Category Archives: Summer

Beginning Of Summer Farm Update

It’s been just a few days since summer arrived, but for once the weather seemed to coincide with the calendar. The heat that we have been getting has served to dry things up nicely so things are looking much better at the farm.

STRAWBERRIES

Despite the cool, rainy spring our strawberries did well. We have been picking berries for about two weeks now.

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These berries were from the first day we picked. Since then we have picked about 60 quarts of strawberries. They seem to be slowing down but we will probably be picking for the next couple of days at least.

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Besides eating fresh strawberries (even some right in the field as we pick) we have enjoyed them in fruit salad, as strawberry short cake with homemade whipped cream, I made nine pints of strawberry jam, and we have about 15 quarts in the freezer. We have also been able to share them with family and friends.

As we were picking berries on that first day we came across this well hidden nest in the middle of the patch.

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We had no idea what type of eggs they were and we hadn’t seen a momma bird around at all.

Then a few days ago when my husband was picking berries alone he called to tell me that the eggs had hatched. He also said that momma sparrow was watching him from the fence.

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Yesterday as we picked she stayed on the nest until I took her photo.IMG_5252

I think that startled her and she quickly flew away, so I was able to get a photo of her young.

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Although there were five eggs in the nest I could only make out four babies.

GARDEN

Over the last two weeks we were able to get the garden planted. Although planting conditions were less than ideal we planted cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, basil, parsley and more tomatoes. We also put in carrot, beet, and Swiss chard seeds.

The plants that we put in seem to be taking hold but the seeds that only went in a few days ago have yet to sprout.

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This year we decided to use weed guard around many of the plants. This product is a thick organic paper. It will help keep moisture in and weeds down. It will also break down over the course of the summer and can be tilled into the soil.

Having been unsure when or if we would be able to plant a garden at the farm this year I had planted sweet peas and pole beans in containers and they are growing on our deck.

The peas which were planted several weeks before the beans are now producing pods and the peas are growing inside of them. I picked a few of the pods that had not began to fill out and added them to my beef stew a couple nights ago.

BEES

As always we have been keeping an eye out to see where the bees are foraging. We have seen them in the clover, chives, thyme, and raspberries.

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Last Saturday while my husband and son-in-law were doing some fishing I was moving some bricks with the tractor (I love driving the tractor) and I noticed this swarm of bees in a pear tree. Christmas in June! LOL!

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The guys finished up their fishing and my husband prepared to capture the swarm. We helped him set up the new hive and he got out all of the equipment he would need.

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The swarm was located within reach so he had no need for a ladder.

The hive these bees were placed in is a warre top-bar hive. Since there are no frames to remove and the top bars run across the top of each box it was necessary to have the box upside-down pour the bees in. Then he covered it with a piece of cardboard while he returned to the pear tree to gather the remaining bees.

The bees that did not get captured the first time around were collecting back on the tree limb so he gave them a little time to settle before shaking them into the bucket and taking them to their new home.

After pouring the remaining bees into the hive box he again covered it with the cardboard. then Ken helped him hold the cardboard in place as he flipped the box over and placed on top of the lower box. He then slid the cardboard out so the top box sat directly on the lower box.

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CHICKEN

I thought I would include one last picture just because I thought it was cute.

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Not all of our chickens have names but there are a select group that have earned their names. This one is Honey. She is one of three surviving chickens from our very first batch of chicks in 2013. She earned her name by being friendly and lovable. She is at the top of the pecking order, and while she is rarely mean to other hens she pretty much rules the roost and the bumper as the case may be.

I will leave you with this – one of my favorite scriptures.

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Has summer arrived is your part of the world?

As Summer Comes To A Close

We are (too) quickly approaching the Fall equinox and it seems that Summer and Fall have been duking it out. Some days we have had cooler fall-like temperatures but on other days have been hot, reminding us that it is still summer.

I thought I would share some of my observations from my morning walks at the farm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday morning was warm and humid. As I arrived at the farm a bunny, who was sitting in the driveway, scampered away. When I exited my van two deer, who were near the pond, made a quick exit into the woods as well. As the sun rose, burning off bits of fog, the dew was still heavy and glistened on blades of grass and clover leaves. My rubber boots were soaked but my feet were dry as I walked the path around the back field.

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While most of the sunflowers have gone to seed, we still have one patch that are smiling brightly with their faces turned toward the rising sun.

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We had planted sunflower patches several times throughout the spring and summer and this last patch is now being enjoyed by our bees and many other pollinators.

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Apple picking is not far off. We have tasted a few apples but have decided they needed a bit more time to ripen.

 

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I saw and heard many birds this morning, but this one seemed to be posing for me.

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The wild flowers in the field are in transition. Thistle and Queen Anne’s Lace have all gone to seed and Golden Rod is fading, but Asters are now blossoming. The bees will forage the Asters into the fall while they continue to build their stores for winter.

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The Maple trees are beginning to change color, ushering in the new season, yet the Hibiscus continue to bloom, holding tight to these last days of summer.

Wednesday morning was cooler. The sun was shielded by a thick blanket of clouds. I did not spot any rabbits or deer which is somewhat unusual. Although I wore my rubber boots, the ground was not wet and my farm shoes probably would have kept my just feet dry.

