Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

“Are all farmers xenophobic serial killers?” by John

I’ve spent the last two days on the farm going on a mass killing spree, and it’s really been starting to get me down. Between weeding the strawberries, rototilling the raspberry beds, mowing the lawn, weed-whacking everything I can find, tilling the lower field and drowning every slug I come across, I’ve inflicted a whole lot of death and destruction in what is supposed to be “our growing adventure”. Not to mention the fact that a lot of it was done on or with one of the various fossil fuel guzzling noise polluters that are essential to our farming life.


A farmer friend of ours once told us that farming is more about killing the things you don’t want than anything else – and after this week I certainly have to agree.

All this hasn’t been great on my body either. Sore back from bending down, stiff shoulders from controlling heavy machinery, and those who know me well will understand the meaning of one word … allergies! (I swear, sometimes I think I should be a developer and try to pave everything instead of an environmentalist – given how much my body seems to love nature)

Today though, today was different. Today we went to see our friend Christy at her retreat located at Peace of Paradise Farm – and boy was it! I treated Cindy (and myself) to a late birthday present – a full body massage – and while Cindy was getting her massage I explored the grounds, design and maintained according to permaculture principles by Jay, and started reading “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” Between the setting and the promise of a massage to come, I found the first chapter of the book highly inspirational and motivating.

So, today, with body relaxed and spirits high, I planted something. Just carrots and parsnips, and just a third of a row, but it was something. I also watered the site of what will hopefully be a soccer pitch again someday, and I tried to take some time to enjoy the space that I’m living in. Of course I also fired up the Mantis and the weed whacker and did some work with those, but with the addition of starting life into my day, I didn’t feel so bad taking some back. After all, the grass clippings serve as mulch and the whacked weeds break down into organic matter to feed the soil to help grow other plants, so it’s all just part of a cycle.

Thanks for reading.

“The first seeding – in pictures” by Cindy

Joan mixing amendments

Digging into the peat

adding vermiculite and amendments

Mixing

Adding water

Adding more water

And more water...

Trays ready for seeds

Seeding

Bobo's contribution

Labelling is important!

Lined up in greenhouse

Job well done

“Updates” by Cindy

Be advised – the following post is a collection of random unconnected updates. I am too lazy to work on flow today.

You may have noticed that I have updated the wedding page, and added a new page, entitled Renaissance Women, to the blog . This is a new project I will be blogging about, so when you see the tag “renaissance women” in a post (I fully plan to use tags when I figure them out), you will know what it is about.

Farm update… seeds arrived.

A tiny box full of future food

This tiny box has so many seeds in it – it’s hard to believe how much food will come out of that box over the year.

Also, here is a picture of our poor chicken with the weird growth – we have been researching online and found that some people think you should leave the chicken alone as long as it is acting normal, and others suggest trying to lance it and see what happens. Others just say to put it on next week’s menu. We aren’t sure what to do, but we definitely do not want to spend an exhorbitant amount on taking it to a vet. Any votes?

Chicken with growth

Here are a couple of pictures I took today when Yan and John were jumpstarting the two cars that are now being stored here (one is the car share car from John’s work, and the other is Emily’s – she’s leaving it here while she is off gallavanting around Asia). I just thought they looked so cute. I don’t know what they are looking at.

Men at work

Random photos I took from plane ride home:

View from plane

View from plane2

Also, our choir concert was on Friday, and John had three solos. He was awesome. I would upload a video, but apparently that costs money… so no luck. Maybe I’ll try facebook, or I’ll youtube it and post a link. If people are interested in seeing it.

John in bowtie

Made more pickled beets today with Yan and Joan’s help. One of the jars broke in the canner and spilled its contents into the water bath. That was sad. We also irrigated the greenhouse, washed and returned a rototiller, and dumped out the chicken feeders from the meat birds. They will need some serious scrubbing though because they were full of moldy feed – which apparently looked like dog food to Bobo. Sometimes, we are forced to question his intelligence.

He is cute, though.

