Would this not make a lovely painting?
Can you believe it’s the last day of January?? I spent the morning do normal indoor chores like, sweeping and mopping the floors, making the bed, two loads of laundry and other minor jobs after having breakfast with the Mister! I got pork tenderloin out of the freezer for dinner and then saw that the temperature had risen to 40* and no wind. OUTSIDE I GO!!!
We’re still in for some cold weather and hopefully some snow because our pastures, yard, hayfields, just the earth in general needs a good soak before spring really appears! I knew I had some pruning to do on some fruit trees but the grapes needed it worst than the others.
In order to get those beautiful grapes they need to be pruned each year. Grapes grown on new stems each year!
I use some wonderful little hand pruners on all of the small vines, trees and my rose bushes. It’s very important to sterilize them and I use just plain old rubbing alcohol. It took about an hour but they’re all trimmed and now we wait! While waiting we pray for no late frosts to kill them.
After I finished pruning the grapes I went around the garden and trimmed suckers and water sprouts off the green gage, peach, pear and blue plums. The big job will be trimming the apple trees which seem to get less attention each year but I’m going to get what I can from the ground and hope for some help with the higher branches.
I am so ready to start growing something!!!
Cooler weather is good and upon us and we’ve actually had a fire in the woodstove several nights to take out the chill and dampness. Fall has crept in on us with the trees changing color and the shadows falling on the ground remind me of Halloween. Pumpkins everywhere we go and bales of straw. Scarecrows sitting in every nook and cranny!
With fall come the acts of nature that we overlook until you almost walk into it! By this I mean, bee nests and I walked right under this one several times before actually seeing it!
Can you see anything hanging from the tree? My first encounter was in July and I walked through that path about six times one looking for little chicks in distress because they couldn’t find their mom. I never saw a thing while walking but that afternoon I was in the laundry room folding clothes and looked out the window and there hung a hornet’s nest the size of a volleyball!
We didn’t want to destroy them because as long as you leave them alone hornets are good! They catch thousands of houseflies!! That’s the GOOD!
The BAD is if I had walked into their nest and made them mad!! I would have been stung several times before realizing what was happening! The UGLY is those insects are black, big and build onto that nest all summer. It’s huge now!
Along with the hornets we’re seeing lots of bumblebee’s which have a nest in the ground in my rose garden. The rose garden is a mess now because I can’t get in it to weed. The yellow jackets and sand hornets are all over the apples in the orchards but we haven’t found their nests yet. All of the bees make great pollinators but they do have an ugly and mean side!!!
Have you ever heard of petoots or spring peepers? It’s those noisy little beings we hear every spring when it starts to get warm! I love hearing them but I’ve never seen them or ventured out to see what they looked like. I’ve always assumed they were little tiny frogs. This year I found out!!!
I went with hubby one morning to feed the cattle and in our back field we have a small pond that’s never gone dry (yet)! As we drove by the pond we could see the pond just wiggling with life and the noise was deafening. We went to the back-end of the field and dropped off the hay to roll off the hills to the cattle and then drove back to the pond. I had my camera with me and finally got pictures of hundreds of the little noise-makers and they weren’t a bit afraid as I took their picture! You can click on the photos to enlarge and see what I’m talking about.
Now all I have to do is find out why we don’t hear the whippoorwill anymore!! I love listening to them as much as the petoots and grouse drumming in the spring!
April 15th is my deadline for putting out the hummingbird feeders. Last year I was late getting them out and didn’t have near as many. This year I’ve got the jump on them I hope by putting out two feeders on the front porch this morning. I’m early but they might be too!!
Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.
Get those feeders out this weekend and let us know how many you have and when you first sighted them!
Here’s my recipe for the feeders, all natural: 1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water. I mix it up in a pitcher and put it in the microwave for 6 1/2 minutes to sterilize it and keep it from fermenting. I let it cool to touch and then pour in the feeders.
I love feeding the wild birds in our back yard during the winter. There’s just so many species that flock to the feeders all during the day including my chickens!
I have 10 feeders in the back yard and the wild birds depend on me during the winter months when they can’t find seeds and other food. I use black oil sunflowers that we raise in our garden, wild bird feed from our local farm supply store, and saved grease from my kitchen which I save in foil pans and stick in the freezer all year round. We also dry any leftover sweet corn from the garden. I pick it, shuck it and air dry it in our grainery and then place in mesh bags which are stored in lidded trash cans until feeding time. I put the corn on a squirrel feeder and the birds and squirrels love it. We had such an abundance of corn leftover after freezing for ourselves and sharing with our family, friends and neighbors. I hate waste and the birds love it and so do my rabbits.
Fall is here and so are the fall wildflowers. Here’s a few I took photos of just along the driveway from the house to the mailbox.
Once the weather cools a little and I can get out in the sun there will be an abundance of wildflower and nature photo ops.
