April 17, 2023

It’s been a busy week, which considering the weather should be a surprise to nobody.  Monday morning started with getting the guys going on harvest, then breakfast and chores with the plan to get right on to harvesting the parsnips and spreading manure after that.  But about as we were done chores the guys working on the new ramp at the front of the house wanted to borrow an extension cord, and then the feed truck was here with feed for the chickens.  Shouldn’t have been a big job, but the mill was over a bit on quantity so the one tonne that just fits in our bin turned out to be one and a quarter tonne, so we cleaned out a second bin that was mostly empty into bags so we could split the load.  I don’t remember all what happened next, but before we knew it we were having a late lunch, and no parsnips had been loosened for harvest yet.  Later in the afternoon we did manage to harvest the last of the parsnips, and tested the manure spreader.  After some adjustments we thought it was field ready, but were at least smart enough to start with a half load.  Well it’s parked back by the shop to address more problems.  We got parts in on Friday and it’s partially reassembled, but we’re not even convinced we have found the actual problem yet.  Anyway, that was Monday.

This week in CSA we have Lettuce, Baby Kale, Radishes, Carrots, and Parsnips.

We are still forging ahead towards upgrading our greenhouse ventilation.  This week we made a bit of progress cleaning up the outside edges of two greenhouses to better manage weeds so they don’t interfere with the automatic rollup sidewalls.  We are soothing things out a bit, removing some of the existing weeds, and screwing black landscape fabric to the side to hopefully block the first few feet of weeds.  We hope this will provide a better mowable edge for the future for easier maintenance.  No word yet on when the parts will be ready for pickup, but that’s no reason to not make progress where we can.

It’s been a busy week for harvest.  Beyond the parsnips we already mentioned we harvested, washed and packed over 90 Kg of lettuce from the greenhouse this week as well as smaller amounts of kale, spinach, arugula, radishes, parsley and more.  Everything grows too well right now that it feels like it is all ready at once.

I was starting to think I would be writing that the sheep were making us wait another week for lambs.  Thursday was officially supposed to be the start of our lambing season, but as of Saturday night there were no lambs and not even any ewes acting as if they would be lambing overnight.  Then Sunday morning we checked and there was a set of twins already half dry standing by their mother.  Easy enough.  That’s our favourite way to do lambing – no problems and they look after themselves.  We get them in a pen with still plenty of time for breakfast, the rest of chores, and opening greenhouses before hopefully making it to church on time.  But it’s always worth one more check that everyone is ok before leaving.  And good thing too.  There was another ewe clearly in the early stages of lambing already calling to her unborn lamb.  And after a bit we notice a second ewe has separated herself into a corner as they often do just before lambing.  Well, change of plans.  We are thankful for the option to join church online that we have had since early in 2020. Nathan had to go turn off sprinklers in the greenhouse and before he was back to the barn with the computer for church the second ewe had already had one lamb.  Then one from the first, another two from the second, and the second from the first.  Four lambs born during church, three needing some help and we went from no lambs to seven in one morning.  Lambing season has begun!

Somehow between all this the van is working again.  Aleta’s Dad came over to look at it and the manure spreader on Tuesday.  Nathan tried to work on it on Monday and by the time we put it back together on Tuesday it worked fine.  We’re guessing some corrosion was causing a bad ground connection on the starter, but regardless of the reason we are back on the road.  Our other equipment good news story is that we added the extra plumbing for a third row on the transplanter.  It is now nearly field ready when we are ready to plant onions.

