Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Candy Cane's Passing



Sadly, our little dog, Candy Cane, passed away last night. Two years ago, the vet told us she had a bad heart. When I took her to the vet yesterday he told me her heart was only working at 50% capacity.  She died while I held her and stroked her head.  







Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who Brings The Sting?


Honeybees are much less likely to sting than you think they would.  

I've pulled honey supers off their hive, brought them into the sugar house, and spun out the honey, while having 20 or more honeybees flying around me in the room - without a single sting.  I watch the bees while I work and it seems like they just want to get a little bit of honey and get the heck out of there!    

I've seen honeybees sting for two reasons: (1) Their hive is being invaded.  When you're working the hives, there are always those guard bees who make it their mission to sting you.  They are very upset and they are the ones who fly directly in front of your face, outside the mesh of your bee suit hood, with a high pitched, very angry, whine sound from their wings.  Who can blame them though?  You've just ripped off the roof of their house and started poking around!  (2) Their personal space is invaded.  Occasionally, if you actually put your thumb on a bee, or step or sit on one, they will sting you. 

A honey bee really doesn't want to sting you - it means death to the bee!  Let's say you're sitting out on your lawn chair enjoying a cool drink and a honeybee comes buzzing around you.  It might be attracted to the smell of your flowery perfume, or you may be sitting right where there are some particularly succulent flowers.  Once the honeybee finds out that the flower smell is big being it is most likely to buzz off to other flowers.  Sit still one day and watch what the honeybee does.  

Bumblebees too, I've found are very docile unless they're personally attacked.  You can watch a bumble bee collect nectar and pollen from inches away and they'll completely ignore you.  One time I had a bumblebee fall down my shirt and, oh yes, it stung me more than once before I could get it out!  

I don't have too much experience with yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bald faced hornets, but I've heard they're much more aggressive.  I know people who have accidentally encountered their nests and come out with multiple stings.  

I apologize that this graphic overruns my page.  I had to set it up this way to make it large enough to read.  I found the graphic on Pinterest and would be very happy to give credit to the creator if they would contact me.     






There's an interesting error in this graphic.  It shows an ear of corn as being dependent on bee pollination.  Corn is wind pollinated.  As the corn plant tassels (the golden tops that resemble mop heads), it opens its packets of pollen. At the same time, silky strands become exposed on the lower portion of the plant (where the corn that we eat grows). The pollen from the top of the plant must reach the silk. In the fields, this is done solely by wind and luck. Once the silk is covered in pollen, each strand will become a kernel of corn, and an ear of corn will start to form. 

Although corn is mostly wind pollinated, almost every other vegetable or fruit depends on bee or insect pollination.














Monday, April 25, 2016

Fruit Tree Class Available!

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I have LOTS to blog about.  I just have to find the time to get inside and do it!  I came across this notice for a fruit tree class held in the next town over and it looks like it would be very informative!  

We have an old, half dead fruit tree at the back of our property.  It doesn't get very many apples, but what it gets are quite sweet!  Every year for about the past seven years I've said I want to graft from that tree and never have.  Maybe this will give me the motivation to get it done!

Here is the information for the class.... Maybe I'll see you there!




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Disaster Strikes... Or.... The Other Shoe Dropped

We had such a relatively mild winter this year that I kept waiting for that one last shoe drop of a cold snap.  

Oh boy, did we get it!  It started with a freakish wind storm which destroyed the cover of our high tunnel and then carried on up the hillside to tear lots of shingles off my neighbors' houses.  

We were sad about our high tunnel cover, for sure!  This adds one more job, and expense, to a long spring list.  But, we got almost twice the life that we expected from the cover so we couldn't cry too much!   



Crazy wind always seems to blow in a weather change and although I had spent this day in a t-shirt and jeans, snow and drastically dropped temperatures quickly followed.  It was 11-degrees outside this morning!  Brrrr!

But I spent my day of sunshine (I think) productively.  I went morel mushroom hunting.  According to everything I've read, these little morsels should be coming up now.  Unfortunately, in all my questing didn't find a single thing that looked like a mushroom.  Maybe it's still a little early for my area.  

