Farm updates early August

Everyone is very busy around here – the garden is giving us a lot of vegetables, and showing us a lot more to come. New pictures below:

bee balm
Here is some bee balm (bergamot) I didn’t know I had – I planted it last year but it didn’t actually show up / bloom till now. In the spring I had what I thought was Moldavian balm coming back, but then it bloomed into these. It is really pretty and the bees love it.
bee on the balm
Here is a bee enjoying the bee balm.
atat and downey
Our dogs, Downey at Atat (Atat is in front) playing outside. They miss Nova but they seem to be taking her loss ok.
goldendrod
Here is some goldenrod that is in my hollyhock bed / weed garden. The bees really like this as well.
hollyhock
We have hollyhocks again! The chickens had decimated them, and so last year I fenced the bed and planted some new hollyhocks – only a couple plants lived till this year, and now one is blooming.  (The fence got knocked down a bit by snow falling from our roof, so it’s a little bent in- hence the hollyhock is actually growing through the top of the fence.)
big tomoato
A monster tomato waiting to ripen. I noticed my cherry tomatoes are starting to turn, so hopefully we’ll have some ripe ones soon.
cantaloupe
Here is a cantaloupe, I have found there are at least two growing. I grew this kind last year and I don’t think we even got one melon. I changed the location this year and they seem to like it.
chilis
Our first peppers are getting big – these are a “Sugar Rush Peach Hot pepper.” They should be orange, sweet and hot.
pumpkin
Here is one of the pumpkins we have growing.
rooster
A couple of our young roosters. The one in the center – I really like his coloring so I think this is probably the one we’ll keep (along with Bertram). We have many contenders this year for “2nd rooster.” We are waiting to see how annoying they get with their crowing, and if any get really aggressive. Mean and annoying roosters don’t stick around long.
rooster band
And here are a lot of the roosters. Most of (if not all of) the chickens in this picture are boys. The gray one on the left might not be, and the buff one on the left with her head down is most likely a hen. We had a white rooster also but he was crowing incessantly and he was not on the “keep” shortlist, so we took him out last week. We now have 28 chickens. 7 or 8 boys, we think, besides Bertram. We might list some of these guys on Craigslist, but it is hard to get rid of roosters.
short corn
Here is some of my corn. This is an “Art Verelli’s” variety.  I had read that the stalks don’t get very tall, and these are about 4 feet tall – so very short for corn. They already are forming ears. My other variety is a regular sweet corn variety and that one is still just getting tall, with no ears yet.
squash
Here is one of my grocery store pumpkins (I think a Hubbard squash, actually). They were supposed to be heirloom squash so I saved seeds, and here we are.
summer squash
Our summer squash are starting to be prolific. You can see our light zucchini, the yellow squash, and our patty pan squash here. I also have one plant that produces dark green zucchini.
watermelon
Our watermelon is doing good – I need to make some kind of sling for this one – I’m worried the weight will break the stem eventually.
sunflower
Here is a bloom from our second sunflower to bloom – I have many blooms on our first one, but this is the 2nd plant to give us a show.
garden
A picture of the right side of our garden. The weeds have caught up with me a bit, but my plants are not being overrun, so I’m just not worrying about it unless they are. (There is carpeting in the path, that was an old rug we cut up in an effort to keep weeds out of the main path).
garden 2
A better pic of my main garden as of yesterday.
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Rest in Peace, Sweet Nova

Nova
Here is Nova enjoying the sunshine and some petting.

We lost our wonderful dog Nova this past Monday. She started coughing in late June, and our vet at first thought it was bronchitis. A week or so later she started coughing blood – they did an x-ray and she had a massive tumor in her lung.  The nearest vets that do any kind of biopsy are way down in Wisconsin, or way down in the Lower Peninsula; the tumor was pressing on her trachea (actually bending it) so we figured the best thing to do was to keep her comfortable for whatever time we had left.  I hoped it would have been longer, but it was only about a month.

nova

We had her for almost 4 years. Nova was a yellow lab mix. She came to live with us in November of 2015; Her story as we know it starts when she was roughly 2 years old, she was a stray dog down in Georgia, found with a dog that they figured was her daughter.  She was adopted from a shelter by my former coworker’s son, who was in the Air Force down there at the time. She was with him for a couple of years until they moved back up here. Nova lived with my coworker for a little while, since her son could not keep Nova at his new apartment, but she seemed lonely there.  I had two other dogs so my coworker let us take her so she would always have someone around.  She was a very good dog, she loved to eat (too much – we had to buy her a “slow down” bowl).  She loved to eat apples off the ground when they fell off of our tree. She loved cuddling with us on the couch. She loved to play with her dog brothers, Downey and Atat, and she loved to sit in the sunshine.  Her favorite thing was to get petted by people. She didn’t care who it was, or what else they were doing (cutting her nails, etc) as long as she was being petted.

