Feels like summer

(written by Sam)

Early May has been good to us, weather-wise.  Unfortunately, most of the crops aren’t growing as fast as we had hoped.  Probably because the amendments we added a few weeks ago (especially the alfalfa pellets) haven’t had time to really break down and be available for the new plants to use them.

Farm tour:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom left to right: newly planted raspberry stalks, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli, potatoes (haven’t come up yet), and flowering kohlrabi to save seeds from

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeans (just sprouting) and a few rows of covercrop buckwheat and oats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of peas, mostly covercrop (but we might harvest some pea shoots from them).  The rows to the right have corn seeded in them (hasn’t sprouted yet).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA big block of crimson clover covercrop which is due to be mowed and tilled in for green manure any day now.  Very pretty and definitely makes the bees happy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the first row Adam planted some sunchokes, which haven’t come up yet.  The first planting of lettuce is finally starting to take off in growth.  Onions are also growing nicely.  Adam put out irrigation drip hoses already, since the young plants are pretty vulnerable to getting too hot and dry.  It doesn’t get too terribly hot here, but the long days can take a toll on seedlings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASwiss chard is taking off, and so are the fennel bulbs.  Beets are sprouting, but getting a bit of damage from flea beetles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fava beans are starting to get flowers, and garlic is growing nicely.  Mizuna, arugula, spinach, and turnips are seeded and should sprout soon.

Go plants, go!

Soil Blocks

After getting to play with the soil blocker at 10 Acres Farm where Adam helps out sometimes, Adam decided that he wants to start using soil blocks instead of the old plastic trays he’s been using the last few years.  But soil blockers are EXPENSIVE!  So Adam built his own out of short lengths of discarded PVC pipe and some bolts on round pieces of wood.  It’s slow, but the soil blocks grow seedlings with better root structure (they can’t get root-bound like in a small plastic tray) and popping the seedlings out of the plastic trays is always a time-consuming chore, so I think we will make up for the extra time in the end.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are soil blocks and plastic seed trays in the “sun room” in the basement, where Adam has a ridiculously powerful lamp set up to start all the seedlings.  Good for light therapy, too!

Mommy Hen!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor Mother’s Day, our broody hen hatched a few eggs!  So far she’s doing great with them.  She leads them around the cage, clucking to tell them where the food is, and keeps her feathers nice and fluffy so they can dart under her whenever they need to warm up.  They are in a small outdoor cage inside the electro-net fence to be protected from aerial and ground predators.  It will be interesting to compare these hen-raised chicks to the brooder-raised ones.  Ideally, I’d love for all my chicks to be raised by hens, but because broody hens do not lay, that trait has been mostly bred out of chickens, so this is the only broody hen I’ve had all year.  I wouldn’t be able to hatch as many chicks as I’d like if I had to rely only on hens.  So I’ll have to do most of them in the “plastic hen” for now.

Duck Drama

The ducks always make for some good stories.

We put the 4 young Khaki Campbells outside a couple of weeks ago, because (as I’ve mentioned before) ducks get SO much water everywhere that it is really hard to keep them in a brooder without it stinking to high heaven.  So as soon as they started getting their body feathers, I put them outside in a partly sheltered enclosure with the chickens (only took me 4 hours to build this one out of scrap wood! I’m getting better at this.)

But there was still the one Welsh Harlequin duckling who had hatched a couple weeks after the Khakis.  I had tried a couple of times to put her in the brooder with the other ducks, and each time the attacked her!  And she was so much smaller than them that I was worried they might actually kill her.  So she’s been living with the 6 chicks who were hatched by a teacher in Sidney for her class and then returned to me.  The smallest Khaki lived with her and the chicks for a week or so (until even she got too big for the small brooder), so I hoped that she had imprinted on the duckling and not on the chicks, but I wasn’t too hopeful.

Yesterday, we noticed that the Welsh Harlequin duckling (still living with the chicks and making a huge mess in the brooder) was almost the same size as the Khakis, so we decided to give integration another go.  At first, the young Welsh Harlequin was more interested in us humans than the other ducks, and the Khakis were quite offended by her presence and started attacking her again.  But the attacks weren’t as effective this time, and the Welsh Harlequin didn’t seem to be getting hurt, so we just watched from a distance.  Over the course of the afternoon, the Welsh Harlequin kept getting closer to the cluster of Khaki ducklings.  When she got too close, they’d get up and chase her.  But the attacks got less and less energetic, and the Welsh Harlequin got closer and closer to the other flock.  By evening, she was completely integrated!  Yay!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our batch of weird eggs (turkey, goose, and duck) are due to start hatching this weekend.  I’m excited!  I hope it goes well.

