Monthly Archives: June 2019

Sometimes Life Feels Like A Disney Movie

If you have been following my blog some of this will seem familiar.

Like the baby bunnies we found in the nest in our blueberry patch.

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and of course the family of skunks we encountered recently.

IMG_5193But if you are a fan of Disney movies you may realize that while we had “Thumper(s)” and “Flower(s)” we seem to be missing Bambi.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. One day last week my husband was going to attempt to till up the front garden bed. I was talking to him on the phone when he said, “what the heck is that?” I waited for him to tell me what he saw. Then he said “oh, it’s a baby deer.” He at first thought that it was dead, but then it jumped to it’s feet and scurried off running into a tree stump before disappearing amongst high weeds and trees. I am certain it didn’t go far and momma was somewhere in the area and would return before long.

I don’t have any pictures of that baby because my husband doesn’t carry a camera, but a few days later I spotted this doe dinning on chicken scratch in the driveway. This is quite possibly momma.

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“Bambi’s” or white tail deer are quite at home on our farm and in the spring it is common to see momma’s with their young, often twins or triplets.

The photo below is a set of triplets that were born last spring.

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Have you every felt like your life was like a Disney movie? Which Disney movie would you want to live?

Rescue Roses and Mystery Roses

This post was originally published in July of 2017. Since our wild rose bushes are now blooming I thought I would share this.

Rescue Roses

When we bought our farm it was 7.6 acres of vacant land. It had been sitting untouched for many years and was overgrown with countless types of vegetation. It was so much fun exploring the property and discovering various trees, bushes, and wild flowers.

One of my great disappointments was when I realized that I was going to lose a beautiful wild rose bush when we dug our pond. “We will move it,” my husband said. We decided to plant it next to theses large rocks. Rocks that we had decided we would never move again.

We cut down the bushy part of the rose and dug up as much as the root as we could and replanted it next to the rocks.

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We have since found 4 or 5 more rose bushes which would need to be moved so we didn’t destroy them as we developed areas of the farm. All of theses rose bushes were replanted near the rocks in what has now become our rescue rose garden.

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These rose bushes thrive in their new home.

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I am always excited to see these rose bushes blossom in the spring and they have a lovely fragrance.

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It is gratifying to know that we were able to preserve this beautiful part of nature.

Mystery Roses

Another rose story I want to share is what my husband and I are calling the mystery rose. The yellow rose bush was a given to me as a Mother’s Day gift from my children several years ago. My oldest daughter had picked it out, and she selected yellow because I had told her that bees tend to like yellow and pink flowers but not red flowers. That was something I read when I was researching honey bees. We planted the rose in the center of our prayer garden.

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Yellow Rose 2015

Despite giving it lots of TLC, watering when needed, fertilizer, and protecting it from the deer, the rose bush struggled. Last year I pruned it way down because the top had died off and dried up. I was sad because whenever someone gives me a plant it is a reminder of that person. In this case it represented my 4 daughters.

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Yellow Rose Is Red In 2017

Several weeks ago my husband asked me if I’d seen my rose bush. “It has one blossom and lots of buds.” he said. A couple days later I was baffled as I checked on my rose bush. “That was a yellow rose.” I told my husband. “Now it has red blossoms.” He didn’t really remember it being yellow, but he didn’t accuse me of being crazy. To make sure I wasn’t crazy I looked back through my pictures and found the picture above.

I decided that there were one of two explanations for this change. The first one would be that someone had replaced the dead rose bush with a live one and had put in red rather than yellow. If this had happened I’m am certain I would have seen evidence of the digging and replanting.

The other thing I thought may have happened was that the yellow rose was a grafted bush and the root stock that was used was a red rose. I wasn’t sure if roses were grafted or if this scenario was possibly so I did an internet search.

This link from the MSU Extension explains that indeed my second explanation is plausible. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/why_are_my_roses_changing_color   Apparently I had pruned the rose bush down below the point where it was grafted. The root stock that was from a red rose was strong enough to survive and seems to be thriving in our garden. I do love this beautiful red rose and it will continue to remind me of my daughters.

 

 

 

 

At Least We Didn’t Get Skunked

Term “skunked” is sometimes used to define an overwhelming defeat.

If you read my post from last Thursday I am sure you remember that I was quite discouraged about all the rain that we have been having and concerned that we, like most of the farmers in the area, had not been able to get any planting done.

After a dry Friday, but with more rain in the forecast for Sunday night and the week to follow, my husband decided it was now or never – he must try to get some planting done. He hooked the rototiller to the tractor and was able to till up a portion of the garden. YEA!!!! Then while he worked on planting some cabbage and tomato plants I worked on cutting grass.  What a relief it is to at least have the planting started.

The term “skunked” is also used to describe going fishing and catching nothing.