This week is supposed to be quite a change from last.  Not that seasonal is a problem, but the swings in temperature are hard on everything, us included.  Heat in the high 20s outside when we aren’t acclimated and are still busy in the greenhouse even for us is hard.  The rhubarb is just peking through the ground and the garlic has grown substantially just since last week.  They should be fine, but if we get a hard freeze which seems worth expecting the rhubarb will need covering.  We’ve had too many years recently where the Asparagus is up before the last freeze and then we need to wait another week for it to recover.  Hopefully not this year, but not much we can do about it regardless.  And with how dry it was last week we recall last summer’s drought.  Everything just seems less predictable than it once was.  But for now, if weather and equipment will cooperate at the same time, we’ll try to keep getting the fields ready.  Maybe even pull the seeder out and plant some seeds if it’s not too cold and wet.  There is still too much to do inside anyway, and another 60 Kg of lettuce to harvest before Wednesday so we won’t be bored.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

April 10, 2023

Another sign of spring this week.  The garlic is starting to come up.  It feels like it is earlier than last year, but I can’t find anywhere I recorded it then so hard to be sure.  We put the wood chips on just a little lighter last fall so maybe that is making the difference, or maybe the warmer winter didn’t freeze the ground as hard, but whatever the reason they look good so far, one of the first real signs of spring in the field.  With the beautiful weather in the field we may be tempted to plant some early greens, but last year the weather turned cold and our early seeding results weren’t great so we’ll have to decide.  But it’s not too early to spread manure and start fieldwork so we’ll be busy regardless.

For this week’s behind the scenes, for those of you who saw us on Saturday at market, most of you didn’t get the story of us getting there.  Like most weeks, our Saturday starts at 3:45 am so we have time for breakfast and loading the van in time for a 5 am departure.  As has been the case lately, the van is quite full so loading takes a bit of creativity.  But we did it.  In great time too.  At 4:45 we were all loaded and pulled the van out of the shop to fuel up in plenty of time for 5 am departure when our help arrived.  We were all set to go a couple minutes past five, and the van decided that it didn’t want to start.  We have been through too much of this before with this van, so we have accumulated a list of things to try.  Twenty minutes with a booster pack, jumper cables, and a screwdriver across the terminals of the starter motor failed to produce results.  Fortunately, we have a pickup truck and an enclosed trailer.  So with four of us working, we managed to get everything loaded across to the trailer and the truck fuelled up shortly before 6 am with the trailer lights working mostly the way they should and were back somewhat on track if an hour later than planned.  It was a hastier setup then usual, but we managed.  And there were many things to be thankful for.  1). We still made it.  Thankful we have a truck and trailer.  2). The van is at home.  This is much cheaper and more convenient than getting it towed home.  3). We already are working on replacing the van.  The new one is supposed to be ready sometime in May, but we haven’t heard any updates lately so we’ll know when it arrives I guess. 4). We leave enough time to survive the unexpected with some grace.  Normally that is for loading taking longer than is expected, or weather, traffic, and construction delaying us, but whatever the reason, time helps.  It had been just long enough since the last problems with the van that Nathan was starting to think he would miss it when the new van arrived, so this should help with that.  For now if it isn’t easy to fix we’ll keep running with the truck and trailer.  And we look forward to having a van that we don’t need a list of what to try when it doesn’t work.

CSA this week we have Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss chard, Kalepini, Carrots, and Radishes.

Today some of our extended family is gathering to celebrate Easter.  And since we are still in the early stages of automating our greenhouse vents, we will be staying home to manage greenhouse vents.  Doing a job that a computer could do better.  We have more parts ordered to finish the job, so hopefully this is the last year missing celebrations to manage vents.  But it is all a process, and there is a lot of work yet ahead of us to reach that goal.  And much to be thankful for in how far we have come.

Well there is lots to do this week.  Hopefully we can dig the last of the spring parsnips.  The tractor we usually use for loosening them is currently at the tractor doctor for a smoking cessation program so we’ll have to see how this job goes without four wheel drive.  It’s a beautiful week if the sheep decide to start lambing, and we’re all set up.  But it is still extra work.  And hopefully there is time to start spreading manure.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

April 3, 2023

Its really starting to feel like spring again.  Yesterday our toddler decided we all had to go out and enjoy the weather together in the yard.  Not something we might have decided for ourselves, but it was actually really nice.  Today we start another busy day of spring activity so I’ll dive right into this week’s update!

