Friday 2013-09-06 18:03:40
OMG, has it really been nine months since I last updated this blog? Time flies when you're having fun and working hard.
August 2013 is definately my highest months for sales since I started this business. The eggs and chicken are steady and reliable for income, and the cut flowers (glads, sunflowers, zinnias) have been as good as I could have hoped for. Yet again, I didn't have enough sunflowers to meet the demand in late August, despite having planted twice as many as last year. The zinnias in volume were new this year and a big hit; will definately plant these again next year.
Work is underway on a new hen house; the rules allow me to have 100 hens per property, and since the farm is two pieces of property, I can have 200 hens. Yeah! This allows me to leverage the grading station and increase my year round farm income.
I am taking a few weeks off from teaching pottery classes so that I have some down time and some time to do some of my own pottery and replenish my inventory....also hoping to go out to lunch a few times ove the next weeks and to make a trip to the Pottery Supply House to see what's new in tools and glazes.
The truck is loaded with all the non-perishables for tomorrow's market, and now I think that I'll watch TV or read for a bit.
Wednesday 2013-01-23 08:21:52
She be cold out there! -30 - the first truely cold day of this winter. I'm dreading going outside to put the wood in the furnace...my hands most certainly will be white by the time I come in. I am thinking today will be a good day to do outdoor jobs a little bit at a time. I'm worried about the eggs in the grading station - they may well be frozen!
I think that I've hit the early winter wall - I don't feel much like doing anything except ordering stuff and spending money. The house is devolving into a mess and not much is getting done. Oh well, this too shall pass. I now have 200 lbs of beeswax to turn into candles but it is too cold in the garage to make them. Yesterday, I went to see Bob the Builder, and he is going to make me a cookie cutter that cuts six dog biscuits at a time and then ejects them. That should make it far easier and faster to make dog biscuits than cutting them one at a time. The new shelves came yesterday, and I'm looking forward to bringing some order to the garage. It will be nice not to have to move 5 boxes everything I want to open the freezer!
I have some orders that need my attention - some poetry stones, wine glasses to make, a butter dish to make, and a bunch of pots to glaze. Today mght just be the day....or not!
Monday January 14, 2013 14:52:11
Well, Happy New Year and all the best for 2013!
Another Busy Christmas season has come and gone. The turkeys grew like crazy (almost too big!!! One Tom was 35 lbs), the meat chickens are all n the freezer and the good, ole reliable hens continue to lay eggs like crazy.
My attention is now turned to the 2013 season - the herb plug trays are ordered, the skid of BM1 mix has been delivered, the glads and lilies are ordered, the heritage tomato seeds have arrived and the major seed order is almost ready to go. The plug tray order for some of the cut flowers is still pending some decision making.
I just planted mesculin mix, basil and cilantro under the grow lights in the cellar, to see if I can get some more product on the go for winter sales. Fresh, local lettuce and herbs in the middle of the winter appeals to me.
A colleage at the market on Saturday showed me her book about winter gardening in cold frames. Again, wouildn't it be great to have Kale and other cold weather tolerant greens to sell in the middle of the winter? It would be great to use the hoop house year round for food production and the idea of being in the greenhouse in January appeals to me. Food for thought!
There is lots on the go in pottery world - Monday and Wednesday evening classes are underway, a huge order of supplies including a new type of low-fire clay and glazes has been placed, and lots of pottery is gettng made, probably 4 days out of 7.
Life is good. Judy
Wednesday November 07, 2012 09:19:09 AM
Wow, hard to believe that it is November 7th already, and exactly one month to the day that I last blogged.
The turkeys ar growing, the meat chickens are about half way to full size and then hens are laying, albeit a little less enthusiatically than they were a month ago. I had a lot of unsold eggs last week at the market, so it maybe is okay that the hens are slowing down.
Lynnis from the Rosseau and Gravenhurst markets kindly taught me how to make soap from lye and oils a couple of weeks ago, and I've been busy in the last week making up her receipes, which she kindly gave to me. The soap takes about a month for the lye to neutralize, so I'm just under the wire to have it ready for the Gravenhurst Christmas market on December 10th. I really like the receipes that she gave me - they are all vegetable based (no animals byproducts, no dairy) and they contain essential oils and cool herbs for colourant like madder, yellowdoc and alkanet, all of which I'd never heard of a month ago.
