March 07, 2014

Storm Clean-up

By Stowel Lake Farm

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

December 02, 2013

A bit of Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

Every Thursday we gather and work. Here are a few pictures of a late November Thursday. Christmas lights, recipe printing, children sweeping and still the most beautiful beets and carrots coming out of the garden. Enjoy. IMG_0121 IMG_0120 IMG_0126 IMG_0104 IMG_0114IMG_0105_2

September 06, 2013

Potato Time

By Stowel Lake Farm

Yesterday was our community potato harvest. We all participate in the planting, growing, weeding and harvesting of this crop. This harvest day is momentous and exciting as we pull all these edible treasures from the earth. We grow Yukon Gold variety as our storage potato and they store beautifully until April! Each family/individual takes home as many as they think they can go through in the winter (this ranges from 50lbs- 300lbs!) There is something very comforting about having abundant beautiful food put away for the winter.
We harvested about 1500lbs this year! The back of our truck was very full.

We use the chisels to loosen the potatoes and then dig with our hands. This way there is no damage from the digging forks.
Definitely a group effort!
Young barefoot farmers
A bed of potatoes.

February 21, 2013

Thursday Gratitude

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:


February 07, 2013

Fire Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
the opportunity to work away in Portland and to be able to return to this beautiful place
*being one step closer to being a permanent resident of Salt Spring Island!
*talking with my son on the phone who I haven’t spoken to since the middle of December and for the incredible journey that he has been on
*having young children and enjoying the sweet moments that come with that – bed swapping in the night, quiet play in the early morning hours
*berries in my freezer
*the sun today

We celebrated Imbolc today (a little late due to illness) by lighting our burn pile, celebrating the fire, the return of the light, the time of honouring seeds and creative inspiration. We also had a huge list of jobs to accomplish today and managed to get through a good bit of it!

Matt, Noah and Liz cleaned out the (dreaded) shack, Matt and Noah tackling the heavy lifting and sorting through garbage while Liz came in for the sweep up.

Devin was back at work on the bush truck installing a very impressive looking drive shaft.

Haidee and Nicola dug up some Persicaria and potted it up for the plant sale. Look at the sunlight coming in the glasshouse – so, so good.

Some very serious dog walking went on for most of the morning.

Roman cleaned out the baby chick house in anticipation of spring chicks!

And finally we lunched down at the burn pile with hot dogs and all sorts of other yummy treats.

February 01, 2013

Clean-up Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
the big white rooster
*nature and the variations of landscapes on this planet
*the green beans that I put in my freezer last summer (I will put even more away this coming season!)
*being able to go to San Francisco and attend a memorial service like I have never attended before – public, intimate and beautiful all at the same time
*my ability to be with pain and discomfort in my body and these candles lit this morning
*being here today and connecting with you all

Quite a few members of our community are away right now so our Thursdays are feeling small, peaceful and quiet. We are really in the season, this season of cleaning and clearing out and preparing for the coming spring. We were going to celebrate Imbolc this Thursday but Haidee was at home sick so we will wait until next week to burn our fire and celebrate the return of the sun. So we cleaned and cleaned.

Marsha and Noah put down fresh hay for the cows and chickens.

Lizzie cleaned he patio in front of the Barn (and the barbecue which was !!!!!).

Roman pressure washed the inside and outside of the moveable chicken house.

Nicola and Alinka cleaned and sorted through our “Swallow House” where we house pots and other gardening supplies. Devin (of course) worked away on our farm truck, which will be operating on the farm this year! (knock on wood.)

January 24, 2013

Brigid’s Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
my recent travel opportunity and being able to see different parts of the world
*my time away visiting another community and how that increases my appreciation and love of this community
President Obama and his mention of the gay and lesbian community in his last speech
*friendship near and far
*having a clear night and stumbling upon the moon and Jupiter!

We’ve been anticipating the approach of St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog’s Day, the celebrations that happen at this time of year. We have been particularly interested in the melding of the traditions. The overlay of the Christian on to what was there before. Before the Christian tradition of St. Brigid, Brigid, the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft was celebrated. She has other associations as well such as the keeper of the sacred flame, guardian of home and hearth and she is connected to inspiration and creativity. So this Thursday we collected reeds and made Brigid’s crosses together in preparation for next week.

