Category Archives: The Farm

Happy Halloween

Since Halloween falls mid-week this year we decided to celebrate early. Saturday we held our second (annual) Halloween party at the farm. Some readers might remember last year we ended up holding the party in our barn as the weather was not conducive to an outdoor party.

This year although we planned and were ready for outdoor activities we again had the barn ready as a back-up plan. The weather is just too unpredictable. Guests were instructed that costumes were optional, but they should dress for the weather (which should always be the case when you visit our farm).

IMG_5890 (2)

By Saturday morning we were certain that rain would be coming later that day. Our party was to start at 2:00 P.M. and we were hoping to get some outdoor activities in before the rain came.

IMG_5861

We spent very little money on decorations. We mostly used materials we had on hand. A few things, like this skeleton (below), we picked up at the dollar store. Looks like he’s been waiting to use the porta potty for a long time. LOL!

IMG_5863 (2)

After my husband and I put the finishing touches on our Trick-or-Treat Trail I took some photos so I could take you all on the walk with me. Don’t worry. The trail was designed to be fun for children so there is no blood and gore, no Freddie Krueger, and no one chasing us with chainsaws.

IMG_5864 (2)

At the entrance of the trail was a graveyard.

IMG_5865 (2)

It was also the first trick-or-treat station. The hanging basket to the left is where the kids could pick a few pieces of candy from the basket (even the big kids got some). The headstones were made out of Styrofoam sheets my husband had collected at the greenhouse job he worked this spring. They were some type of packaging material and were dumpster bound had he not brought them home thinking we might have a use for them.

IMG_5866 (3)

I had to edit the photo in order to see the writing and some are still not clear enough to make out the words. Buried in this graveyard (starting in the back row left side) are Ben Better, the double headstone is Ima Gonner and L.L.Beback, the third one in the back row reads Here Lies Mozart, Decomposing. In the front row it appears that Ben was not buried very deep as a skull has emerged from the ground. The headstone to the right is Barry M. Deep and as you can see the last grave is vacant (notice the shovel waiting by the grave). LOL!

While the kids might have been too young to pay attention to the headstones I think the adults who accompanied them enjoyed the humor. This candy basket contained reeses peanut butter cups, Hershey’s chocolate bars, kit kats and almond joys. If you have a favorite help yourself.

IMG_5868 (2)

Just beyond the graveyard this guy was hanging out. He seemed to be the gatekeeper (minus the gate). Although he is by no means frightening, when we first hung him up, several night before the party, he looked pretty creepy from a distance, and several times in the days that followed I would be working in various areas around the farm a catch a glimpse of what seemed to be someone standing there, again very creepy. LOL!

 

IMG_5870 (2)

A little farther down the trail is our next treat station. I had discovered these two logs laying in the woods and decided to give them some personalities (faces). This basket contained peppermint patties. They seemed to be a favorite of the adults.

 

IMG_5871 (2)

As we come to the fork in the road we will veer to the right to find our next trick-or-treat station. This time it is both a trick and a treat.

IMG_5874

My husband designed this basket with the glove secured in it and a fishing line attached to it. The fishing line was then run through a pulley that was attached to the tree behind it. He tied a small handle on the line and then ran the line to a stake that was placed along the path. When he pulled on the handle the glove (hand) would rise up out of the basket of candy. Very clever! This basket contained Smarties.

IMG_5876 (2)

We continue to follow the winding path through the woods.

IMG_5877 (2)

Our next trick and treat station is just ahead. This “haunted” rocking chair held a basket of ghost lollipops made from tootsie pops. The chair was also rigged with a fishing line/pulley system that allowed us to make the chair appear to be rocking on it’s own (or was it the ghosts?).

IMG_5878 (2)Another treat basket hung from a shepherds hook as we were exiting the woods. This one also held reeses, Hershey bars, kit kats and almond joys.

IMG_5879 (2)

Upon exiting the woods we turn to the right and head north along our west property line. Another treat station lies ahead under an oak tree that appears to be inhabited by bats.

