Sunday, August 24, 2008

Celebrating 100 years.......


My home farm, the place where I grew up, and just down the road from where Ben and I farm now has been in our family for over 100 years! To mark the occassion, my parents threw a huge celebration last evening! A large pig was roasted and it seemed as if the entire community came by! My parents also celebrated a class reunion along with my little brother's 30th birthday! Mike will be the next Snively to take the reigns of the farm and lead it into the next 100 years when dad retires. I don't see that coming too soon! LOLOLOL! Ben and I along with my sisters (Jenn & Amber)and brother-in-law Reid got Mike the ultimate 30th birthday gift. Totally Jenn's idea and he LOVED it! Helicopter flying lessons!! Whoo-Hoo! Here's Amber and one happy Mikey pictured. Though Ben and I were very tired from our 17 hour saturday market day, it was a beautiful evening and a great time and three wonderful occassions to celebrate!

Fresh from our fields for the next few weeks....




Heirlooms are perking up a bit, more ripening! Still, lots of rotten in the fields, pretty sad actually, and the rain just seems to keep on coming... Carrots are now in full swing. One good thing about wet soil, the carrots are pulling up with very little effort this year! We offer a wonderfully sweet orange variety along with a fun 'rainbow' type and also one called 'purple haze'. Brutally honest? The orange have the best flavour, esp. when it comes to sweetness. The others are just plain fun and a neat way to dress up meals! We don't charge extra for the 'rainbows', so grab a bunch of each and taste test yourself! Now comes the time to sample all sorts of heirlooms! Some nice ones so far are 'black sea man', 'chocolate stripes', '1884', 'big orange stripe', 'costoluto genovese', 'thai pink egg' just to name a few! You simple grab a paper bag at our tables and 'mix and match', help yourself, so you can try them all! Our leeks have proven to be a big hit this year! A nice large bunch of 3 for $3! During yet another Thunderstorm this afternoon I sauteed some chopped leeks with our sweet onions and some shiitake mushrooms with some olive oil and butter, then added some chicken stock, chicken pieces and put all to play together in my slow cooker for a few hours. I'll throw in some pasta and voila, a nice hearty supper to get the week rolling....

It's time to make an easy Heirloom Tomato Brushetta! This is an excellent topping for rye toast, crackers or just spoon it in your mouth!! lololol! I would suggest colours for this! Use a 'pink zapotec', a 'flamme', 'black sea man' and 'green pineapple' varieties to create a very colourful brushetta! Dice up about 3 or 4 heirlooms of your choice. Add 3 to 4 generous tablespoons of olive oil. At least 2 large cloves of minced garlic (we add way more!) 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper corns, 1/2 cup chopped sweet spanish onion, and 1/2 cup good shredded cheese! We like Angelo's feta as well as his ricotta or hard cheeses! It's all good! Simply mix and let flavours fuze for a few hours...You can top your bread and broil to melt cheese and heat tomatoes, BUT I like this cold!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hard work pays off.......


This picture of Ben cultivating our cabbage was taken yesterday (Friday) afternoon. It didn't rain yesterday, but did Thursday and we got another dump just tonight. Coming home from market downtown T.O. today we travelled with the thunderstorm. Coming through Burlington, black skys and downpour. Just on the east side of Brantford we passed a firefighters battling a hay bail blaze in the rain! We figure the pile must have got struck by lightening!

Anyhow, this is suppost to be a positive blog. Yes, our cabbage is nice this year! This is our field 103 according to my Pro-Cert records and has been carefully managed all these months. Lots of hand weeding, hoeing. Plus the fact that the bugs are not bothering the cabbage much this year! I can't find any worms, not even in the broccoli!! Potato Beetles are horrible, but those looper worms/moths are not around! Funny how it all works. What a learning experience!!

We begin our corn harvest this week! Finally, ORGANIC SWEET CORN!! For the record, a lot of conventional corn seed is chemically treated so that it can be planted into cold spring soil. We use natural, untreated seed that needs to be planted in warm spring soil, hence the reason we are only starting harvest now. It all depends completely on the weather for us. Despite the challenges with disease and weather, it is clear to see on our market tables that we are still going strong! Once again, this is because we have a diverse planting and never count on one particular crop! Enjoy the picture. Ben is really proud of this one!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Negetive: July 2008, the year it rained.....




I took these pictures this morning. This is what happens when you get too much rain. The cucumbers and melons (mostly muskmelon, not too bad with water though!) are suffering BAD with powdery mildew. (No cucumbers from us this year in quantity.) This killing spore spreads like wildfire under these rainy conditions. Also you can expect 'blight' on your tomato plants! Esp. if you have not staked them. Even if you bring the plants up off the ground, they would dry out faster, but there is still no guarantee the blight wouldn't move in. The picture is one very wet patch in our roma field. Also, after the slight hail we got along with the pounding rain and winds, alot of plants suffered damage and are weakened, and THAT is when the bugs move in. It's a BAD year for Potato Beattle. These little bastards rape your plants of all foliage. You can see a clear example on one of our late tomato plants! Bright side, no irrigation this year. Corn is happy. Late storage cabbage is doing well.

Well, brother Mike showed up on his quad, time to have a visit this Sunday morn and talk more farming.....

The Positives........






These pics were taken this morning, after the depressing 'crop damage' ones! Have to think positive! While my stepdaughter sleeps in, (she's been up early every day this past week working hard on the farm - I'm spoiling her today...) I let all the pigs loose, clean the pens, cook up potatoes for the swine & enjoy the sunny day, while I check out my crops. The forecast looks decent. Ben dug potatoes very early this morn for market tomorrow, my amigos are out there picking up the spuds and putting them in hampers to be washed and graded, then they'll cut some zucchini. They finished picking up our dug garlic yesterday while we sold in Toronto. (I will blog about Domingo and Miguel soon. These guys are wonderful...) The ducks love hanging around in my back yard under the big shade tree. The beans, (Green Beans fresh for markets this first week of August!) carrots, heirloom tomatoes & leeks are all holding their own quite well during the rain storms. We are even cutting a new broccoli patch. (not that nice, broccoli suffers in the heat...) The only problem is tomato ripeness. When they do ripen, they crack, split and go bad FAST. So I've been educating my customers to accept slightly unripe tomatoes this year and let them finish ripening on their countertop, because I cannot spoil everyone with gorgeous ripe, hard tomatoes this year. Remember folks, it was hot and dry last year......I think Ben's going to try and plant some late broccoli today, more basil too.....

Beautiful Organic Spelt.........





These pictures were taken the evening of Tuesday, July 29th. Ben was just about to arrive home from Riverdale market with my stepdaughter and her friend, while I went out and took these shots. Here our neighbour is combining our glorious spelt. A BEAUTIFUL crop this year! Because we had worried about hail damage, this crop was specially insured as well. I don't know how, but we managed to combine the spelt, get the straw bailed and put away, along with cutting, bailing and putting away our second cut hay field!! Whew! Once again, if it was not for our wonderful neighbours, the Schibli family, none of this larger scale organic farming would be possible..... In fact Karl Schibli was just over this morning calling me the 'pig farmer' laughing as all my pigs ran loose all over. He thinks we are doing a good job with them, happy pigs. He comes by to visit some Sundays and buys some fresh eggs too. Like I've said many, many times, alot of how Ben and I operate this organic farm would not be possible without this kind family. We are very lucky to share a fence line with these folks!