I am doing a show in Oro-Medonte this Friday and Saturday, and am doing a couple glaze firings this week to have some organic bowls and plates to sell. They are very popular and sell well, and are quite unique. Tomorrow, I'll do another bisque firing for my students and for a few of my pots as well. I have some nice lidded pots which I made years ago but just glazed and fired last week, and these will likely do well.
Kate kindly has taken a couple boxes of pottery and samples of soap and candles into work, and will be selling and taking orders for them. Life is good.
It is almost time to turn my attention to next growing season, as orders for herbs (at the discounted rate) and for glad bulbs need to be placed this month. Dtto for BM1 mix.
The first load of wood for the winter arrived last week, and Dave came on Monday and piled it. More is coming this week (today?).
Well, beeswax candles beckon me...time to get into production mode for the day!
Sunday, October 07, 2012 08:30:30 AM
Wow, I have so much to be thankful for. It has been a pretty good year due in large part to all the people who keep 'volunteering' and helping me out. My sister, Barb, who comes to virtually every Orillia market to help sell and pack up; my brother, David, who can be counted on for every carpentry, plumbing or electrical chore that needs to be done; my good friend Suzanne who looks after me - cooking and baking - and cleaning; and my neighbours Bill and Wendy who pinch hit for farming chores and chicken and turkey comings and goings.
I cannot imagine who much harder doing this would be without their tireless help, and I am very grateful to them all.
I am also thankful for the dogs - Buddy, Maggie, and Laddie - for their unique and joyful personalities and the joy they give to me.
And, all my customers who are faithful and loyal consumers, and who make this business go round.
The Thanksgiving turkeys have been dispatched - most to customers and some to my freezer to hold for later sales. One is in my oven right now, getting ready to give sustanance to my family for Thanksgiving at around 1 p.m. today. The turkeys are such a joy to raise with their cute and quirky personalities, and they are a good business venture for me. Outside the window right now, the Christmas turkeys are running about, eating grass and whatever. Life is good.
A new batch of baby chicks arrived this past Wednesday. They are temporarily in the garage until the larger chickens move out of the chicken coop on Oct 14th (next Sunday...wow, it really never slows down around here from April to October!).
There's a new store at 177 Missasauga Street West in Orillia where I've just started selling some pottery. The timing is good for Christmas, so here's hoping for some good sales.
Happy Thanksgiving (again)!
Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:46:47 AM
I might be slipping over the edge...went out to look after the chickens and turkeys this morning, and I found a small turkey in distress. I suspect it probably was on the bottom of a sleeping pile and got nearly smothered. So, guess what I have in my kitchen right now? That's right, a baby turkey lying on a cloth bed on the kitchen floor, covered with my winter coat. It is pretty lethargic, so we'll see what happens, but this is at least an effort to help it out. Oh, life is so precarious for farm animals.
The turkey who was injured and had his head pecked extensively is doing very well, and the scab has come off the wound. He is big and strong enough to escape the other turkeys attempts to peck at the newly bared area.
Laddie came very close to spending the night outside last night. He wouldn't come in no matter how many times I called him, and I had decided that I was done trying. So, I was walking to the house and he ran up beside me to come in...thankfully...as the coyotes were very close last night and howling up a fuss all around.
I played hookey and didn't go to the Gravenhurst market yesterday. I just couldn't face getting soaking wet in the cold on Tuesday to prepare for the market...and then also didn't want to stand outside in the 12 degree weather yesterday selling. Hopefully it is nicer next week as when I don't go to the market, I don't make any money!
I fired a glaze kiln on Tuesday night and then again last night...and I have pots glazed and ready to go for a number of additional firings. Everything that is ready to fire is BLUE...because blue is what people like. I really need to find my glaze recipe book so that I can get some raw sienna glaze made up. Who know where it might be???!!!
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:55:22 AM
It's pouring rain here...how wonderful! Even though there are lots of jobs to do outside, it is fabulous to have the rain coming down and regenerating the plants and the soil. It has been such a dry summer that this rain is essential for raising the water table and preparing the ground for next year. This will also help the perennials prepare for the winter and hopefully survive it.
I bought 300 tulip bulbs yesterday to plant for spring cut flowers. I bought some great colours and simple flower forms, which should work well in bouquets. I've also ordered my seed garlic - a number of varieties - to plant sometime in the next couple of weeks.
I've been offered a large quantity of holly that I'm going to use to make Christmas arrangments to sell at the market...I don't know what or how quite yet, but I'm sure that there is something I can make from them.
The turkeys are thriving, both the Thanksgiving ones and the Christmas ones. There are such funny and fun little things, so curious and busy.
