Sunday, 25 November 2012

The first of many

I forgot to post something that my parents did for my birthday last month...


These are the fruit trees my parents got me this year. I actually got four, 2 cherries and 2 apples. Dad has already taken one of the cherry trees over the hill to its new home in the field.

This is the first one we planted. It's a 6 in 1 apple tree. My parents had one in the backyard for a number of years, and it always produced very well. The only bad thing about these trees is that each tree has its own growth pattern, so these trees tend to look a little... Frankenstein-y.

This is my Idared apple. We planted it up at the front entrance of the land, and it's going to be fantastic. We noticed a lot of charcoal while we were digging the hole, so we're pretty sure this was a burning area quite some time ago.

These are the two cherry trees. A Van and a Hedelfingen. They're both sweet cherries, and will grow to about 3 to 4 meters high. They're planted at the north edge of one of the fields, close to the bee hives. I'm hoping for some sour cherries next spring, which will go just south of the sweet cherries.

So, these are the latest babies on the land. They probably won't produce next year, but should start producing the year after that.

Friday, 2 November 2012

In which we have visitors

I was throwing some scraps into our firepit to burn them, and noticed that we'd had a visitor sometime after the rain had stopped last night.

Here's a closer look

Looks like some decent sized claws to me. I'm not quite sure what he was looking for around our firepit, but I think he may have found it:

All in all, I was ready to call this an interesting morning and go for coffee. But then I found these:

Leading up to our shed.

I wasn't sure you could really appreciate how large this guy was, so:

He's BIG. Mom was worried that we hadn't seen any deer in a while, but hey:

Looks like we don't have too much to worry about. I was looking for more tracks, and I found another visitor as well:

This is a puffball mushroom after it's gone to spore and exploded. Looks like I'm going to have to check the field for mushrooms next year! Given that this one was fairly dry inside and we've had rain the past little while, I'd have to say he exploded fairly recently.

It was quite a day, and it ended off with a blizzard:

We were happy to head in after that.

In which a decision is made

We've only had the land for about 3 months now, but we've had to get a lot of work done.

We've been attempting to clear out a lot of the original farm paths. This picture here is one of the old gates.

The deadfall is pretty substantial. These woods haven't been taken care of for a long time, so we've really had our work cut out for us. To add to the problem, we didn't have anywhere we could store the tractor for any length of time, meaning we've had to basically leave it out for the elements. We decided to fix that on Thanksgiving weekend.

Grandpa Hughes was in town for this week, and he came up with a plan for us to build the shed we needed to house our tools and supplies.

Grandpa cut everything to size for us, which really minimized the amount of work we needed to do on site. First, we put together the floor.

Then we had to get it into place. To do this, we leveled out the back of the shed, and raised the front. This makes it a little more difficult if people decide they really want our tractor. The entrance is at least 2 feet off the ground.

We're in place, we're level, and we're ready to get the walls up.

It was very much a family effort.

By the end of the first day, we had the walls up, the additional height on one side for a sleeping loft up, and we'd made a quick jig for the rafters, which we decided to cut at home.

We headed out bright and early on Day 2 to get the rafters up as soon as possible.

We learned some new skills.

We had some moments to reflect.

Everyone had a job and helped out.

We laughed.

We conquered some old fears.

We pulled together and got all of the framework for the shed up in only 2 days. The following weeks were hellish, and it poured rain nearly every time we were able to get up to work on it.

But little by little...

We wench the tractor up the ramps.

Step by agonizing step...

We managed to pull it together, and finish it in only 4 weekends.

We barely made it before the snow started to come down.

It was an amazing family project that came together so well. We all had a hand in it, we all got to help, and it really turned out amazingly well. I wonder how many we're going to have after we all decide we want our own?

A few more shed shots.

 No leaks.

 Door handle

The orchard starts

 Cherry trees

Apple tree

In which we sneak a peek

I'm a bad landlady. I pop in without any notice and generally cause havoc.

Dad and I couldn't help it. We just had to see what they were up to. Turns out they've built their comb a bit too high:

Which means that if we pop the lid off for a look, we crack open a row of comb. Hopefully we'll be able to correct this next spring. Till then, we want them to do well for the winter so we're going to leave them be. We're going to have to content ourselves with moving in our next 'residents'

By which, I mean black currants. These little beauties don't take up much room, don't need a lot of sun, and give you tons of fruit in return. These fruits are very high in Vitamin C, and you'll be shocked how much production you'll get from them.

We're going to attempt to train them come spring, so that it'll be a bit less back-breaking to harvest the fruit. Black currants don't need a ton of care. Just water them if you're having a bit of drought. Honestly, we have these in our backyard, and we don't really fuss over them. I'm pretty sure we didn't bother watering them this summer either, and we still got more then enough for this:

This, of course, is black currant cordial. We're hoping to nail down an actual recipe next summer. We just loaded up a Mehu Lisa with as much as she could hold, threw in about 6 tbsp of lemon juice and 4 cups of sugar. We got roughly 3 bottles of concentrated black currant juice, which can be diluted in water or ginger ale for a fun summery drink.

Here's hoping we won't have to fight with the birds next year for the fruit.

In which we move in

We took control of 25 acres in Hockley back in July. Two days after the papers were signed and we received the go-ahead, we moved in the first residents of Many-Hues Acres.

About 20,000 new residents.

This here is a frame of honey bees. The orange capped comb are brood, baby bees. The more yellow capped comb in the upper corners are stores of honey. If we could get a little closer, you'd likely see quite a bit of pollen as well.

We started out with two standard hives that we picked up from an organic beekeeper out in Williamsburg. We stopped by our local paint store and picked out some really funky colours for them:

We all worked together to get them snug into their new homes:

And we left them alone.

Having spent the end of the summer with them, I can assure you that they're some of the most docile wild animals I've ever met. I couldn't believe how easy they were to work with, and how calm they were. I had wild thoughts of them attacking with the slightest provocation, but I've come to realize that really they just want to have their home and be left alone.

I guess we'll see how much I still love them after they realize I'm raiding them for their honey....

An Introduction

Our family had always spent a lot of time driving around, checking out farms and fields, imagining about having a little piece of it for ourselves.

Well, now we do.

We couldn't really ask for better. The front 10 acres is cleared land, filled with baby spruce trees. (This field used to belong to a tree farm) The back acreage is 15 acres, and is filled with ceders around the pond, and hardwoods towards the back property line.

We've had a great time exploring the property since we took over the land in July. We've found quite a bit of the original farm fences around the pond, nearly swallowed up by the trees. The woods are very dense, and it's going to take us a while to figure out the original paths and roads that would have been used back when the land was still active. Don't worry, there will be lots of pictures.