One sure sign of spring is that the birds are back.  Sure, there have been robins for a bit, and already weeks ago migrating flocks of geese.  But for us today, meat chickens are back!  We pick up batch one of our chicks this afternoon.  We already have their home cleaned and mostly prepped for their arrival and pre warmed to their delicate standards.  Looking forward to getting the little peepers moved in!

With spring arriving all around us it is only another six weeks until the start of our Summer CSA season.  People are already signing up, and while there is still plenty of time to sign up before the season starts, this could still be a good time to start thinking about it!  This week in CSA we have Lettuce, Carrots, Rutabaga, Beets, Bok Choi, and Cabbage.

With spring come lambs.  Not yet, but soon.  We are making progress toward being ready.  On Saturday the rams went for a ride home so that is one step.  There is a little more manure that could use cleaning out before we set up the lambing pens, but if that didn’t happen before lambs arrive it wouldn’t be a disaster.  Officially 10 more days to go, but we’ll see what really happens.

As daily average temperatures are tending more towards the plus side we set up the water timers for the greenhouses.  Running nine sprinkler zones manually every other day was getting to be a lot, and we have the technology to do it for us so it was time to get back to using it.  But nothing ever goes completely smoothly so some monitoring is still required.  Yesterday we found one valve with nothing attached to it was apparently running a program and just flooding the end of a greenhouse.  And some other zones had ice in hoses that led between greenhouses so the water couldn’t get through.  And there were connections to tighten or replace.  It will be nice, but setting it up is a lot of work each year.

We are trying to re pick up our fencing projects from last fall.  We got a lot of posts dug in last fall before freeze, but hadn’t made much progress since.  But this week Nathan managed to build a few brace panels to make sturdy ends and corners to stretch the wire between.  Hopefully there is time for a few more this week and maybe we can even get some wire up!  We have serious ambitions for fencing this year, but any progress is at least a start.  Isn’t there some saying about a fence of a thousand metres begins with one post?  It was something like that anyway.

Well there is lots to do.  The guys are already harvesting lettuce and we need to check the brooder one more time to make sure it is ready for the chicks.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 27, 2023

Well it hasn’t felt like much of a week for completing projects.  It started busy with a variety of projects, and ended with Nathan sick.  But there is still stuff happening so we’ll get right in to this week’s update.

We are continuing to transplant tomatoes into the production houses.  The first ones are really starting to look established and should take to growing over the next few weeks.  This week we also started seeding cabbage for field planting in late April or early May.  Things are really coming along and moving toward spring.

This week in CSA we have Lettuce Mix, Kalepini, Cabbage, Clancy Potatoes, Parsley, and Carrots.

Recently our guardian dog has decided he doesn’t care much about fences.  Especially when they are half buried in snow, they don’t seem to be much of an obstruction.  And once a habit is formed it is that much harder to break.  We knew we needed to do something about it, but what and how soon.  Then last week our neighbour sent us a message that he was over there and apparently digging holes.  That night he got chained up.  It kept him home, but it’s not much of a life, and prevents him from doing his job.  After only a few days of tying him up one morning when we let him off we saw coyotes closer than we would normally expect him to let them.  We needed a better solution for both of us.  Fortunately technology has a solution.  We got a GPS boundary fence collar for him.  We can set his boundary to allow him access to most of the farm while keeping him home and safely away from the road.  Since we didn’t have time for proper training sessions we set the collar to the vibrate so he wouldn’t get unexpected shocks, but at least it would send us updates if he went wandering in the mean time.  Well apparently he doesn’t like his collar vibrating because he’s only pushed the boundary twice and come back home right away both times.  It seems like we have a smart dog and might never have to use a stronger deterrent to wandering.

