This weekend and then today were some of our most challenging days as farmers. I'm going to tell a little story in pictures and then show you what our crew had to go through to get product harvested for boxes this week....
Sunday morning started out a beautiful day however....
All that snow stuck to the fence wires and pulled the fence down. I woke up to the dog barking and the cows at the barn eating chicken grain! They were about a km out in their field...
I got them back up to their field with significant effort but they were not impressed. We took them hay and that settled them down. The highlight was that Bruce loved the snow and loved throwing snow balls.
I had to leave early for snow plowing this morning and again the cows showed up at the barn but this time determined to stay so much so that Kirsten headed for the shot gun. Her better judgment prevailed (well we hope it was better judgment) and they were all still alive when I got home. I'm not sure they realize the gravity of the situation nor what a close shave they had with premature hamburger....
I had to plow a path into the Brussels sprouts. The truck still got stuck and needed to be pulled out but at least the crew did get everything harvested that we need.
Now I have to say that this is a pretty dedicated crew to be willing to go through this so that we can get the boxes to everyone on time.
We also had to dig carrots out from under a foot of snow as well as the kale.
This will be a nice box in spite of everything but I'm sure glad to be moving to the winter box soon.
We normally wait until the first or second week of November to harvest our carrots. This makes them exceptionally tasty and sweet all winter long. On Saturday I picked up a mechanical carrot harvester rented from another farmer but I don't know if we will be able to use it. There are thousands of pounds of carrots to harvest - too many to do by hand.
Here is Shirley helping Kirsten harvest the Kale. I really hope the snow goes quickly and we get a little more nice weather. We are not ready for this snow to stick around.
Kirsten's father was out hunting this morning and he said in all his hunting years (close to 70) he has never seen this much snow during hunting season.
Even the pigs are barely venturing out of their house. I guess they have an excuse as this is the first snow they have ever seen, but I think everything is caught a bit off guard.
If anyone is still planning to sign up for the winter program and has not done so, please remember to do it soon.
Our neighbours have gotten to the point where they are unable to farm as they used to so have given us a couple of fields to use. One of these is adjacent to our stand. We have had a remarkably warm fall which started out dry and is now very wet! The field contains rock free river bank soil but there was almost no rotation and it was farmed conventionally for many years much like our farm was before we bought it. Last night I took soil samples from our field and from the one next door to see what three years of organic farming with the soil biology in mind has done for the soil.
The soil on the right is from our broccoli and cauliflower patch and the soil on the left is from next door. There is clearly a visible difference in soil structure as well as a marked difference in smell. The soil on the right has a nice earthy smell where the soil on the left has almost no smell at all.
As organic farmers, we rely on the soil biology to make the nutrients available to the plants. Better soil biology also means better organic matter, better water drainage, and better capillary action to bring the water back up in dry weather. Better soil structure allows us to work the soil sooner and the plants are happier because air can get around their roots even when it is wet. Because of past chemical use, we cannot harvest organic crops from the new fields for a couple years. We look forward to the challenge of building these soils up during this time. The picture above shows what can happen in just three years and we look forward to doing it again.
Our first pork has come back from the butcher. Kirsten has put together some delicious sausage recipes which we are in the process of certifying organic. She added a new recipe this time for Sweet Italian sausage. These are available through online orders for those picking up from our bus and can also be purchased from Sequoia in Moncton.
We planted a late planting of spinach and salad turnip along with our fall salad mix. We have sent fewer salad turnips this year than in the past couple years, but this is the best time of year for them. They are good sliced and eaten raw or you can cook them in stir fries or boil them as a cooked vegetable. The tops can also be cooked as a green if you are adventurous! If this is your first time seeing them, be sure to give at least the white part a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
There are only three more weeks left of our summer/fall season including this week. If you would like to continue to get boxes this winter you will need to go to the Sign Up tab of our website and choose the options you want from there.
There is a change of pick up location for the Florenceville/Centreville area. We will be delivering salad bar items to the Centreville Community School on a weekly basis so the principal offered that the school could also host a pick up location for boxes.
We are not sure if we will be doing a Nackawic drop. We need at least 10 customers in order to do it or else need to charge a delivery fee. Pass the word around and let us know if you are interested in picking up in Nackawic.
Our Strawberry plants for next year are growing well. I was concerned that we planted them so late, but the mild fall has been great and the plants have sized up well. I can't quite decide whether to get rid of the weeds in the aisles or not. I can cultivate them out but then the soft soil will erode. If I leave them there they may grow again in the spring and need to be mowed down. The plastic is doing its job of keeping the weeds away from the plants so they are growing well regardless.
We had our organic inspection last week. Few people realize what we go through to be able to offer certified organic products. Not only is there substantial cost but we also have a lot of paperwork and an annual inspection to verify that we are using organic methods according to the Canadian organic standard.
For those of you who may not like to use spaghetti squash as "spaghetti" Kirsten has also cut it up into chunks and baked it with bacon as you can see here. For those who may not like the typical squash flavour, I think you will really like this. Actually many people would probably not know it was squash unless you told them.
Here it is on the plate.
If you are having difficulty eating all the Cauliflower, it can be boiled then gently mashed and served instead of rice or noodles. It is really good with a hamburger sauce over top.
Both broccoli and cauliflower can also be lightly steamed and frozen for quick and easy preparation later on.
We are certainly having a very beautiful fall so far. The early frost did not kill our tomatoes in the main greenhouse but it is getting cool enough that the tomatoes were not growing much any more so we have picked them all and are ripening them on bread trays in the germination room. This opens up the main greenhouse for us to seed salad mix for this winter. Every day of good growing weather now is worth about a week of growing in January so we are eager to get the winter greens in the ground.
Last week the greenhouse was full of tomato plants right up to the rafters. Now we have started seeding salad mix. The clear plastic on the ground will help hold heat even during the cold months of December, January, and February. We noticed a marked difference in trials last winter. Although it is harder to plant and seed into the plastic, the growth benefits should outweigh the extra time it takes.
We have gotten some extra help to get the sweet potato harvest in. It is looking good and we expect to have sweet potatoes right through the winter. We have 4 different kinds this year of which two are ones we have never grown before.
Pigs are growing quickly in their field and wooded pen. They have finished rooting up the remains of the sweet corn so we will be giving them a new pen shortly. We are amazed at how fast they have grown and how well they have done. We also have sold out of sausage twice now so are looking forward to having more sausage using Kirsten's special sausage recipes.