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Our hearts are broken but at least she is not hurting anymore.  We will miss our sweet little dog.

nova ears

Mid-summer on our farm

Here are some pictures of the goings-on around our tiny farm:

zucchini
My zucchini and yellow squash are going nuts. These plants are huge!
zucchini with cat
Here you can see them with Wizard in front, so you get a little more idea of scale. There are 5 plants in that mess, plus some sunflowers sticking up in back.
ducks
Somehow our duck door got left open – they were starting to spill out.
ducks 2
More duck spillage.
chickens
Here is a picture of the chickens. I love the variety of colors we have.
dogs
My husband got this cool picture of our dogs. Atat’s tail is curled around Downey. Nova thinks the camera is some type of food.

Happy dogs!

For the past couple years, we’ve had a small, roughly 35×30 foot, fenced portion of our yard for the dogs. Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on expanding the dog run to encompass most of the southwest corner of our yard.  Today we finished the fence. The dogs love it!  They now have 3 to 4 times the space they had before. Here are some pictures of our happy dogs playing in their much larger yard.

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Downey running, near my son’s (currently on the ground) tire swing. Atat is peeking out  from behind the tree.
happy nova
Nova running. There is enough space between the dog run and the duck pen that we can fit the lawn mower between.
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All of them, running. The patch of deep grass in front of them will be turning into my son’s small garden – we will be fencing that.
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Nova and Atat near the fire pit
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Downey exploring
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My son Daniel having fun with the dogs
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The dogs chasing each other
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More running
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Having fun
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Daniel and Atat

Snow Dogs

We had a couple inches of snow from last week, and then yesterday we got about 6-8 inches.  The dogs had a lot of fun playing in it –  Even Downey – he hates water and being wet, and won’t go out in the rain.  But he loves snow.

dogs in the snow 2
The dogs playing in the snow
dogs in the snow
More snow – Nova almost blends in to the snow compared to the other two
snow dogs
Downey and Atat
more snow
Our garage and cedar tree
snow
The yard covered in snow

Late November on the Farm

woods with snow
Snowy woods.

We’ve been very busy this month.  In my last post, I said I would get some pictures of snow… well, then it melted.  But on Thanksgiving, which was a couple days ago, we got about 4-5 inches. So we have snow again.

Here is Nova.  We got her about a month ago, from our coworker.  Nova was her son’s dog, when he was in the Air force in Georgia.  Now he moved back to town and is going to college, and couldn’t keep her, and my coworker felt bad that Nova was home alone during the day.  So we took her in.  She gets along great with our other dogs and she is a sweetheart.

nova
Our Nova
three dogs
The three dogs on the back porch. Nova likes to eat snow.
nova 2
Another picture of Nova

The chickens aren’t minding the snow so much.  I have heat lamps in the two rooms of their coop, so they can go in and warm up their feet if they get cold.  Our batch last year (which we still have the hens from) didn’t like to go out in the snow. I’m not sure why they don’t mind this year, but they don’t.

winter coop
The chickens don’t seem to mind the snow at all.
snow chickens
Snow chickens. The dirt spot here is where we took away their old roost that was out there. We had to steal the sawhorses that held it up, for the rabbit hutch, which you will see below.
chickens in snow 2
Yesterday they found the dirt spot, and they were taking dirt baths in it. The ground is not frozen yet, luckily.

Last weekend we went up to my cousin’s to get the original hutch that I got with the rabbits.  We have set it up near our other rabbit hutch, so it’s now Rabbit Row:

bunny row
Rabbit row. On the left are the rabbits in the hutch we built, and on the right is the one that came with the bunnies. We’re getting it set up for the baby bunnies when they get bigger. The garbage bags in the picture are straw and hay – I have them outside, but covered for easy access.
old new hutch
Here is the hutch that came with the rabbits. It had a roof which we removed in order to get it in the back of the truck. We are just planning on using one side for the winter, so we have closed that side in with wood.
hutch inside
The inside of the new (old) hutch. It has a wire bottom, but I will cover it with straw to try to keep the babies’ feet more comfortable. I need to look it up, but I believe it will be a couple more weeks before they go in there. Hopefully we’ll get the snow out of there before then. We brushed what we could out, but it may melt a little too.

