Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Highs and Lows...

It's a wet and rainy Monday and about time we did a farm update with all that has been going on at the farm over the last few weeks.  It really has been a wild season so far.
I don't think we have gone a week without several heavy down pours of rain since the hail storm in July. Thankfully most of the plants have done an amazing job of recovering from the damage and then others have been slower or have held up their leaves and fruit and said enough is enough.
With all this rain and high humidity we do have an abundance of weeds, grasses and purslane on the field!  
Some days it's been hard to get out on the garden as it has been like a bog and you are sinking to your knees in the mud. With such a season you do start to reflect a little earlier and start to think of different ways to grow and mulch for next year. This could mean adding an additional hoop tunnel for the tomatoes and more raised beds around the greenhouse. We may also use rye as a mulch for pumpkins and squash and developing our own low tunnels for the field to keep the birds and cabbage white butterflies off the cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. We are also looking at alternative mulches for the field, we do not like to use the papers or plastic sheeting that is available as some of the chemical compounds that are used to bind them together can leave a rather yucky oil slick on the fields for the following years.  At the moment we use a mixture of straw, old pigs bedding (which so far we love as the pigs eat all the seed out of it) and also old hay mix which has already started to compost.  All the planning and ideas just makes us more excited about next years growing season.  

A few weeks ago we took a morning away from the farm and visited Marcy and her lovely Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  We met Marcy at a workshop this year and she was telling us about her NDG's. Michael has always wanted goats but I have never really been that keen until I heard, small, milk, and great cheese! Then I became a little more interested. The NDG's have great personalities and will produce enough milk for Michael and I. Where a cow would  keep us tied to the kitchen making cheese and they are the ideal size for our farm.

All being well we will start establishing our own heard next spring. This will also bring us a step closer to our dream of being self sufficient. 

The last two weeks I have been running the farm on my own with the help of some great friends who have been coming out to help with the garden and to help me with the pastured chicken. Michael sustained an injury to his eye, and was unable to do any heavy lifting for a while.  An old wheel barrow's plastic wheel exploded and caused blood clots and lesions on the eye, this is resulting in surgery tomorrow and fingers crossed a working husband in the very near future.  Update as of 7th October, Michael's eye after surgery is doing much better he has his final check up at the end of October so fingers crossed the Doctor gives him the all clear. 

To top this off we also had May & Lily lame at the same time with abscesses. May is our strong girl, never complains and barley limped, where as the lovely Lily made out it was the end of the world.  I think she does this every so often so we have to call Dr Bruce.  As soon as he arrives the eyes start to flutter and she is the perfect patient.
I have been salt soaking and poulticing both girls who where wearing rather nice pink and purple bandages for a few days and with great delight both abscesses are draining. For me there really is nothing more satisfying then seeing an abscess ooze. This has also meant keeping May & Lily off the hill and moving the fence around the garden to give them fresh grass.  The girls have adjusted well to the new paddocks but it was slightly odd having them so close to the house and greenhouse. A couple of times I thought they had broken out the paddock!! We hope that in the next week or so we can start to put them back out on the hill.  A Huge thank you goes out to our Farrier Robin, Kim Hadwen and Dr Bruce from Campbellford vets for all their advice and help with May & Lily.  We could not have got through the last few days without you all.

Our duck house has been rather empty this season and I do, every so often, miss the noise our Pekings used to make. So we are excited that in the next few weeks we will be receiving 6 Rouen ducklings.  These will be with us for a while as rather than raising them for meat we are raising them to have duck eggs. Which will be rather yummy bonus for us.  

The Berkshire pigs are doing amazing and we are about to extend their paddock.  They love the surplus veggies off the field, especially the purslane, fennel tops and cabbage.