Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beer, Mac 'n Cheese, and "The Postman"

A couple of weekends ago, I had the day off and the farm to myself. So I took this opportunity to drink beer, have dinner, and watch The Postman in Farmer Brock and Heather's house. Dinner included mac 'n cheese, kale buds, and avocado.

Enjoying a Day Off

"Thanks for being there for me."

No, Kevin Costner, thank YOU for being there for me!

For those of you not in the know, The Postman is a post-apocalyptic movie about a drifter, Kevin Costner, who reluctantly fights tyranny by delivering mail. It includes excellent lines like "You give out hope like it was candy in your pocket," a guest appearance by Tom Petty, a rousing rendition of "America the Beautiful," and a pretty awesome scene where Costner gallops, super slow-mo, up to a child to snatch a piece of mail from his hand:

Scene from The Postman

All in all, a very enjoyable evening....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tim "Squeaks" Robinson

Here's Apprentice Tim attempting to watch an episode of Parks and Recreation on his laptop while outside and lounging on a hammock.


In other Tim related news, he's recovering from a pretty terrible cold and has lost his voice. I've started calling him "Squeaks" and I'm hoping it sticks!

5 Photos of Asparagi

Pronounced, of course, as aspara-guy.

1) Trays of asparagus starts in a greenhouse.

4 Trays of Asparagus

2) Labelled appropriately.

Aspargus + Tag

3) Wispy little fellas, aren't they?

Tray of Asparagus

4) Last year's crop of asparagus is coming up strong.

Beds of Asparagus

5) Taller than my boot!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tomaterly Hills 90210

Apprentice Tim and I transplanted some tomatoes into the older greenhouse the other day. We tried to get them in a straight, mounded row down the middle of the greenhouse. The row has three different varieties of early season tomatoes and the plan is to eventually have rows of strawberries on either side, too.

Here's Tim showing off his mounding and raking skills. The soil in the greenhouse was nice and fluffy because Farmer Brock had just tilled it.

Planting Tomatoes with Tim

A line of drip tape along the top of the mound will water the plants:

Planting Tomatoes 01

As you can see, our row's a little bent. I blame Tim.

Planted Tomatoes

And in other news, Tim and I have taken to watching episodes of the original Beverly Hills 90210 in the RV after a little dinner and maybe with a couple of Cariboos. (See? The title of this post isn't just a lame tomato mound joke/early 1990's pop culture reference.) We've watched a few episodes from the very first season and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We especially enjoyed the pilot episode which featured a short-lived Jason Priestly mullet, a lot of talk concerning Kelly's summer nose job, and Steve Sanders' drunk and loutish behavior at a party where everyone else in attendance appeared to be drinking Pepsi.

The next couple of episodes, truth be told, were a little disappointing. We were pretty close to giving up on the whole show, but thankfully we hunkered down and watched an excellent episode where Brandon lost his virginity and that ended with a spirited game of pickup basketball between he and his father. Who knew the two-handed layup and blind, over-the-shoulder hook shot could be so effective?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

5 Photos

Rolling Clouds

1) Clouds rolling over the farm.

Killdeer Eggs

2) Killdeer eggs in the garlic patch.

Good lookin' bird

3) While I was tilling with the tractor the other day, I noticed a couple of these guys wandering all over the freshly turned soil. Turns out they're rummaging for wireworms! This is a whole lotta awesome because wireworms are pretty terrible - they munch through the roots of transplanted starts like crazed machines, especially lettuce, potatoes, and onions. Farmer Brock and I randomly dug up some recently transplanted green onions and found a wireworm in the roots of almost every plant, so if these birds want to get fat on them, we're all for it!

Anyone know what kind of bird this is? I think it's a grackle of some sort, but I'm no ornithologist.

Tomato Sale!

4) Check out Apprentice Jill's brand spanking new sign for next week's tomato plant sale! Pretty sweet, right? Check out her website for more of her awesome graphic design.

Me + Tractor

5) And last but not least, me on the tractor with the raised transplanter attachment.

UPDATE: After some strenuous research, Apprentice Tim and I have come to the conclusion that the wireworm-eating bird pictured above is not a grackle. We believe it's a little something called a Brewer's Blackbird.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friendly Neighbours

Makaria Farm has many friendly neighbours. Here's a sampling:


These guys live across the street from the farm. I'm not sure what they are. Hairy bull cows? Yaks? Space monsters? You decide!

Neighbour Sheep

Behind the farm are a bunch of sheep. After I took this picture, the sheep on the right proceeded to nuzzle that post. I gave that nuzzle some psychoanalytic thought and decided that she's existentially lonely despite living in a crowd of her kind. That or she's itchy.

Advancing Cow

This little fella lives with the sheep. While taking his picture, he decided to come up to me and say hello. Unfortunately, I don't speak cow.

Taking 'er easy

This cow had no interest in saying hello. What a snob!

Friendly Cows

These guys are my favourite. They live on another neighbouring farm and I'm allowed to feed and pet them because their owners are friends of the farm. They come running up to the fence for attention whenever we're working nearby. Pretty cute!

These friendly guys have also taught me a valuable lesson about our food and where it comes from. You see, one of their cute little brethren was given to Farmer Brock and Heather as a present and now resides in a freezer. And you know what? That brethren is delicious! I had her in stew form. Just the other day, too, I noticed there are now only TWO cows in that field next door. I wonder where their buddy went? Maybe she won a trip to Hawaii!!

