of buckwheat, spreading manure, planting hay mix, etc. It amazes me how much of a difference it makes in the quality of the soil to use good crop rotation and organic methods when compared to the chemically farmed land we have started to farm and convert to organic.
Here is part of our field of winter cabbage. Good cultivating help and drier weather have helped us to keep well on top of the weeds. We have no way to irrigate here so we hope there will be rain again soon.
Our piglets are growing well and enjoying their outdoor pen. They are still a bit timid but if I get down they will come right over. As they get older they lose the fear of people and sometimes can get to be quite pesty. They are cute and fun at this age. Seeing them enjoy themselves makes it hard for me to believe that the majority of the meat sold in stores comes from factory farms where they spend their lives on concrete floors in densely filled pens. They actually have to cut the piglets tails off or they will eat each other tails out of boredom - definitely not a problem with piglets on pasture.
We are excited to have a good looking crop of organic strawberries. They are early too! We have been told that it is impossible to grow organic strawberries in New Brunswick but it looks like it can be done after all ...
They are delicious and we look forward to having them for sale at our roadside stand on Friday and in the boxes next week.
This has been another busy spring for us. We have a lot of new crew members but they are working well. Our crew this year consists of 3 Jamaicans, 3 full time Canadians, plus 6 summer students and some part time help. We are working on ways to keep the 3 full time Canadians busy as much of the winter as possible so that they will stay with us year after year. The Jamaicans come seasonally and the students go back to school so we are hopeful that it will work out well for everyone.
The warehouse which was mentioned in a previous blog post is well under way and going up quickly. We exceeded the limit of what we could reasonably do with our limited space and imperfect storage areas.
Once the warehouse is completed we will be moving our retail sales area into the warehouse. This building will help us to be more efficient with our prep and packing, store product better, and have better quality vegetables in our boxes.
They poured the floor today. We are super excited and really looking forward to moving in in about 2-3 week's time.