We also worked. We are fortunate to be enjoying a very mild winter and are able to dig perennials and pot them up for our spring Plant Sale. Here we are potting up the Bergenia. We also did some Inula, Alchemilla and Phlomis.

Harvested some more beautiful carrots.

We also welcomed Alinka, Leifen and Devin back this week and enjoyed a delicious Ceasar  Salad with homemade, gluten-free croutons. Yum!

January 17, 2013

This (Thursday)day

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
seeing the sun today and for the extra light we are getting everyday
*being able to work in the workshop, set-up my projects and have access to all these great tools that make the job so much easier
for my woodshed and having wood for the winter (let the power go out, we’ll be just fine!)
*all the children on the farm and the delight they bring to my life
*being able to come back here after work, living here, surrounded by good people

It was a glorious day, this past Thursday – heavy frost in the morning but sunny and clear all day long. We tackled a few different jobs; a few small ones like pulling the canoe onto higher ground and getting some old wood on the burn pile, and some bigger ones like dividing up perennials and…

…picking up cow and llama manure for some extra compost material. Llamas are incredible creatures who repeatedly defecate in the same spots over and over, making it very convenient to pick up! We were all so happy to be out there doing this work thinking how good all this will be for the garden.

Nicola hard at work.

Frosty grasses

Loading it into the tractor.

Sitting enjoying the sun!

January 04, 2013

Frozen Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
for the simple things in life that bring so much deep happiness
*for my freezer full of food
for the beautiful clear crisp days we have been having
*for all my friends- the ones that are here and the ones that have passed
*for the week after Christmas. It was peaceful, quiet and unscheduled
*for all those that looked after the retreat and made it run smoothly and beautifully

The whole farm was white with a thick layer of frost. These mornings are such a treat and invigorating. Our overwintering carrots were all snug under mulch. We planted them in early July and they were full grown by the fall. When winter weather was near and the risk of a big frost was looming we cut all the tops off and mulched the carrots for the winter.  The ground acts as a perfect cold storage all winter long. Even when we have very cold weather the dirt under the thick layer of mulch is loose and easy to dig in. The carrots were perfect and so delicious.

We harvested enough carrots for each of us to take a generous bag home. The damaged and ugly ones were roasted for our lunch.

The fixing of the greenhouse is almost there! The guys got a huge jump on it yesterday. The logs came from the forest and with a lots of hands went in fairly easily.
There us no way our greenhouse will be collapsing now!

We have been having a lot of mold issues with our garlic over the last number of years. So we have drastically reduced the amount planted (by about 90%). Last year we planted some in the greenhouse to see if it was better. It was- barely any mold. So this year we are doing the same. It is definitely a bit late to be planting, but it is still just OK to plant at this time of year. Now there should be just enough for us to use.  Pretty sad actually not to have the barn full of drying garlic in the summer- we’ll see how it does in the greenhouse this year.

We took some time to walk the property and all learn or get a refresher on some of the big farm systems. Here we are learning about the back up generator. With all the retreats and the community we need to have the ability to get water and some power in the event of an outage.

Fun playing with the ice at the lake.

what happens when you throw ice into the lake?

December 19, 2012

Darkest Day of the Year Thursday

By Stowel Lake Farm

{Thursday is Community Day on our Farm}
I am grateful for:
for my unfinished house because it is such a pleasure to work away on it.
*for Lisa’s idea to move the chickens- they were getting wet and needed a new dry area
for living in a 2 parent household- I am looking forward to The Daddy of the household returning
*for being a morning person as my kids wake up early and are ready to go!
*for having my boat in Burgoyne Bay and protected from the South Easterlies we have been getting lately
*for my husband having a secure job and us all being safe

Besides looking for Secret Santa presents, we spent most of this Thursday going through our retreat prep list and checking it twice. We are getting ready for our annual New Year’s Vipassana Meditation Retreat. Over 40 people will be arriving next week to bring in 2013 with silence and awareness. Most of the farmies are not silent, but we do appreciate the peace the emanates over the land.

We had delicious homemade bread for lunch.

And the children ran under Devin’s sails that are hung up to dry.