A note:
Just in case you're wondering, this is not the official website for Green Being Farm. This is just my blog from the summer I spent at the farm.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The hard way

This year I wanted to try growing some grain. I figured I'd start with what I eat most of: wheat and oats. April and May have been so rainy that I wasn't really able to get it in until today. Well, that's not true, I could have got it in sooner (and really should have, I think), but on those few sunny days when the ground was dry I doing garden work, or waiting to actually get the grain (eventually got Red Fife wheat seed from Sean McGivern at Saugeen Specialty Grains).

Well anyhow, here's what I did.

Here's the bit of the far acre I set aside for the wheat. From the wheelbarrow back to the tree line and over to the right (there's a little patch on the far right that I've reserved for garden beds. The spot set aside for wheat is roughly 50 x 200 feet, or a 1/4 acre.
And here's the wheat seed. As I say, it's Red Fife.

I broadcast the seed using a hand-crank broadcaster. I thought about broadcasting by hand for that old-timey feeling, but decided not to. Following the COG Organic Field Crop guidelines, I seeded at 180 lb/a, so 45 lb.

Here's the grain, all scattered.

Then, the hard bit. I raked the seed under. It was actually easier than I thought it was going to be, but dragging a dinky hard rake across a quarter of an acre takes some effort. I can feel the work in my shoulders and arms still, this evening.

All told, it took me about 1h 30m to plot out the area, broadcast, and rake in. Okay, so, if I actually get 300 lb (the half of an excellent yield), then that's pretty good. (Of course, all the hard work of harvesting and threshing and all that is yet to come).

I'll keep you posted.

The start of the garden

So over the past few weeks I've started up a bit of a garden patch in the near acre of the field. Here'r some photos of that and some of the planting.

Here I am, putting the M back in Man. This is our BCS walk behind tractor that I've been using to do much of the heavy work. In this case, making raised beds using the rotary plow.

And here are the raised beds it makes. I'm still getting the hang of how to use it. You might be able to see that the beds aren't really the same width.

Back on the 16th of May, Nora and I transplated the leeks, onions, and celeriac, and planted a bunch of onions from sets (pictured here).

Soon after, I planted parsnip (above), spinach, carrots, beets, peas, more onions, and probably more.

As you can see, I was planting in the middle of the night! no, but it was dusk, the flash lies.

Since then I've transplated chard, lettuce, a green onions, fennel, various herbs, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and cauliflower. Plus planted beans, more carrots and beets and spinach, and other things I'm sure.

Next up: plow the far acre and put in the potatoes, plus start some corn, more beans, summer squash, cucumbers, and such.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Next in line after the chicks was the pigs. We brought them over last Friday. 8 pigs, all of them Berkshire, with some having a bit of Yorkshire in the mix.

Bringing them here was a bit of a trick. We rented a cargo van, put a tarp and some straw down and then drove the little dudes over from Wingham, Ontario. 8 pigs in a van is pretty hilarious and heartbraking. Hilarious because the pigs are still pigs and doing regular piggy things like snuffling through the straw and rubbing up against each other. Heartbreaking because they're obviously scared and don't really enjoy the trip (one little guy got car sick on the way).

Once they arrived though, the pigs made a pretty quick transition and seem to be at home in the little barn out in front of the house.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hot Chicks (SFW)

Yesterday we got 100 day-old chicks. They're cute as all get out. Here is a video and a few photos. Guest appearance by Mike (the crazy kid that cycled up from Toronto).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A brief tour

Here are a few pictures of the property I took the other day.
This is looking south out from the home block to the 30 acre field. It wraps around to the left. Well, that's how the field looked a week ago.

Since then I've made a few beds and planted onions, leeks, carrots, parsnip, beets, and spinach.

The property has several little structures on it. This is a miniture barn. Complete with its own hay maw.
Behind the mini barn, is the covered hoop barn. (The 30 acre field stretches out behind it).
Here's the view of the hoop barn from the field. Where I'm standing to take the picture is the far corner of a square acre I've marked out to use as a trial garden. I plan to put the grain, potatoes, and a few beds of veggies back here.

Back on the home block, there is a small cabin in one of the flower gardens. Big enough to hold two small beds.
Across the way from the cabin is a trailer.
And moving back a bit farther you can see the cabin tucked in the woods, and a small pond. The cabin is out and to the left, and the you can just see the field stretching out on the left hand-side of the image.
Behind where I was standing to take the picture of the pond is the workshop shed, and on the south end you can see the sunroom. We replaced the tin roof of the sunroom with plastic to give it more light. At the moment we're keeping the seedlings in this room during the day.

Across from the workshop is the house (which I don't have a picture of at the moment) and this, the "loft" barn.

Behind the workshop there is a rather large lawn of grass. I've started to convert it over to a garden to see how veggies fare there. Tarrah has seeded greens for her sisters wedding. The white row cover is used to protect the seedlings from flea beetle.

An introduction.

I've been holding off starting this blog because I had an elaborate idea of how I wanted to introduce the farm but it seems that's not going to happen because at the end of the day I don't seem to have enough energy to pull it all together.

Regardless, I'd like to start of with a little introduction to this blog.

So, I'm spending the next couple of months here at Green Being Farm. Two of my friends, Nathan and Tarrah, bought this property last autumn and moved up here over the winter. The aerial photo above shows the property -- click the image to explore the area. It's about 50 acres in total, with about 30 acres of workable land: the balance is in various structures, gardens, lawn, and plenty of wetland.

Anyhow, Nathan and Tarrah are both working full-time from home this year. Their plan is by next year to have a small vegetable market-garden for a CSA, and raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, and eventually cattle. All of which, Tarrah, and maybe another person, will work on full-time. But, as I say, this season they are working full-time from home.

I'm spending the summer here getting their farm and some of the land ready for next year, and taking advantage of Tarrah's farming know-how to learn a bit more about growing vegetables and such. I'll be keeping a small vegetable garden -- growing enough to feed us all for the year, plus a bit extra for family and a few friends (and maaaybe also nearby farmer's market); growing potatoes for Rachel and Carolyn at BeetStreet CSA and Angie at Fertile Ground CSA; and experimenting with growing a quarter acre each of wheat and oats just for kicks. Also, Tarrah is raising a few chickens, turkeys, and pigs this year, which I'm certain I'll be helping out with.

Here's what I'd like to get out of this season. I'd like to get a more complete sense of what is involved with running and starting a farm and farm business. Last year, and in previous years volunteering on farms, I've learned heaps about the basic theory, skills and practice of organic market gardening but I've only every really done the grunt work. This season I'll be doing lots of that too, but I have more responsibility here. At the end of the season I'd like to be able to have learnt enough and feel confident enough that I could start my own operation -- and more importantly, to know whether this is something I'd actually want to do.

I'm also keen to help Tarrah and Nathan get the momentum going for their operation. There's plenty of experimenting to do (as we're doing by having various garden plots), infrastructure to build (recently, a sunroom for seedlings), and systems to sort out (e.g. how to use the walk-behind tractor to make beds).

Finally, this season is also a chance for me to step back from my studies. I've completed the first half of a masters in computer science at U of T, but I'm not sure how to continue exactly. Over this summer I'll give that some thought, which you can read about here.

As for this blog, I'd like this to be a place to record day-to-day happenings, pictures, and my reflections on the season.

That's all.

Oh yeah, if you'd like to know more about Nathan and Tarrah and the farm, the CBC did a documentary on new farmers a few weeks ago which featured them. Listen to it here.