Category Archives: The Farm

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?

June 2022 Garden Tour

These photos were taken about two weeks ago. I’m just now getting a chance to post them. The gardens have continued to flourish since. I hope you enjoy this garden tour. I will post another in July.

Potted Flowers

I’ll start out with a couple of flowers in pots that we started from seed.

Nasturtiums have begun to blossom. We have three window type boxes of these to adorn our deck.

Johnny Jump-ups (also known– as wild pansy) we have several pots of these in the garden beside our deck and alongside the front of our house.

Prayer Garden

Then we’ll move to the prayer garden where I spent a lot of time weeding in June.

The salvia blossoms are fading but it is not time to cut the spikes yet – the bees are still foraging these flowers.

Dianthus made a grand showing, but the blooms were mostly spent when I had my camera out. It’s time to get the clippers out and remove the dead blossoms.

I was late with getting picture of the chives as well. They too made a grand showing but were quickly going to seed. As I finished my weeding, I got out the clippers and cut the chives down before they could drop their seeds.

Chives are very prolific. It is my personal opinion that left to their own devises, chives could take over the world. I have learned that it is best to cut the flowers once the bees are finished foraging them but before they start dropping seeds. This way I keep them under control.

The creeping thyme is flowering, and the bees are enjoying it.

We have roses,

roses,

and more roses.

We also have primroses.

And these evening primrose that normally get eaten by deer (or perhaps rabbits) is flowering this year.

Shh! Don’t tell the critters. Maybe we’ll get to enjoy the flowers for a while.

Vegetable Gardens

Our vegetable gardens are doing really well thanks to my husband who has spent many hours planting, watering, weeding and mulching.

The raised beds gave us the ability to get some plants started early. Now that we have entered a dry spell they require a lot of watering.

We have small tomatoes on some of the plants.

and peppers and green beans are blossoming. It won’t be long now. πŸ™‚

Our field crops are also doing well, except for the ones that the deer have eaten.

The straw mulch will help keep the weeds down and help the ground retain moisture,

We have very little rain in the forecast for the next week, so that mulch just may be a lifesaver.

Bonus Picture

You just never know what might pop up in the garden.

Thanks for visiting.

Are you enjoying summer so far?

Meeting the New Neeeighbors

A couple of weeks ago we noticed that the guy who owns the property that adjoins our farm was putting in fence posts. I remembered when he first bought the land he mentioned having horses, so we thought he might be putting up a horse paddock. When my husband got a chance to talk to him, he learned we were correct. The horses, Colby Jack (the large one) and Bernard (the miniature horse) moved in last Sunday.

Ranger was very curious and spent a lot of time either trying to welcome them to the neighborhood or get them to leave. ( I still am not fluent in Beagle.) All I hear is BaRooo BaRooo.

The horses don’t pay much attention to him, but at least they haven’t tried to squash him to shut him up.

After talking with their owner, and getting permission, my husband bought some horse treats and began visiting them each day and giving them carrot and apple treats.

Friday, when our grandkids visited, was the perfect time for me to go over and meet Colby Jack and Bernard and take some pictures.

As we approached both horses came to the fence. They were very friendly.

They seemed to enjoy the attention

and the treats.

Jackson and Addy enjoyed meeting them as well.

These two are a nice addition to our neeeighborhood.

Catching Up

Hello and welcome!

Once again I’ve fallen behind in blogging. In this post I am sharing some of my activities from the week of November 1st – 7th. I plan to get another post, highlighting November 8th – 14th, up early next week. If all goes as planned I will be caught up. πŸ™‚

Monday Nov 1 – I rendered beef suet into tallow. Suet is raw hard fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow. For the last few years we have been buying our beef from a local farmer. we purchase a quarter of a cow at a time. Once the cow goes to the butcher or processor I have to call them and give them instructions for cutting and wrapping the meat. At this time I ask to have the suet included in our order. Most people who buy their meat this way to not want the suet so I always have to ask.

Rendering is the process of cleaning the suet. To do this I cut the suet into small pieces. It’s easiest to cut when cold or partially frozen. I then put it in my crock pot on high until it is completely melted.

