Tag Archives: farming

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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Maple leaves are indicating that Fall is not far off.

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Squirrels have been collecting nuts.

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This sunflower with a fancy hairdo.

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The Norway Spruce that is loaded with pinecones.

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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.

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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?

 

More Pies

My husband loves when I make homemade desserts and I love my husband, so shortly after we finished our blueberry pie it was time to make another pie. This time I decided on lemon meringue.  As I got out my Betty Crocker cookbook to find a recipe I was feeling sort of down because I was not using any of our home grown fruit for this pie. After reading the recipe I realized that even though we can’t grow lemons here in Michigan, the eggs that are used both in the lemon filling and the meringue topping came from our chickens. That made me feel better. 🙂

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We then had a break from pies for a couple of weeks because the weather got pretty hot. Sometimes it is just too hot to do any baking, especially when we turn on the air conditioning.

Thursday, after the cold front came through and it was cool enough to open the windows, I decided it was time to make another pie. This time it was strawberry-rhubarb, one that  a couple of readers mentioned as being a favorite. I didn’t think I would be making this kind of pie this year because our rhubarb nearly drowned this spring. Thanks to my husband performing lifesaving maneuvers (digging it up and moving the roots to dryer ground) it is still alive, but it has not produced stalks big enough to harvest this year.

A couple of weeks ago my husband mentioned that Karen, our next door neighbor, had some rhubarb that was ready to be harvested. She had already picked all that she was going to use and said I should come and pick what I wanted. The next day, before I got a chance to get over there, Karen was knocking at my door holding two big bunches of rhubarb with the leaves already trimmed off. You gotta love neighbors like that! I gave her a couple of quarts of our strawberries that I had frozen and we were both happy campers.

I cut up the rhubarb and put it in the freezer… until yesterday when I was ready to bake my pie. There are many recipes for strawberry-rhubarb pie out there, but since I am not a huge fan of pie crust (I usually don’t eat that thick outer edge) I decided to make one with a crumb topping.

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It is now evident that Autumn is quickly approaching and with that we have high hopes for both homemade apple and pumpkin pies. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.

Do you have a favorite Autumn food?

 

Sweet Summer Time

I can’t believe July is nearly over. I certainly have been enjoying the summer weather we have had this past week, but I fear that summer will to be gone before I know it. I am trying to make a conscious effort to take at least a little time each day just appreciating what the season has to offer. Sometimes that involves taking a dip in the pond or kicking off my shoes and going barefoot in the lush green grass. Other times it involves observing nature in all of it’s glory. Last week it also involved a homemade blueberry pie. ☺

Below are some of my observations from the past week.

 That’s Just Ducky!

One day last week, when I was working in the prayer garden, I noticed we had a visitor in the pond.

In the past when we have had ducks visit they have not stayed long. This one doesn’t want to leave.

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I can’t say that I blame her as it is a very lovely environment. I am not sure what kind of duck she is so if you know please leave me a comment at the end of this post.

We don’t want ducks or other water foul living in our pond so we have made many attempts at letting her know she needs to leave.IMG_5415

At first I thought it would be as easy as letting Trooper chase her off, but as he entered the pond she swam quickly to the other end of the pond. Trooper lost sight of her and interest. As I walked around the outside of the pond to the area where she was swimming she again just swam to a different spot. My husband attempts at throwing small stones in the water near her didn’t seem to deter her either. She certainly is persistent!

Finally on Friday when I had family over for a picnic lunch I told my niece, as she and my cousin set out in the paddle boat, that their job was to chase the duck away. A while later my niece announced that the duck had flow away. Good Job Ashley and Abbey! It was maybe a couple of hours later, after we had finished our pond activities, that we saw her land in the pond again. Good Grief!!!

I do think that she has since gotten the message that we don’t want her there because now when she sees my husband or I approaching the pond she flies away – only to return when we are not around. Perhaps she figures “what we don’t know won’t hurt us – or her”.

Unapproved Housing!

So far this year I have written about robins building a nest in a flat of pansies and the sparrow who was raising her young in the middle of our strawberry patch but this is the oddest nest yet.

