Thursday, 31 July 2014

making hay

isn’t summer in ontario beautiful?
 i think vincent van gogh would have loved it too! we could have been friends.
i share his love of farmers’ orchards, fields and hay bales.(and farmers) 
 there’s just something about them that we are drawn to…  

our neighbours' fields of wheat and soya beans. 


on travels to visit family we see so many farms. 
i have often pulled over to take photos…
although quite a few of these photos are taken at 60kph. 
don’t worry…i wasn’t the driver.

 cheery canola fields 


i hope you can appreciate and notice some farmers’ fields this summer. 
farm hugs,

                                                                       carl laidlaw orchards


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

orchard magic

in the spring of 2011, with our fingers crossed, we began grafting for the first time. 
when i say we, it was essentially mark…he did all the research and orchestrating. we were the happy minions.
it was a family affair...our kids may have played hookey!

mark and spencer cut small dormant branches called scions 
and kept them in the fridge for many weeks until the timing was right.  
with all the appropriate equipment acquired and prepared, we were ready…

   they gave the mature trees a fresh cut on the lower branches to be grafted.

with a special knife, the bark was sliced and gently lifted to make a space for the scion.


the scions were tucked in...


margo and i painted the cut bark and scion tips with a special protective elixir called may wax. 
it looked like honey and smelled of bees wax. 

the new branches were then wrapped to keep them in place and prevent them from drying.   

cousin alex painted the mature branch with a very gooey, thick protective tar.


 this sealed the wounds…kind of like a bandaid for the trees.
  ...not so great on clothes though! 

it is really quite magical...

grafting allows us to change the variety of apples that a tree produces without tearing out the orchard. 
it would otherwise take 15 years to establish a new orchard.  
what was previously an orchard of macintosh trees
 is now a healthy productive orchard of jona golds...a lovely late september apple. 
don’t worry…we still have plenty of macs! 
it has been exciting to see the new growth every year and eventually blossoms and fruit. 
now in it's fourth leaf (a farming term for it's fourth year)...

we can invite guests back to enjoy picking in this orchard.

we learned many things together. 
we’ll be happy and proud to show you our work this fall.
warm farm hugs,

                                               carl laidlaw orchards

Thursday, 3 July 2014

the bee's knees

every year we hire millions of extraordinary workers…bees!
they work in our orchards and the credit river valley gathering nectar and pollinating the fruit trees. 

                                                                              our farmer friend david bianchi took this amazing photo

meet miro, our dear friend who has been tending bees on the farm for over 20 years.

besides his two beautiful daughters who we have watched grow up, 
he cares for many little ones he affectionately calls his babies.

they are adopted from new zealand. 

the number of hives has fluctuated over the years.
this last winter was very harsh and sadly he lost a few. 
currently there are 6 healthy hives with about a half a million bees in each. 
yes… that is 3 million happy bees!

in the past we have also rented bees from another beekeeper during blossom. 
it does sound strange but they help to ensure a good healthy crop of apples and pears.

one year, while we were in the orchard taking family photos, our spencer got stung. 
a few other angry bees began chasing us. this was most unusual and disconcerting!
we later discovered that the rented bees’ hives had been taken away a little too early the previous evening, 
before all the bees had returned. the remaining bees were upset and presumed that we had stolen their home.
(our family photo that year was taken in the hay bales.)

 we  have witnessed swarms in many junes and julys.
the left photo is of a trap that successfully attracted a swarm in our pear orchard.
it contained a special pheromone that the bees were drawn to.

miro had a hive waiting for them! 

 another evening  he carried a swarm to their new home...

the bees were gently shaken and swept off the trap, then poured in front of the entrance. home sweet home!

 surprisingly, the bees are extremely calm when in a swarm!

their remarkable, busy work also supplies us with outstanding honey,
 sought after by many guests, friends and family. 
it is of course limited so we have to remember to put some aside for ourselves and special gifts. 

i love collecting old honey tins…
the fonts and colour combinations are adorable!

we make a point of buying honey when we travel. it’s a sweet souvenir!
there is such an enormous diversity in flavours.
the different flowers from where the bees collect their nectar 
impart a delicate, distinctive taste to the honey.
 besides ours, my favourite is chestnut honey from italy. delizioso!
did you know that honey is the only food that never perishes?

  learning about the lives of bees continues to fascinate me. 
 it has been such a pleasure to have miro 
and his babies on the farm!

sweet hugs,