Several months ago, I bottled up some alcohol with some fruit and started a couple of plum liqueurs. I was going to bottle it before Christmas but then as I was going to be away and unable to drink it, I thought I’d leave things to percolate for another month! So today, I strained and bottled my plum brandy and rum. It’s delicious!
Posts Tagged With: farm
So this past weekend, Manuel and I joined by Josée and Tim finished off the east fence, about 150 metres. I still have some grading and landscaping to finish off but that will happen over the next little bit. The fence ended up very straight (thanks to the survey!) and very tight. We used my come-along attached to Bob’s bucket as a stationary pulling point in order to get the fence taut. Overall, I think the finished project is pretty good, all things considered. I now have to finish the front fence (about 50 metres) and then eventually the back-side (another 200 metres). More to follow!!
No my title it isn’t a spelling mistake! We’re taught that animal husbandry is one of the principal causes of desertification. I was reading one of my farm books a week or so ago and there was a bit about using animals to maintain and improve pasture, orchards and gardens. Nothing complicated and something we’re going to do, probably commencing 2014. In doing this research, I stumbled across this great TED talk which speaks to the greater issue of desertification on a global scale. Take a few minutes to watch the clip; it’s very interesting and extremely applicable if you have a small holding. Enjoy!
With the side gate complete, it was time to move on to the main garden area. The idea with a new fence (besides being nicer to look at than a wire fence) was to keep deer out of the veggies and provide a safe, secure area for the pets to reside when we’re at work while maintaining a semblance of the view of the back of the property. The last thing I wanted to do is create a prison in the back yard. I think we’ve got a decent design but who knows – by the time I’m done we may be looking at the Federal SuperMax. Old fence down – on to Phase III: sod removal and grading, courtesy of Bob.
Well, I’ve finally finished Bob’s new abode and got around to updating the blog with the final pictures. Overall, it was a pretty good project and turned out as planned with a few minor
glitches design modifications. The only thing I really have left to do is find a way to store the augur and plow – perhaps a pulley system might be in order. I managed to make use of the vertical space in the trailer bay, creating a couple platforms on which to store lumber and fenceposts; at least they will be dry. Thanks again to the Magnifico Construction Co. for guidance and encouragement. Here are some photos of the final stage.
One of my (many) winter plans is to get my little vineyard up and running. Shortly after moving into Knight Rd, we discovered a massive grape vine, straddling the fence with our neighbour and even crawling up at least four or five metres into an apple tree. Last fall, we harvested over 50 lbs of grapes from this vine which produced very nice fruit and lots of it despite the fact that it had not been pruned or maintained. So after looking at this vine, I’ve decided to create a little vineyard. I don’t know how much fruit it will produce or when and I’m not sure exactly what type of vines I will plant but we have the space and the sun is free!
The first batch of grapes harvested produced about 30 bottles of an extremely clear white wine. It needs a couple months to mature but even the ‘test’ bottle was nice; a smooth, somewhat viscous liquid, quite palatable indeed! It had a hint of marmalade on the back of my tongue, followed by the scent of cut grass and wood smoke. Well, not really but I just find it funny how some of those wine people describe a nice wine in such strange terms.
Anyway, if we get these vines pruned and ready to roll I anticipate we will triple our harvest next fall. Wine anyone?
I’ve had a few emails from blog subscribers in the US and UK regarding our garden so here is a bit of an update. Let me say that we are still in our infancy as gardening goes – we learning more by error than anything! We were late planting this spring, chiefly due to the fact that I hadn’t built my greenhouse (Fall 2010 here I come) so had no seedlings plus we had an inordinately wet spell. We decided not to plant until early June so while are a few weeks behind last year, our garden is actually in better shape. We’ve learned from the jungle last year to space things a little more accurately and I got the soil prepped into rows using the tiller so that helped.
We re-started our raspberries so our crop this year will most likely be a bit thinner than in the past but I think going forward they will be great. This year, we added melons and eggplants to the mix. While I think the melons will be fine as we are in a high sun area, I have my doubts about the eggplants. I’m going to try them in the greenhouse as well as some peppers and pineapple.
Our rutabega (small, sweeter cousin to the turnip) is doing very well and seems to like the deep soil we have here. Actually, I guess the same holds true for parsnips, carrots and other root veggies. When I tilled the garden, I determined we had an average soil depth of twenty inches. I guess it has just build up over the years but it’s great for us! Anyway, back to the veggies. We have zucchini, butternut squash, okra and cabbage, leeks, carrots, radish, chard, beets, scallions and two types of onions, pumpkins, rhubarb, soya beans, snap peas, green and yellow beans and corn (lots o’ corn). We’ll test some of this out and then add or subtract as necessary next spring.
