December 25, 2012:  Christmas has been a little different this year as Maureen has been in the hospital on and off these last 3 weeks.  Today I spent the day with her in the hospital, nothing much gets done during the holidays as they are short staffed and the specialists are usually away.  At least we know what the problem is so hopefully she will be home again by Friday.  We do have  some good news to report.  Two of our interns from this year are coming back again for 2013.  Amy and Steven.  Applications are coming in now from new CRAFT internship inquiries so hopefully we can begin the interviewing process early in the new year.  Winter time is a period where we can go to agricultural workshops and seminars.  Many of these seminars include topics like machinery repairs, growing vegetables in greenhouses, estate planning, livestock management, networking, organic farming, pest control, and weed control among many many other interesting and educational events.   January looks quite busy and we have several bookings on our calendar.  Of course the big one of the year is the Organic Conference in Guelph at the end of January.     

December1, 2012:  Where did November go?   Only 25 more days until Christmas.   This autumn has been great, as we have had no snow yet and we are getting alot of things done.   Plowing was put off for at least a month later than we generally do as we have had such an abundant fall harvest of vegetables and I hated to plow them under until we had some serious frosty weather.  The mizuna, bac choy, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, lettuce, beet greens, summer carrots, cabbage, and broccoli were all doing extremely well in the gardens.  Even the peppers were lasting.  Just before our first killer frost, Corne and Cian picked tub after tub after tub of green peppers and they are all stored now in our cold storage.  We should have enough peppers until Christmas I would think.  That "honey do" list is finally getting shorter!   Those odd jobs that were put off all summer are being acomplished now, with Corne's help on ocassion.   Thank goodness Corne is still available.   He has been helping us out at the Toronto Market on Saturdays, giving us a break from time to time.    With 2 months of our winter CSA  under our belts we are getting down to just the root vegetables we have stored for the winter and our winter greens from our greenhouses.  Wednesday and Thursday are our CSA days where the vegetables may be picked up here at the farm or we can deliver them into the Barrie area at one of three locations.  

November 1, 2012:  Our last 2 interns have gone now so it's back to ma and pa again.  Corne and Cian finished working here on October 15.  Most of the outside work was done except for a few more root vegetables to pick and clean.  Cian plans to work closer to the Kingston area this winter and we want to thank him so much for his help, his cooking, and his great ideas he brought with him to Edencrest.  Corne is still available when we need him, so I think he will be back soon to help us with a few odd jobs.  He is a handy guy to have around, always reliable and always open to new ideas.  Plowing the gardens is a priority now, as most of the veggies are gone.  Putting our compost on the gardens first and then plowing it down is a must before it leaches away.   All the greens are up now in the second and third greenhouses.  It won't be long before we will be harvesting them.   We plan to plant the same now in our heated #1 greenhouse.  With the extra heat, the seeds will germinate soon.  With the short days it does take much longer for most greens to grow. 

October 3, 2012:  Our summer CSA finished the second last week of September.  Whew!!   This last week we took it easy with nothing really pressing except to harvest for the Toronto Market on Saturday.  Welcome back to the farm Corne!!   What a beautiful wedding and on such a beautiful picture perfect day.   No one is more keen to see him back than Cian.  He has been the main guy here for three weeks and is really glad to get som e help again.    We cleaned out the remaining cucumber vines from the 3rd greenhouse and the same of the tomatoes and their vines in our second greenhouse.  This week we have planned to put compost in both greenhouses and work it in.   Our winter CSA is beginning now, so we still do have much more to harvest from our gardens yet.  This is indeed a transition time for us as we make preparations for planting our winter veggies in our three greenhouses.  Lettuce, spinach, beet greens, claytonia, and swiss chard will be planted shortly, giving them ample time to germinate, and mature this fall before the deep freeze of winter sets in.  Our winter CSA goes from October 1 to May 31.  The days are so short now.      It seems the dew is not off the gardens until at least noon and it's hard to pick our vegetables when they are so cold and wet in the mornings. We are still harvesting our root vegetables, storing them when we can.  The sweet corn is still doing well.   No early frost, so we are all good.   

