Day 3 & 4

Day 3 & 4

So yesterday was a bit of a write off. It rained all day, so I didn’t really do much that was worth photographing. I did end up helping a neighbour farmer a bit. He is moving farms so I was helping him empty out the last bits from his barn onto a trailer.

The good news though is that April showers bring May flowers…

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Now, for today… as you may remember, a couple of days ago, I left a garden plot looking like this…

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This is our cucumber bed and was quite boring. So today, I continued…

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This is a technique that Eliot Coleman mentions in his book “Four Season Harvest.” He’s never actually tried it  himself but rather heard about the idea from a French market gardener. First, you dig a trench about a foot deep and a strawbale width wide. We have two trenches forming a “V” since that’s the shape of the bed.

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Then you place straw bales in the trench, sprinkle blood meal on it and cover it with guano. We didn’t have ready access to guano, so I opted for some chicken bedding instead. The blood meal adds a good supply of nitrogen and iron, while the bedding is a good mix of nitrogen and carbon. The hope is that this will begin composting rapidly. This composting should produce heat, allowing us to get our cucumbers started quickly. Of course, this is all an experiment. Perhaps the leftover seeds in the chicken bedding will sprout leaving me with way too much hoeing. Perhaps the nitrogen  will burn the plants killing them quickly. We shall see.

Just before lunchtime, I finished my work on this bed. I was supposed to water it, but looking at the sky, figured I’d let Mother Nature do that work for me. She didn’t disappoint and provided a very good soaking. Later, we will move the soil back onto the bed and plant the cucumbers.

Of course, being on a farm offers frequent digressions…

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A friend coming to cut down a tree that’s shading the farm’s solar panels.

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The obligatory game of fetch.

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Chickens showing me their newest magic trick…

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Tada!

In the afternoon, I spent a lot of time repairing a chimney pipe to a cabin on the property. Some guests are using it this weekend and we wanted to be able to warm it up. As I was taking the old pipe down however, a robin’s nest fell out. Five eggs tumbled out, with one cracking on the ground. As you may recall from a previous post, I dislike ruining nests very much. But it was too late. The nest was heavily disrupted and the eggs would never hatch.

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This is the size of the eggs. The white egg is a regular chicken egg.

I do have a plan for these eggs but I’m far too tired to go into it tonight. Tune in tomorrow!

Adam

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Day 2 of Placement

Day 2 of Placement

Today I stayed here at Russet House and began to work on our cucumber garden. We’re trying something new with cucumbers this year…

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First of all, clean the weeds out of the bed. Actually, in retrospect, this isn’t absolutely crucial for this technique. I just detest a weedy looking garden and am a bit of a perfectionist.

And that’s the only picture for today. Apparently, nature decided that today was going to be a rain day. So after working until I was getting too wet, I called it a day. I got quite a bit done besides what you saw… I just didn’t finish the next step and didn’t want to take a picture of a partially completed step. Again, perfectionist.

I also had a meeting with the Fleming Student Association about a possible partnership. I didn’t snap a picture because office meeetings are terribly uninteresting to see…

Hopefully I will complete the cucumber bed tomorrow.

Till then!

Adam

Day 1 of Placement

Day 1 of Placement

My internship began today. I helped some sheep farmers near Minden with sheep shearing. I didn’t actually shear the sheep, we had professionals do it. I was a sheep mover. Some pictures…

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The fleece goes into this bag. Farmers make about $0.10/pound of wool. An average sheep has 6 lbs of wool. It costs between $5 and $8 to shear a sheep.

Nobody is in the wool game in Canada.

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The ladies all cooped up and waiting for their haircuts. Normally these sheep aren’t crowded like this. It’s just easier to catch them for shearing. In the background you’ll see a ewe and a lamb. The lamb was born this morning.

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These are the razors the shearers use. They’re electric and are attached to motors that hand overhead. The blades are in the leather case. The shearing happens on plywood to keep the fleece clean(er).

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Besides getting sheared, the farmer also uses this opportunity to give the sheep dewormer. This tool squirts it into their mouths.

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The first two shorn ewes. Notice their udders? Every ewe in here will be giving birth in the next few days.

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The expert shearers plying their trade. They’re a mother and son team from Peterborough. Jacob has trained and worked in both Scotland and Australia.

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Here, Geraldine is trimming the sheep’s hooves. In total, they can shear, deworm and trim the hooves in under five minutes. I can barely brush my teeth in that amount of time.

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Baa baa black sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir yes sir four bags full.

Each bag contains approximately 20 fleeces, weighing about 120lbs each. You would make about $12 per bag though it would cost you between $100 and $160 to get a shearer to fill it.

Why do farmers spend this much money to get them shorn? Health of the sheep. Imagine wearing a wool sweater in winter… awesome right? Now imagine wearing that same sweater in the summer…

Why don’t farmers just shear the sheep themselves? Well, some do. But these professional sheep shearers… they are amazing. Quick, careful and a whole whack of fun. It’s worth spending the money to have it done well.

Until next time!

Adam

Some photographs

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My storage/workspace.

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Dinner is always a big deal for me. Especially when it’s leftover shepherd’s pie that my mom made.

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An old implement of some sort. This area is also a major rabbit highway. I saw some coyote tracks here yesterday.

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One of my woodpiles. I have to bring all this down to my sled by toboggan. In the background you can see the shelter where the horses are hiding from the wind.

Hopeful

Last night, I awoke to the sound of snow sliding off my tent roof. This morning I found roughly five inches of wet snow on the ground.

But I have seen a robin. Last week, a migrating saw whet owl migrated through the forest behind me. A skunk has left fresh paw tracks across my morning walk. A single  Canadian goose just flew overhead.

Spring is coming.

It’s going down to -21 in the next few days.

WB: Window Poems: 13

Note: If you’re enjoying reading about my Camp Life, I would like to suggest you check out my friend Spence’s blog, Rediscover the Wild in Wilderness. He’s also living in a wall tent (see, I’m not the only crazy one!) though he’s doing it up in Thunder Bay!

The following poem comes from a book called Window Poems. It consists of a number of poems that Mr. Berry wrote in “The Camp,” a cabin on the Kentucky River. Berry had known this cabin for a long time, had grown up using it, and when he first married his wife Tanya, they returned there. The Camp was primitive, kerosene lanterns, butane stoves and an outhouse without a door (the door after all would ruin the view). Obviously, there is much about this lifestyle that I admire. The poems contained in this book were written as Berry looked out the window of The Camp at the river.

13.
Sometimes he thinks the earth
might be better without humans.
He’s ashamed of that.
It worries him,
him being a human, and needing
to think well of others
in order to think well of himself.
And there are
a few he thinks well of,
a few he loves
as well as himself almost,
and he would like to say
better. But history
is so largely unforgiveable.
And not his mighty government
wants to help everybody
even if it has to kill them
to do it–like the fellow in the story
who helped his neighbor to Heaven:
‘I heard the Lord calling him,
Judge, and I sent him on.’
According to the government
everybody is just waiting
to be given a chance
to be like us. He can’t
go along with that.
Here is a thing, flesh of his flesh,
that he hates. He would like
a little assurance
that no one will destroy the world
for some good cause.
Until he dies, he would like his life
to pertain to the earth.
But there is something in him
that will wait, even
while he protests,
for things turn out as they will.
Out of his window this morning
he saw nine ducks in filght,
and a hawk dive at his mate
in delight.
The day stands apart
from the calendar. There is a will
that receives it as enough.
He is given a fragment of time
in this fragment of the world.
He likes it pretty well.