Beginning Of Summer Farm Update

It’s been just a few days since summer arrived, but for once the weather seemed to coincide with the calendar. The heat that we have been getting has served to dry things up nicely so things are looking much better at the farm.

STRAWBERRIES

Despite the cool, rainy spring our strawberries did well. We have been picking berries for about two weeks now.

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These berries were from the first day we picked. Since then we have picked about 60 quarts of strawberries. They seem to be slowing down but we will probably be picking for the next couple of days at least.

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Besides eating fresh strawberries (even some right in the field as we pick) we have enjoyed them in fruit salad, as strawberry short cake with homemade whipped cream, I made nine pints of strawberry jam, and we have about 15 quarts in the freezer. We have also been able to share them with family and friends.

As we were picking berries on that first day we came across this well hidden nest in the middle of the patch.

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We had no idea what type of eggs they were and we hadn’t seen a momma bird around at all.

Then a few days ago when my husband was picking berries alone he called to tell me that the eggs had hatched. He also said that momma sparrow was watching him from the fence.

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Yesterday as we picked she stayed on the nest until I took her photo.IMG_5252

I think that startled her and she quickly flew away, so I was able to get a photo of her young.

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Although there were five eggs in the nest I could only make out four babies.

GARDEN

Over the last two weeks we were able to get the garden planted. Although planting conditions were less than ideal we planted cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, basil, parsley and more tomatoes. We also put in carrot, beet, and Swiss chard seeds.

The plants that we put in seem to be taking hold but the seeds that only went in a few days ago have yet to sprout.

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This year we decided to use weed guard around many of the plants. This product is a thick organic paper. It will help keep moisture in and weeds down. It will also break down over the course of the summer and can be tilled into the soil.

Having been unsure when or if we would be able to plant a garden at the farm this year I had planted sweet peas and pole beans in containers and they are growing on our deck.

The peas which were planted several weeks before the beans are now producing pods and the peas are growing inside of them. I picked a few of the pods that had not began to fill out and added them to my beef stew a couple nights ago.

BEES

As always we have been keeping an eye out to see where the bees are foraging. We have seen them in the clover, chives, thyme, and raspberries.

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Last Saturday while my husband and son-in-law were doing some fishing I was moving some bricks with the tractor (I love driving the tractor) and I noticed this swarm of bees in a pear tree. Christmas in June! LOL!

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The guys finished up their fishing and my husband prepared to capture the swarm. We helped him set up the new hive and he got out all of the equipment he would need.

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The swarm was located within reach so he had no need for a ladder.

The hive these bees were placed in is a warre top-bar hive. Since there are no frames to remove and the top bars run across the top of each box it was necessary to have the box upside-down pour the bees in. Then he covered it with a piece of cardboard while he returned to the pear tree to gather the remaining bees.

The bees that did not get captured the first time around were collecting back on the tree limb so he gave them a little time to settle before shaking them into the bucket and taking them to their new home.

After pouring the remaining bees into the hive box he again covered it with the cardboard. then Ken helped him hold the cardboard in place as he flipped the box over and placed on top of the lower box. He then slid the cardboard out so the top box sat directly on the lower box.

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CHICKEN

I thought I would include one last picture just because I thought it was cute.

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Not all of our chickens have names but there are a select group that have earned their names. This one is Honey. She is one of three surviving chickens from our very first batch of chicks in 2013. She earned her name by being friendly and lovable. She is at the top of the pecking order, and while she is rarely mean to other hens she pretty much rules the roost and the bumper as the case may be.

I will leave you with this – one of my favorite scriptures.

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Has summer arrived is your part of the world?

36 thoughts on “Beginning Of Summer Farm Update

    1. Thank you Diane. While I would consider much of what nature has to offer on our farm freebees (Birds, bunnies, deer, frogs, other insects, wild plants and trees etc.), our honey bees are a financial investment. To start just one hive the bees cost $120-$130 and that’s not including the hive or the equipment needed to manage the hives. We feel that the rewards are worth the expense. The bees provide crop pollination and we are able to harvest some wonderful honey and wax.

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    1. We thought the strawberries were done but ended up picking 6 more quarts. I am going to make some fruit roll-ups with these (real fruit!).
      Though bee keeping can be frustrating it can also be very rewarding. I am not sure that we need to be thanked but it’s nice to know that others are aware of the issue. The more awareness perhaps the more people who are willing to do little things to help. Most people can do something – like not using weed killer on dandelions, not using chemical insecticides, or not mowing areas that grow wild flowers that might be considered weeds.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

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  1. That chicken is the same color as honey so guessing that is how she got her name? The sparrows are so tiny and sweet, just like the strawberries. I’m glad you could finally get everything planted and on its way Ruth.

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    1. My husband actually named her Honey because she was so sweet. She would hop up on his lap or stand near him and want him to pick her up. We have had a lot of chickens that color but she is our “Honey”.

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      1. That is very sweet and I never knew chickens were so affectionate until a few bloggers who keep chickens wrote about them (we’ve not heard from Kim in a while have we?) She has the perfect name for her personality then Ruth!

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      2. Some chickens are affectionate and win a special place in your heart while others just prefer to go about their business and be left alone. I hope you have a beautiful day Linda.

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      3. I think that is sweet and people often underestimate the love and intelligence a bird can give. We had parakeets for years, then the last two pets were canaries. Thanks Ruth – about to head out shortly and not as hot as it was the last few days … it was a little too hot! (I’m just a malcontent!)

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  2. I bet those strawberries taste so sweet. I remember having a little pot of strawberries in my garden one year and when I picked them off to eat them they tasted so different from regular store bought strawberries. LOVE that nest, what a special gift to see that. You got two with the bees. My husband would love another swarm for his hive. One year a wild swarm went into the bee hive my husband set up in our garden (it’s a tiny city garden) and we had fresh honey that year. Again, nothing taste as good as chemical free things you grow or get out in nature yourself. Great post.

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    1. Thank you. Absolutely! Strawberries that ripen on the vine have such a sweet flavor. It’s what a strawberry should taste like. That was actually the second swam my husband captured this year. The first was on Father’s Day. Interesting that a swarm made a home right in his hive. I wish it were always that easy. ☺

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    1. Strawberries do have a short season and buying strawberries that have traveled thousands of miles to get to the grocery store is just not the same as buying fresh locally grown berries. I suspect your trip was a good trade off though.

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  3. What a lovely, summery post, and great photos! Your garden is doing very well! We’ve had a few strawberries, too, but a lot of plants have struggled because of the colder temps and awful deluges of rain. Thankfully the sun is finally out today so it looks like the summer is visiting the UK after all this year, fingers crossed!xx

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    1. Thank you. Some of our strawberry plants struggled as well and just didn’t produce well. They we ones that were planted in a lower area so apparently the others were able to dry out enough and those were not. I’m hoping you get some nice summer weather to enjoy as well.

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    1. We were happy to see that those babies hatched since we hadn’t seen momma around.
      Strawberries have shallow roots so if the weather is dry they need to be watered. We haven’t had a lot of problems with pests or diseases so have been able to grow them without chemicals. Maintaining the patch can be a lot of work because the plants put out runners with young plants. If they are not cut they will root and the patch will become overgrown. They can be cut to start a new patch. Usually after a couple of years the plants stop producing so starting the runners in a new patch keeps things going.

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    1. Her name suits her personality as well. She was the first hen who really took to my husband. She would hop up on his lap or peck at him until he picked her up. I remember a couple of times he was holding her while he was driving the tractor.
      Hope you are having a great summer!

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