Posts Tagged ‘strawberries’

“Feelings, nothing more than feeling” by John

Today is Friday, and that means it’s harvest day. The day when we get to walk around the farm, see all of the wonderful foods that we have nurtured into being, and harvest those that are ready to nourish our customers.

Usually harvest day gives me quite a lift. It’s a chance to look at the farm for the bounty it is producing, rather than the work that needs to get done. It’s a chance to remember why we’re doing this (for the food!). It’s a chance, too, to get into the zen of the harvest – focus purely on the plants in front of you and on finding the best they have to offer. It can become quite meditative at times.

Today, harvest day was … just another day. Even though we were picking blueberries for the first time. Even though Joan harvested tomatoes for the first time. Even though we have 26 things to bring to market tomorrow and lots of all of them. Despite all that I was just … flat today. Flat at best.

I should have written about this earlier, but three weeks ago I HATED farming. We came back from a visit to Ontario and were faced with massive crop failure of our June bearing strawberries (due to poor weather), a complete overrun of pernicious and perennial weeds (due to poor planning), and a feeling of hopelessness at ever being able to make things work. We were worried about money, we were worried about the weather, we were worried about the amount of work to be done, we were worried about our bodies … we were worried about everything!

Coincidentally, it was around this time that we came to the realization that we didn’t want to stay on the farm for another year. This decision wasn’t come by easily and probably all started with a job interview in Victoria, and had less to do with one bad week than with future goals and plans, and is still something we’re agonizing over – but we’ve made the decision. We won’t be renewing our lease come September 1st. We’re planning to stay till October 1st to get all our crops harvested, but after that our merry band of house-mates disbands and we’re off to new adventures.

But back to feelings. On harvest day of the bad week everything turned around. The day-neutral strawberries were producing well and we had an amazing bounty to bring to market. This didn’t change my mind about needing to leave the farm, but at least it let me feel like we were accomplishing something while there. The good feelings lasted for a full week and on to another harvest day and then, abruptly, left.

Since then I’ve been, ambivalent about farming at best. There are good days and bad days and good moments and bad moments and on the whole I can’t seem to drum up much enthusiasm either way.

But, the farm marches on and so must we. Cindy and I have been developing a set of rules/lessons learned from farming that we need to write down at some point. The ducks are growing and we’ve been learning how to herd them from the pond to their home each night. The raspberries are producing as are many other crops and we’re feeding ourselves, supplying a restaurant, selling at market and filling orders for private sales and we’re selling eggs as fast as they can be laid. There’s lots to do and lots to enjoy and lots to record before we’re through. Hopefully it won’t be quite so long till our next post so that we can keep you all entertained and so that we’ll have a record of what the heck we were doing later in life. Cindy and I were wondering if, when we’re 85, we’ll ever believe that we used to use large sticks to chase ducks out of a pond, around a blueberry patch, and into a poorly constructed a-frame home each night. Maybe we’ll get it on video so we can prove to ourselves that it really did happen.

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“They’re coming” by John

Just did a quick survey of the strawberry field. While things are VERY behind and the berries are smaller than I think they should be, they are coming. In fact there are a number that could be ready in time for market if we get some sun ( as I write this the wind has died down on this overcast day and the rain has started)
So, if you want to see berries at market on Saturday then pray for sun. And if you’re the one stealing all the sun, can we have some? Just a little. Please?

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“Really?” by John

Came in for lunch after planting half a row of strawberries. About to head back out to finish the box and we’re faced with this. Really?!?! Hail?!?!?!

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“Farmer John’s Update” by John

Wow – just had a look back at the blog and saw that not only have the proverbial “we” not posted in a while, but I haven’t posted in even longer. Oops.

So some people have been asking about the chicken with the growth. I’d take a picture and show you how she’s doing, but I can’t tell which one she is anymore – it seems that the growth has completely subsided and there’s no sign of any chicken being ostracized from the group at the moment, so I think all is well. My guess is that it was an infected cut, but I guess it could be cancer that’s gone into remission. Either way – it seems to be sorted out and we’re getting 5-6 eggs per day again and looking forward to more as the days get longer!

Some of you may also know, though we didn’t post it on here, that we were thinking about adding three little pigs to our farm family. A local farm family is moving away for a few years and had three pigs not yet ready for slaughter that they were selling. We hemmed and hawed and even went on a tour of Terra Nosa farm (an amazing organic farm here in the Cowichan run by amazing people with some good livestock experience) but eventually decided that we weren’t ready for pigs (fence needs mending, not sure about requirements for care etc) so we turned them down. Since that time I’ve borrowed a book on raising pigs and now I *really* want to do it, so we’ll see if we can get the systems set-up in time to get some weaners this spring.

Otherwise, things are progressing. We’ve borrowed a rototiller and tilled under the greenhouse in preparation for some early greens followed by hot weather plants. We got a delivery of 1,500 strawberry plants to put in the ground sometime in the next week. We’ve pruned all of the raspberry plants and are starting to side-dress with compost. We’ve pruned all of the grape vines and rose plants (thanks bro and Andrea and Yan!). We’ve learned about pruning blueberries – but haven’t yet waded into the blueberry field to get that done. And, generally, we’re looking forward to the rain stopping so we can get some of the work done that needs the soil to be a little bit more dry.

And that’s a quick update. Sent during breakfast before I go to work. Will this timing be the answer to getting John to post more … only time will tell.

“Full steam ahead” by Cindy

plans

Thought it would be fun to show you just how organized our plans are…

And yes, this means we finally got a printer/scanner.

In other news, our farm website is in the works, we started some onions and leeks, our garlic is sending up shoots, we submitted our application to the farmers’ market, and we are rototiller shopping (anyone know where we can get a good used BCS?). The greenhouse strawberries do not look so good, but more on that later. G was here and we went for a nice walk-around, and he gave us some helpful tips. Then, feeling inspired, Joan, John, and I did some raspberry topping – boy, do things ever get done more quickly with three people!

But wait, didn’t you just finish pruning the raspberries (or did I forget to mention that?)? Yes, the raspberries were fully pruned, but in the spring, which it is starting to feel like around here (sorry you Ontario suckers), it is best to top the raspberries before they put too much energy into getting tall. We want them wide and full of lateral pickable branches, so we chop them at about head level (my head).

Next, we get to tackle pruning the blueberry field (there are a lot of blueberries in that field). Today, though, it’s all about using the fancy pH meter we borrowed from a wonderful local farmer (thanks Dan from Dragonfly!) to check our beds. This way, we can amend them as needed and prepare for a bountiful crop. Don’t I sound optimistic? I haven’t even had any caffeine today.

Anyway, things are exciting around here, and we are looking forward to long sunny days in the field. It’s good to be positive, right?