I think our next challenge is to figure out some storage methods as our garden is producing massive amounts of food!! More updates to follow along with pics!
Well, we did meet Mike Gillis, GM of the Canucks, on the Cancer Ride and he informed us that he would be re-signing Mason Raymond but actually this post is about our newest addition to the hobby-farm-in-the-works…our Mason Bees. We have their house, er..hive, set up behind the side building, just adjacent to our orchard. Mason bees are good little workers and as they don’t have honey to defend, they are very docile. Mason bees received their moniker due to the fact that they use mud to make compartments within closed spaces. They are not really social bees as they mostly live separately within a large group – if that makes sense. I guess it is sort of like many people in big cities – isolated within a mass of humanity! Masons don’t produce honey or wax but hopefully they’ll make our orchard rock!!
We added a few fruit trees this winter and they are doing well. We now have about 12-14 fruit trees in our orchard, composed of a couple Italian plums, a new peach plum, some pears, multiple apples and cherry. The flower set looks good so I think the mild weather and above average rainfall should help to produce a bumper crop!
Maybe three weeks ago, Josée asked me about adding another animal to our growing menagerie. We talked about another dog, perhaps additional farm cats – even more chickens (see John 15:13). Our long-term plan includes sheep and possibly beef cattle but more than likely that is a 2011 project. Anyway, I figured that one more pet wouldn’t really make a huge difference; we have lots of space, we enjoy our pets and they have a good life with us.
A week or two passed and the subject wasn’t raised. Early this week, I found a link in my inbox: “Pot-bellied pig looking for a good home”. Strange, I thought, why would she send a link on this topic. We planned to raise pigs for meat but to my knowledge I didn’t think pot-bellies were meat pigs. I was right.
Monty, a 5 month old pot-bellied pig, lived in Victoria and as his owners were being asked to leave the home they were renting and could not find another pig-friendly abode, they had to put him up for adoption. And the lucky winners are/were? You guessed it; we now have a pig wandering around our house.
Surprisingly, I’ve quite taken to Monty. He is very clean, house-trained, inquisitive and friendly. He’s quite a smart pig too – IQ rates above most dogs! Charlotte and Oliver, my brother’s kids, absolutely love him and I think he will become a nice friend for them over the years. He lives up to his namesake, Bernard Montgomery, hero of El Alamein and massively decorated British veteran: bold, unafraid of Great Danes and Mastiffs (both of whom outweight him by 100 pounds) and not afraid to exert his personality.
Stay tuned for more Monty updates….
“Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another”
~ John 15:13
Requiem for a Rooster
For the last year, we’ve had a rooster. We used to have three but two of them went in the soup pot (see my post Sunday, Bloody Sunday). Now we have none. Josée came home today, late afternoon while I was still at work. As she walked up the drive, she saw a white headed imposter up the driveway. Hurrying inside, she saw another in the long grass, just out the back edge of the gardens, head bobbing up and down. His gold eyes caught her look of shock as she realized what he was doing. Feet quickly into her rubber gumboots, she sprinted up the path but to no avail as golden eye launched into the air, a pulpy, crimson coloured mass clutched tightly in one of his cruelly taloned feet. Our rooster was no more; two eagles had made short work of him.
The other chickens were in the coop, terrified into statuesque poses, in the hopes that silence and stillness would cause the raptors to pass them by. Two hens were outside still but frozen, unable to move. Josée easily picked them up and took them into the coop with nary a fuss or cluck from either. We’ll see how the hens are in the morning. Hopefully they have short memories.
It’s funny how the death of a chicken makes me pause for reflection and I’m not trying to be silly here. I didn’t mind our rooster, although he didn’t like my galoshes and often attacked them. He did great work though; always chaperoning his charges around the yard, keeping a watchful eye on them. If anyone (or thing) got too close, he was quick to rally them to the safety of the coop. He’s dead and more than likely it was not a pleasant death. He gave up his life to protect his chickens and when I thought of his last moments, I will admit that I got a little choked up. Would I do the same for my family? My friends? My cause? I don’t know. This rooster was acting on instinct and reflex but he acted nonetheless.
How would you respond?