Bobo with his favourite toy

“Diving In” by Cindy

Well, I’ve just placed our very first seed order.  It was so exciting that it prompted John to remind me (rather vociferously) that we really should be blogging our new adventure – so here we go.

I’m not sure why we think we will be good farmers – considering that neither one of us likes having dirty hands – but we both love food and fresh vegetables so much that we just have to give it a go.  Plus, the opportunities just keep coming up, so we’ll take that as a positive sign.

Anyway, our growing adventure started with the idea that we should grow veggies in our backyard.  We are renting an apartment over the garage of this lovely house, and there is a huge backyard where the landlord said we could certainly put in some raised beds if we wanted.  Fortunately, we asked the critical question – are there deer?  He laughed and said he was surprised we hadn’t seen them yet as they will practically come to the back porch and ask for apples.  We decided that we couldn’t afford to invest in deer fencing in a place where we weren’t sure how long we would stay.

So we got on the waiting list for a community garden plot.  While waiting, we heard about a community farming cooperative called “Growing Opportunities” (whenever we speak of the Grow Op – THIS is what we mean).  It sounded too good to be true, but we decided to check it out – and it is too good to be true – except that it is.  This couple decided that they liked growing vegetables so much that they thought everyone should have an opportunity to try growing on a larger-than-garden-size scale.  So they got a group together and leased an acre at a local therapeutic farm, and they began farming it.  Anyone interested in joining just has to join.  You put in as much work as you can, and you take what you need from the produce.  Surplus produce is sold to cover the costs of the farm (e.g., leasing the land, paying for tractor time and other supplies).  It’s pretty amazing and so satisfying to work the land with such good people.

Then, because I was enjoying a mid-career retirement (so to speak), a local farmer called me up and asked if I wanted to work for a week. It was the perfect opportunity to see if I could hack a full day in the field – and I could.  In fact – it was pretty darn enjoyable being outside in the sun feeling sorry for poor John stuck in the office all day.  Even the most monotonous tasks were fun because they had a definite purpose and a visible result, and the people were great to work with.  So after a week of paid work, I worked out an informal apprenticeship with the farm and continued to work at a much reduced rate.  I learned so much so quickly, but I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of the knowledge needed to run a farm.  Plus, the farmers (Brock and Heather) are great people and fun to work with.  Their place, Makaria Farm (www.makariafarm.com), is winning awards for innovation, and they really care about the quality of their produce.

After a few weeks of getting dirty and developing some interesting tan lines, the real windfall happened.  A local farmer heard that John was interested in getting into farming and suggested we consider renting his berry farm when he moves out of the province in the fall.  Well, we looked at the numbers and decided that even if we only break even, we can consider the adventure a year or two of intense agricultural college.  No webpage for that one – we’ll be working on that soon!

So that is how we ended up where we are now – planning our winter garden.  I now have an actual job working at a non-profit organization twenty hours a week, I “intern” two mornings a week at the farm we are going to rent, I occasionally head out to Makaria, we continue to work at Growing Opportunities, and we have our little garden plot (which is really not getting much of our attention, we must admit – I think it’s going to be an experiment in neglectful gardening, really).

But wait, you say!  Let’s get to the interesting part – what seeds did we order?  Well, we already have some brussel sprouts started because I went to a winter gardening workshop last week, but here’s what we should get in the mail later this week:

shallots  (can never have enough onions)

kale  (yummy healthy greens)

carrots

parsnips

turnips (yes – I love turnips)

spinach

beets (love love love beets)

cabbage (three different kinds to satisfy John’s sauerkraut and kimchi experiments)

squash

In our little garden plot we currently have some onions, spinach, cucumbers, brown beans, black beans, edamame soy beans, and one little tomato plant.  I also have some pepper plants and basil growing in various pots in the apartment. The berry farm is all about strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and of all things – garlic.  John is also working on some meat chickens (which I am not so excited about, being a vegetarian and all, but good for him).   The Grow Op is just chock full of plants.  We have everything from wheat to kale, strawberries, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, carrots, and potatoes planted – just to mention a few.

And so that is how we went from being interested in farming to diving right in.  At the very least, it will be a learning experience as we grow together. (heh heh)