Thiessen Farms

Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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Orange is the new blue

It was not totally unexpected.

The tractor was old & ailing. Addicted to ether, it wouldn’t start without a shot or 2 (or 3 or …) of the smelly stuff. Once running, it spewed so much smoke from the exhaust & from the engine that I could hardly see to drive. And how it leaked oil – from everywhere and all the time.

But the end was sudden – a sputter & then it stopped. I sensed that it was final. Our mechanic came by, checked it over & confirmed that the tractor was finished. It had served us well for 35 years.

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The replacement has arrived – a brand new tractor that is nothing like the old one. It is smaller & less powerful, but quicker & more nimble, easier to drive, and most importantly everything works!

But the biggest difference? It’s orange instead of blue.

 

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Any new tractor we have ever purchased (there’s been 4 or 5 in the 70 years our farm has been around) has been blue. Until now. Our neighbourhood seems to be turning orange when it comes to tractors, so who are we to buck the trend! But actually they supposed to be an excellent tractor & it seemed to best fit our needs on the farm now & for the future.

I’ve been breaking it in spreading manure & compost these last few days. So far so good!

Here’s hoping for 35 years of good, dependable service from an orange tractor!

 


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Going west

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not much for traveling. Sure there’s a whole world out there, but I’m content to let someone else explore it. Someone needs to stay at home and keep things going – I’d rather be that person!

However, 30 years of marriage warrants a celebration – a trip – or so I was told.

When markets finished at the end of October, Lorie & I caught a flight to Calgary. From there we drove through the Rockies to Vancouver to see our son & daughter-in-law. Then back to Alberta to visit with my brother & sister-in-law. It was great to see family & to visit Vancouver for the first time.

But a highlight of the trip for me was touring around the Okanogan Valley in BC. It was amazing to see farms clinging to the hillsides – fruit orchards & vineyards. Who would dare to climb a ladder to pick cherries when the ground is so steep? And who could even concentrate on work when the views are so stunning?

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Cherries are a big crop. The orchards are huge – the farm we visited was around 50 acres of sweet cherries. Others are much larger.  The trees are planted very close together. Because this area is so dry there is far less disease pressure than we experience here in humid Niagara. As a result the cherries are top quality and extremely big & firm. Most of the crop is exported to Asia with only the smaller fruit – which are still usually bigger then our cherries – sold locally.

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A young apple orchard.

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We stopped at several wineries – to enjoy the views even more than the wine!

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Closer to Vancouver, blueberries are the main crop. It’s a poor picture but they looked spectacular in their fall colours of different shades of red. And lots of water standing around – something we didn’t have this summer!

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An amazing background to the farms in Alberta, just west of Calgary near Cochrane.img_8554

It’s always great to check out other farms & see how they do things. We learn a lot & bring back ideas for our own farm.

And after 2 weeks away it’s good to be home.

I’ll admit I enjoyed our trip a lot! I may even do it again sometime …

 

 


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October or …. ?

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Our rose-bush is blooming again. Delicate pink flowers against a background of dark orange rose hips. It’s beautiful!

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Is it October or ….?

Last week we experienced the first frosts of the fall. On 2 nights the temperature approached the freezing mark, but it was not enough to cause much damage.

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Now we have returned to unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s back to shorts & T-shirts again.

And harvesting vegetables! We are still picking peppers (both sweet & hot), lettuce, bok choy, beets, salad turnips, cabbages and even eggplant. It’s great to have fresh vegetables to display at our farmers’ markets. While the Georgetown Market ended last Saturday, Oct.15, our North York Market continues this week & next.

We wondered earlier if we would have produce to sell, but our worries were unfounded – the tables are full & colourful!

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It’s a beautiful time of year on the farm too! The leaves are turning colour.

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If this is October, I’m all for it!

 

 

 


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CSA 2016 – Final week!

This is it!

We’ve reached the final week of our CSA for this season.

It’s no secret that this has been a challenging year. Drought, heat, humidity … all worked together to make it a difficult year for growing (though most farmers would agree that a drought is still better than too much rain).

However, with a lot of effort, a lot of watering, and a lot of encouragement & support from our CSA members, we succeeded in providing a box of fresh produce each week for 17 weeks. While the quantity of vegetables in the boxes was sometimes smaller & the variety of produce was less than we had planned for, both quality & taste were good.

  • Thank you to all our CSA members for joining us this season – both first-timers and returning members. (Some of you have been with us since we began our CSA 7 years ago!)
  • Thank you for allowing us to grow your family’s food.
  • Thank you for making the commitment to drive to our farm each week to pick up your box, and the commitment to then use the vegetables (including the less familiar & perhaps less liked ones).
  • Thank you for telling us how you use your produce, for sharing recipes, and for posting pictures!

You have made it a great season for us!

What’s in the final box?

Radishes, winter squash, kale, sweet peppers, garlic, onions.

extras – hot peppers.

  • Our late planting of radishes has matured & are ready for eating. They are mostly red ones, with some pink, purple mixed in. The cooler, moister conditions have resulted in mild radishes – not quite as big a bite as the earlier ones.
  • We’ve got the winter squash all picked – but lots of it is still out in the field, waiting for us to haul it in. There is some really nice squash and you will get to choose several for your share this week.
  • Kale, sweet peppers, garlic & onions will also be in the box.

Last week’s CSA pick-up.

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While CSA might be over, our season continues. We are still harvesting crops – albeit in smaller quantities now, including radishes, beets, bok choy, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers, eggplant and of course squash. While not enough for CSA, there is enough to make a nice display at the farmers’ markets which run for much of October yet.

