Notes from Coyle Organic Farm
Oct 25 2020
Dorothee and I have enjoyed the farm and our work goes on every day with little to remind us of the pandemic around us. It has actually been the best year for us. We look forward to a new season with upgraded machinery and new ideas on no till planting next spring.
The Team of Ginger and Chief are practising logging in the central pasture and we have been up to the woods with the horses for a walk so they get accustomed to the area. What may seem nothing to worry about horses are bothered by lots of wind and rustling leaves and need time to get accustomed to this. I have been walking them past the woods every day and each day is better. Today was especially windy so I took it very slowly and the horses did fine!
Dorothee and I have been working on our regenerative farming which puts the soil health first.
As recommended by soil scientists, farmers need to feed the soil microbes which in turn feed the plants. It does take many years to increase soil health and unfortunately most farms are working on depleted soils and are having a hard time just maintaining the soil health.
Dorothee and I started working on this when we purchased our farm in 2015. I was fortunate to have mentors close by in my early years. I did not really understand soil biology but since we purchased the farm I have made great improvements to my knowledge and in the fields. My progress in the fields may seem very small by the lab results but the fields show there is a definite difference in the colour of the green crops more earthworms,small flies, insects, birds and small rodents.
This year I added organic accepted amendments such as gypsum which is primarily calcium and sulphur which are lacking by my soil testing lab results. Some boron was added as was a mountain of organic approved chicken compost. Most of our fields are also planted with multi-species pasture ( legumes and grasses) mix that includes alfalfa to help rebuild our soils. We purposely have less crops so we can pursue healthier soils. The horses do their part by leaving their manure and urine. We move the horses fenced pasture areas every day to avoid over grazing.
The veggie oils are all cold pressed and bottled immediately for our customers. The milled flour is monitored for consistent temperature below 90 degrees F. All bottles are rewashed after each customer use and all products from us include the date of oil pressing or flour milling on the label.
Notes from the Chickens Oct 7 2020
The days are getting visibly shorter, at at a rapid pace, and the chickens are taking note as well. Many have gone into full molt, and on cold mornings they are a sad looking lot. The pin feathers are very visible, like porcupine quills, and very sensitive to touch as well, and the girls are quite miserable. They are consuming a lot of protein these days ( I try to have extra available, such as sunflower seeds), and all their protein goes into producing new feathers, rather than laying eggs. It takes 12 to 16 weeks for them to recover, and by the end of January, the egg count starts to rise, peaking mid April. The new young hens may start laying in November, but they will only produce very small eggs to start. So my hens will hopefully be all dressed in their new feathers by Christmas or new years, in time for the coldest weather. In the meantime, there are no extra eggs available, unless they surprise us.
May 20 2020
The virus has not affected our lifestyle nor our sales but we do miss visitors.
It has been a rather cold spring but today it suddenly turned very warm and today we worked the horses. The horses sweated a lot and were being bothered by the flies. If I give them a rest into the wind that is fine but if there is no wind the flies bother them. Yes they got a hose down at the end of the day!
One of the difficulties facing farmers is that the crops we are accustomed to growing some are now no longer possible with the changing climate. As our oil pressing increases we are starting to look for organic suppliers. It was quite a shock that one of our organic seed supplier of bulk seeds told me that they no longer have hemp or flax since it is too difficult for farmers to grow it in our area. We have to obtain these seeds from northern Ontario or Manitoba. Freight costs then becomes an issue and we should be growing things locally. Since I am running very low I ordered a couple of totes from Manitoba and Quebec. Yes this will add to our oil costs if we continue to need flax and hemp. Maybe I need to look for different seeds that do better in our current climate.
As I was contemplating this it suddenly dawned on me that the rye flour and spelt flour we produce have to have a good winter freeze to develop seed in the following summer. So if we do not have a winter freeze I may not be able to grow the rye and Spelt that I now grow. Again I may haveto look to different seeds such as a spring spelt.
Our new horse named Ginger is doing her training rather well. One of the real tricks is to get her to want to do things with me. We started with brushing her which she likes so I just hold the brush a short distance away and she has to come over to me to get more brushing. But then I get her lunging which she does not like.. yes I threaten her with a whip! It was rough to get started but whenever she did something wrong I was a raving maniac. Thank goodness it did not take long for her to realize if she did what I wanted I was just a nice old man, but I never used the whip on her.. just made a scene if I was not pleased with her.
So today I have the bridle on her and she puts up with the collar too. Maybe we will try reins tomorrow.
Next pressing and milling will be on the 8th of june.
mat and Dorothee
Tuesday April 28 2020
Mats fine oils, Last Call for fresh organic oils and fresh milled flour.
We will be pressing organically grown sunflower seeds, organically grown flax seeds and organically grown hemp seeds for our fresh oils. For the first time we are also offering Rye flour as well as our standard whole grain spelt flour.
Eggs are also available at the farm but call ahead to place and order.
The spring time for us is very busy and exciting. Dorothee has just incubated a new batch of chicks. We watched them for about 18 days as the eggs were in the incubator then a couple of days ago they went into the brooder to have them hatch. The incubator needs to be a very precise temperature and the eggs need to be candled to make sure they are alive. Once in the brooder and they hatch they need water and food. Seeing new life begin is exciting but there are also those who do not make it which makes us sad.