And here are the little baby bunnies:

baby bun
They are starting to munch on food – this one is eating hay.
bunnies
Here they are – they are all brown. But some are darker brown, and one has a little lighter fur. I’m assuming they change color as they get older, but I could be wrong. I’m still new at this. The mom is black and the dad is gray, so I don’t know how the brown comes in.
baby bunny pile
They like to pile up on top of each other, outside of the nest box. I think there are 8 of them. I’ve tried to count without taking them all out, and they jump around too much so I have not gotten a good count. I will be able to get an accurate count soon when I need to move them.

The rabbits have been doing ok with the cold so far.  We’re going to add a tarp to the front of the hutches to block wind from the inside. That’s one reason I positioned the hutches into “Rabbit Row.” – I figure it will help block wind somewhat. I’m already planning on a new setup once spring comes – more of a rabbit shed, I think. I’d like to add a run of some sort so they can hang out in the grass also.

We’ve also decided on names for the adults.  They are Earth, Wind, and Fire. (my husband came up with it) – The gray buck is Earth (since he’s on the left), the white doe is Wind, and the black doe is Fire.

white bunny
My husband built nest boxes for the other two rabbits, and they are lined with straw, so they can stay out of the wind when it gets very cold. They like to sit on top of them sometimes, as you can see Wind do here.

The farm is pretty much ready for winter.  It’s a nice time to just cozy up inside – we don’t have a lot of projects we can do outside in winter, except reinforcing animal housing and doing normal feeding chores each morning and night.  I like that it’s kind of a relaxation time.  Of course I’m already planning in my head what we’ll do when spring comes.

 

 

Downey & Atat

My dogs - Downey and Atat
My dogs – Downey and Atat

I have two dogs, and I realized the other day that I have not posted about them for some reason.  That is very strange because I really love dogs – I just have a lot of other stuff to write about, I guess.

I got Downey in 2010 when we lived in Los Angeles; we got him jointly with my sister.  I had a very old dog named Drake at the time, and he wasn’t able to go on real walks anymore, because he had really bad arthritis. My sister thought it would be nice if we had a dog we could take with us on our daily walks around the neighborhood.  One day a coworker posted some pics of a Shar-Pei mix that his friend was getting rid of – they had 5 kids and no time for the dog, and their landlord wouldn’t let them bring him inside.  He was 11 months old.  I sent the picture to my sister thinking she would say no, but she surprised me and said we should check him out.  We took him in and I’ve had him ever since.  Drake was not a fan of Downey.  He was 13 years old and couldn’t see or hear very well, and Downey was a very playful pup. My Drake died a couple months after Downey came to us.  Eventually my sister and I moved to different places and Downey came with me and my family; and then he came with us to Michigan.

Downey
Downey

We kept the name he came with – Downey.  He’s a great dog – he loves other dogs; He can be a little aggressive with people he hasn’t met – we’ve worked with him and he has gotten better over time with that; It’s mostly a fear response, we’ve found.  He was always very playful, and a bit lonely.  I wanted to get him a friend for a long time.  When we moved into our current house, we decided to get a second dog.

I was looking for a puppy, but not a small breed dog.  And I didn’t want to pay a breeder for one. I’d rather adopt.  I saw a really cute fuzzy face on Petfinder – an Akita mix; he was in Northern Minnesota at a shelter.  We called them and decided to go get him.  He was 4 months old, but 40 pounds already.  We brought Downey with us to meet him; they got along well that day, so we took him home.  His name at the shelter was Landon.  He was a little smaller than Downey at that time –  about an inch shorter and only 10 pounds lighter.

Atat
Atat

A week after getting him, my son thought he looked like an At-At from Star Wars.  So we changed his name to Atat. (Pronounced At-Tat).  He is now almost 1 and a half years old. He is very large – he weighed 98 pounds at his last checkup about a month ago.   He’s a great dog; very friendly with people – sometimes a little overzealous.  We are working to get him to stop jumping up on people since he is head height with me when he jumps up. We think he is part Shepherd as well; he looks like a giant German Shepherd with a curly tail.  He’s probably twice Downey’s height.   He went through a very destructive phase, as most puppies do – he tore up the back of our couch, that we had gotten about a month before him.  His destructiveness has gone down a lot now.  He is still very playful – he and Downey are great friends; Downey gets a little upset with him sometimes because Atat always gets his way when they play. Atat is just so large, Downey can’t compete sometimes.

Here are some photos of my awesome dogs:

Playing -  Downey was growling at Atat here.
Playing – Downey was growling at Atat here.
Downey on our back porch
Downey on our back porch
Atat jumping around in their fenced portion of the yard.
Atat jumping around in their fenced portion of the yard.
Dogs facing away from each other
Dogs facing away from each other
Big tongued Atat
Big tongued Atat
The dogs playing on the porch - I'm not sure if Atat is kissing or biting Downey here.
The dogs playing on the porch – I’m not sure if Atat is kissing or biting Downey here.