Tuesday, Nov 2 – The suet was still in the melting process Monday when I was ready to go to bed so I just unplugged the crock pot and would finish it on Tuesday. After reheating it I strained the hot fat through 2 or 3 layers of paper towel. When the hot fat (tallow) cools it solidifies and becomes white. (picture above)

Tallow can be used for cooking. (The original McDonald’s french fries were cooked in tallow), candle making and is commonly used for soap making. If you read the ingredients on your store bought bar of soap you won’t see tallow as an ingredient but it is there. It is listed as sodium tallowate which is the result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with tallow.

Any solid that are left after rendering the suet are called cracklings. While some people eat these I never have. I decided to feed them to the chickens but my husband said next time don’t bother. When I asked if the chickens did not like them he told me that the chickens would have loved them but instead they were forced to stand by, dining only on bread crusts, as Ranger gobbled up the cracklings.

weighing the tallow

Wednesday, Nov 3 – I made soap. I wanted to use some of the tallow that I just rendered. The recipe I made was an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. This is the first time I used this particular combination so I’ll try to remember to report how it turns out. It will be about 6 weeks before it is ready. I also added aloe to this batch.

Thursday Nov 4 – I did my dad’s grocery shopping. He orders his groceries online then I picked them up from the store. I then went to the dollar store and picked up a few things that he prefers to get from there. I delivered the groceries to dad and helped him with a few chores.

Friday Nov 5 – I took the boys out for their morning walk at the farm.

It was a beautiful fall morning. When we went out, around 10:00 A.M., the sun had melted the heavy frost that had blanket the area in the early morning hours. Our feet/shoes got wet as we tromped though the grass.

The breeze, if any, was gentle.

I observed moments when a single, random, tree would suddenly drop a shower of leaves.

It was and interesting phenomenon as the trees seemed to be taking turns.

Many leaves were still holding on. Fall is not over yet. πŸ™‚

Saturday November 6 – My sister visited.

I still have one sister who lives near-by and we have been trying to block off some time, at least once a month, to spend together.

Last month when I visited her house I returned two bags of books that she had given me earlier this year. They had been passed onto her by our other sister and most she had not read yet. As I packed the books to return to her I stuck slips of paper into some, labeling them “must read” or “good read” so she will know where to start when she digs into this stack of books.

We also looked at different sewing patterns and she showed me some fabrics that she had purchased but wasn’t sure what she would make with them. “Take what you want” she said. There was one flowered print that caught my eye. We agreed that it was beautiful and needed to be made into something but neither of us could decide what. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it I decided to take that piece of fabric.

That fabric nagged at me for a couple of weeks. Because it was a large print I kept thinking that it needed to be turned into a large item of clothing. I searched for patterns for full length skirts and found a few simple ones but I don’t wear skirts very often and I don’t really know anyone who does.

Seemingly out of the blue I remembered the bathrobe pattern that I had. This fabric would make a lovely bathrobe. I bought a contrasting fabric for the trim and decided to make a bathrobe for my sister.

As I was making the robe I would try it on for size and in doing so discovered that as beautiful as this print is it looks horrible on me. Thankfully when my sister put it on it looked gorgeous – elegant, like I had imagined. ” I don’t know if I love it so much that I won’t want to wear it” she said, “or if I love it so much that I will wear it all the time”.

“Wear it all the time!” I told her. That would be the ultimate compliment.

In addition to giving her the robe, I showed her the projects I have planned to make as Christmas gifts. And we solved a few of the world’s problems over lunch. LOL!

Sunday Nov 7 – It was a perfect fall day for being outdoors and I started out by raking leaves.

The maple tree just off our deck had shed most of it’s leaves.

It took about an hour and eight trips with the wheelbarrow to remove the leaves from the front yard.

The maple that stands in front of our house was still holding many of her leaves.

As were many of the trees in the woods behind our home. The work is not finished yet.

After lunch I headed to the farm with my husband and the boys (dogs) to plant garlic. Normally we plant garlic around the middle of October. This year the ground has been too wet and muddy to plant, so we have been waiting for things to dry out a bit. We had decided earlier this year that growing garlic to sell is not in our future, so we were only going to grow enough for us and to be able to share some with family. We were able to get about 250 cloves planted, mulched and fenced (so the chickens couldn’t go digging them up). This is the smallest amount we have planted since we began growing garlic in 2013 and it was a breeze compared to years past. Now we can only pray that the weather stays warm enough for the garlic to get a start before the ground freezes. It will be spring before we know if this crop will survive.

