This week has been so intense, the blog is delayed and the party we had last Saturday already seems so far gone. It was a wonderful evening with friends and family who gathered to celebrate Tristan's and Brian's birthdays. The potluck spread was phenomenal and Tristan's pulled pork sandwiches were scrumptious. He brined the pork for a week and then smoked it for several hours -- yum! Crannóg Ale's collaborative brew with Parallel 49, Suspect Device, was the perfect pairing. Unfortunately, we were all having such a great time, no photos were taken!
The day after the party, Maggie started to farrow. She started out quite large, so we were all wondering how many piglets she was carrying. As it turns out, she was carrying 19 of them!?! Two of them were still born and then 4 didn't make it through the first night. That was to be expected and meant that she would be able to feed the remaining piglets. The week has seen several more disappear or die, leaving us with eight piglets. Although Maggie had no health issues related to her farrowing, and Peggy is now doing fine after hers, our first experience with farrowing has been a little too stressful for my liking.
Once things had settled down with Maggie, a carload of us went up to Spotted Moose Farm in Celista. After being on the farm for only two months, there is so much happening there! They've got turkeys, chickens, guinea fowl, two peacocks, Indian Runner ducks, and pigeons. Not only that, they've got Nubian goats and black mulefoot pigs. They've also just fenced 2 acres for a veg garden -- be prepared to see them at the Celista market with their delicious food!
The main task this week has been weeding. Carrots have been hand weeded, along with baby lettuce, spinach, and new mustards/radishes/hakurei. The last few items were done in the nick of time -- re-covering the beds with remay as the rain blew in.
The photo above shows the pea trellising system we're going to try this year. Unfortunately, my battery was dying, so I couldn't see what I was taking a picture of. The crew got to try out our post hold digger and use some of our fencing posts as anchors. We still need to drop twine to the plants, however this should make picking much better this year!
Yes, this means our strawberries have started! The veg crew did the first sweep of the patch yesterday and we'll have a few pints coming to market on Saturday. With a bit of sun, our strawberry patch is ready to explode with ripe berries.
Patricia and Yaniv arrived last week and it already feels like they've been here since the beginning of the season. They've been thrown into onion weeding, harvesting, seeding, and transplanting -- all within a few days -- and they are dealing so well with the fast pace of this part of the season.
Patricia is originally from Joliette, Québec, and has been spending most of the last three years WWOOF'ing around the world. She is presently looking forward to settling into one place for several months. We appreciate her quiet cheerfulness and eagerness to contribute. Actually, we're so fortunate that everyone in the crew is willing to chip in in such a variety of ways!
Yaniv has recently obtained his Canadian residency status (hooray). He also holds citizenship in Israel and the U.S. Yaniv's cool-under-fire presence and being fine with messy situations made a huge difference in being able to help Peggy on Saturday. Patricia and Yaniv have such a romantic "how did you meet?" story. They were both working on a horse ranch in Costa Rica and were paired up to care for the horses. Their relationship deepened as they explored the splendid landscapes of Costa Rica with their equine charges. So sweet. Since then, they have travelled through Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia together, in addition to working on a farm in Ashcroft (hence their coming back to BC for an adventure in organic mixed farming!).
On Monday, we were treated to live music on the farm: Chicken-Like Birds and No Mothers delighted us with their tunes in the studio. A trio of toddlers were wriggling away to the music and several of the adults could be seen tapping their toes. Thanks to Anne for organizing this. Both duos will be playing at Wine-Oh's in Calgary on Thursday (8 PM) if you know of anyone who might be interested -- spread the word!
Chelsea has some fantastic photos of the pigs! The one of Tristan running out of the boar's pen is pretty darn funny. Looks like Tristan has a healthy lead on the boar, though, so there's nothing to worry about.
Peggy farrowed on Friday with 12 surviving piglets -- she ran into some complications on Saturday and it was all hands on deck to help her out. We were fortunate to have so many people around to contribute (both an unexpected visit from an old pig farmer and a requested one from a friend who could show us how to do stitches). Yaniv observed the stitching process and was able to convey to Tristan how it's done after the initial ones burst. At the end of Saturday, the whole crew created a squeeze and Tristan was able to put in 4 stitches, which are ready to come out tomorrow. Peggy is doing so much better and is great with the piglets. We're sad that she won't be able to have anymore litters, however are thankful that she is still here to care for her piglets.