Feeling good about what we accomplished Saturday, and wanting to used some of the worms he collected while planting in the wet soil, we decided to do some fishing in the evening. We took our poles and the worm bucket out in the boat and loaded worms on our hooks. I dropped my hook in the water and seconds later had my first bite. It ended up being a 4 inch perch (although my husband remembered to bring the tape measure I neglected to bring my camera).

He caught the next fish – a 10 inch bass. It was not our intention to have bass in our pond. We originally stocked it with perch, a few walleye, a few catfish, a few pike and lots of minnows. We intentionally did not include bass. They showed up anyway. How does that happen??? Apparently water birds like ducks, geese and herons can get fish eggs stuck to their feet in one body of water and deposit them in another. Well we have had plenty of ducks, geese and herons visit so that explains it.  After seeing the bass my husband said we probably needed to get more pike as they are predators that would help keep the bass population under control. We had originally only put a few pike in there and hadn’t caught one in several years.

As we continued fishing we caught a quite a few 2-3 inch perch, then we each caught a 9 inch perch. We released them this time, but one day the are going to make a nice dinner. I got the last worm of the night (a very large night crawler). Since we didn’t want it to get nibbled away by small fry my husband peddled the boat around the deeper waters. Suddenly I got a bite. I could tell it was a large fish so I let it play on the line a little and waited for it to relax a bit before reeling it in some. When it got close enough I could see that it was neither a perch or a bass. It also wasn’t a catfish. When it got close enough my husband grabbed the line as I held the fishing pole. As he lifted the fish out of the water “it’s a pike he announced”. Just as he did the fish wiggled and got off the hook. Splash! back into the water it went. We didn’t get to measure it but is was significantly larger than the 10 inch bass he caught. Now we know that the predator fish in there.

Skunked? Not even close! Our Saturday was full of wins!

The term “skunked” can also be used to describe getting sprayed by a skunk.

Sunday morning as my husband and I arrived a the farm we noticed something strange near the pond. The colors were such that, despite never seeing a skunk close up in the daylight before, I knew immediately what it was.

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We had never seen skunks on the farm before, but a couple of years ago Trooper had a smelly encounter with one in the field next door.

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This momma seemed to be as surprised to see us as we were to see her.

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We stayed in our vehicle and watched as she tried to round up her three little ones then hurried them out of sight.

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I suspect our saving grace that morning was that we didn’t have Trooper with us.

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Trooper is a watch dog and would be certain announce to us that he saw something that didn’t belong there. He would do this by barking loudly and incessantly. His barking quite possibly would have made this momma feel threatened. Even if momma and baby had scampered off, Trooper, despite his prior experiences with skunks, would have certainly went looking in their direction once he got out of the van.

Though they are incredibly cute skunks might not be an animal we want inhabiting our farm. Beyond the threat of an encounter with a curious watch dog who doesn’t learn from past experiences, skunks could pose a threat to our chickens. They may not prey on our full grown birds but chicks and eggs may be at risk. Since skunks are generally nocturnal animals and our chickens are closed in a secure coop each night the risk may be low.

Skunks are also know to dine on bees – potentially even honey bees. Again since skunks are nocturnal and honey bees retreat to their hive at night the risk again is somewhat low. As a precaution against wild critters my husband places a brick on top of each bee hive so the critter would first have knock the brick off then knock the top off before being able to get into the hive.

Fortunately the skunks should have a more than adequate food supply on our farm without having to bother our chickens, eggs or bees. There may even be some benefits to having them around according the following excerpt from https://www.nativeanimalrescue.org/got-skunks/ . “Despite their smelly reputation, skunks are beneficial to people. They are opportunistic feeders with about 70% of their diet being insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and wasps. They eat a huge number of agricultural pests, such as army worms, potato beetles and squash bugs. One of their favorite foods is grubs, which they dig up from the soil. A hungry skunk can save people lots of money in terms of the amount of pesticides they might use if the skunk was not at work all night. Skunks will also eat spiders, snails, earthworms, carrion, berries, nuts, roots, small rodents and garbage. An easy source of food will quickly become their favorite, so avoid leaving dog and cat food out at night, which will draw skunks and other unwanted wildlife to your home. Skunks are shy, nocturnal creatures and would rather avoid you than spray you.”

After reading this it is my hope that we can have a peaceful coexistence with these critters – and again we didn’t get skunked.

Possible “Daisy” Sighting

Several years ago in the spring I got a phone call from my niece. She said her children had found a turtle in their yard and were concerned about  finding it a good home. She told them they couldn’t keep it and wanted to know if they could bring it over and put it in our pond. Since it was a harmless painted turtle we said “yes”.

When they arrived we discovered that it was a baby turtle – no bigger than a fifty cent piece and very cute. We walked to the beach and before releasing the turtle into the pond the kids were asked what they wanted to name it. They decided to call it Daisy.

Every since then when the kids visit the farm they always ask if we have seen Daisy, and of course they keep an eye out for her when they are in or near the pond.. We usually see turtles of varying sizes throughout the summer months but really have no way of telling which one might be Daisy.

