Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just A Couple of Funny Tidbits

I returned from visiting my daughter, who is in the Air Force stationed in Germany, last week.  What a great trip and how awesome it was to spend time with her!  While I was gone, I talked to my husband and asked if he was taking care of the garden - mostly, keeping it watered.  He said he was.  And I asked if he was enjoying all the fresh tomatoes.  He said he didn't know why, but they just weren't ripening!  The weather had turned cool and rainy, so I suggested he put down the sides of the high tunnel to make it warmer inside.  Which he did.  Still no ripe tomatoes!

I came home from my trip and went out to the garden and this is what I picked...

Never ask a man who is color-blind and can't very well tell between red and green if the tomatoes are ripe!

A day later I was brushing down the horses and our dog, Ladybird, a young Viszla with boundless energy, was right behind my horse Loch and he pooped on her head!

Add dog bath to the list of chores!  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Chicken Killer

You know there's something wrong when you go out to the chicken pen and there's a vulture sitting on that back tall fence.  Then, another vulture flies up as you walk towards the chicken yard.  

Sure enough, the vultures were after TWO chicken carcasses - I found the third one later.  Sometimes death comes quickly to the chicken yard and it's usually easy to guess what it might be....

...Skunks don't usually eat chickens - just the eggs.
Opposums usually eat only the chicken's head.
Raccoons eat everything.

We, thankfully, haven't had experience with rats, weasels, or bears.  (My neighbor had a bear tear apart his chicken coop and kill six chickens - all that was left were piles of feathers and a lot of building damage!) 

Something had eaten almost the entire chickens and I was pretty sure it was a raccoon.  We put out two live traps - one in the chicken pen and the second in the turkey pen...

...the next morning

Rocky Raccoon will be relocated far, far away from everyone!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Bee Sting? Here's What To Do.

This weekend I went into the side door of my horse trailer for a lead line that I had stored.

I didn't notice the big grey ball right beside the door.  Then realized I was getting stung!!!  I ran for the back door and quickly realized I would get stung a LOT more times while I fiddled with getting it unlatched.  So I quickly turned and ran past the hive again to get out the front door.


They got me three times: on the wrist, hand, and upper arm.  You could see right where the stinger went in and it was swelling fast.  

The first thing to do (after getting away from the bees - and losing your glasses in the process while you run madly like a wild woman!) is to look for broadleaf plantain.

This plant is magical.

"Plantains have wide-ranging antimicrobial properties besides being anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It can not only soothe insect bites and superficial wounds but prevent infections and accelerate healing. An active biochemical aucubin is mainly responsible for the antimicrobial action of the herb. Another substance allantoin in the herb helps with skin tissue regeneration."

If you look around any untreated lawn you'll find plantain.

Pick a couple of leaves and rub them around in your hands until they're kind of mushy (I've heard people will chew them and spit out the mush to use - I haven't done that.  Blecch.).  I rub them around until they look kind of wet.

Lie the leaves flat over the stung area like a poultice.

Leave them on for ten minutes or so.

I iced the area for five or ten minutes after I removed the plantain and by the end of the day there was a tiny mark where the stingers had gone in with no swelling at all - and by the next day, there was no sign of being stung!

I've done this with honey bee stings and other insect bites with the same excellent results.

If you're a person who likes to work and play outside, the broadleaf plantain is a very good plant to get to know!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Bees and Berries and Mow and.....

What do you do when you realize it's been a looooong time since you last blogged?  You just start blogging again!

So much to catch up on and it won't happen today because here is my "tentative" plan for the day....


So I hope to take a look at the bees, pick the bursting crop of blueberries and raspberries, mow some of the yard, pick up and vacuum the house, and brush and ride my horses.  Not much.  I know that it's not really realistic that it will all get done either.

The blueberry bushes are loaded! 

