Spring has sprung and we are all excited for what the season has in store for us.
Patricia met up with Suszanne Schwal back in 2015 to talk about their adventures in linen. A year later, Suszanne popped by to check in on where we are at with things at TapRoot Fibre. She wrote a lovely blog post on her website about TapRoot Fibre Lab.
Our seeds for this upcoming growing season arrived from Belgium. This year we planted five acres of Melina on April 29th, 2016. Patricia is working on securing a second-hand grubber/puller for harvesting this year so we are not trying to harvest five acres by hand.
I (Rhea) attended the Saltscapes Expo on Friday, April 22nd, the biggest consumer expo east of Montreal that celebrates everything in Atlantic Canada. I presentated on our machinery and linen product line. I have been going to the Saltscapes Expo as a participant for several years now and it was interesting to be on the other side of things. (put the link to saltscapes here)
I (Rhea) have been working each day at getting linen processed so we will have product available for sale. I have been prototyping our long line linen equipment. I take the ‘waste’ from the scutching machine and process it into roving using the Belfast Mini Mill equipment. Legacy Lane, a fibre Mill in New Brunswick are willing to try our short line linen roving through their spinning machine. We are excited to see their results and look forward to hearing from them.
Our immediate need is to launch an online shop for sales of the linen and the machines.
Mike, our engineer, plus people from Timberttec are working on installing an integrated transfer system. This system will help move the flax between each machine. Testing continues we are working on improvements for the breaker, testing rollers and on the scutcher - the turbine blade bluntness. We are awaiting the hackles for our hackling machine as they make their way from India. The hacking machine will comb the linen fibres to remove any remaining shive, any knots and short line linen (tow) fibres.
We are postponing deliveries until tomorrow (Tuesday, March 22) because of slippery road conditions and the uncertainty of freezing rain later this afternoon. Monday deliveries will be at the same time, in the same place, one day delayed.
We expect (and hope!) that this will be the last weather delay this season! :)
Things at the farm are starting to pick up speed in preparation for the coming growing season.
As mentioned in January’s blog, we will be growing five acres of the Melina variety of flax this year along with small test plots of newer types. Denise has been busy figuring out the correct way to bring our seeds into the country. We will be ordering our seeds through a certified seed importer.
Since we are increasing our production levels, we are going to invest in a second-hand grubber. A grubber is a machine that will pull the flax plant out of the ground and place it, in an organised manner, on the ground. Denise is researching the necessary procedure to ship a piece of equipment to Canada from the European Union.
We have been working with Belfast Mini Mills, a manufacturer of processing equipment for animal fibres, to see if their equipment can process our short line linen fibres. Testing has yielded positive results! This past week, Jeff and Peter, from Belfast Mini Mills, delivered a separator and carder. Justine and I are working on developing a product from our short line linen. This will enable us to use all of the “waste” fibre from the long line processing we do.We are excited to be getting close to have product available for sale.
Our flax processing room has been set up and now contains three pieces of equipment. We have begun testing on our scutching machine with positive results. Construction on our fourth piece of equipment, the hackler, continues. The scutching machine will remove the shive from the fibres while the hackler will combine the linen fibres, and remove any knots and short line linen fibres.
Patricia’s knitting machine is now operational. I am learning how to use the machine to knit dishcloths. It was recommended to me by several machine knitters that I start with wool and then move on to linen.
We have been working with a local graphic designer to develop product labels.
We are excited to announce that we are continuing to work with Shannon at Trusted Clothes. We will be publishing a monthly guest blog to provide an update of life on the farm and where we are at with developing our equipment line.
Finally, we have been working with a group of local wool growers to start a cooperative fibre mill in the Annapolis Valley. Exciting times!
Locally made with Annapolis Valley fruit and organic cane sugar, we now have Fruit Leather from The Humble Burdock Farm available to our members! What started out as a hobby and search for healthy snacking options has turned into a customer favourite for Amanda and her team at The Humble Burdock in Steam Mill, Nova Scotia. Each variety pack comes with a 1.75 oz package of the following flavours;
Besides being locally made and delicious, fruit leather is also a very convenient snack with a long (6 month) shelf life, and doesn't require refrigeration until the hot summer weather rolls in. Due to her busy schedule on the farm, Amanda doesn't produce fruit leather from May-November so we'll have for as long as we can but once she's out, you'll have to wait until November! Fair warning. :)
We've added red cabbage (non-organic) to our list of extra goodies available, and we've even taken care of the trimming for you! There are about a bazillion uses for red cabbage, but I (Kim) thought I'd send you all my favourite.
Red Cabbage Rolls. Yes, that's right, cabbage rolls aren't just for the familiar green variety. Red cabbage rolls are equally delicious, and have the added bonus of adding a blaze of colour, bright enough to shake off any mid-winter blues. **To help keep the colour rich and vibrant, add a splash of vinegar to the water when you boil it. The recipe below is using the the standard green cabbage, but I strongly encourage you to give the red a try. Trust me, you will not regret it.