Roscoe (2006-2014)

roscoe6We said goodbye to our dog Roscoe.  He’s been with us in apartments and houseshares, cities and farms, deserts and rainforests, and moved across the continent with us twice.  His happiest moments were running in fields, taunting and being chased by our bigger dog, Molly.  And though he was scared of pretty much everything possible, he was a totally sweet and loving dog.  We will miss you, dear Roscoe.

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Soil Science

(written by Sam)

Growing a vegetable takes a lot of nutrients out of the soil.  In a “natural” setting (think: forest), all of the vegetation stays in roughly the same place, and the nutrients are returned to the soil where they began.  But on a farm, we remove the vegetation from where it grew and sell it, and the vast majority of it does not return to the soil where it grew.  In order for plants to be able to grow and thrive, the nutrients must be returned to the soil.

Because it rains so much here in coastal BC, even an empty field will gradually lose nutrients, because although the plant matter is returning to the soil every year, the nutrients are gradually leached out of the soil and into the ocean.  Our field was growing nothing but grass for the last decade or so, which means that many nutrients are severely lacking (a soil test in the fall confirmed this).  In order for us to grow enough vegetables to sell, we need to heavily amend the soil.  (Hopefully in subsequent years we won’t need to add nearly as much, because we will be using covercrops, heavy mulch, our own compost, and some rotations with the chicken tractor to keep the nutrients in the ground…and hopefully things will work out that we get to keep using this land for a few years…)

Last week we spent nearly $800 on a whole truckload of soil amendments:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bulk of it is alfalfa pellets, which replace the green manure (cover crop) that we weren’t able to get well-established before the winter.  There’s also a little bit of blood meal which adds nitrogen and iron, and bone meal which adds nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium.  (The blood meal and bone meal are really quite disgusting, but turns out our bodies are FULL of nutrition that plants like.)  And lastly, a bit of SulPoMag, a mineral made up of sulphur, potassium, and magnesium.  All of these nutrients were deficient according to the soil test performed in the fall.

All these ingredients were mixed together and spread on the raised beds Adam made last week (after spending many frustrating days trying to get the baby tractors working again…machines are terrible.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we spread a whole Noonoo load of manure.  This is manure that Adam bought last fall and had ageing under a tarp all winter, so now it’s nice and decomposed, perfect for the soil.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne shovelful at a time.  Oh boy were we stiff the next day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then Adam tilled it all in with the baby tractor

Baby tractor wheelie!

Baby tractor wheelie!

And now the beds are ready to be planted!

Duck drama

When we last left our web-footed heroes, there were 5 ducklings and more in the process of hatching.

Turns out our incubator is not very good, and the humidity was too low (at least, I think that’s what the problem was).  The result is that several ducklings had trouble hatching and needed help.  From a breeding perspective, you don’t generally want to do this, since it encourages a bad trait, but since I’m pretty sure the problem was environmental, not genetic, I helped them hatch.  This went great for the first couple of eggs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut on the third egg, the duckling suddenly started bleeding, and died within a minute.  It was really awful.

There was still one duckling with its bill sticking out of the egg.  After the previous attempt, I was really reluctant to try pulling another one out, but at the same time, I knew it would die if I didn’t.  So I very carefully started pulling eggshell bits off of the duckling.  After I had about 1/4 of the egg removed, the duckling started bleeding.  I immediately stopped, thinking the poor duckling was doomed to a quick death like his unfortunate sibling, so I put the egg back in the incubator thinking that at least he’d have a nice warm place to die.

A few hours later I peeked in again, expecting to find a dead duckling, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the little bill was still moving and he was still peeping away.  So I put some warm water in a squirt bottle and started squirting the egg membranes every few minutes.  Within a couple of hours, he was out!  I put him in the small brooder all by himself, thinking that because he hatched a full 3 days later than his siblings he probably was at a pretty high risk of early death.  But he triumphed over all my worries!  A day later I put him in with the big ducklings.  The size difference was AMAZING!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo for the Khakis I ended up getting 10 out of 18 to hatch (counting the one that immediately died), and I sold 4 of them (which pays for the eggs and their first bag of feed).  So I’ve got 5 Khaki Campbells to add to my flock.  Great!

