Fledglings!

OMG! The baby barn swallows are off and flying around! I have continued to check on their status in the last couple of days and at times had found only three chicks in the nest so I knew one of them was trying his wings. I just ventured out to peek at them again and found there was only one chick in the nest! He looks so lonely!

IMG_0668I went inside to get my camera and walked around to the far door so as not to scare them off and the nest was EMPTY! It was similar to the feeling I had when my children left for college. I knew they were capable of taking flight and experiencing the world on their own, but oh, my babies were suddenly gone! Wouldn’t you know, this is what they left behind! Kids! Le Sigh…

IMG_4416In other news…we keep trying to improve on the blueberry patch. We had our nets draped over tall wooden stakes in order to keep the net off the fruit. If you let the net touch the fruit, when you pull it away, you pull off fruit as well as leaves which isn’t good.

We had the sides of the net secured with large rocks every few feet to keep the net in place around the bottom. Well, this wasn’t working as well as we thought since we would often go out and see the east side of the net flapping in the wind (it typically blows west to east so this was expected) and therefore open to invasion. Drag. The rocks were also not ideal since we had to move them each time we mowed around the beds. So we came up with this idea to hold the nets in place and yet allow us to be able to lift them with ease to mow or have access. I had some extra cup hangers in the closet and decided to employ them in the wooden stakes as follows: We used a small awl and hammer to start a hole at the bottom of the stake.

IMG_4475Then we screwed in a cup holder and left it in an upside down position and attached the net.

IMG_4478We hope this works. I think we have been beating the birds on the blueberry front. We have picked over eight pounds with many more to go!

IMG_4446We are greedily freezing them to eat all winter long. I think Joan Moore coined the phrase perfectly…I have ‘Little Red Hen’ syndrome! I’m sure you all remember the children’s story of Little Red Hen. If not, you can find it here: http://www.storybus.org/stories_and_activities/the_little_red_hen/story. There is just so much work that goes into our crops that we are really going to focus on feeding ourselves with the product before thinking about selling it.

I know I’ve said it before, but there is always something to do on the farm even tho it is too wet from the rain to do what is needed. Yesterday, in addition to all the blueberry picking and net adjustments, I weeded the front, south landscape bed and added more Preen before mulching. This afternoon Dave worked on making and installing his cucumber trellises. We were big fans of the sweet pickles we made from our cucumbers and zucchinis last year but we ran out of them months ago and Dave has been missing them on his lunch time sandwiches. We hope to have a bumper crop this year for even more pickle making. Here is what he worked on this afternoon.

IMG_4482Dave also asked me to thin the okra! I was more than happy to help since I would not want more okra than our dear Joyce can eat. She grew up in Oklahoma (or as we like to say, Okrahoma!) and loves fried Okra but we basically grow it for her plus the added benefit of some afternoon shade that its tall stalks provide for other plants. You see twin plants here but I thinned them to one every 12 inches. Still….lots of Okra!

IMG_4483We picked lovely peppers and yellow squash which we will have for dinner tonight as well as lettuce, onions and radishes for our salad.

IMG_4486 IMG_4488The eggplants are looking very healthy as well so we will have get ready for that battle in the future months. We have nearly wiped out that which we froze last year so I guess that means we won the war???

IMG_4489The only negative thing to add to the day was that the Japanese Beetles are back! Arg! We felt they were fewer in number last year due to the heat and the drought so not sure what to expect this year but they look to be attacking their favorite areas: the orchard, roses and grape leaves. We have found them just about everywhere and hope to employ our favorite technique of brushing them into a container of soapy water.

Here is what we are currently reading! Dave got a 2 year subscription for his birthday…thanks Lisa and Lee!

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