Category Archives: Wildlife

Surveying Cellar Food Stores_Preparing the Garden Site

The Cellar

The Cellar

I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.

Full shelves from canning season 2016!

They were completely full in October but now supplies are dwindling!

We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months.  I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting.  They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.

Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.

We use the Kubota tractor for plowing.

Our garden site has very rich soil and always produces more than we can eat and preserve.

It also seems to get bigger each year!!!  This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.

Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year.  In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already.  I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one.  I bought this red grape to replace it.

It’s a red seedless grape and I love them. Hope they get as large as the one’s we buy in the grocery but know it will be a couple of years before that happens.

We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.

Dwarf red delicious – once this starts bearing fruit we’ll take cuttings from it and graft to some new root-stock or some wild apple trees we find every year on the farm that we’ll transplant to the orchard.

Dwarf yellow delicious-dwarf trees don’t last as long as standard trees but they give you fruit quicker.

This is a dwarf McIntosh which is hubby’s favorite. We have one tree in our large orchard but it’s really old and we lose an old standard about every year.

This is the mansion orchard where the dwarf trees will be planted. The pond is close by and a mountain spring runs through it to make for easy watering.

Last years grape arbor is where the new red grape will be planted and is right beside our garden.

 

 

 

Feed the Birds From the Garden

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen house door is opened.

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen-house door is opened.

Part of the bird feeding station.

Part of the bird feeding station.

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.

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

 

 

 

Another feeder in the back yard.

Another feeder in the back yard.

The wildbirds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!

The wild birds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!  The bucket holds walnuts that I gathered in the fall, dried and de-hulled for the squirrels.  The bluejay like them too.  The metal feeder, box feeder w/gallon jar and the gourd feeder are all handmade.  At the back-end of the station is another handmade feeder with four sections which the wrens prefer over the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collection of birds grows with each year:backyard-birds-2016-7 backyard-birds-2016-6 backyard-birds-2016-9 backyard-birds-2016-1 backyard-birds-2016-14 backyard-birds-2016-17 backyard-birds-2016-19 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-3 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-8 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-9 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-10 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-11

Furry Friends Enjoy the Back Yard

We have some fox squirrels that keep the feeders empty all year round.  I’ve made a point of gathering walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts for our squirrels every year.  We’ve had a few lean years in the way of food for all of the wildlife.  We have orchards for the deer to feed in but these guys will move out of the area if there isn’t any feed and we love watching them from our kitchen window.  I found out last year that all of the excess sweet corn at the end of the growing season is also great for the cattle but the squirrels, wild birds and deer will eat the sweet corn after it dries up.  We pick it off, shuck it, and then lay out on a screen to dry and then store the whole ear in barrels with a lid for the really bad winter when the ground is covered with snow and ice for long periods of time.  We saw a small buck in the garden last night digging up frozen turnips too.  If you love watching the wildlife as much as we do, help them out a little.  Baby, it’s cold out there.

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Eddie built this squirrel feeder about 10 years ago and the wildlife still love it. You’ll laugh yourself to death when you see a full-grown squirrel in that gallon jar!!!

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This guy watches me when I’m moving around in the kitchen or the bathroom.

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Season changes and colder weather

The porch is covered with dried firewood.

The porch is covered with dried firewood.

The yard is covered with leaves.

The yard is covered with leaves.

The perennials are black, wilted and almost gone.

The perennials are black, wilted and almost gone.

The trees are getting bare.

The trees are getting bare.

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                Fall colors on the farm before the first freeze.

Fall colors are red one minute.

Fall colors are red and golden one day.

Apple trees are bare with a few red apples left hanging.

Apple trees are leaf bare with a few red apples left hanging.

The flower beds are empty.

The flower beds are empty.

The trumpet vine covering the gazebo is no longer green.

The trumpet vine covering the gazebo is no longer green.

Little mountain is brown instead of red and golden.

Little mountain is brown instead of red and golden.

I love early fall but after the first freeze everything changes.  We’re actually shocked that the pasture and hayfields are still as green as they are and the yard.  Old man winter is touching us in many way but thankfully not as hard as last year when it started bitterly cold in late October and didn’t let up.

Bundle up and get out and walk in the woods while you still can!!