September 1, 2012:  Our interns are gradually leaving us to back to school.  Steven is taking his first year of post secondary education at Georgian College in Orillia.  Christie has left for Ghana and is working through a program offered by Trent University in Peterborough studying the second year of her environmental studies .   Amy is going back to Georgian College in Marrie to complete her second year also.   Corne has been taking a little bit of time off since he is getting married tomorrow!!    After his honeynoon, Corne will be back again to help us out for the fall harvest.   We do welcome Cian back to Edencrest.   Cian worked with us in early summer and then went bicycling with a buddy of his across Europe for the rest of the summer.  After many km of pedalling, great weather, and many many sights and scenes and experiences, we welcome Cian back.  It's just the three of us now to continue the gardening until at least Corne gets back from his honeymoon.  We have had quite the abundance of September vegetables - all the squash, sweet corn, pumkins, zuchinni, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, beets, leeks, turnip, and much much more.  

August 2, 2012:  I can't believe how fast this summer has slipped by.  It has been a great summer in a lot of ways but also a challenging one.  We finally have been getting some rain.  I hope it's not too late for some crops.  Our sweet corn will be ready to harvest soon and I fear there may be a pollination issue as some of the cobs are not filling up completely.  That is most likely from the lack of adequate moisture.  Generally the crops look awesome this year.  We have been able to irrigate the veggies close to our greenhouses.  The root vegetables are located behind the barn where we have no irrigation but they usually can survive most dry spells.  The CSA baskets have been plentiful with an abundance of : cucumbers, green and yellow beans, radishes, spinach, swiss chard, fennel and dill, leeks, beets, carrots, cooking onions, potatoes, some zuchinni.  From time to time we have given the vegetables a break and not picked them so they can grow larger or just give them a chance to grow back again.  We have been planning our fall and winter CSA program - what to plant and where to plant.  August is the time to plant for our winter CSA.   It takes about twice as long in the fall for veggies to grow as the days are so much shorter and cooler.  With that being said, we usually miss the pests in the fall.   Soon we will be planting salad turnips, bac choy, mustard greens, mazuna, and lots more lettuce and spinach.  Our favourite green, Claytonia, will be planted soon too.  This green is amazing.  It is a type of lettuce and thrives in cool and cold conditions.  It continues to grow back again after each cutting and will last through till spring.  We plan to plant Claytonia in the whole greenhouse again this year.    

July 1, 2012:  Steven has now joined us as our latest intern.  Steven just finished Grade 12 and will be going to georgian College in Orillia this coming fall.  This is Steven's second year here at Edencrest, plus he has lelped us on occasion throughout this past year when we needed extra help.    This summer has been dreadfully dry.  We have been fortunate though as we have had at least some rain from time to time.  Our cauliflower got burnt off with the heat and too little moisture.  This is a bad year for lettuce, as it is a cool weather vegetable.  We are still able to save some lettuce for the Farmers Market on Saturday but we have lost most of it this summer.  The spinach has been challenged also with this heat, but we have continued to plant more and more of it to keep it young and fresh.  The third green, the swiss chard seems to be more tolerant to any extreme weather; too hot or cold, or too wet or dry doesn't seem to affect our swiss chard.  We have been invaded with peast this year - the cucumber beetle, potatoe beetle, tomatoe worms, flee beetle, and the aphids.  We have been trying to row cover some of the vegetables that are more susceptible to the flea beetle and aphids but we still have lost some veggies.  About 17 rows of zuchinni succumbed to the cucumber beetle.  The older and more mature melons, cucumbers, and even the older zuchinni were all attacked by the pests but we able to tolerate them.  Most pests enjoy more of the younger and more tender plants.  Part of the morning chores each day has been to check the potatoes for beetles and the tomatoes for tomatoe worms.  If you keep on top of it, it doesn't take long.   Hopefully their breeding cycle will come to an end and we won't have to worry about those little pests any more. 

