Sunday, September 15, 2019

Goldsmith's Flowers

On the Goldsmith farm they grow more than veggies.  The store was bright with fall flowers.  It seems to be a tradition here to put out pots of 'mums' at front doors at this time of year, leading up to the time you can add a pumpkin or two.  So I got a few flower pictures too.

There were some nice cut flowers, and we bought a handful of glads to brighten the kitchen.

 Adding some ornamental grasses to a pot of mums is a popular thing to do.

 Goldsmith's has their own big planter of flowers out front too.

Then I got bored and started trying some close-ups with my iPhone camera - seemed to work quite well.  Today is a rainy day and we're just having a nice quiet day inside, a welcome break from all the goings on of the past two weeks!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Goldsmith's Orchard Market

Not finding everything we wanted at the Farmers Market, we stopped at Goldsmith's, a wonderful farm store just west of Thornbury.  A bit expensive in our opinion, but it has a wonderful variety of fresh fruit and veggies (as well as baking, meats and cheese, etc.), especially at this time of year.  If you want to buy local produce and support local farmers you don't mind paying a bit extra.

Goldsmith's started as a store for selling apples from their own orchard, as the name implies.  They had three very new varieties of early season apples available - Rave, ZStar, and Sunrise.  Long gone are the days of just having Duchess, Macs and Delicious!  We bought some ZStar this time, and they're very good - an apple a day you know ……..

Always glad to get a basket of Niagara peaches, not strictly 'local', but peach trees won't survive here with our occasional winter weeks at -30°C.  And Niagara is still in Ontario at least.

Lots of tomatoes, both the large ones for sandwiches, and multiple colours of small ones.

And I was very glad to see they still had fresh blueberries.  Other berries are all over here, so blueberries are the last berries I'll get until next summer.

And lots of what we came for - sweet corn.  Goldsmith's has their own farm in the Beaver Valley where they grow as much as they can locally, including the tomatoes, apples and sweet corn.  Other things they bring in from other Ontario sources.  We'll be back in the fall for squash and pumpkins.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are at their best right now, with a variety of crops available, though tomatoes seem to be the veggies of choice this year.  Last weekend after church we headed over to Thornbury for the market there.  They've also got some interesting Indian and Syrian prepared dishes that we like.

I've never seen as many varieties of 'heritage' and 'heirloom' tomatoes as this year, and Mrs. F.G. has been saving seeds for our son next year.  At least one vendor managed to have some peppers as well as tomatoes.

There were a few other veggies, but not what we'd like to see.  We find that we get the best by stopping at our favourite farms, like 'Achy Back Acres' on the way to Owen Sound.

There are some interesting craft vendors too, like the blacksmith who makes interesting works in copper and iron, as well as 'live edge' furniture and 'charcuterie' boards.  (If that's a new one for you, as it was for me, look it up as I had to!)

 The Thornbury market regularly has local live music too.

The harbour was still full of sailboats, but they'll be taking them out soon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Summer Monarchs

We've had a Monarch or two around the backyard flowers most of the past two months. When I sit in front of the window and do my weight-lifting I can pretty well count on seeing one.  And we've had multiple reports of people seeing lots of Monarchs this summer.  At the moment they are migrating in their hundreds along the shores of Wasaga Beach to the east of us.

Starting with this bright orange visitor that almost landed on my shoulder back in the spring, I've seen a remarkable number myself.

On the ground.

Repeatedly on Milkweed plants,

This is the single lonely Milkweed in our own yard, 3 feet outside the window.

And I watched while it curved its abdomen and laid an egg on the underside of the leaf.

Then it stopped on the Petunias.

And later on one of the Hosta flowers.

Mrs. F.G. went outside excitedly after we saw the butterfly apparently lay an egg and a few days later saw this tiny caterpillar.

Then it got rapidly bigger, but sadly she went out to check one day and it was all tied down under the web of a garden attack spider.  I'll spare you the picture (which Mrs. F.G. was too upset to take anyway).

Never-the-less, we still had Monarchs, this time on a Dahlia.  Again these are Mrs.F.G's pictures.

Pretty good for an iPhone camera, don't you think?

It's been back every day, in recent weeks feasting on the Butterfly Bush, and occasionally stopping at the Milkweed for a visit.

The closest we've come to seeing one hatch this year is this 'almost-ready-to-hatch' chrysallis that was found on some weeds that were already on the compost heap at our favourite veggie gardeners.

So I think it's been a good year for Monarchs here and I hope that bodes well for the future.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Crop Harvest

The entire crop harvest here extends from early hay cutting in June through until the final corn harvests in November - by which time next year's winter wheat is already coming up out of the ground.  But late summer is the highlight of crop harvests, just as it is for veggies, so it's a major mark of the seasons.

There isn't a lot of cash cropping around Meaford, but a drive a short distance south and we're passing lots of crop fields.  This is a partly combined field of wheat just outside Rocklyn.  The beautiful golden wheat fields symbolize the start of the grain harvest.

But the hay harvest was finished some time before that, and there are a lot of hay fields around here, so we've seen a lot of hay bales over the summer - all a slightly greenish brown.

Many farmers here also use their balers to roll up big round bales of wheat straw after the combines have gathered the grain.

But this farmer obviously has the type of baler to build the big square or rectangular straw bales that usually get sold on to horse farms or race tracks.  Wheat bales are golden brown rather than greenish brown.

Wild Turkeys find combined wheat fields a good place to garner spilled grain.

Lots of corn fields around, which still have lots of time to grow,

And lots of soybean fields too.  Most of all of these grains will find their way to an elevator like this eventually, though a small bit of it may be grown for in-farm use as livestock feed.

This is the only canola field I've seen this year.  You can spot a hint of the yellow flowers that make canola such a beautiful crop earlier in the summer,

A golden barley field, though it will get harvested later than the equally golden wheat fields.

One of the more unusual crops, millet, a shorter, darker green than other crops, with feathery strands of tiny seeds at the top.  This is probably proso millet, the grain type usually grown in North America..

And the most unusual we've seen this summer, a field of buckwheat blooming white in the sun.  Buckwheat isn't a grain at all, but is actually related to rhubarb among other things.  It best known among those who enjoy the dark, strong flavoured buckwheat honey.

Do you find yourself confused between hay bales and straw bales like I did?  Hay is a mostly grass crop where the entire stem is harvested; the protein for cattle is in the seed head.  This is why you don't want to use hay for garden mulch - all the seeds are still in there, but it's good for cattle feed.  Many cattle here live on hay year-round; grain such as corn is only used as a supplement.  Straw bales are what's left after the grain has been combined, in other words all the wheat seeds have been removed.  Straw by itself is very poor cattle food, but it's great for bedding for horses and cattle (and gardens).  Hay is usually harvested in early summer here, while wheat is harvested in late summer.
A combine is a machine that combines the now out-of-date operations of reaping, threshing and winnowing.  One pass trough the field and you've got it all done.