Winter Farm News

Never a dull moment!

People think that we don’t have much to do on the farm in the winter.  The daylight hours are shorter, but we have been busy bees.  With the hoop houses extending the season, we continued wholesaling vegetables until last week!

David borrowed a tractor and did some plowing to open up new land to expand our rotation (crops and cover crops).  He and Bruce finished the new seedling greenhouse.  All the old laying hens and young roosters went to the Cogmagun Processing Plant, and then into the freezer.  Bruce built a goose shelter — we’re still hoping for little goslings in the spring (fingers crossed).  David and I went to two conferences, making presentations and learning more about the latest in farming.  We delivered Dylan back home to his family in Montreal while Bruce stayed home and looked after the farm.  We’ve been gathering up the plastic on the hoop houses to make them ready for winter, and generally putting things away.  We’re cleaning out the barn (a constant struggle), organized the workshop, and drained the hoses.  After installing a submersible pump in the barn well, David came up with (in my opinion) a brilliant way to keep running water to the animals all winter.  After 20 years of schlepping water from the house to the barn, I am thrilled!  Yay!  David is also working on the SOTEC machine in the evenings, now that he has some room in the barn.  This makes David happy.

David and I continue to wrap up our Heliotrust projects (heliotrust.org) and submitted a proposal to the Bauta Seed Initiative to do some potato breeding and selection work for disease resistance.  We are also working on a training and development program for new farmers.

David and Bruce worked on fixing up the big yellow house to make it warmer for our tenants.  They installed a new wood stove, caulked, and insulated the attic.  I helped put plastic on the windows.  The coziness index went way up after that.

Then, November 30, after our first snow, the yellow house caught fire.  It was very scary — especially in those moments when we are all trying to put the fire out, and the flames burst through the wall of the house.  Everyone had to get out quickly.  Five volunteer fire departments came to try to save the house and prevent the fire from spreading.  But it was very windy and we lost the house and most of the contents.  All the people were ok though, thank God.  The investigators determined that the fire was the result of several factors, including the chimney being installed too close to some old roof shingles that were built into the ceiling of an addition many years ago, before we owned the farm.  Anyone with a wood stove, please keep checking your chimneys.  We are really grateful to the volunteer fire fighters who kept the fire from spreading!

The fire clean up has been another whole adventure that is not over yet.  And out of the ashes, new possibilities arise!  We kept the old foundation with septic, water, and electrical.  We won’t rebuild a big house again, but maybe we’ll build a bunk house or wash shed with root cellar and baking area?

Another winter activity is preparing for next season’s produce pack.  We are planning for more egg laying hens; earlier, more diverse vegetables; more fruit plantings; a new trailer (although David is still lobbying hard for a diesel truck)… Please help with our planning efforts by signing up here if you want produce packs in 2013.  We will take a maximum of 100 customers.  Also, it helps for us to get lots of feedback so if you’ve got suggestions or ideas, we want to hear them either on our feedback page or through the ACORN survey.  ACORN is the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, which we are part of, and they encourage all direct market customers to participate in their annual survey.  They put together the results every year and send them back to the farmers so we can all learn more about what people want from producers.  They ask for responses by Dec 31 if possible.

Please have a safe and fun time this winter and we will be in touch soon with spring news and plans!

Jen, David, and Bruce (photos below)

A typical scene: David harvesting winter greens while talking on the phone

A typical scene: David harvesting winter greens while talking on the phone.  He’s eating some too.  The winter greens this year were particularly yummy.

Getting land ready for next year's cover crops

Getting land ready for next year’s cover crops

Finally!  Great cauliflower

Finally! Great cauliflower

Old greenhouse coming down down down

Old greenhouse coming down down down

Working on the seedling greenhouse

New greenhouse going up up up… I wonder how many peach trees we can fit in there?

Collecting leaves for chicken bedding

Collecting leaves for chicken bedding is my annual fall obsession. Thanks to all the leaf-rakers out there!!

Burnt house

Burnt house with firefighter.  Thanks firefighters!

Mulching garlic

Mulching garlic. Cogmagun Bay in the background.

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