Tag Archives: farming

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?

Fruit Salad Recipe

We are still picking and eating fresh strawberries and I wanted to share one of my favorite fruit salad recipes that uses strawberries. Not only is it delicious it is simple to make (which makes it even better).

It’s not really important to have a specifics amounts of any of any of the ingredients but I’m going to give the amounts that I used to make it for our family picnic.

Ingredients:

1 quart fresh strawberries cored and sliced

2 cans mandarin oranges drained

4 bananas peeled and sliced

4 cups mini marshmallows

Mix all four ingredients in a bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

We had some left over from the picnic on Saturday so my husband took a waffle (left over from breakfast) and topped it with this fruit salad. He said it was DELICIOUS!

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?

Strawberry Season and Chicken Pics

It’s strawberry season in Michigan and we have picked our first five quarts of berries. 🙂 This years berries are smaller than we have seen in past years, likely because of the dry spell we had as the berries were beginning to form, but despite the smaller size they have the sweet wonderful flavor that we have come to expect from our homegrown berries.

If you live in Michigan and want locally grown strawberries now is the time to look for them.

These are the new kids on the block – the chicks we bought earlier this year. When we bought them from the farm store we thought we bought black Australorp chicks. Instead we got a mixed bag. While the small one in the back looks like a black Australorp, two look like barred rocks and while the one in the middle is a beautiful bird, we have no idea what breed he might be.

You might remember that we started out with six chicks. sadly two of them fell prey to a racoon.

We had hoped to get at least one rooster out of the six and at this point we have identified two which we are certain are roosters and a third which we suspect might be a rooster but are more hopeful of it being a hen.

Recently our evening have been spent around the chicken yard, watching chicken TV, and being on the lookout for racoons. The chickens enjoy the evening visits especially this particular evening when my husband was passing out treats. 🙂

Will you be shopping for locally grown produce this year?

The War On Weeds

In any war it is important to have a strategy and that includes the gardener’s “War On Weeds”. I don’t think it is possibly to have a garden that is perpetually weed free, so I don’t know that it is possible to truly win the war. I am going to share some tips, though, that might help you win some of the battles.

The Plan Of Attack

We have learned over the years that pulling weeds when the soil is moist is the best approach. When the soil is dry the roots are reaching deep into the earth searching for water. This makes digging them difficult and pulling them next to impossible. When the soil is moist the roots are relaxed and can be pulled out much easier. Weeding in the morning when the soil is moist or after a rain will make your work much easier.

Keep Your Enemy In Check

Most plants will reproduce by forming flowers or seed heads. In order to keep the plants from multiplying (often exponentially) remove the weed before it forms flowers or goes to seed.

Know Your Enemy

Being able to identify the type of weed and how it grows can be most helpful in ridding it permanently from your garden. Plants that are annuals and are pulled or cut before they go to seed should be gone for good. Other plants that are biennial (taking two years to mature) or perennial (come back every year) will need to have their entire root removed otherwise they will continue to grow back. Some perennial’s, like Canadian thistle and sow thistle, have roots systems that run horizontally under ground. When the shoot/plant is pulled and detached from the horizontal root it will, in a quest for survival, send up several more shoots. (A loosing battle.) However cutting the shoot/plant at ground level will deprive it of the ability to perform photosynthesis. That particular shoot may grow back and need to be cut another time or two before the plant (root) dies.

In the past we have had much success in getting rid of thistles from lawn or field areas by mowing the area throughout the summer. This year as I weed my prayer garden I am on a mission to eradicate thistles, so I am cutting them with the intention of coming back once a week to cut any that are starting to grow back. Wish me luck!

Happy gardening! 🙂