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Monday, 11 June 2012

Rowantree Farms' Newsletter - Notes from the Farm

Notes from the farm...

Wow – so much going on at the farm right now! I haven’t had time to write the newsletter before now, so there are lots of updates...

Garden Report
We were so glad to get the rain last week – now everything in the garden is looking good! We have had quite a bit of bug damage on certain crops (mizuna, mibuna, bok choy) but generally the garden looks lush and productive. So much so that we were able to get our first CSA veggie boxes delivered last week – that’s 4 weeks earlier than promised! Our first box contained Bon Vivant salad mix, Grand Rapids lettuce, Green Banner bunching onions, Easter Egg radishes, Mizuna/Mibuna mix, spinach and mint.

While many crops are doing great, we did have a large set-back with our tomatoes and winter squash. Two weeks ago we got hit with an unexpected hard frost and lost over 100 tomato plants and many winter squash plants. Fortunately we had back up tomato seedlings in the greenhouse, but our tomato harvest is going to be delayed this year, when it should have been extra early! Arrrgh. The winter squash was a bit more of a challenge because we were fresh out of seeds to plant. Our friends Dave and Chantal at Dalew Farms came through and gave us 4 varieties of winter squash for a second planting. But again, our winter squash will be late, which may mean a very small harvest as these plants take a long time to grow.

Farm Helpers!
We have been very fortunate to have 2 farm helpers for the past 10 days. Leo and Loic are travelling from France and stayed with us on their way out to BC. They have been fabulous helpers and have allowed us to get lots done this past week – they even prepared a wonderful French meal for us and proved to be excellent cooks as well! They are hitting the road tomorrow morning to hitchhike and are hoping to make it to Thunder Bay by Wednesday night. They will be missed!

Bears, Bears, Everywhere!
This seems to be a big year for bears. Already I have seen 8 bears and 2 of those have been very close encounters. There is one bear who has been hanging around the house – first he got into our compost, but now he just seems to like it here – Aaron caught him sunning himself on our driveway and snapped some beautiful (yet slightly scary) pictures:

Chicks and Ducklings!
Last week we got 100 day-old laying chicks – so cute! These chicks will replace our current flock of laying chickens. What happens to the old laying hens? We will be getting them butchered in the fall to sell as delicious soup hens – let us know if you’d like to place an order!

We also were able to purchase some baby Khaki Campbell ducklings to start replacing our duck flock – thanks to Jeff the Friendly Worm Guy! We will be getting more this week as the rest of his eggs hatch.

Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms
705-694-0165


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Veggie Box Subscriptions Available!

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Notes from the farm...

Happy Spring!
Wow – the sun is out, the weather is warm, the fields are dry...I can’t help but feel like the other shoe is soon going to drop. A warm winter and an early spring? Well, I’m not complaining!
Things aren’t quite “busy” on the farm yet, but the excitement is building! Today I planted all our onions in the field (from bulbs or “sets”) and we also have kohlrabi, pac choi, lettuce, green onion, eggplant, pepper and tomato seedlings growing indoors. Germination has been good, but we’ve already had problems from a pesky pest: mice! Believe it or not, mice came along one night and nipped the tops off my kohlrabi and lettuce seedlings. Fortunately they didn’t eat them all, but still a surprise for me that they were interested in such healthy green fare.
We’ll be getting quite a few crops planted in the ground inside the greenhouse this coming week, and peas are next on the list for our outdoor crops. There is still lots of ploughing to do as well.
The chickens are outside now during the day in their fall/spring “woodland retreat” beside the barn. The pasture is not quite ready yet for them – we need to wait until the grass is better established and the night-time temperatures are warmer so our hoses won’t freeze! But they are happy right now digging holes in the dirt for a “dust bath” and then spreading out their wings and soaking up the sun. Dust baths are important for natural pest control, as chicken flocks are really susceptible to lice and mites (don’t worry, these pests are not contagious to humans!).
The ducks had the option of going outside in their covered hoop house all winter (and still do), but they are really enjoying the warmer water temperatures in their buckets for dunking their heads and splashing around! We’re going through triple the amount of water we were in the winter months.
We expect everyone to be out on pasture (and eating their greens) by May.

Gourmet Veggie Box/CSA Program
Interested in receiving a weekly-supply of fresh, in-season, ecologically-grown vegetables from Rowantree Farms? We will be expanding on our veggie box program this year to do a full 19-week subscription from the last week of June to the last week of October. Veggie box prices include a 7% discount off our regular veggie prices at the market, plus egg club members will receive free delivery for eggs (a $20 value!) during the summer months. Boxes are delivered once a week on Wednesdays from 5:30-6:00pm to the parking lot at Market Square. Please see the attached flyer for more information, or contact us at allison@rowantreefarms.ca or 705-694-0165. We have limited memberships available, so if you’re interested, let us know ASAP!

The Soil Blocker

This is a neat little tool that we picked up last year from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. Basically, it compresses wet soil into blocks, so there is no need for plastic seedling cells. We have two sizes, a mini-blocker that makes 20 blocks at a time (picture on the right) and is great for starting small seeds like tomatoes, eggplant, etc. The next size up makes 4 blocks at a time – and has a small depression in each block that fits a mini-block. So once your seeds have sprouted in the mini-blocks, you can pop them right into the next size up to give them room to grow!

Happy Hen Club Memberships Still Available – spread the word!
Happy Hen Club members buy a 6 month membership and get a regular supply of eggs during that time. Eggs are $5 per dozen and you can choose a:
- Double Membership (2 doz eggs per week)
- Single Membership (1 doz eggs per week)
- Half Membership (1/2 doz eggs per week)
- Quarter Membership (1 doz eggs per month)
Our happy hens are inside a cozy barn for the winter months, but are out on pasture during the summer. They eat a grain diet that is 100% GMO-free and contains no antibiotics or medications.
*Please send us an email for more details or call 705-694-0165.

That’s all for now!

Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms
705-694-0165

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chicken Eggs Available!

Notes from the farm...

Happy New Year!
It’s been a while since our last newsletter; mostly because we’ve been busy getting everyone settled in their winter barns, tidying up from the summer and taking a little break for the holidays! Now we’re getting into planning mode and gearing up for next year’s growing season when we’ll be expanding our vegetable production. We hope you all had a happy holiday and wish you all the best for 2012!

Happy Hen Club Memberships Available – spread the word!
Our newer group of hens has begun to lay so we have chicken eggs available once again. Happy Hen Club members buy a 6 month membership and get a regular supply of eggs during that time. Eggs are $5.25 per dozen and you can choose a:
- Double Membership (2 doz eggs per week)
- Single Membership (1 doz eggs per week)
- Half Membership (1/2 doz eggs per week)
- Quarter Membership (1 doz eggs per month)
Our happy hens are inside a cozy barn for the winter months, but are out on pasture during the summer. They eat a grain diet that is 100% GMO-free and contains no antibiotics or medications.
*Please send us an email for more details or call 705-694-0165.

Turkey Time
We (of course) cooked up a Rowantree Farms turkey for our Christmas dinner – a 33 pounder! It was delicious and we enjoyed it with Aaron’s family in Guelph; with lots of leftovers for everyone to take home! For those of you who cooked one of our birds this holiday – we hope it was as tasty as ours!
 



Duck Egg Deliveries
We are now doing duck egg deliveries into town every second week. Duck eggs are $8/dozen or $5/half dozen. Send us an email or give us a call at 705-694-0165 to order.

That’s all for now!

Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms
705-694-0165