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The sunflowers seemed to be searching for the sun, their heads turned in various directions.

The air was still as I walked the path around the back field, but I was amused seeing the  weeds wiggled as grass hoppers jumped on them or hit them on their way by.

I didn’t hear the song birds like the previous morning instead I heard crows and then turkeys. I heard the turkeys several times as I walked the path across the field but I did not spot them until I reached the wood line.

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There was a flock of them in the neighbors yard – I would have liked to get a better shot but they seemed disturbed and had I gone any closer they would have scattered.

It seems that Summer has passed way to fast this year, and as she travels south for the winter I bid her farewell.

We’ll welcome fall with hopes of many pleasant days, as there is still much work to do before winter arrives.

How about you? Has summer seemed short to you? Are you looking forward to the change of seasons? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for visiting. 🙂

 

Staycation and My Favorite Things About Summer

I am really not in to trendy words, or a trendy lifestyle for that matter, but I think the word staycation really does describe our summer recreation. In 2012 when my husband said he would like to vacation somewhere “where we could just sit on the beach with our dogs and relax,” I chuckled, “they don’t allow dogs on public beaches, honey. Why don’t we put in a pond with a beach,” I suggested.

We knew it would be costly to have a pond dug, but we agreed that the money we saved on vacations away from home would easily pay for the pond in a few years.

The farm has many other features that you might find at a campground in the country. We have a campsite/ picnic area with a fire pit for cooking or just sitting around a campfire in the evening. We have both field and wooded areas with paths for walking or riding the 4 wheeler. There are hundreds of species of wildlife that live on or visit the farm and it is a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Thus we find it perfect for our staycation or summer recreation.

Our staycation is different than most as we do not have a week or two off from a job and cram all of these activities into that time period. Instead our recreational activities are interspersed throughout the day(s). It might be taking time out for an afternoon swim, spending an evening sitting around a campfire or inviting friends or family over for a day of fun. What I really love about our method of (v)(st)acation is that I don’t have to stress about it. We don’t have to make travel plans. We don’t have to do things according to schedule. We don’t have to pack what we think we will need for our time away. We don’t have to find people to take over our responsibilities at home (dogs and chickens) while we are away, and one of the most important parts for me is that I can sleep in my own bed at night.

With all that being said I wanted to share some of my favorite things about summer. They are not listed in any particular order; it is the combination of these things that make our summer enjoyable.

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Gardening – Planting, weeding, water, – there is something therapeutic about having our hands and knees in the dirt. The results of gardening are also very rewarding (see flowers and fresh produce below).

Riding the 4 Wheeler – A slow scenic tour around the farm, wielding my way though the winding paths through the woods or opening it up on the straight away, this is just pure fun!!!

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Swimming in the Pond – The best way to cool off in the heat of the day.

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Wildlife – The sights and sounds of wildlife create an environment that is peaceful and serene. While I am certainly not the best photographer I love trying to get photos of the wildlife. You can see more of the wildlife on our farm here.

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Flowers – No doubt they beautify their environment but there is so much more. You have probably heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses'”, well roses are not the only flower that deserve this recognition. By stopping and smelling, I have discovered that Canadian Thistle flowers have a sort of sweet scent and the Purple Irises have a spicy scent. This year I discovered that milk weed flowers have a pleasantly fresh fragrance.

While the flower may first draw my attention I will probably observe closely to see what type of foragers it may attract, and if I am not familiar with the plants I will likely try to identify it along with it’s potential usefulness.

Fresh Produce – We are currently picking and enjoying many fresh vegetables, among them are green beans, potatoes, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, celery and tomatoes. The flavors and textures of fresh picked produce simply can not be found in a grocery store. Even if you haven’t grown your own garden I encourage you to find fresh locally grown produce to enjoy this summer. Shop at a farmers market or a roadside farm stand and support your local farmer.

Campfires – Dinner always tastes better when cooked over a wood fire, and sitting around a campfire in the evening, listening to the frogs sing, and watching the moon and stars appear in the sky is far more entertaining than anything you may find on TV.

Visitors – This could be the elderly neighbors who dropped by Friday night for a tour of the barn and gardens; it could be the kids and grandkids coming to celebrate a holiday or a group as large as the family reunion we hosted last weekend. Regardless it is always a pleasure to share the farm with company.

Going Barefoot – Even though I put these in no particular order I did save my favorite for last. I love to take off my footwear and walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach.  According to this article there are many health benefits to going barefoot. I personally don’t care whether they are scientifically proven or not. Walking barefoot in the soft grass or digging my toes into the sand on the beach just feels good. While it feels good physically on the feet and has the potential to relieve other aches and pains, the emotional benefits are probably the greatest. I find walking barefoot to relieve stress – even more than that when I walk barefoot I feel young and carefree. It’s amazing that taking your shoes off can also take a load off your mind.

Now it’s your turn my friend. What are your favorite things about summer? How do you make time for them? When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses or kicked off your shoes and connected with the earth? If it’s been awhile – I challenge you to make some time to do it this week. You won’t regret it.

Happy Summer! 🙂