Enjoy the summer as long as you can because that cold weather is just around the corner. How do I know?? My hummingbirds have left! 😦
On Sunday morning we took off to the woods and started cutting for the 2014-15 heating season. We found two oak trees that had been dead from the gypsy moth invasion three years ago and put more than a ton of weight on the farm truck. Here’s a view of the visit with nature.
I enjoy anything that involves us being outdoors together and I love the smell of fresh cut firewood. One of the trees was blown to the ground and heavier than the other because it soaked up the last rain. The other tree was still standing but the bark had fallen off. This will keep us nice and toasty next winter. All we have to do now is split the big stuff and put it in the woodhouse.
What in the world?????
Morels are a type of mushrooms which can be found growing all over the world in a wide variety of habitats every spring. They are among the most prized of the edible mushrooms because they have a rich and complex flavor that goes well with almost any food. They also have a very distinctive appearance which makes them readily identifiable, assuming they can be found at all, since they’re notorious for being very elusive.
Like all mushrooms, the morel is only the fruiting body of a larger organism. Most mushrooms form a massive web of fibers underground called the mycelium. This web of fibers can be quite large, and when it decides to reproduce it sends up mushrooms, which release spores from the parent fungus. Mushrooms are quite appealing to humans because they are often fleshy and flavorful. Scientists have not determined why mushrooms fruit when they do, but mushrooms are usually linked with rain and heavy moisture. In the case of morels, spectacular growth patterns are also linked with forest fires.
We love to search for these delicasies every spring and this spring is no different. When Mother Nature cooperates we feel like we located the “mother load”!!
During spring gobbler season every year, hubby and his friends make a day of searching for these tasty morsels in their secret honey hole. As in years past, they did very well and these shots will prove harvest:
There is absolutely nothing better than country fried merkels, baked beans and macaroni salad for supper!! Wish you were here to enjoy them with us 😉
You know it’s spring when the hummingbirds return. For several years now I try to get at least one hummingbird feeder on the porch by April 15th. I was a few days late this year and didn’t get mine put out until Sunday the 20th and boy was I ever glad. Our first arrival was yesterday afternoon when we were sitting on the front porch enjoying the warm afternoon.
After preparing the feeders, hang them where you want to get a good view of these little angels in action. We usually have 4-6 feeders on our front porch out of the sun so the syrup doesn’t spoil as quickly. If your syrup seems to have strings of film in it after several days it’s time to change the syrup. I usually start out with two feeders to begin with and as the population grows I add more feeders.
Last year in June, I believe, we had about thirty at one time. I had four feeders on both sides of the porch and we were refilling them almost daily. We love watching them. Here’s a view of last years group:
I try to grow as many of their favorite flowers as possible every year and add perennials to my garden that they love as well. Most of these flowers also attract the graceful hummingbird moth as well.
Our little neck of the woods has been filled with major low temps for the last six weeks with minor warm ups and like everyone else I am SOOOOOOO ready for spring. Yes, this is another post about the weather and knowing we can’t do anything about but gripe I think we are all doing that quite well!!
We were just hit with our first major snowfall which started around 2:30 on Wednesday evening causing me to leave work early so I wouldn’t be stuck out on the roads with my family worried to death. NO I’m not stupid enough to wait for the roads to get treacherous before heading home. I have a wonderful job and supervisors that allow me to head out early since I live about 25 minutes from home which is very much in the country. We had plenty of warning about the incoming storm and prepared well in advance. By the time I pulled into our driveway the roads were getting white and the mountain in front of our house and the one behind our house could not be seen.
Hubby had worked most of the day before feeding the animals heavy and cutting some extra firewood for the main stove and the one in the kitchen. It’s a good thing he covered it as soon as he unloaded it. We had prepared for the electricity to go out as well and had five gallon buckets full of water for the bathroom, pitchers full for drinking and cooking and gallon jugs full for the animals and washing dishes. Thankfully the power only went out twice and it was during the night and only long enough to have to reset the clocks. Here’s a pictorial of how the storm grew as the night went on:
Here’s what we woke up to yesterday morning:
We’ve muddled through with no major crisis and hubby has to start over this morning cleaning out the drifts to all the animals to feed. I’m keeping the fires going and cooking. Today is a good day for a pot of homemade venison/vegetable soup!!
Smoking the hive a little to calm the bees so he can check this hive. It’s never been real productive but swarmed a lot. This year he added a brood box and an extra super and they working their little hearts out. They swarmed one this year about three weeks ago and instead of leaving the farm they went into one of the hives that died last winter. I guess when they were robbing the old honey out of it they figured it’s a nice new place to bring a new queen.
He loads the supplies on the ATV and moves closer to the hives to work. It works well and has room to work without bringing the bees back to the garage.
This is the smoker he uses. It’s old but still does the job. I save all the worn out jeans and he tears them into strips, uses his lighter to set it on fire and stuffs it in the smoker and pumps the bellows to get it going good.
This fine, soft bristled brush is used to gently sweep the bees off the frames after removing from the hive. Sometimes the bees are persistent about hanging on but soon leave for the hive.
