Tim C: I can proudly say that I really did nothing! I am very skilled at filling days by puttering. I spent most of the holiday shoveling and have decided that it will be the end of me. Neighbours will discover me slumped in a snowbank. They will say things like, “Such a nice guy,” or “Should have bought a snowblower.”
I sped through Alice Munro’s latest book and have just picked up Atwood’s Madd Addam. Never got around to that jigsaw puzzle. Too busy worrying about the size of my dwindling wood pile.
Jem: I had a great break, lots of time with family and friends, lots of time to chill out. The weather was a bit crazy but it was so nice to be warm and cozy in our house. We came back from snowshoeing on the dyke at the weekend and the Buddha in my garden was sparkling as you see. He has had a quartz crystal in his lap for 6 months or so, but that was the first time that the sun reflected of the crystal into my eyes. So I am taking that as a positive sign for 2014 to be present in every moment of my day to the miracles which may occur.
Falicia: Christmas is one of, if not, my favorite time of the year. It has nothing to do with presents, but everything to do with spending time with friends and family. People (for the most part) seem to be a little bit more cheerful and that truly warms my heart. I love seeing children's faces when they are playing in the snow. This year I spent my holiday, as always, with friends and family, and as always, it was fantastic. About a month before Christmas my fiance, Nathan, and I decided that we would adopt a dog instead of buying each other gifts this year. This is our wonderful "fur baby", a 14 month old Bull Terrier Cross named Rosie. . Best Christmas "gift" ever! We have fallen in love with her and she has quickly become part of our family. This made our holiday a little more special.
Justine: The snow and weather was awesome over the Christmas break (when it wasn't too windy or cold) for cross country skiing, and we did a lot of it. We can ski from our doorstep and have a few trails through the wood and a logging road that we share with snowmobiles.
Jon & Teri: Our break for the holidays was a little bit longer as we travelled to Calgary to visit Jon's family and then to Manitoba to visit mine. We had an AMAZING time seeing everyone, especially our two nieces Genevieve and Maevey and our nephew Joshua. Our entire family is very excited about our upcoming wedding, which is in exactly 5 months today, so we look forward to seeing them again soon. To the left is a photo of Jon and I with my grandma in Hamiota, Manitoba.
When I moved home to Nova Scotia and bought my own house I inherited a brambly yard full of life. All variety of mammals have passed through, some stopping and setting up shop until I gently encouraged them along. They still visit at night, but have stopped trying to move into my basement. The mammals are fun but drive my beagle crazy. It’s the birds we prefer.
I feed birds. I ease up in the summer when there’s plenty for them, but tend to put out seed over the winter. The spooky doves, fearless chickadees, bossy jays, proud pheasants, and elusive flickers are among my favourites, but I most enjoy boasting about my, not one, but two pairs of cardinals who stop by each day.
I haven’t read anything about the pros and cons of feeding birds. I figure they could use a little help. As if winter isn’t bad enough, they deal with neighbourhood cats, cars, and loss of habitat. It’s a tough life for birds, just ask the owl who drops beheaded crows into my garden from time to time, or the pheasant I saw fly away with a cat stuck to its back.
So here’s the deal. TapRoot Farms has a stock of GMO-free, black oil sunflower seeds. The seeds are a high energy source and make excellent feed for many of the birds who stay throughout the winter. I have prepared 4 pound bags. They are for sale as an add-on. The sunflower seeds will eventually be used as pig feed, but we wanted to give all bird enthusiasts a chance to stock up for winter.
We all know that birds play essential roles in ecosystems, including neighbourhoods. Their presence has to be a good sign.
Patricia: I really appreciate ACORN. This year I hosted a workshop on CSA Software platforms. Farmigo, Small Farm Central and HarvestHand presented what they do and how their programs work to support farmers and csa members. I think it was a good session, helpful for farmers looking to explore options.
Lily and Frank joined us. It is neat because they now have an ACORN friend. Every ACORN event they get to play together and we take turns as parents taking the kids to the pool. It is really a wonderful feeling to be around an extended family of farmers and those whose work is to support organic and small scale farmers. It was a good conference and it was great that the TapRoot team was able to swing it so everyone could go. Another fantastic part of ACORN is meeting new people. This year I met Christie Kozier. She and her husband have a small farm in Middle Musquidobit Harbour. He is a sheep sheerer, and she has started a small 5-member CSA this past year to start. Here is a link to their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KozierFarm
Josh: what i thought was wild mustard is really wild radish which is the yellow weed in our vegetable fields. i need to find some rolling baskets for under our g tractor for weed control.
