Thursday, May 19, 2011

market update May 19

Starting this weekend we will be outdoors at City Market on 104th Street as well as our usual, albeit temporary, spot at Old Strathcona Farmers Market. This will be our first weekend with two major markets on the same day so I have a lot of milling and packaging to take care of today and tomorrow.
Gretta and I at Old Strathcona Farmers Market

The Old Strathcona Market continues to amaze me with activity and the excitement of the customers. I love this market! Lots of great people with great discussions. We are doing very well at this market and I am enjoying being there very much. The atmosphere of the market every Saturday is contagious.

This Saturday, City Market is outdoors on 104th Street for the first time this year. I have been told how busy this market is and I will get to experience it first hand in two days. I need to go get our new market tent today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

spring work

Very busy trying to get caught up with the spring tillage. Most of the fields were tilled last fall so they are pretty much ready to go for seeding after a quick shallow till with the disc or vibra-chisel and harrows. The home piece though was pasture until yesterday so I spent the entire day breaking the pasture trying to get it ready for seeding. The front part of the pasture was broke several days ago and I've been over it a few passes with the chisel plow and harrows. It takes a lot of work to get sod into seed bed. 

With spring tillage comes break downs. Nothing awful so far this year but the inside dual on the 2+2 developed a leak and I needed Kenny's Tire from Morinville to come out to the farm to help switch some tires around to get me going again. I don't have the $700 to spend on a new tire right now so I just went with a tire swap on the rims and now have single wheels on the front and duals on the back. As I write this though I know that the front tire on the 766 is flat...another few hours getting that fixed...

On a fun note, my son Garreth had his first solo run with the tractor and cultivator! He is 13 now and I was driving tractors and equipment on a limited basis by his age. He did really really well and after some training was doing everything just right. So I had him stop and let me out and he spent the next hour on his own with my close supervision. I trust him in emergency situations, he has a very level head and doesn't seem to ever get flustered. He'll be a great help around the farm in the few years to follow until he heads out to start his own life. I will enjoy our time farming together while it lasts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

sold the cows

This spring has been a very trying time for us. Having just built and relocated our home and farm...starting our flour business...being laid off from the off-farm job...jeesh what else can I pile on? One of the things that we have been half-heartedly kicking around is the idea of selling off all the cows (as opposed to expanding the herd). I adore my cows. The thought of selling them killed me inside and I wouldn't have anything to do with it. However...sitting on my tractor this spring for hours on end has given me the chance I needed to really think about it objectively. The return per acre of our little herd is about $70/acre when we sell the beef. The return on grain is approximately $250/acre. So, it came down to a simple question of how much am I willing to pay to have cows around the farm? The answer, once I thought about it seriously, was obvious and with one phone call to our neighbour our cows were sold. He had been admiring them all winter and it was an easy sell.

We will keep the two steers that we have already sold via the csa. But come November when they are processed that will be the last bovines on our farm for the time being.

I will miss them surely...but, grains are our focus around here and grains is what we are going to do. No more baling feed. No more winter days of fixing frozen stock waterers. No more stuck tractors in the snow and fretting about whether or not I secured enough hay for the winter. No more holidays cut short by the thoughts of poor relatives at home feeding and watering our animals. But, also, no more Missy and Miley, Henny and Hanna, Skipper and the little ones each spring. I guess I'll have to look at them from across the fence at the neighbours place. Every now and then I can walk over and give out some neck scratches.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

focaccia bread with our Soft White Wheat Flour!

Blogger and cook extraordinaire Get Cooking's Kathryn made a wonderful looking Focaccia Bread with our white wheat flour. This is not white flour, but a flour milled from Soft White Wheat. Extremely tasty, especially when milled fresh...this variety of whole wheat flour is definitely our most flavourful flour. It is not as high in protein as our Hard Red Spring Wheat flour so is probably not your best bet for traditional loaves of bread, but it makes wonderful cakes, cookies, muffins and obviously....Focaccia!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

crepes with strawberry maple sauce

I made some lovely crepes this morning with our Soft White Wheat flour. It was a little trickier to make crepes using an entire grain flour, but I got it working and they tasted amazing if I do say so myself.

Here's what I did:
Crepe Recipe:
1 cup soft white wheat flour (you can sift it if you prefer)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter or less if you prefer

Just mix all the ingredients. It should be a runny consistency, unlike pancake batter which is thick. Heat the frying pan to medium low and add some butter. When the griddle is hot apply the batter and then tilt the frying pan around to spread the batter thinly. Let the crepe cook until the edges appear cooked and then flip it and brown the other side. Easy!

Strawberry Maple Sauce
3 cups frozen organic strawberries
1/2 - 1 cup organic maple syrup
Sugar to taste (if you like)
1/2 cup water

Boil the strawberries, water and sugar until the berries are soft. Mash them with a fork and reduce the sauce until you get the thickness you prefer. Add the Maple Syrup. Done. Easy!

We filled the crepes with a spoon full of organic Strawberry Yogurt and rolled the crepes on the plates and then drizzled (ok, poured) the strawberry maple sauce over the top. You could also add some icing sugar for fancy decoration, but we couldn't wait to do that. We also cooked up some Side Pork from Irvings Farm Fresh...yummm!


Why do so many people look at me as though I am crazy or some sort of conspiracy theorist when I mention the fact that so many crops are now desiccated with herbicide immediately prior to harvest? I actually got in a bit of an argument with a person yesterday who didn't believe me? Albeit, I had another lady bring up the fact herself...whew...ok, I am not crazy. Glad to hear it.

For all those who do not believe me that is just too bad. It is a fact. It is not an urban legend. Instead of swathing wheat, most conventional farmers now spray their wheat crops several days prior to combining. In this way the wheat can dry down all at once and still stay standing to avoid any moisture damage that can occur in a swath.

In the states and drier, warmer climates, desiccation is not necessary. The growing season is long enough to simply allow the wheat to die off and dry naturally. Up here in Canada, that is not practical so you see tracks in the nearly mature wheat that indicate a sprayer has been in action.

You don't often actually see the farmer spraying. I can't help but think that this is on purpose. I have seen the spraying many times though and I know for a fact that it is now an extremely common practice. I challenge all of you to observe for yourself this fall. When I see it again next fall I will video it for you all to see for yourself. In the meantime, have a look at Kevin's video interview of our farm from last summer where he shows some of the tracks.

FROM LOCAL FARMS - Gold Forest Grains from Kevin Kossowan on Vimeo.