Monday, 24 February 2014

The Sky is Falling

Victoria suffered a rather strange dump of snow over the weekend. It started coming down quite heavily on Friday night and has been coming down non-stop since. Needless to say, this is not normal winter weather. We are not foreign to the idea of snow in winter (we do live in Canada after all), but it certainly does not tend to come down so heavily.

Looking out from in front of the cow barn.

Friday, 21 February 2014

When the pieces fit

Owning a business is not something I ever saw myself doing. Being a co-owner has made this a much more agreeable experience for me. We have been blessed with a team full of giftings which greatly impact our ability to do business. Let's review:

Workloads and Timelines

Spring is fast approaching and we are starting to feel the crunch to complete our annual season prep.

Just to give you an idea of how much work we do over the winter months, here is a bit of a breakdown:

Pruning season starts in November (or whenever the leaves drop off). Pruning season must wrap up by the end of February for Patriots and the end of March for Blue Jays.

In that time, we must prune over 50 rows, comprising of over 2000 bushes. Patriot rows can take 6 to 8 hours per row. Blue Jays can take upwards of 10 hours to prune a full row.

Once pruned, all (and I mean ALL) of the clippings MUST be raked up and burned. The reason is to prevent offshoot growth in areas where it is not supposed to be. This also limits the impact of things like mummy berry.

Once the clippings have been raked, we need to put shavings down, as well as fertilize. Some spraying is needed but it can happen leading into the season. Shavings have typically been done as a work party. Over a dozen people plus one tractor can do a third of the field in a full day's work.

This year we are laying coffee sacks over the shavings. We need to assemble 800 sacks into runs of 20 using small sticks of wood and staples/screws. These need to be assembled in place. Later we can roll them up and roll them out.

The impact of not finishing by the spring can affect our crop. If pruning is not completed, the bushes will not produce the optimal fruit. If trimmings are not removed, we could have offshoots and potentially infect the bushes with mummy berry. If shavings and sacks are not done, our weeds will start to choke out the bushes. If things run too late, we disrupt the bees from pollinating the bushes and risk knocking buds off the bushes.

Right now it looks pretty tight. We are on par to complete the Blue Jays by the end of March. We will need to plan a shavings/raking/burning work party soon. This will involve recruiting friends or possibly paying workers to come in and lend their muscles to make it happen. We have had mixed results in the past. Our first year we finished the one field in a day and left the other two for the next year. The next year, the shavings took a long time to complete and it definitely impacted our production.

It is a tight window but we are looking to make it...perhaps barely, but we will make it.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Blueberry Planning and Planting

This past weekend was the start of one of our longer term projects for the farm. Marc and Katie came up with a plan to increase production of the blueberry crop by 50% by adding more bushes. We have talked about adding more bushes but had yet to start on it. Blueberry bushes take a few years to start producing, so there is no better time than now.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Finding water in a peat bog

Water is not something you would think as being an issue when living on the Wet Coast. It falls in buckets all winter and even the summer is not a stranger to rain clouds. But water is a core issue for some of our farm endeavours.

We are based off of a well. Its not a massive well and it often runs dry in the summer months if we are not careful. It feeds three houses, five horse stalls, and a chicken barn. Thankfully our blueberries do not pull from it as they are nestled nicely in their native environment of a peat bog.