Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Waiting for the sun

I've neglected doing a posting for a while amidst various other tasks and taking some down time before the start of the season. Here's a summary of what's happening on the farm these days as we get into the spring season.

Most of the potatoes went into the ground a couple of weeks ago. There's one bed's worth of spuds still waiting . . . the weather changed faster than they could be dealt with. Kale and Collards also went in.

In fact, I was away for the planting. A good friend was getting married in Ottawa (he must have wanted farmer friends present, because March is a great time to attend weddings in terms of workload and schedule adjustments, not to mention airfares and hotel costs). That means Jeremy was hard at work doing much of the work solo. Word is that we was in the field one evening, working on the tractor in the dark with spotlights on trying to beat the rain.

Since then we've been waiting on the weather to dry up and warm up again. The early start we had in February has evaporated and we're back to a slow start similar to the past couple of springs.

Nonetheless, the warm February has brought about an early crop of flowers. The daffodils are almost finished and tulips are in full bloom. We purchased hundreds of bulbs this past fall when they were on discount (end of season) from a bulb company. As a result, we have a whole new array of spring colour on the farm. This adds to the multitude of daffodils already present, planted by farm shareholders in past years. The results are visible in the photo at the top of this post.

Our 2010 CSA is now full with a small waiting list. We'll consider whether or not we can accommodate the waiting list later today.

We had the chickens slaughtered on Thursday, which means we have a freezer full of stewing hens and a break from the daily chores related to feeding, collecting eggs, packing and such. I'll have another blog post finished soon about slaughter day (I'm sure you can hardly wait). Thanks to BC's meat regulations we can't sell these birds because they were slaughtered on-farm.

The other major event has, of course, been the arrival of the new baby goats. Six kids (four male, 2 female) were born to four does in mid- to late-March. It's a manageable number. It'll give us the ability to increase of milking herd in the next year or two with the two females and provide us with a good supply of farm meat next winter from the boys.

New goats bring about a whole set of tasks ranging from monitoring feeding from the mothers to removing horns and castrating. As of this weekend we're also milking three of the adult goats -- a daily event at 6 a.m.

Milking got off to a shaky start. We put the kids in a separate pen overnight. The first night is noisy across the farm. Babies cry much of the night and does make their displeasure known. By morning the maternal instincts lead some of the goats to fight us for the milk.

Last night, however, the kids seemed settled into the new routine (they pile together under the manger) while the mothers realize that they get a full 10 to 12 hours without babies -- not bad for a break. They aren't as uncomfortable with us milking in the morning either. The kids still feed all day, so everyone is happy.

I recalled the other day that at their last farm the goats listened to the CBC during milking. Having constant voices seems to sooth them, but I wonder if they will produce differently based on the host. I imagine they would prefer Radio 2 over Radio 1, especially at 6 a.m. We'll have to give this a try!

The one last activity of the season is to do taxes. Agricultural taxes are a bit more involved than I did in my past, but I still refuse to pay someone to do my taxes. I'm really trying to get this done in the next few days of heavy rain. Once the weather turns it'll be too busy outside to worry about catching up on paperwork.

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