>A Virtual Farm Tour, part 1

>Collins Farm is in the full swing of summer now. Each morning we haul in a couple flats of strawberries, a bin of tomatoes and a bucket of lettuce, and we’re barely staying ahead of the harvest. Luckily, Port Albernians have also shown up with reinforcements to buy all the goodies at our Saturday markets and even during the week.
In the afternoons, we often take groups of curious campers to see what’s “down the hill”. Kids are fascinated with the chickens, piggies and horses, and the grownups usually walk back up to the campground full of plans for their own gardens. On Sunday, I took the afternoon off of kitchen duty and followed one of Ann’s farm tours with my camera.

First stop, the barn, home to the horses, donkeys, cows and one cat.

Buster the barn kitty. No, you can’t have him. He’s mine. I mean, he’s the farm’s. We need him to catch mice and keep the cobwebs off the top of that old milk tank.

It was an exciting morning a couple weeks ago when we went down to the barn to find one of our cows giving birth. She was the last of our herd to do so this year, and the only one I actually got to see in the act.

Well, sort of. We watched the feet hang out for a little while, then decided she probably wanted her privacy and went up for breakfast. When we came back, the little guy was already wobbling around under his mom.

This is the view of the farm up by the barn. We’ll look at the garden first, then the chickens (just outside the frame to the right) and stop in the strawberry patch between the two big fields. Then we’ll pay a visit to the cows and head through the hay field towards the three big trees in the distance. Hope you’re wearing your walking shoes.

Ripley, Phoxy and Paris, three of our Canadian horses out in the pasture for the evening.

In the garden, Ann picks some cucumbers for the tour group. Behind them, the corn has reached gargantuan heights.

Peeking under the giant squash leaves, we find these baby pumpkins – a sneak preview for Halloween.

Lettuce, carrots and beets. Behind them on the fence are the peas. We’ll get to the sun umbrellas in a minute when we visit the chickens.

Our laying hens (plus one watchful rooster) roam around in this pen, pecking at kitchen scraps and harassing their roommates, the three paranoid little ducks.

Although the ducks have their own little barn away from the chicken house, they never quite seem to feel safe and cling together like a gang of teenage girls, yakking away at each other in duck-ese. Of course, if they feel like going for a swim, they are capable of swallowing their fears and jumping in the water trough. This utterly disgusts the chickens, who would much rather take a dirt bath.

Sun umbrellas provide shade and protection from the eagles, who have been known to swoop down and steal the poultry.

The chickens share a laying box, which they enter through a door from the inside of their house.

The box has a little door on it that we open to gather the eggs.

This chicken has kindly modeled the laying process for us, but I think today she is just sitting on them. Once she leaves we peek into the hay and find…


Now we head out toward the strawberry patch and cow pasture, on the way checking up on the apple trees.

These sunflowers are “volunteers”, but they make great shade when picking strawberries out here. It takes two people about an hour each morning to pick just half of the patch.

Yum. These plants are the “ever-bearing” variety, which means they started putting out berries in June and won’t quit until the frost comes. In the meantime, we’re filling up our freezers and jam cupboards.

Bees are fun to photograph, and they actually don’t sting because they’re so focused on harvesting the pollen.

In the early morning when we’re picking sunflowers for market, the bees are sleeping on the flowers and refuse to be woken up. They hang onto the flowers no matter how much blowing, shaking and wiping you do. If we were braver, we could probably just remove them by hand, but usually we just leave them on and let them fly away later – hopefully not in somebody’s house!

We now interrupt this exclusive tour for lunch. Join us again tomorrow for more cute kids and animals, this blog’s first concession on its hard-nosed anti-flower position, and yet another pretty view of the farm.


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