Baby Deer Born

Spotted Baby Deer

In June we had a family reunion at the farm and everyone got a nice surprise! A very large doe came by to eat when she suddenly jumped into the long grass at the side of the house and gave birth to twins!

It was difficult to see, but as we were watching the doe in the grass, suddenly a dark head popped up and looked around and dove back down again. Because it was so hard to see, trying to keep the family inside the house away from the deer was a pain! The family finally slid off onto the back of the property to hide out.

6 weeks later we had the pleasure of a visit from mom and the two spotted babies. They love this area because we have apple, pear and plum trees. We are fine with sharing the bad fruit that lands under the trees. Less clean up for us.

You can watch videos of deer on the farm YouTube channel

 

 

 

9 weeks in the hives

FlowFrames

Bees in the new FlowHive frames

It’s been 9 weeks since we moved the bees from the nucs to the main hives and we are seeing mixed progress. One hive is progressing well while the other, despite regular feeding and checks, is struggling.

The strong hive has been growing and is now at 2 deeps. They were filling out the second box last week so we added a 3rd box loaded with Flow frames.  Some people have had trouble with their bees taking to the plastic Flow frames so we painted them with melted beeswax before installing them. Glad we did as they have already started working on the frames getting them ready for honey.

As a first year hive we will not likely take any this season but it’s good to know they are progressing so well.

The second hive however is still struggling.  We have continued to feed and inspect with no clear evidence as to what is going on.  We are seeing brood and stores but it just does not seem to be progressing. After some discussion with another beekeeper we decided that it is most likely a mite problem so we treated today and will wait to see how it goes. It’s late in the season and the colony is small so it may or may not make it. You never know though – bees can be resilient so while there is still activity we will hold out hope for this hive.

 

Xeriscaping for Water Preservation

Xeriscape
I love having a perennial garden in my front yard. It’s welcoming for visitors, a great way to attract bees for pollination and fresh cut flowers at the dinner table reminds me of why I live on a farm. It’s just beautiful!

Water is such a valuable resource, especially on a farm. Historically I found perennial gardens not only use a lot of water, they also require a lot of money, time and attention. That’s changed over time. The first thing we’ve done since we moved in is remove lawn which is a water sucking, fertilizer using, high maintenance nuisance. Expanding the perennial bed a little at a time into the lawn and filling in the bed with more drought tolerant plants is the objective.

Since we are spending a lot of money on chickens, bees and vegetables right now, there is no money for new ornamental plants. I’ve looked around the property for perennials that have weathered the recent years of neglect and divided them, moving them into the new planting spaces we are creating. It’s been very successful. There were a few plants I really wanted to add that were no where on the property.  I bought packets of Blanket Flower (picture to the right) Blanket Floweand Pineapple Sage seeds and grew a few transplants while I was growing the vegetable transplants. Cost effective and you get a lot of them this way.

Weed MulchI plant the divisions fairly close together so they reduce the sun’s exposure to the soil. I pull weeds before they start seeding and lay them down back to dry out on the soil for free organic mulch as seen to the left. Since we get a lot of grass, it makes a fantastic mulch.Cat Mint Seedlings

Some plants also drop seeds to expand the plantings. One of my favorites, Cat Mint is famous for finding seedlings at the base of the plant shown above. I just dig up the seedlings and plant them in new spots to start up a new plant. Cat Mint is a wonderful plant that grows fast in almost any condition, smells minty and has nice purple flowers that really attract bees.

Here are some other plants that are very forgiving with lack of water or care.
IrisLillyDaisiesLambs EarsPeoniesBlack Eye Susan
Iris                    Lillies            Daisies        Lambs Ears      Peonies     Black Eyed Susan

DianthusechinaceaIMG_0198YarrowPin CushionWild RoseBee Balm
Dianthus          Echinacea  Penstemon  Yarrow      Pincushion  Roses       Bee Balm

Herbs are also great as most are drought tolerant.
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Lavendar
Lemon Grass

Drip irrigation or soaker hoses reduce water evaporation and will get the water right to the roots of the plant. They need only 5-15 minutes a day in the summer. They can thrive without extra watering the rest of the year. We are seriously considering a small pathway of artificial lawn through a large garden be. They technology on fake grass has come a long way! It would also keep the weeds more at bay than a walkway of rocks.

Next steps…..we will build a large patio in the backyard to eliminate the lawn and grow a perennial bed on the outer edge, surrounded by existing lilac bushes.

This is our dream to a virtually water free yard.