This past winter my husband noticed that what we assume was a confused woodpecker had made a hole in our U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation devise that our township requires be kept near the pond. It is not made out of wood!

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Last week he told me that he looked in that hole and saw what he thought was a sparrow inside.

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I decided to try to get a photo. As I approached a small bird flew out. It was similar in size and color to a sparrow but I noticed that it had a long pointy beak. After doing a little research I have decided it is probably a house wren. While it seems to have found a cozy home I am not sure that the U.S. Coast Guard would approve.

Birdseye View

Hawks soaring high above our farm is not an unusual sight; it’s just one that I have difficulty photographing. It does get concerning when their search area comes close the area where our chickens are foraging as we have had several chickens fall prey to hawks in the past. Such is the nature of allowing chickens to free range.

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As I watch the hawk gracefully circling I envy its view from above.

A Berry Good Year

While our garlic crop was disappointing this year, all of our berries performed beyond our expectations. As I have mentioned in previous posts it has been a wonderful year for strawberries, currants, cherries, and blueberries. Grapes seem to be following suit.

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One day last week I noticed that the grape vines were sagging. Upon further inspection we discovered that the top wire that supports the grape vines had broken.

 

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The vines are so heavy laden with fruit that the wire could not support their weight. My husband was able to place a couple of wooden stakes under the vines to keep them off the ground, but repairing the wire will have to wait until after the harvest.

If A Tree Falls and Nobody Is Around To Hear It Does It Really Make A Sound?

As of this writing that question will go unanswered.

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My husband was standing in the garden, perhaps 100 feet from this tree last Sunday when the storm came through. He estimated the wind gust at about sixty miles per hour. As he felt the gust, he heard a loud crack and watched the tree fall.

The dead ash tree has been standing dead in the wood line for several years and we have been waiting for the right winds to come along and bring it down. We can now cut it up to use for firewood this winter.

The Garden Was Busy This Morning

Perhaps I should say buzzy. The squash and pumpkins are blossoming heavily right now,

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and bees and other pollinators love squash blossoms.

 

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It is not unusual to see two or more pollinators in the same flower.

 

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The bees were also foraging in the buckwheat.  They moved quickly from flower to flower and I was not able to capture a photo of one.

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We don’t harvest buckwheat but it does serve a dual purpose. It acts as a cover crop, enriching the soil in areas where we are not growing food. It also helps feed the bees.

Thanks for spending a little time with me. What are you doing to make the most of summer?

 

The Garlic Is Harvested

WHOO HOO!!! I am so happy to have the garlic out of the ground and hanging in the barn. Especially since we got it done last week before the extreme heat arrived. This year’s harvest was much easier than the past several years because we planted significantly less garlic last fall. It was a big chore none the less.

Since my husband is working a landscaping job right now my plan was to work on harvesting the garlic in the cooler morning hours then work on bundling and hanging it later in the day because I wouldn’t have to be in the hot sun to do that part. I knew he would help as time allowed.

The harvest went even smoother than I planned. I started digging the garlic Tuesday morning and had the first 1 1/2 rows dug by about 11:00 a.m. I had planned on working until noon but it started to rain. Since I didn’t know how long the rain would last I decided to get the garlic that was out of the ground to a dry spot and then take a break. I put the garlic on a tarp under the barn overhang, where it would stay dry until I came back to put it in bundles. That evening my husband moved it inside the barn.

That early rain shower didn’t last long or amount to much, but that evening and over night we had some significant rain fall, enough rain that my husband was not needed at his job on Wednesday. By Wednesday morning all that rain had moved out of the area so we were able to get back into the field and finish the harvest.

We took the Scout and Trooper and a cooler full of cold water and drove to the garlic field. As my husband got out of the van he said something that got my attention. When I asked what he had said he replied, “It’s the biggest bull frog I’ve ever seen.”  I went to take a look and had to agree.

