Ice Cream and Beer!

I could have entitled this post “Hoeing, Hoeing and More Hoeing” but I thought the above was more exciting.

So we hoed a lot last week. And I have learned that it is probably one of my least favorite things to do, especially with clay soil like ours. What I am taking away from all this hoeing is that it is important to prevent the weeds from growing as  much as possible if you want to avoid back breaking-hand blistering hoeing all summer long. There will always be some hoeing to do but my goal will be to reduce the amount of hoeing as much as possible.

We didn’t just hoe all week though, thank God! We also did a lot of transplanting. We got all of our onions, leeks and shallots into the ground as well as our brassicas.

Basically last week, we hoed and transplanted, transplanted and hoed. And that’s pretty much what the next couple of months will look like as well. In about a month, I’ll be able to add harvesting to that cycle.

So what other exciting things can I talk to you about? Well how about food! I always love talking about food!

I made a pretty awesome German red cabbage soup that lasted me all week long. I also whipped up some homemade hummus and used the kale and spinach we had harvested to make pesto. They all turned out delish. And I will eventually edit this post so that you will be able to click on “hummus” and “red cabbage soup” and it will bring you to the recipe, but at the moment I am simply being lazy.

We also went for ice cream/gelato last week at this little place in Casselman owned by a Belgian woman. She has Ferrero Rocher ice cream, banana ice cream, watermelon sorbet and a whole bunch of other delicious flavours. It was awesome. Daizy treated us to it on Saturday afternoon. We also made a pit stop at the Casselman Brewery, where you can purchase large jugs of beer. I bought a Honey Brown Ale to bring home to my dad, but unfortunately I believe it was stolen by a bum on Crescent Street in Montreal (long story).

And on Saturday night, before heading home to Montreal with Chloé, we stopped in at  a housewarming party which had a buffet spread of food! Yum Yum! It included sweet and savoury crepes, mushroom soup, chicken curry, guacamole and 2 dessert cakes! It was an awesome meal after a long week.

So that was our week, but I’ll give you a Farley update before I sign off. Farley was doing better. But he seems to be lacking in energy again. You don’t call a vet every time an animal gets sick on a farm, and so we are simply doing our best to help him out, but not sure what the future holds. Hopefully he gets better, but I think Chloé has begun to consider the possibility of Farley Soup…

And with that I shall end this post. I’m pretty beat after another day of…you guessed it: hoeing! So I am off to bed. Hope everyone has a good week. And if ever you get fed up of being at work just think about me hoeing all day long, it might make you feel better. 🙂

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Lice and Mites…just wonderful!

So remember how we got chickens and a rooster in my last post. Well unfortunately, it seems the rooster introduced lice to the group and even has leg mites, sucking out all of his blood, poor guy. He’s not mounting any hens and doesn’t seem to be doing very well. That, and the chickens are all pecking at themselves and shaking due to the lice. Chloe read up on it, and figured out that the problem is most likely lice and mites.

And so at the end of last week, Chloe, Rebecca and I crept into the chicken coop after dark to rub vaseline on Farley’s legs to at least appease him until Chloe could treat him and the chickens properly on the weekend, dousing them in a mix of sulfur and diatomaceous earth to get rid of the lice. She also soaked Farley’s legs in warm water and scrubbed at them with a toothbrush to help rid him of the leg mites.

It’s only the beginning of the week but the treatment seems to have worked! The hens are quacking like crazy, and Farley even mounted one of them! They are also becoming very comfortable with Chloe and even the rest of us, approaching us when we walk in instead of running away. We are very happy that they seem to be doing better.
Although we were worrying about the chickens last week, we did have 2 beautiful days, with the temperatures hovering around 30 degrees 2 days in a row! It was amazing, and Rebecca gave herself a pretty good sunburn, poor thing. Needless to say, our farmer tans are looking pretty good.

At the beginning of the week we totally cleaned out all the kale and spinach left in the greenhouse. It was becoming unruly, growing up through the tables, and those which were growing on the side were simply getting trampled on as we moved between the tables. So we harvested everything that was still good and pulled up all the stalks from the ground and have been feeding them to the chickens. So there’s no need to worry about an iron deficiency in the chickens.

The kale and spinach are stored in the cold room but I believe we waited too long to sort through it all. We have made a bunch of spinach and kale pesto, and I’ve thrown a bit of both into the freezer, but we only recently did this and so much of it has now wilted or turned yellow. Lucky chickens! Oh ya, here is a fun/disturbing fact: if and when chickens become bored/very hungry they will/can resort to cannibalism as entertainment/food. Gross little things aren’t they? Hopefully we have no cannibalism in our group!