Jem: I really enjoyed my day at Acorn. I ate my first Asian pear this weekend after hearing about the Taylor apple pear at Wednesdays talk and it tasted so good. Any chance of you planting some of those Josh? I'm also going to try eating a grape pie and finding a Purple Passion apple and planting a Dwarf Pinenut tree and digging a swale and lots more besides. Very inspiring. Thanks guys.
Photo to the right is Greta and the other Grow a Farmer apprentices graduating at Thursday's banquet! --->
Tim C: I learned that the farming profession is a collaborative one. We always hear negative stories in the media about the decline of the farming profession. I didn't see any of that in Moncton. I was immersed in crowds of enthusiastic farmers sharing knowledge and ideas, asking questions, building relationships, and planning what comes next. The entire experience was motivating. I felt like I got to see things from the inside, and I am happy to have been involved.Tim
P.S. Also learned that shiny leaves indicate high levels of lipids, how to make lye, basalts are better than granites, salt water is full of minerals, but alas, the salt, stuff like that. I took pages of notes.
Justine: This year at Acorn, like most years, it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends you may only see a few times a year. Hearing what others are up to and discussing problems can really be helpful. I was talking to a man who is starting to breed a heritage meat/egg bird, a cross between Buff Orpington and Delaware. He's just got his first hybrid chicks and it'll be interesting as to how they work out. My husband and I are working on a heritage meat bird hybrid as well so it's very interesting to hear others ideas and experiments.
Jon: I love getting together with organic farmers. There is such a supportive group of farmers across the Maritimes, but we're all too busy to spend much time together that the ACORN conference is like a high school reunion, without the gossip and rumors. There were so many great workshops; that give you great ideas of ways to improve your farm, ways to be more efficient, new and exciting crops to think about. I always come home excited to get back to the farm and inspired to become a better grower.
Falicia: This was the first time I attended an ACORN conference and it was great! I loved the fact there were workshops for the office side of farming. One of the things that I noticed right away about the people attending the conference was how young they were. It's wonderful to see this and future generations of farmers so passionate about being organic farmers.
Teri: This was my first ACORN conference, and I was so happy to be able to attend, proudly wearing my TapRoot shirt. We met tons of great people, including lots of young farmers that we have lots in common with. The two most inspiring parts of the conference for me were: A film shown after the banquet, called Island Green, which was about growing on PEI and some of the challenges and successes; secondly, I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Kittredge's presentation on nutrient content of food, and even more I enjoyed the discussion and thinking that it inspired between Jon and I on the way home (with two people who spend so much time together, anything that inspires good conversation is notable!). Great conference, and I'm so proud to be a part of the TapRoot team (all the time, but especially) at events like this!
What a great potluck on Saturday night! Thanks to all of you who made it out and came armed with delicious goodies. Catherine suggested that we share the recipes, and so far here's a couple:
The World’s Best Brownies (From The Mennonite Cookbook)
1 cup butter or margarine (we are a lactose intolerant household)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon vanilla
Melt butter, if doing it in the microwave, do it on medium heat, making sure that you don’t get it too hot. If it gets really hot the brownies become the consistency of toffee. Which is great if you are making toffee, not so great if you are trying to make brownies! Add the rest of the ingredients except the nuts and mix by hand until everything is well blended, this only takes a few minutes. Add the nuts last and mix again. Pour and/or scrape into a 9x13 pan and bake at 30 for between 15 and 20 minutes! If they are under-baked, they are simply chewier. Frost while still warm, I use Betty Crocker prepared frosting, or throw chocolate chips over them and spread them around when they are melted!
As usual, I brought my camera and then forgot to snap some photos. Did anyone else get any?
I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween. As I am sure everyone at Taproot Farms could tell you, I truly love holidays; even the ones that are not really classed as holidays, such as Halloween.
The farm is slowly starting to decline in staff members as the harvesting progressing, though the office is as busy as ever. There are so many conferences and training sessions lately. The next large conference is the ACORN conference in late November taking place in New Brunswick. Last year I was not able to attend and to be honest I figured other Taproot staff would benefit far more than I would from a gathering of farmers and sharing of farm knowledge, but this year there are actually sessions about efficient office work and record keeping. Everyone at Taproot is working together to make sure we all get to take part in this great experience; even I get to go! I am very excited to be part of it as this will enable me to be better at my job; always room for improvement.
I have always really enjoyed working at Taproot Farms. I have been part of the Taproot team for two years now (wow!). Over the past couple months we have all been working on a new business plan for the farm. This whole process has made me realize that I want to be part of Taproot Farm for quite a while. It was so nice to be able to, as a group, look into the future and see what we want Taproot Farms to look like.
Here's to another five great years and hopefully many more after that.
Have a wonderful day and try to stay toasty in this frosty weather!