Sunday, June 27, 2021

From Drought to Flooding

In less than a week, we went from drought conditions to over seven inches of rain. There is another half an inch in the rain gauge as I type this. Yikes! It is good to live on sand right now. We are on a hill and in sand so puddles don't last here and our well water is sweet because the sand filters our water well (pun intended).


As I walked between rain drops yesterday, I saw this cool looking millipede speed walking across the drive we shared.

I finally got out fishing! I have not gone since ice fishing and it was making me cranky. It felt good to catch a limit of bluegills and sunfish for Sunday dinner (there are more in the cooler). They are not big, but I'd rather eat the medium sized fish anyways. I like to release the big ones so they can propagate their big fish genes.

I was mentally preparing to have no cherries this summer (due to frost in May), but, lo and behold......there was a crop where we go to pick. They assigned us to dwarf cultivars which grow only about 7 or 8 feet tall. The orchard stakes the trees and runs cables along the rows onto which they attach the tree branches. It makes for easy picking but I missed being able to hang my bucket on a stump from a trimmed off branch. I had to run my belt through the pail handle and hang it from ME instead. Some trees had reddish berries which tasted very good, but I am partial to the darker berries and we found some of them, too, after a bit of searching. This is my favorite fruit and I have cherry pits in my mouth now as I type. We freeze them with the pits in and eat them all year long. They last just two weeks fresh in the 'fridge---best two weeks of the year!

I discovered this toad hiding next to my deck waiting for nightfall so it could come out and play. They like to hop around on our driveway eating insects at night. Help yourself and chow down.


 There is a red fox sitting and watching me as I watch him. He is on the grass by the edge of the woods about fifty yards away in the middle of this picture.

The deer you see are both bucks. They are in velvet now and seem so small this time of year. Next fall they will thicken up and look big with gleaming antlers and thick necks for the rut.

Our oldest son got married outdoors in the heat. We are glad it did not rain. It was a happy day. Congrats and best wishes to the happy couple.

After teaching three session about honey bees to the Calvin University CALL (Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning) "students", we did one session all about maple syrup. It was a blast! Attendees were interested and into it and a very fun audience. All four sessions were a great experience.

Every year about this time of year we see at least one eastern box turtle. It reminds me of when our kids were young and we would all troop out to see our hard shelled visitor.

Enjoy the longest days of the year. We wait so long for summer and then it is gone in a heartbeat.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Suddenly Summer

 As so often happens during a cold spring, we have suddenly turned the corner to summer weather. It makes me realize how quickly things can change when I see some of the pictures I took just two weeks ago and see the changes in nature in just that short amount of time.

The black locust trees are blooming now. They smell good. I have heard you can eat the blossoms. I would think they would be full of bugs, though, because they are very attractive to honey bees and other pollinators. When the black locust trees bloom it is often swarm season for the honey bees.

We were so "gretful" to be able to visit a school and talk about honey bees to 400 "trifick" children. What a blessing to be able to do that again. Gotta love those kiddos.

Between to roads we often walk there is a pathway through the woods. Now the grass is getting taller so we were concerned about getting ticks, but my wife and I walked it the other day. It is such a peaceful place we had to stop and take a few pictures of each other.
The "two" eggs in the frying pan came from the monster egg pictured below. That thing had to hurt when it came out.

Above is autumn olive. It is an invasive bush. You can see it along highways all over the place. It smells like honey when in bloom and produces little red berries that birds eat. They poop out the seeds and spread it everywhere. The berries are sour until ripe. Then they become edible to me, too. I guess you can make jam from them but I have not done that yet.
Above is wild raspberry (black caps or black raspberry) in bloom. I just heard a lecture where it was mentioned that these are great nectar producers for honey bees since they produce nectar all the time they are in bloom and not just specific hours of the day (as most blossoms do).

We saw this beautiful bush blooming along a woods edge as we biked so we looked it up later and found it was viburnum. Then, we found a viburnum blooming in our own woods. Ours is not as vibrant white as this one but it is still very nice and it is fun to find new treasures on our own property even after living here 21 years.

One day, while at my parents' house, I was getting barked at by angry robins. So, I presumed they had a nest nearby. My investigation found what you see above. Then, while at my sister's house in another city, I saw a robin on the nest. When she flew, I wanted to know if she sat on eggs, too, so I held my camera up with it in selfie mode so I could see the eggs on my camera and this is what I saw instead. I count three chicks with maybe a fourth.

At my nephew's house, a hellebore. These plants don't mind shade and are an early bloomer. I bought and planted one in my perennial garden this spring as well.

Our huckleberry bush blooms but usually does not produce berries. This year I tried to pollinate it by hand once. I should have done it more often to have better chance at success.

Morels were few and far between this spring with all the dry weather we have been having. The ones we did find were quite dry and "spored out" already.

Fox den in the pic below. Note the piece of string in the top left corner of the pic. It is like the kids leaving their toys out. I found it very interesting. We saw five pups out playing often. Then one day we saw them wander away with the adult and never saw them again until a few nights ago when I saw a fox jump up onto our chicken house at 2:30am. I peeked out there because the motion sensor light was on and I wondered why.
We have a hot weather week predicted. Maybe we will see our first fireflies soon. Enjoy!

Blooming Now

In my beehive journal I often write, "Blooming Now" and list all the main wildflowers honey bees visit that are currently blooming...