Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Chicks!

Toot, toot, yeah, peep, peep!  Sorry was channeling Donna Summer there for a minute.  So I've been seeing the sign outside of the Agway announcing chicks are here!  Stopped in and guess what? Sold out!  False advertising says I.

Anyway, not to worry Halas Farm Market has plenty.  I made a trip over there, just for the chicks.  On the day I was there (yesterday) they had lots of Rhode Island Red and Ameraucana chicks (shown in the video below) and Barred Rocks and Buff Orpington chicks.  They did not disappoint.  Adorable as can be, these 3 day old chickens stole my heart.  Wish I could have some...

This little Ameraucana chick was getting a bit tousled by her hatchmates. The lovely care giver at Halas picked her up for a moment to give her a few moments to recuperate.

Curious little baby chick, checking me out as I took some video.

Happy spring!  See some peeping cuteness in this here video.

Peep Peep Yeah, Baby Chicks from Jen Hill on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fruit, how you vex me!

Someone recently asked me about fruit trees and wanted to know if I know anything about caring for them.  I know a thing or two, but I can't say I've been successful in this area.  I think it may have been about 8 years ago when I planted my fruit trees, an apple and then a peach.  It could be that the trees around my fruit trees were smaller then, or it could be that in the springtime when I planted them, there seemed to be more sun.  What I do know is that they could be getting more sun during the growing season.  However, I can't say that a lack of sun is the problem, because I do get fruit.  I just don't get it to the point where  (emphasis on I) can eat, because you see, it does get eaten, just not by me.

Baby Peaches.  You can still see the remains of the flower buds.

One thing that must be done in order to get good fruit, is spray with fruit tree spray.  It has fungicide and insecticide.  I know, I know, that doesn't sound very appetizing, but once you get a bug boring holes into your fruit, you won't want to eat that either, and you wash your fruit before you eat it, right? So I sprayed my trees with fruit spray like a good little gardener.  The tree was covered with peaches and the fruits grew.  They weren't as large as I expected, maybe because I did not cull enough (or any for that matter) fruits in the early stages, maybe because there wasn't as much sun as there should be, not sure.  

The peaches started to ripen, I got ready for my harvest.  Visions of peaches danced in my head.  You know how it's so hard to find a good one at the supermarket. I just knew mine would be better.  They'd be the best peaches I'd ever had, right?  I came out one morning and they were stolen!  That's right stolen!  The thieves had the nerve to leave the pits right there on the ground too!  How dare they!  Of course, the thieves in question were squirrels during the day and deer in the evening.  

Things I know about fruit trees:

1. Place fruit trees in your sunniest location.
2. If you fertilize your lawn, do not plant fruit trees in the middle of the lawn.  The high nitrogen grass fertilizer is too much for your fruit trees. If you must put them in the lawn, dig out the grass around the tree and cover with a thick layer of mulch, but do not leave mulch against the trunk of the tree.
3. Give them water during dry times.  A good long, deep watering with a soaker hose once a week should do the trick.
4. Use fruit tree spray.
5. Consider using a squirrel baffle. My father-in-law does and has success with his peaches.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Want to Fly!

The eggs have hatched, a couple of weeks have passed, and now it's time for baby bluebirds to leave the nest. I watched them getting the courage up to fledge. The mama kept them in for one more day. Once they're out of the nest, they don't come back to it. They will still need her to feed them. It will take the babies a while before they figure out how to feed themselves, but they will be up in the trees and flying around like grown up birds.

The day after this video was shot, they left the nest. I didn't get to see it. They must have gone first light, before anyone is awake. I didn't see them for a couple days, but I could hear bluebird sounds out in the back woods. Then today, the mama came looking for worms on the feeding station. It's a lot of work feeding all these babies and I guess she could use some help.

Bluebirds Fly from Jen Hill on Vimeo.

I highly recommend viewing the HD version. If you would like to see it in HD click here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Say Hello to My Little Blue Friend

I had kind of given up on the bluebirds, since they didn't nest here last summer and I had only seen one or two stop by on a visit this summer. I figured they must not see this as a good place to raise their young. Sure I had a visit on Thanksgiving of all days from a few male bluebirds passing through. They landed on the nesting box for a few minutes and went on their way.

So a few weeks ago, a male and female bluebird with three babies in tow decided to come live in our yard. They showed up one day and we quickly got some meal worms at the local pet shop to feed them. They liked that treatment I guess, and decided to stay. After a few days the female, I call her Mama, started making a nest in the box.

