Category Archives: The Farm

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?

 

Our Little Piece Of Earth

Several blogs that I have seen this morning have reminded me that it is Earth Day. In fact it is the 50th year that this day has been celebrated. It is really just a coincidence that I have prepared a post with lots of pictures of our little piece of this earth but I invite you to have a look around.

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Even though we lost all of our bees over the winter we still have two hives that have some honey in them. On the days that are warm and sunny they are being visited by what we assume are wild honey bees. Since there is little available for them to forage this early in the year these bees are eating the honey that remains in the hives. It is good to know there are still honey bees in the area.

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Daffodils are blossoming and the bushes in the background are forsythia just beginning to bud out. We have never had the forsythia blossom so fully. Last year we decided not to prune them but to wait until after they are done blossoming this spring. It seems to have worked.

Yellow is a happy color. 🙂

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It shouldn’t be long before the forsythia is fully blossomed. I think it will be a stunning backdrop for the pond.

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These small daffodils and white hyacinths were planted 5 years ago in memory of my husband’s mother. My husband had bought them for her to brighten up her room when she was in the hospital. After she passed away we brought them home and planted them in the prayer garden. They are the first daffodils to blossom every year.

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The garlic is doing well. I love seeing them come up in neat, orderly rows.

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These small red shoots are a peony bush the I planted last year in memory of my Aunt Shirley. I am so happy to see it coming up.

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I spotted the first dandelions to open. They were growing in the middle of my oregano patch so I will likely dig them out. Personally I love to see dandelions in bloom they just don’t belong in my oregano patch.

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Above are cosmos and below are primrose. Both were added to the prayer garden last year. They were given to my husband by a lady whose home he was working at while he was working the landscaping job.

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The cosmos continued to flower all last summer and were not touched by the deer, but the top growth on the primrose died off after being transplanted. They then formed new leaves but did not flower. I guess I will find out this year if they are deer candy or not.

 

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A cardinal was visiting the chicken yard. This is not unusual. Many birds (and rabbits, and squirrels and even deer) visit that area since there is always food available.

 

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Blue berry bushes are beginning to bud out as are apple trees (below).

IMG_6435We witnessed something we have never seen before on Sunday. Honey bees were foraging in the daffodils.

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We have had daffodils growing since before we began keeping bees and if you have been following my blog for very long you know that I always watch to see where the bees are and what plants they are foraging.

 

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This is the first time in eight years that we have seen the honey bees collecting daffodil pollen. Since I am not skilled enough as a photographer to get a picture of the pollen attached to their bodies you will just have to take my word that they were collecting pollen to take back to their hive.

As I was working at the farm on Monday I noticed this egret land near the pond. He or she quickly swooped up a tasty treat. I’m not sure if it was a frog or a fish.

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It then continued to make it’s way around the edge of the pond.

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It was about 45 minutes later that I saw it fly away so I can only assume it left with a full belly.

Not everything that is happing at the farm is as passive as this appears.

On Sunday I decided it was time to start preparing the ground around the apple trees for the companion plants I am going to put in.

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Since my husband was working in a different area, we put Ranger on a tie near where I was working. When he saw me digging in the dirt he decided to come and help. I have to admit that he was much more efficient digging with his paws than I was with a trowel. Unfortunately after digging for a short bit he sniffed the area and realized there were no mice hiding in that ground, so he was done.

I finished removing the grass and top layer of soil around the base of the tree – only six more to go. I will then be planting chives which are said to ward off insects and prevent apple scab and nasturtiums which are also reported to repel insects. We won’t know until summer if these methods are working but lets all hope that I’ll be posting pictures of beautiful apples later this year.

Now this post is getting long and we’re heading out to work in the asparagus patch (it should be coming up soon) so I’ll save the information about the work we are doing there for another post.

Thanks for visiting and until next time be well.

How are you celebrating earth day?

 

Blessings At The Farm

In spite of the state of the world right now we continue to count our blessings each day.

Inside The Hoop House

Saturday April 4, 2020 – around 2:00 P.M.

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The outside temperature was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C) while the temperature inside rose to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C). The sun had been  shining earlier but the clouds had covered the sky. Rain showers were on their way.

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The seed trays on the left are cabbage seeds that my husband planted this past week and the boxes on the right are lettuce, spinach, beets and swiss chard. I expect to see all of them sprouting soon.

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My husband bought me two flats of pansies from his former employer and I happily potted them. He knows how to make me happy. 🙂

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I find pansies to be such a cheery flowers.

Sunday Afternoon 

Snapshots of the farm.

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We discovered another crocus

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and another. 🙂

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Lilac buds

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and Forsythia wanting to flower.

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A lovely spring day.

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Just a bit too soon for swimming.  LOL!

How have you been blessed today?

What are you grateful for?