spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pics That Make Me Smile and stink bug update

 
I was going to post just one photo today - the beginning of one of my sugar maples turning red, but I went out with Glenn to check the flerd near dusk and I was rewarded with many photos ops.
 
Animals in motion tend to blurr in my excitement to get the 'shot' - please use a bit of imagination.
 



beginning of the red blaze....

a broken section of split rail fence in the woods from falling trees becomes a mini split rail in my yard

a deer running for cover

moon over the sky of dusk


Glenn checking the flerd under a colorful late evening sky

I was ready, camera  in hand,  as this heron flew for a moment's rest in a nearby tree top - what a treat!

heron on the fly


Update:  On a unpleasant note...Today was the worst ever in terms of dealing with the stink bugs.  They are every where and in plaque-like numbers. Going into or out of my house, I am constantly hit by flying stink bugs and one or two land on me.  I opened the door to my car and counted 25 hanging out around the door seal - this was only one door, multiply by four.    The window screens are covered with 50 (estimate on the low side) at one time.  The bugs crawl inside pockets of the laundry hanging out to dry, or into shoes airing outside. Glenn even started using his old shop vac to vacuum up hundreds at a time.  Whew...the stench; it makes me ill.  The jars of gasoline are filled within hours - it is a constant job catching the bugs inside the house; outside, the problem is worse.  So, what did I do with one of today's jars....




I have no sympathy!!!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Stink Bugs Are Back, Again!

 



The stinkbugs are back. (see 9-26-11 blog - We Are being Invaded) Last year, they were disgusting; but this year, they are geometrically more revolting.


 

The stink bugs were around all summer, but they were hiding among the foliage of plants and not very obtrusive.  Their numbers seemed to be tolerable.

 

Now, that the weather has cooled with the changing of the season, these hideous insects are coming inside - yuck, yuck, triple yuck - in record numbers.


 

Last year, we would see about one per night.  Extermination was easy…grab the beast in a piece of TP and quickly flush away before any odor was released - bye, bye.

 

Not so easy this year; eliminate 5, and within minutes there are 10 more in their place. They not only buzz(similar to a large bee) around the house, but they also have the nerve to land on my person.  Again, triple yuck!

 

The preference for permanent elimination is different, this year, too…a jar of gasoline; it works for Japanese beetles in the garden, and it works for stink bugs in the house.  We just have to be speedy enough before the release of the putrid stench.  We have several jars judiciously placed throughout the house; trying to be prepared at all times.

 

I just hope to make it through to the cold of winter, and hopeful hibernation of the majority of the vermin, without upchucking in abhorrence.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sheep Working Day


HELLO! Rather....BAAAA!



Now, I know.  Sheep are just like cows; they have only lower teeth at the front of their mouths.  That is huge news for me!

 

For the past year plus, since obtaining our first flock of sheep ever, I was told that they have both upper and lower teeth.  And, they do; just at the back of their jaws, not at the front.  I have told other people this incorrect information.  As verification, when one of our sheep would open its mouth, it looked like it was smiling with a full set.  Not the case.

 

Yesterday, during our fall sheep working day (it just happened to fall on the first day of autumn), Becky corrected my erroneous thinking.  I did not believe her, but…

 

As I was standing there talking to her, one of our very friendly ewes walked up to me.  I took that opportunity to open her mouth and look inside, up front.  Yep…lower teeth only.  And, I put my fingers in her mouth to double verify.


How about a scratch...thanks, that feels good.
 

Even Glenn thought that sheep had both lowers and uppers.  I guess we both learned something today. 

 

To those folks I told otherwise; I apologize for passing along incorrect details.  In my defense, I never had my hand in a sheep’s mouth before yesterday afternoon.

 

So, after that significant discovery, we all (Glenn, Matthew, Becky and I) went to work. 


 
Who's first?
I had the easiest job; I recorded the facts, I repeat…facts: ear tag number of ewe; amount of worm medicine given, if needed; if the hoofs were clipped or not; overall coat appearance such as smooth, woolly, medium, remnants of a cape, or down right fluffy.  At this time of year, the sheep should be smooth with the least amount of residual (last winter’s) extra hair.  Sheep which retain their winter coats tend to overheat during the summer; so, we are trying to eliminate this characteristic in our herd. It is a process that will take years.  We begin by keeping lambs for replacement ewes from ewes with a smooth summer coat.  Also, ewes that retain a substantial amount of last year’s growth seem to be more susceptible to acquiring parasites; another undesirable characteristic that needs to be minimized and/or eliminated.   Lastly, the amount the hoofs need to be trimmed is another factor for female lamb retention.  We want ewes with slow hoof growth; keeping that chore to a minimum over the course of the year.  Our goals are to maintain healthy ewes and lambs that are resistant to parasites and to retain those animals that need the least amount of maintenance.  Period.