One project that we have at least mostly done now is gravel in front of the fuel pumps.  It is good enough to use anyway, but could use a bit of soothing out.  And there is a bit of broken concrete block left over from demolition that we want to burry somewhere in that gravel so that should happen before final grading, but at least we won’t be getting stuck there anytime soon.  In the process of hauling gravel and fill around we managed to rut up the laneways fairly thoroughly so we tried to fix that too, but we’ll have to wait until it drys out to do that properly.  

As spring approaches we are getting ready for lambing season!  Officially according to the calendar we should be starting on April 13th, but looking at the ewes we almost wonder if some might come early.  At any rate, three weeks from now we expect to have little ones bouncing around with the sheep.  And before then we have some rams that need to be separated from the flock and sent home.  Ideally we’ll get a bit more manure cleaned out before then too but we’ll see what actually happens.   

A week from today we are getting our first batch of meat chickens.  So this week we need to get their trailer cleaned out and ready for them.  Seven weeks until fresh chicken!

Well it’s another busy week with lots to do while trying to balance health and work.  The crew is here already harvesting Lettuce and Kale for Wednesday so I should go check how they are doing.  

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 20, 2023

It’s been a busy week, but we survived.  Even got a few things done we weren’t counting on.  But as busy weeks tend to go, some tasks have been pushed on to the following week.  The front of the house is a bit torn up right now with the accessibility upgrades, but it seems that customers have mostly been able to find their way through to the garage for eggs and order pickups.  At least chores are going faster with fewer hens since Wednesday, but we still haven’t finished manure clean out or moved the new hens into the main henhouse.  But we got started on the spring manure clean out for the sheep, so at least there is some progress.  

Don’t let the recent string of snowstorms fool you, spring is on the way!  And since the greenhouses allow us to get a jump on the season, we planted the first tomatoes out between rows of lettuce in the production house on Saturday!  It will be a few months yet, but we are looking forward to early cherry tomatoes this summer!

This week in CSA we have Bok Choi, Baby Kale, Spring Radish, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, and Parsley

Rainy days late last week pushed more work inside.  But there are always projects there too.  Nathan has been working on rebuilding a cultivator to hopefully improve weed management in the summer.  At this point it is torn down into about a hundred pieces for repairs and painting.  Hopefully with a few more weeks of on and off work it will be ready for the summer to do a good job and look good doing it!  It sure is a lot of pieces!  And now when we work late there are nice lights in the shop!

After a slow start on Saturday market picked up and it turned out to be a really good day.  After a few slower weeks with lower availability on some products and Saturday snowstorms it felt good to be busy again with more greens and to move through some of our backlog of egg inventory from the previous few weeks.  So we just wanted to say thank you for your continued support for us at market and through your orders.  It is what makes this all possible.

For the past several weeks we have enjoyed having our seedling house venting on computer control.  Not only is it one job we don’t have to worry about, but hearing the motor adjusting the vent throughout the day is a reminder of how much better job it can do than we ever could.  But there are more zones that still keep us on our toes.  So our Sunday plans were thwarted for a few hours because vents needed to be managed.  It seems like a lot to manage this spring getting more zones automated, but managing them by hand is stressful, and expensive when we fail.  So it’s still a goal we are working toward.  And with each improvement we are freed up to work toward the next.  

We started on the driveway upgrades by the fuel pumps, but only got half way while the equipment was available.  So we are still at the point where things are worse before they get better.  Some of the area has gravel, but there is work still to do.  We think we have a plan for equipment, but when exactly this week hasn’t been fully decided.  It is possible to get fuel by parking on a funny angle, which I suppose is an improvement to the mud we had before, but we’re looking forward to the project being finished.

Well if the weather hasn’t scared them off we’re expecting the guys for the renovations to be here anytime, and the crew is already here for the greenhouse.  Lots to do so we’d best get back to it.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 13th 2023

It’s been a busy week here so we’ll dive right in with what’s new!

This week we have a few product updates.  First, lettuce should be back this week at market.  If we have a lot of cloud cover this week it might not be much, but we are hoping to have enough growth that a decent amount should be available.  The first Bok Choi should also be available this week!  We still have dandelion available this week, and possibly next before we are headed for another gap between plantings.  And the parsley is doing nicely so we should have good availability on that for a while now.  

