Soggy blog

April 27th, 2015 by Cedar Isle Farm

On the farm the rain has actually been welcomed – Jim worked like the dickens to get all the spring wheat seeded before the deluge and he succ(s)eeded!  And thus the kernels of spring wheat are soaking up the moisture and readying to burst into plants.



The knack of planting does not come without a knack for troubleshooting, so lest you think the life of a farmer is only dampened by premature rains or hungry ducks, we include a picture of Jim wrestling with the seeder.  A person needs to calibrate the machine, to control the amount of seed per row per spread of the spigots on the seeder.  Personally I have used a yardstick, a tape measure, or a length of wood, but I am planting one seed and one row at a time in the vegetable patch!  The seeder saves a person that amount of effort, but mathematical calculations on distance between rows and kernels, over the span of the seeder and the length of the rows, calls for a bit of head scratching, scribbling on paper, and then a sample weight of seed dispersed into a bucket by manual rotation of the cog, to make sure the planting is optimal. A mere few hours later, Jim is back in the driver’s seat and studding the field with kernels of wheat.



Our second image on this rainy day blog is of the fall rye on a glorious day earlier last week, planted in the fall and now thigh high and a luscious green – Mount Cheam looms in the background, our mountainous touchstone and companion in all we undertake in this part of the valley.  And a shot of Yoshi’s garlic, readying for harvest in July.  His potato starts are still thinking about things.



And then we include a big hello from a bear.  We walked, Yoshi, Diane and myself, as well as Bella and Axle the Dogs, around the circumference of the farm of an evening, and the next late afternoon, I discovered that the bear(s) were back.  We delight in sharing the farm, with ducks, swallows, bears and beavers, owls, the occasional skunk, and of course the frogs.  The bears are of special stature, and we appreciate their calling cards.  They leave wet paw prints on the road, crushed patches of grass where they too like a good roll, bits of fur on the barbed wire, and stool samples, black and showing evidence of a diet of grasses at this time of year.

Stay dry – the week ahead promises some sun!



Happy spring greetings from Cedar Isle Farm

April 22nd, 2015 by Cedar Isle Farm

Happy spring greetings and welcome back to Urban Grains!

The new season is definitely here on the farm and change is in the air…

When Urban Grains CSA was formed in 2009, it was run by Martin and Ayla in Vancouver and Cedar Isle Farm was the sole grain supplier.  Over the years, the management of the program has shifted to the farm.  After some thought, we have decided to change the name of the CSA to reflect the fact that the program now comes under the umbrella of Cedar Isle Farm.

As well as the new name, the CSA will have some new options. We will still be offering 20kg shares of flour or kernels, as before,  but we will also offer 10kg half shares for those who find the smaller quantity more manageable.

This year we are also growing some new crops on the farm which you can order as ‘add-ons’ to your grain share. We will have oat kernels available as well as certified organic garlic and potatoes. If you order any of these products, we will bring them to Vancouver along with your share of the grain harvest.

Finally, we have a new face to welcome. In addition to Jim, Diane and Yoshi, Henrie deBoer joins us this season. Henrie is a marvel around the farm and has agreed to write blog posts as the year unfolds. You can read her first one below to give you a sense of life on the farm in early April.

So stay tuned! We are excited about the upcoming changes and hope you will enjoy them too!

Diane and Jim in Agassiz
Yoshi in Vancouver

Here is Henrie’s first post.

A fine harbinger of spring on Cedar Isle Farm is the two-toned call of the red winged blackbird sounding across the pond.  A person can then find hints of yellow on the forsythia, and the cover crops on the field slowly ‘fatten up’.  The blades look fuller, greener, and it grows.  Shortly after the blackbirds start calling their spring song, the frogs come to life, filling the night with frog song.  The Italian honey bees leave the hives and fill the early flowering fruit trees with a buzz of activity.  Other birds return year after year – the flocks of swallows that suddenly swoop and swirl in celebration, or tumble all of a line off the hydro wires fill the heart with joy.  We might doubt, in the gloom of sodden skies and days of rain, that the season will change, but the exuberance of the swallows in their communal flight and flurry makes it official.

The first real scent of spring on the farm is the manure being spread on the fields. It does not sound romantic, and those with little connection to life on the farm might find the smell offensive, heady.  The tractors and their honey wagons slow traffic as they make their way from barns to fields.  They make the slow circles with the spray providing a happy boost to grasses grown for fodder, and to fallow fields waiting for their spring seeding.

Jim gets antsy in the spring.  He works through his daily chores with an eye to the weather and ground conditions outside.  His tractor gets a once-over.  He looks for his thermos and his hat.  The first task is to plough the fields, turning in the cover crops.  The cover crops serve a few functions – they keep the winter winds from stripping off the top layer, and they provide some nutrition to the soil, putting back instead of just taking.  We replenish our bodies with food after a day of work and activity; the fields require the same care and attention after a season of growth and harvest.

After the fields have been ploughed, they get a disking, whereby the big clods are rendered much finer.  This year the weather provided a fine stretch of dry.  Ploughing and disking takes days of endless circles and runs on the tractor, and the seeding must then follow.  The oats have been sown in the near field.  The field looks like a blank canvas.  With the rains of last night, it won’t be long before the oats have sprouted and show green.  Spring has arrived on Cedar Isle Farm.


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