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Meanwhile Back at the Farm…

May 2, 2011 1 comment
Not Your Average Floor Boards

Not Your Average Floor Boards

A few years back, we had a very large pine tree cut down, and rather then waste the wood in a fire, we had it milled at a local saw mill. When we got the boards back, I was surprised. Some of these boards are 2 feet wide, 14 feet long and an inch thick. This isn’t your average flooring material, but it fits well into the project. The second story will be used for storage, and will need to be able to hold a great deal of weight. These boards are thick enough to hold lots of weight, and their large size helps hold the whole structure together.

First Boards Down

First Boards Down

By Wednesday night, Davie had installed more 2 x 6s to hold up the floor, and he laid down the first boards for the floor. Since Davie is retired, and likes building things, he’s been working on the shed while I’m busy at work. I really appreciate his help, and It’s accelerated the whole project.

Second Story Floor Done

Second Story Floor Done

The next day when I returned home from work, I found the whole floor nailed down, squared off and ready for the knee walls.

Project on Sunday

Project on Sunday

After a crazy weekend full of unexpected outcomes, and unplanned work, we managed to get the knee walls built and nailed down. We then started placing the roof rafters in the rain, and ran out of 2 x 4s.

The design is not how I originally planned, but this new method will add 4 feet of width to the second story. I’m not sure about the math, but 4 feet wide will allow this area to store a lot more hay.  This new design will also transfer the weight of the roof onto the walls below far more effectively, again adding to the whole building’s structural integrity.

Next up: a roof, some shingles, and an addition off the side to house the chickens.  If you’ve been following along, this whole project was originally intended to hold chickens, but I’ve decided to build much bigger then needed, and use some of the space as a wood shop, pig pen, and hay storage. It’s basically a tiny barn.

Additional Construction

Additional Construction

Just like any barn in the area, the birds have decided to move in, and construct their own nest. I may be nice to these birds and allow them to use the structure for the summer, I guess it all depends on how friendly they are. If there not very nice, I’ve got a solution of my own:

"Boots"

"Boots"

Here’s another creature that has moved into this empty building…. “Boots”, my outside cat. He is a contributing member of the farm, and his job is to keep the mice and snakes in check. He’s a eager hunter, and I sometimes reward him with some human food to supplement his cat food. He really likes Angus burgers with pickles…..

First Strawberry

First Strawberry

I’ve also gotten my first strawberry this weekend. I haven’t even planted these bushes in the ground, and they are already showing me how much they appreciate the effort I’ve put into growing them well. For now they are sitting in the greenhouse, basking in the hot sun. When the sky parts, and the rain gives up it’s iron grip on the weather, I’ll place these berries by the walkway leading to the greenhouse.

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Crop Circles ?

August 27, 2010 1 comment
Corn, Greenhouse in the background

Corn, Greenhouse in the background

My niece Jennifer can be a bit of a trickster, so when her and Jessica informed me that a space ship landed in my corn and made a crop circle, I took the news with a grain of salt and didn’t believe them. They insisted that I go look, and I was waiting for one of their friends to come jumping out from the corn in an elaborate attempt to startle me.

Room Sized Area Knocked Over

Room Sized Area Knocked Over

What I found was not other worldly, nor in the shape of a circle, but it surely was worth pondering about. Several areas of corn plants the size of a decent living room had been knocked over. Many of the ears of corn in this section of the garden were not yet ready for picking, and would be lost. It’s not a big problem, as we got carried away and planted way too many rows of corn, but I am left wondering who or what did this ?

More Damage

More Damage

The damage seemed to flow in from the top of the garden, meandering back and forth, and finally exitting near the right edge of the garden. I imagine the only animal large enough to do this would be a bear, or a group of deer bedding down for the night. I couldn’t find any paw or hoof marks, so I’m left wondering: Could wind do this ?

It’s not all bad though, I’ve informed Jenny that she can feed the stalks and underdeveloped corn to her goat, and she smilled from ear to ear. She’s been thinking about getting five more goats, and this would be the supply of food to feed them till she has her mother take her to buy more feed.  We’ve surely planted enough for all, even the animals.

