Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Think That I Shall Never See......

... a tree as lovely at this one! :)

This is our Seckel pear tree -- one that rarely ever produces much fruit (except last year!). However, it is such a gorgeous tree in form, leaf and bloom that we just enjoy gazing at it. And to think that the original Seckel pear at this site was cut down by my grandfather for being "unproductive" and this wonderful specimen valiantly grew back from the root. It deserves the spotlight.

Thought I would just post up some random shots I took over the last week around the garden and farm, to celebrate spring and upcoming summer. (You can click on any of these photos to see them larger in the window)

Our new bees are making themselves at home, and seeming to thrive well in the new hive. (the duct tape on the hive is from when we transported it - to help the boxes hold together).


our Asparagus line

This is turnips that Steven is letting go to seed, so we can have our own seed. This takes quite a bit of patience, because you have to let the turnips fully grow, leave them in the ground over the entire winter, and wait to see which ones survive and send up these blooms in the spring, then wait for the seed. It's almost a two-year process.

Strawberries are blooming!



Steven's fledgling fruit trees -- I think he has over 10 new trees in the orchard area.

Potatoes are peeking through!

One of our Cayuga hens. Still looking for a new drake.

Alas, our pigeons have flown the coop. We thought perhaps they had become used to the feed enough that they would stay, but such was not the case. So we have plans for new pigeons for the loft, as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pigeon Loft

Steven was able to finish his pigeon loft last week, so his poor birds could get out of their little cages and have some room to spread their wings.

They seem to thoroughly enjoy it. They both are very docile birds, and we still haven't determined gender for sure; but they are nice to have around.

He allows them outside during the day -- but they never stray far from the barn (thankfully). They know where their food is! And we can shut them up inside the loft if we choose to -- which we will probably do this fall when dove-hunting season is in full swing around here.

For now, though, they seem happy to just fly out to the roof of the barn and perch there to look around. Too bad we don't have a cupola on the old pole shed!

Steven also still has 47 duck eggs in the incubator. Another week or more before we know if we will get any ducklings. What would we do if all 47 eggs hatched??? I suppose some would go to the poultry auction.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bee Cut-Out

Okay, we finally did it!

This past weekend, in the heavy drizzle/sometimes soaking rain, we got our honey bees. :)

Friends had a hive of bees which had taken up residence in the basement window well of their brick home, behind a piece of plywood covering. These bees had been there probably at least five years or more - it was a very well-developed hive.

We have been working toward the goal of getting these bees since late last summer - up to this point the weather was never right for the bees to survive the move. We aren't really sure it was right this time either - we did lose a lot of bees to the rain in the process.

However, the rain also seemed to help us control the bees quite a bit. Because it was a heavy mist, they really couldn't sting us very well - it was all they could do to voice their buzzing protests. Steven and I were both surrounded with swarms of them at many various times, but neither of us got stung, that we noticed.

We had to improvise some, because we really planned on leaving our hive bodies on the truck and using the truck tailgate as a work surface, but the yard was too wet to drive the truck back into the site.

Took us five hours (not including drive time - including drive time it was seven hours) for this project. By the end of it we were soaked to skin, chilled to the bone, but very glad we had our bees, and hopeful they will survive the transition to our bee hive at the farm.

I forgot to take my camera, and so these poor photos are from my cell phone, but we don't have any of the actual process of cutting the brood comb and fastening it into our frames, etc. because.. well, we were just a bit too busy at that point to take photographs. And the bees were just a little too prolific and riled up for anyone else to get close enough for photos of the process.

(Us suiting up. I know I look dorky and fat (on the left)
but I had on several layers. The nylon jacket I have on over it all,
during the rain, made it impossible for the bees to even land or hang onto me)

Steven beginning to open the hive area in the window well. As you can see, I was already getting quite a bit of rain on my phone camera.

(the exposed hive before we began cutting out the comb,
as we began transferring the bees to our hive.
The top half there is brood comb, etc. but you can also see wax
and old comb hanging down in the bottom of the opening)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Evening of Relaxation

There are never-ending projects on any farm (as all you other farmers know) and sometimes you need to take an evening and take a break.

Such was this past week when one day I came home from work and Steven said, "Let's go fishing! The fish are biting!" (He had determined it was perfect fishing weather by observing how the fish in our stock tank were acting). There was a storm in the forecast, the barometric pressure was changing, and it was indeed a perfect evening for fishing.

So we quickly loaded up the tackle and poles, dug a few worms, and headed down to our ponds. (I always enjoy an excuse to go fishing).

Steven was exactly right -- they were definitely biting. Seems we got nibbles or bites every time we dropped anything into the water.

Most of the time, we seemed to keep catching small-size bass -- not big enough to eat, although fun to keep hauling in. We would release these further down the ponds, to keep from catching the same ones over and over.

I caught this little pretty sun perch (which we threw back, of course) but shortly after that I happened to get a strike by a large fish -- we know his size because he jumped high and thrashed-- and promptly broke my line! (I sure hope he's not still swimming around somewhere with a hook).

Anyway, as he broke the line, my bobber went flying, so Steven decided to try to "snag" the bobber with his line to bring it back ashore. He had a top-floating popper on his, and he would cast across and try to get the lure to catch on the float as he reeled his line back across it.

He was unsuccessful in snagging the float, though, because about that time his line got hit by this beauty! :

We took this nice fish home and broiled him for supper! He was superb! (oh, and we eventually go the float, as well - as it drifted back to shore!) We were there later than planned and it was very dark by the time we drove back through the pasture for home, but we certainly had a wonderful time!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Potato Planting

Well, first I should mention that our big planned project for the weekend, the bee cut-out, got postponed for a week. :(

We had everything set and ready to go remove a wild bee hive from a wall of a home (where it is not wanted) and transplant it to our bee hive (where it is very much is wanted). However, when that cold front charged through over the weekend, and the winds were gusting to 53 mph, with the temps barely hitting 40 as a high, our expert beekeeper friends said it would probably be best (for the health of the bees) to defer this job until next week if possible. That is mainly because last night and tonight are going to be hard freezes (record cold tonight, they said) and this kind of move and recovery is very hard on bees -- we want to do everything we can to give them the best chance of successfully making the transition. The cold will also be affecting the very blossoms that will be needed for the bees to thrive in the new location. So we need a few warm days. Pray that next weekend will work out, weather-wise. I don't even care if it rains on us, as long as it doesn't make it too muddy to drive the truck into the bee site.

One thing that did get accomplished this weekend was finally getting potatoes in the ground. I am very late with this, I know. Tilled up the potato garden area (north area -- separate from our main garden, and west of our orchard) and put in 10 pounds of Cobbler seed potatoes, 5 pounds of Kennebec, 5 pounds of Viking, and 5 pounds of Russet. Will probably put in more in the future. After working on that for several hours, it truly gave me a deep appreciation for the part of The Farmer Boy (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) that talks about them hand planting and watering 5 acres of potatoes. I can only imagine!