My point, I guess, is that it's one thing to go to the supermarket and pick out a saran wrapped chunk of beef under fluorescent lights and another to see the cute, living and breathing source of that delicious meal. I'm not turning all vegetarian on you or anything, but I mean, damn, these guys are adorable!

Running Towards Me (For Treats?)

(And delicious.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

The (Mostly) Terrible Songs That Run Through My Head While Farming

For reasons that I don't quite understand, the songs below have been in my head since I started farming here at Makaria Farm. Those of you who know me well know that when I've got a song stuck in my head, I repeatedly hum, whistle, or sing one part of that song over and over again. It's a pretty annoying habit. And if I'm singing it, I sing off key and usually have the lyrics wrong. Most of these songs are really embarrassing, too, so feel free to judge me. Enjoy!

1) "Lovefool" - Cardigans

2) "Afternoon Delight" - Starland Vocal Band

3) "Old Man" - Neil Young

4) "I Go Blind" - 54-40 (and Hootie & the Blowfish, but that's just really embarrassing)

5) "Bust A Move" - Young MC

6) "Please Don't Go" - Double You

7) "Go Down Moses (Let My People Go)" - Louis Armstrong

8) "One of Us" - Joan Osborne

Monday, May 9, 2011


In addition to planting potaters last week, we took advantage of the nicer weather and also transplanted a whackload of starts from the greenhouses. Everything from spinach to beets to broccoli went into the ground. Just look at all these healthy looking starts in their trays, just waiting to be planted in long, straight rows:




The first step to transplanting is separating the soil blocks. After growing together in their cozy trays, the starts have gotten used to being together. Pulling them apart is actually really satisfying, since they make a sound that's almost like velcro separating. After some separation, a single soil block of onions, for example, will go from being one of the pack....


...to a more solitary individual:

Separated Onion

Next, we load up the tractor and the transplanter with the trays of separated soil blocks and get a-transplanting!

Tractor + Transplanter

The starts get planted in nice, long rows....




....until the fields end up looking like this....

Rows of Transplants 04

....and this:

Rows of Transplants 01

Exciting stuff!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fish Stink

You know what I didn't expect? That I'd smell like fish working on an organic vegetable farm. But, hey, it's happened. Several times! Every now and then we spread a little fish meal on the fields as an organic fertilizer. Even after several hand washings, that smell just doesn't want to leave your fingertips....

Fish Gut Pouring

Fish Guts

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Say Potato, I Say Potaters

Potatoes 01

Thanks to a long awaited week of warmer and drier weather, we've been busy planting and transplanting into the fields. Apprentice Tim and I got our tractor/transplanter feet wet with some potatoes. I drove the tractor, while Tim sat poised upon the transplanter.

1) Here we are getting ready to plant. I like to chat with the potatoes before they're planted - you know, just a little assurance that everything's going to be okay.

Getting Ready 02

2) Up and running! The goal is to drive the tractor slow and steady down the beds, so we've got a nice, straight row with a potential potato plant every few inches. I'm looking back to make sure Tim hasn't fallen off the transplanter and been buried with the potatoes. I'm also making sure the potatoes are getting buried deep enough into the soil. If even a little skin pokes out of the soil, the ravens will want to snack on them.

Planting Potatoes

3) Here's what Tim's dealing with. He sits perched on the transplanter's yellow seat, looking down at these cups as they circle around like a wheel. His job is to drop a potato in each cup as they turn. The cup's job is to dig into the soil and release the potato into the ground.

Transplanter Close-up

4) The beds end up being lined with a row of these pockmarks. Each pockmark has a potato hiding beneath it!

Potato Holes

5) We ended up planting 4 different varieties of potato. It'll be interesting to see which one does best in this climate and soil.

Package Slip 02

6) Look at that straight row! Farmer Brock and Apprentice Tim take care of business.

Planting Potatoes

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Learning Me Some Tractoring!

Every time Farmer Brock offers to teach us how to do something with the tractor, I volunteer. Partly because I think the tractor is super cool, but also because I'm kind of terrified of it and I want to get over that terror. (Just like my fear of power tools.) I'd taken the orange Kubota for a few jaunts around the farm, but this week I did me some real tractoring.

1) Here's me spading in the fields for the first time. I'm concentrating so hard on keeping my lines straight that I didn't even notice how fake the sky is looking.

First Time Spading 01

2) Here's what the tractor spader attachment looks like. It sort of reminds me of a crouching spider that's about to jump on me.

Spader (Tractor View)

3) These are the spader blades. They pulverize and dig into the soil so it's soft and loose for transplanting soil blocks into the fields. Sometimes the blades run over a big, buried rock and for 15 terrifying seconds, there's a horrible clanging noise and I think I've irreparably damaged Farmer Brock's tractor.

Spader Blades

4) Here are some of my first spaded beds. Not too shabby for a cardigan-wearing librarian! These beds are now ready for transplanting.

My First Spading!

5) Next I learned how to till. Tilling usually comes before spading and is much easier to do. Basically, you're just preparing the soil by turning it over and uprooting cover crops and weeds. You're also not worrying much about keeping perfectly straight lines. You might till the soil several times before it's ready to be spaded and planted. The tiller attachment has runners on the side like Santa's sled. I doubt Santa's sled, however, has terrifying, soil-encrusted blades beneath it.

Tiller (like a sled!)

Tiller Blades

6) My first tilling job made things look like this. When looking at this picture, imagine that the air smells very earthy and that if you look closely, you see the occasional writhing, chopped up piece of worm.

First time tilling!

7) In case you hadn't notice, I'm all about this tractor. Seriously. This tractor is the shit.