The oats were planted about a week ago and are just coming up. The camelina has been growing and shows promise. I happened to get camelina planted in late February.. it is looking good so hopefully this year we will have more camelina oil.
The sunflower field is being prepared. I added chicken manure, some Dolmetic lime, sulphur and a little boron. The horses did an excellent job of spreading the amendments. Now the next thing we are trying is using our new horse drawn tine weeder to discourage weeds. Last year it worked very successfully in our hemp field so every 5 or 6 days I tine weed the sunflower field with the horses.
Next Oil pressing and flour milling May 4 2020.
We will have fresh organic Sunflower oil, organic hemp oil and organic flax oil.
We will be milling fresh whole spelt flour in 5 lb bags.
If you are picking up at the farm call ahead for eggs if you need them.
This has been a curious spring. I have recovered very well from my stem cell transplant about two years ago and working harder than ever enjoying farm life. A few weeks ago there was warmth and sun and I got my camelina planted and then got the field ready for oats and even got it planted. And yesterday as I was plowing it snowed. I could hardly see the furrows which might have accounted for the wavy tracks or was it Chief could not always see the furrow.
The big success for me this season was working with our horses. I did not think I would recover after losing our two best horses but there was no alternative but to work with the horses I did have. I could not even purchase a horse as none were available. At one point I was ready to get rid of Jim but with patience and lots of training he has become the best pulling horse. I still do have to remind Duke to keep pulling ( he knows his name) and some days he does do a good job. While I really wanted four horses I have settled for three. Three horses actually works quite well and I did learn that patience and lots of training work wonders for the horses and myself.
Dorothee has been very busy incubating a new batch of chanteclairs, dorkings and americanas.
Thanks for your support
Mat and Dorothee
Mar 11 2020
Next organic oil pressing and organic spelt milling Mar 23, 2020. We will have organic sunflower oil, flax and Hemp oil.
The milling of spelt flour has taught me a lot about healthy eating. Most of the flour we purchase is not fresh and most bakers want a fluffy texture because of the high gluten content. Unfortunately the healthy part of the grain is the bran which is usually eliminated from many flours. And once the grain is milled the bran will loose its nutritional value.
When I first started milling flour I sifted out the bran which gave us a very nice high gluten flour but nutritionally poor. I did a lot of thinking about this and came up with a solution backed by the fresh bread that Dorothee bakes every day. I set up the sifter so that all we eliminated was the trash ( broken pieces of hulls ) but the flour includes the bran. And Dorothee has certainly proven that you can make a very good loaf of bread with that flour.
And what if you want a more fluffy bread?? Well that is where you get out your various sifters and remove some of the bran which inhibits the gluten.
I love the taste and texture of the bread that Dorothee makes. She has promised to put a recipe on our web site for it.
So the result is that our new " whole organic spelt flour" is sold with the bran included.
Thanks for your support
Mat and Dorothee
Recently someone sent me a video on how to tell if you food has been tampered with . This prompted me to think about where our food comes from and what fresh really means. I notice that there is a number of grocery chains that advertise their produce is fresh. I think it is an advertising gimmick since most grocery chains rely on a delivery system to a distribution center then again trucked to the grocery store. I have never really asked how fresh the veggies are but I suspect that it is at least 4-5 days from picking.
Having a garden lets one choose the best tasting veggies for planting and when its lunch time just go to the garden and pick a really fresh salad. Having a garden also lets you know what soils your veggies are grown in. I just do not trust any chemicals in the soil that kill biological life.
Vegetable oils in grocery stores on the other hand could be months old as there is no date of pressing on any bottles I have seen in the grocery store. Our oils have the date of pressing on the label and most oils need to be refrigerated to maintain any nutrition. Especially flax oils need to be kept in the refrigerator as it deteriorates quickly if not kept cool ( we actually freeze our flax oil) . Camelina oil is the only one I know of that is stable at room temperature for up to a month.
I do not trust any food that is not organically grown. When we first purchased our farm we were shocked at the lack of life in the soil. Finally after a few years life began in the soil again and I can remember feeling ecstatic at seeing worms in the soil.
February 6 2020
Horses are somewhat like people in that they are very different from one another. We have logged with the horses all winter.
Chief is the biggest horse we have and he is what some call the leader of our herd but it basically boils down that he is the bully, pushing the other horses away from the food he wants. He is probably our best horse but at times more easily spooked. Jim is a blond belgian and while I was in hospital be became rather unmanageable. Luckily my friend Dave taught me a lot about horse training ( actually owner training). Since then Jim has changed dramatically. He is now one of the easiest horses to manage. When on a lead he follows directions precisely and willingly. He does get con fused at times ( something he and I share due to age) . He still want to pull too hard to start but each day he gets better. Today I had him teamed with Chief and they did exceptionally well!!
Now Duke has been what I called my belligerent horse but that too has changed with my working with him. Usually when I went to work with him he walked away and when I was finished he would run but not so anymore! He always comes over to say hello now and really has become the most reliable horse. On the downside he tends not to pull as hard as the other horses but is excellent on his own pulling the stone boat when we go logging.
The nice thing is that the more time I spend with them the better they are and the better I get.