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.
Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” and here to view previous posts in this series.
I recently finished reading Dogs Never Lie About Love By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. It is aptly subtitled Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs. As a dog lover I found this to be a fun read because I could identify with much the author had to say.
Today I decided to share one passage from the book that had me nodding my head in agreement.
“It has been often said that humans are on an arrogant mission when they seek out life on other planets before they have adequately understood the alien lives on our own planet. I think this is particularly true when it comes to dogs, for here is another life form that is both immediately understandable and familiar, while at the same time there is an unyielding mystery at the heart of a dog. Just when we think we know them completely, we look into the eyes of a family dog and something about his radiance, his depth, gives us pause. “Who are you really?” we are inclined to ask at that moment. The dog might smile, a familiar smile, but will not answer. They keep their deepest mysteries to themselves.” ~ Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
I don’t think we will ever really understand dogs. 🙂
Perhaps this post should be sub-titled “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” because we have seen a bit of each this winter.
The chickens mostly fall in good category. Egg production slowed down in late November as usual and we were only getting 2-4 eggs a day, but as the hours of daylight have been getting longer egg production has been gradually increasing. We are now gathering between 7-10 eggs a day. We had more than enough eggs for us, so we didn’t have to buy any this winter. The lack of snow this winter has made the chickens happy because they tend to stay inside when there is snow on the ground.
The bad, or at least sad, part is that our rooster died on Thanksgiving. He was one of three birds left from our first batch of chicks we got in 2013. Toward the end of summer we noticed that old age seemed to be catching up to him, so we were not surprised by his death. So far the flock seems to be doing well without him. I was never especially close to Cocky because he seemed to feel that he had to protect his flock from me. I did learn, after being spurred in the leg by him a couple times, not to turn my back on him. We sparred many times over the years, but I did respect him as protector of our flock. While I don’t miss having to look over my should when I’m in or around the chicken yard, I do miss hearing his Cock-a-doodle-do’s.
Bees fall into the UGLY category. At the end of summer we had eight hives most of which seemed to be thriving. Over fall and winter we have lost all of them. We are baffled as to why the bees are dying. Every hive has had lots of honey in it, the hives have top ventilation to prevent moisture build up and our winter temps haven’t even been that cold so it doesn’t make sense that they are freezing to death. Some even died before temperatures got cold.
It is sad and it is frustrating to have so many losses, but we have decided not to give up yet. We have ordered three more packages of bees to arrive in May so we can try, try again.
At this time it seems that the garlic falls into the good category. The new location seems to be good since despite lots of rain and snow melt we have not had any flooding in that area.
The main reason that I am including garlic in this update is because several readers were interested in knowing how the weed guard that we used when planting the garlic worked out. (You can read about it here.) Unfortunately it did not work out as we hoped it would. All was well until after the first big snow storm in early November. We then had a warm up, and as the snow melted, the weed guard became saturated. Then we began seeing rips in it. It seems the wind was getting under the exposed edges and ripping the wet paper. It became so tore up that we ended up removing it completely and mulching the garlic with straw before the ground froze.
If we use this product in the future we now understand it is important to make sure all of the edges are secured – perhaps by burying them in the soil.
This is another one for the good column. This new addition is currently under construction. It has come a lot farther since this photo was taken last week. Our plan is to have it ready so we can start our garden plants in it this spring. I plan to write a post on it’s design and construction once it is complete and will likely write about it’s uses in the future as well.
The boy’s also fall into the good category. Most of our time at the farm this winter has been spent with the boys, more specifically training Ranger. This pup has so much energy that it is important that he get out and use it up. We have found that he requires a minimum of two hours a day outside, but on most day it’s three or more hours of walking, running and hunting.
We have been using a training collar that has three settings – a beep, a vibrate, and a shock. The collar, along with voice commands, is working well with training him to stay on our property, but it is going to take a lot more training and time before he can be trusted not to leave the farm. Beagles have a strong hunting instinct and if they pick up the scent of a rabbit or other small animal (there are many on our farm) it is difficult to call them off.
We are not hunters so we will not be training to hunt rabbits or squirrels.
He and Trooper do enjoy hunting for field mice together. This is something that Scout and Trooper would do for hours at a time and we are happy that Ranger has become Trooper’s new hunting buddy.
Watching the boys hunt mice can get a bit boring, but it is interesting to observe how they work together.
Trooper who is mostly a watch dog uses both his nose and eyes for hunting.
Ranger, who is a hunting dog, primarily uses his nose.
So while Ranger has his nose buried in the dirt trying to sniff out his prey Trooper might capture it as he sees it trying to escape.
After consulting with our vet we did have the boys immunized against diseases that they could catch from mice.
I think it is largely as a result of all this outdoor activity that Ranger has become such a great house dog. While at home is is content to settle into his or our bed for a nap, or he might seek out a little cuddle time from one of us. If he does get bored he will find a rawhide to chew on or bring his ball for a game of catch. He does however let us know when it’s time to get out a expend some of the built up energy.
