Newsletter #4 – June 2008

Newsletter #4 – 2008

18/06/2009 5:03:03 PM

~ Thompson Small Farm ~

Newsletter #4 – June 2008


Hello all! 


April conditions continued until about mid-June this year… and then it got hot.


It is interesting to watch how the different vegetables respond to the given year.  With the sudden heat, peas and some mustard greens and some lettuces simply began to grow again out of the stunted state the cool weather had left them in.  Others – certain other lettuces, spinaches and radishes for example, instead of resuming normal growth, went immediately to seed.  So we ended up with tiny plants too small to be harvested and yet more-or-less finished their growth cycle.  We probably lost a good half of our early production to this phenomenon.


On the other hand, the hoop houses we built from tubing, rebar and builder’s plastic are working very well, as are the raised beds.  As for the hoop-houses, (relatively sustainable greenhouses without environmentally and monetarily costly supplementary heating), I would not have expected plants to withstand the sort of heat built up in there during the day (50° Celsius!), yet they not only survive it, they thrive.  This gives some insight into why things are so slow in the fields, where some vegetables can take an entire season and not reach the size their brethren reach in the houses in a matter of weeks! 


Raised-beds and hoop-houses are perhaps the answer for production in Alberta.  Both are intended primarily to extend the season – to allow early spring and later fall planting, and even over-wintering, but not for height of season production.  But in a year like this, they are clearly the answer to getting healthy growth from produce.  If you keep the water on them, and so far this year, there has been no shortage of that!  Next year, there will be more use of these structures.  Of course, next year could be an entirely different year.  Comes with the territory.


Natural inhabitants of the farm are having mixed success this year as well.  It’s a great year for frogs and salamanders, with the aquatic young of both abounding in our pond and potholes.  Ducks have not done so well, with very small numbers of young.  We have two blue-winged teal youngsters on the big pond where last year there were numbers of them.  And no mallards.  We do have a sora rail nesting somewhere in the verges of the pond – interesting, skulking little “now you see me, now you don’t!” birds.  The barn swallows did not fare well this year.  Arriving late May and early June to the cool conditions, they found very few flying bugs to eat. (We didn’t start noticing mosquitoes until the middle of June!)  I found one adult dead under a nest, starved I expect, and I imagine this was the fate of numbers of them.


Our three oldest female yaks are decidedly pregnant!  This was an unexpected surprise, as we didn’t think the little herd of eight would be old enough to produce young until next year.  But they are decidedly barrel-like compared to their normal selves and their compatriots.  We’d better get to work soon on milking-chutes!


We thought you’d enjoy the quote below, as it echoes an understanding that is implicit in your support. 


Thanks you!


          Andrea and Jon



“…there are too few actual farmers left to reform anything… reform is going to have to come from the consumers.  Industrial agriculture is an urban invention, and if agriculture is going to be reinvented, it’s going to have to be reinvented by urban people.”   


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