Dear Friends and Patrons of Cross Island Farms,
It’s time for an update from the only working farm on Wellesley Island.
When we last left our 41 incubated Guinea Hen eggs, two had hatched, one was hatching, and we wondered how many we would end up with. Well, the answer is eight. Out of the 41 incubated eggs, 10 hatched, but two were very weak and died within a day or two. The eight surviving keets are doing great, getting bigger by the day. A great attraction on our farm tours for all ages.
We had another birth on the farm last week: a male bull calve was delivered flawlessly by our Belted Galloway, Gally. He is bright red, no doubt resembling his sire, Rotokawa 93, a studly Red Devon. He is a perky and alert little guy, as yet unnamed. When you come for your tour and see him (maybe even pet him if his mom will let you) we would welcome your suggestions. Our other two cows are due any time now, so there may be another newborn calf or two to see soon.
The pigs continue to enjoy being pigs, attempting to wade in their water troughs, or luxuriating in the mud baths they create by dumping them.
Our hens continue to produce beautiful and delicious pastel-colored eggs. Of late they are party to a small mystery, however.
We erected our Epps Biting Fly Trap a few weeks ago, and it immediately began killing biting flies which could be seen submerged in its soapy water bins. After a couple of days, no biting flies could be found in the bins. Had anyone cleaned out the bins? No. Was the water soapy enough? Maybe not, so the soap was replenished. Still no flies in the trap. It seemed the trap was not functioning properly, and yet, and yet, I was not being bitten alive working in the gardens in the mid-day heat, which would certainly have been the case if the trap was not effective. The only conclusion I could draw from these facts is that the chickens, whose coop is quite near the fly trap, were (and still are) surreptitiously nabbing the flies. I believe if I devoted some time to observation, I would indeed see this feat in action. But who has time for that? So the small mystery persists.
Our vegetable gardens are florishing with the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn and cukes especially enjoying this recent heat wave. I envision tomatoes on the stand in the near future.
The major gardening problem we have had this year is a rabid infestation of striped cucumber beetles, which have been frenetically feasting and mating atop all our cucumber and most of our squash and pumpkin plants. The immediate damage, although not trivial, is not my major concern. From my recent research I have learned that, after mating, these bugs go underground to lay their eggs, which will emerge in 30 to 60 days as young beetles with voracious appetites. And this time, in addition to plant leaves to eat, there will be cukes, squashes, melons
and pumpkins to feast on.
Apparently at this stage there is very little that can be done organically to eliminate these pests. I only hope that the birds, snakes, and frogs that we encourage to inhabit our gardens will find the beetles to be delectably irresistable, and gorge on them, thus minimizing the damage.
Our most recent addition to the stand is a late crop of snap peas which are the biggest, juciest, sweetest snap peas we’ve ever grown, thanks to the favorable weather and a hand-tied trellis our volunteers erected in early June. If you come for a tour during the next week or so, you can pick a few yourself right off the vine. And then they’ll be gone, until a third crop, which we will be planting next week, matures sometime in September.
Also next week we will be saying good-bye to our two long-term volunteers, Dan and Andrew, who have contributed majorly to our farm’s progress this year.
We continue to accept reservations for our pork, beef and goat harvests scheduled later this summer and fall.
And we welcome all who wish to shop at our farmstand, book a guided tour of our farm, stay at one of our campsites, or just stop in to say hi. Hope to see you soon.