Category Archives: Bees

Flowers, Pollinators, Fungus and Breakfast With the Chickens

Flowers and Pollinators

The hibiscus bushes are blossoming.

There are three bushes in a row. The two on the ends have the deep red blossoms. The one is the middle has light pink/white blossoms.

This year we have an interesting phenomenon. One of the end bushes has both the red blossoms and the pink blossoms. This has never happened before.

The only explanation I can come up with is that these bushes drop seeds every year and small plants sprout each summer. I end up pulling them so I don’t know how long it would take for one to mature. Perhaps a seed from the pink bush grew up amongst the red bush and has become mature enough to produce flowers. So this is actually two bushes that have commingled.

Many of the plants are suffering from too much rain. The oregano leaves are turning yellow and orange. I have been tempted to cut them way down.

But the bees are enjoying the flowers

as are the butterflies, so I will leave them until they are done blossoming.

Dragonflies are not really pollinators but I do love having them around, especially since they eat things like gnats and MOSQUITOS. (Bring on the dragonflies!!!) This one was resting on an Agastache Kudos Mandarin plant, AKA Hummingbird Mint, that we planted this year.

The honey bees were foraging in the anise hyssop.

This patch of wild flowers attracts a lot of pollinators.

Look closely – how many bees do you see on the Mountain Mint in this photo? I see at least 3.

How about this one? (two?)

Honey bees aren’t the only pollinators enjoying these plants. The blue mud dauber wasps like them as well. This is the first year I have seen this type of wasp.

Honey bees like the cone flowers,

and I even spotted some foraging the purple loosestrife. That is something that we haven’t seen in the past.

It took a while but this beauty finally posed for a picture on a marshmallow plant.

Telling it to “hold still” did absolutely no good so I just had to be patient. I think this butterfly is called a Red Spotted Purple.

Fungus

When I did my mushroom post I had forgot about these puff ball mushrooms that grow every year on the hill where we someday hope to build a root cellar. They are well hidden beneath other weeds that grow up around them so we usually don’t even know they are there until late fall or winter when all the foliage dies. By that time they are just large dust balls.

When I first noticed these, a week or so ago, they were bright white. I didn’t have my camera with me at that time and as you can see they have since turned various shades of brown.

Each of these fungi is between 12 and 20 inches across.

Breakfast With the Chickens

Sunday morning I went to open up the chicken coop. When I do this my routine is to first fill their water dish. I then spread some chicken scratch on the ground in piles around the chicken yard, then I fill their feed dish before I open the coop to let them out. I do this because I know that the first thing they want to do when they come out is eat (except the rooster but we won’t talk about what he wants). If I were to let them out first I would likely have the whole flock following me to the feed can, then I would be tripping over them as I tried to the scatter scratch.

As I was filling their feed dish I noticed a deer approaching the chicken yard. She noticed me as well and we stopped for a minute and stared at each other. I then finished what I was doing while she moseyed over to the pile of chicken scratch that was about twenty feet from the coop and began eating. I opened up the coop and the chickens scattered around the area some of them joining her.

I decided to get my camera to see if I could get a picture of this breakfast club. It was still pretty dark in the chicken yard as it is in a grove of large hickory trees so i wasn’t sure how the picture would turn out.

It wasn’t until I got home and viewed the photo on my computer that I realized

that I had experienced an alien encounter. (Where’s Will Smith when you need him???)

Even when she got out in the light her eyes glowed.

Meanwhile the chickens went on their way,

cluelessly searching for worms or grasshoppers and enjoying their worry-free life.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great week!

The Garden Is Planted and Other Farm Happenings

We got some light rain yesterday and there is more in the forecast for tomorrow. Boy is that a good thing. Our garden is planted but we haven’t had much rain so we’ve been watering plants to keep them alive.

On Saturday, May 15 my husband put the pump in the pond so we could begin filling the tanks that we use for irrigation.

It may or may not have been my turn to put the pump in the pond but here’s how that works each year.

My Husband: “It’s your turn to put the pump in the pond.”

Me: “Ok as soon as we have a couple of consecutive days of 80 degree F (26.6 C) weather for the water to warm up I’ll do it.”

My Husband: Puts the pump in the pond when temperatures are still in the 60’s or 70’s F.

OR some Years it goes like this

My Husband: “It’s your turn to put the pump in the pond.”

Me: No honey. Last year was my turn. I know you did it but it’s still your turn this year.

My Husband: Puts the pump in the pond.

I didn’t get any pictures of the planting or the garden as of yet but I’ll tell you what we have planted. Potatoes, onions and cabbage were plated first and are all doing well at this point. Tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant, melon, cucumbers and basil were planted as seedlings or young plants. Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, green beans, three types of squash, dill, sweet corn, pumpkins, sunflowers, and broom corn were planted as seed. ** My husband brought home a package of okra seed yesterday and we are going to plant some. We have never grown okra before and I have only eaten it a few times but we decided to give it a try.

While it feels good to have the garden planted we realize the work has only just begun.

Now for other farm happenings:

Puppy Playground

This spring we doubled the area that we have fenced in the back field. It’s an area where we have apple trees, our blueberry patch and our strawberry patch. It is now known as the puppy playground. It’s over 52,000 square feet where Ranger can safely run off-leash and sniff ’til his heart’s content.

Prayer Garden

As always the prayer garden is a work in progress.

We decided this year to add mulch to dress it up and for weed control. I started by weeding then edging.

Then we began adding the mulch.

It’s nearly done and I hope to have it finished by this weekend.