IMG_5882 (3)

This basket contains white chocolate kit kat bars. As we venture up the slight hill and circle to the right we find our last trick-or-treat station.

IMG_5885 (2)

The mummy hanging on this basket is giving out cans of silly string. When the kids took their can of silly string from the basket they were instructed that they could not use the silly string inside the barn. While I didn’t see any adults take a can some how some of them ended up with it. Hmm, I wonder how that happened. 😉

IMG_5886 (3)

From this point we could now head back to the barn area where most of the other activities took place, but first I thought maybe you would like to see how the kids enjoyed their trick-or-treat trail.

IMG_5902 (3)

Our Granddaughter, Addy, picking some candy out of the basket.

 

IMG_5904 (2)

Our Grandson, Jackson, was fascinated with the hand rising out of the basket. He was more interested in how it worked than getting the candy. He did high-five the hand when I suggested it to him. 🙂

 

IMG_5915 (2)

Before approaching the haunted chair our 5 year old, great nephew, Landon turned and informed us “I’m not falling for your tricks.” LOL!

IMG_5919 (2)

My biggest surprise was how much the kids enjoyed the bats, reaching or jumping up to touch them or giving them a smack to see them fly. They spent a little bit of time playing with the bats before finishing their walk through the trick-or-treat trail.

After trick-or-treating  it was time to play on/in the straw bales.

party20197

 

IMG_5925

The rain held off for at least another hour while the kids played on the straw bales and silly string wars took place.

party20194

No one was exempt from getting “stringed”, so grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, some armed with a can and some not, joined in the fun.

party20193

Just before the rains came my husband and son-in-law moved the straw bales to the barn porch. The straw stayed dry as did the kids as they continued to play.

The kids all looked so cute decked out in their costumes. Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize their characters because I didn’t. I had to get the scoop from those in the know (their parents). I’ll clue you in – Landon, Jackson and Addy are characters from a cartoon called PJ Masks where three children become superheroes at night. Landon is Catboy, Jackson is Gekko, and Addy is Owlette. Kenzie is wearing a Queen Bee costume (appropriate for a visit to the farm). Queen Bee is part of a collection of doll called L.O.L. dolls.

You may remember Peanut, the cat, from the day we harvested garlic, well peanut has become a regular visitor, showing up at the farm almost daily. I had concerns about peanut being at the party because I thought he might jump on the food table.

IMG_5929

It seems that my fears were unwarranted as once the guests arrived Peanut found many a welcoming lap to sit on. Several times I spotted Addy giving Peanut kisses. It was so precious.

While all of our guests followed our instructions to dress for the weather a few came in costume as well. Jinkies! That’s Shaggy, Velma and Scooby Doo in the lower righthand photo.

In case your wondering what was on the menu we decided to keep it simple. We bought fried chicken from our local Meijer deli and I have to it admit not only did that make it easy it was also good and priced right. I made a pasta salad, we had a veggie tray with dip and cheese tray with crackers and apple slices with caramel dip. For dessert Aunt Donna made monster cookies and I made rice crispy treats. I dare say no one should have went away hungry.

It was a great day filled with food, family, friends, and fun. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

Thanks for visiting. Did you get some of your favorite candy? Would you have showed up in costume? If so who/what would you come as?

Foggy Fall Mornings

It was sweatshirt weather when Trooper and I made our way to farm the last two mornings I snapped a few pictures and thought I would share them.

October 9, 2019

It was right around 8:00 A.M. The sun was up, the sky was blue but patches of fog hung near the ground.

IMG_5782

The Autumn colors are showing up but are not nearly at their peak.

IMG_5783 (3)

I took this shot photo from a distance because once we got closer Trooper was sure to chase her off.

IMG_5788

The sun was shining through the fog.

IMG_5789

While the drops of moisture that covered everything shimmered in the sunlight.

IMG_5790 (2)

Trooper searched the field for mice.

