Thursday, December 15, 2011

Count down to Christmas

Christmas concerts are on the go, wreaths, holly and the smell of pine are a plenty. There is definitely a festive vibe in the air and I believe it's OK to officially wish folks a Merry Christmas. We've flaunted our wares for the last time so we can at last wind down and get in the festive mood. While we tidy up the farm, Jamie can brave the cold chopping wood confident that mulled wine and mince pies await him in the warmth. (Yeah right!). We've even had a bit more of the white stuff to make it seem all the more atmospheric. Feels like a good time to put our feet up for a well earned rest!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Festive crafting

There's nothing like nearly a foot of snow to get us out of the field and into the barn. The snow blower packed up half way round the pond, fortunately the snow only lasted a few days so we weren't stranded but it was a wake up call that winter is on its way and snow storms are inevitable. Saturday saw the end of hunting season so the woods are safe once more (aside from the coyotes), sadly Jamie has been too busy with the farm to get us a deer for the freezer. However, he has proved himself a fine marksman and, a crafty fox caught in the act of stalking our chickens has been put to rest.
We're busy creating a great deal of mess with a barn full of dried flowers (which seems to have ended up in the house) and putting together festive arrangements for the Christmas markets. Amazing what you can achieve with wire, determination, a glue gun and a can of spray paint. It's a good excuse to fill the house with pine and for Jamie to tuck into egg nog with rum - though to do so he has to fight off the mighty Bertie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3 weeks in Europe

In an extravagant attempt to evade the planting of the garlic and many other fall-clean-up tasks, I jetted off to Europe for 3 weeks. My visit consisted mainly of taking groups wine tasting in the Ribeira del Duero and Rioja regions of Spain and the Chablis, Burgundy and Champagne regions of France.
Needless to say the trip was fabulous, the wine was, on the whole delicious, the winemakers were delightful and the food was fantastic (in particular the cheese). I also got the opportunity to visit friends and family in England which was wonderful. Now safely back in Nova Scotia I am exhausted but glad to be back with Jamie, dogs and a dwindling number of ducks and poultry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thankful for Fall

After frost and even a freak day of snow at the beginning of October, we somehow managed to scrape together enough lovely blooms for two weddings, parties in the city and a full complement of fall bouquets (including pumpkin arrangements and decorative gourds) for Thanks Giving weekend. Infact, perhaps due to the arrival of Charlie and his Englishman in New York style charm, that Thanks Giving Saturday was our best market day yet. Hurrah. Actually we are cheering because we had planned it to be our last. Don't get me wrong, we still have baby carrots, daikon, parsnip, squash, pumpkin and delicious garlic to sell but we have lost our momentum as far as Farmer's Markets are concerned, at least for now...... Christmas markets are looming fast!
It's actually been quite enjoyable simply being on the farm without the stress of harvesting. Jamie is at last able to look after the farm as a whole and has even been glimpsed out on the tractor with plough in tow.
We are busy tidying up loose ends, revelling in our successes and learning from our mistakes, discovering projects that were started and then forgotten about (mostly my doing - those poor worms!). It's sad to admit that two people can only achieve so much - even with the occasional helping hand - and many of our ideas never got off the ground, we are debating whether they should roll over to next season or whether in the scheme of things they are simply superfluous.
What will next season hold? - who knows? After we have wound down the farm and the cold weather descends, this is the big question that we can tackle over red wine around the stove with the dogs. If Eddie had his way it would involve squeeky toys and for Bertie we must develop an assault course with a series of hurdles and hoops to jump through because she is never-endingly bouncy. Jamie needs a housekeeper (because I am altogether too moany) and I need lots of fun. One thing is for certain, we all need days off at the beach!

