Last saturday, the farm crew spent the morning eating waffles together and reviewing/ adding to our project list. Impromptu discussions about projects happen all the time at the farm, but our intentional meetings add a serious dose of inspiration. Despite the pouring rain, Chris and Matt headed outside after the meeting to get started on one of our project pieces: completing the composting system (photos above). Talk about hardcore farmers! (Still to come as part of the composting system – building the rabbit nursery above it so that rabbit poop drops directly into our compost. The rabbit nursery will be used to house our momma and baby rabbits while they need to be separated from the rest of the colony).
Our planning/ project meetings include to-do lists, project delegation, creative brainstorming and discussions around priorities. As a community, we are challenged to work together and figure out what makes the most sense – realistically, sustainably and financially – for the farm and for everyone involved. If time and money were no object, our to-do list would be a lot longer, but for now, here’s what we’re working on…
The ‘rabitat’ was coined by Chantalle by accident as she was trying to talk about building a rabbit habitat. OBVIOUSLY ‘rabitat’ is a seriously awesome name for a rabbit habitat, so we’re keeping it :) Currently our rabbits are living in small hutch, but we want to build them a more enjoyable living space so that they stay happy and healthy. Matt is taking the lead on this because he’s pretty stoked on our rabbits and because he has lots of ideas about how to create an awesome home for them. It was agreed that the rabitat would be built around our walnut guild off the north side of the house, providing a pretty space that has some protection. As mentioned above, pregnant rabbits and mommas with babies will be housed temporarily in the hutch we’re going to build above the composting system until they’re ready to re-join the rest of the colony in the rabitat. SIDENOTE: our first litter(?) of baby bunnies were born on the farm yesterday! For now, all we’ve caught are glimpses of pink beneath their momma’s nest of hay and fur, but photos of them once they let us get a better look at them will be coming soon – exciting!
We added some more chickens to our little hen family a few weeks ago! They’re some kind of polish/ americana variety and are pretty cool looking. We have a few small little chicks and some larger ‘teenager’ sized ones. Our older chickens have welcomed them into the coop without any problems (our big white silkie has even taken to snuggling up with the little chicks to help keep them warm). As can be imagined, our coop is way more active now which is really fun.
Our chicken to-do list includes:
- installing protective mesh above the chicken run to keep hawks from eating any more of our chickens (completed by Chantalle)
- building a little chicken perch in the run (completed by Chantalle)
- building a chicken tractor for the deep beds and other areas around the farm (currently being completed by Chris & Matt – separate blog post on the chicken tractor coming soon)
We’re getting pigs!!! Through connections of Matt’s, we’re entering into a partnership with the local 4H group. A group of 4H youth will be learning about taking care of pigs, but before they can get started, they needed somewhere to keep pigs. In exchange for financial and labour assistance to build a pig pen on our property, we will be giving a home to a group of pigs that these 4H youth will be taking care of (making regular visits to our farm to do this). We’re really excited about having pigs on the property (they’re also giving us a pig as a thank you for partnering with them), but even more excited about being able to partner with a local group that will see our farm becoming part of a larger educational project. Super cool! There will be 7 pigs in total (one of which will be ours). Construction of the pig pen and run will take place in the third week of March and the pigs will arrive in early April.
Now that we’ve got our composting system set up, we’re on the lookout for lots of composting materials to add to it so that we have a regular and steady supply of compost for our gardens. A few of us are going to be approaching our day jobs to see if we can set up compost bins in our office kitchens, collecting scraps from colleagues to take home to the farm.
We really need to get a move-on when it comes to prepping the soil in our deep beds for this year’s vegetable garden. We’re working on procuring materials to layer in the deep beds, hopefully resulting in some good healthy soil. Our soil is currently very clay-heavy, so we need to balance it out. Materials we will be layering on the beds include newspaper, hay, mulch and manure. We’re approaching each of our 4 deep beds a little differently in order to experiment with different kinds of soil build-up.
- herb spiral: Matt is building a herb spiral. “The herb spiral is a permaculture gardening method that uses nature to its full potential. Gravity allows the water to seep through the levels meaning that the plants at the top get full drainage while the ones at the bottom may reside in a simple bog. It also gives your herbs shady spots with varying degrees. The herbs that need full-sun can be grown in those positions while more shade loving plants can be located on the opposite side.” (I recommend googling herb spiral images – they’re pretty cool!);
driveway: buy gravel to fill in all the (ever deepening) potholes in the farm driveway;
- coffee grinds: collect coffee grinds from Starbucks, etc for blueberry bushes;
- cold frame: build a cold frame that will sit over part of one of our deep beds for early plantings;
- water system: hang gutters and procure water storage tanks for the farm water collection/ storage system that we want to build;
- research early plantings: we’ve ordered our vegetable seeds and now it’s time to figure out when we should be planting things. We’ve got some ready space in our garlic patch that can take seeds as soon as we’ve figured out what can be planted right away;
- research root cellaring & how to build a potato field: two things we really want to do – Julie is our research girl when it comes to these topics;
- plan work parties: our first work party of the year will take place on saturday, March 5th. Visit our facebook event page for details.