 May 16, 2012:  We welcomeour new intern, Cian, to Edencrest.  Cian joined us 2 weeks ago and he has blended right in with the rest of the team.  Cian comes to us from Barrie and has just graduated from Queen's University in Kingston.  We have been very very busy as of late.   Christie joins us from a little town called Parkhill, near London Ontario.  Chrisitie just finished another year at Trent University in Peterborough and is looking forward to working in our gardens this summer.   Our first planting of potatoes finished yesterday, about 500 lbs worth.  The fennel was transplanted along with the cauliflower.  Carrots were all planted by seed last week, also the beets, our first sweet corn, zuchinni, and lots, lots more.  We plan on transplanting a few rows of tomatoes into the second greenhouse today, and continue on these next few weeks as more and more space become available in that greenhouse.  We have been cutting romaine lettuce for our winter CSA, so as it is being cut we will replace with tomatoe transplants.    The cows are starting to lean over the barn yard fence looking for some new fresh grass to nibble so that's a good indication that pasture time has arrived for 2012 and we should get out there and check out and repair the fence before we let the cows outside into the field.   Thus far it has been a busy spring but a very rewarding one as we have got lots done and we have adequate moisture.    

May 2, 2012;   Wow!  This spring has gone so fast.  It's been 6 weeks since I last blogged on and it feels like 2 weeks.  So much has happened.  Since then the weather has been dreadfully cold, especially at nights with most being below freezing and sometimes by about 5 degrees C.   Our corn furnace has been going each evening keeping our new seedlings warm and cozy and ready for transplanting when the frost scare is finally over.  Usually by May 24, it's safe to put out the most delicate plants like the tomatoes, and ciucumbers.   Our third greenhouse is up and running, thanks to our friends and neighbours who arrived on the only non windy day we have had all spring to put the 2 layers of plastic on it.   Within about 2 days, it was planted entirely with romaine lettuce and some cucumbers - all transplants from the heated greenhouse and then covered with 2 rows of rowcover which will act as an insulation against those frosty nights we have being experiencing.   This has been such an exciting few weeks.   The arrival of our interns began on April 22 with our first three anxious and excited young people.  Cornelius (goes by Corne) for arrived on Sunday just in time for lunch and as soon as he stepped through our door we just knew it was going to be an awesome summer.   Our farming community is in safe hands when we have responsible and dedicated young people like these interns taking over the next generation in farming.   Amy, our veteran, joined us on Monday in her 5th year at Edencrest and has been telling everyone every day stories of all the things that worked and didn't work at the farm these last few years.  Planting and tractor driving has been one of the few teaching this last week and I am just amazed how fast they catch on.  It's so nice to just ask someone to hop on a tractor and feed a round bale to the cattle and to know it will be done right and done safely.  One week later on April 29 Christie arrived.  She has just finished her 2nd year at university in Peterborough and she has just blended in with everyone else in know time at all.  Within the damp and wet days we have been busy planting - mostly onions and now carrots, along with the continual plantings of our lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard, and also more radishes.  This year, after spending 2 and a half hours last Saturday planting onions by hand doing 4 rows , we thought we would try Plan B.   Why not try planting onions using our 2 row mechanical transplanter?  We did the squash, and melons that way last year so it should work for onions too.  After about an hour of tinkering on the machine to get the planting depth adjusted and the spacings between the seeds correct we were out there planting onions.  One person on each seat dropping an onion down the transplanter hole with another person with a straight eye driving, (key phrase being straight eye), we were able to do about 20 rows in the same time we did 4 rows on Saturday.   Today we will be planting more carrots, onions again, and beets - hopefully all before we get more rain this afternoon.      