 I'm off to Europe to drink wine leaving Jamie with a long list of "if you have time to fix...." jobs. My absence provides him with the perfect excuse to enjoy both the hunting and salmon fishing season. I do look forward to a packed freezer on my return and hope I am away long enough for all the gutting and dirty work to be completed. Oh yes, and I am triumphantly skiving out of planting the garlic, not sure I will ever be forgiven.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Still at it...just more slowly

We had thought that September would see us winding slowly down as the weather got cooler and days got shorter...What foolishness! For the last few weeks we've been enjoying the summer we never had, basking in the warmth and thankfully continually picking flowers and filling the cool room. So you get the picture, you know the routine by now...pick amazing flowers, put together stunning bunches, cart it all off to market in the mystery machine, return exhausted...start all over again.
But the end of summer has brought on a certain rebellion amongst the ranks (me, Jamie, Eddie, Bertie, ducklings and chicks). Having worked so steadily in the fields since they were first workable and with the end so nearly in our sights, our va-va-voom is waning. When we wake up to clouds we're even tempted to lie in, when we see the sun, we head to the beach, trying to grasp the summer that we never fully enjoyed.
The September winds have picked up so windsurfing for Jamie has been awesome and sailing for me has been the best yet. I even persuaded Jamie out on the boat and with him at the helm we made 9 knots. woohoo! Plus we have been out on the water playing in a friend's laser. We've even been to a few parties and are taking full enjoyment of our camper van. (at least we were until it broke on Saturday).
One of the ducklings keeps disappearing and then mysteriously reappearing, Eddie even found one that had been chased under the barn by a playful Bertie who we think was trying to round up her herd.
Despite the blight which ruined half of our tomatoes we are enjoying the pimientos de padron, new potatoes, carrots, tomatillos and it wouldn't be a proper harvest without a glut of summer squashes of all shapes and sizes.
So, it's not all farming and flowers thesedays...we're having lots of fun!
Since I wrote the first part of this we have survived a frost which has seen the end to many squashes, zinnias and all that lovely basil. However in the autumn sun it all still looks wonderful. Enjoy the pics.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Carrots in the laundry basket

There is a certain pressure that descends upon the producer at this time of year when nature's growing magic is in its prime. As if it wasn't enough simply slogging ones guts out since the spring to produce mountains of fresh lovely stuff, the real challenge seems to lie in harvesting in time, trucking it all off somewhere and convincing customers to buy it. It's immensely disheartening wittering away a good 24 hours of finest floral design (ie. bunching of flowers in the barn) only to have it return to the farm post-market withering and accompanied by an even worser-for-wear farmer. Don't get me wrong, our flowers are adored, we are simply blessed with so blooming many of them.

We are now brave enough to venture at 4am to the city of Halifax as well as our local village market. (Well Jamie is anyway).The cool room needs to be about 4 times the size and despite selling a good majority of our flowers, by Monday it seems to be full once again. The gladioli are simply stunning, though due to no fault of our own, instead of planting 500 white stems we have produced 500 hot reds! Not quite what we were planning for the wedding season. Sunflowers are beaming their sunny faces everywhere and the dahlias continue to flounce around the garden. Sweet peas are the hot favourite amongst a certain crowd. Statice continues to be one of my personal favourites, closely followed by Nigella and Asters and think Jamie's is safflower but we are both overwhelmed by the celosia. What am I talking about? Just trying to impress with my floral vocabulary, the fact of the matter is, I really don't leave the farm thesedays.

As if we haven't taken on enough by growing an uncountable number of flowers, we also have heritage tomatoes, beans, courgettes, salad greens, garlic and now carrots to add to the fun of it all. I even discovered artichoke cunningly defying the weeds in our strawberry patch. Running out of places to put all our harvest every available receptacle from the barn to the kitchen is used. I appreciate that I am getting off rather lightly with carrots in my laundry basket.
Fortunately the hurricane went the other way and by some stroke of luck the crazy high winds didn't have any adverse affect on even our tallest of stems.

After having a rather full house with guests from Germany, Quebec and BC, it's just Jamie and myself at the farm now since all the volunteers have moved on to gain experience elsewhere. It's a quiet relief to have the place to ourselves again, good job we have a quarrelling pair of dogs to keep us company and nip us every now and then lest we were actually taking a moment to relax.