Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bees and Chicks

Locally we are having a great Locust tree bloom.  The blossoms are an important pollen source for our bees. We're hoping for a good honey harvest this fall.


I've been hatching Cochin bantam chicks almost weekly. These are my latest hatch.
Chicks from my first hatch are rapidly growing.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Morning Walk in the Back40

Aside from following an English Setter through a woodcock covert, a walk through the Back40 orchard is my favorite pastime.  Seeing which apple trees are bearing fruit, looking into my numerous bird boxes, and peering into the vernal pond are things that I love to do. Here are some pics from a recent morning walk.

A Red Limbertwig bearing a few apples for the first time. This old southern variety was listed in nursery catalogs in the early 1800's. Hopefully I'll be tasting one this fall.
A Waubay Crab limbgrafted to an Antonovka apple tree. The Waubay Crab is described as a 1 1/4 inch fruit, brilliant red, with the rich, spicy subacid sweetness of the Grimes Golden (one of it's parents) combined with the long keeping capacity and hardiness of the wild Mercer crab ( it's other parent) It was developed at the Iowa Experimental Station in the early 1930's.
A Wealthy apple.  This was the first apple to survive the harsh winters of Minnesota. Grown from a seed from Maine it 1861 it gave the early homesteaders a chance to grow their own apples. By the early 20th century it was one of the top 5 apples grown nationally.
These are just a few of the many heirloom apples that I have grafted. Each of them having an interesting story.
My nest boxes are being well used by Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.

Sadly the Chickadee nest that I had reported on earlier was taken over by a House Wren. Wren's are noted for being very aggressive and will drive away or even kill other box nesting birds like the Chickadee, Bluebird and Tree Swallow. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Apples, Cochins, and Chickadees

I finished potting or planting all my grafts in the garden. If my records are correct I have 131 apple grafts and 5 pear grafts. With 63 different varieties I grafted at least two of each variety in hopes of having at least one successful graft.

The apples are growing on many of my trees, regretfully I'll have to pull them off because most of my trees are still too young to bear fruit. I run the chance of stunting the tree by letting it bear fruit to young.

My flock of Cochin bantams is growing with chicks hatching nearly every week.
I've been busy building several "summer coops" to house the chicks after they get big enough to leave the brooder. As fall approaches I'll decide which birds I'll keep over winter to breed with next spring and which ones to sell.

This chickadee has claimed one of my bird boxes and wasn't about to be chased away by me and my camera.

The beginning of the next generation.