Banjo’s here! An update and a reminder

This last week has been mucho busy – we’ve got everything on the greenhouse done except for one door (and the door handle on the other door), and as soon as that’s taken care of we can call the building inspector. Yay!! The peas have started to blossom, so we’re on track for having peas in the first harvest on June 9th (<——— there’s your reminder. I’ll be contacting people with a small share soon to tell you if you’re starting on June 9th or on June 16th). Spinach is up, kale looks fantastic, I wouldn’t be surprised if garlic scapes appear in time for the first harvest, the beans are looking good, lettuce & mesclun mix & swiss chard are not looking promising due to all this heat we’ve been having (they’re cool-weather crops which are normally great for spring, sadly!) so I’ll re-plant and put out some lettuce seedlings I started on our seedling racks in the basement just in case. Sometimes, forethought pays off! The first planting of potatoes – Penta White variety – has sprouted. The Yukon Golds are not up yet, but they should be breaking through any day now. Carrots are up and with a bit more help from our irrigation system they should come along nicely in the next few weeks. The beets are looking fantastic, and it’s about time for me to get another planting going for them. The onions are growing really well too. Cabbages are coming along, the broccoli’s having a bit of an issue this year and I’m not sure what it is. It may work out, but if it doesn’t I’ll start a second batch in August so we can have some fall broccoli at least. It’s a bit too hot for starting any now, unfortunately.

Got the first batch of chickens moved out onto pasture last week and they’ve adjusted wonderfully. It’s always interesting to move the three groups from their separate brooder boxes into one big moveable coop. It really brings home that there is such a thing as “pecking order” and it takes them a bit to figure it out when you bring a new group together. Pretty funny bird brains, I’ve got to say. That group will be ready for sale probably in the last week of June/first week of July, and because the price of organic grain went up again our price will be $5.09/lb. There’s only 50 birds in this batch, so please let us know asap if you’d like to reserve any before we sell out.

We went to Peterborough to get Banjo the donkey on Saturday. That was a veeeery long drive with my dad while Matt stayed behind to clean the brooder boxes for the new batch of chicks (it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it!). Extremely glad we waited one more weekend instead of trying to drive Highway 7 on a long weekend pulling a horse trailer! He proved that donkeys are legitimately known as stubborn, because it took four people two and a half hours to get him in the trailer. Poor guy did not want to go, but now that he’s here he seems to be settling in nicely. Matt’s posted lots of pictures on his Facebook page, but for some reason I  can’t seem to share them to the Our Farm Facebook page. I’ll have to do a separate post with Banjo pictures for those of you who aren’t on Facebook. I think he’s a little bit lonely being all by himself this week – even if we go visit with him a few times a day – but the sheep will be arriving on Sunday so that should give him something to occupy his time. I’m in love with him already, and I can’t wait for the little lambs to get here so I can fall in love with them too!

We got our second batch of chicks this morning, and while they settled into their cozy new homes I finally managed to locate the missing box of irrigation valves. Hurray! That meant I could finally hook up the irrigation system for the garden. Hopefully that will make a big difference in growth rates of the veggies over the next week. As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to have to install the trellis for the peas this weekend.

Last but not least, I’ve been very busy with paperwork for the barn we want to build for housing the sheep and keeping our hay dry this winter. While it seems like it’s been ages and tons of work, it’s finally paying off. The financing for the barn came through, and I just heard this morning that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph has conditionally approved (i.e. it’s approved, just needs the manager to sign the paperwork) our Nutrient Management Study. Basically, that means that the province requires any new barn being built have a plan in place to deal with the manure from the animals that will live in the barn. You have to have your NMS approved by OMAFRA (see, I’m learning the lingo!) before you can even apply for a building permit from the city.

Well, Banjo’s still got some of his winter coat to shed, so I’m going to go out and brush him & keep him company for a bit, then I’ll till up the last potato patch so tomorrow night I can plant the Red Chieftan and Blue Russian potatoes. After that, it’ll be tilling and planting the parsnips, turnips, radishes, etc., etc., etc. along with building the raised beds in the greenhouse as soon as the inspector signs off on it. Never a dull moment around here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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So much to tell you!

We’ve been busy little bees around here lately. Our first batch of chicks are about a week and a half old now, and starting to get adult feathers on their wings even though they’ve still got downy yellow baby fuzz on the rest of their bodies. I saw a couple stretching their wings out yesterday for the first time, so they’re well on their way to growing up enough to go outside on pasture in a couple of weeks. Till then, they’re cozy and happy in their nice dry brooder boxes.

We’ve found a donkey to guard the sheep – his name is Banjo and he’s a five year old gelding who’s been with sheep before so it sounds like he’s going to be a perfect fit for Our Farm. We’re going to pick him up next weekend, so he’ll have a couple of weeks to settle in before the sheep and lambs arrive and he’ll have to go to work.

There’s now some bees boarding with us as well. They’re not ours, but the three hives being kept here by our new friend the beekeeper are going to be an incredible help for us with pollinating the veggies in the garden! We’re really happy to be able to host bees on Our Farm, as we feel that they’re such an important part of the ecosystem and of course they’re under so much threat from colony collapse disorder. The beekeeper was very happy to find a place he could be sure there was no pesticide or herbicide spraying going on, because so much scientific evidence is building up that spraying an extremely common class of chemicals called neonicotinoids is a major contributing factor to colony collapse disorder.

Of course, we need to have veggies flowering in the garden for the bees to pollinate. :) We’ve been busy planting beans and spinach and swiss chard and carrots and potatoes to accompany the kale and beets and peas that were already planted. Lettuce and mesclun mix are going in today, too since their beds are already prepped it’ll just be a matter of hoeing a row, dropping the seed in & covering it up. Onions will be transplanted in one night this week. Next weekend it’ll be more potatoes, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash and cucumbers, along with more beets and lettuces and spinach and carrots and beans (thank goodness it will be a long weekend!). I’ve been having a lot of fun using my new Dragon flame weeder. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it is to destroy dandelions with this monster!

Last, but certainly not least – especially in terms of size! – we got the cover on the greenhouse yesterday with a lot of help from some of the most incredible people. In no particular order, my mom and dad, Aunt Jane and Uncle Jacques, Aunt Teresa and Gilles, my brother and his friend Darren, my cousins Tim and Amy, and our Awesome Neighbour Henry. Thank you so much to everyone who helped, we couldn’t have done it without all of you! Today, Mat and I are going to work on finishing one end wall along with the roll-up sides. Gotta go get at ‘er.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Have a lovely day. :)

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Katahdin Dorper lambs 2012

Katahdin Dorper cross lambs born April 2012. They’ll be coming home to Our Farm at the beginning of June, and we’re really looking forward to them becoming the foundation of our flock. Sorry about the voiceover, they were just so cute that I couldn’t help the babytalk!

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