I'm battling inertia today...but maybe that just means that I need a bit of a rest....
Friday, September 07, 2012 8:09:30 AM
Oh, what a joy this life is when I get to live in the moment. This morning, there was a small flock of sandhill cranes in the back field. They often stop here on their migration in both spring and fall, and are beautiful in their akwardness.
I've slept on and off most of the last couple days, getting my batteries recharged but today is dog biscuit baking day. I don't have enough made for tomorrow's Orillia market so I need to make three varieties (in addition to the two that I have made) to be able to fill the bags.
I did a glaze firing last night and hope to do another this evening as my intention is to get fired all those pieces I made last winter that still haven't been fired...or throw them out! I've misplaced the 'Mastering Cone 6 Glazes' book again, and need to find it so that I can make up another batch of Raw Sienna glaze. I am planning on gathering some leaves, grasses and flowers next week, and use them to make impressions into slab rolled pieces. Another potter was telling me a couple weeks ago about her commercial success doing this. A different potter was telling me that if I throw/toss the clay after making the impressions, that the clay softens and the impressions are softer which he prefers...this would be worth a try too.
It is wonderful not to have to drive to the Rosseau market today..having the three markets each week in July and August is truely exhausting. It looks like rain out there today, so I may be getting the flowers ready for Orillia market in the pouring rain...oh well, we really do need the rain so that isn't a bad trade-off at all.
So far, so good re Maggie and hens...no more incidences.
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 10:11:27 AM
I'm describing today as out-of-gas and out-of-go! Man, I am weary today and thankful that the Rosseau market is done for the season, even though I will miss the income and the vendors and the customers.
The glads have been fabulous and have been selling very well. I am thinking that the water I bought for them made the world of difference to the quality of the bloom, as I have many glads with buds right to the end of the stem. There are probably a couple hundred stems ready to be picked for tomorrow's market. I should have planted earlier to have had them ready a couple of weeks ago - oh well, live and learn.
There are still some sunflowers going strong - mostly ones with small flowering heads. They sell okay but are more work to prep for market than the ones with the larger heads are. I think that succession planting of Sunbrights might be in order, and then offering some of the sunflowers loose in buckets rather than all prepackaged might be the way to go.
The pullet experiment was quite emotionally satisfying but definately less profitable than raising cockerals, even with the heart attacks and bad legs. Now, to think about the pros and cons, and decide which way to go. I am in business to turn a profit BUT I want to do it as humanely as possible.
There was an injured turkey one morning last week who ended getting pecked around the head until he bled. I quaranteed him for a couple of nights until he was back on his legs, and then he chose to walk back to the turkey shed to join his mates. Since he's fully mobile again, he is pretty capable of avoiding the other turkeys who are trying to canibalize him. I've smeared the bloodied spots with bag balm which should help him heal, and which should prevent some of the pecking as the other turkeys don't like the taste of it. He also is able to jump up on a roost and keep the other turkeys at bay while he's up there. The poultry really are not very nice to each other, particularly if a bird gets injured. I guess they have learned through time to get rid of the weak and sick to keep the flock healthy.
I pulled the onions on Sunday - what a great crop! Some are nice and big, but lots are medium and small. I will wait for cooler weather for the beets and carrots, but might gather some squash for Saturday's market. I don't think that there will be much of a brussel sprout or cabbage crop unless they make a late surge. The drought has reinforced the idea that I must be able to water if I'm going to be in the market garden business.
Tried some more of the heritage tomatoes this morning - the zebra one has a really nice flavour to it, as does the icis candy one. A couple of varieties are pretty unattractive! I'll soon choose a couple of each to save the seeds to plant for next year.
In sad and disappointing news, Maggie killed a hen yesterday morning. Weird, because she is around the hens all the time and generally leaves them alone. This hen had opted to stay outside for the night, and Maggie got her around dawn when I first let the dogs out. Sadly, this means that Maggie needs to go back on a short leash for awhile until I determine if I have a bigger problem than one hen or not.
The first inspection of the egg grading station was done last week, and I passed. It was good to have the inspection done so that I could get some help to improve the way that I've been grading the eggs.
Over the long weekend, I did a glaze firing of student pots and a bisque firing of mostly my own pots with a few student pots included. Today, if I have the energy and enthusiasm, I will glaze a bunch of pots and load the kiln for a glaze firing tonight...that is a big IF however.
Well, I'm off to the porch with a coffee and a book...
