Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Heat

After the driest June on record in 70 years we are now enjoying (or in my case not enjoying) baking heat in July.  I'm not accustomed to temperatures and humidity that make it feel like the 90's. That's just way too hot for me. And apparently my body agrees as I've developed blisters and lesions the size of marbles on the underside of my arms and had heat stroke last week. I've been enjoying the past two cooler days and thanks to a trip to Dr Canete in New Minas I have ointment that I hope will heal and stop any more new blisters forming. They are quite painful as I'm sure you can imagine. 

It's all good growing wise though. We had some very helpful wwoofers here over the past month. Yuka from Okinawa, Lucas from France and Nadine and Eva from Germany. They were all really lovely people and got lots of weeding and planting done plus they were great fun to hang out with. Now that they're gone it's back to the grindstone for me. 

As far as the garden goes, the burgundy bush beans are flowering as are the melons and squashes and peas. In fact I'll send the girls out to pick today. Kate is a slow garden worker but a good picker and she likes it. We have enough beans planted to keep her busy with a succession of harvests for the next 2 months so she should be happy. The squash plants have just reached the point of starting to run all over the garden so that's great and we will have more cucumber picking and tomatoes this week. I should pick more zucchini as well to keep them small. The recent day of rain have them a great boost. 

We dug out the troublesome potatoes in one section and have replaced them with other veggies such as beans, peas and beets. I'm going to start leeks, Brussels sprouts and more cucumbers today and give some fish fertilizer to everything. It's a never ending cycle of weeding and harvesting and replanting once plants are finished. Busy busy! 

One project we tried this week was using a strong vinegar solution to kill the weeds. I'm particularly interested in thistle control. I'll let you know how it goes. 

The turkeys are growing like weeds! This weekend should see the completion of their movable pen and they'll be outside on grass which I know they'll love. I will too. Less cleaning. If you're interested in buying turkey for the holidays just let us know. 

August 6th is going to be our farmers market anniversary celebration with extra prizes and family fun. Stop on down and check it all out at the Wilmot community centre on Hwy 1 near Bayard Rd just east of Middleton. Every Saturday all summer from 10-1. Don't be fooled by the junk sale near Frenchys, 2 more minutes down the road and you'll be finding freshly baked goodies, soap, lunch if you like a good sausage or dare to try the monster market burger, handmade gifts and crafts, and of course tasty produce. It's also just fun to visit after you're done shopping. 

Well it's time to go feed all my critters and I have a section of about 8 feet of peas that are falling over I need to restring. It's a good time to water as well while it's cool. Hope you have enjoyed this vey brief update and sorry I've been incommunicado. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Secrets to a Successful Market Garden

I'm going to take the weekend to write this but would be interested in your input as well. I'm going to reference our own experience, John Seymour, JM Fortier, Curtis Stone, and some great research from Victorian England to 1960s Canada. If you have an idea please message me at humblebeecanada at g mail dot com. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Working away

Just more of an update than anything. We finally have a nice day for working outside so the bed forming continues and then we will lay drip hose. Stephen is plowing furrows in the ground then piling the dirt up to form raised beds and pathways. It's a labour of love! We have some crops in the ground already but everything just seems slow this year. The nighttime temperatures are finally above freezing and so we will be planting like mad for the next two weeks. Thanks for your support. Back to work! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Is it Spring yet?

While most of the country is enjoying Dpring several weeks early, the east coast is arguably colder and a few weeks behind. The day's certainly are warm enough being just a few degrees colder than normal, but the nighttime temperatures are well below freezing, even in the greenhouse. The sun is just coming up on this lovely May 1st and it's currently -5C/ 23 F inside the greenhouse. With the Suns rays it will quickly rise

to more comfortable levels but the low overnight temperatures mean seeds are delayed in sprouting, and some sprout only to freeze at night. It's very frustrating! Next week will see a return to above freezing temps but for now it's driving me crazy not to have more plants ready for people who are only seeing the warm days and want to plant. 

I shouldn't complain too much. Yesterday our friend Beckie and several other people were trampled by a crazed cow at the livestock auction. I think it sent a half dozen people to the hospital including at least 2 children before the police had to shoot it. And all because nobody at the auction thought to make sure all the gates were closed on the pens before unloading the cow. The cows owners took away her calf and unloaded her and she basically panicked and ran through the barn full of people viewing the other cattle for sale. I feel bad for the cow and for everyone who got in the way of her horns and hooves. A very scary situation that would have been much worse if one of the small children had been killed. It makes me very wary now of visiting Lawrencetown. 

I'm off for a firearms course today with my son Jordan. Should get going. It's 6 already. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Earthday and Permaculture

What is permaculture? Despite all the ways we can complicate explanations and make things seem either grandiose or like some unattainable dream, permaculture is simply short for Permanent Agriculture. It seems appropriate to celebrate Earthday by talking about ways that each of us can not only do less harm to our planet, but actually make it better and let it heal itself. 