IMG_5794

Perched high over head, these two bids shared a barren tree. It looks like a red winged blackbird on the right, but I am not sure what the one on the left is. This tree is one of the few dead ash that remain standing. I suspect by this time next year we will have cut it up for fire wood.

October 10,2019

Even chillier than yesterday – I wore a sweatshirt with a long sleeved turtle-neck underneath, a knit hat, and rubber boots to keep my feet dry.

IMG_5803

As we started our walk I thought ‘gloves would have been nice too’.

IMG_5800 (2)

Fog hovered above the pond.

IMG_5804 (2)

As I looked at the grasses and various plant leaves they appeared to be covered in more than just dew. I reached down and touched a leaf I found that it was indeed frost on the leaves.

IMG_5807 (3)

I could barely make out the deer who were grazing in the back of the field. I am not sure if they could see me or just hear me.

IMG_5814 (2)

After chasing the deer off Trooper began his search for mice.

IMG_5802

The sun is once again working to burn off the fog.

IMG_5809 (2)

Since we have had frost I expect the fall colors will come on quickly now.

IMG_5816 (2)

I spotted some geese in the neighbors back yard. I had to go full zoom to got this shot.

I wonder if any of my flowers will succumb to the frost.

IMG_5832 Before leaving Trooper decided to get a nice cool drink. He then laid on the beach, but I had to be a party pooper and tell him it was time to go.

Thanks for visiting the farm with me. Until next time – be well. 🙂

 

Wrapping Up Summer

It’s hard to believe that autumn is here. I just wanted to hold on to summer – perhaps indefinitely. Since it is humanly impossible to stop time, the best I can do is hold onto and treasure the memories that Summer 2019 gifted me.  I have decided to place some of these precious memories in this post where, like keepsakes in a trinket box, they will be safely stored and I can return to them whenever I like.  I will also share them with you.

At The Farm 

In early August I used my hours at the farm for picking blueberries, watering plants, and mostly weeding the prayer garden (this is the time of year that weeds really start to take over if they are not kept in check). IMG_5686 (2)

I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts that the prayer garden was in full bloom. My husband said he wanted to correct that statement but didn’t. He is right of course – by design the prayer garden is in continuous bloom, from early spring, when the daffodils appear, until late fall, or at least until we get the first frost of the season there is always something blossoming.

By mid August my chore list had changed. We had some decent rain so we didn’t have to do much watering. We began picking tomatoes and peppers and I began cleaning our 2019 garlic crop.

IMG_5708

For the past four weeks or so the focus has been on harvesting our garden and either cooking and eating or preserving the harvest. While most of the tomatoes have been frozen so far, I did manage to get 15 quarts of tomato sauce canned. We have been enjoying fresh red skin potatoes (boiled or made into potato salad), Swiss chard (sautéed with garlic, cooked into an omelet or added to a cream cheese stuffed chicken breast), baked butter nut squash, tomatoes (fresh on the side, on a sandwich, or cooked into homemade pasta sauce) and stuffed green peppers. I also cut up three small cabbages and started the process of turning them into sauerkraut. This is the time of year that all of the work pays off.

The Bees

Busy, busy, busy.

IMG_5611

We have eight healthy hives right now and our son-in-laws hive is thriving as well.

 

IMG_5619

We have harvested honey three times this summer from three different hives. Each harvest yielded approximately 30 lbs. of honey. After we harvest the honey and wax from the frames my husband sets the frames back out for the bees to finish cleaning them up. The picture above shows the bees completing this task.

IMG_5756

A few weeks ago one of the hives swarmed. My husband captured the swarm and put it in an empty hive. He then placed a feeder with honey in it on top. The next day the bees had left that hive. We are not sure why they weren’t happy there but they did fill up on the honey before leaving.