Now you’ll see how he prepares the frames for replacing in the supers. The bees could make their own starter comb but this way it’s set in straight and they work from that foundation to make the smooth honey he cuts from the frame.
He took honey out of the supers a couple weeks ago and then took some more this week. Most of the flowering they use this time of year makes darker honey. We like the lighter, sweeter honey so he takes off what we want to use and sale now before they add the dark nectar to the frames. We have mostly quarts right now of honey with comb and a few pints of strained honey. I’m still cleaning up wax all over the kitchen. We sell the quart with comb for $9.00 and the quart strained for $14.00. The pints with comb are $7.00 and the pint strained is $9.50. We lost five hives last winter and honey is in short supply and we had to raise the price this year to restock the frames and comb. The supplies are so expensive but the end result is awesome!!
This summer we have been overrun with groundhogs. Normally, these varmints are out in the hayfields or the woods but this summer we’ve got then building their houses under every building on the farm and that’s a lot og groundhogs. Hubby believes that there’s really not that many more than usual. He thinks we just see them easier because they have moved out ot the fields and woods due to coyote pressure. We even had on build a home under and between the apple house and the cellar which has a small garage attached to it. This year I laid my onions on a board in the dirt floor of the garage to dry some before hanging them. The first batch did well and we got them hung but the second batch which was mostly white onions were eaten by the creature and hubby found out before they eat the whole batch.
They’re destructive little creatures and will eat up a garden in a heartbeat!
I left work this morning with it raining again. The weatherman says there a possibility of flash flooding again. We still have less than half of our hay put up but already have almost as much hay as we did last year rolled. I keep telling my kids that if we have as much snow this coming winter as we had rain this summer that we should all be preparing for lots of quiet time at home by the wood stove and possibly without electricity. I think I’m going to prepare both of them an emergency weather kit for their homes just in case. It’ll be up to them to fill the food cabinets and prepare for some kind of heat. Here’s the rain guage as of last Sunday:
I know it’s hard to read but we’re just 1/10th of an inch from 7 1/2 inches for July. We got 6 1/2 in June and 5 1/2 in May. Rained expected today, all day should put us up to the 8 inch mark and more rain expected the first day of August. What will we get if hurricanes come up the coast in September and October like they normally do? Do I sound like a “worry-wart”?? The sunshine sure did feel good Monday and Tuesday. Keep those umbrellas handy!!
We started out with six hummingbirds in mid-April and then it got cold and up until two weeks ago we only had one. I kept the fresh nectar out for him and finally we have five which I hope will multiply soon.
Normally I have five to seven feeders on the front porch by now but they’re only using the two and I’m refilling the feeders about twice a week.
I love these little guys and could watch them for hours. I make sure they have plenty of their favorite flowers in the yard as well.
They’re quite territorial at the moment and they whizzed right in front of my face and caused Sassy to change positions on the porch for fear of getting “hummed”!!
Everything was either coming out with bloom or full of bloom and we had two nights of frost around the 15th of May. The English walnut and pecan were burnt bad. Some of the apples, peach, cherries and pears were blooming really full and got the frost but we may still have a little fruit. Last night we had frost but not heavy and it didn’t hurt the tomatoes but hubby expects it again tonight.
On my way into work this morning was much cooler than the last few days but the beauty I saw was so peaceful. Try to imagine this without pictures.
- Fields of orchard grass waving in the wind and looking like waves of green water.
- A sky so blue that you think you’ve never seen that blue before.
- Small, scattered, wispy, white clouds trying so hard to invade the blue sky.
- Full grown brown rabbits sitting along the road enjoying the warmth of the sun.
- Flocks of barn swallows flitting together overhead like aircraft gracing the skies in formation doing their intricate stunts
- A huge United States of America flag gently waving in the wind.
- Gorgeous orange poppies in flower beds bending gracefully try to touch one another.
- A long legged doe gently grooming her fawn while trying to hide in the tall orchard grass.
- Green leaves fluttering like butterflies in the tops of the trees.
- Quiet country road with no traffic but me until I come to the main roads.
Country life is so precious, peaceful and quiet!!
Like several farmers we’ve spoken to, our honeybees didn’t fair well this winter. We had eight hives and lost all but two.
One of the two hives is very active and the maple tree pollen is heavy this year. The other hive has never been real strong and swarms itself to death every spring. We are going to try a couple of changes this year, one of which, is bringing in a new queen.
Time will tell but we have to work fast since the orchards are full of apple buds and will blossom full in the next week to 10 days.
Hubby has cleaned up all the hives that didn’t make it and have them ready to try to catch some swarms a little later. The hives that made it will now have two chambers for raising brood and when the right bloom pops out in the forest fresh supers will be placed on each hive for honey making.
We have so many honey customers that depend on us each year to provide the liquid gold that is a big commodity these days. I’ve been asked to place it in our local artisan center but it doesn’t last long enough to get it there. Now, we sit back and wait and pray that we will be blessed with lots of the sweet nectar.