Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Like a Kid on Christmas Morning

That's how I feel every morning as I go to check my apple grafts both in my nursery and the limb grafts on my wild apple trees.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Planting for the Bees

Last year we planted Crimson Clover and the bees really fed off of it. It didn't come back this spring so we plowed up the patch again and reseeded it. It's a strip about 12 feet wide and 100 feet long. It's between the apple trellis I'm building and a row of assorted fruit trees. Here's what it looked like before we started.
We used what equipment we had. I tore up the ground with an old corn cultivator. It did a fair job and didn't turn up too many rocks.

You may notice that "Martha" the tractor doesn't have her hood on. I had to remove it for some engine work. It had been repainted since my father-in-law had owned it and wasn't the "proper" color. The wife insisted that we get her painted right, so the next time you see "Martha" she will sport a solid red hood instead of the red & grey hood she was wearing.
After I had the strip plowed up I ran over it with an old drag disc that I had bought last spring.

After numerous trips over the strip we decided that it was ready for seeding.  We hand spread pelletized lime and the clover seed.
Hopefully I'll be posting pics of happy bees feeding on Crimson Clover tops by mid-summer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Random Pics from a Spring Day on the Farm

Just wanted to share some pics from yesterday.  The garden pond needed cleaned of leaves so I donned my hip boots and waded in. As I was removing debris with a plastic rake I noticed a honeybee floating on the surface. I scooping it up and noticed that it moved one of its legs. I handed it off to my wife and as she held it, it righted itself.
After a few minutes it flew away to live another day.
I also can across this Toad couple having an intimate moment.

With the temps in the low 70's Janet decided to look into the bee hive to see how things were.

She was happy to see that the hive had come through the rough winter in fine shape and she'll some move part of this hive into a new box.  We have a large Pussy Willow tree grown from a cutting from my Grandmother's tree growing below the house and the bees are making use of it's  flowers that are now blooming.
After our vernal pond walk last week we have been keeping tabs on life in our own vernal pond. Yesterday this is what we found.
We suspect these to be eggs of the Spotted Salamander.
And these to be the eggs of a Jefferson Salamander.
Buds on the Dolgo Crab are starting to open telling me that I must get started limb grafting onto the wild apple and pear trees that are scattered about on the Back40.
Spring. A time indeed for rebirth.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One Last Run

I took Emma out for one last spring woodcock hunt. The females are probably starting to nest in my area, but Emma has become very steady on her points and I don't think she would try to catch one on the nest. Never the less they do need to be left alone to raise their broods.  We headed down to Lake Raystown to try our luck. I don't hunt this area in the fall much because they stock a lot of pheasants in this area and it's usually overrun with hunters. In the spring I have it all to myself.  It took a little while but Emma finally found one in some saplings. It held tight and gave me a chance to get some good pics.

 She found this one as I walked along the edge of a field. It was sitting out in the open between us. The wind was blowing hard and Emma wasn't quite sure just were it was, but she knew there was one close.
Neither bird was on a nest, but I didn't want to push my luck and decided to end the Spring Woodcock season with 2 good points and a lot of good memories.  So now I'll spend my days dreaming of the wondrous hunts Fall will bring. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vernal Ponds

The wife and I went on a vernal pond walk sponsored by the Woodland Owners of the Southern Alleghenies last week. Lead by Dave Scamardella our local forester and Charlie Eichelberger a biologist for the Western Pa. Conservancy it was an extremely interest outing with visits to several vernal ponds and discussions about how they work and what creatures use them. These depressions gather water from snow runoff and spring rains, dry up in the summer, and are the breeding grounds for several types of frogs and salamanders.
 We found Wood Frog eggs,
and a Jefferson Salamander in one of the ponds.
It was a very enjoyable time and I appreciate the vernal pond in the Back40 all the more.