Category Archives: Pond

Sunshine On My Shoulders πŸ˜€

Over Easter weekend we had beautiful spring weather and throughout the week, that has followed, it seems that the weather has just gotten nicer each day.

On Easter Sunday, when we went out to the farm, I wore jeans and a jacket over my long-sleeved shirt, each day I have found it necessary to wear lighter clothing until yesterday, and again today, I have broken out my summer wardrobe and am wearing shorts with a tank top and enjoying soaking up that long-awaited sunshine.

Let’s take a look at what’s been happening at the farm this week.

Sunday

For about the past three weeks my husband has been working on fencing in the entire farm. It’s a huge undertaking as the 7.6-acre farm measures 1000 ft (304.8 m) by 330 ft (100.5 m). When it is all done he will have pounded in more than 260 fence posts and strung more than 2600 feet (792.48 m) of fence.

The small fence posts in the above picture line the east side of our back field. He has the entire back field fenced at this point and is working diligently on completing the front of the property.

In the above picture the fence lines the front of our property on the west side. When this project is complete we will no longer have to worry about Ranger and Ruby and even the chickens wandering onto neighboring property or into the road. It will take a large load off our minds.

There seems to be an abundance of robins this spring. Some of them have even sat still for pictures.

The fence in the above picture which had enclosed the main garden area is also being removed.

The pond level is up from last fall but it has yet to overflow like it does most years in the spring.

Ruby did not hesitate to get her feet wet as she enjoyed a cool drink from the pond.

Things are beginning to green up. I’m sure the thunderstorms we had last week helped.

Tuesday

Tuesday the weather really warmed up so we were able to move the chicks to the farm.

My husband set up their chicken wire enclosure. He designed it so they have access to the coop through the small door with hopes that they will learn to go in the coop at night.

He also put up a divider inside to coop so they do not have access to the big door.

I bet you’re not surprised to see Ranger watching the babies.

Like robins, we have an abundance of red winged blackbirds.

Some of them posed for pictures as well.

I also got a rare picture of a kildeer that was hanging around near the beach before Ruby chased it off.

The garlic that we planted last fall is coming up nicely.

As I looked up to see if the maple trees were getting leaves yet I noticed what appears to be a Baltimore oriole nest. It seems too early to be a nest build this year, so I am assuming it was from last year or maybe even the year before.

I only say “the year before” because I noticed a second one in the same tree. I don’t know how likely it is that two pair of orioles would nest in the same tree.

Some of the chickens had wandered into the field next door. This won’t be a problem once the fence is complete and it really isn’t a problem now because that neighbor doesn’t mind.

But Ruby thought it was a problem

and took it upon herself to bring them all back home.

She really does have amazing herding instincts and skills. If you have ever tried herding chickens you understand how difficult it can be. It took her less than two minutes to round up eight hens and bring them back over to our farm.

Thursday

The chicks are doing well at the farm, feathering out nicely, learning to forage

and maybe even learning to get back into the coop.

It was a great day to be in the pond, at least the dogs thought so.

Ruby discovered the (bullfrog) tadpoles and has now become obsessed with watching for them and trying to catch them. I suspect she will spend a lot of time there this summer.

Ranger just wanted to go for a swim to cool off.

When deciding to put up the fence my husband and I discussed the likelihood that the wildlife presence on our farm would be altered. Not necessarily a bad thing. While deer, fox, racoons and other animals can get over the fence it’s hard to say whether they will or not. I suppose it depends on what there is to motivate them to do so.

However, I never considered that the fence might be a problem for a pheasant. Pheasants can fly and could easily sail right over the fence.

This male ringed-neck pheasant was very confused and spent several hours trying to find an opening in the fence.

Eventually Ruby spotted him. I’m not sure if he flew or ran when she chased him but I think she did him a favor as he did clear out of the area. Hopefully he found a different route home.

I’ll leave you with a slide show of flowers that are blossoming at the farm. Among them are daffodils, forsythia (beginning to open), and primrose.

Thanks for visiting.

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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?