Category Archives: Farm

Our crops and other farm experiences

Sometimes the moment is breathtaking

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Stunning Sunset

Wow.  Speechless.  Just take a moment to breathe in the beauty.

We had a visitor today.  A very dear friend who had been absent from our lives for too many years.  Lovely how these sorts of friends you just pick up where you left off.  The connection is real and established and just needs reacquainting. She came out to see us – but also our country weekend home.  On this particular evening the golden hour came with a vengeance and delivered these breathtaking skies.

We wandered out to a neighbour’s field and took photos of the golden and pink light on the landscape.  The air was remarkably still this evening – unusual for here.  No wind. There was an absolute quiet still that added to the magic of the evening.

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Golden hour in the field

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Pink light on the trees

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So pretty it is worth sharing another photo!

So lovely to be with my dear friend – so stunning to have such a beautiful summer night. Sometimes the moment is just breathtaking and you have to let it soak into your memory to draw on when you need to be reminded that life is wonderful.

 

 

 

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The Greenhouse Experiment Report

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Nearing the end of a successful first season

This year we set up a greenhouse at our cabin as we were not having the best luck out in the garden.  It was either too dry or too wet – and our season is short – so we wanted to try the idea of a somewhat controlled atmosphere with some increased warmth.

Except my basil plant which I bought at a local hardware store as a small seedling, everything in the greenhouse was grown from seeds.  I started them back at home in front of a sunny south-facing window.  When it was time to plant them – I planted a lot.  I still had a few extra tomato plants and pepper plants so I popped them into the garden.  I gave them the same luscious compost rich soil but I will admit I didn’t give them much more attention than that.  On weekends I would water them but they were not the benefactors of our irrigation system in the greenhouse.  In essence they became my control subjects.  What is the difference if a plant is grown in the warmth of a greenhouse with a twice daily drip irrigation system?

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The control subject (tomato) in the garden by the porch is relatively healthy and has some tomatoes forming

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Control subjects (peppers) growing above sceptic tank with onions -show minimal signs of growth

In comparison to the control subjects, the plants that were placed in the greenhouse have for the most part flourished.  Some tomato plants are over 8 feet tall and they are heavy with ripening tomatoes.  The pepper plants have all done fairly well with all of the plants generating peppers and more still to come.

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In the greenhouse the tomatoes are like a jungle

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The pepper plants are healthy and producing a delicious variety of peppers

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The harvesting begins

Overall the greenhouse experiment has been exceptional and exciting.  A verifiable success.  A controlled environment of good soil, some fertilizer, regular drip irrigation, protection from wind,  and most importantly the lovely warmth (approximately 38c most days).

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The Golden Era of Hay

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Golden hour in the hayfield

The golden hour just before the sun sets is a magical time in the country.  The sky to the east is a subdued version of the sunset to the west.  The light is a warm glow.  When the hay is growing the sun catches the tips of the hay, and if there is a slight breeze to cause them to sway like waves – it is a sight to see.  I also save a little piece of my heart for round hay bales.  I love how they sit out in the fields silently waiting to be collected and taken to feed livestock.  There is also something almost architectural about hay bales.  I don’t really want to know exactly how they are made as I prefer to just see them as little mysterious hay rolls.  During the golden hour they are organic monuments to farming in the golden age.

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The Illusive Owl

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An rare daytime owl sighting

We have been hearing screeching at night and I did a little internet research as to who might be making this sound.  In our area it is likely the Great Horned Owl.

One very early morning  in early summer, my husband popped outside the cabin and suddenly realized that there were three large owls.  Two on the roof of our cabin and one on the garage roof.  As he realized they were there they all flew away.  Each in a different direction and each with a huge wingspan.

Since that day we have had a few owl spottings – mostly down by the pond.  Just as you realize what you are seeing it has swooped eloquently overhead and through the trees out of sight.  The illusive owl is a wonderful prize.  It is interesting to note that we have very few, if any,  hawks around this summer.  They too are well aware of the appearance of the owls this year.

I captured this photo today down by the pond.  I patiently waited until the owl became irritated enough by my presence to fly out from his tree overhead.

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A Month in the Greenhouse

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Everyone continues to grow

The plants have all been in the greenhouse for one month now.  Many seeds were started three months ago and it is hard to believe how far these plants have come in that period of time.  Most of the tomato plants have been moved down to the floor now to give them room to grow up toward the top of the greenhouse.  I have pruned the plants to keep them focused on growing the main stem.  Most have the telltale yellow flowers and a few have small tomatoes starting.

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Might have peppers, eggplants and melons after all

My plants that were all so small I wasn’t sure they would make it have started to show real progress.  For the first time I think it is possible that I might actually harvest some peppers, melons and eggplants.  All were so small that they would have been dwarfed by large pots so I chose to grow them in the smaller peat pots.  It is exciting now to see the melons reaching up the twine and starting to form yellow flowers.

The real early producers have been my cucumber plants.  Outside of the greenhouse these failed in my garden the past two years of attempts so this is particularly exciting for me.  In the greenhouse these plants are easily reaching up the twine to start to grow along the wires.

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Socrates cucumbers are the early stars of the greenhouse

My little cucumbers are developing and will soon find themselves on my plate! One month in the greenhouse and I am still excited with our success.

 

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All that is good in the world

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Late Afternoon in the country

Late afternoon when driving back to the cabin after a long emotional day of cleaning out my late father’s house –  we came upon three young male deer in this field.  This one in the photo was the last one to try to get over to the security of the long grass.  They were all so beautiful to watch. They bounced effortlessly across the grass.  The clear blue sky with the light fluffy white clouds above the vibrant green countryside was breathtaking. Everything that is good about life was there in that moment in stark contrast to the earlier part of the day spent sorting out the humble possessions that stay behind after a life is over.