Beavers are destructive creatures

One of our neighbors has a small farm behind our farm and a small spring runs through their property, through ours and on into Sinking Creek.  Last year a beaver moved into their part of the stream and they love watching them.  Well, now part of their farm has become flooded due to the activity of the beavers and they have raised kits which have moved further down stream to our property which is now flooded.  They raised kits and their family moved to the next farm adjoining us.  Hubby has been trying to destruct their dams on our property a couple times.  Here’s pictures of the dam before the destruction:

2014 views and maple syrup 008 2014 views and maple syrup 007 2014 views and maple syrup 006 2014 views and maple syrup 005 2014 views and maple syrup 004 2014 views and maple syrup 003

They have cleared out a big area of brush and young trees on the neighbors side of the fence to build this home of theirs.  On Monday, hubby took the tractor, hip waders and cable with treble hooks down to the dam built on our side of the fence and ripped it all out and the water had receded that had raised to the fourth strand of high tinsel wire.

Even from a distance you can see the difference once the dam was torn out and released.

Even from a distance you can see the difference once the dam was torn out and released.

The lake is back to a stream.

The lake is back to a stream.

The entire fence is visible without the dam.

The entire fence is visible without the dam.

The smaller dam below the larger one is broken up too.

The smaller dam below the larger one is broken up too.

Big difference!

Big difference!

Hubby called this morning to make sure I made it to work with problems since we had another snowfall during the early morning hours.  He had driven down the holler to check on the dam and during the night the entire dam had been rebuilt overnight as well as the smaller one.  The destruction continues and they have killed some fruit trees in their habitat building.

And NO, I don’t have a picture of the culprit because they work at night while I sleep and I won’t give up my sleep for a beaver!!

The Nasty Beasts are Back

I’ve said in the past how much I detest and despise coyotes.Well, we have almost a month to go for the first spring calf to arrive and nasty beasts are back.  Hubby set snares and has caught two, one young male and this huge male that’s probably two – three years old.

Huge coyote male snared 02/2014

Huge coyote male snared 02/2014

 

If there’s males around there’s bound to be females and their mating season will soon begin if not already.  This brute could take a newborn calf away from it’s mother in a matter of seconds.  A month old calf in a few minutes if it’s not with the herd.  Of course, these cows always decide to calve out in the woods alone and the babies are then easy prey, especially with canines like these:

Two to three year old male coyote.

Two to three year old male coyote.

There’s open season on them and several trappers are trying to help but Mother Nature gives them the inate sense to breed larger welps when the group get’s killed out or dies out.  We’ve lost too many babies to these predators and stopping them is essential to our farm profits each and every year.

Coyote snared 02022014 (5) Coyote snared 02022014 (11)

 

Not only do they kill the calves but they devastate the deer population, all livestock and will kill your pets.

Coyote snared 02022014 (9)

Coyote snared 02022014 (8)

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this post but everyone needs to be aware of the problems this creature creates for farmers.

 

More trees

We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight.  Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.

We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples.  Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees.  Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.

We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success.  I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established.  Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft.  At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.

DSCN0655Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live.  When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established.  We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer.  We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather.  Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.

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Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.

We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait.  Our biggest challenge will be the deer!!  The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of  deer.  Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off.  To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree.  We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then.  Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them.    So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!

 

Preparing for first arrival of hummingbirds

DSCN3259                                                                                                                                                   Cleaned and ready to fill.

 

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Waiting for hummingbird food to cool and pour into feeder!

 

I know it’s still cool but I always put my hummingbird feeders out on the 15th of April and it never fails that they arrive around that week.  I’ve pulled out one feeder and cleaned it.  I make them a mixture of 4:1 water to sugar.  Last year we had over 20 by mid summer and the year before about thirty and they kept me busy filling feeders.  We usually have four feeders on the front porch and so enjoy watching them feed, flutter and fuss as they are very territorial.  This is a picture of last years group.

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Orphans at the farm

I love babies of all kinds and have raised two kids of my own but I’ve also raised several orphan animals and thought I would share some pictures of them.  It’s very gratifying finding them quick enough to get some warm food in them, warm blankets around them and a good warm bath no matter if they’re furbearing or feathered.  Here’s some of my babes:

 

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn't raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn’t raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

 

Sassy - our current baby!!

Sassy – our current baby!!

