Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pleasant May Evening

This is a beautiful time of year at the farm.  All of the trees have their leaves fully opened, the grass is green and the perennials have all burst out of the ground.  It is also a very busy gardening time and trying to stay one step ahead of the weeds is always a challenge!  Every year in May I am filled with optimism that this will finally be the year that I have all of the gardens under control...well, maybe not this year...but next year for sure!

This is Horatio and although he may look like he is in trouble he is just being a clown.  He loves rolling around on our new stone retaining wall.  In a future post I will tell his (first) sad and then (now) happy story.  In the meantime though he is still very kitten-like and loves to torment the other cats and hang around with the dogs.  He is a very sweet and affectionate cat and we are happy that we were able to save him.

I was surprised to see our lawns were cut today.  Mike and his crew usually come on Friday to cut our grass so it is ready for the weekend.  Although we love mowing the lawn it took us a long time to realize that we simply cannot keep up with all of the work.  We have a couple of landscaping projects under way this year that will make our property a little easier to manage.

 A view down our country road.  No winding road here!  Our road is as straight as a stick.  In the distance is Lake Belwood, when we first moved here we could easily see it from our farm but the trees have all become so big it is hard to make it out.

Mike also mows our ditch and we love the way our roadside looks when he has finished.  We are always amused to note that our ditch in the country is wider than our entire back yard at our previous home in town.  We have started planting new sugar maples along the road as part of an informal tree succession plan.

Another project for this summer.  What to do about the sign?  The globe cedar is far too large and needs to be replaced with something...

This evening the sheep were restless and noisy.  Everything appears to be fine except that a handful of sheep have separated from the others and are grazing in Crab Apple Grove.  

Poor Drakk is working himself into a frenzy over the little raccoons that are living in the big maple on the other side of the fence.  As we seem to have several raccoon families in several large trees they are keeping him quite busy.

An early evening view across the road.  Our sheep often graze these fields on the weekend or in the morning during the week.  The rolling topography, trees and the river in the valley all provide a favourable habitat for coyotes so we only allow our sheep to graze for a few hours.  We regularly walk this area with our dogs to make sure that there are no signs of trouble.

~Thank you for visiting~

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Walk About

 Hello everyone!  Lake Ophelia is home to a large number of frogs with the number increasing every year.  The noise they make is staggering even though it can be difficult to see them.  Here is a bullfrog.  Frogs are a good indicator of the health of the surrounding environment so we are very pleased to see and hear so many of them.

Holly is enjoying a late morning splash.  Lake Ophelia is not really a lake but a large pond we had created several years ago.  We named it Lake Ophelia after our beloved Yellow Labrador, Ophelia.  Over the next couple of years we would like to have the pond expanded as the cattails have taken hold and over the years the banks have started to fill in.

The allium is in full bloom in the Hercules Garden although the leaves are already starting to die back.  Soon the plants will go dormant but reappear in greater numbers next year.
 This is a very old honeysuckle that we found on the property when we moved here.  We needed to move it to prepare for some construction last year and it is seems quite happy in its' new location.
 It is ironic that such cute little critters are such a menace on the farm!  Each year raccoons nest in our large maples to have their young.  The adult raccoons are known to kill chickens and last night they managed to kill one of our laying hens.  Several years ago we lost 40 chickens in one night.  Raccoons have also killed some of our turkeys as well as some of our muscovy ducks.  They are not welcome residents on our farm!
 We have an assortment of laying hens.  They have a fenced area adjacent to the hen house where they can scratch around for bugs.  In addition to grain we also feed our chickens grass clippings and weeds from the garden.  
 Our hen house has several nesting boxes which the hens use to lay their eggs.  On occasion a hen becomes "broody" and tries to protect the eggs in the hopes of hatching them!  We are careful to remove the eggs throughout the day although I must confess that I dread being pecked at by a broody hen!  Long sleeves and heavy garden gloves usually provide protection.  All of our hens lay brown eggs although contrary to popular belief white eggs and brown eggs are equally nutritious. 
Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Moving Sheep

As the weather gets warmer and our sheep spend more time grazing we like to take advantage of a pasture across the road.  Our sheep benefit from the fresh grass and our neighbours dont need to worry about mowing...a great partnership!  

We only move our sheep on days when we are home for the day.  Although the pasture is fenced we live in an area with a large coyote population so we dont want to leave the sheep unattended for very long.  To move the sheep in the morning we use a bell to alert them that there is a treat of grain waiting for them.  The sheep love moving across the road and in the morning will wait at the gate baaing impatiently waiting for the gates to be opened.  In the afternoon the sheep are trained to recognize a whistle as the signal that it is time to come home.

Fortunately we dont have very  much traffic on our road.  To be safe though it takes both of us to move the sheep...Gilles to make sure that they are all at the gate and I wait on the road to watch for any oncoming traffic.

 Sheep and lambs have lovely faces.  

Sheep and lambs love to eat dandelions.  When we bring the sheep back home they will sometimes make a brief stop to eat grasses along the roadside.  If there is no traffic we will wait for a few minutes to let them take a few mouthfuls before they come down Ash Alley on the way to the barn.

 "Hello!  How are you?"