Categories: Corn, Wild Animals Tags:

Working With Nature

August 1, 2010 Leave a comment
Pond Frog

Pond Frog

I visited my sister Sandy this weekend to take some pictures of her puppies. While there, I couldn’t help but take photos from around her pond. It’s about 25 feet wide and I’m guessing 40 feet long, but it’s absolutely loaded with wildlife. The baby fish swim in schools that would rival shots from the Discovery Channel, and frog croaks constantly fill the air. My camera has a very large zoom lens, so from 20 feet away, I was able to get a shot of a pond frog without disturbing him in the least. I would guess this frog is the size of my fist.

Transporting the Turtle

Transporting the Turtle

During the course of the day, a Snapping turtle crossed our paths. I’ve heard these creatures can easily chop off a finger or two, and we decided it would be best if he lived somewhere else. Davie managed to get this turtle into a very old looking barrel. We set of in my car to take the turtle to it’s new home. There is a local project where conservation is in mind, and we thought this would be the best place for this turtle. He would have a small chance of seeing people again, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the kids fingers being missing.

Releasing the Turtle

Releasing the Turtle

Above, Davie coaxes the turtle out of the barrel, into a remote waterway. This will make a nice home for this turtle. The water is usually a bit deeper, and there should be plenty of food for this guy to survive. He’ll be better off here in the wild anyway.

Freedom at Last

Freedom at Last

After being in the barrel for 20 minutes for a ride in the car, I think “snappy” was kinda disoriented. It took him a minute to poke out of his shell, but eventually he did. I really like the pattern of spikes on his tail, which remind me of a Stegosaurus.

So rather then being cruel to nature, we worked with her; rather then hurt it, we simply relocated it. This turtle is now in the middle of a very large forest, in a remote area, where it will forever be free.

Categories: People, Wild Animals

Things that make me say “Wow”.

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment
Kentucky Pole Beans

Kentucky Pole Beans

I’ve seen a very high trellis on a back road, in a far removed garden, and always thought the owner got carried away when constructing it. I guess the beans are the actor getting carried away thought. These beans have been crowding out weeds, shooting skyward, and I’ve just noticed that they are bending the trellis that supports them. In earlier photos, you may remember how the top beams of this trellis were straight across, they’re not anymore. The vines have been acting like little hydralic jacks, and in there upward growth, as they pull themselves up the trellis, they are compressing the space between cross-members. I will need a much taller support in future gardens.

62 day Corn and 75 days Corn

62 day Corn and 75 days Corn

I wanted to show the difference in two types of corn. The corn on the left is Early Sunglow: 62 day, and on the right is Butter and Sugar: 75 day. I’ve grown five types of corn this year adding Peaches and Cream: 85 day, Blue Dent, and a small corn cob producer to the mentioned varieties above. Notice how the tassles are different colors on these type varieties ? The plants on the left are starting to set small corn cobs… I can’t wait, neither can Michelle, a co-worker who loves Sweet Corn.

Okra Setting a Flower

Okra Setting a Flower

Above is an Okra plant, setting what appears to be a flower, which should be followed with… something. I’m not sure what the produce this plant grows will be. This is a whole new plant to me, and I’m happy to see it make it this far. I’ve been told it will only grow when the tempurature is above 80 F, so it has been a good year to try it out.

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

Finally, after being stung by several wasps just a few minutes earlier, I almost walked right into this bumble bee. I was amazed to see the vast amount of what I believe is pollen on it’s hind legs. I took a picture of this not so aggressive bug, and also a video. He worked very fast over this flower, taking care to hit eat pollen producing center, with a speed I wasn’t aware of. He had all of the pollen collected in no time at all.

Categories: Beans, Corn, Wild Animals Tags: , , , , ,

Signs of Growth

July 13, 2010 1 comment
New Growth on an Apple Tree

New Growth on an Apple Tree

I’ve stopped watching the evening news, along with many other changes in my life. I’ve found it’s made me much happier. I no longer track the daily progression of the Dow, nor exchange rates to convert Euro’s to Dollars. These days I focus my attention on the only real growth there is: People and Plants. We both grow, and some times we both need pruning.