Yesterday as my husband and I were walking in the field he spotted a turtle, in fact I think he almost stepped on it because the grass was so tall. We decided to reduce it’s risk of getting stepped on or run over by a lawn mower or tractor and put it in the pond.

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I really don’t know how fast painted turtles grow but I would guess that this one may be several years old. Perhaps it is Daisy.

 

 

June Farm Update

I think I have been putting off this post because I like my posts to be positive and uplifting, but when I looked at the radar this morning and saw the storm headed our way I wanted to cry. My feelings only became more intense as I saw the dark clouds roll in and the heavy rain poured down on us. I did manage to hold back my tears, after all the last thing we need right now is more water – ANYWHERE.

Not everything that is happening is negative, but our spring weather has not been favorable for agriculture in Michigan. Temperatures in April and May stayed cool and the rains came like continual ocean waves. While we are thankful that we have not experienced the dangerous flooding and tornados that have devastated other parts of the country, the weather conditions we have experienced could certainly cause hardships and effects can be far reaching. Commercial farmers are suffering because the fields are simply too wet. It has been impossible to even get into the fields and it is getting quite late in the season for corn to be planted.

All that corn that might not be grown this year is normally used in food production, as animal feed and to make ethanol. Consumers of any of these products can expect to pay higher prices as shortages occur.

Though we are not commercial farmers we are struggling as well. It was April 23 when I posted that the first asparagus shoots were poking up through the ground. I was really looking forward to picking and eating our fresh asparagus. After I posted that the cool temperatures and rains continued and it was at least 10 days before we picked those few spears. It was equally as long before I began seeing any other shoots appear. Eventually more of the plants began putting up a few shoots and I was able to pick enough to have with our dinner one night. The asparagus was still slow to produce and with only about 20% of our approximately 100 plants producing at all so we decided not to harvest anymore this year with hopes of saving any plants that have survived.

Like the commercial farmers our fields are too wet to plant. It is frustrating that we have no idea when we will be able to plant our vegetable garden for this year.

Now let me take you on a little farm tour and show you some of the things we observed earlier this week.

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Like everything else the garlic field is too wet to work in. The garlic has come up but it is struggling and being taken over by weeds. We will need several dry and warm days in a row for it to dry out enough that we can work in there.

IMG_5053The dandelions that began to blossom just a few days after we set up our 5 new bee hives

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have nearly all gone to seed.

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The grape vines are loaded with tiny bunches of grapes. Last year we did not have any grapes so this gives us hope.

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The apple trees blossomed IMG_5101and the bees and other pollinators worked their magic.

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There are now tiny apples on all of the apple trees.

With the dandelions and apple blossoms gone I was curious what the bees were foraging now.

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I discovered some on the Autumn Olives. (The bee moving caused the picture to blur.)Although these shrubs seem are said to be an invasive species, they do have their usefulness.

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They also have a lovely fragrance.

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Honey bees aren’t the only ones hard at work. This bumble bee was working over a daisy-like flower.

IMG_5144The clover is beginning to blossom, and while I was looking for bees in the clover I noticed these two damsel flies (look just to the upper right of the clover blossom). I think they were too busy to notice me.

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Though the clover is just beginning to blossom I was happy to see that the honey bees are finding it.

The blueberries have blossomed

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and the baby bunnies have left their nest.

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This little one was actually number 5. ☺

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The blueberry bushes are now in the process of making berries.

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The strawberry patch is lush and green and full of blossoms.

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While the honey bees usually don’t pollinate our strawberries many other insects do. I am not sure if this is a butterfly or moth but I thought it was quite interesting.

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The strawberries are starting to form, but at the same time some of the plants are beginning to wilt, apparently from being too wet. It is too soon to know how this crop turn out.

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The chives are in full bloom and while I didn’t see honey bees there while I had camera in hand, I had seen them there the day before.

The beautiful daffodil flowers that ushered in spring have faded away,

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but the Irises are now in full bloom. Have you ever smelled an Iris? They have a wonderful, somewhat spicy, fragrance.

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The thyme (in the foreground) and the salvia (in the background) are just beginning to blossom. These are both favorites of honey bees.

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I think it’s time to harvest some oregano.

While my husband and I were standing near the pond we noticed a bird fly out of the cattails. My husband said “don’t tell me,”

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“there is. ” When I asked what he was talking about he pointed out the nest built amongst the cattails. It is well hidden. Can you spot it (just left of center) in this photo.?

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The bird didn’t go far. She sat in the hickory tree and kept an eye on us. We are not sure what type of bird this is so if you have any idea feel free to leave it in the comments below.

Peaceful – It’s the word most commonly used to describe our farm. It’s the feeling I was seeking this morning.

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I found it in the following words.

Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV)
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you are wondering what we are doing since we can’t work in the gardens –

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I assure you we are keeping busy.

Thanks for reading. How is the weather in your part of the world?