I put some of my Welsh Harlequin eggs in the incubator a few days after the Khaki Campbells went in.  But with all the duckling drama, I think the incubator was open too often and the hatch rate was dismal.  I only ended up getting ONE!  I briefly put her in with the Khakis, but they were so mean to her I put her back in the small brooder by herself.  She was quite lethargic and seemed unhappy.  I took the littlest Khaki (the one I thought would die earlier) and put him in the brooder with her.  She perked right up and started following the bigger duck around.  The Khaki was pretty tolerant of the little duckling, so I think after they’ve bonded and the little duckling has some time to grow, I can put them all together in the big brooder again.

Ducklings grow so fast!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis lovely fellow was inside an egg 10 days ago!  Ducks are so cool.

Happy Easter

bunnyduckMy Easter egg hunt this year involved driving around the Saanich peninsula to a bunch of small farms and buying a whole bunch of fertile eggs of various species!  We got 12 goose eggs (Emden and Toulouse, large white eggs), 16 turkey eggs (Black Spanish and Bronze, smaller brown speckled eggs), and 13 runner duck eggs (blue eggs).  I put them all in the incubator along with 9 of my Welsh Harlequin eggs (small white eggs).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m trying turning by hand for this batch instead of using an automatic turner, mostly because the goose and turkey eggs were too big for the turners, so you’ll notice that all of the eggs are marked “1” (the other side says “2” so I can be sure I’ve turned them all).  They need to be turned 3 times a day for 25 days.  It’s sure going to be a hilarious looking flock when they hatch!

And yeah, I know I said I’d only increase the farm by one species per year, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up!  Turkeys and geese, here we come.  I’m really excited!

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Expanding the Flock

(written by Sam)

It’s definitely spring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe yellow and Mirabelle plum trees were the first of the orchard to bloom, followed shortly by the other plum trees.  The apple and pear trees are just starting to bud out, and the grass has started trying to take over the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen it’s not raining, it’s pretty darn nice out.

2014 Chicken batch #1

Our first batch of chicks are now outside!  They hatched about 2 months ago now.  Adam and I built a small enclosed chicken tractor to keep them in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had heard stories of young chickens getting eaten by ravens from 2 other farms on the Saanich peninsula, so we built a fully-enclosed home for the little chickens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe set it up inside the electro-netting, right next to the big mobile coop.  The days are long enough now that the laying flock doesn’t need supplemental light anymore, so we took the extension cord we had been using in the Sandcrawler (the big mobile coop) and instead hooked up a heat lamp in the little mobile coop so the little chickens can stay warm and more importantly dry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt certainly ain’t a pretty structure, but the little chickens seem like they’re staying warm, and they definitely enjoy having a bit of grass to scratch around on.

I’m also very glad I had the warning about ravens from other farmers.  I hadn’t really seen too many ravens around our farm, but the very first morning they little chickens were outside, there was a big raven sitting up in the oak tree above them, checking to see if there was any way he could get in.  Phew, dodged that bullet.  I’m sure there will be plenty of others down the road… But for now, the 20 little chickens are quite happy (and a few are even starting to crow already).

An Army of Ducklings

At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.  So far, there’s just 5 (though more are in the process of hatching as I type this).  And they’re REALLY darn cute.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are Khaki Campbells, which we bought as fertile eggs from a local farmer and incubated ourselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m pretty happy with the results.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI brought them out one at a time to take their first swim in a little bucket of warm water.  And then put them back in the brooder to dry off.

We’ve got a few eggs from our own ducks in the incubator.  These are the offspring of Master and Dimwit’s children.  Dimwit’s daughters are the Dimmerwits, and I suppose this third generation (since it is the last time we can use Master as the daddy without suffering too much from inbreeding) is the Dimmestwits.  They are due to hatch in a few days.  We’re also hoping to get some Runner Duck eggs.  So hopefully we’ll have an even more ridiculous looking flock of ducks this year!  Or perhaps even an army… but maybe I’m just getting carried away with how awesome ducks are.

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Winter on the Island

(Written by Sam)

We’ve had a pretty quiet winter getting settled in here in North Saanich.  And that is a good thing!  Here are a few highlights from the past few months:

Cows

One day, the cows from the gigantic dairy farm across the street decided to come visit our farm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuckily we didn’t really have much planted at that point, and they didn’t do any real damage.  They were definitely young, curious cows, and Adam (with Sylvia strapped to his back because I was at work) had a really hard time getting them to leave.  It ended up being a great way to meet some of our neighbours!