The Chickens

The eight Jersey Giants that were cute little chicks this spring are now full grown hens. They began laying in eggs in August and will hopefully keep us in fresh eggs through the winter months.IMG_5650

Soap Making

Normally I don’t make a lot of soap during the summer months but I found I was out of a few varieties. I decided to have some fun with it.

IMG_5695

My sister had given me some silicone mini molds so I made a few small bars using them. I can see making holiday themed sample soaps or using teddy bears or duckies as favors for a baby shower. They would however need to be clearly labeled  “Don’t Eat It!” as I would want someone thinking they were white chocolate.

IMG_5697

I have also been practicing using my soap stamp and getting better at it. It’s really a matter of stamping the soap when it is still just a little soft.

Family and Fun

In early August we planned a family picnic at the farm. Not all of the girls could make it but Tina and Ken brought our grandkids and Kara also came out. After we ate, our three year old grandson, Jackson, went fishing with his dad and grandpa and caught his first fish. I didn’t get any pictures of this because Tina and Kara and I had taken (granddaughter) Addy to pick blueberries.

Not only did Addy enjoy picking the berries she enjoyed eating them as well. The cutest part was that each time Addy, who is learning to talk, picked a berry she would say appo (apple). The first time she said it we thought it was so cute we laughed before telling her “berry”.  So after that each time she picked a berry she would say “appo” and laugh then when we told her berry she would say “ber-ry”. Her laugh was so contagious that we were all laughing each time she said “appo”.

IMG_5529

In August my husband and I went plant shopping. Normally I don’t like shopping. The exceptions are going to a greenhouse or nursey and shopping for yarn or other craft supplies. Each spring we usually go to a local green house and pick up a least a few plants for the year but it’s quite easy for me to get carried away and buy way more plants than I need.

You may remember from this post that my husband was working at a greenhouse this spring and was able to bring home many plants that would have otherwise ended up in the dumpster. With all the free flowers we had there was no need to go plant shopping…until August. While working the landscaping job that he started in July my husband had to make a trip to a nursery where they purchased anise hyssop plants that would be planted at one of the jobsites. “They had pretty purple flowers and the bees were all over them,” he said as he told me about the plants. I knew this herb had some medicinal  properties and if the bees like it then we should definitely plants some.

I did a little homework and found that anise hyssop is generally a plant the deer avoid because of it’s strong fragrance. This sounded like the perfect addition to our prayer garden.

IMG_5711

We purchased two large plants that were in full bloom and two smaller (less expensive) plants that should continue to grow each year until they are about a foot wide. I understand that these plants also drop seeds each year that will readily sprout into new plants. These plants are still blooming more than a month after we planted them and I saw bees foraging in them yesterday. 🙂

As we were walking through the green house I noticed a table full of flowers that I was not familiar with. They had bright orange and yellow flowers. They were marked $5 each. After asking an employee if the deer would eat them and being assured that it was not likely, I picked out two yellow and one orange. (There I go getting carried away.) The plant is called lantana. It wasn’t until we got them home that we realized that they are an annual so will not be coming back next year. 😦

We took a Sunday off in August to visit the Armada Fair and watch the tractor pulls.

20190818_123437~2 (3)

My husband and I wore our matching tractor pull t-shirts so my daughter snapped a photo of us. We were joined by daughters Kara and Lindell and Lindell’s boyfriend Brysen.  We arrived early enough to walk through the animal barns and view the exhibits before the tractor pulls began. I’m not sure which is cuter baby goats or baby cows. I love seeing them both.

We also filled up on lots of expensive fair food. I wonder which was higher the calorie count or the price.

For those of you who, like Brysen, have never seen a tractor pull, let me sum it up. Basically tractor pulling is a competition to see who’s tractor can pull a weighted sled the farthest. If you would like a little more information see this article.

IMG_5576This tractor, named Cruel Intentions, is owned by the Capozzo family. They also own and operate the excavating company that dug our pond. This is the tractor we were rooting for that day and they did take first place in their class.

 

After the tractors were finished they brought in a couple of semi’s that did an exhibition pull.