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The tomatoes are looking weary & wild.

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The final planting of lettuce & greens are growing nicely.

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Hope to see you all again next season! 

(we’ll send sign-up details for CSA 2017 early in the new year.)

 


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CSA 2016 – week 16

Our customers at the farmers’ markets keep asking for winter squash. Our CSA members are wondering too. When will squash be ready?

… It’s ready!

Most of it has been ready for a while.

But we have not been ready. The warmer weather of late & the timely rains have kept the summer crops producing – we’re still busy picking other things. Plus, it just doesn’t seem right to be picking winter squash when it’s so warm (even hot) outside.

But perhaps the biggest reason we have not begun to pick squash is  fear  uncertainty. We transplanted the squash into the field way back in June. We weeded & watered several times and then turned our backs on it, busy with other vegetables. Many squash plants died in the drought. Then the weeds came & overtook the plot. We avoided the squash field all summer, turning our faces away whenever we passed by. Would there even be anything worthwhile in there to pick?

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Finally last week we found the courage to venture into the thicket. Surprise surprise! There is some really nice squash – not a large crop but probably ample. While we started with 29 varieties there are considerably fewer remaining, but still a good selection.

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And so today we started the harvest. There will be winter squash for our CSA this week as well as the farmers’ markets.

Finally!

What’s in the box?

Squash, Bosc pears, corn, green beans,

sweet peppers, onions & garlic.

extras – hot peppers.

  • This week your CSA boxes will have the first of our winter squash. We have only just begun to pick but there will be several kinds to choose from. Pick your favourite variety or try something new.
  • Two weeks ago we offered Bartlett pears in the CSA share. This week there will be Bosc pears! They come with the same caution. Because we did not prune, thin or spray them, they might be marked up & misshapen – but they still taste great!
  • There is still some sweet corn to pick, so enjoy a few more cobs in your box this week.
  • Our final plantings of green beans are now producing. These were seeded back when it was very dry so it took a lot of watering to get them to germinate & grow. Our efforts paid off & we are now picking some quality beans. There will not be a large quantity, but enjoy this last taste of green beans for the season.
  • The warm fall weather is perfect for the sweet peppers. We are getting our biggest picks of the season now & expect to offer a few more peppers in your share this week.

This will be the 2nd last week of our CSA for 2016.

Next week will be the final pick-up!


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CSA 2016 – week 15

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We tend to sleep in a bit later these early fall mornings – and yet we still beat the sun up! It doesn’t rise until almost 7:00 am these days. When we get outside & are ready to work, everything is covered in a heavy dew. So we tend to linger over our coffee, take our time planning the day’s work, & stall … waiting for the vegetables to dry before we can begin picking.

It’s a beautiful time of the day – my favourite time of day.

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The compost pile steaming in the early morning.

What’s in the box?

Sweet corn, sweet peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kale.

  • Sweet corn is not something we usually offer in our CSA. But this year we thought we would give it a try. Corn is easy to grow – we always grow a patch for our own use, to eat  fresh & to freeze for the winter. The difficulty growing corn for CSA is in the timing & growing the correct amount. It seems to have all worked out, so this is the week to enjoy some ears of “Honey Select” a beautiful yellow variety that (according to the seed company) features “tenderness, flavour & sweetness”.
  • Sweet peppers were a surprise in your box last week. We have been waiting & waiting for them to ripen. Throughout the drought we watered & pampered them as best we could, hoping they would flourish. Most of them made it through, but they have been taking their sweet time in ripening. The plants are loaded with fruit and are finally turning colour.

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We grew mostly shepherd peppers – the long, thin, pointed ones, and some bell peppers – the common blocky shaped ones. They both taste great with the shepherd peppers being perhaps a bit sweeter. We have them in red & yellow & the bells in red, yellow, purple, orange & green.

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  • The cabbages are also ready now – tender, mini cabbages that are just the right size for a delicious coleslaw or a 1 meal serving. We thought these smaller versions would be better than a huge cabbage that takes forever to finish. Were we correct? Let us know.
  • Tomatoes, onions, garlic & kale are also part of your CSA share this week.

 

Oliver enjoying the early fall sunshine.

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CSA 2016 – week 14

It’s September.

We’re weary & the farm is weary.

That means we have to try harder  …   to get motivated (set some goals), to get the work done (easily attainable goals), even to get out of bed in the morning (stronger coffee), and to see the beauty of the farm.

Here are some photos of the farm taken this morning – it really is still beautiful!

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What’s in the box?

Shallots, garlic, tomatoes, kale, Bartlett pears.

  • Instead of onions there will be shallots in your box this week. Shallots are similar to an onion but perhaps less pungent & a little sweeter, with a hint of garlic. This makes them excellent to use raw.
  • Surprise! Pears! I know we aren’t growing fruit anymore, but we do have a few pear trees left that we did not manage to get cut down last fall. They were neglected – not pruned, thinned, sprayed or looked after in any way. All season I have been watching the fruit form & grow, wondering how it would turn out. The pears are not pretty! They are misshapen, damaged by insects & disease. But we are including them in your share this week because … pears are something new & different for you to eat this week, we did not want them all to go to waste, even the grocery chains are now selling imperfect fruit, and while they can be considered organic, they do show the necessity & importance of using pesticides to grow beautiful & perfect fruit. Also, they taste really good! Eat them now when they are mostly crunchy, or let them ripen at room temperature until they soften, get more yellow, and become sweeter.

Last week’s CSA share.

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