Ducks

Our ducks finally get to swim in a REAL pond!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey didn’t manage to find the pond on their own.  One day Adam and I got tired of waiting for them to find it and we herded them in.

They were SO HAPPY!  It was so fun to watch them splashing and bathing and even diving and swimming underwater (seriously, instincts are so cool, they’ve never been in a body of water bigger than a kiddie pool and yet they already knew how to swim).

But…the downside was they didn’t want to (or didn’t know how to) leave.  Well after dark, Adam and I ended up spending about an hour scrambling around the edges of the pond with headlamps (and Sylvia strapped on my back because we couldn’t leave her alone), throwing rocks near the ducks to try to herd them out.  Not very fun.

We herded them in again a few days later, and the same thing happened and we had to spend an hour after dark chasing them around.  So we decided not to put them back in the pond again.

A couple months later, they FINALLY figured out how to do it on their own, and now every morning after we let them out, they go eat some food, then make a waddling beeline for the pond for their morning swim.  Happy ducks!

New Farm Workers

Our house came with a bit of a rat problem in the basement.  We weren’t really excited about setting rat traps, but didn’t want rats to eat our stored food in the basement either.  Luckily, there is a very cool group called Barn Rats Need Barn Cats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey came and brought us two young feral cats, who had been fixed and have all their shots.  They live in the basement, and roam the farm, and we no longer have a rat problem!  They’re not at all friendly to us humans, but they are good hunters.  I’d much rather buy a little cat food once in a while than set and clean rat traps.  Thanks, kitties!

Lots of Rain

We had a bit of a flood after 20mm of rain on each of 3 days in a row back in January.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut hey, it wasn’t nasty Surrey highway water!  And it didn’t drown any chickens!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the raised beds Adam built up in the fall kept the garlic and fava beans well above the standing water.  Also, it drained within a couple of days.  Not bad.

Lots of Snow

Well, one decent snowstorm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ducks did not mind the snow at all.  Hard to bother a duck, really.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe chickens, on the other hand, were NOT happy.  There was only one set of chicken footprints outside the coop the first day!

Yummy Food

We’ve done a lot of cooking up our canned, frozen, and stored food this winter.  Here are a few particularly pretty-looking dishes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChicken pot pie!  Thank you, chicken.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKale and mushroom quiche (oh man, have we been eating a LOT of eggs this winter).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd strawberry pie.  Only a few more months (!) until strawberries!

Increasing the Flock

And lastly, we’ve already hatched some chicks this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only rooster we’re using for breeding is Elvis, our Ameraucana rooster, so these are all Ameraucana crosses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey’re in the brooder now, and are mostly feathered-out.  I’ve had a couple of warning stories from local farmers about their young chickens getting eaten by ravens!  Yikes!  So they’ll be inside for a while still.

There are currently duck eggs in the incubator, and after that we’ll start another batch of chicks.

Adam has started a bunch of seed trays already with artichokes, onions, kale, lettuce, and cabbage.  The first tree in the orchard (a Mirabelle plum) has started blooming.  And the spring equinox is only a few days away!  At this latitude, tomorrow will be 3.5 minutes longer than today.  The day length is changing so fast it’s a bit disorienting.  (But I’m not complaining…yay for sun!)  Looking forward to a good growing season.

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Moving to the Island: Noo Noo becomes a Chicken Limosine

(written by Sam)

As you might imagine, moving a farm is hard.  Especially while trying to manage and harvest in 2 locations.  Oh yeah, and with a toddler thrown in there for extra excitement.  Somehow we survived the last 2 months, but it was pretty darn stressful at times.  In this post I’ll try to talk about the moving process itself, and in a later post I or Adam will write about our new piece of farmland here in North Saanich.

The trickiest part of moving was figuring out how to get the chickens over there.  How do you move 35 chickens, 6 ducks, and all their housing, feed, and water supplies?  Luckily we had 2 coops to work with, so we were able to do it in stages.

Step 1: put all of the chickens into the non-mobile coop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis involves a fair bit of squabbling to sort out the new pecking order.  Over on the right you can see a huge Cuckoo Maran rooster.  We thought for sure he would become the dominant rooster.  However, “Elvis,” the Americana rooster peeking around the duckgloo on the far left, despite being less than half the size of the big Cuckoo, managed to kick his butt.  It’s true: Elvis is king in our flock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was quite crowded, but it was only for a day while we set up their new place over on the Island.