In the photo below I was trying to get a shot of the score board that electronically records each tractor’s speed and the distance they pull but my aim was a little high.

IMG_5577

After viewing this photo I did spot something I hadn’t noticed before. The street signs to the right of the score board mark the intersection that leads to the adult beverage tent. If you can’t make out the signs they say “Good RD” and ” Beers LN”. That made me chuckle.

The beverage tent was the other place we visited at the fair and while I mostly stuck with non alcoholic beverages that day I did end up drinking a glass of hard cider when Lindell ended up with an extra one.

IMG_5572
Lindell, Me, Kara

Even though autumn has arrived, and the temperatures have been slowly cooling, we are forecast to have at least one more of summer-like day today and I will happily take all that we can get.

Have you ever seen tractor pulls?

What is your favorite memory of this summer?

Mornings At The Farm

September 5, 2019

My plan this morning was to clean garlic. There were about 150 bulbs that I wanted to get done. I figured it would take me about an hour to complete this task so I also took some time to enjoy the day. Would you like to join me?

IMG_5708

As I walked past the garden I was greeted by this sunflower. I wonder, is it possible to look at a sunflower and not smile? As you can tell I was not the only one happy to see this flower. The honey bees were all over it.

IMG_5611

This was the view from were I was working. Nothing but blue sky and sunshine this morning.

IMG_5717

While walking through the prayer garden I discovered that the honey bees were also foraging the anise hyssop. This is a recent addition to the prayer garden and was largely added for the benefit of the bees.  I only see one bee in this picture, but I assure you there were more that the camera did not capture.

IMG_5711

My husband discovered that bees like this plant while working at his landscaping job. They had to go to a greenhouse to purchase some anise hyssop plants for a job they were doing, and he said the bees were all over the plants. A couple weeks later he took me to that greenhouse to purchase some for our farm.

Another visitor to the prayer garden this morning was this Hummingbird, searching for nectar in the hanging plants.

IMG_5713 (2)

It is a bit camouflaged by the green plants in the background. Do you see it just left of center?

IMG_5714 (2)

It is now to the right of this basket.

In recent weeks we have seen the return of an annual visitor. For at least the past 5 years we have seen this bird (or one like it) in and around our pond in the late summer. I am assuming it is the same bird and although we usually see just one at a time on rare occasions we will see two.

Since it was not a bird I was familiar with and was unable to positively identify it through our bird books or internet searches, in 2016 I turned to my blog readers for help through this post. While the answer did not come through the post comments, I learned  that our bird was a Green Herron.

IMG_5719 (2)

He or she is a quiet bird and blends well into the grasses that surround the pond.

IMG_5722 (2)

Can you believe this is the same bird? It’s appearance certainly changes as it makes a quick getaway.

Before noon I return to the house with that batch of garlic cleaned.

September 6, 2019

Though there was rain in the forecast I was hopeful it would hold off and I could finish up cleaning the last batch (about 100 bulbs) of garlic.

The sky was gray and the sun was hidden. Before getting started I took in some of the surroundings.

IMG_5732

Maple leaves are indicating that Fall is not far off.

IMG_5736

Squirrels have been collecting nuts.

IMG_5729

This sunflower with a fancy hairdo.

IMG_5735

The Norway Spruce that is loaded with pinecones.

IMG_5738

With the threat of rain it was not a good morning for cleaning garlic so my plan B was to work in the prayer garden.

IMG_5746

As I brought out my garden tools the rain began.

Perhaps plan C, canning tomatoes, is a better job for today.

Thanks for joining me. Are you seeing signs of Fall in your area?

 

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.

IMG_5194

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.

IMG_5216

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.

IMG_5202

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.

IMG_5249

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.

IMG_5250

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.

IMG_5234

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.

IMG_5227

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!

IMG_5236

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.

IMG_5238

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.

IMG_5245

CHICKEN

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

IMG_5212

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.

IMG_4033

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

Has summer arrived is your part of the world?