Last week we also began to transplant. And so we each took turns sitting on the back of the tractor about a foot off the ground trying to quickly drop our transplants into holes created by the tractor. It was like playing a video game, pretty fun. The others followed behind on their hands and knees tucking the transplants neatly into the holes. But the funnest (this isnt really a word, it should be most fun, but funnest sounds funner (more fun) so too bad) thing about that day was learning how to drive the 4 wheeler and the tractor! The 4 wheeler however is a toughy because at the moment the electric start doesn’t work and so you have to start it manually with your foot. Seeing as I don’t have much weight to use, it took me awhile to figure out a technique and get it going, but I did succeed in the end. Victory for me, yay!

As for the rest of the week, it became rainy again on Friday and Saturday, and from what I can remember (because my memory is horrible) we spent most of the time in the greenhouse seeding a few more things.

Oh yes, another awesome thing about last week; the Habs won game 7 against Boston! Woot Woot! Daizy and Johnny were nice enough to set up the bunny ears for me so we could watch the game. No wonder Montrealers are considered to be crazy hockey people, I’m pretty sure everyone here thinks I’m crazy about hockey. I do like hockey of course, but there’s a lot of people back home who are much bigger fans than I. They don’t even know the half of it!

And so I will end the blog on that good note. May the Canadiens have better luck/performances in the next games against the Rangers, but no matter how this series ends, I can still say we beat Boston!

This week has started off on a great note. We had a beautiful day, but that also meant spending the whole day hoeing! So I must say I am beat. We are up early tomorrow morning to harvest greens and hope to do some more transplanting.

Hope you all had a wondeful weekend and I wish you a wonderful week as well. Till next time!

Chickens and Farley Mowat!

What a week! I had quite a few titles in mind for this week; what from “Welcome Rebecca!” to “Farmers Tan” to “Hi Hoe, Hi Hoe, It’s Off to Work we Go!”, each of which has its own story. But I decided on “Chickens and Farley Mowat” because I believe one of the most exciting events of the week was the arrival of our chickens and rooster (named in memory of Farley Mowat, one of Chloé’s favorite authors).

Johnny and Daizy had told me before I arrived at the farm that they had a chicken coop if I would like to have chickens but I figured I would take one thing at a time. First: learn how to grow food. And so I passed on the opportunity. The other intern Chloé, however, was super excited to possibly take care of some chickens and did a whole bunch of research. Thus on Wednesday night we travelled to a friend’s farm and brought back 13 chickens!

We went later on at night because chickens have difficulty seeing in the dark and so it is easier to catch them. As amusing as it may have been, we did not have to run around trying to catch the chickens. (I’m happy that wasn’t the case and I’m sure the chickens were too.) They were located in the upstairs barn and so we created a production line from upstairs to the truck just outside the barn. This way no one had to take the risk of walking up or down the stairs with 2 chickens in hand. Christine, the owner did the initial catching and then passed them off to us.

Now, when transferring chickens, you are supposed to hold them by the legs, letting them hang upside down. In this position they become somewhat paralyzed/unconscious as all the blood is in their heads, and so it was pretty straight forward passing them off. It got more complicated however as we had to put more and more chickens in the same large cage. As Chloé transferred them to the cage, they came out of their paralysis and were much more likely to move about.

Being amateur chicken catchers, we were all trying to be very gentle with the chickens and were moving slower than necessary. The night was therefore not without some excitement. I believe it was chicken #9 that took advantage of our kindness and jumped out of Chloés reach and made a run for it! Good thing the farm dog was nearby and so the chicken only made it so far as under the truck. And Christine the owner saved the day and returned the chicken to the cage.

Once home, we simply brought the 2 large cages into the chicken coop and left them so that they could come out as they wish and get used to their surroundings. Christine had said that they might not lay as much at first seeing as they would be in a new environment but they very next day we collected 10 eggs! And the next day after that as well! So we will be making lots of frittatas and omelettes this summer.

The next day Chloé and Johnny also went to go pick up the rooster! And he’s beautiful; he’s got some shiny green feathers amidst his black tail feathers and I believe he is going to take good care of our chickens. They say it is good to have a rooster because he will act as the leader of the group and help prevent the chickens from fighting amongst each other. Eggs that are fertilized are also apparently better for you. And so Chloé is now known as “Mother Hen” and if you actually wake up at 530AM you can hear Farley Mowat crowing. (Thankfully he’s not that loud and doesn’t actually wake me up, so we are still friends.)