 

Sassy  & Dandy

Sassy & Dandy

 

Brandy

Brandy

 

Annie and the triplets

Annie and the triplets

Baby

Baby

 

Precious and Bambi

Precious and Bambi

 

Cuddles

Cuddles

 

Little Dan - now he's all grown up.

Little Dan – now he’s all grown up.

 

Baby chicks

Baby chicks

Half grown mallard babies

Half grown mallard babies

 

Baby Dude

Baby Dude

Fuzzy

Fuzzy

 

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Garth

Garth

Roxy

Roxy

I can’t begin to tell you of all of the cats, dogs, fawns, squirrels, calves, rabbits, chicks and ducks I’ve hand raised but I can tell you everyone of them was worth the challenge!!

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Butterfly watering hole

Very small butterflies but hundreds of them!

We were looking for a very special hawk on Sunday afternoon and came across this watering hole for butterflies.  There were yellow ones, orange and black (not Monarch), mini blue ones and small black ones were covering the hole which only had a small amount of water in it.  I didn’t get a good picture of the all of them but there were hundreds of them.  It was beautiful.  They wouldn’t stay on the water if I got close.

Orange and black mini butterflies (not Monarch)

Little butterflies

Friday adventure with a hawk

Young hawk 092012

Friday afternoon I made a quick trip to town for dogfood and when I returned and was coming down my driveway I spotted something sitting in it.  At first I thought it was one of the wild rabbits that frequent there and the closer I got I realized it was a hawk.  Usually they’ll fly when you get close but this one did not.  It was beautiful, young and not afraid of my car at all.  This was very unusual and I stop right in front of it and got out to make sure it wasn’t injured.  When I went around the car, it flew up on a fence post beside the driveway and turned to watch me.  Still not afraid and me WITHOUT my camera.  I quickly got back in my car, went to the house and unloaded the feed and ran in the house and got my camera.  The whole time I was thinking that he won’t be there when I return.  Lo and behold, when I got back to the post he was still there.  I turned my vehicle around and got out of the car with my camera ready for some awesome pictures.  He let me take a couple and then all at once he bobbed his head toward me and flew down on my right shoulder.  I ducked down and he flew back on the post.    I didn’t know whether he wanted but I didn’t think he needed to be on my shoulder.  I took a couple more pictures and he started bobbing again and I decided it was time to get back in the car and leave him alone.  I’m pretty sure he was a very young hawk and may have just fledged from a nest in that maple tree.  I do know he was beautiful and very curious.  Here’s a couple more pictures I got before I left him to hunt.

Four feet away from a bird of prey

Beauty of Nature 2012

 

 

This other beauty was injured by flying into an electrical wire while diving for fish in our pond this spring.  His injuries took his life sometime during the night of the accident.  We call them fish hawks.

 

Fish hawk early summer 2012

 

This was a very big bird and had a three to four foot wing span.

 

Fall is here whether we are ready or not!!

We’ve been talking  a lot , hubby and me, about the signs of a early winter.  I remember as a child hearing my parents and grandparents talking about the signs of a early or bad winter.  One such saying was “If the bees build their nest high in the trees we would have a lot of snow in the coming winter.  The bees are bad at the farm right now and they’ve built nest everywhere.  Some high in the maple trees, some in the buildings, and some in my flower beds.

I posted earlier in the week that the leaves are changing here and the hummingbirds are slowly leaving.  We had around 30 in July and this morning there were only seven at the feeder when I left for work.  This morning there are only three left.  Should we be worried since they usually don’t leave until mid to late September?

We have the woodshed full and the last hay is baled and in the barn.  The equipment has been looked over and put away.  We need to get the calves to market but holding off because “pinkeye” has touched about 10 head and we want them well before they’re shipped out.

The chicken molt is coming to a close and the katydids are screaming every night.  They’re usually not this loud until it about to frost.  The praying mantis are all over the flowers  and in the gardens.    We heard coyotes night before last and from the sound of it they had caught something for supper.  Now we worry about the fall calves that will start coming in mid-September.  The whitetail deer have started losing their velvet and I thought this also happened in late September.

I’ve been watching for the ring around the moon that predicts snow but haven’t seen it “yet”!   Some other weather sayings I heard growing up are if yellow jackets are building their nests above ground, then it will be a wet winter.   If the woolly worm has a lot of wool, it will be a bad winter.  If the squirrels and birds are feeding in the winter, expect a bad snow storm.  For every foggy morning in August, it will snow that many days that following winter.  It has been foggy about 20 days this August and that doesn’t bode well for us.  I’m glad the wood house is full and I’d better get that kindling gathered soon.