March 15, 2012:  This weather has just been awesome!  Yet, it has been the most challenging and thought provoking spring I ever can recall.  This continuous warm and sunny weather is such a "teaser" - you just want to get out there in the fields and plant, plant, plant and yet you just know that this is much too early for cropping.  Cold wet weather is still to come before it actually is time to get out there and get some serious planting done.   My dad who will be 88 years old this summer keeps mentioning that this spring reminds him of the year of 1945.  The weather that spring was also unseasonably warm and dry so they planted their crops anyways and were all finished by April 14 of that year.  In those days they usually planted oats, barley, mixed grain, and corn.  Well on the evening of the 14th, the weather changed!   Cold and rainy weather greeted them for the next month and by the time the soil had dried out again the weeds had taken over and most of the crops they had planted had either rotted in the fields or were stunted.  He had only one good field of grain that year and that was a field that was so bad, he had ripped it up on the first day of June and replanted it.   So, is this spring a real true and honest early season where we are given a 2 month extention on our growing season or is this year like 1945?  No need to go to Casino Rama to get our gambling fix; we can get it right here on the farm.   That being said we have worked up a little of the gardens and planted our safe and early veggies: peas, radishes, spinach, swiss chard, and salad turnip.  They are very cold hardy plants that can withstand any miserable weather that might come along.   We have been seeding trays in the greenhouse this last few weeks, and are beginning to run out of room for the trays.  Most of the seeds we have been planting in the trays will be either transplanted into our third greenhouse next month or will be transplanted outside when we are sure the frost scare is over.   Speaking of the third greenhouse; we are in the midst of building it.  The base was finished this week, and the greenhouse arches will be delivered today so hopefully we will begin to put them up next week.  The most difficult part in bulding a greenhouse in my opinion is putting up the base.  It has to be level and square, and it seems to take forever to get that accomplished.  Once the base is done, the arches go up and it actually looks like we have done something!   March is the time for our newborn spring calves to arrive.   Last week was the first one of the season - mom and calf are doing very well.  Mom was new at this and wasn't really sure about this wet and furry little creature.  It had caused her alot of discomfort and what was he really doing when he was trying to nurse her for the first time?.  Once he was able to get his first drink, everything was fine, and now I have noticed mom at least once chasing our farm dog Lily out of the barnyard when she was getting too close to her baby.  This day in 1916:  "Dad helped ma wash.  Gordon went to New Lowell with 10 bags of barley to chop.  We shipped a can of cream today.  The old black cow had a calf,  We are milking 10 cows now. (all by hand I might add).  Ken and Ellwood loaded up 2 loads of wheat and took them away.  Harry started working at the Basket Factory in Minesing at $1.70 per day.     

March 5, 2012:  This feels like more of a January day today.  Very cold, lots of snow, but sunny.  The days are so long now, you just have the feeling that spring is indeed right around the corner.   Maureen has been busy planting seeds into the trays these last 2 weeks and with these longer days and with the heat on in our first greenhouse, many of her seeds have sprouted and are already up.   The Bok Choy, Basil, Leeks, Romaine Lettuce, and Cilantro are all up now, some more than others with the Bok Choy leading the way.  Most seeds have to be in soils of at least 10 C for them to sprout, so we have to try and keep the night time temperature in the greenhouse close to that if we want even germination.  We are planning to build another greenhouse this spring, we actually were hoping to have the base started by now because of the lack of snow but lately we have been hit hard with snow so the greenhouse will have to wait.  Good news to report:  Amy who has been working every summer for us for the past 4 years will be with us again this summer.  Amy is a true outside girl, and there is no job that is too big or nasty for her to work at.  Welcome back Amy!!   CSA applications continue to come in the mail daily, some new folks and many veteran families who have been on the program since the beginning.   Each season we try to modify our CSA applications somewhat to make them more easily adapted to both the farm and to the families.  Wednesdays and Saturdays have always been the pickup days for our CSA families with Thursday being the delivery day.   By far, Wednesdays are the busiest as most people like to save their Saturdays for other things like cottages, vacations, weddings, baseball and soccer tournaments, etc.   This year we are giving them the Friday evening option also for their veggie pickup.  Anytime after 4pm.  This day on March 5, 1916 written by my great grandmother:  "Dad took a can of cream to Stayner, Gordon chored and took some grain to New Lowell to get ground.   The Assessor was here and also two recruiting officers, Harry helped the McKinnons draw wood, Elwood put the gravel box on the sleigh to start drawing from the Knupp place".   Fraser helped ma today."   By the way the "recruiting officers" she referred to in the journal meant that they wanted some of the boys - my great uncles, to enlist in the war.  With conscription they had no choice unless they pleaded their case at the military office in Stayner and signed a "plea of expemption" form along with several well known witnesses.   They had selected Uncle Gordon and Elwood for conscription but both signed the plea and were exempted for 1916.  Both were conscripted again in 1917 but Uncle Gordon did have to join, he went to war with only 2 weeks of any military training, and was lucky enough to make it back home again after the war.   