So they've been hanging out here and I got some up close video of Daddy blue. There's a short clip of Daddy and Mama together but she soon busied herself with other things.

I uploaded a new HD video to vimeo today. You can press the play button to watch it from within this window.

Bluebirds Close Up from Jen Hill on Vimeo.

You can also click the enlarge icon on the lower right hand corner to make it full screen.

I highly recommend viewing the HD version. If you would like to see it in HD click here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Year of the Toad

Right after I posted about Mr. Toad, I met up with Toad Jr. on the back patio. He was doing well to camouflage himself amongst the plants and bluestone, but Clarence cat cannot be fooled. I notice him noticing the toad and that's what alerted me to him. He's about a third of the size of the window well toad. At the time, I was potting up some plants there on the patio and he kept moving to get away from me as I moved about. He ended up feeling safe on a plastic tray I use to move my seedlings around. He hid among my pepper plants which had not yet been planted.

Later that evening, I went out to move my pepper and eggplants to a safe (read deer free) spot for the night. As I placed my fingers around the edges of the tray, I felt toad. Yes, I touched toad, in the dark, where I could barely make him out, but I knew what it was that I was touching. They're very delicate creatures. They kind of feel like the soft flesh and bone on the back of your hand. So I moved my plants and went inside and told hubby, "Hon! I touched toad!"

Since meeting up with Toad Jr. I've met up with small toads three more times, today being the most recent. Two of them were on the outside of my vegetable garden. One was hopping against the hardware cloth at the bottom. I helped him get inside and placed him in the garden near a tomato plant and a toad house I set up for him (a rock piled on top of some bricks). I could use his help with the insects, which I pretty much feel helpless against, since I don't want to use anything that would hurt a bee.

Toads are indeed delicate creatures. They're greatly affected by the air and water quality. They absorb moisture readily through their skin (as do we by the way). A toxic environment would not suit a toad at all. So I'm taking it as a good sign that I have so many visible toads this year. Soon the plants in the garden will be big and beefy and packed with great hiding places for my toad friends. I'll enjoy them while I can.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mr. Toad

Every spring when I go out to the vegetable garden and start tilling the soil for planting, inevitably, I find a toad. Usually, it is hopping for it's life trying to get away from me. Of course I feel bad for frightening the poor thing. I'd like for him to stay and eat all the bugs he can handle, but alas I never really see him again after that. I guess garden toads just don't like people.

House toads, however, don't mind people. In the window well of one of my basement windows we have a toad tenant. He's been there for a few years now. I usually only see him when it rains and he comes out from hiding under the leaves that have collected down in the well. I've left the leaves there so as to not disturb his little home. Often I see only the tip of his snout (nose? what do toads have?) sticking out of the leaves. A sapling has started to grow in there too and I think it's just the cutest thing. He has the perfect toad set up.

This past week, we started painting the exterior of the house. I took extra caution to cover Mr. Toad's window well with a big thick tarp so he wouldn't get any paint on him or the leaves. Then I recalled in one of my gardening books, some advice about toads. It said to leave a dish of clean water. They like to sit in it and absorb the water through their skin. So I got a small toad sized cup, filled it with clean water, and reached down into the window well, put it on the windowsill for Mr. Toad and went about my business. I noticed later that he was sitting by it, facing it. Perhaps he was pondering if he would fit inside, or just how he would get in there.

Yesterday was a rainy day and hubby and I decided to do some woodworking in our shop in the basement. We have a sink under the window of Mr. Toad's home. I looked up to see him in the dish of water outside the window. For some reason, it struck me as adorable, so I had to go outside and get his picture. He fits perfectly in the cup of water. He stayed there all day. His toes must have gotten pruney as he finally decided to get out late in the afternoon and sit on the windowsill next to the cup of water. Ah, the life of a toad...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Richter Park Photos

I thought I'd share some more of my Richter Park Golf Course photos. These are some of my favorites. You'll notice, it's doesn't look very golf course-ish in these photos. These photos exclude the greens for the most part, although I did photograph the greens as well. I'm lucky to live in such a pretty neighborhood.

This is the very right edge of the putting green on the 3rd hole.

A view of the West Lake Reservoir through the trees along the edge of the 7th Hole.

Boggs Pond behind the 13th Tee Box.

Swans on West Lake Reservoir by the 7th Hole Red Tees.

Looking towards Middle River Road.

Trees along 2nd Hole.

Lit up trees along 2nd Hole.