Cyndy recording from the best seat in the working area - actually the only seat in the working area.


What are you doing?  Oh good, a pedicure...make my color Rosy Red, please!

PINK indicates a 'keeper' female lamb - a future Mountain Glen Farm ewe
done...back to business...eating and relaxing
 


resting and relaxing after their wellness exams
 
Glenn, Matt and Becky did the manual labor of grabbing the sheep, one by one; treating for parasites, as necessary,  and trimming hoofs, as necessary.  Five hours later, all the sheep had gone through the process.  In the end, the sheep were content; grazing and resting.  And, Glenn, Matt and Becky were exhausted and in various degrees of pain from muscle exertion. 

 

a very tired bunch


maybe there is another seat in the working area or just  an odd-looking ewe


Fortunately, a BIG job was crossed off 'the list'!

 

One last chore of the day awaited…Glenn and Matthew loaded Scruffy (removing him from the main herd of cows) and took him to rest with our other herd bull, three yearling bulls and a couple of cull cows all which are currently grazing on leased pasture.  I did not go along, but I heard the story…the two mature bulls, the first time they had ever been together, went through the natural routine of fighting for dominance.  After much pushing and head bumping, Little Red, being the smaller of the two, relented to the #2 spot.  This morning, the beefy bulls are getting along knowing their standing in the herd.  (Note:  Since Little Red was our first South Poll bull, he will always be the top bull on the farm in my eyes.)

 

Did I mention that the weather was warm, sunny with varying overcast, slightly breezy and perfect for the first day of autumn and for our fall sheep working day?  Well…it was!

 

Absolutely GORGEOUS! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

   CELEBRATE.....


                                                                       
                                                                                  AMAZING  AUTUMN

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last Day of Summer


A heron just flew directly over my head. 

 

WOW!  Double WOW!

 

I had never been that close to a flying heron and I had never observed a heron from that perspective. It was absolutely amazing.

 

I caught that proverbial glimpse from the corner of my eye, which made me look up, as I was walking back to the house from watering the chickens.

 

There was no sound from the extended wings that slowly raised and lowered in a smooth rhythm as the body quietly passed over my head.  The color, light to medium grey, was exquisite against the deep blue of the afternoon sky.  Just before the bird reached the tree tops of the nearby woods at the edge of my vegetable garden and disappeared, I was finally able to observe the entire body.

 

Yep…positive verification that I had another heron sighting…such a fabulous addition to a beautiful, late (actually, last) summer day; perhaps, my personal good-by to the season of sun, green grass, and garden bounty.

 

Amidst the chaos of the outside world, there are still moments of peace and tranquility…at least, in my world, at Mountain Glen Farm.
 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Waiting Is Over


I have been waiting (years?)to get a cutting from my friend Ann’s curly willow tree.

 

Last week, that cutting made its way to me via Ann, to her husband Steve, to my husband Glenn; and, finally into my hands. I was thrilled to get that cutting.

 

I had been saving a spot in my garden just for that tree.

 

Well…upon further research, I decided that the ‘spot’ might not be big enough as I discovered that this tree grows considerably larger than I had anticipated.  And, the curly willow grows very quickly.

 

So, I placed the cutting into a jar of water and spent days trying to decide on an ideal location to plant my much anticipated acquisition.

 

The weather forecast was calling for substantial rain.  I wanted to get the cutting into the ground to take advantage of the pending moisture.  I needed to make a decision fast.

 

I finally decided to plant my curly maple within feet of the originally planned planting site; moving it out about three feet to give the tree a bit more room as it grew.  Unfortunately, by giving the tree more room, I narrowed the pathway for Glenn to back up his pickup to the house to unload our firewood.  I gave him an alternate route which was OK’d by him with the caveat that he would be driving over the corner of a mulched garden island. One perennial, which I planted this season, might be in harm’s way.  I can move that perennial if need be; I cannot move the tall and wide hemlock tree that I have been pampering for 20 years that Glenn needs to maneuver around.

 
The decision was made.  Glenn would help (Glenn doing the manual labor as I supervised) plant my curly maple after taking a short break as he and Becky were fence building - still.   I grabbed a shovel and retrieved the curly maple sitting in a jar of water.  When Glenn was ready, I felt a drop of rain; then, two drops. We now had to hurry.

