Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New additions to the flock 2015

Another unexpected bonus to working at The Kitchen Garden was the part timer!
She is a skater boarder/bird breeder living in Erinsville.
You can find her on Instgram under the name The Real Farmacy.

It sounded like her homestead had a lot in common with ours...
so we thought we'd head out for a visit!

It was a short drive for my son and I one sunday morning
back in July I believe.

She breeds turkeys.
Big ones.

She has a flock of laying hens.

And a whole lotta chicks!

My son was very taken with the baby turkeys (Poults if you want to get technical).

They were pretty sweet.

Aw who am I kidding?
They were freakin adorable!!!

Luckily we only came home with 3 hens.
Two Ameraucanas.
One Jersey Giant.


Not sure what I was thinking...
but I'll be sure to post a picture of her when she is all grown up!

I'm super excited to see how these new babies make out with our flock.
I'm also stoked to see how the giant turns out!

That brings us up to 12 hens.
Still perfectly acceptable.
No crazy chicken ladies here.



Two weeks after I wrote this post...a raccoon grabbed two of the new chicks.
Killed them both.
And the orange necked ameraucana in the bottom of the picture above survived.
She's a scrappy lil thing but she was pretty traumatized by the whole event.
I was devastated by the loss of the two chicks.
It was our first attack on our hens.
For better or worse, we shot the raccoon the next night in a 
wave of anger and a feeling of protecting our flock.

Not sure how I feel about it now.
I'm still an animal lover...
and its not like we go sport hunting raccoons all of the time.
We've lived here happily for 4 years without having to kill off the local wildlife.
I would like to think the next time we'll use a live trap.
Then I saw a big turkey vulture flying very close to our yard...
and thought...
why would I deprive such a majestic bird a well deserved meal?

All I know is those sweet lil chicks aint growing up.
And I was pretty pissed about that fact.

Another Update:

We took in 3 of my sister-in-law's hens.
One died mysteriously shortly after we took them in.
The other one didn't integrate very well.
She developed a head wound that would not heal.
We separated her from the flock on numerous occasions.
Each time we tried to re-introduce her...they would attack her all over again.
We made the choice to end her suffering.
Strangely enough the whole flock calmed down once she was gone.
One of our original flock died of old age.
Then our Silver Laced Wyandotte had a prolapsed vent.

Our flock is now 6...but spring of 2016 will bring way more hen madness!
Stay tuned for the new arrivals... 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


So its fall!
At least that's what my calendar is telling me.
I suppose if I were to sit and think on it...
It feels like fall too.

The air is cooler.
(Not so stifling and heavy)
The geese are honking their goodbyes.
The nights are beautiful!
(no bugs)

Not to mention, my calendar says its fall today...officially.
When its fall we pick apples.
Certainly not the first time.
Definitely not the last time.
We have picked apples at local farms too!
What makes this year a little different is that our favorite trees are heavy with fruit.
My sister in law has several GREAT apple trees.
The past few years have been hard on them.
Serious winters, porcupine damage, deer thieves...
These trees hardly stand a chance!
And yet this year they are spectacular!
(and luckily for us, they are right around the corner)

We drove up one evening to grab the apples before the deer at them all.

Owen was pretty annoyed that there was only one picking tool to be had...
So I made him the official apple picking photographer.
At 8 years old...he's not to bad!

Apple picking action!

I remembered the cloth in the picking tool this time...

No I didn't bring rum to pick apples...although...

We also scored a cabbage too!
(Located in the nearby veggie garden))

And in case you are wondering...
Here is a handy post that describes what we do with all of those apples.

And if you are interested...

I have posts on Apple and Havarti Quiche

As well as Parsnip Apple and Brie here.

Both are well worth trying!!!
I promise! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Talking Garlic at Burt's Greenhouses

Well another weekend...and another event about GARLIC!

This time I traveled to Wilton, ON to Burt's Greenhouses
to see Mr Brian Burt talk all about how they grow garlic.
Brian and Ruth have been growing garlic for sale for 5 years now.

