We have had a particularly warm February which has beckoned us to work outside a lot. With more time outside it is easier to connect in with the waking land – watch buds swell, crocuses bloom, plan and dream. It is still quiet here on the farm so there is a lot of space for conversations and connection. We are well aware of the season unfolding before us and will attempt to take some of this February wisdom with us into the busyness ahead.
We have embarked on a new permaculture project with the guidance from Brendon Bauer and Michael Nickels. It is a giant project inspired by the need to be more self-sustainable and to truly be a model farm. We will be planting the first round of trees in this March. The picture above is of us working on the newly dug swales.
Mondays have changed for a few of us lately. We now take a gourd walk around the farm – this walk is sponsored and inspired by Guayaki. We get out of the office and walk and talk about the goings-on out on the farm – imagine that! It has quickly become a favourite and essential part of every week. Here are a few sights from this week:
And then of course here are some of the children in the Yurt Program.
The farm is buzzing with activity right now. Sometimes it feels like we are all going to buzz right off the farm! We talk a lot about how much we love our lives and also how to balance our home/business/community life. Lately we have caught ourselves saying that we are busy all the time. “Busy’ is our answer to everything. It is mostly good busy, but busy nonetheless. Not wanting to say ‘Busy’ all the time we have been joking about saying we are celebrating all the time. So ask us how we are and we are celebrating!
here are a few pictures of our lives right now in June.
it is always a pleasure to find a hand written note like this in our office after a weekend retreat.
Outdoor artist. he actually spent a lot of time flicking the paint- no problem when outside.
stringing tomatoes- they are growing beautifully and fast now Are braiding garlic is ready and so pretty!
The weather this February was wildly varied – below freezing temperatures one week and then the next it was like spring. A couple of weeks ago we had a storm that took us right back into winter. It snowed and snowed for two days straight and then the wind started. Trees and branches came down overnight and throughout the day as we could hear the cracks and crashes all around. We lost power, as did most on Salt Spring, but only for 24 hours or so and felt lucky to still be warm and cozy beside the wood stove. Walking through the woods after a snow like this is awesome, the chaotic destruction everywhere – nature is clearly not concerned with clean-up. Unfortunately the snow and wind also caused major damage to many of our much loved trees and shrubs on the farm. We’ve had to say goodbye to the big cherry tree (above) which was right in front of the barn and was just a glorious tree, full of pink blossoms in the spring. Much of the destruction wasn’t obvious right away and only became evident as the snow started to melt. This past week the snow had finally melted enough to allow for some clean up to start. We have all be taking advantage of the branches everywhere, bringing them into our homes to welcome in spring (hopefully!).
A pile of branches collected
Away in the trailer
Creating beauty out of destruction
I know this is not an appropriate title because really, it never ends. We’re still eating carrots we planted last summer as we plant leeks we will eat next fall and winter. But we are on to the tasks of starting the season: ordering seeds, creating the new farm book, deciding all the what and where for the year, choosing our new apprentices. Today, it felt like spring; sunny and warm, wet everywhere from last night’s rain. We are on our way, moving toward spring. The days are getting noticeably longer, daffodils are poking through the ground and there are seeds planted, not quite in the ground yet but happily in our little greenhouse. All of it so, so good.
Trays of leeks and onions planted.
The scene in the greenhouse.
It’s dark these days. The clocks have gone back and the clouds have been thick and heavy. The gardens are quiet. We had some frost the other week that pretty much put an end to our salad mix for the season. And rain. Lots of rain. In between we’ve been gathering pears off the ground so that they can ripen, bringing in the last of the tomatoes, taking out the plants finally, picking peppers and apples. It feels like a beautiful little burst of abundance at the end of it all.
Tomatoes in all their subtle colours.
Some of the last picking of the year.
Sorting peppers for sale.
This is the time of year for drying, freezing and canning, for getting the vegetables that are coming out of the garden away for the winter. There are plans to pickle beets and beans, roast peppers and freeze pesto. These days we have all been busy processing tomatoes. Our beautiful paste varieties, Viva Italia, Roma and Maria’s, are so abundant right now, the fruits are just dripping off the vines. We take turns harvesting week to week so that everyone gets their share to put away. At the end of it all, it is so satisfying to have a shelf full of jars of your very own tomato sauce for the winter months ahead.
The very full pot on the stove.
We are now officially in the abundance of the summer garden bounty! It is this time of year that I try to take the time to walk the gardens for pure eating pleasure- it’s like a living dining experience. I move from the fresh snap peas to various kinds of lettuce to spinach to carrots and then finish off with a strawberry feast. Inevitably I will harvest other things along the way that need to be cooked like beets and new potatoes. If I forget a basket I end up trying to juggle it all- today I found a straw hat left in the field from yesterday- it worked perfectly for my new potatoes. Here are a few pictures from todays walk- enjoy.
These are the first of our peas! We had some pea disasters in early spring so these have been a little long in coming.
Lettuce perfect for salad mix picking.
Our tomato plants happily in the ground.
Salt Spring Early – a soft-neck variety of garlic that we have been growing for years that came from our favourite seed saver Dan Jason. This variety (as its name suggests) is ready to be pulled about a month earlier than other varieties. So great when you’re waiting for fresh garlic!
Poppies in the greenhouse.
The first heads of broccoli are staring to form.
After an epic effort to erect our new net, we are now going to enjoy an abundant strawberry season!
We put out a bird feeder mid-winter (it was a Christmas present to explain the bad timing) and it took forever for the birds to catch on. Given, there weren’t many around but still I was getting a little impatient. But, oh, has it paid off! So many birds have been visiting.
Sparrows, finches, towhees, nuthatches, juncos, crossbills, siskins and even the odd flyby from a hummingbird wondering why there isn’t anything for him (don’t worry – it’s coming). They have been devouring the food, scattering it all over and under the deck but it has been so amazing to watch this show out the window throughout the day. We love it so.
We have been having fun preparing for Easter this year. Every year we get together and share wonderful food, an egg hunt, a treasure hunt and rejoice in the spring energy surrounding us. It is a creative time for us on the farm.
Here are the boys blowing eggs. They were surprisingly good at it and so we have many beautiful blown eggs this year.
The eggs were dyed using all natural dyes made from vegetables and spices. Because they were hollow I had to figure out a way to keep them submerged and the french press was the best tool! With the bigger french presses you can fit up to 4 eggs. Before I discovered this method I was balancing bowls and other weights in precarious positions- not so good. You can see I wrapped the eggs in pantyhose to hold on the leaves on to make designs and it works well.
Here are some of the outcomes. The blue ones are red cabbage, the brown is onion skins, the dark one a combination of the two and the greenish one is naturally that colour!
Here are some daffodil girls that will join us! Cute and easy to make.