Everything that is good in the world was in the endless blue sky, the pastoral fields, the vibrancy of the young bucks, the classic structure of the fencing, the whisper of the breeze in the grass, the patterns of the crops in the distance and the quiet in the moment.

My brother and I paused for a time by the side of the country road.  I took this photo but we didn’t speak.  We didn’t need to speak.  The wonder was unspoken.  All that is good in the world was present in us in that moment.

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Jute String Theory

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The String Experiment

After adding yet another five tomato plants to the greenhouse – we moved them around and reset up the irrigation system to handle the additional plants.  The indeterminate tomatoes in large pots were moved to the ground so they have the most space to grow vertically.  Vertical is the theme of the greenhouse.  After watching a number of YouTube videos of other greenhouse enthusiasts I decided to give the string theory a try.  We placed three wires across the greenhouse.  Two along the sides and one in the centre.  Then for all the plants that need support and will grow up a string (cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes) we attached jute strings that either connect with the wires or wrap directly above on the rafters.

 

The cucumbers seem quite happy to have the support of the string and the space to stretch out.  The melons aren’t all large enough to even reach the string but in time hopefully they too will grasp the jute and head upward.

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Happy Yellow Flowers

The tomatoes will apparently need coaxing to use the string.  I almost feel like I can watch the tomatoes grow in the greenhouse.  They have been very happy with the heat and the drip irrigation system.  The top of the soil looks dry but the water has been flowing out the bottom of the pots when watered.  The plants all look so healthy and happy so I am presuming that the roots are having to find the water deep in the pots which is making them that much healthier.  They seem to all be standing a little bit taller with the string supports.

Happy healthy plants make for a happy healthy gardener.  Another little experiment I am trying is to place milk jugs full of water in the greenhouse on the north side.  The theory is that they heat up during the day and release that heat at night which will help keep the ambient temperature a bit warmer on our cool Alberta evenings.  Though I read that I should paint them black – I went with motivational statements instead which make me happy regardless of whether or not they are doing their job.

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Gardening is a series of learning moments.  This jute string theory is yet another opportunity for me to grow.

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The greenhouse awaits

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Crab apple blossoms signify that Spring is officially here

Last fall we had a fully built greenhouse delivered to our property but then the snow came and so it sat and patiently waited all winter.  Spring is here and we cut out the lawn, and pulled the greenhouse into some trenches that we dug.  Now all nestled into its new home we had to install the floor, shelves and next the drip irrigation system.

The floor is dirt covered with garden fabric and then patio stones and pea gravel.  It has the quaint country greenhouse feel that I wanted.  I feel like I have travelled across the pond to a small town in the United Kingdom when I go into my little greenhouse oasis.

Inside we have installed some initial shelves that still need to be secured in to hold all the weight from the garden pots that will sit upon them.  We will also add some lower storage shelves and hooks to provide for winding twine or hanging small pots.  There is room for pots to sit on the floor or for us to even add a potting bench at a later date.

We still need to add the drip irrigation system…and of course all the plants!  I hope to grow primarily tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs.  I will try some eggplants and melons as well.  I would love to try a cold box inside the greenhouse in the fall and see if I can grow some winter kale and other greens throughout our freezing cold winter.  The possibilities are endless!

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The door is open – awaiting the opportunity to host some plants!

As we continue to work away at setting up the greenhouse my seedlings await in small pots by a warm south window in my house – waiting to be transplanted into large growing pots and to make the journey to this warm and welcoming greenhouse.  The greenhouse awaits their visit.

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Travel back in time

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Imagine the cow, horse and chickens

On the way home from a difficult trip to visit my 89 year old father in the hospital, my son and I stopped on the side of the highway to appreciate these old buildings.  The wind was blowing and my hair swept across my face.  I imagined a couple living in this little house with their young children.  Mom would have stood where I stood – wind blowing her hair across her face.  She would have been out to collect the eggs from the chickens and to the milk the cow.  Had a coyote taken another chicken?

She couldn’t look for the chicken right now as the cow needed to be milked.  Two times a day she milked the cow.  It made it hard for her to ever go into town with her husband. The children weren’t old enough yet.

In the barn she maternally strokes the cow and then sits on her small stool and methodically collects the milk into a metal bucket.   Innately she appreciated the gift that the cow provided her and her family, but the drudgery of the milking and the cleaning of the straw was wearing her down.

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Home

The house is charming and small.  Today it is instagram worthy and quaint but it must have been “home” back in its day.  The fire would have warmed the house on those very cold bitter winter nights.  Smoke billowing up the small brick chimney.  Beds, a table and chairs and shelves covered with jars full of canned preserves to help get the family through the winter would have filled the space.

My son and I shared a few moments enjoying the history of this site.  We have driven by so many times but it is a different experience to get up close and personal with it.  We quietly took it all in.  I cleared the hair from my face and we headed back up to our car.  It was nice to travel back in time but I am happy to return home to my present time.

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My Green Bucket

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What is your green bucket?

I have this green bucket.  Every time I look at my green bucket I feel happy.  I like the colour.  I like that it has a handle.  I like that you can put things in it.  I like that it is a working bucket.  If it gets dirty I feel satisfied.  When I use the green bucket I feel like I am a farmer.  I bought it at the local UFA farm store where the local farmers buy supplies like cattle tags, chicken wire, grain seed…

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Local UFA Store

I use my green bucket to carry: dirt, my produce, water, fish, leaves, weeds, and my hopes and dreams.  It is a fundamental gardening tool.  It helps me get close to nature.

My green bucket brings me joy.  It is a small little joyful green object that makes me happy.  What is your green bucket?

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