Wood house 1/2 full

Have you heard these?

Go by the persimmon seed for the weather of each year, Let the seed ripen then open the seed with a pair of pliers, Inside the seed will be a spoon, and it tells you that there will be a plenty of snow to shovel for the first of the winter.

When wind comes from the east,  It’s not fit for man nor beast.

When squirrels lay in a big store of nuts, look for a hard winter.

Ice in November to bury a duck, the rest of the winter is slush and muck.

Ring around the sun, time for fun. Ring around the moon, storm coming soon.

For every fog in august, you get a snow; the heavier the fog, the more snow you get.

Oh well, I guess time will tell but the way this year has flown by, I predict that winter is “soon” up us!!  Get your chores done and get your winter reading prepared 🙂

Deer and bow season

The cellar shelves are full, it’s almost time to dig the potatoes and fill the potato bin and the freezers have been organized to determine how much venison and turkey we will need for the winter months.  This all leads up to the hunting season in our area.  We, my husband, myself, daughter, and granddaughter are all avid hunters.  My son and son-in-law love the meat from our hunts but don’t like the hunt itself.  By the end of November, the freezers will be full of all cuts of venison and turkey.  We will have cubed steak, burger, chunks, tenderloin, roasts, and hams and all so healthy for us.

Back to the hunt!  We each have our favorite hunting spots on the farm and hubby is our counselor, tracker and processor!  We’ve spotted so many large bucks on the farm already and the turkeys are showing up sporadically.  I won’t have much vacation this year to hunt but Saturdays are always open and I’ll have a late bow season during our Christmas break.

Our daughter and granddaughter are evening hunters and working half days are ideal for her hunting quests and our granddaughter gets home from school between 3:30 and 4:00 which gives her time to get to her stand as well.

We normally have a few friends join us during the hunting season but have decided this year to keep it strictly family hunting.  We have some new neighbors and not knowing their where-a-bouts tends to make us a little skiddish and for safety purposes and liability.  Our county is 60%+ National Forest and we think other hunters would be better in those woods than ours.  In the past we have told all non-family hunters where to go and asked them to stay in their area to prevent any hunting accidents.  These instructions aren’t always followed and that makes us liable for their safety when they move into an area that we may not know is safe from trespassers or others that aren’t staying where they need to be.  Hunting safety is a VERY BIG issue with us!

Don’t get me wrong, we love the sport but we also like to eat and venison is a healthy choice not only for our diet but our pocketbooks.  We want everyone on the farm to be safe and come in with a good hunting harvest and do it safely!!

Happy hunting everyone!!

Small buck in the orchard 2011

Turkeys on the farm fall 2010

Hummingbird summer

Hummingbirds 2012

I was so happy to see these little charmers come to the farm in April.  I always put out the feeders by April 15th and this year they were right on time.  We started with two and then a third arrived.  I made sure there were flowers blooming all spring and through the summer for variety and by the first week of August we had over thirty drinking the nectar we provided for them.  We had five feeders going most of the summer and through July and August the feeders had to be filled daily.  They are big drinkers and feisty when it comes to “THEIR”  feeder.  I was never able to identify more than four males at a time and the females were more territorial than the males.  We noticed this weekend that the flock was dwindling down and we now only have about twelve to fifteen  and I’ve taken down one of the feeders.  I’ll slowly wean them from the feeders as the month goes out and by September 15th through the 25th they should all have started their migration south.  Just another hint of the end of summer!!

Hummingbird on the east side of porch

Fall Color

I’m so looking forward to fall and the beautiful colors that come with it.  To make my wait a little less painful I thought I would share these photos of past autumns at the farm.  ENJOY God’s beautiful artwork with me!

Fall means cider time and Sassy is guarding the apples!

Hen house watch

First hatch at three months old

My chicken flock has grown this summer.  Our hens are raising 16 young chicks and all are doing well at the moment.  I have a couple more hens that want to set but it’s a little late in the season so I’ve penned them up to try to break the cycle.