Held in the greenhouse itself, it was a super informative talk.
It was interesting to learn from the growers perspective.
Why they grow what they grow and how.

Brian is a very animated speaker...
so it wasn't until I went to get out of my chair that I realized how long I'd been sitting.
He kept the small group hanging on his every word.

Brian spoke about some of the issues in growing garlic...
such as bulb and root nematodes.
They use french marigolds (as shown behind Brian in the above picture)
to help the garlic fight off the bad nematodes.
He also spoke about leek moths and 
how they spray the garlic in May with beneficial nematodes in the evening to combat this issue.
He grows Cutlass oriental mustard to fight off the pathological nematodes.

He overwinters the garlic in his greenhouses in order to 
maintain a consistent level of moisture and temperature.

He also top dresses the garlic rounds with chipped deciduous wood due to the high tannin content.

Brian mentioned that they specifically grow garlic rounds rather 
than bulbs to help keep the stock safe from pests that prefer a more developed bulb.

All in all it was a great talk that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in growing their own garlic.
It stores well (when properly harvested) and can be enjoyed in almost any dish!

I hope that Brian felt the event was a success and will repeat the event next September.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Verona Garlic Festival 2015

Saturday was the annual Verona Garlic Festival.

It has become quite an event for this community!

Thanks to BearRoot Gardens for this beautiful braid!!!

I just love stocking up on garlic.
Although we tried to grow garlic for the first time this year...
It wasn't a huge success.
Thank goodness for events like this!
Its a place where you can stock up,
Meet the grower and 
Learn something new!


There were many many vendors.
They came from all over Ontario!
The vendors were mainly garlic producers...
but they offered so much more!

All kinds of garlic...garlic pesto, garlic dips, marinades, sauces.
But not just garlic!
There was a honey vendor, a hot sauce guy from St Lucia, 
a booth offering wine samples...

The Tai Chi Society was out too.

Small farms trying to get the word out.

Garlic is great!
And shopping locally feels good.
(it tastes even better)

If its within reach, you should definitely make a plan to attend next year's event!

PS.  There were so many vendors offering free samples...
my mouth was certainly burning by the time I left!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What you plant and why it matters...

So this year I broke down and bought a bag of pea seeds.
I normally just plant what we saved from last year.
This year the packaging seduced me.
The Heritage Seeds Co.
Brown paper bag shouting
I couldn't help myself.

I note that normally I don't care what kind of stuff I plant.
But thanks to my new job growing organic vegetables at The Kitchen Garden...
I know it matters what you grow.

I'll show you the proof.
Above you'll see the pea on the left...is one grown from seed we saved.
The one on right is the Lincoln Homesteader.
I will forever use capitals and call them by their right name...
they are an amazing specimen of shelling pea.

The one on the left (ours) produced poorly and with only about 3-4 peas per pod.
The one on the right (Righteous Lincoln Homesteader) kept pumping out the peas for 5 weeks and produced a whopping 12-14 peas per pod!!!
NOTE:  They then produced a very healthy second blush of perfectly sweet peas in the middle of AUGUST!?!!

That means...
We have 2 large freezer bags stuffed full of peas for the winter.
That's the most peas we've ever been able to store!!!
Thank you Heritage Seed Co.
Thank you Lincoln Homesteader.

PS.  We planted another beds of peas two weeks ago...I'll give you 3 guesses what kind...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hot Weather and Chicken Keeping

Like most places recently, we experienced a heat wave.
When you have livestock...of any size...you need to be aware.
It's no joke.
A girl I know lost her tom turkey to heat stress.
Even if you provide enough shade...it's not enough.
This past week was 29 degrees C...in the shade.

I saw this post on Pinterest...about putting stuff in ice cubes for your hens.
It cools them off.
It's a boredom buster.
It has healthy treats inside.

What's not to love?

They were definitely curious.

They loved it!

