Summer is here and the farm is in full swing. Our planning and preparation are now being put to the test as we execute the ideas that were easy to strategize about in February, but are not always so simple to apply in June. The first sign that spring is turning to summer is when we turn the irrigation back on. With almost 700 acres of farmland and three wells drawing over 3000 gallons of water a minute, this endeavor is not to be taken lightly. Our water comes from a deep aquifer below the Okanagan River and is designed to protect the river’s Salmon Habitat as the river passes next to the farm. As a Salmon Safe Certified farm our water practices are part of an eco-certification program of agricultural practices designed to Pacific salmon habitat. So turning on and managing our water is a big deal.
With our water in place, all thoughts turn to composting. The piles of organic matter that have been decomposing away in our compost piles are now ready to be spread on the farm. With the fields plowed and the vineyards pruned the compost is spread throughout the farm providing the rich nutrients and natural pesticides that are the backbone of organic farming. Once we have prepped the fields we turn to our tunnels. Recycled aluminum irrigation has been bent to form hoops that we cover with plastic creating long tunnels for crop production. These passive greenhouses increase humidity and protect our crops from unexpected weather events like frosts, hail damage and wind storms. On May 26th of this year a 15-minute hailstorm struck from Keremeos to Oliver gravely damaging some orchardists and early ground crops. Our tunnels also protect against extreme heat by increasing humidity, which is crucial for some crops in our dry desert climate.
With summer we also welcome some new babies to the farm. We are happy to announce the birth of two additional Barbados black belly sheep, to add to our flock making it four new lambs this spring. We also acquired 7 little Berkshire piglets from Enderby to raise this summer on all the cull fruit and extra veggies that don’t make it into our compost heaps. They are doing a great job at rooting up their pasture, and we have learned that the Berkshire breed are consummate escape artists. Our herd of Scottish Highland cattle also increased this spring as we welcomed three calves to the farm. Initially we were expecting two calves and were surprised when our younger heifer “Milkers” birthed a bull calf that promptly disappeared on Good Friday. We conducted an exhaustive search of the area and after spotting a large coyote we suspected the worst. Easter Sunday morning he was back with his mom and the farm kids promptly named him baby Jesus. Jesus now grazes happily with the other new calf arrivals Patrick and Tonta.
With our U-pick open for strawberries and vegetables right around the corner this summer is shaping up to be a busy one full of tours, wine tasting, and cultivating enjoyment. All the summer best to you from Covert Farms Family Estate!