Most farms are busy places with to-do lists that get longer instead of shorter. Our farm is no exception and we love it! Here are a few examples of what is keeping us busy as of late…

A Bike Powered Carrot Washer 1.0 One of things to work on this winter will be a bike powered carrot washer.  We spend a lot of time washing vegetables and on a hot summer day this is a great thing! It’s warm outside, you get the water on your hands and face while spraying and it cools you off.  However, come October and our main carrot harvest season, getting wet while washing vegetables when it is 3 degrees outside is a little less than pleasurable. The bike powered carrot washer will be for this exact time of year and will be specifically for root vegetables.IMG_20140824_161044_1IMG_20140824_161044 IMG_20140824_161044Ryan built a large slotted barrel out of cedar strips.  He lay the barrel horizontally on casters.  The bicycle wheel is in contact with this barrel so that when pedalled the barrel starts to turn.  There is a perforated tube inside of the barrel.  The root vegetables will be dumped into the drum, the water will be turned on, and the bike will be pedalled. The resulting tumbling action and spraying water cleans the vegetables.  And the biker/farmer stays warm and dry! That’s the idea anyway :) So far we have used it with moderate results. We will have to tweak it so that the wheel doesn’t slip.

The Poulet Chalet Large enough to comfortably house 6 chickens, the Poulet Chalet was a weekend project for Ryan and I. It was easily made from scrap wood pieces, however, we made sure to stay away from treated wood. It can be made quite cheaply even if you don’t have scrap wood lying around. With limited resources, one can expect to pay up to $150. We hope that this will inspire you to adopt a few feathered friends of your own, especially now that more and more municipalities are agreeing to allow egg-laying chickens in urban areas. Please consult the Resources section for a detailed plan to help you make your very own Poulet Chalet! Good (C)luck!

The 3-bin compost unit For those who want to get into serious composting we highly suggest building your very own 3-bin compost unit! The bins allow you to have more than one compost pile going at the same time and are large enough to make for easy stirring and watering, which, as we all know, are essential for the proper decomposition of compost. It does require quite a bit of wood, some large pieces and some smaller pieces so it can get a little costly. With good quality wood you might pay about $175. We decided to stay away from treated wood but it’s really up to you. We hope that this will inspire you to start composting! After all, together we could easily cut out 40% of our waste by adopting this simple practice! Also, the reward is well worth the effort. Properly decomposed compost will brighten up any flower bed and give your vegetables that extra little boost that will make your garden the envy of your neighbours! Please consult the following link location for a .pdf file that provides you with a very detailed plan to help you make your very own wooden compost unit! Happy composting!

Bicycle Trailer 1.0 We’ve been dreaming of purchasing a new, fancy one like this, but it wouldn’t be very useful in our bumpy, unpaved field : ) Also, we tend to bring back used bikes from the dump which means that we have a few lying around for parts. Last winter Ryan finally had enough time to build his very own bike trailer! We got to test it out quite a bit over the course of the 2014 season and I am so impressed with how much time it saved us, I am asking the hubby to build another!IMG_20140801_061812 On any given morning, I was able to bring back a minimum of 160 heads of lettuce in one load. The garden cart was only allowing 80, or half of the amount. Also, the garden cart had to be pulled while walking, whereas the bike goes quite a bit faster (easily 3x as fast for light loads like lettuce and the like). The best part of it is, we build efficiency using reclaimed materials and created something that runs on human power (naturally, our human power comes mainly from our own veggies, so it’s pretty closed-loop)! Our 1.0 version worked amazingly, but two things remain to be changed for the 2.0 version. Since we don’t have a quick-stand for the bike, we always have to disconnect it once we get to our location in the field. Also, turning the trailer while loaded with heavier veggies (ahem, cucumber season) is a real back-ache due to the height of the tongue.

Upcoming projects… Ah spring, you always remind us of how busy we will become come summertime. We always enter this season with the hope to tackle things that, due to time constraints, were not completed during the wintertime. Our optimistic list includes:

  • Building a number of bird houses in order to invite our feathered friends to participate in our Pest Management Practices
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Installing a large fan in the small greenhouse for better ventilation
  • Changing the hillers so that beds are 30 inches wide as opposed to 26 inches
  • Building a cart to bring planting flats out to field
  • Converting the eggmobile to garden fabrics trailer
  • Researching how to implement Joel Williams‘ ”feed the plant to feed the soil” approach