The Lettuce Lifter

The Lettuce Lifter

Let’s start by looking at growth which at first seems like a bad thing. Here is one of the pilfers of lettuce. If I had a scope of another trade in my hand, he would be no more. However, I realize this is their home too, and we both share the same eco-system. So long as I can buy lettuce cheaply, I’ll let these rodents go. If the world should take a very sharp turn down, well, I’ve heard rabbit meat is pretty good…. This is sort of like an investment in catastrophe insurance. I’m sure I’ll never get my lettuce back, but if I ever do, it will be well worth it.

Corn Tassel

Corn Tassel

I’ve spotted my first Corn Tassel, which is the male portion of the plant. This is an important sign of growth, indicating that the plant is moving from sheer vertical growth to reproduction… aka producing Corn. They still have a way to grow, but I’ve begun cheating here too. Since the garden is on a slope, I’ve been piling up fertilizer at the very top of the garden. When it rains, the water will carry the nutrients down the hill to all the plants below.

Dwarf Bananas

Dwarf Bananas

The growth isn’t just limited to the garden. My Dwarf Bananas are going Bananas ! The large leaves have grown in the last month, and they go through a cup of water each daily. In about another year they should start bearing little bananas. I’ve also grown a bit. The bay window in the background was recently remodeled by the gardener himself. I got some scrap trim, and with a little bit of work cleaned it off, stained and fit it to this window. I’ve used Birch stain, which just glows in the sunlight. I’m also remodeling my bedroom and hallway in the evening after watering the garden. I quit working on it around 11:30 last night.

All in all, I see growth everywhere. I’ve adjusted to this downturn, as I’ve seen others do the same. In a year or so I predict more gardens, and more Happy People.

Hazel had a Bad Day…

June 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Winds knocked over Hazel

Winds knocked over Hazel

My day started at about 7:00 AM when I heard the siren roaring in Knox. It wasn’t the normal Fire Alarm, but more of a steady siren, warning that a Tornado could pop up at any moment. My immediate concern was for myself, but once I got a good look around, and caught up with the morning news, I wasn’t so worried about myself. I can get in my car and hopefully outrun a storm, but my tomatoes are stationary. If that storm were to land over the garden, It would be wiped out.

Luckily the tomatoes were fine, but Hazel wasn’t so lucky……

Putting the Scare back into Hazel

Putting the Scare back into Hazel

The day got a lot better once the storm passed. I was able to salvage Hazel, and she’s got a huge bag of Scary once again. Here’s hoping she continues to scare the crows.

Categories: General, Wild Animals Tags: ,

Chick Pics, and a Unique Guest

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment
Day One Can Be Rough

Day One Can Be Rough

Some of these chicks were just moved out of the Incubator, and they look quite tired. They have just pecked their way out of some pretty hard shells, and it is their first day. The chick on the left is the youngest, and the one on the right has had a few hours to rest and recover. Notice how the chicks that have been out of the shell for a while have nice fluffy fur, where as the youngest still have wet matted hair. It’s really an amazing transformation.

Chillin Under the Heat Lamp

Chillin Under the Heat Lamp

The striped chick on the left is the most senior, being a few hours older then all the rest.

Lil Buddy

Lil Buddy

 Above is one of my many helpers. They have been checking on the eggs for the last few days, sometimes waking me up at 7:30 AM. It’s a huge help to have these guys, as I work 9-5 most days, and can’t drive home to check on my chicks.

And finally, just as all the other excitement was happening, a guest showed up. This is a pheasant, which is a wild bird native to the area. I’m hoping he and his “wife” have some eggs on the farm, since I rather enjoy seeing them around. George’s free range chickens must have attracted them.
Unique Visitor - A Pheasant

Unique Visitor - A Pheasant

Categories: Chickens, People, Wild Animals