Category Archives: garden

A Summer Evening at the Farm

Tuesday evening as we headed to the farm I didn’t really have a plan as to what I was going to accomplish. I knew there were things that need to be done, like cutting some grass, weeding in the prayer garden and cleaning garlic, but I didn’t feel an urgent need to get any of those things done.

So, I took the evening off and just enjoyed being at the farm on a beautiful summer evening. It was a great time for picture taking so grab your favorite beverage and join me.

*For anyone who is burned out on nature pictures you can play a game as you read ” Count the tennis Balls” let me know in the comments how many tennis balls you saw in the pictures. *

As we arrived at the farm shortly after 6:00 P.M. the first order of business was to feed the chickens the kitchen scraps we had collected throughout the day. As usual Ruby had to sniff though the goodies to see what she might like. Since it was mostly watermelon rinds and peach peels (I canned peaches that morning), I’m not sure if she actually found anything good to eat.

The weather is still very summerlike but there is a feel that fall is fast approaching. Late summer/fall flowers, like these black-eyed-Susans and purple loosestrife, are in bloom.

The hibiscus are beautiful this year.

I’ve been waiting all summer for these volunteer cosmos to blossom. I am reminded of my maternal grandma, who loved these flowers.

I’ve also been waiting for the opportunity to photograph a dragonfly. As I wandered through the prayer garden, this one posed on a lily leaf to oblige me.

The balloon flowers continue to blossom, but I think I need to add deadheading them to my to-do list to keep them flowering longer.

After photographing the balloon flower, I looked toward the beach and was pleasantly surprised to see our green heron. Long time followers might remember that each year in late summer we begin seeing a green heron dining along the edges of our pond. In past year I have speculated that there were a pair perhaps living in our woods since on some occasions I had seen two of them.

A couple weeks ago my husband first mentioned seeing “that bird” and he has talked about it, and how good it is at catching fish, a few times since then. Until Tuesday night I had yet to see it this year.

My husband and I agree in thinking that this is not the same bird we’ve seen in past years as it looks younger.

It also did not seem as skittish as in past years.

I was probably within 15 feet when I took this photo,

and as I stood on the edge of the prayer garden it continued to comb the shoreline making its way right past me,

on the hunt for a minnow or a frog.

Check out that hair do. Looks like a rock star. LOL!

After my rock star friend flew to the other side of the pond, I began making my way to the main garden, AKA puppy playground, to take some photos. I passed this patch of wildflowers near the beehives. I’m not sure what they are but the patch has spread each year and they make a grand showing.

When I got to the main garden and was approaching these sunflowers, I noticed two hummingbirds that seemed to be playing near the flowers. Unfortunately, they flew off before I could get my camera.

A few weeks ago my husband noticed that birds had begun eating our unripe apples. He at first was blaming it on crows but we have since witnessed sparrows flying out of the trees as we approach. He chose the tree with the most apples on it and put netting over and around it. While none of the apples are visible in this picture rest assured, we can now leave them on the tree to fully ripen.

We did leave the rest of the apple trees un-netted, so the sparrows have plenty to eat (unless the crows get there first.)

Before I continued my garden tour, I had to play a game of fetch with Ruby.

I threw the ball several times and each time she brought it back to me to throw again.

When she decided to take a break, I continued on my way.

The sunflowers, a beautiful variety that we had not planted before, were buzzing with bees.

Melons (not tennis balls)

Cantaloups were planted late and are not yet ripe, but we should get a few nice melons from these plants.

Green Hubbard

The squash are still growing as well. I expect it will be at least another month before we harvest any.

Some pumpkins are beginning to turn orange.

After leaving the garden my husband and I sat at the picnic area for a while. Ruby decided it was time for another game of fetch.

The chickens don’t play fetch, but I have seen a curious hen walk up and peck a tennis ball.

I have seen Peanut play with a tennis ball, but fetch is not his game either.