First, a note about our “new” truck.  Our old truck was completely dying, as was expected for the amount of money we paid for it and how crappy it was to begin with.  Adam had been browsing for a new truck for quite a while, and had gone to look at this one a few times before deciding to buy it.  It’s an older Dodge with almost 1,000,000 km on it, but it’s diesel, so it’s supposed to last a long time.  It definitely needs some work, but it runs a hell of a lot better than our old truck.  (And now, 2 months later, over here we found a biodiesel coop to join and the truck is running on biodiesel!) Anyway, we kept referring to the truck as the new truck, and Sylvia picked up on this and started calling the truck Noo Noo.  And that name has stuck!

So, while we had all the chickens in one coop, we loaded the mobile coop onto Noo Noo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was actually surprisingly easy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd looked COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you thought having a wheelbarrow strapped to the roof of the truck was redneck looking, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The next morning we got up very early and headed to the ferry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe coop was just narrow enough to be legal, not to mention fit up the narrow driveway!  The drive over to the ferry was definitely scary, with the coop shuddering and making terrible noises every time we hit a bump (which was a LOT because of the continual construction on Highway 99).  But we made it in one piece!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe felt pretty awesome taking that ridiculous looking thing on the ferry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we unloaded it in North Saanich.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe got the fence set up and all ready to receive the chickens.  We did a bit of work around the farm, then took the ferry back to the mainland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe did our usual Saturday morning harvest for the CSA boxes.

That night, after the chickens (and Sylvia) were asleep, we drove Noo Noo down close to the coop, and snatched 20 of the sleeping chickens and put them into 2 dog kennels on the back of the truck.  We also took the duck coffin with the 6 sleeping ducks and put that on the truck too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next morning, with a truck full of poultry and random possessions, we hopped back on the ferry again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen unloaded the chickens and ducks into their new home!  We spent our first night in North Saanich, then hopped on the ferry back to the mainland YET AGAIN.

We caught the last few chickens, put them into the dog kennels, and loaded them up onto the truck along with a bunch more of our possessions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd back on the ferry again (you can see this got to be an extremely expensive process, but Adam had to go back to Surrey to harvest and sell vegetables twice a week anyway, so we moved in stages like this).

For the second load of chickens, we used a handy tip we heard about: If you are transporting livestock, BC Ferries lets you be the first one on and the first one off the ferry.  This definitely saved us a bit of a wait on this trip: there were already a lot of cars there waiting when we arrived.  So, if you don’t want to wait for the ferry, throw a few chickens in the back of your truck!

And so began 6 weeks of Adam commuting back and forth to Surrey, with me holding down the fort in North Saanich.  It was a pretty rough 6 weeks, but we survived, and we’re really enjoying our new farm!  More on that in another post.

 

 

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CRAZY busy August

(written by Sam)

Holy artichokes, it’s been an insanely busy few weeks.  August is full of harvesting, seeding and planting out the winter crops, some weeding, and if you’re trying to avoid buying any vegetables from thousands of miles away like us, every spare moment in August and September is devoted to drying, freezing, and canning everything possible.  AND we’re trying to move the farm.  Eeek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve frozen beans, corn, tomatoes, blueberries, plums, apples, broccoli, and tomato paste.  We’ve dried tomatoes, kale, zucchini, basil, blueberries, and plums.  And we’ve canned tomato sauce, applesauce, peaches, plum jam, plum sauce, relish, chow (green tomato relish), blueberry jam, salsa, and probably more that I’m forgetting.  We are well on our way to not buying ANY fruit or vegetables this winter.  Woohoo!

A few other fun things that have happened since I last wrote:

Lots of pretty sunsets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI guess that’s one bonus of having to close up the chickens at dusk every night: I never miss a pretty sunset!

End of the Tomatoes

After a week straight of cool, wet weather, the tomatoes succumbed to blight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt kills the plants amazingly fast.  We were only able to harvest for a couple of days after we saw the first signs, and even those tomatoes ended up getting nasty looking after just a couple days off the vine.  Stupid blight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause we had to harvest everything very quickly (much more quickly than we could sell them, especially at the Surrey Farmer’s Market), Adam spent a lot of time using his Italian genes to make amazing tomato sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are set for tomato sauce this year!