In terms of other farm work, with four additional hands, we're just flying through the to-do list. The crew has completed an immense amount of weeding, transplanted the celeriac and first batch of Salanova lettuce, constructed a couple of pallet platforms for camping, sanitized the strawberry picking buckets (we've found a few fully ripe ones!), and seeded in the field and in trays for future transplanting.
We're gearing up for a great weekend of celebration -- hope to see you out here on Saturday for the Pints, Pulled Pork, Potluck Party to celebrate two birthdays and raise funds for solar power on Golden Ears Farm & Crannóg Ales/Left Fields Farm! 4:30 right here on the farm: https://www.facebook.com/events/1590612947915640/
It has been a rapid transition to weed season -- we're still trying to get transplants into the ground and potting up loads of seedlings, and the weeds are glowing green in the fields! We are making headway in the onions, however, and aiming to get the weeds while they're still a manageable size.
The corn transplants are doing really well and we are so pleased with this. Stories abound about how sensitive corn is to transplanting, yet every germinated seed that was put into the ground has settled in nicely...can't wait for sweet corn this year!
We're still setting beds, seeding, potting up, and watering (an interesting game of strategics with the ongoing heat lately). As you can see in these photos, we're all in high gear to get it all done. And David and Chelsea seeded the last bit of potatoes on their own -- exciting! It's fantastic to have Sieglinde's back in the mix. They are my absolute favourite and the crew can try out the German Butter potatoes that I keep raving about.
We're a little in shock about how early the strawberries are this year. They've been in blossom for a while, however Tristan snapped this shot on Monday during our farm walkaround -- berries forming. It's looking like we'll have strawberries at the end of May this year...egad!
Our last two interns arrived this afternoon, having driven all the way from Montréal. We are looking forward to getting to know Patricia and Yaniv...after they've had time to settle in and acclimatize following so much driving. Stay tuned for their 'official' introduction next week!
Hello from Golden Ears! This week's update is coming to you from the dirty fingernails of the newest interns -- we have a good excuse for our filth, though! This week has been all about transplanting our vegetable babies into their new homes in the field; this involves a lot of time spent on our knees with hands in the dirt, lovingly placing each onion, kolhrabi and little lettuce head into the ground so that it can grow up to reach its full tasty potential! Yesterday alone, we planted over 600 corn in the field, with over 2,000 seedlings, total, going into the ground since last week (finishing transplanting the hundreds of onions was thoroughly celebrated with cold growlers of beer). Though this job is tough on the knees and lower back, we combat it with spontaneous yoga in the field and the huge feeling of satisfaction one gets from seeing the vegetables neatly lined up in their fresh, earthy bed.
Watching the different varieties of produce start to mature into their true forms has also been a treat for me. Pictured above is the beautiful Freckles Romaine Lettuce that looks like it has been spattered with crimson paint. I'm also excited about the purple bunching onions that are keeping their vibrant bulbs hidden for the time being. I'm quickly realizing that I could probably grow vegetables forever and still be surprised at the things nature can produce.
Hey, is that Tristan pushing Avé through the fields?!
Nope! But it is another one of his marvellous creations. Behold, our home-made flame weeder, complete with seatbelts and a master stroller pusher (Papa Cavers).
This baby has been helping us combat the weeds that threaten to overrun the newly-planted seeds and bring us to our downfall. Besides being an insanely cool tool for organic farmers, the flame weeder majorly helps to prevent the weeds from even popping up, while leaving the seeds below completely unharmed. Thanks to Tristan for being so inventive in our on-going battle against the weeds!
The last baby corn about to go into the field....
I leave you this week with a photo I took during last week's harvest for market (pre-vegetable mandala that is pictured at the top). One of the best things about working on this farm is the constant interaction you have with the animals here, whether it is listening to the Curlews flying over you in the field, being inspected by the resident farm cats wanting to be cuddled, or encountering Osprey epically catching their prey close by. I'm grateful everyday to live and work in a place that allows the wildlife in the area to thrive. They are as much a part of the local diversity as the humans that live here, and with organic farming practices, you can encourage them to continue gracing the landscape without polluting or destroying their habitat -- just one of the many reasons to fall in love with growing food organically!
Thanks to everyone who supported us at the market last week. We'll see you bright and early Saturday morning with a fresh harvest in tow!
Photo credit: Martín Bustamante