A couple of weeks ago we decided to put him to the test. We needed to go grocery shopping so thought we would see how well he would behave if we left him out of his crate for a couple hours while we were away. Our strategy was to make sure he was tired out first, so my husband took the boys to the farm for about an hour before we went shopping. Before we left for shopping we also made sure that some of the things that might be tempting to a puppy (shoes, slippers, books) were out of his reach.
We were so happy when we returned home and found the house in the same condition that we left it in. The Boy’s, especially Ranger, were rewarded with lot’s of “good boy’s” and another nice long walk (run, play, hunt) at the farm. We have since left him on three more occasions and have come returned home each time to find that he was a “Good Boy”. 🙂 It may be time to get rid of the crate.
While Ranger is the name we gave him, it seems The Pup has already acquired a few nick names.
Maybe you already guessed the first one is The Pup or Pup. This one just seemed to come natural. He looks like a puppy and acts like a puppy and I often find myself referring to him as The Pup. Sometimes when talking to him I call him Pup as well.
More often when addressing him I find myself calling him Mister. I’ve noticed my husband does this as well. I think I began calling this because when he sits down and looks at me he looks like a little gentleman.
As we know looks can be deceiving, hence another nick name. It was pretty early on when I began calling him Dennis, as in Dennis the Menace. He has that type of personality. Young, cute, innocent, always wanting to be right where we are and finding ways to get into trouble. He can be lovable and annoying at the same time. If Ranger is Dennis I think Trooper is his Mr. Wilson. LOL!
The other nick name he has is Zippy. This is what my husband calls him, which refers to both his energy level and his speed. This one may get a little confusing because my husband had called Trooper Zippy since he was young. As a young dog Trooper had the same type of energy and speed that we now see in Ranger.
So it seems Ranger has become Zippy too or should I say Zippy Two. 🙂
As January comes to a close I decided to write a post about my crafting projects for the month. I picked the title then when I began reviewing the projects I realized that the title, That’s A Wrap, actually seemed to be a theme for this month.
You might remember that in the beginning of the month I wrote about the first hairpin lace project I made.
This hairpin lace scarf. That’s a wrap.
I then decided to do a second hairpin lace scarf with a different type of yarn. I didn’t make it an infinity scarf this time and I had enough yarn leftover to make a matching ear warmer.
Hairpin lace scarf and ear warmer. That’s a wrap.
Next I decided to make a scarf using the broomstick lace method that I have done in the past. I thought it might be interesting to compare the two to find out if I preferred one method over the other or if I preferred the results of one over the other. I can honestly say I don’t have a preference. (Do you?)
I plan on finishing up this scarf later today but might make a matching ear warmer.
Broomstick lace scarf. That’s a wrap.
The other big project that I completed this month was making my bath robe. I think it was back in November when I wrote about my plans to make this. I had purchased the fabric and thought I would get started soon. Before got I started on the bath robe reality struck and I switched my attentions to making Christmas gifts instead.
Fortunately I waited, because making the bath robe was not as easy as I expected it to be. I am not going to go into detail about all of the mistakes that I made, but I do want to share some thoughts about the fabric that I used.
My choice of fabric for this project was Luxe fleece and to be fair to the pattern designer it was this choice that lead to a lot of the difficulties I had with making the robe. What I do love about the fabric is that it is super soft and warm and even though I usually don’t wear purple I do love the color and how it looks with the contrasting trim. I did, however, find it difficult to work with this fabric while making such a large garment. There was a lot of bulk in the way while trying to sew. The fabric is not one that can be ironed. so pressing seams in place was not an option and the fabric did tend to slip so many pins were required to hold things together until the sewing was complete. The other thing I will mention is that my small straight pins tended to get lost in the fabric so I had to do several checks to make sure I removed them all. (OUCH!) The last issue that I (we) had with the fabric is that the fabric sheds when it is cut and continues to shed until it is sewn together. Each time I worked on this project I made a big mess. Fluffy stuff everywhere! My husband actually offered to bring in the snow shovel for cleaning it up, (LOL!) but the vacuum worked just fine.
My wrap around bath robe. That’s a wrap.
Incidentally Ranger got in on the action as well. One day last week he seemed to be getting bored while waiting for his afternoon walk. I cooked up two beef bones (one for Ranger and one for Trooper) thinking that chewing on a bone would keep him busy while he waited. We have an old table cloth that we put on the floor when we give them bones so they don’t mess up the carpet. I placed the two bones on the table cloth and invited the boys to enjoy their treat. Trooper sniffed his but walked away apparently uninterested. Ranger was niffing the bones as I returned to the kitchen to continue what I was doing. A few minutes later I walked through the living room and noticed that one of the bones was covered with a corner of the table cloth. Ranger was sniffing the other bone. A short while after that I discovered that both bones were buried in the table cloth. Apparently Ranger was planning to save them for later. LOL!
Bones buried in the table cloth. That’s a wrap. (I wonder if he could learn to fold clothes. LOL)
As for January 2020 – That’s a wrap. 🙂
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.