Delicious Farm Food

One of the main reasons we have ended up farming is to be able to cook high quality, nutritious food.  Sometimes we’ll count up how much we would have had to spend on vegetables (organic, no less) in order to make a particular meal, and it really makes us appreciate our delicious fresh-as-possible veggies.

And even though farming is a HUGE drain on your time (as is having a kid), we try hard to make time to cook as much as we can from scratch, both because its cheaper and because we are more sure of what we are actually eating.  So here are a few things we’ve eaten recently:

Corn, bean, and broccoli pizza

Corn, bean, and broccoli pizza

Peach and blueberry pie

Peach and blueberry pie

Corn on the cob, watermelon (we only grew 2), and vegetable croquettes

Corn on the cob, watermelon (we only grew 2), and vegetable croquettes

Peanut butter pie (ok, this is kind of cheating because the only ingredient we grew is the eggs)

Peanut butter pie (ok, this is kind of cheating because the only ingredient we grew is the eggs)

Chicken marsala, from our chickens (see next section)

Chicken marsala, from our chickens (see next section)

Eating More Chicken(s)

Before our move we decided to cull some more chickens: 10 old hens who were not laying well anymore, and 6 young roosters from the first batch of chicks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before chickens are slaughtered, they are not fed for 24 hours.  The best place we had to isolate them was the back of the pickup!  We had them done professionally this time, mostly because of the time it saved us.  It would have taken us at least half a day to do that many ourselves, and it took about 10 minutes with all the proper equipment.  So, we have a freezer full of chicken again.  Thank you, chickens.

Pretty vegetables

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVegetables are still being harvested at Clover Valley Farm, and we should be able to continue harvesting through the beginning of October.

The funniest picture you’ll see today:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that’s a baby duck stuck on its back in the mud.  No, I have absolutely no idea how he managed to do that.  He was just laying there, slowly windmilling his little feet.  Once I flipped him over, he went back to quacking and quickly rejoined the flock.  Ducks are ridiculous.

On to North Saanich!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are slowly breaking ground with the baby tractor, and more and more veggies are going in the ground for winter.  We will soon be living there, but the next month will involve lots of time on the ferry for all of us!  Including the chickens and ducks.  We’ll see how this goes…

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Eulogy for Dimwit

(Written by Sam)

It’s been an intensely busy and sometimes stressful month since I wrote the last post, and in that time, I’m really sorry to report that we’ve lost Dimwit.

We left early one morning about a week ago to try to catch the 7am ferry, which involved leaving our house by 5:45, and letting the chickens and ducks out well before sunrise (or rather, opening the coop so they could get out when they woke up…you know it’s early when the chickens won’t even come out).  We found out when we got home late that night that a coyote had come and attacked the flocks shortly after we left, killing the smallest duck and leaving her dead in the grass.  And we haven’t seen any sign of Dimwit since then.  We didn’t even get on the 7am ferry!  It was full.  We could have left an hour later and prevented this.

Maybe Dimwit is just brooding again?  She tried to make a really nice nest just a few days before she disappeared.  But with possible predators around and our move coming up in less than the incubation period for duck eggs (28 days), I couldn’t let her keep her nest.  I felt really bad about doing it, but I put her in the Duck Coffin for the night and took all the eggs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then this happened.  Poor Dimwit!  It’s so sad I can’t bring myself to accept that it really happened.  Every time I see the flock of ducks, I quickly count them and look carefully at the wings to see if one of the females has Dimwit’s brown feathers instead of the yearling blue feathers.  But every time, it’s just the 4 daughters, Master, and the young male who was supposed to be a female.

Dimwit, you were the best duck I could hope for!  You had earned a long retirement at our new place on the Island, with a REAL pond to swim in.  I’m so sorry you won’t get to use it.  You were always the bravest duck; you would walk right up to me as I filled your food tray while the other ducks watched enviously as you gorged yourself.  You so appreciated having clean water in your pond that you would sometimes come and take a quick bath before bed when I refilled the pond at night.  You had Master, but you really didn’t need him, he was just your follower.  You figured out how to get into the chicken area whenever you wanted, so you could sample their food.  You provided us with a steady supply of delicious eggs, only faltering in your supply when you tried to make your own nest.  You didn’t realize they were yours since I did the hatching for you, but you have 5 ducklings, 4 of which are laying eggs for us already.

I’m still holding out hope that she’s brooding somewhere and she will reappear in about 3 weeks with a string of ducklings waddling behind her.  She’s awesome like that.

Thank you, Dimwit.  You will definitely be missed.

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