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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chickens in the Night

Jeremy, me, and chickens; barreling down the #1 Highway.

The stars peek curiously at us in the early darkness, the moon grins on the horizon.

Who would have thought that I, an urbanite not 3 weeks ago, would be a part of a midnight chicken run."They're Hy-Line Brown" the man had said as I watched, captivated as the chicken catchers in their full body jump suits and loose plastic foot coverings put aside their cigarettes long enough to chase down 300 chickens. Now there's a job I didn't know existed.

The barn sits ready, the new hay and wood shavings still settling in the air from our earlier "interior decorating". It's a pretty swanky place for a chicken, several times the size of my tiny home on the farm (I could take this the wrong way, but instead, comfort myself in the fact that they will each have 299 flatmates).

Soft clucking and an atmosphere of confusion permeate the air as we unload 30 crates into the barn, the chicken's heads poking out the sides like hopeful inmates.I open the first crate and shine my headlamp onto our newest residents. The chickens maintain their positions, side by each in the crate. I had hoped that they would all just, you know, get out when I opened the lid.

The next half hour consists of flying feathers (and chicken poo), squawking, scratching, and attempts to roost on my fingers, arms, and whatever is within claws reach. My visions of a Snow White-like relationship with the animals on the farm slowly melt away.

Finally, the crates lay empty and a quiet sense of relief passes over me (and the chickens) (and Jeremy (although he appears the least ruffled of all of us)).

Not the most bizarre Friday night of my life, but certainly up there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest posts coming soon

As readers of this blog may have noticed, it isn't being updated weekly quite yet. Some of this is due to time availability, but it's also due to a lack of deadlines -- once the CSA starts it'll be updated weekly without fail.

In the meantime, there will be some guest posts. Given that Glen Valley Organic Farm is made up of many shareholders in the Co-operative that owns the land as well as a dynamic farm team that operates the farm businesses, there are many voices and perspectives within the farm.

Coming in the next few days will be a post from Cat, one of our summer apprentices. Cat will provide regular updates on her experience over the coming months. I have also invited some farm shareholders and customers to write about their connection to the farm and their visions for small-scale, sustainable agriculture. These posts will be shared in the months ahead.

Thanks for checking in. Things are busy on the farm these days and I'll look forward to updating the blog with all of the activities soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things are growing everywhere

Not only are the fields filling up, but our tractor has started a garden of its own. None of the owners manuals discuss growing on your tractor, but our has accumulated enough soil that some hardy weeds now call it home.

Luckily more than just our tractor is growing.

It's now light out at 5 a.m. and the sun is up over the mountains by 6 a.m. when we start milking the goats. What a difference from a month ago when we were doing chores in the dark.

Indeed, we're now on the brighter side of season. May 1 marked the half-way point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. The days are getting longer quickly and the plants are responding accordingly.

All of the onions, shallots and greens are established and growing quickly now. The rhubarb is being harvested, but has actually had a slow start to the season. March and April have been cool, so things slowed down after the early February start.

As of the beginning of May we also have all three of our 2010 apprentices working full time. They might contribute the occasional blog post about their experiences over the next few months -- time and weather permitting.

All of our CSA subscribers are now signed up and we're awaiting sufficient produce to start sending out their weekly boxes. Farmers Markets are getting under way this month -- three have already begun and almost all of them will be underway by the end of the month.

Our first deliveries of salad greens and rhubarb are now going into Aphrodite's Organic Cafe and Pie Shop in Vancouver.

Weeding is, remarkably, under control thus far and seeding is on track. Jeremy is installing the irrigation pump today and there is province-wide talk of drought this year. The low snowpack and dry winter means both surface water and groundwater sources will be stressed this summer. The long range forecast is for warmer and drier weather than normal.

Our "things-to-do" lists are growing steadily. This is an exciting time of the season when we all still have a lot of energy and work is still manageable. It seems hard to believe that there will be a time when we won't feel on top of things!

So, the season is getting busier by the moment and we'll anxiously await the coming weeks.