February 19, 2012: My the winter is going quickly by.  We have filled all our apprenticeship vacancies now.  This year we have 6 interns working with us with one returnee (Steve) from 2011 and 5 new young people, all from different regions of the globe.  Cornelius gets the prize this year for coming the farthest as he hails from South Africa.   Welcome to Doug and Stacy from Ridgetown (formely from BC), Matt from Mansfield, Ontario, and welcome to Christy who's hometown is London, Ontario.    We are really excited about teaching and working with these young people this year.  It is so encouraging for us to know there are many young people out there willing to learn how to farm and wanting to make farming as their full time career.  One of the many telltale signs in February that spring is just around the corner is that our barn cats are mating.  Once you step into the barn each morning you hear that romantic meowwwwwww from our tom cats as they are trying their best to woo their favourite girlfriend(s).   Maureen has received almost all the garden seed now, and it's all being categorized and accounted for to make sure the seed company didn't make a mistake and send us either the wrong seed or didn't send it at all.  Tomorrow will be our first day for rototilling up part of our winter greens in the second greenhouse and we will begin planting lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, salad turnip, swiss chard, and radishes.   This past week we were pleasantly surprised with the great abundance of Bok Choy in that second greenhouse.  With no heat through the winter, and with only the row cover for protection, the Bok Choy came through the season with flying colors.   We have had two big snow falls this past week and it now looks like a very typical winter here in Central Ontario.  This day on February 19, 1916 in my great grandmother's journal:  "Dad and Harry chored.  Gordon was 2 hours with the team sleigh working on sideroad ploughing snow.  Newman brought over the chicken money.  8 roosters weighed 36 lbs and he got 21 cents per lb.  We sent a can of cream today to the dairy.  We fixed up the pig pen floor.  John Daley brought over a gas engine for us to try.  The weather is very mild".

February 3, 2012:  With this unseasonably mild winter, it sure is easy to get into the spring planting mood.  Maureen has been busy planting from seed some radishes and green onions in our heated greenhouse.  It's so important to maintain the soil temperature at 10 C or higher during seed germination and Maureen has already checked her plantings.  So far everything looks good!   These veggies will be ready later on in the winter for our CSA baskets and will replace the Claytonia or Miner's Lettuce which will soon die back again till fall.  This Claytonia is an amazing lettuce.  It flourishes in the cold weather, severe temperature drops does not seem to bother it, it just keeps growing.  Once the days begin to get longer in the spring our Claytonia begins to turn brown and die off.

     We are now in the midst of our apprenticeship interviews.  So far we have 3 very worthy students signed up for this summer and we are looking for 2 more before we close up the interviews for 2012.  It is reassuring that agriculture will be in safe hands for years to come if we go by the number of young people who are keenly interested in taking on farming as a career.

     This week has also been a week of contacting horse owners who have a draft horse for sale.  "Maggie", our remaining Norweigen Fjord, looks so lonely out there in her paddock all by herself.  Maggie is only 14 hands in height so we are looking for either another Norwiegen or a shorter type of heavy draft horse for her new stable mate. 