Our chickens are free range and live off the farm most of the time.  During the winter months I supplement their diet with scraps from the kitchen and occasionally some cracked corn.  I make sure they have fresh water year round in the henhouse but they have access to a mountain spring when they’re out on the farm.

I have to keep a close watch on them from predators.  We have lots of varmints that like to feast on fresh chicken.We had a fox that was catching the neighbors chickens about a 1/2 mile away and bringing them to her den under our barn to feed her kits. We started finding white chicken feathers and trailed her back to the neighbor.
We’ve had coons come to the hen house and take one a night two years ago. I went from 43 chickens to 17 before we caught him. My chickens were so traumatized they started roosting in the trees. We had an old hen house with lots of soft dirt around it that they (varmints) used to get in and drag the poor hens through the holes. We found two hens stuck in the holes and I was mad at the world for the suffering they went through before dying. Hubby dug a trench around the hen house, put up metal sheeting and filled in the trench with large gravel.

So far so good. I’m really amazed the coons, foxes, coyotes and hawks haven’t got some of mine since ours are free roam all over the farm and aren’t pinned up except at night.  We should have plenty of eggs for the fall and winter leaving some to sell as well.

The three bears

We only have four cherry trees on the farm at present.  Three of the four produce pretty decent cherries usually in late May or early June depending on the weather.  My hubby really looks forward to them ripening and he loves cherry pies.  This year only two of the trees outwitted the late frost and produced for us.  Hubby kept checking them and was anxiously awaiting their ripening.  He wasn’t aware that someone else was watching and waiting right along with him.

Guess what??  The critters beat him to them and one of the trees got a very bad pruning.  The smaller of the two was robbed of their fruit by birds and raccoons.  The largest and sweetest cherry producer was invaded by three black bears. On one given day it was visited at the same time by three.  There were two that were probably three years old gageing by their size and then there was the “big boy”.  The last time I got to see them, the two smaller (125-150 pounds) were taking turns up and down the tree and having the times of their lives UNTIL the big guy showed up.  They were pretty quick to leave the area with him around.  The “big boy” stayed for a good while and that’s the last I saw them but hubby watched him tearing that tree to pieces, stripping it clean of all cherries for about two weeks.

After they were all gone and hubby was so disappointed, I went to WalMart and bought him some for the pies and the ice cream.  I froze the last basket to have for out next batch of homemade ice cream because they just won’t keep very well once we get them home.   We were happy to see the bears but not so much when they took all the cherries.  Maybe next spring will be a different story!!

WILDLIFE everywhere!

It’s been coming and I didn’t even realize it!! The woods and fields are alive with new wildlife and new visions of what’s to come. During our evenings on the farm and the chores are done and supper is over we venture to our swing and chairs on the front porch overlooking almost one half of the farm. It’s quiet as we rarely have much traffic on our country road. We listen to the birds, cows calling for their young to come for supper, birds singing, rooster putting everyone to roost and the frogs croaking in the pond but mostly we listen to the quiet of our blissful life.
Yesterday evening just after sundown we were sitting and listening and looking. While watching the cattle on the mountain pasture we saw several mama deer nursing their twins in different side of the hayfield’s below the pasture. We saw five bucks browsing the pasture aside the cattle and you could tell they were bucks because their velveted black horns show up quite well now. Hubby had seen two different snapping turtles laying eggs in the grass along one of the streams that goes through the farm. We didn’t see but we heard a turkey hen in the tall grass in another pasture field to the right of the house. The pond in front of the house if full of baby bass and perch that have just hatched and the lawn is full of blue, yellow, white and black butterflies seeking nectar from the flowers in the yard. We heard a fox squirrel fussing at the dogs that are housed to close to his den tree which should be full of baby squirrels. We have two wild rabbits that are dutifully watching over their new nests of hairless babes covered with Mom’s pulled fur near the garden. The hummingbird population is growing and the honeybees are had at work.
The cherries are getting ripe. The blackberries and raspberries are full of bloom. The quince tree is full of tiny fruit as is the blueberry bushes. The asparagus and rhubarb continue to flourish. The apple trees were full of bloom earlier but the last freeze got most of that crop but we will persevere. The garden is filling with future winter stores. The asparagus just keeps producing. Life is good and we love the farm and living in the country.

