Thursday, June 2, 2016

From Yesterday and This Morning

We didn't expect to see a tree frog clinging to the towel cabinet in the bathroom last night, so it's not surprising that my exclamation of amazement when I spotted it was a little alarming to Brandon.  Especially since I had just bragged about a video I made of a long black snake that Puck and I had an encounter with earlier in the day.  Brandon seemed relieved when he found out it was a tiny frog with suction cup fingers that I was taking pictures of, and not Carlos, our evicted house snake.  Frog relocation is less exciting than snake relocation, but also less likely to prevent us from being able to sleep!

I don't think this black snake is Carlos, since it wasn't as long and fat as I remember Carlos to be.  But, I think this video shows how docile our black snakes are.  As you can see, the snake had plenty of opportunity to be frightened by Puck and myself, but it was never aggressive, even when I petted it.  Nice snake.  I hope he eats lots of mice.  

I hope the snakes do not eat any of the five chicks that the mamma chicken has hatched.  This morning I fed them some hamburger buns, removed six unhatched eggs that she was no longer sitting on, and considered releasing them to the yard.  In the end I opted to leave them in the brooder with their mother for a few more days.  They just look so tiny it's hard for me to imagine that they can be safe, even with a very protective mother.  I'm sporting a blood blister on my right hand from daring to pick one of them up.  She did not approve.  

You can see in this short video clip that the mamma hen does not want me to touch her babies.  

This hen reminds me of the funny looking lady chicken from the Foghorn Leghorn Loony Tunes.  Remember the hen, Miss Prissy, with the funny bonnet, glasses, and her knitting needles that Foghorn was wooing?  Poncho the rooster likes to perch on top of the brooder and make clucking noises at the hen and babies.  I keep waiting for him to say "That's a joke, ah say, that's a joke, son." Ha!

I spent some time trimming back the long grass around the two raised garden beds inside my orange garden fence.  The potato plants are over a foot high now.  Some of the garlic cloves are growing, and the melon seeds that I was sure were so old they were dead, have grown to five inch tall plants and need to be thinned.  

This is my second experience growing potatoes, and once again, they are being attacked by flea beetles!  The leaves aren't supposed to be transparent, I'm sure.  I'm going to try to dose them with some diotomaceous earth, but the last time I couldn't keep up with the treatments because it rained nearly every time I sprinkled it on.  I piled up some old straw around the stems.  

I tell myself that the extra long grass inside my garden fence is a meadow.  It has several different species of grasses and clovers.  I've decided to let the seed heads mature so I can harvest them and seed some areas of bare dirt if I need.  This will be my first meadow seed harvest.  

The onions are doing well, and I have four small kale plants to look forward to.  The most interesting thing, I think, are the buckwheat plants.  I expected more of a grass like plant, but these remind me of sweet potato leaves, and even though the largest plant is only about twelve inches tall, they are already blooming!  Buckwheat is supposed to be good for honeybees.  I don't think I will get enough seed to be worth trying to eat, but maybe I can collect the seeds and grow more plants?  

Brandon used the rough cut trail mower to cut the tall grass in the west field.  We still debate the best way to manage our fields.  I tend to want to let everything grow wild as I love the diversity of an older field and want to promote wildlife.  Brandon wants to cut it before it gets so woolly it bogs down our small scale equipment, and he wants the grass to be nice and thick like you get when it's mowed more frequently which cuts back the small trees and brambles that sprout.  I think our compromises are making some lovely pasture and hay fields.  I can tell that we have more lush vegetation than we did three summers ago when we started mowing it and stopped letting people harvest the hay.  It drives some people a little nutty to see all our hay "wasted" instead of baled, but since we don't have animals yet, I think it's worth the loss of the small income selling the hay would produce to mulch our pastures with the trimmings.  

With our future donkey in mind, we're exploring some low scale hay making techniques that don't require a big investment in equipment.  To make hay, you have to cut the grass, let it dry, rake it up a little so it gets good and dry on the bottom of the pile, and then store it somewhere.  I spent less than five minutes raking hay from the field and was able to accumulate a giant pile which I used to cover the chicken coop floor.  

It smelled so nice, like fresh cut grass, and makes the chicken coop seem like a fluffy bed.  Of course, as soon as I put it in the coop the chickens had to come scratch it around and look for tasty bits.  The chickens like the hay, so I think the donkey would appreciate it during the winter too, if we can come up with some way to store it out of the weather.  Brandon has a home made baler in mind, so expect some pictures of that project soon.  

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take our guests to see the rose and honeysuckle hedge during the firefly party.  I'm sure the kids got to see it, but I didn't remember to show it to the adults.  The honeysuckle smell permeates the air, and when you look closely you can see the pink rose bushes sprinkled throughout.  

The honeybees are feasting on the honeysuckle.  I'm afraid the roses might not survive the honeysuckle strangulation, but it smells so nice I can't bring myself to trim it back yet.  

Even more exciting than a blue chicken egg, newly hatched baby chicks, or a tree frog in the bathroom - cherries on the little cherry tree!  Only three, but still - they are cherries!  My heart actually sped up when I saw these little fruits.  I've planted five cherry trees over the years, and only one is thriving.  I'm determined to eat a home grown cherry some day, and I may tie all my hopes to this little tree.  


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful snake. What kind is it again? Also, the end of your momma chicken video had a great Madonna and Child grouping!


rain said...

The snake is a black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta). My field guide says they are active during the day during the spring a fall, and become nocturnal during the summer and eat birds, eggs, mice, small mammals, and lizards. The book says they can live twenty years, grow to eight feet long! After seeing how many mice were living in my corn crib, I'm glad to have a few big black snakes around.

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