Monday, June 11, 2012

An Evening Walk

10 June; kinda hot and muggy but the evening is breezy and drier. We took a walk around the place and saw  turkeys, ducks, a deer, rabbits, turtles and a few other critters. We werent able to get pictures of everything but the turkey had younguns as did the duck and we heard the yipping of coyote pups close by, its that time of year. (Yup, I used "younguns" in the above paragraph.......making my professors proud there eh?)

We tried candy sweets this year and they are so sweet you can eat them like an apple. Your either an onion lover or your not....we love them.

We have taken to harvesting one or two when we need them and we seem to need them a lot so I am not so sure how many we will be putting in the root cellar. Definitely a crop we are going to expand next year. We harvested this baby at the end of our walk and it went into a savory meat loaf and some will be in a frittata for breakfast.
Our various butterfly gardens attract a wide variety of beautiful creatures. These Swallow tails are very gentle and we have had them land on our heads and stay for a good while. We are going to start documenting their sightings like we do birds.
Our "herd". Actually, with the price of beef right now this represents about $4500 worth of animal and we are just waiting for Maybelle to get a little bigger to breed them.
We discovered that the blackberries in the back woodlot where it stays dark were starting to ripen a lot quicker than our main blackberry patches we use for U-pick or than in the other more open wood lot.....seems strange but thats whats happening. It looks like we are again going to have a bumper crop and we have about 2 weeks to go before we start harvest in earnest which will be about a month earlier than normal.
This elusive cat lives in our barn and is completely wild. He seems to get along with the other cats but he wont let any human close and we infrequently get a glimpse of him this close. As long as he goes after snakes and rodents he can stay (not that we could stop him anyway...and we dont have the heart to shoot him).

To the right along the tree line in this picture we were startled by a hen turkey and her poults. The poults couldnt fly so when we came up on them (we didnt know they were there or we would have gone the other direction) the hen started squaking and they all ran down the tree line. On the way back from our walk we scared up a hen duck (couldnt determine type) and her young who for some reason was in the woods on the left of this picture. They all ran to a pond which is just through the woods in the back in this view. To top all this off a doe was laying in some brush near here and she flushed when we walked by.....we feel like we were really intruding here but it was nice to see variety of wildlife.

And so we started heading back, the upper pasture is on a hill an there is usually a nice breeze and it didnt disappoint this warm evening.

According to the Ag people we have enough pasture to support 6 to 10 cattle on pasture without supplemental feeding....but, our second year of drought has all the pastures around here producing half or less than normal and I am glad we are not stressing our pasture. Our girls have plenty, we can still put up a little hay, and we dont have to be too stressed out ourselves over the drought. We are in the process of buying another acre of pasture which adjoins ours and we are going to be leasing some pasture land from a neighbor to grow the herd.

We have ATV trails around the property to check fence lines and I must admit..just to have fun.
Here is another ATV trail and we use them daily. We are more interested in nature than anything else and we often see things on our rides that we wouldnt otherwise see.
Our isolation pasture has a whole bunch of these Queen Anne lace plants which are actually weeds but they are common in praries in this part of the world. Click on it and you will marvel at the intricacies and beauty that nature even provides for what we consider weeds.

We have many projects still hanging out there like this gate to the isolation pasture we need to install. The posts are bedded in concrete and we just need to get around to it....

Our large Day Lilly garden is just starting to bloom as you can see in this picture. These have grown so much we will be dividing them up and planting additional day lilly gardens. Part of that process though is to document the placement and colours of the various types we have in this bed and Judy is busy getting that down so we know what we have. Trust me, once they quit blooming you cant remember what is where.
Our banana trees are spreading and some of the locals are really curious about them. We like the tropical look, Mexican resterants will purchase the leaves, and we will eventually get small "dessert" bananas.
We planted 6 varieties of tomatoes and all are from heirloom seeds we started in our greenhouse. Hybrids often have more vigor and desease resistence but only an heirloom in my opinion gives you the flavour we seek.

We havent harvested any yet but most of the plants are loaded with tomatoes. Like most others around here, we have been attacked by Aphids (you can see some in this pic) and Japanese Beetles. We have had great success with Neem Oil which is an organic extract of a tree bark and in planting sacrificial plants that draw these insects away from our gardens. Hollyhocks seem to draw the Japanses Beetles away their distress.

Knee high by the Fourth of July? Check.

Cabbage and Cauliflower are trucking right along and we should be able to harvest in a couple weeks. We want to try Sour Kraut...or I should say I want to try it. I can eat a bowl full of Sour Kraut just by itself while Holly and Judy think its gross. Thankfully they dont like sadines either but thats another subject!
It took me a while to get this picture because these baby birds move so fast but this nest in in an old molassas barrel we have by the green house. You get dive bombed and harrassed by the mother when you get to close but we pretty much let birds nest where they do. If nothing else we benefit from their insect gathering to feed their young.
Our pea patch is really coming on strong and looks the best it ever has. I dont know how it is for others but fresh peas are hard to beat.
We had a fairly severe storm with some much needed rain sweep through and we found this box turtle up in the orchard. We have these all over around here along with Snapping turtles and we find them worthy of much study. Click on this picture and look at the bigger shot...they are actually extremely interesting creatures.
If you notice there is a hole unde this guy and what looks to be a nest. We left him alone but will be watching the site to record any hatching or other activity.
And finally, the storm that swept through here came with heavy rain and 60mph+ wind gusts that snapped this tree in our wood lot in half about 20 feet in the air. We were lucky, a bunch of folks had flooding, lost crops, had big trees down etc. So that was one evenings walk and some of what we enjoyed. It was very satisfying and I hope we conveyed the breadth of animal and plant life we are fortunate to live with.


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