PS.  We left peas out on the counter.
They dried up a bit overnight...not the most desirable for eating.
So I threw them in an ice cube tray along with some old frozen corn from last year.
Why not?

How do you beat the heat with your livestock?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Strawberries...quickest season ever...

Well that was fast!

hot dry May + hot wet June = Crappy Strawberry season 2015

We are fortunate that my husband gets the first two weeks of July off.
If we didn't have that opportunity...we wouldn't have gotten any strawberries this year.

Husband and son went to Fruition Berry Farm on hwy 15, north of Kingston.

They came home with a bunch of baskets.
(They even came home with new baskets!
Our old plastic white ones have lasted almost 10 years!)

They even came home with 5 pints of pre-picked raspberries.

The same equation up above applies to raspberries with one exception.

hot dry May + hot wet June = no picking after noon in July

The boys just missed it.

Thank goodness for pre-picked berries!!!
(and the staff that go in the hot field to pick them!)

We froze 4 large freezer bags of whole, cleaned strawberries
and one large freezer bag of whole, cleaned raspberries.
Perfect for smoothies!

We also jarred 8 jars of strawberry jam,
4 jars of raspberry jam and
1 jar of rasp-strawberry jam!
Perfect for the classic...PB & J.
Which is one of Owen's favorite breakfasts...
Since he can't eat them at school.

I heard mixed reviews about picking from other folks at other patches in our area.
Some had it good....others, not so much.

Did you get to go berry picking?
Where and how was it?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Garden Update 2015 Edition part 2

Bellstar sauce tomatoes!

Green Globe Artichokes....not choking yet


Red onions

White onions

Brussels sprouts...from above...

And below...


Summer squash

Ground cherries...paper lanterns...

Cheyenne bush pumpkins!

Third bed of peas...we may have a problem...

Black Kris tomatoes

Rainbow Carrots


Turnips...great fall storage crop...



How does your garden grow?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Garden Update 2015 Edition...part 1

I present to you....our garden!
It's taken a while to get things going.
Between working at the farm and the rainy June,
It was really tough to give the garden the time it needed.

Our garlic (given to us by a friend) had a horrible time...but we suspect the chickens got to them.
That was before we added the chicken wire fence to the whole garden.

White fingerling potatoes are loving it!
They are from Uncle Robert's garden last year.
Can't wait to see what comes out of it!

Summer squash bed....green zucchini, yellow zucchini and white paddy pans.

Soooo many tomatoes.....
Black Kris (grown from our seeds from last year's crop)
Anna Russian (oxheart - from the Grandmothers for Africa plant sale)
Bellstars (round sauce tomato - given to me by my boss at the farm)
Romas (grown from our seeds from last year's crop)

Green Globe Artichokes!  8 survived...(from the Homesteading Canada seed exchange)

White and Red (not shown) onions (bulbs purchased from the Foodland grocery store)

Two plantings of romaine lettuce (seeds from the hardware store)
Spinach started further down the bed...not doing very well...

Winter squash bed...
Pumpkin and random squash seeds from a friend...can't wait to see what the are!!!
Butternut squash (grown from our seeds from last year's crop)
Buttercup squash (grown from our seeds from last year's crop)

Green beans (grown from our seeds from last years crop)
Not shown...pencil pod yellow wax beans from my coworker
purple beans from the hardware store.

That's just one side of the garden!
Stay tuned for part two in the garden update series...
coming soon...after we have weeded some more beds...


I also have some big news!
I was made a member of the Tamworth/Erinsville 
Grassroots Growers Steering committee!
Although I am not a resident of Stone Mills Township,
I was still so happy to be a part of such an enthusiastic 
group of community-minded people.
They also put on GREAT events with excellent guest speakers.

The Kitchen Garden has kept me busy and happy.
Monday to Friday I work my butt off and learn so much.
It's really quite staggering!!!
From pest control to cultivars...
From hand working a field to harvesting the bounty.
Everyday is a blessing.