When the flies started biting my ankles we decided to relocate. We sat on the beach to enjoy the scenery. Thankfully there were no flies there.

The wind was calm, and the water looked like glass.

Until my husband threw some fish food in. The minnows began feeding almost immediately leaving rings on the surface of the pond.

The sun was setting in the west. The green heron was still fishing along the edge of the pond but was beyond the cameras reach. It was peaceful feel just relaxing and soaking up this environment.

Then the entertainment began.

Ruby and Ranger began ruff-housing.

Running and chasing each other, barking and kicking up sand.

It’s funny to watch them play like this knowing they are BFF”s.

My camera battery went dead after this photo, but you really didn’t miss any of the good stuff. I hope you enjoyed our evening at the farm. Thanks for spending time with us.

One last photo for those who are counting.

Are you making the most of the last days of summer?

How many tennis balls did you count?

A Good Busy

Hello and welcome. August is upon us and I feel like I’ve been MIA (blogging action at least) for a while. It has been longer than I like to go between posts so I’m going share a hodge-podge of things that have been keeping us busy.

Dog Tails

Ruby has been with us for nearly two months now and we are all happy she’s here. When I first introduced you to Ruby I had mentioned a few things that she needed to learn. She has proven to be a quick learner. She no longer tries to get in bed with us at night and rarely puts her paws up on our chests. She is doing well with knowing that she can shoo the chickens out of the barn or off a chair, but she does not chase them for fun. The chickens are no longer afraid of her. To them she is just part of the farm family.

When we adopted Ruby from the shelter we were told that she had not been well socialized and took a while to warm up to people. While at times this may be the case, she had no problem socializing with people and other dogs when we had a family picnic at the farm.

Ruby swimming with the family.
Ruby always eager to play fetch.
Ruby playing chase with Captain and Misty.
Ruby waiting for Kara to throw the frisbee.

It took a few weeks for Ranger and Ruby to bond. At first Ranger seemed to think of Ruby as an intruder, especially when he would be getting attention from my husband or me and she would push her way in or when she would curl up on my lap as I was kicked back in my recliner (he was used to having the choice of my lap or my husbands.) But it wasn’t just our attention that Ruby sought. She worked hard to get Ranger to be her friend.

Often modeling his behavior or initiating play sessions.

She just doesn’t understand the concept of hunting.

Nowadays Ruby and Ranger spend a lot of time ruffhousing or wrestling.

Ruffhousing

Sometimes it can look and sound like they are being mean to each other, but they are just playing and having fun. They really have become good friends.

Besides ruffhousing with Ranger, Ruby’s other activity of choice is playing fetch. A ball, a frisbee, a stick – if we throw it Ruby will fetch it and bring it back to be thrown again. She is definitely a retriever.

My husband often comes home with a sore arm from throwing the ball so many times, but Ruby’s not done, after she eats, she will go get a ball and bring it to me or my husband, wanting to resume the game that was started at the farm.

Incidentally, she has also learned not to chew up her toys. In the first several weeks she chewed up several balls and other toys. Each time she would chew a hole in something we would throw it away as we didn’t want her swallowing plastic or whatever materials the toy was made out of. We began monitoring her and telling her “no chew” or “be nice” when we saw her chewing up a toy and she has since stopped destroying her toys. We do still allow her to chew up sticks.

Making Curtains

Last week, our hottest week so far this year, was a good time for me to have an inside project to work on, so when my husband suggested we needed new curtains for the kitchen and back bathroom I decided to make some. It was also perfect timing because my sister, K.C. was in town for a day, so we had lunch together then made a trip to the fabric store. ๐Ÿ™‚

Below are the results of this project.

Kitchen curtains are opened most of the day.
But necessary to block the morning sun.

My husband and I agree – we Love the kitchen curtains! Even when they block the sun they still brighten the room.