But that’s not the only exciting thing that happened this week! When I got back to the farm on Monday night, I found someone else in the trailer: Rebecca (the 3rd intern)! There was a miscommunication and we were all expecting her to show up last Thursday. And so when Chloé and I left on Saturday and there was still no Rebecca, we didn’t know if she was still coming or not. Thankfully she did! Yay! This means more helping hands on the farm and another awesome person to get to know.

And so we had a wonderful week together. We finally got some sunny weather and spent a lot of the week in the greenhouse potting up (placing seedlings in bigger trays/pots so that they can continue to grow) tomatoes and eggplants. I actually had to start wearing sunscreen because sun + greenhouse = farmer tan! We listened to CBC and got to know each other. It almost sounds relaxing really. But let’s not forget, we are now farmers, working on a farm. And we wouldn’t be real farmers without some physical labour! (sigh).

Remember when I told you about covering up the garlic in the field (that was planted before the winter). Well it’s not covered up anymore (but that’s another story) and weeds have begun to grow beside our lovely garlic, and so we had our first hoeing session. What fun! (Major sarcasm) Now I think once we get used to the work and each figure out our own way to hoe efficiently and comfortably it won’t be as bad. But boy did we all need a drink (and a massage) at the end of that day. Needless to say I brought some tiger balm back with me this week.

Just writing about hoeing has made me tired. So I think I will bring this post to an end. But I look very much forward to posting about the weeks to come. And I apologize for the lack of photos in my posts at the moment. I don’t have an iPhone and keep forgetting to bring my camera with me. But I promise to take photos this week and add them to the posts. I also hope to create a Resources page (with info on books and websites to check out) as well as a Recipe page.

Hope the weather stays nice this week. We would like to start transplanting what’s in the greenhouse and maybe even direct seed some more crops. Cross your fingers for us!

Rain, Rain and More Rain! The life of a farmer!

Week 2 on the farm down! Still have all my limbs intact and still loving it!

I started the week off with a pretty bad cold, but didn’t think much of it while working. I did go through about 3 rolls of toilet paper throughout the week, but the only time it really bothered me was Tuesday when we had to clean a whole bunch (and I mean a WHOLE bunch) of bins at the end of the day. There we were, Chloe and I, both covered head to toe in rain gear, out in the cold rain, cleaning bin after bin with cold water. I was scrubbing like Cinderella and Chloe was trying to avoid backsplash from hosing down the bins. All the while, my nose is leaking and there’s not much I can do about it except let the rain wash it away. We couldn’t help but laugh and each took a nice hot shower at the end of the night.

We did spend a part of 2 more days washing the bins, but at least then it wasn’t raining. (We still have some bins left to wash, ugh). We actually spent most of the rainy week safe and warm in the greenhouse seeding what was left to be seeded. And that  included (but was not limited to) the cucumber, melon and squash family, which are now germinating and we are SO happy. It’s really cool! They have bigger seeds then most, and you have to put them in with a specific end facing up. The roots sprout from the bottom end and it pushes the seed up and out of the ground/earth. So at the moment the plants are all emerging from the soil, you can see the leaves but the seed is still sitting on top of the 2 leaves, holding them together, and the seeds will simply fall off once they are ready (as long as it is moist enough).

We all ate dinner together on Tuesday and Wednesday night. The first night we made homemade pizzas and topped them with fresh spinach and kale, yum yum! And the second night Daizy made burgers, with grass fed beef from the neighbours. She actually put sun dried tomatoes in the burgers! Awesome idea! Chloe made some kale pesto and I fried up some mushrooms. Needless to say, the burgers were delish.

By the end of the week my nose was clearing up. Lucky me I was able to enjoy the farm/fertilizer smell. But no sooner had I gotten over my cold, than the allergies started to kick in. I probably sneezed 20 times in a row on Saturday and spent the day rubbing my eyes. Oh the joy of spring. But Saturday was finally sunny and nothing could have ruined it. We finished off the week potting up tomatoes, basil and cilantro. The cilantro smells SO good!

Before I sign off, I thought I’d bring up a topic for discussion. Chloe and I had been talking about it earlier in the week. What is better: organic food from far away, or non organic local food? Its definitely not environmentally friendly to be transporting food from far away, but producing food organically can be better than conventional methods. And if consumers were to support organic (even from far away) it could influence our local growers to grow organic as well. I don’t think there is a clear answer, but it would be interesting to see what everyone thinks. so if you have any thoughts on the matter please feel free to comment below!