This is my "fight the Japanese beetles" plan.  Every year the beetles show up just about the time the berries are getting ripe and decimate my crop.  This year a put the sheerest row covers I could find over the plants and had no beetle destroyed berries.
(The dark shape is my labrador retriever, Daisy.  She finds a little shade by the row covers.  She has to be close to me but the old girl is really suffering from the heat)

I wait until the berries are bursting with sweetness and sometimes there are berries that get mushy.  Those go into a bucket for the chickens... or they're pitched over my shoulder into the turkey pen as the turkeys gobble at me and wait for these little treats to fall from the sky.

Time to get to it!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summer Is Here!

Every single day I walk outside, sigh, and say,
"I love summer."  
We finally have beautiful summer weather!

Of course, this is a crazy time in the gardens and I'm so far behind! It seems like we went from having no grass to having grass up to my waist!

But I always love to take a few minutes to look at the birds and the insects.  I feel sorry for people who feel they have to clear every dandelion out of their lawn because they miss so many interesting insect sightings!  (Plus, it's a great first food source for the honeybees)

It's fun to see how many different pollen and nectar collectors one can find!

After the dandelions faded everything else burst into bloom and my Miss Kim lilacs are gorgeous!  The almost overpowering scent draws butterflies like a magnet!

I was a little sad to see this monarch, because monarchs, to me, are harbingers of autumn.  I did a little research and found that this is not a monarch butterfly, but the black line near the bottom of its wing tell me it's a look-alike butterfly named the Viceroy butterfly.

The gardens are calling.  Enjoy a beautiful summer day!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Whose Eggs Are These?

As I was working on my high tunnel yesterday, I came across this nest with the prettiest little blue eggs.  They're smaller than a robin's egg and I wondered from whom they may have come?  

I did some research, and my thoughts are they are either bluebird (good!) or starling (bad!)

Your thoughts?

(BTW, the electrical conduit isn't hooked up to anything)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's Been A Tough Spring

Wintertime weather refused to go away this year and it was really tough to be optimistic when we had freezing temperatures right up until May 1st.  Everyone's topic of conversation began and ended with the terrible weather.  Now, finally, the weather has changed to decent springtime temperatures and things are starting turn green.

But also on the farm, we had some other failures.  The maple season was not good for us.  We didn't get near the amount of sap we had hoped to get and so our maple syrup levels are low.  Fortunately, we have a barrel left over from last year that we can bottle.  It was frustrating to put in so much work and just not get the return.

Our pig, Marmalade, from whom we anticipated a nice litter of piglets, never "took."  We never got a litter of piglets from her.  After a while, we gave up from having her in the barn and now she is back out on the pasture.  She's fortunate that we have a freezer full of pork.  She would have been made into bacon.  She's going to get one more chance to produce next year.  If she doesn't produce next year then she goes to freezer camp. 

And lastly, and most sadly, my horse, Lady Bella Mellini, died.  

She was lying down a lot and seemed off her feed and not pooping regularly, so I called the veterinarian and we gave her medication and treated her for colic.  She rallied and then went back to not being "right".  So Fitz gave her more medication and a really nice dose of mineral oil.  She acted much, much better - her normal self - and we put her out in the pasture with the other horses on Tuesday.  She happily grazed and walked around the pasture.  Wednesday morning I checked on her and I saw her walking around with her head down and far out in the pasture I saw her lie down again.  I thought, "I'm going to go get her and bring her to the barn where she'll be more comfortable".  As I walked out to her I saw her start pawing and when I got to her I could tell she was in the last stages of her life.  The veterinarian said that we didn't know her history and really were guessing at her age and there may have been some kind of internal growth or another type of failure that the medication and walking alleviated temporarily.  But, there may not have been any way of saving her.   

Lady was my first horse and even after being affected with an atrophied shoulder (and being unrideable) by lightning that killed another horse in the pasture, I was happy to have her as a pasture pet and let her live out her days in comfort and peace.  She'll really be missed.   

So it's been a really tough spring.