The pattern on the bathroom curtains is honeybees and clover. ๐Ÿ™‚

We also like the bathroom curtains just not as much as we love the kitchen curtains.

Chickens

It’s been a while since I have blogged about the chickens and quite honestly it hasn’t been our best year of raising chickens. In the spring we lost about half our flock to a fox or family of foxes. We can only assume that there was more than one because on one day we lost seven chickens in just a couple hour time frame. They were not killed on sight they were carried off by their predator(s). On a few other occasions we lost one at a time.

The fox was pretty bold. My husband yelled to chase it off a few times. It has been at least a month now since there has been any evidence of fox in the area, so think that perhaps it has raised its young and moved on.

These chickens are some of the chicks we bought this spring. Out of the 12 chicks we started with this spring we still have six of them – two black and four white. It’s too early to tell, but we suspect one of the white ones might be a rooster since it’s comb and wattles are far more developed than the rest of them. We expect the hens to start laying in August.

Garden Stuff

The gardens continue to do well. Having everything mulched heavily with straw has worked so well. Not only has it kept weeds well under control it helps the soil retain moisture making it available for the plants.

Our squash and pumpkins were planted late but they are doing well.

They are beginning to blossom and form fruit.

Melons and cucumbers were also planted late but are blossoming and forming fruit as well. We did pick our first cucumbers this week and I plan on making pickles soon.

Look at the little watermelon. So cute!

Cabbage is looking good – I’ll be making sauerkraut this year.

We’ve started picking tomatoes. I’ll probably have enough to start canning next week.

Stuffed peppers are on the upcoming menu. We have been including garden produce in our meals each day. Perhaps I’ll share some of these dishes in future posts.

So far this is the only sunflower to blossom since the deer ate the tops off of most of the plants. It is a beauty though.

Thanks for visiting. Watch for future posts on how we are eating and preserving our harvest.

July 2022 Garden Update

I’m happy to report that despite our lack of rain our gardens are doing quite well.

BERRIES
We’ve been harvesting blueberries for several weeks now and what we are not eating fresh I have been putting in the freezer. We’ve also picked about a quart and a half of strawberries despite them just being planted at the end of May.

GARLIC
My husband harvested the garlic last week – a total of 270 bulbs are now drying in the barn. What an easy task it was compared to the years when we grew between 2000 and 8000 bulbs.

GREEN BEANS
We began picking green beans a couple weeks ago and after a few meals my husband was getting tired of them. (He doesn’t like them as much as I do.) I saved our pickings for a few days and had enough beans to can 6 pints. Since green beans are a low acid food canning them requires using a pressure canner and since I have little experience in doing this, I am extremely pleased with the results.

I expect I will be canning another batch of beans this week.

POTATOES

Two days ago, when I offered to make a potato salad for dinner, I thought it odd when my husband hesitated. He then suggested that maybe some of our potatoes were ready in the garden.

He brought me home some beautiful red skin potatoes which I transformed into our favorite potato salad. Oh, so good!

PEPPERS
We have also been picking some peppers – banana peppers, jalapeno, cayenne and a bell pepper. In addition to adding peppers to our morning omelet I made a batch of the poppers we enjoy so much. The popper recipe can be found in this post from September 2020.

Thanks for visiting.

Are you enjoying any fresh summer produce?

June 2022 Garden Tour

These photos were taken about two weeks ago. I’m just now getting a chance to post them. The gardens have continued to flourish since. I hope you enjoy this garden tour. I will post another in July.

Potted Flowers

I’ll start out with a couple of flowers in pots that we started from seed.

Nasturtiums have begun to blossom. We have three window type boxes of these to adorn our deck.

Johnny Jump-ups (also known– as wild pansy) we have several pots of these in the garden beside our deck and alongside the front of our house.

Prayer Garden

Then we’ll move to the prayer garden where I spent a lot of time weeding in June.

The salvia blossoms are fading but it is not time to cut the spikes yet – the bees are still foraging these flowers.

