Category Archives: Pond

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?

Innovation

Earlier this year my husband mentioned wanting to buy a landscape rake to use to remove leaves and pond weeds from around the edges of the pond. A landscape rake has a long handle and a wide head that would allow us to reach father into the water from the shore and remove more weeds at one time. I told him to go ahead and buy one. “They are expensive,” he said. About a week ago when we began raking the weeds from the pond, I told him to go ahead and buy the rake. He had another idea.

Using materials we already had on hand he built something similar to a grappling hook but perhaps we should call it a grappling rake.

He started with one rake head tied to the nylon rope and while it did work to remove some weeds it would always land upside down when thrown into the water, so it was not as efficient as it could be.

He then found a second rake with a broken handle. (Imagine that! We had two old rakes with broken handles hanging around.) He used two 1 1/2inch hose clamps to connect the rake heads together back-to-back. He then secured the rope around both rake handles.

The rope is about 20 feet (6 meters) long. He tied a loop in the end of the rope opposite the rake heads. The loop makes it easier to hold onto the rope while throwing the rake end out into the water.

The rope floats just in case you forget to hold on to the end.

In this case having a good retriever nearby might come in handy.

Once the rake has landed on the bottom simply pull the rope in.

It is quite efficient in removing a large amount of weeds at one time.

Taking Time Out To Play

Last Monday was the perfect summer day for doing anything outdoors. I started my outdoor tasks mid morning by mowing our lawn at the house. Our weather had been so dry in recent weeks that it had been about three weeks since we had to mow the lawn. Then after lunch, while my husband went to the farm to work in the garden, I returned to the yard to work on trimming and weeding.

I had been working for less than an hour when my husband called. ” Are you married to doing that yard work today or do you want to come out and play?” he asked.

I hesitated briefly because I had weeds and branches laying around the yard that need to be picked up, but I quickly decided they could wait until later. I left my garden tools and gloves on the deck, slipped my bathing suit on then put shorts and shirt over top. I grabbed a couple of cold beverages and my husband was there in about 10 minutes to pick up me and the boys.

When we got to the farm my first order of business play was riding the four wheeler. Last summer I didn’t get to ride at all and I really missed it. This year my husband committed to getting it running for me, so with some help from my son-in-law, he got the carburetor cleaned. He then replaced the air filter and it’s running again. (THANK YOU SWEETIE!) For about 45 minutes I zipped around the back field and down the winding paths that run through the woods on the 4- wheeler. So much fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

When I had my fill of riding I decided to go for a dip in the pond. I stopped by the garden, where my husband was having his own fun caring for the plants, to let him know I would be in the pond. I grabbed my innertube, took off my shorts and top and waded into the refreshing water. I spent the next 45 minutes or so floating and paddling around the pond on my innertube. Since the pond is not visible from the garden where my husband was working playing, every once in a while he would yell “Marco” to which I had to yell “Polo” in reply (otherwise I’m sure he would have executed search and rescue operations).

After my refreshing time in the pond it was time to go home and make dinner. When we arrived back at the house my husband said “don’t worry if you don’t get the weeds and clippings picked up tonight. They will still be there in the morning… unless” “somebody steals them,” I quickly chimed in. He laughed and then said “or the Yard Clipping Fairy shows up.” We both laughed at that.

The next morning I found out that I apparently haven’t been good enough the deserve a visit from the Yard Clippings Fairy, but thankfully the weather again was pleasant enough for me to finish the job. ๐Ÿ™‚

What recreational activities do you enjoy in summer?

Have you made time to play lately?

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?

Chicks and Pics

The Flock

It was nearly a month ago that we decided to get 6 chicks to add to our flock. Supplies of chicks in the farms stores were already running low but when my husband called me from our local Tractor Supply Store and asked me what I thought about getting 6 straight run Australorp chicks. I said “let’s do it”.

Normally we only buy pullets (females) and choose breeds that are good layers. Australorps are one of the breeds we already have in our flock and since we lost our rooster in November buying straight run (unsexed) chicks would give us a good chance of getting at least one replacement rooster.

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Ranger was quite curious about the babies. We could only let him look from a distance because when we let him see close up he wanted to bite or eat them.

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Last week the chicks were mostly feathered out so they made the move to the farm. During the day time they were in this fenced enclosure with netting over top. We also left their crate there in case they need to get in out of the weather. At night time they would go into their crate then into the coop with the rest of the flock. They are adapting well to life on the farm even on these cooler days and cold nights.

For the past few days my husband has left the enclosure open so the chicks could roam around the chicken yard. Last night they all made it into the coop on their own.

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Then this afternoon I found them all hanging out on the roosts in the coop. They are growing up so fast. ๐Ÿ™‚

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As they have grown it has become apparent that at least some are not Australorp chicks. The Australorp should be solid black; not black and white striped as the one in the front is.

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They also do not have feathered feet as three of these chicks do. Whatever breed(s) these birds are they seem to be hardy and intelligent, so we are pleased with them so far. It will be a while before we know for sure how many are roosters and how many are hens, but we are hoping for one or two roosters. That would be ideal for our flock. I am looking forward to hearing that cock-a-doodle-doo again.

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The rest of the flock has really been enjoying spring.

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This made me laugh to see them all lined up along this ditch. They were scratching up the dead leaves to find grubs and bugs. Yumm! Good eatin’!

Inside The Hoop House

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The plants in the flats will be transplanted in the garden(s) once the weather breaks.

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The plants in the boxes will be harvested as they grow. I expect to start harvesting small amounts of lettuce and spinach in about 7 to 10 days.

Another Spring Chore

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The weather was warm and sunny on Friday so I decided to clean up the beach area. I needed to rake the leaves out of the water.

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Even though the air temperature was warm, the water was still frigid, so I needed to wear my boots.

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Trooper, on the other hand, thought the water was just fine,

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and after getting a cool drink he decided to relax while I finished the job.

Have you got a garden started?