Category Archives: Pond

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! 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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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?

 

Frogs on the Farm

“Frogs on the Farm” was originally written and published on March 30, 2017, a time when I had very few readers. I have decided to share it again today because for various reasons I haven’t got my usual “Spring is Springing” post ready. Be assured that spring is here: the birds have returned from their winter homes, the trees are beginning to bud, the daffodils, iris’s, lily’s and even the garlic are emerging from underground and the frogs are singing. More on that soon. 🙂

Original Post published March 30, 2017

Last week on one of our sap cooking days, in addition to helping keep the fire going, I took on the secondary chore of raking the leaves out of the pond. As I came up with one rake full of leaves and shook them into the pile just beyond the beach, this frog hopped out of the leaves.

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I felt kind of guilty about awakening him or her, because I was yet to see or hear any frogs this spring. It did however spend a good deal of time sunning itself on the beach. It wasn’t until one of the chickens came running up behind it that it took a three foot leap back into the safety of the pond.

It was two days later that we heard the frogs for the first time this year. I remember my mom telling me, that her mom had told her, that after you hear frogs for the first time in the spring you will have three more freezes. Although I’m always excited to hear the frogs in the spring, I haven’t really tested this theory.

Frogs and toads lived on our farm before we put in the pond. I remember the first spring there were tadpoles that had hatched in a puddle of water and my husband was dumping buckets of water in the puddle to keep it from drying up before the tadpoles reached their adolescent stage of life.

Our property does provide the perfect habitat for frogs and toads. The pond offers conditions needed for frogs to lay eggs, for the eggs to hatch into tadpoles and for the tadpoles to live until they grow legs and their lungs develop so they can leave the water. This can take over a year for bull frogs. Even mature frogs, who can live out of water, continue to need a wet area to keep their skin from drying out. Not only does our farm have the pond but we have wooded areas where the ground is covered with dead leaves that keep the ground moist even in the hot and dry summer conditions.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources article that I have linked below of the more than 3400 species of frogs/toads only 13 live in Michigan. I am certain we have at least 4 species that populate our farm.

Frogs and toads are wonderful for pest control. The aforementioned article relates that a single frog will consume thousands of insects per year. Last year we discovered that we were reaping the benefits of this. As we picked our bountiful harvest of strawberries  https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/06/30/strawberries-at-last/ last June my husband and I spoke several times about the fact that we did not have any slugs eating the berries. This is a problem the we have had with strawberries we have grown at the house in the past. It wasn’t until my husband told me that he had been surprised by a frog hiding in the strawberry patch, while he was picking berries, that I realized that this frog was probably enjoying a regular diet of slugs and any other pests that threatened to consume our strawberry crop. I am hopeful that a frog will take up residence in the strawberry patch again this year.

Frogs are a good indicator of the health of wetlands, ponds, lakes and such as they do not survive in polluted areas. The Michigan DNR article that I have linked below explains that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a threat to frog populations; not only can the chemicals kills frogs and toads, but the pesticides also reduce their food supply.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12201-35089–,00.html

The frogs on our farm are also entertaining. In the summer time when we walk around the edge of the pond the frogs jump into the pond one right after the next. It’s kind of funny because there may be 50-100 frogs sitting around the outer edge of the pond. The dogs like to chase the frogs but rarely are they able to catch them. Last year Scout spent hours in the evenings looking for frogs along the edge of the pond, he enjoyed the search immensely even though he never caught any. After dark we are often treated to a campfire symphony, in surround sound I might add, as the several different species of frogs sing from different areas of the farm.

While not everyone has the luxury of being able to put a pond on their property I have included the following link for those who may be interested in creating a frog habitat. I would encourage you to read through the end of the article, as it does explain that the best way to introduce frogs to this habitat is to let them come to it naturally and this may take a year or more. It also explains that not all parts of the U.S. are favorable for creating frog habitats.

https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Gardening/Archives/2000/Want-to-Host-a-Garden-Party-for-Frogs.aspx