    Reading in my great grandmother's journal, this date in 1916 - "Gordon completed 24 days of winter road work on the 14th sideroad.  Ellwood went back to go on the log haul.  Harry was out collecting for the Campbell's presentation.  He did good.  He collected over $11.00.  Gordon planted 50 seeds of yellow alfalfa seed and 25 brown ones in a box in the house for a trial.  Dad done chores.  It was a stormy day"          

January 27, 2012:  Farming can have it's ups and downs and this week was certainly one of these times.  On Monday after considerable sleepless nights we decided to put "Peaches" down.  She developed a foot problem last summer called "founder" which can come about when horses are grazing on too lush of pasture.   The vets don't really know the exact reason but for some reason horses are susceptible to founder in the springtime and the grass is growing very quickly.  The hoof develops a condition where the two plates in their foot come loose and begin to grind back and forth causing a tremendous amount of pain to the animal.   Once a horse founders they never recover.  After many visits from our vet and farrier throughout the remaining summer, fall and this winter, Peaches was getting worse and not better.  Every step she took you could see the pain in her eyes, she had lost quite a bit of weight, and it took her forever to walk to the hay manger.  I have farmed here on this location all my life but never have felt the sadness and frustration as I have experienced this past week.  Now Peaches if finally free of her pain.    On Wednesday, some guy came off the sideroad and was looking for 10 chickens to be in a movie - believe it or not.  They had to be pretty looking and have all their tail feathers.   We showed him our laying hens and we agreed on price.   He picked out his ten and drove away happy and contented.   Now it may not make sense that we sold 10 laying hens since one of our enterprises is selling of the eggs, but as most chicken farmers know, your poorest layers are usually the nice looking and fully feathered hens.  Some don't even lay at all.   So far, our total egg production hasn't suffered from the loss of our movie stars.   This day on January 27, 1916 my great grandmother's diary says: "Dad chored, Ellwood and Kenneth cut and brought ice home from the river, Harry (my grandfather) took away our big sleighs to draw Newman another load of hay to go to Barrie tomorrow, Gordon took 15 bags of grain to New Lowell to get crushed".              

January 13, 2012:   We ordered our first selection of organic seed today.   Now we have a month to get our greenhouse in order, mix up our composte with the soil and get prepared for our first seeding in the trays.  With such mild weather it has been easy keeping our cold storage at the correct temperature, as our root vegetables seem to be keeping very well so far this winter.  Very little heat has been required in the first greenhouse.   The greens are doing exceptionally great in mid January, especially the miners lettuce (claytonia).   It is an incredibly hardy winter green and seems to thrive in winter.  

 January 9, 2012:    Another mild and rainy day.   These last 2 weeks Maureen has been busy going through the organic seed catalogues and picking out the first veggie seeds to order.   It's a great way to break up the winter blahs and really gets you all excited about our summer gardens again.   It's a big job and time consuming.  Going through the records from last year we have to decide which varieties did well and which ones we were disappointed with.  Of course the weather has alot to do with it as some veggies prosper in hot dry summers and some do quite poorly. 

January 5, 2012:  Today was a busy day.  Maureen attended an organic seminar in Barrie.  Learned lots of interesting things including marketing tips, consumer trends, and the do's and don'ts of selling at the farm gate.   Meanwhile back at the farm Jim was packing baskets and delivering the CSA veggies into Barrie at the 2 locations. 

    We have a great time reading entries written mostly by Jim's great grandmother in her journals of 1916, 1917, and 1918.  Jim's grandfather, Harry, was in his mid 20's and was one of 6 brothers - all single and working full time on the family 100 acre farm.  Remember, no electricity, no cars, and no running water.  The spelling and grammar can be somewhat rough at times to read.   This date in January of 1917 - "We took 3 hogs out to Pete's.  They averaged 200 lbs apiece.  Elwood stopped drawing wood to take them out.  Gordon chored.  Frasier is sick in bed.  Harry is still logging for Geo Johnston.   Dad is overseeing as usual.  It snowed heavy, there is good sleighing.  The Sunday School Annual Meeting was at night."        


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Thank you very very very much!!  It was really the right choice that we had our wedding here with your help.  We had a wonderful and precious time.  We won't forget it!  Someday when we move back to Ontario, we will come back and take a kitten!  We love you both!

Kyle and Ryoko Kingston from Vancouver, BC