For many years we used our dog Kodiak to help move the sheep home.  With Kodiak's passing recently we are starting to use Drakk to help move the sheep.  German Shepherds have a natural tendency to herd the sheep which they do by circling them and moving them in the direction they want.  Our dogs are not true working dogs and only spend time with the sheep when we are moving them.

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Victoria Day Long Weekend

Hello visitors, I hope everyone enjoyed a safe long weekend.  The weather has been unseasonably warm for this early in the season...29 degrees at 6 pm!

 Much of the property around our home is still littered with construction debris and piles of clay and topsoil.  I am so surprised to see that some of my bulbs have been able to force their way up through the stone rubble.  
 Last summer we hired a tree removal company to relocate some trees that were in the way of our new construction.  We were not sure if this mountain ash would survive and as you can see it did not!
 All of the apple trees are blooming.  This is a mature apple tree that is planted along our parking area.
 This is our little privy that my husband built one year for my birthday.  I saw a picture of one in a magazine and thought it would be a cute little building to store our trash and recycling in.
 These purple tulips managed to come up between some piles of left over construction lumber.
 In a previous post I mentioned some garden thugs.  This is Alpine Currant and it is not only well established but is started to spread like mad.  A transplant by our farm gate has even tolerated sheep and lambs taking a nibble as they go past.  It is nicely scented and the birds eat the berries so I must find another place to plant it where its' rampant behaviour wont be so irritating.
 Jacob's Ladder is a lovely addition to the shade border.
 Sweet woodruff has a very pretty flower and while it spreads it is easily pulled out.  The leaves can be dried and used to repel moths.
 A flowering crab apple.  
 The robin's nest in the eaves of the garden shed has babies!
 The allium is now budding out and in a day or two will all be in full bloom.

  In the distance the apple trees at the back of the property are in bloom.  The apple trees are very popular with the deer that cross our property and the sheep love to eat the windfall apples in the autumn.

A perfect area for breakfast or a glass of wine at the end of a hard day of gardening!  We love having so many different vistas to enjoy.

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Farm Fences

Hello everyone!  I thought I would show you some examples of the various types of fencing we use on our farm.....

Everyone is familiar with good old fashioned chicken wire!  Our chickens are able to range in their fenced area.  The chicken wire protects the chickens from the raccoons that live in some of our large maple trees.  Confining the chickens also protects our gardens as chickens love to "scratch" and will undo weeks' worth of garden work in an hour or less!

 We are very partial to our cedar rail fencing.  This type of fencing was widely used on century farms as the cedar was readily available and resistant to rot.  On our farm we use cedar rail fencing in areas where we want a rustic look.  Here the cedar rail fencing separates the area in front of the barn from our cedar hedge.  Given the chance our sheep will chew on the cedars and have already done quite a bit of damage to our hedge.
 More cedar rail fencing.  This fence divides the barn area from our east lawn and is also the backdrop for our firewood pile.  The firewood provides a great hiding place for chipmunks.
 We use high tensile wire extensively on the farm.  This type of fencing is very strong and consists of 7 strands of wire which is drawn taught along the posts.  We use metal T-rails as the anchors and in between use wooden spacers. The wooden spacers are suspended by the wires and keep the wires aligned.
 In some areas of the farm we will use high tensile fencing as electric fence.  Alternate strands carry a current and serve to keep our sheep safe inside the fence and the coyotes on the outside.  We use electric fencing on the perimeter of the fields.
 Many of the trees on our property are very old so it is necessary to regularly plant new trees to replace trees that die or are irreparably damaged in storms.  As our sheep love to nibble on young trees we protect the new trees with wooden cages until they are big enough to survive without protection.
 Another example of cedar rail fencing along the farm lane going to the barn.  This lane is planted with ash trees along both sides.  Although these trees are big enough to not be bothered by the sheep we are concerned about ash borers which have been making their way into our area.  We have been considering a parallel planting of some other type of tree in case these ones die.

Sometimes, in spite of all of our fencing, the sheep still manage to stage an escape.  At our farm even the dogs know what it means when someone says "the sheep are out!"

Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Walk Around The Gardens

An example of a neatly designed bird's nest in our gazebo.  Birds have many locations on our property in which to build nests.

 Our fields are greening up nicely and with the recent warmth the buds on the trees in the forest are starting to open.

 The high bush cranberry still has berries left from the winter.

 This very old apple tree in the grove is covered in mosses.

 And this old apple tree featured in a previous post is becoming even more hollow!  Now we can see through it.

 Each fall I collect as many leaves as possible for our composters.  Leaf mold is an excellent addition to the gardens.

 Willoughby Lane is a major project for this year.  The lane is 330 feet long and so far has taken 21 loads of gravel which is over 175 metric tonnes.   We will be lining this driving with sugar maple saplings.

 The pasture in front of our house is growing nicely.  We will be able to take a cut of hay in a few weeks.

 Another example of a bird's nest located in our little garden privy.  A bird has included a sample of mesh in this nest!

We have a great many barns swallows living in our barn.  This nest is just being built and includes hay and even some baling twine.

The allium is in full bud and will be blooming shortly.

Lambs and ducks enjoying some sunshine in the barn.

Thank you for visiting!