 

My curly maple is in the ground.  I just hope I chose the right spot. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Overwhelming, Yet Mildly Orange


A few evenings back, from the living room window, I saw a flash of orange land on the silver maple tree.  As the norm, I was compelled to investigate.

photos are, at times,  out of focus as I shoot throught two panes of glass in addition to two camera lenses; other times, in focus


 

My eyes roamed, my neck twisted and turned until I finally saw that orange…bird; beautiful and another near first for me to see in my yard.  Becky had noticed an orange bird weeks ago land in that same tree.  I was unable to take notice until I managed a quick, almost non-existent glimpse as the bird flew away.  But this recent sighting was much longer in duration and within feet of my semi-hidden location. 

 

The bird moved from branch to branch; sometimes in full sight and at other times adeptly hidden by the still full foliage of the tree.  I strained to get a better look.  I truly valued those few minutes of watching that stunning orange bird! When would I get that chance again?


 

Days later, I am still trying to decide on the species of that bird. I really have only two choices: a Baltimore Oriole or a Summer Tanager; female, to be sure.

 

 
 
My precarious vote…Baltimore Oriole.

 
 
 
 

Your vote?

 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Curious George


We added a new ram to the flerd.  He is named ‘Mister’; not by us, but by the family from which we purchased him. Due to his inquiring mind, I quickly renamed him Curious George.

Curious George watching Cricket with interest!
 

Curious George is a Katahdin.  Of our current rams, Winky is also Katahdin.  Blinky and Nod are Dorpers.

Curious George (back) and Winky (front)
 

Our current flerd is Katahdin-Dorper, but we want to lean heavier on the Katahdin breed.

 

Why?

 

During the past year, our first year in the sheep business, we have learned a lot about sheep.

 

Our management policy includes favoring livestock that are less prone to disease and parasites while maintaining good condition and health without the addition of hormones and antibiotics; thus, less maintenance and a quality flerd.

 

We have determined that the Katahdin breed of hair sheep fits that management the best.  They shed their winter coats easily which keeps the sheep comfortable during the summer.  They are less apt to develop extreme hoof growth reducing the amount of hoof trimming required.  They are immune to worm infestations (sheep are very susceptible to worms and die quickly once acquiring them); maintaining their health and vigor without the use of any medication.   Note:  Our pasture management utilizing daily rotation is another effective way to keep the worm infestation to a minimum, but some sheep are just predisposed to the parasites.

 

The Katahdin negative is that they do not develop as much muscle/meat as the Dorper; they are a leaner breed.


Glenn just calls him George.

 So, after one year of hands-on sheep rearing, we decided that the Katahdin breed is most suited to our management goals.

Curious George loves a good scratching!
 
Therefore, Blinky and Nod are for sale (sorry guys) and Winky and Curious George will be our flock rams for the moment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seasonal Slide


The weather is changing.

 

Mornings and evenings are both cooler; afternoons still offering heat.


 

The cool morning air causes the pond to produce an ethereal mist floating above the warm water of the pond; drifting off with the slightest breeze.

 


Even the nearby South River produces its own mist; a ribbon of enchantment following the path of the flowing water giving me insight as to the river’s location within my view shed.


 

My surroundings feel common to late summer with a dash of autumn; crickets in abundance with nonstop chirping, the sun shining noticeably lower in the sky, apples ripening in my small orchard (I just made my fourth apple pie of the season today), goldenrod dotting the pastures, and suggestive hints of the fabulous leaf color to come.


 

I am energized as my favorite season nears. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Finished?


partially stained fence boards lying in wait


The boards continue to go up; slowly, but up.
 

 

Actually, the second row of boards went up and then they came down again…the adage ‘measure twice, cut once’ or in this case, ‘measure twice, nail once’ was not utilized as Matt and Glenn spaced the second row of boards too close to the top board.  So, the second row came down and then back up in the adjusted, corrected position.

 

A plus, this go around, is that the boards are getting partially stained before nailing in place.  Since I was the one who had the job of staining the first rebuilt fence (three years later, I am still staining that same section of fence), and I still have the bad back to prove it, this step is a big improvement in ease and in time savings.  I will still have to stain the back side of the boards and any irregularities, but the job will not be so monumental.  And, from yard side, the fence looks complete as it is constructed; a fabulous bonus.

 

 

Matt had to start his new job, so Becky took over where he left off. 


sealing the edges of the boards


Curios George decided he needed to supervise.
 
And, today, that section of fence was completed - YEAH!


the finishing touch -  a new gate

 
George approves!

Unfortunately, fence building never ends; and, it is onto the next section.