The last six weeks or so have seen massive transformations on the proto-farm. Here’s a little snapshot of what’s been keeping us busy.
The heat crops are out
Once our lovely little BCS walk behind tractor arrived, we got out and tilled the greenhouses. We now have a pile of tomatoes and cucumbers planted out, and some basil, hot peppers, sweet peppers and eggplants potted up. We’re trying three apparently delicious and high-yielding heirloom tomato varieties this year, two cherry tomato varieties, 7 salad tomatoes, two eggplants, four sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange and purple!), 11 hot peppers and four cucumbers. We’ll keep you posted on our favourites!
L: 99 tomato plants in the tomato greenhouse. R: A Croome parent waters the starts and potted up peppers, eggplants and basil. The cucumbers are in behind him.
We spent just over two days being distracted by the wonderfully talented John Isbister working his magic with his machine in our 2016 veggie field. Apparently, diggers can still be mesmerizing when you are older than 8…. John pulled and piled stumps, moved large rocks, and levels our field space. It is amazing to be able to better visualize our growing space – we are going to have lots of room for tasty veggies next year! Photos and video of John at work can be seen on our Instagram feed (link on the right). We’ll have John in again later this year to root rake and help us dig out a couple of irrigation ponds and drainage channels.
John’s handiwork, aka massive fall bonfire!
John also gave us a hand giving a preliminary coarse rake to our 2015 garden location. Then, our amazing parents who have been visiting for the past month gave us a massive hand picking rocks and roots to get ready for our neighbour Louis to come in with his tractor to give the space a deep plough. This was followed by more rock picking before we got on it with the BCS for a shallower plough and bed shaping, followed by compost spreading and tilling. After putting up some temporary deer fence, we were ready to plant out. We’ll be picking rocks and roots for many more years, but the initial push is done, and we’re pretty happy with the space. Our transplants had gotten rather sad, after spending as much as 4 extra weeks in the greenhouse. But, most are rallying now that they are out in the garden, and the new growth looks wonderful. We’ve got winter and summer squash, onions, scallions, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, brussels, summer and storage cabbages, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, celery, hakurei turnips, beets, beans and carrots planted out and seeded. Looking forward to garden treats soon!! Most of the watering is now being done by a drip irrigation system fed from our pond using a gas pump. Thanks to the folks at Iritex for helping us to set it up – it’s working pretty well so far! Now, we’re enjoying a bit of a lull while we wait for harvest to begin and the onset of the inevitable weeds….
L: The 2015 garden, dripline out and newly planted. R: A section of our irrigation setup.
First pork sales and new pigs
Our first pork came back from Gunters in mid-May, and we are happy! The pork and butchering are both excellent. We sold 3.5 pigs as sides to help us cover some of the set-up costs, and kept 1.5 pigs as pork for us and to sell as cuts at the Denman Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and at our farm gate. We’ve already sold out of bacon, sausages and picnic (a shoulder cut that is smoked like a ham). We have a few roasts, chops, hams, ribs and steaks left. Very excited by the amount of interest! We’ve got three Denman Island piglets to raise for the summer. These guys are gallopers. They love tearing around their run and digging deep holes. They are currently on the 2016 field site helping us to root up the rocks and nibbling off the bramble shoots. They are destined to become sausages and bacon at the end of August. More Large Black piglets are being lined up for the fall.
L: Our three Denman pigs. R: Sam and Hunter off to feed the pigs.
Sad farewells and excited hellos
In early May we lost our newest family member, Merlin, to an unfortunate accident, when a driver who wasn’t paying attention went off the road and hit him on the grass at the front of our property. We were incredibly sad to say goodbye. He was a beautiful little personality who made us smile multiple times daily, and was really a perfect fit for the farm and our family. After he died, Hunter spent many evenings on the front step, watching for his friend to come home, and we still find ourselves listening for his morning chatter.
Hunter and Merlin share Hunter’s bed – Merlin was always trying to snuggle with Hunter, much to Hunter’s dismay after 7pm, after which it is “bedtime”, when Hunter prefers his space to sleep.
A few short weeks later, we welcomed a new member to Two Roads. Our son Wilf was born on May 27. We are enjoying getting to know this new soul. While his feeding habits have Emily at reduced capacity on the farm front, he is learning to sleep long enough to let us get little things done here and there, a fantastic early contribution. And, we’ve had all of our parents here for many weeks lending a hand and helping us to stay on top of things, and have Denmanites turning up with food and support at every turn. We’re feeling very blessed and excited heading into the height of the growing season.
TL: Sam and Wilf survey some of John’s handiwork near the shop. TR: Wee Wilf. BL: Baby laundry drying over the 2016 field. BR: Sam and Hunter survey the 2015 garden from a freshly wrapped section of the house. Hunter is a fan of the dog height windows!