This is our delivery week for the Dufferin area which means pickup only this Wednesday at Montgomery’s Inn.  So get those orders in by tonight!

This week we finally upgraded the lighting in the packing house.  We are now using high efficiency LED lighting, but the efficiency wasn’t even the main point of the upgrade.  Until now the lights have been Metal Halide which while far more efficient than incandescent, have the significant downside of taking about five minutes to warm up to full brightness.  So if we need to make a quick trip in to get something at night it isn’t even worth turning them on because they take too long.  Anyway, as an example, a few weeks ago I went to get something from the cooler (where we already have LED lighting) and figured I could make it the thirty or so feet from the door in the dark to get there.  But people move things, and I walked straight into a plant cart and bruised my hand.  It’s just the sort of thing that happens more often than it should because the lights are slow.  Well not anymore!  It is nice and bright at the flick of a switch!  No more stumbling around in the dark or backing the van into a dark building after an evening market!  And all this at 30% of the energy usage of the old lights.

CSA this week we have Baby Kale, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, Garlic, and Delicata Squash.

We got the sheep sheered!  Everyone looks ok, and it is nice being able to see the actual baby shape to know how everyone is doing.  We normally trim hooves as well at sheering, but after doing a bit of reading on pre lambing sheering decided it was better to keep them on their backs for as little time as possible.  Our sheerer is great for that – three minutes for a full haircut, but adding hoof trimming would double that.  So they will have to wait until after lambing for their mani pedi.  But for now, if anyone wants a whole bunch of dirty wool, we have fleeces for sale.

We have Eggs!  The new flock is laying a significant amount and we are starting to see more medium and even a few large and fewer peewee day by day.  So it is time for the old flock to leave and the new hens to move into the main henhouse.  So this Saturday we will have fresh soup hens available!  And lots of eggs of most sizes and duck eggs available too so start dreaming egg recipes and soup!

The onions we planted last week have germinated and the seedling house is getting full.  Before too long we will be moving the first tomatoes to the production houses, but before that happens seedlings will be overflowing into the second greenhouse as the big spring seedling push gears up.  From now until May we will be filling space faster than we can empty it.  

It’s looking like another busy week this week again.  We are having some renovations done for accessibility on the house and that is supposed to start today.  And while we have equipment on site we are hoping to add gravel a few places by the front of the greenhouse and by the fuel pumps.  Getting the van stuck in the mud in front of the pumps a few weeks ago helped remind us that is still a project that needs completing.  And then Wednesday we have egg grading and deliveries as usual plus this week chicken processing so between the two of us that will be a lot of driving for one day and an early morning for both of us.  And somewhere between that we somehow need to keep up on all the other daily and weekly tasks so it should be a full week.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 6, 2023

For a change this week, it is easy to forget that we are in fact one week closer to spring than we were last week.  It surely doesn’t feel like it.  But time marches on, and the calendar reminds us that it is now time to start seeding onions to be transplanted to the field late April if conditions allow.  Our seedling house is currently in transition from lettuce seedlings bound for the greenhouse to flats of onions waiting to germinate along side tomato and pepper seedlings bound for the greenhouse in a few more week’s time.  But for now winter persists, and on Saturday we had some serious winter driving conditions to contend with.

This Wednesday we are back in person at Montgomery’s Inn, so there will be no delivery route.

CSA this week we have Carrots, Potatoes, Parsnips, Garlic, Arugula, Rutabagas, and Parsley.