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Thankfully this guy did not get run over as we drove into the field. It appeared as if this was not his first close call. He had abrasions on both sides of his body that looked as if something had tried to make a meal out of him – a large fish perhaps. To keep him safe (or at least from getting run over) my husband carried him to the pond where he quickly swam away.

My husband and I worked together digging garlic and found that the rain that fell the night before had worked in our favor as many of the bulbs could just be pulled out of the ground. “The less I have to put my foot on a shovel, the better,” my husband said.

When my husband took a wagon load of garlic to the barn he returned telling me that a neighbor had come to visit. This particular neighbor loves company and has really taken to my husband. His name is Peanut.

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A while later when I went to the barn I was greeted by Peanut, and as I was returning to the garlic field he decided to follow me. This was a concern because Scout and Trooper, who were hanging out in the van, are not cat lovers. Nowadays Scout is not much of a threat because his vision is gone, his hearing is poor and his body is weak. His nose still works perfectly though. Trooper on the other hand is still a very keen watch dog who will chase off anyone or anything he doesn’t think belongs on our farm. Normally when Trooper gives chase the invaders run off and Trooper is satisfied that he has done his job. Peanut was not going to run off.

My husband attempted to introduce Trooper to Peanut and Trooper was very curious about this intruder. As he attempted sniffing Peanut from head to tail Peanut got offended. He hissed and scratched Trooper on the nose. My husband picked up Peanut and took him back to the barn area while I got Trooper in the van then headed back to the garlic field. This only lasted a few minutes before Peanut was back by the van. Scout who couldn’t see the cat got a good whiff of him then became anxious and wanted to go looking for him. Trooper got out of the van so my husband grabbed Peanut, jumped in the van and took him home. He also went by our house and got a wet soapy wash cloth and some ointment for Trooper’s scratch. While he was gone Trooper went around sniffing all of the areas that the cat had been. Looking but not finding him. He then went for a swim in the pond and settled down a bit. Just before my husband returned I walked into the barn only to see Peanut laying in front of the tractor. When my husband returned I suggested he take Scout and Trooper back to our house so we could get our work done. He agreed.

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Within an hour of having that mess settled we had the rest of the garlic harvested and by the end of the day they were all hanging in the barn. The above photo shows the approximately 1000 bulbs we harvested on Wednesday with the tools we used.

I have to admit this year’s crop is disappointing. Between bitter cold temperatures over the winter and an extremely wet spring we lost approximately 25% of what was planted. Of the bulbs we did harvest the majority of them are small. We have very few bulbs that will be large enough to use for seed garlic for next years crop.

What does this means for our future in growing garlic – I am not sure. We will just keep moving forward the best we can. Perhaps garlic farming is not in our future.

Thanks for reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Much To Say – So Little Time

In case you are wondering – tilling, feeding, watering, weeding, mowing, growing, picking, preserving, and even time for a little fun- that’s what we’ve been up too.

We are truly blessed – let me show you.

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The blueberries are coming on strong. We have picked and frozen about 5 quarts so far.

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I picked elder flowers to make tincture, but I haven’t got to the stinging nettle yet.

 

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The hot summer temperatures have done wonders for the garden. Weeding has been minimal but we have needed to water every few days.

 

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The prayer garden is in full bloom. It has also requiring watering and much weeding.

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The kids and grandkids came for a picnic. Berry picking (eating) was a hit with Addy. She loved strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

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Jackson had been eating a chocolate cookie. The evidence is still on his face. Aunt Kara is amused by her little buddy.

 

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Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here! It happens so infrequently now days, that all four of my daughters are together, I always like to get a photo of them. ♥

 

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We are not the only busy ones. Check out this hive.

 

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I have spotted bees in the tickseed,

 

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on this marigold,

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and on the sweet clover. They are also foraging in the birds foot trefoil, the white clover,  Canadian thistle, oregano, lavender, and thyme.

We hope to harvest some honey soon. ☺

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Bonus Photo: Since this dragon fly posed so nicely for me how could I not include it?

If I seem to be MIA over the next week or two check for me in the garlic field. It’s time to start the harvest. Until next time – be well.