They’re back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These lovely creatures returned to our front porch yesterday afternoon while we were having dinner.  I’m so glad I had the fore-thought on Sunday to get the feeders out and sterilize them.  I made a batch of feed for them and filled two feeders just in case they returned.  I watched one ruby-throated gentleman fly around the feeder yesterday afternoon for about an hour.  Last summer we had over twenty at one time and they kept me busy filling the feeders. They also keep the attention of our two cats but they’re way to quick to be caught.

I keep at least four feeders on the front porch and two in the back yard once the little travelers all arrive.  They are amazing to watch and they are vigorous fighters.  That’s the main reason I have so many feeders out.  I also have a lots of their favorite flowers growing in the yard during the summer but for the next couple months I’ll supplement their diet with my own concoction which consists of one cup of sugar to four cups of water.  I bring the mixture to a full boil for five minutes and let it cool before pouring into the feeder.  Normally, I feed them from April 15th through September 30th.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!!

Busy weekend!!

Not only am I proud of the baby quilt I completed but I’m doubly proud of my husband and our fourteen year old granddaughter.  She has become PaPa’s hunting companion and this weekend was the first weekend of Spring Gobbler Season in our neck of the woods.  Victoria decided she wanted to sleep in on Saturday and PaPa went hunting without her.  He had wonderful luck bringing in a 19 pound gobbler with a 7″ beard and we’re going to have a mighty fine feast with it.  We called our daughter and Victoria shortly after he arrived home with the prize and within twenty minutes they arrived at our doorstep to see if Victoria would have the same luck.  They left the house at around 10:30 and were back by 11:10 with a turkey she could hardly carry from her stand.  PaPa said she was pretty excited from the time the turkeys crossed their path until she landed the big one. Apparently she was doing some pretty heavy breathing.  She filled her last permit tag for the season and fared really well during the fall deer season too!  PaPa is pretty proud of his new hunting companion!!

Granny Has a Fight with Deer

I own this wonderful little silver/gray 1991 Dodge Spirit, that’s wonderful on gas.  It has less than 100,000 miles on her and has been wonderful to drive in all weather.  BUT, this morning Granny met her match on Little Mountain Road about two miles from where she lives with the Caldwell family.  She got her name from my adorable granddaughter about four years ago.  She (Victoria) didn’t much care about being seen riding in that “old granny car” UNTIL she learned how to drive it on our 1/4 mile driveway.  From that point on “Granny”  was the only car she ever wanted and had made grand plans I’m sure for the future driver’s permit awaiting her and the ownership of “Granny”.  She occasionally would help me clean her up but mostly she just wanted to drive her from the big barn at the house to the end of the driveway to the other big barn.  Victoria learned fast and drove quite reasonable.  Of course, I was with her and knew if she didn’t she wouldn’t drive anymore.  That’s Nana’s perrogative!!

But, back to this morning when I left home at 6:55 and headed to Blacksburg for work.  I was driving along watching the road as I always do because Little Mountain Road is a gathering place for deer.  Now, I wasn’t distracted by jamming on the radio because “Granny’s” radio died back in the fall and I pretty much just listen to my thoughts.  Well this morning I don’t know what I was thinking about when that deer fell straight out of the sky in front of  “Granny”.  She and I had no time to hit the brakes, scream or even blink and we were hit and hit hard!!  The deer went in the ditch and died almost instantly!  How do I know this–me and “Granny” stopped and took a deep breath.  I knew she (the car) was hurt but didn’t know how bad but I didn’t want to take any chances on driving her to work.  Smart thinking on my part because after we turned around in a neighbors driveway and limped back home to trade out vehicles, I could tell she wasn’t right!  We made it home and when I got home I was horrified at just how bad the damage was.  “Granny” was a wreck!!!  As you can see from the photo, the mean old insurance adjuster will probably declare her totaled and non-road worthy!!  However, I see a very, very dim light at the end of the tunnel and there’s a very small chance that between the junk yards and my hubbie’s mechanical expertise that maybe, just maybe, we will be back on the road again in the near future.   She’ll need a new grill, radiator, lights, hood and front fenders that I know of.  I’ll have hope until she’s loaded up and hauled away.  Until then, I’ll drive my Blazer, rightfully named “Blue Breeze” and try to keep her out of the line of deer and any other critters.

For all of you that travel on our Craig County roads be on the lookout for those mysterious flying deer and always be waiting for the one lurking in the bushes on the side of the road.