Oak Appreciation

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Above are photos of our approximately 200 year old oak taken earlier in the week.

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Today, Agustina from The Natural Garden came by to plant a black locust and a chestnut oak out near the barn. As I was talking to her I noticed the beautiful, deep color of our old oak. I should have taken photos of the new plantings but they are only 2 feet twigs!

Some Fall Color

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I had trouble photographing these hawthorn berries. My friend and herbalist came over last weekend to harvest some of them. They make good medicine for the heart. We made sure to leave plenty for the birds.

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The paw paw tree is showing beautifully this year.

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Wood we stacked late last winter.

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A small stand of trees between the stacked wood and the paw paw. Not crazy about the pines – we have so much. In the undergrowth is an oak and what we think are some cherry trees. We pruned out the honeysuckle bushes.

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See the little brussel sprouts on the stalk at the base of the leaves. We had such a hard time with bugs this year. So hoping these sprouts remain unharmed.

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A little color from our serviceberry tree.

Catching Up In the Garden

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We opened up the barn garden to the chickens and ducks.

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We had a couple of people here from The Natural Garden in Harrisonburg. They were very impressed with our meadow.

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Marigolds next to the compost.

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The garden spider greeted us for several weeks as we opened and closed the gate to the barn garden.

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Dave walks by our volunteer cherry tomato plant growing on the compost fence.

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Freda inspects the boneset. I harvested it for my herbalist. She said it is good for fevers.

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Pretty, too.

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It was great to have some young people here helping us through the alternative economy – hOUR Economy. They worked and we fed them and they camped out on our property. We really enjoyed their company and I think they had a good time, too.

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Two of the guys helped Dave install gutters on the back of the barn for a water catchment system.

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Dan, Kurt, Meghan, Tim and Savhannah.

They helped out others over a four day period and biked form place to place. We’re talking 15-25 miles between work sites. To have that energy!

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Our bushel basket gourds didn’t get bushel size – more like quart size.

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As I was walking to the barn one afternoon about a half dozen bluebirds flew off the pasture fence into our big, old oak tree.

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I can see two bluebirds in each of the above photos.

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Just some of the butternut we harvested.

11-11 update – finally estimated how much butternut we harvested this year. I counted 85 at approximately 2 lbs. each. So that’s about 170 lbs.! I think butternut is about $2 a lb. in the store so about $340 worth!

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Just after we opened the kitchen garden to the ducks.

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And finally, here is the water catchment.

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We got a lot of rain late September to early October. We were amazed at how the water accumulated so quickly. Dave has already used it to water our brussel sprouts and an artimesia (wormwood) we transplanted to the barnyard. It helps prevent worms in chickens.

A Hot Saturday

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Our summer squash isn’t doing too well. Fortunately, we’ve gotten some from neighbors and the farmers market.  Here, one of the chickens is eating a big zucchini I bought for them. Leo always has a watchful eye.

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The kitchen garden in late morning.

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I’m usually a cool color person – my favorites are blue, green and purple, but I love the combination of pink and orange. Beautiful in the sea of green.

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Queen Ann’s lace growing in front of the potting shed.

It hit 92 degrees this afternoon.

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The beginning of a bushel basket gourd. Will it really get that big?

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I identified this vine growing near the wood pile in my Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs. It’s woody nightshade, bittersweet. It has many uses – treatment for acne, eczema, boils and warts among them.

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This is growing everywhere. It isn’t in my field guide. I will have to find another source for identification.

In the Pasture

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I took a walk in the pasture this evening. Nelson, our neighbor, had just cut it. I wanted to take a photo of this swamp milkweed. I think it is from seed given to me by my friend, Lesa. It was almost two years ago that I tossed hundreds of seeds in overgrown areas of the pasture and so far I’ve found three milkweed plants.

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This honey locust is growing in the same area as the milkweed. I wouldn’t want this near the house with those wicked thorns.

Bonnie’s Brood

These photos are from mid June.

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A few posts back – on June 15 – I shared a photo of Bonnie and the first chick to hatch from this clutch. She ended up hatching eight chicks. Interesting that these chicks resemble the chicks we got from the hatchery last summer.

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Couldn’t resist including this photo of Smokey and the purple carrots. We waited a little too long to harvest the carrots. They were edible but a little tough and not so sweet.