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 9:43:22 AM
Just back from bottling the first of the 2012 honey crop. My those bees have done a great job, and I bottled 50kg of honey this a.m. with help from Dave. Sweet stuff!
Monday, August 06, 2012 10:28:31 AM
Rain, rain, rain; glorious rain! It rained yesterday...not a lot but lots compared to what we've had all summer. Hopefully this will be enough to save the trees and the vegetable crop.
Bought another 1000 gallons of water on Thursday night to water the sunflowers and the glads. They both are looking pretty good now after the artificial rain and the real rain!
I should have grown more sunflowers. Still don't have enough for any of the markets, despite having planted 10,000 sunflower seeds this spring. I'm guessing that the drought has had a big impact on the survival rate, but definately need to plant more (twice as many) for next year.
The glads are starting to bloom now, and there should be lots for the markets this week and next.
The lisianthus are still going strong and there will be some for the markets this week. They definately have saved the day for the cut flower crop this year.
I participated in the Kahshe Lake craft show for the first time yesterday. It was a bit slow because of the heat and then the rain, I'm guessing. At the end of the day, I did okay but I really need to make more blue mugs!
Well, I'm off to make dog biscuits! and then to load the kiln to do a bisque firing. and then to....it never ends!
Tuesday, July 24, 201210:01:22 PM
Well, still no rain. It is pretty seriously dry out there. I bought 2400+ gallons of water last week for the garden - primarily for the glads and the sunflowers, with a bit left over for the rest of the flowers and vegetables. The plants are under serious stress. It is supposed to rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday - let's hope that the forecast is right this time.
In other news, four of the pullets have gone off their legs, all at more or less the same time a couple of days ago. One of them died today. I guess it is just the nature of the breed that they have these leg problems but I was really hoping that the pullets wouldn't have this happen. I am now sure that it has nothing to do with housing or with exercise - these pullets have been outside every day since they were three weeks old and they have had lots of room in the chicken coop.
The lisianthus are fabulous although they are all coming into bloom at the same time. Lots of them and lots of sunflowers and lilies for tomorrow's market in Gravenhurst. Lots of starring flowers this week but not too many secondary ones so the bouquets might be a bit sparse.
Bisqued fired the kiln last night and am firing it again tonight so that I can get some more plates and organic bowls glazed, and then ready to sell. Almost time to turn the kiln up again and knock it off for the night.
Saturday, July 07, 2012 4:07:21 PM
I'm not very happy with the hens right now. They can be so vicious. One of the turkeys got into the hen house today (while I was away) and got pecked to death. Poor little thing. I guess it is just nature at work, but how can such sweet hens be so cruels to the turkeys and the meat chickens?
Monday, July 02, 2012 9:26:30 AM
Day 27 of the pullet and day-old turkey experiment continues with excellent results. The chickens are thriving and all seem healthy and strong. They have been able to be outside for about a week now, and all of them were outside at the same time yesterday (with some encouragement as I scooted them all outside and then shut the door). The turkeys, of course, run outside the second that the door is opened, and then choose to spend most/all of the day outside. I still have a couple of hens that are sneaking into the turkey yard, but the hens don't bother the small turkeys they way the pick on the small chickens.
The glads and sunflowers all got weeded last week, and the delphiniums are on tap for today and tomorrow to get cleaned up. I rototilled most of the cutting and vegetable gardens yesterday, and most things are doing well. The carrots and beets are a bit behind where I'd like to see them, but since they are going to be a fall harvest, it isn't a crisis. The cucumber beatle has invaded the squash patch, so I guess it might be a small harvest. We'll see. There are a few tomatoes on the Glamour and Bush Beefsteak plants, but none yet on the hertiage varieties that I bought.
I dug the garlic yesterday morning and am somewhat happy with the results. The bulbs aren't as a big as I would have liked them to be, but they probably suffered from the drought and from a lack of attention and watering. I imagine that the drought has made them particularly strong, though, so they might be small but mighty!
I fired the kiln last night and am anxious to see how things have turned out. I made some new pieces with the yellow glaze with the black over glaze that seems to be popular.
Well, enough talking and now for some doing!
Tuesday, June 19, 20128:03:11 AM
The pullet and day-old turkey experiment continues on day 13! They are doing very well despite the major thunderstorm we had last night. I was up a couple times in the night to check on them, and make sure they weren't so scared that they smothered each other. All was good although a couple of the loud thunderclaps had those baby turkeys gobbling their heads off!