But the search was not a total loss.  I found some fresh wild leeks, or ramps.  I only dug a few because they are very pungent.  When picking ramps, be sure to always leave some in the area so that they can regenerate.  I made a simple little dip with mayonnaise, cream cheese, and finely chopped ramps.  At first the dip was ho hum, but after the flavors melded for awhile in the refrigerator - wow!  


There's a little place out on a peninsula of forest in the middle of a field where these beautiful daffodils grow.  There are no houses or even signs of a house anywhere near where they grow.  It's interesting to speculate how they got there and who planted them.  I don't speculate why though; I think it's just for the joy of creating an area of simple beauty.  



This twisted old hawthorne tree is so interestingly shaped.  Look how it grew back together at the top. 


And now, back at the farm.  I found that the garlic I planted last October is sprouting.  Notice the chicken wire covering the patch?  That's because chickens seem to find it irresistible to dig up the thick mulch covering the garlic.  Then they damage the young shoots and I lose part of my crop!  This makes it impossible to dig in and they don't seem to like to walk on it.  





Now I'm hoping this cold snap blows through quickly and we can get back to spring!


We still have ONE Idaho Pasture Piglet available.  It can go to it's new home in the middle of April.  Email the "Contact Me" link above to the right or call if you're interested.  814-274-7825.  Please leave a message with your phone number if there's no answer.  We might be working outside!  We'll get back to you ASAP.









    



Monday, March 21, 2016

Idaho Pasture Piglets For Sale



As seen in the January/February issue of "Grit" magazine. Tired of pastures that look like a bomb struck? 

Idaho Pasture Pigs are bred to be grazing pigs rather than rooting pigs. After the first year in your pasture, your pigs will simply eat the grasses rather than root them up.  

IPPs are a smaller pig and perfect for the small homestead farmer. They have a delicious, richly flavored, more marbled meat. 






For more information about Idaho Pasture Pigs, click on the page link at the top of this blog for Idaho Pastured Pigs. 

Breeding Pairs $700, Gilts $350, Boars $350, Barrows $125. 

Please use the "Contact Me" bar to the right if you're interested and for more information.  




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Planting Crocuses (Or Croci - Either Is Correct)


The honeybees have been making forays out into the bleak, bleak, grey and brown world of very early spring.  I feel so bad for them because there is just nothing for them out there - until I noticed this busy little honeybee on one of my crocus.  



I know it's important to feed the bees in the spring, but it must be so completely satisfying for them to be able to bring back something natural to the hive.  This honeybee forager is fulfilling her role in life!  

So, I vowed that this spring, I will plant many, many more crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and other early-spring blooming flowers, just so these poor, hardworking bees can fulfill their destiny!

I'm looking forward to the emergence of the smiling faces of the first dandelions and the abundance they bring to the unfortunate bees!  









Friday, March 11, 2016

Harbingers Of Spring


In the heart of winter, it's hard to even remember what the world felt like when it was warm and green.  But slowly and inexorably the earth turns and the seasons begin to shift.

The temperatures have climbed up to the 60s!

This year, due to being over scheduled and overwhelmed, we decided to take off a year from maple syrup production.  It looks like we picked the proper year for it because I think the season is going to be (sadly, for the producers) very short.  The warm temperatures will make the trees get buds and the sap gets yucky.  It gets a slimy look to it and a kind of nasty smell and that's the end of the season.  

The red wing blackbirds are back and their familiar trill can be heard throughout the day.  And I had heard that there were robin sightings, but didn't believe it until I finally saw some myself.  The red breast of robins and their cheerful little chirps definitely mean spring is on it's way.  

Then there's one final sign of spring.  All the animals are shedding.  Violet the goat, looks like a refugee from a yarn factory.  She has long, angora-like fur and it comes off her in ropes.  Yesterday, I gave Bandit a good combing and I think I could have made another horse out of the hair I took off him!


Happy, Happy Spring!


Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"



Now, I'm waiting for that one more wintery blast.......