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We were a little braver with this brood – letting them out of the brooder at just a few days old.

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Bonnie knew to keep them close to the coop – food, water and safety.

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It’s hard to get a photo including all eight chicks!

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Here they were pecking at the marbles. So cute!

A Month of Posts

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Bonnie and Emmy Lou are mothering their four chicks together.

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Ground Ivy growing at the foot of the elm tree in the backyard.

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The chicks quickly started eating greens we brought to them.

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Dolly hanging around the brooder.

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Tom Thumb lettuce

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Just two weeks old and the chicks are out and about.

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Also up on the roost and atop mom. Already!

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We attended the Augusta Garden Club tour. This copper beech impressed me the most. It was planted in 1945 and is huge. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this tree when I drove by it.

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Leo/Rex and his ladies.

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Dolly and the girls

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Smokey striking a pose.

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Found this radish in the barn garden this morning. It was just sitting out of the ground. Almost like it was saying – I’m ready to be eaten you dummy. I thought it was too early for the radishes to be ready and would not have checked for some time yet. How it got out of the ground will remain a mystery.

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A flower bed with a new rock border and all mulched. Luminaria blooming in the background.

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Picked this one as I could see the red peaking out of the soil.

Had a chicken liver and bacon salad for dinner. Delish!

Two firsts I saw today –

a rabbit in our pasture between the backyard and the spring house (did he have anything do do with the radish appearing – seems unlikely – wouldn’t he have eaten it?)

as I was driving home from Heartland Harvest I saw a cow licking it’s calf. The calf was curled up on the ground. I wonder if it had just been born?

Before, During and After the Rain

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Last week we had 7 inches of rain. Glad we picked the butternut squash and sweet potatoes the week before.

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Duke walks by the sweet potato vines in the kitchen garden.

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A country wedding in the rain. Congratulations to Holly and Marc.

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During the ceremony I was distracted by this little country mouse.

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This was the one day it didn’t rain last week. Picked some beets to send up to my mom.

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Thought I’d take a photo of the cows across the railroad track. You might have to click on the photo to see them. We can often hear them and not see them.

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The above 3 photos are from this evening.

I found one of our drakes dead in the creek two days ago. No sign of any attack – no marks on him. I buried him in the compost. The other drake and three ducks are staying close to home during the day. They did go off somewhere this afternoon and came back this evening.

Harvesting Pine Bark

My friend, Laurie, owns a local shop – Appalachian Pieceworks –  where she sells art and antiques. Saying she is very creative is an understatement. She spins, dyes, weaves, quilts, makes baskets and I’m sure I’m leaving something out. I met her last summer and somehow during one of our conversations it came out that we had too many pine trees and she loved making baskets out of pine bark. So we had been planning this day for months.

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Dave cut down one of the trees. We chose one that had pretty bark – I really hadn’t noticed how beautiful the bark is – and was in a good place where it could fall to the ground without hitting something. Always a good thing to consider.

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We used a razor knife to slit the bark and then it easily peeled off. This is a good time of year to do it in our area.

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Dave is using his new chipper to grind up what we didn’t use.

The bark is now drying and in a couple of  weeks Laurie and I will get together to make baskets. Can’t wait!

Flower Power

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Two days ago it rained all day and I had minor foot surgery so I didn’t get out to the pasture until this morning. I found an explosion of these yellow flowers. I don’t know what they are. I’m reminded daily of all the things I don’t know.

We noticed this morning that one duck was missing when we looked out from the house into the pasture where the other five were foraging. This has happened before. We just assumed she was out of sight. Well, there were still only five when we saw them in the creek late this afternoon. We started looking for the missing duck without any luck. Either something got her or she is broody and nesting somewhere. It is probably the same one that sat on the nest in their duck house for a while this morning. The drakes make all kind of noise when this happens and she finally leaves her nest.  I feel bad because I told Dave maybe we should fence her in but he thought we shouldn’t interfere. There are many places she could be – I’m betting/hoping she is in a huge pile of pine tree branches behind the cottage. Tomorrow morning I’ll put some food and water over there just in case. They always look so happy when they are out foraging so we have resisted fencing them in. I knew the day would come when we would question this decision. I’ll just have to hope for the best and say a little prayer for our missing duck.