Matheson found this little newt above the pond one day and he (or she) was a delight to observe up close. Such flexible and fluid movements! Such amazing little ‘fingers’. We made a few photos, and then let him (her) go. I consider these little creatures, along with salamanders, frogs, and snakes, to be good signs of ecological health on the farm.
On the CBC radio science show last week, there were two segments about beneficial micro-organisms and how they can help us, and help agriculture. It is a fascinating world of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ — and we hope there are plenty of ‘good guys’ to keep the ‘bad guys’ in check. One example was discovered by a student at the University of Guelph. A finger millet grown Africa and South Asia is favoured by traditional farmers. It turns out this millet is host to organisms that fight fusarium, a fungal disease that affects wheat and corn here in Canada. We’ve also seen it on garlic. This student showed it to his supervisor, who said “I was so excited by this discovery I stopped breathing.” The other radio segment was about a book by Ed Yong called I Contain Multitudes, outlining how important it is to ingest beneficial micro-organisms in mother’s milk, or traditional fermented food. They help our immune systems and our digestive systems especially.
We want this farm to be ‘alive’ with beneficial organisms, from birds that eat mosquitoes, worms that till and fertilize the soil, plants that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere in their root nodules, or bacteria that fight important battles invisible to us.
In the not so beneficial department, we have a fox family that has been helping itself to our hens. Foxes strike between about 5pm, the time we do chores, and dark, when our ‘Night-Guard’ solar-powered predator lights are activated. The predator thinks these flashing red lights are the eyes of other predators, and they stay away. Our crew was upset about this predation and went to google to figure out a solution. One thought was to turn a radio on near the coop. I think it was working, because one night we unplugged the radio as it was raining out. We were also changing the fencer and had it unplugged too. The next morning Erin found evidence of 10 dead hens. So we learn. The hen defence system has to include electric fence, radio, flashing red predator lights, and some human presence. Since May we have lost close to 100 hens.
We have had a couple of frosts already. David just now came in from harvest to find his insulated neoprene gloves. They are thick but flexible enough for harvest and packing work. People are taking hot water bottles to their unheated cabins so they can stay warm in bed. Fall has definitely arrived.
Don’t forget farm share customers are invited to the Open Farm Day/Garlic planting workparty on Oct 22 from 2pm on. (Rain date, Oct 29). Please let Jen know if you plan to attend (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is a good idea to bring warm clothes and boots. We will offer a farm meal for everyone to share and enjoy.
We are very happy to welcome Matheson’s girlfriend Meghan back to the farm! Meghan has such a beautiful presence and she is extremely helpful too.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!