Irises were disappointing this year. About 70% had no bloom at all, and those that bloomed were done by the second day of the festival. Oh well, there is no controlling the weather and I'm guessing that early heat and then drought impacted the blooms. There is always next year. I have ordered about 50 new varieties to rejuvenate the garden with some selections, and have also a couple hundred divisions in pots to be planted around the end of July. In the meantime, a major garden cleanup is underway to find space for all the new divisions and to re-establish a nice orderly baseline.
Thursday, June 07, 2012 8:47:48 AM
Had a great day yesterday. Gravenhurst market early in the day, a garden consultation with a lovely lady called Julie in the mid day, and taught pottery class in the evening! And, the new pullets and the thanksgiving turkeys arrived yesterday. The day olds are really very sweet and cute, and they all made it through the night. The weather really cooperated yesterday re the birds - not too hot, not too cool - just perfect for little birds with no feathers (and thus no way to control their body temperature).
Today will be mostly an odd job day, doing a general tidy up and grass cutting to get ready for Sunday's Iris Festival. Weather forecast is looking favourable...and the Irises are going to be spectacular!
Saturday, June 02, 2012 7:17:27 PM
Hard to believe it has been three months since I last posted an update! Guess I've been a bit busy!
The grading station is going great guns and I'm selling lots of eggs every week at the Orillia market. The hens are so easy to look after, and so productive. The first two batches of meat birds are in the freezer with the next bunch ready to go in ten days. New chicks and turkeys come on Wednesday, with the turkeys to be ready for Thanksgiving and the chicks ready in about 10 weeks. I'm going to try all pullets for the chickens as I'm told they have less health problems because they grow more slowly than the cockerels do.
The herbs are selling well, and I'm happy with the decision to grow them in some volume. There are winners and there are losers, but that is part of getting some experience selling them.
This weeks' rain has made the world of difference to the gardens, and seeds (both wanted and unwanted) are germinating all over the place. Some serious weeding will be in order in about 10 days, I'm guessing.
Pottery lessons are going well, with the second full session of classes coming to an end in two weeks!
Gotta love it when a plan comes together!
Wednesday, March 07, 20128:22:02 AM
Taught my first pottery class last night, and enjoyed it a lot. The feedback from the students was positive and they got in some good practice centering and throwing small pots.
Last weeks' glaze firing had mixed results...everything on the bottom shelf fired nicely, but the stuff on the middle shelf pretty much ran all over the kiln shelves. Yet again, I am going to get practice using my grinder! The top shelf pots were okay but not great. I think it was just too cold to be firing the kiln last week. Live and learn.
Laddie is doing well. He is coming when he's called (most of the time), is sitting on command and walking well on the leash. He is a smart little lad, and has a lovely mild manner about him. He still hasn't quite figured out the rules for not peeing in the house, but I'm sure that is more about the trainer than the trainee.
Two the hens opted to spend the night outside last night...with no harm done. I guess they wanted to enjoy this warming up weather.
Planted a lot of seeds on the weekend, and some of them are up already (statice, chinese lanterns). This is great news for the cut flower business.
Final inspection of the egg grading station is scheduled for Friday. Great news!
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:24:30 PM
Throwing some wine coolers and large pasta bowls today. So nice to have fresh clay from yesterday's trip to Pottery Supply House, and to have fresh inspiration from my pottery shopping trip with Suzanne last week. I'm inspired to try some new shapes - both thrown and hand built - and to try some of my old, unused glazes again with a fresh eye. Also bought a couple of commercial glazes that brush onto pots, to try on the lidded pots that my glazes are too runny for. All things being equal, I'm going to do a test glaze firing on Thursday evening - Friday is supposed to be warm (for this time of year) so hopefully it won't cool down too quickly. Off to walk the dogs now.
February 28th, 2012:
On Friday, I brought home Laddie, my new purebred boarder collie stud dog. He's a sweet, gentle natured puppy who's seven months old. His future partner hasn't been born yet, but she's spoken for and in spring 2013 there should be some puppies to sell!
Laddie hasn't had much training in his life, so he's got a few things to learn...like to pee outside, instead of on the floor when he's brought in from outside! But, he is a smart little lad, having learned his name in the last four days, and to come, and to sit (sort of...). He's also learning to walk on the lead, and is doing well with that too.
Maggie and Buddy love him and are taking him under their care, although Maggie is getting quite cross at being constantly 'pursued'. She'll put him in his place at some point, I expect!