Permaculture is as individual as those who practice it and as unique as each piece of land that's managed this way. As we learn more and as our small farm evolves the ways we steward our land change too. First the sheep came. They grazed down the old tussocky grass and added nutrients from their manure. Their hooves broke down the old dry grasses  and helped the old thatch get composted so that new grass could grow through. The chickens helped reduce the grub population and their scratching and pooping added to the biology of the soil, allowing air and nutrients in. The pigs dug over the pasture allowing for a garden to be planted the following year and the goats removed a lot of the brush. There is still more work to be done and more to be learned but the farm is now a haven for wildlife with so many more insects and invertebrates making their homes here. Our once barren soil is now teeming with earthworms and the fertility is increasing each year from the free range poultry. It's a work in progress for sure and we are trying to slowly but steadily make this a natural green oasis that will be productive ground for many years to come. But it's a slow and steady process to balance the rejuvenation of an old neglected hay field into a productive ecosystem that has room for humans, nature, and food production. 

People talk about permaculture as if it's some high ideal we should all study and then implement immediately. But to me it's just an integrated way of improving your land. And setting goals that balance the needs of your family and your land long term. Composting, recycling, home food production, mindful consumption (not wasting stuff), and integration of the natural world are just a few aspects of the ways we live and hope to teach others. Building community is another huge one. Shopping local, getting to know your neighbours and working on community projects are also great ways towards a more sustainable place to live. Permaculture in isolation isn't really permaculture at all. Working together to make things better, that's permaculture to me. So don't feel bad if you can't do it all at once. Start now and do something better. A thousand baby steps adds up and is more sustainable than a giant flash in the pan idea that never works out. Slow. Steady. Just like Mother Nature. That's the way to do things. We hope you have a wonderful week and that your seedlings grow strong and healthy. Love from Humblebee Farm. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Nursery Greenhouse

Good Monday Morning! You might be wondering how come I haven't written for a while. Well, it's been very busy what with building a couple of greenhouses and coaxing seeds to sprout in this still often sub zero climate. But Spring is becoming more and more entrenched and the cold weather crops are up and thriving. The nursery greenhouse at the Annavale Country Store in Middleton is almost done and will be open the first week in May. One of the neighbours had z little grass fire so some excitement on Sunday while we fastened the last of the plastic on the vents. Now we just leave it to settle, re-set the locks, and fill it with plants! 
I'm still moping around a bit. My best friend Deanna died on Thursday and I feel useless and a bit adrift. I miss not being able to just be there for her family. So all I can do is keep busy here at the farm. I'll get some photos posted later of our projects. In the meantime, hold tightly the ones you love.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Homemade Easter Egg Dyes

Today is Good Friday and here at the farm were enjoying a rather wet day. It is just sneaking up over the freezing mark and is supposed to stay warmer but a bit drizzly for the next day or so but we are going to make the best use of having Steve home for an extra day to get the greenhouse totally finished. Behind me in the lean-to greenhouse the chickens are cackling away like mad. It sounds like they've just laid us a few new eggs. Perfect, I have a craft to do with the girls this afternoon if it stays wet.
Without going into a complex chemical discussion of mordants and dyes, I thought I'd share a neat video for a craft you can do with your kids. It's in the link below. 
Onion skins have been used for years as a dye, I remember reading about Jewish prisoners in WW 2 who tried to brighten up the barracks they lived in by dyeing the curtains with onion skins. It's a very simple process of boiling the skins in water and soaking the fabric, or in this case an Easter egg, and allowing it to cool. It's time consuming but that's about it. The process is the same for other kitchen ingredients like red cabbage and turmeric as well. Is it suitable for kids? Yes, with some adult supervision for the boiling part. You will be sacrificing a pair of stockings/pantyhose, some eggs (white work best but use what you've got) and some flowers and leaves for decoration but it's a fun and interesting craft. I don't recommend using beets for the boiling method. Their intense colour will bleed past any decorations you use so they really don't work for this application but keep reading because I have a suggestion below. You can use a tsp of salt and vinegar in with your onion skins to help set the dye but it's not necessary. You're not looking to have these eggs last forever, they're still boiled eggs at the end of the day and won't last more than a few days as decorations. 
There are lots of other vegetable dyes you can research and experiment with once you've tried this. Using different mordants such as lye, salt petre, ammonia, vinegar etc can change colours quite dramatically and it's fun to wonder how our ancestors figured these things out. You might want to try melting a little wax and painting designs on your eggs with the wax too. Once the wax is cooled you could dip your egg into some puréed or boiled and cooled beet or other fruit juice and see your designs magically appear.
 Have fun with this craft and a very happy Easter from all of us at Humblebee Farm. 
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