The manure spreader is finally finished and out of the shop.  Well mostly finished anyway.  We still need to bolt the floor to the new support bar, but it is for now out of the shop anyway.  And one project out means space for another project in the shop.  So now we are working on upgrading an old cultivator to better suit our current needs.  And we’re painting at least some of it while we are at it so it looks better and lasts longer.  It might still be old equipment, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t look ok again!    For those of you more interested in the how and the why of these upgrades, the old unit (modified from an auction find five years ago) was set up to cultivate two rows in one bed, mounted on the back of a tractor.  The nice thing about this unit is that each row has independent float from the toolbar riding on gauge wheel allowing much better depth control than any of our other cultivators.  But I wanted to cultivate three rows in a bed, and it just isn’t set up for that and there isn’t enough space to add the extra row unit.  The basic idea is to make a centre unit that can do both sides of the centre row out to the edges of the outside rows.  So we’re taking it apart for parts, painting, modifying, planning on welding, and putting it all back together for it’s new purpose.  It will be just another tool in our evolving cultivation toolbox, but getting that right in a variety of crop and field conditions makes a huge difference in weeding labour and the final crop.  

Other than that we basically got through the normal daily work and dug out from two snow storms.  Well after repairing the blade for the tractor that we use for pushing snow.  Twice.  Different parts each time, so it’s not that the first repair didn’t work.  We are expecting a feed truck tomorrow, so we had extra reason to dig out well in spite of the difficult packing snow conditions on soft gravel.  Hopefully we did a good enough job.

This week is sheep shearing time.  This is a change from past years to get before lambing.  It should keep the sheep cleaner for lambing and not as shaggy by the time it gets hot out.  If we waited any later we would be into lambing season, and by the time that is done it is already hot, and shearers are too busy elsewhere and hard to schedule.  Plus summer shearing puts the sheep at risk for sunburn so shearing early while they are still inside allows them time to grow back a bit of wool before they are out in the summer sun.

Well that’s the news for this week.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

February 27, 2023

Well we’ve done it.  For the last twelve years we have been managing greenhouse vents manually, and now we have the seedling house vents automated.  This will save us some time in the long run, but saving time is only the third and least important reason we are making this change.  The first and most important reason is for our lifestyle.  Managing vents manually means never being far from home and always available, 7 days a week, for months at a time over the winter and spring.  Yesterday was mostly sunny with a bit of cloud which means we would have had to stay home to manage vents, but because we now have the vent controlled by computer we were able to go to church.  Over the years we have missed family Easter celebrations, and even been late for Christmas once not to mention countless other events because of the greenhouse.  This won’t solve all of that since there are three more greenhouses that we still haven’t automated, but this zone always has had the fastest temperature swings, so it had the tightest hold on our schedules.  The second reason for automation is because it can do a better job than we ever could without it.  At very best, if we were working full time in the greenhouses we could open and close the vents as we noticed the temperature changing.  And sometimes that is the case.  But even then, we don’t consistently notice at set temperature thresholds.  Temperatures change, and we adapt before changing the conditions.  And that would be if we were always in the greenhouse.  The rest of the time we try to notice conditions changing and open or shut vents as needed, but sometimes it gets missed.  Just in the last week before installing the vent motor there was at least once that we missed opening on time and it was 39ºC inside before it got opened, and several times where it got cloudy and the furnace was on to keep it warm before we noticed and closed the vent.  So that will be a change as well.  Hopefully the plants appreciate their new computer controlled environment.

This week in CSA we have Lettuce Mix, Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Garlic, and winter sweet squash.

This is our delivery week for Dufferin area folks and pickup only at the Montgomery’s Inn so get those orders in by tonight!

In addition to progress on greenhouse automation (can you tell we’re excited?) we were able to make some progress on the manure spreader again.  We picked up the new piece of steel from the welding shop to replace the rusty parts I took there a few weeks ago.  We must have done our measurements right because it fit perfectly and is now bolted in place.  Now just a bit of final reassembly and a bit of welding and it should be ready to go for hopefully another five years.  We’re really looking forward to having this rather bulky piece of equipment back out of the shop so we can work on other things!