When my husband told me that our son-in-law would be stopping by the farm to winterize his bee hive I decided to take along the gifts I made for Jackson and Addy. I had a hoped that the kids would be with him, but even if they weren’t he could take the gifts home for them – just in time for Addy’s (4th) birthday on Monday.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the super hero capes I made for the kids so my husband hung them from a plant hook and held them so I could get some photos.

Addy loves unicorns so one side of her cape was made from this unicorn fabric.

The capes are reversible so the other side of Addy’s was made with this brilliant yellow, orange and white tie-dye fabric.

I wasn’t sure what Jackson’s favorite thing is currently so I selected this superhero(ish) fabric for one side of his cape.

and this outer space type fabric for the other.

I wasn’t able to give the kids their gifts in person but I received a message from my son-in-law that the kids love the capes and that Addy was pretty insistent on wearing hers to bed. πŸ™‚

If I made you a super hero cape what would you want on it?

Flowers, Pollinators, Fungus and Breakfast With the Chickens

Flowers and Pollinators

The hibiscus bushes are blossoming.

There are three bushes in a row. The two on the ends have the deep red blossoms. The one is the middle has light pink/white blossoms.

This year we have an interesting phenomenon. One of the end bushes has both the red blossoms and the pink blossoms. This has never happened before.

The only explanation I can come up with is that these bushes drop seeds every year and small plants sprout each summer. I end up pulling them so I don’t know how long it would take for one to mature. Perhaps a seed from the pink bush grew up amongst the red bush and has become mature enough to produce flowers. So this is actually two bushes that have commingled.

Many of the plants are suffering from too much rain. The oregano leaves are turning yellow and orange. I have been tempted to cut them way down.

But the bees are enjoying the flowers

as are the butterflies, so I will leave them until they are done blossoming.

Dragonflies are not really pollinators but I do love having them around, especially since they eat things like gnats and MOSQUITOS. (Bring on the dragonflies!!!) This one was resting on an Agastache Kudos Mandarin plant, AKA Hummingbird Mint, that we planted this year.

The honey bees were foraging in the anise hyssop.

This patch of wild flowers attracts a lot of pollinators.

Look closely – how many bees do you see on the Mountain Mint in this photo? I see at least 3.

How about this one? (two?)

Honey bees aren’t the only pollinators enjoying these plants. The blue mud dauber wasps like them as well. This is the first year I have seen this type of wasp.

Honey bees like the cone flowers,

and I even spotted some foraging the purple loosestrife. That is something that we haven’t seen in the past.

It took a while but this beauty finally posed for a picture on a marshmallow plant.

Telling it to “hold still” did absolutely no good so I just had to be patient. I think this butterfly is called a Red Spotted Purple.

Fungus

When I did my mushroom post I had forgot about these puff ball mushrooms that grow every year on the hill where we someday hope to build a root cellar. They are well hidden beneath other weeds that grow up around them so we usually don’t even know they are there until late fall or winter when all the foliage dies. By that time they are just large dust balls.

When I first noticed these, a week or so ago, they were bright white. I didn’t have my camera with me at that time and as you can see they have since turned various shades of brown.

Each of these fungi is between 12 and 20 inches across.

Breakfast With the Chickens

Sunday morning I went to open up the chicken coop. When I do this my routine is to first fill their water dish. I then spread some chicken scratch on the ground in piles around the chicken yard, then I fill their feed dish before I open the coop to let them out. I do this because I know that the first thing they want to do when they come out is eat (except the rooster but we won’t talk about what he wants). If I were to let them out first I would likely have the whole flock following me to the feed can, then I would be tripping over them as I tried to the scatter scratch.

As I was filling their feed dish I noticed a deer approaching the chicken yard. She noticed me as well and we stopped for a minute and stared at each other. I then finished what I was doing while she moseyed over to the pile of chicken scratch that was about twenty feet from the coop and began eating. I opened up the coop and the chickens scattered around the area some of them joining her.

I decided to get my camera to see if I could get a picture of this breakfast club. It was still pretty dark in the chicken yard as it is in a grove of large hickory trees so i wasn’t sure how the picture would turn out.

It wasn’t until I got home and viewed the photo on my computer that I realized

that I had experienced an alien encounter. (Where’s Will Smith when you need him???)

Even when she got out in the light her eyes glowed.

Meanwhile the chickens went on their way,

cluelessly searching for worms or grasshoppers and enjoying their worry-free life.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great week!