Category Archives: The Farm

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!

A Beautiful Morning

I Plan on doing a farm update soon but since I have a busy day ahead I’ll just share some photo’s from this morning at the farm.

A Busy Momma

In the field to the east of us I spotted this momma deer with her young – TRIPLETS! It’s quite common for us to see momma’s with twins and we have seen triplets in the past but they are far less common.

The sky was just gorgeous as the sun came up this morning.

I wish you all a beautiful day!

Hidden Pictures

Who’s hiding in this picture?

Can you see it?

(Keep scrolling)

How about here?

(keep scrolling)

There it is. Isn’t it cute?

This baby deer spent 3 days hanging out in the area around our barn. When my husband first encountered it he or she was lying on a stack of lumber that my husband had left on the porch of the barn. We were inclined to think that it was abandoned, or more likely orphaned, because of it’s close proximity to the barn where we spend so much time. Also because it was there for so long. After those three days it was gone, so it now seems as though momma came for it, and more than likely it is now tagging along behind her.

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.