Category Archives: The Farm

Our Peaceable Kingdom

Visitors to our farm often talk about how peaceful it is there and my husband often refers to it as ‘Our Peaceable Kingdom’. You might see that in some of the following pictures.

Peanut, the cat, likes to hang out with the chickens. The chickens have gotten use to him and have learned that he is not a threat.

We had one hen who was old and crippled but the others did not pick or peck on her. She needed some extra assistance but continued to live with the rest of the flock. (she died last week 😦 )

The chickens have also gotten used to Ranger. He shares their food and they share his as well. Ranger and the chickens will be happy to clean up Peanut’s plate when he is finished.

We lost all of our bees again this winter but honey bees were showing up from somewhere to forage honey and wax that was left in our hives. There may be wild bees in our area or other bee keepers whose bees survived the winter or there there may be both.

Early spring, before the trees leaf out and flowers bloom, can be a bit dull looking, but it can also be a time of discovery. Last summer this nest was hidden amongst the leaves and we never even realized it was there.

I wonder who came out of this cocoon.

We did get some much needed rain but the U.S. drought monitor map continues to show our area as abnormally dry.

The North-West corner of the farm is always very wet in the spring and it is where the frogs/toads hang out this time of year. Even though I didn’t see any I’m sure they were there because they quieted down as I approached.

Yes, I do walk through all that water, but not without appropriate footwear.

Normally this time of year the pond is overflowing it’s banks and there is very little beach sand that is not under water. The lighter area along the edge shows how much the water level rose after the last rain. The dark areas are leaves that have collected along the shoreline. We will eventually rake them out of the beach area but since my husband spotted an egg nest (likely frog or toad) we will wait awhile to give them a chance to hatch.

Even though it has been mostly dry we have had lots of wind. When I took the picture above I could not see the individual blades on the windmill because it was spinning so fast. The camera, however, was quick enough to partially capture them.

When the pond is bubbling like this we know the windmill is turning. One of it’s purposes is to aerate the pond.

There were no babies rocking on the tree tops but I was still a bit concerned that the bough(s) might break. The branches in the foreground are maple and the ones toward the rear are poplar. As you can see both are budding.

The wind was really rocking these spruce trees. Good thing they have strong roots.

Momma oak is likely the oldest tree on our property. She is surrounded buy her offspring. She does not waver.

Nor does our eldest shagbark hickory. I often ponder the stories of these two trees. How long have they lived there? If they could talk what stories would they tell?

Sadly our oldest crab apple tree became the target of a wood pecker. I wonder how long she can survive these wounds.

I learned something about my crocuses this year. Last year I only had three or four come up.

This spring I had more come up in a different area. I was thrilled to see them but wondered why they came up this year and not last year.

The day after I noticed and photographed them the blossoms were gone. Apparently eaten by a hungry bunny. (I can’t blame the deer this time because there were no deer tracks in the wet soil where they were growing.)

I now suspect these crocuses did come up last year but became bunny food before I ever noticed them.

I will now reconsider my plans to plant more crocuses.

I also learned that this beautiful little primrose bears some of the first blossoms of the season – but only if the chickens leave it alone.

It was even earlier than the daffodils that were just beginning to open as I took these photos last week.

We have more and more daffodils blossoming each day so I will likely share more pictures in an upcoming post. Why so many daffodils? Because the deer, bunnies and chickens leave them alone.

Last but not least the garlic is up and off to a good start. 🙂

What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?

A Winter Walk At The Farm

Sunday, February 14th, was the perfect winter day for getting out for a walk. The sun was shining, the wind was light, and the temperature was around 30 F (-1 c). It was also before Old Man Winter dumped 13 inches (with drifts as high as 5 feet) of winter wonderland on us. It’s funny how a snowfall that can be welcomed and appreciated for it’s beauty in December loses it’s appeal by February. This particular “winter wonderland” that came on Monday and Tuesday only has us wondering how soon spring will get here.

As we all wait for spring to arrive I invite you to join me for a walk at the farm.

There were a only few inches of snow on the ground when my husband, who was preparing for the big storm that was in the forecast, put the back blade on the tractor then decided to test it out by making a path around the back field. (The snow that came with the storm was not so easily moved.)

Can you spot Trooper in the above photo (that’s him about dead center)? Ranger is out there too but we can’t see him in the photo.

We discovered several area’s when the deer had been digging to find food (grass) under the snow.

There were more of these areas behind the barn. (I wonder how the deer are faring post snow storm.)

The windmill was mostly still that day.

All of the plant life is dormant this time of year,

but I find the buds on the maple tree encouraging, even if they are long way from opening.

We have two squirrel nests on the farm but I didn’t see any signs that the squirrels had been out lately. No squirrels, no tracks, and Ranger did not pick up their scent.

The chickens were out enjoying the sunshine while trying to keep their feet out of the snow.

My husband had given them some hay to scratch and peck through.

Although the temperature was still below freezing, snow was melting on the top of the barn and flowing from the down spout. Sunshine on black shingles will do that.

My husband took some time to hang out with the boys (dogs) in the van, but when Ranger spotted me he made a quick exit.

He greeted me as I walked up the driveway.

In recent days my husband had repaired the lawnmower that he got from his dad. He couldn’t wait to show me how well it was working. You may remember this post from last year where we determined that my husband might be a little crazy. Yep, he is still at it. LOL!

So I thought we could have a little fun with this photo by offering you a chance to caption it. Please leave your caption in the comments section below.

P.S. We are not easily offended so go ahead and have some fun with it.

Thanks for visiting.

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?

Interesting Creatures

While writing this post I realized that I can not even fathom all of the different life forms that we share the Earth with. I did have to do a little homework after spotting and photographing these interesting creatures earlier this week and decided to share what I learned with you.

My curiosity was peaked when I noticed them diligently working on this log for a second day this week. What are they and what are they doing?

With the assistance of my Field Guide To Insects And Spiders Of North America and an internet search engine I identified them as Ichneumon wasps. I also determined that they are laying eggs.

When my husband set up our beach chairs and umbrella this year we discovered that the table that we normally use on the beach during the summer was now being used as a plant stand. I suggested we use a piece of log from a large dead tree that we recently had cut down as a table and he thought it was a great idea.

What we didn’t know, but these wasps have told us, is there are some type of grubs living in that log. The field guide explains that, with their antennae, these parasitic wasps are able to smell grubs. When they locate the grubs living in the wood they secrete a chemical, with their ovipositor, that will break down the wood fibers to gain access to the grub. They then lay their egg on or perhaps near the grub and when the egg hatches the grub becomes it’s food source.

These wasps are rarely dangerous to people. That appendage that looks like a long needle is not a stinger, but the ovipositor required for reproduction. They are, however, thought to be beneficial as they help regulate other invertebrate populations. As I sat in the beach chair watching and photographing them they paid no attention to me and other than the inconvenience of not being able to set my drink on the table I had no problem with them.

Have you spotted any unique bugs this year?

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?