More eggs are coming!  Well not quite yet.  But the new flock is starting to lay a few eggs per day, right about on schedule.  So far those eggs are not only few, but very small so they won’t be appearing at market this week or next.  In the mean time, duck egg production is really starting to take off, so if you’ve wanted to try duck eggs this would be a good opportunity. They are richer and eggier than chicken eggs so if you enjoy eggs that have flavour they are a treat!  The old flock of hens is not keeping up with the level of production we are used to, so egg supply will continue to be tight the next few weeks.  We’ve been wondering if the change in diet from how many greens and weeds we were giving them might be a factor so we are trying to ration greenhouse weeds to one bin per day to see if that is a better balance, but there are so many other factors of time of year, temperature in the coop, and age of the birds that it is hard to say anything for sure.  For now we’ll just be thankful for the eggs we get and eat more duck eggs.

Customers are always asking for greens forecasts, so here is what we are expecting for the next little while.  Greens are growing, but never fast enough.  This week we have a bit of second cut from a late planting of lettuce that we plan to be harvesting.  It’s hard to predict actual yield from that, but safe to say it will probably be less than we had last week.  Hopefully by the following week the new second planting of lettuce has reached a respectable size for harvest so we don’t have a gap.  Arugula continues to hold out in small quantities for now, and the new planting is making slow progress.  And the planting after that is germinating so there will be more at some point at least.  Baby Kale is producing consistently as it should, but demand has far exceeded what we had the nerve to plant based on previous year’s sales experience.  We’ll take it as a win anyway.  Dandelions are coming.  Not this week, but possibly next.  The first Bok Choi are also coming along nicely.  We’re forecasting two to three weeks for those to be ready, but they are coming!  Spinach continues to be disappointing at the time of year it should be in it’s prime.  We’ll have a few, but not much.  Well that’s about it for what we have growing.  We’re trying some Swiss Chard for early spring harvest as well, but those are still in the trays so it will be a while.

Well that’s most of the news for this week anyway and as always there is lots to get done.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

February 20, 2023

Some days it is easy to forget it is still February.  Such was the case the middle of last week when it warmed up so much that all the frost was out of the ground, and not for the first time this winter.  This time we took advantage of this fact to accomplish the earliest harvest of “spring” dug parsnips.  It was for sure the earliest in the year I have ever had the tractor out in the field pulling something through the ground.  Between that and spending so much time in the greenhouse looking at green and growing things I’d be about ready to take the winter tires off if I didn’t have a calendar to remind me which month it is.  But then already now we are back to more seasonal temperatures.  Larger fluctuations seem to be the new normal.

CSA this week we have Lettuce, Parsnips, Beets, Carrots, Garlic, and Potatoes.

Part of normal for this time of year is watching the weather and adjusting greenhouse venting as necessary.  It’s not that hard a job, or even that time consuming, but you have to be there to do it at the right time, and it is never far from mind.  It is worst from February through May, but requires some thought all year.  And it makes it hard to leave home anytime between 9am and 4pm because you are always watching for changes in cloud cover or wind or temperature that could change venting needs.  This has been our normal for the last 12 years, but change is on the way.  Last fall we installed a controller and vent motors in one greenhouse.  We are now working on the seedling house which has always been the most sensitive to change, and therefore seemed like our shortest leash.  Now most of the wiring has been done, but not connecting to the main power, or to the motor itself.  Hopefully by the end of the week it will be running and we can leave on Sunday morning for church without as much thought to the weather.  There are a few more to go, but it is more progress since last fall than we had made in over a decade before that.

Pork Available!

Recently a friend of ours got out of the pastured pork business after getting a job offer elsewhere that was too good to miss.  As part of her winding down the pork business we were able to purchase two pigs that we now have in the freezer available for sale.  This means we have new stock of Organic Fed Pastured Pork.  Products include Sausage, Bacon, Chops, Roasts, Ribs, and Smoked Pork Hocks, if you want a bulk order let us know.  All quantities are while they last.  These products will mostly only be available for pre order.

Fresh parsnips this week inspired me to roast some.  They are always sweeter when they have been in the ground over winter, so I was excited to try them.  And this time I found a new recipe which turned out fantastic!

Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips 2lbs

Olive Oil 1Tbsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Pepper 1/4 tsp

Chicken Stock 1 cup

Butter 4 Tbsp

Garlic 2 cloves

Cut parsnips into sticks.  Toss to coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place in casserole dish and add chicken stock.  Cover and bake at 400F for 25 minutes.  Make garlic butter by combining butter with minced garlic.  Add garlic butter to parsnips and return to oven uncovered for 10 minutes.

We served them with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

This week’s winter project progress report includes assembling the new transplanter minus a few parts that need modification for our needs, and starting re assembly on the manure spreader.  The one piece is still at the welding shop so we are held up on that (it was supposed to be ready a week ago) but we’ve made what progress we could.  As already mentioned we also made progress on the greenhouse controller install and we got the sheep water bowl installed and operating!  Always more to do but it’s progress.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

Feb. 13th, 2023

We are finally far enough into February that we are really starting to notice the increased day length.  And stuff is growing again a little better than it has the last months.  Not yet enough to make a huge difference in supply at market, but it is coming at least!

This week we are back to our delivery route for our Dufferin area customers and pickup only at Montgomery’s Inn.  Market was better than we’d had recently at the Inn, so that is encouraging anyway, but it is so much easier to make progress at home when we aren’t trying to do a second market at the same time.

Last Monday was the second day for our Environmental Farm Plan update.  At least it’s done now.  Learned a few things we hadn’t thought about before that could use improving, but overall not the most intellectually stimulating activity overall.  But now we’re at least up to date for the next five years.  

Tomatoes are coming!  Well not for a while, but we have the first seedlings growing.  So now in the next few weeks we will be potting them into individual pots to let them grow for a while in the seedling house before they get transplanted into the ground in the production houses.  Then they just need to grow a couple feet taller and make some fruit, but hay at least they are started, right?  We’re excited anyhow about this reminder that spring is coming!  Looking forward to early cherry tomatoes this summer.

Duck Eggs are here!  The new flock started laying late last week.  Well so far it was one for a few days and now two yesterday.  But we take it as a sign that more will be starting soon.  So soon they will be a regular part of our egg options at market.  For those of you not familiar with duck eggs, I like to think of them as like a really good pastured chicken egg, but even more, and richer.    

CSA this week we have Baby Kale, Delicata Squash, Carrots, Watermelon Radish, Onions, and Huckleberry Gold Potatoes.

We finally traded in our old transplanter and picked up the new one this week.  A slight amount of final assembly will be required to turn it into a functional machine, but at least it is here.  And much the same as I had done with the previous transplanter, I will have to make an adaptor to run water to the three wheels we intend to use rather than the two that come stock.  Nothing that a few hours of work can’t accomplish, but it’s another thing to do before April when we want to be planting onions.

Another little project this winter has been a bit of reorganizing in the packing house.  For the last several years we have had a Wearhouse rack next to where we park the van.  It seemed like a good idea as a way to use the vertical space better, but we haven’t found it as accessible as we hoped.  Additionally, when we get the new van we will need more space for accessing the side door for loading.  As things sometimes go, after using the space one way for several years new ideas emerge for how we could perhaps use it better.  So the racking has moved to a new home to transform a different part of the packing house.  Hopefully we like it!

Less progress to report on the greenhouse controller and manure spreader projects this week, but we made it through, and at least I got some rusty parts to a welding shop so progress should be happening on replacements.  And we survived another week of two markets, and  continuing transplanting in the greenhouses as space is available.  And so far we at least have some greens to take every week to market.  Good thing there is more sunlight coming because they can’t grow fast enough at this point!

Hopefully this week being home on Monday and not having market on Wednesday will help make project progress more possible.  My Wishlist would be to finish the manure spreader, finish control wires to greenhouse 2, and start on controls for the seedling house.  But that may be too ambitious.  We’ll see.  But at any rate we’d better get at it!  

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected]