Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Wish It Would Rain Down...Somewhere Else

I don`t mean to be unappreciative of rain, so many are going without and we have gone without here even recently.  As a matter of fact, after a wet spring and then a heat wave we were needing a bit of shower activity.  But not the couple of more inches we got yesterday and today.  It is haying time in this area and we could really use a week and a half or two weeks of steady warm with maybe some breezes.

Well, one can hope, right?

As always, it could be worse.  We could have the flooding and landslides that British Columbia, Russia and parts of Asia have been having, or the record drought that I don`t have to tell folks in the US about.

Other than we farming types, all this rain is just what Alberta has been needing.  The water table is replenishing and our marsh lake has never been higher or seemed healthier (although I still know there`s a lot of garbage out there).  The pasture and undergrowth around the forested parts of our summer pasture half section have never been more lush.  We could be pasturing 200 cattle there, easily, for a couple of months anyway.  The less than 15 head there now should fare quite well!

By the way, anyone reading this who might be interested in Grande Prairie grass fed beef, we have 4 steers fattening there now.  They should be available late this fall and into winter.  I`m hoping to get them sold directly so we can keep this excellent beef out of the mainstream feedlot system.

Now that the shameless self advertisement is done, for the moment, I have been meaning to share some garden pictures for awhile.  I took some back in early June but these are from just two days ago.  Luckily I got them taken as its a muddy mess now.

Angie, this is the tomato patch.  In the background are some chickens that think they`re going to get some greens thrown to them.  Turns out they did when I discovered some kind of maggot eating one small patch of turnip roots.

One section of two kinds of beans (the far 3 rows are Pinto, the rest some kind of yellow wax bean that I don`t remember just now).  There are a LOT of beans this year.  I planted about 5 varieties in order to try some changes from our typical green and yellow beans.

A view of the southwest patch.  Some great beets and onions here, but also the turnips that were being eaten.  With all this new rain...I might lose a bunch of this to rot.  Think Ill start processing the beets tomorrow.

Onions in that same area.  They got flattened by a storm a few days ago.  Real strong winds had the tomato patch laying over the same way.  I love how they can go all crazy when going to seed, like the one in the center right of the picture.

North end of the garden.  Some weeds at the bottom, then some lettuces, potatoes, beans, chard, corn, and a thick patch of various pumpkins, squash and cucumbers.  

You can see some of the beans better here, and a small row of kohlrabi.

 More beans and some wimpy corn.  Won`t be much of a corn year again, methinks.  There is another struggling patch that is starting to get its tops, but most isn`t much taller than a foot or two.

These Tonda Padana pumpkins seem incredibly  prolific.  Almost like zucchini.  Some fruit is rotting but I bet there are 15 that are already a decent size like this, and many smaller ones.  I sure hope they taste good.  Gotta find some feeder piglets in case they don`t!

Closer view of the squash and pumpkin patch.  One can no longer tell easily where one variety stops and one begins.  Don`t think I will be saving any seed this year.

This is the plantain that was pointed out to me.  It is the only thing that flourishes in a low, wet spot so I`m going to harvest seed from it this year and if it looks like I can use a lot or sell some, then I`ll plant a bunch in that spot next year.  I now know it grows well in the wild here (when wet anyway) but it looks like I can grow some pretty impressive plants right in our garden, and fill a difficult area at the same time.

So that`s all for now I guess.  I hear it raining again outside...

Peace and comfort.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Goings On

Goodness this new blogger layout takes some getting used to!

Happy Birthday, Canada!  And to our American brothers and sisters, early Happy Independence Day wishes.

It's been a fairly busy month and a half since my last post.  I've been trying to find buyers for the small amount of beef and pork we have for sale.  You'd think this would be a very easy task in a fairly rich city like this but that is not always so.  I have been advertising primarily via Kijiji.ca and have had many responses asking for pricing, but I do not hear back from many people.  This is especially interesting as our prices are currently very low, lower even than most grocery stores.  I worry what raising our prices to actually profitable levels would do.

But at the same time, we have made some new customers and there ARE people who will pay good, conscientious farmers a fair price for well grown food.  Are there enough to support even one such farm?  I hope so.

One of our new customers are newcomers to the area, working here to try to raise some money towards building their own homestead one day.  Honorable intentions to say the least!  I have been really enjoying getting to know this young family a bit, and the female half of the couple is also an herbalist type who pointed out that we have a good amount of plantain growing in our lawn, garden and various other places around the farm.  It looks like plantain  really likes heavy, water logged soil.  Turns out that last two very rainy springs have left a spot in the garden where few things like to grow, other than weeds.  I have been wondering whether there is anything productive that I could plant there and now it looks like I could possibly be able to grow quite a nice plantain crop in this area.  For any readers who might not know, plantain is a very important  herb, known to some American Indians as "life medicine".  So how about that?  Kind of powerful to learn that life medicine grows wild in abundance on our little lake edge.

We have a new bull on the farm as of today as well.  The first Hereford bull on the farm in quite some time.  We have had Red Angus bulls the last several years and thought it was time to bring some Hereford blood back into the herd.  They aren't the neatest looking breed of cattle-beast but they tend to be very quiet, good milkers and have more recognizable markings which is nice in a hands-on herd like ours.  I am also interested to see how the coloring of calves from him with the Blonde sisters will turn out.  They may be pale yellow with a white face.  Kind of rare coloring if it manifests.  Now to most folk it is only the meat that matters, but we handle these cattle pretty much every day of the year so such differences are interesting to us.

I have also started a new blog that I wish to share with everyone, and that I hope everyone will share with the world.  Forever Ferguson Lake is about the lake our farm sits beside, the lake I have mentioned many times here, the lake that has been so much a part of who I am.  The lake to which I may not have such immediate and constant access for many more years.  The lake I know is such an important, but unknown, aspect of the local watershed and ecology.  The lake I want to see remain the amazing ecosystem that has regrown over the last two very wet years, despite the large amounts of garbage which have blown in from the also lakeside County Landfill site.  I`m hoping this blog will draw local and outside attention, putting some positive pressure on County and Provincial government to protect what I can`t help but feel as MY lake...but also OUR lake.  I will be trying to post to this new blog at least once a week.

Now this new blog does not mean the end of Soapboxtech.  I may not post much more often than I have been lately, but I will keep posting here.  I know there will be rants every so often, even though I`ve had difficulty writing them down over the last few months.  Just too many things to rant at sometimes I guess.  But is it likely to get better anytime soon?  I doubt I need to answer that.

But oh well.

Peace and comfort, brothers and sisters.  Be good to each other.