Dianthus made a grand showing, but the blooms were mostly spent when I had my camera out. It’s time to get the clippers out and remove the dead blossoms.

I was late with getting picture of the chives as well. They too made a grand showing but were quickly going to seed. As I finished my weeding, I got out the clippers and cut the chives down before they could drop their seeds.

Chives are very prolific. It is my personal opinion that left to their own devises, chives could take over the world. I have learned that it is best to cut the flowers once the bees are finished foraging them but before they start dropping seeds. This way I keep them under control.

The creeping thyme is flowering, and the bees are enjoying it.

We have roses,

roses,

and more roses.

We also have primroses.

And these evening primrose that normally get eaten by deer (or perhaps rabbits) is flowering this year.

Shh! Don’t tell the critters. Maybe we’ll get to enjoy the flowers for a while.

Vegetable Gardens

Our vegetable gardens are doing really well thanks to my husband who has spent many hours planting, watering, weeding and mulching.

The raised beds gave us the ability to get some plants started early. Now that we have entered a dry spell they require a lot of watering.

We have small tomatoes on some of the plants.

and peppers and green beans are blossoming. It won’t be long now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our field crops are also doing well, except for the ones that the deer have eaten.

The straw mulch will help keep the weeds down and help the ground retain moisture,

We have very little rain in the forecast for the next week, so that mulch just may be a lifesaver.

Bonus Picture

You just never know what might pop up in the garden.

Thanks for visiting.

Are you enjoying summer so far?

Saturday at the Farm

Saturday was a productive day. We accomplished several projects at the farm.

Blueberry Patch

We made great progress in the blueberry patch – a project that we had been working on for a few days. Our soil at the farm is mostly clay and despite working straw and other composted materials into it each year we have yet to turn it into an ideal garden loam. This year we decided to add some sand to the soil. A couple of weeks ago my husband had a truckload of masonry sand delivered.

We decided to use some of the sand in the blueberry patch for weed control. Two years ago we put black plastic down between the rows and bushes and while it was largely effective in keeping weeds down it tended to slide out of place or was easily moved by a hunting dog, (Ranger) who had picked up the scent of a mouse hiding under the plastic. (He is relentless.) Water also tended to pool on the plastic creating puddles that took a long time to dry up. After putting the plastic back in place we covered it with several inches of sand.

The blueberry patch project is not completely finished as we still need to put up the plastic fencing around it and the netting on top to protect our crop from hungry robins. We hopefully will get that done this week.

Planting

We put our first plants in the garden on Saturday.

My husband had identified an area that was dry enough to till the soil and that is where we decided to plant potatoes and cabbage – both cool weather crops.

He broke out the rototiller he bought a couple months ago. It is a Champion 19-inch, rear tine, tiller. After tilling up the patch where we would plant the potatoes and cabbage he reported that he is very pleased with the way this machine preforms. We spread a layer of sand on the patch. He then mixed it in as he tilled the area.

We planted six 17-foot rows of of potatoes.

and 12 cabbage plants.

I saved some of the cabbage plants to plant in the raised beds we are making. Since the ground is still very wet, and still having much rain in the forecast, I’m not sure how well things will do that are planted in the ground. You may remember last year we had many vegetables that were lost because the ground was just too wet. This year we will be making some raised beds and I hope to plant at least a portion of some crops in the raised beds that will be better able to drain excess water.

When the Hen’s Away

The chicks will play. The chicks still sleep in the nest boxes at night, while the older chickens sleep on the roosts. During the day while the older hens are out of the coop or using the nest boxes for laying their eggs, the chicks like to spend some time playing on the roosts. Perhaps they are practicing for when they too are old enough to sleep on the roosts at night.

Breathtaking

From a distance to forsythias create a stunning array.

But standing in the midst of their intense brilliance is mesmerizing.

I forget to breathe.

If only my photos could capture that feeling.

Thanks for visiting.