Salvia and Thyme

Mean while we have watched the transition from mostly yellow blossoms to lots of purple and some pink blossoms.

Irises
Dianthus
Chives
Lilac

Chicken Coop Construction

We are in the process of building a new home for the chickens. It’s a slow process because it gets worked on in between other things that need to be done. I don’t have any photos yet but as we get further along I’ll share some of the process. Hopefully by the end of June our chickens will be in their new home.

Bees

Our bees arrived as scheduled on May 13. It was a lovely day for hiving bees and my husband had the two new hives set up before noon.

My husband and I agree – it’s nice to have bees on the farm again.

Mowing

It seems like I’ve spent a lot of time mowing grass this spring. According to the mower it’s been over 18 hours. The task has been made easier by this new mower we purchased last month.

Outdoor Décor

When the local greenhouses opened in the beginning of May we stopped by a new one just down the road to purchase flowers for our hanging baskets and porch pots. Their prices were a little higher than the one we usually shop at but we wanted to support this new local business.

They did have a nice selection.

Thanks to my husband’s diligence in taking them inside on the frosty nights and making sure they have enough water each day they are all thriving.

The one above has a volunteer sunflower growing in it. Not sure how it got there but I see it as a gift.

Play Time

It’s not been all work though.

We’ve been blessed to have a couple visits from the grandkids (and their parents).

And we’re looking forward to many more of these.

Thanks for visiting. Do you have a garden planted?

Yesterday’s Harvest

From the garden we harvested green beans, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers.

From one hive we harvested 8 frames of honey and wax. Now the bees are cleaning up the frames.

Honey is our oldest hen. She turned 7 this spring.

From the coop we collected 11 eggs. Only 8 of them made it home though. It seems that Ranger learned a new trick. He figured out how to steal eggs out of the egg basket. They didn’t break until he stepped on them. I’m not sure why he decided to take them – either he thought he had found a new toy or he was telling us he wanted to eat. Crazy Dog! LOL!

Where The Bees Are

Yesterday while walking around the back field I spotted Honey bees on several different flowers. I first noticed a bee in the white clover, then another foraging in the birdsfoot trefoil. I spotted a couple of bees on Canadian thistle blossoms and there were many buzzing about in the sweet clover.

Honey Bee on Sweet Clover Blossom
Honey Bee on Mountain Mint Blossom

I then walked by a patch where we planted wild flowers several years ago to see what they might be foraging in there. While the mountain mint that grows in that patch was not part of the seed mix that we planted, it has become a favorite of the bees when it blossoms.

Honey Bee on Oregano Blossom

Back at the prayer garden I found many bees in the oregano and a few on the anise hyssop.

Bumble Bee on Anise Hyssop Blossom.

The bee in the above photo is a bumble bee. Honey bees and bumble bees often forage the same flowers.

In addition in all of these plants my husband has reported seeing the bees pollenating the squash and pumpkins and I have seen a few foraging in the marshmallow plants.

The beauty in the bees foraging such a wide variety of plants is that each time we harvest honey the result is a deliciously unique blend of various plant nectars that the bees have collected. I dare say that we have never had two batches of honey that were exactly the same.

Thanks for visiting.

Dog Days Of Summer

According to almanac.com the dog days of summer run from July 3 through August 11 which is normally the hottest and most humid time of year in the northern hemisphere. Around here every day is a dog day. Just ask Ranger and Trooper. But, yes, the HEAT IS ON and it is accompanied by a dry spell so keeping the gardens watered has been the main focus for the past week or so. If you are curious about how we manage that on our off-grid farm you can check out our off-grid irrigation system here.

In the mean time I put together a collection of pictures that I’ve taken over about the past few weeks to share with you.

This is how Ranger cools off on these hot days. (Did you know beagles can swim?)

and Trooper enjoys laying on the beach after a swim in the pond.

The grandbabies love the water as much as the dogs do.

Dragonflies are yet another creature that appreciate the pond.

This one is drinking water from the sand. Check out the honey bee (on the left) that photo bombed this shot. She too was coming to the beach for a drink of water.

This beauty hung out with us on the beach, for a couple of hour yesterday evening, fluttering about and pausing now and then to rest or perhaps get a sip of water.

One last pond picture because we can never have too much cuteness. LOL.

Speaking of cuteness, here is a double dose – twins.

The lavender is gorgeous this year and the bees and butterflies are all over it.

We have transitioned from strawberry season to blueberry season. On the same day that my husband, and (daughter) Kara, picked the last of the strawberries, I took (daughter) Tina, and Jackson and Addy into the blueberry patch to pick the first ripe berries. While Kara took her 3/4 of a basket of strawberries home. Addy couldn’t wait, so she ate all of the blueberries we picked while they were still at the farm.

Start them off young – that’s my motto. They posed for a group photo then dad took Jackson and Addy, one at a time, for a ride on the tractor.

The garden is flourishing. I have harvested basil and calendula flowers twice so far.

We have green tomatoes, peppers starting to develop, blossoms on the eggplant,

blossoms on the green beans and the corn is knee high.

We cut garlic scapes (check out this post to learn more about scapes) about two weeks ago and will be digging garlic soon.

It seems that every summer our back field is dominated by different plants. This year it is full of clover and birdsfoot trefoil and I think it is just gorgeous. It’s also great bee food.

I’ll leave you with one last photo of this pair who stopped by our deck for a short visit last week. They were kind enough to stay so I could get a photo then they hurried on their way.

Thanks for visiting and remember – stay hydrated, breathe deep and stay well.

Are you having a heat wave?