Category Archives: summer

Wildlife Wednesday ~ Butterflies

I spent some time this year around the farm, experimenting with a macro lens that I recently acquired. In my trips to water cattle, check on calves, or change paddocks, I would take my camera and new lens along. I’d never used a macro before and I’m still not all that adapt at using it but by trial and many, many errors, I managed to get some beautiful captures.

As I started to photograph different flying insects like flies, bees and grasshoppers, I also started to notice a multitude of butterflies in all shapes and sizes. I didn’t even know there were varieties called skippers up to that point. I’d never really paid much attention to anything other than the ordinary and bright monarchs or swallowtails.

What I discovered was a whole new world of pollinators, right in my farm pastures. I have photos of some that I still haven’t managed to identify. I found spots in one pasture that was loaded with so many butterflies the ground was almost covered.

I will number the images…and there are lots! If you happen to know the common and/or scientific name, please comment below or send me a message.

21. Yellow Swallowtail?
20. Eastern Black Swallowtail?
19. Eastern Black Swallowtail?
18. Monarch?
17. UNKNOWN
16. UNKNOWN
15. UNKNOWN
14. UNKNOWN
13. Boston Checkerspot
12. UNKNOWN
11. UNKNOWN
10. UNKNOWN
9. UNKNOWN
8. Suspected European Skipper but not positively identified
7. UNKNOWN
6. UNKNOWN
5. White Admiral butterfly ~ Limenitis arthemis
4. Long Dash ~ Polites mystic For more info: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Polites-mystic
3.The flowers here are called Ragged Robins are a member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae). The species name – flos-cuculi – means cuckoo flower. The butterfly is a Painted Lady ~ Vanessa cardui Sighting details: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/982157
2. Harris’ Checkerspot ~ Chlosyne harrisii For more info: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Chlosyne-harrisii
1. European Skipper ~ Thymelicus lineola The host plant is Timothy grasses used for hay on farms. For more info: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Thymelicus-lineola Sighting details: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/982184
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Haying Time

It’s hard to believe that we are continuously working on haying it seems. Some of the fields are still first cutting hay, while others are already seeing rebound growth of third cutting hay that looks extremely promising…that is, as long as we continue to get a little bit of rain here and there.

I know that our farm and the additional family farm we work with are very fortunate this year when compared to what some of the farms out in the corn belt and Texas are dealing with. The whole country seems to be facing one sort of drought or another. I know I have driven past areas that the corn is shriveled and pointed toward the heavens with it’s leaves curled up like hands in a silent prayer, begging for rain. Some of our grasses here are scorched and a limp pale green yellowish color. We have had a few sprinkles of rain…but we still aren’t facing the dried up ground that many others have.

I worry and say a lot of prayers for those in the areas affected by the fires that are cropping up every where. I worry and say prayers for all of those farmers that supply so many with the goods they produce. I scares me to think of how it could impact all of us in the long run if they don’t start getting some rain. Food shortages are the biggest thing that freaks me out. The northeast will never be able to supply the world demand for US grown crops and we seem to be the one’s least affected by the drought so far….scary thoughts!

Even with the good hay crops that we are getting here…we still won’t be able to come up with enough to support the diminishing supplies needed in the other regions of the US. Two consecutive years of extensive drought has many concerned, including all of the farmers I have talked to locally.

I know many people are getting prepared for the onslaught of hay demands for the south and are stuffing their barns full to the gills already. We are all trying to prepare to assist…but you can’t just create hay from weedy fields…bedding maybe, but not food that cows will actually want to eat. We can only be as prepared as the fields are…

We have actually been getting some really nice looking hay to put up. A few of the fields have actually shown record production too. The one field were worked in yesterday has beat it’s all time record of 40 round bales (size of bale is about 4-1/2 feet by 4 feet and weighs approximately 750 lbs) to an astonishing record of 51! Hopefully, that will mean that some of them will be prepared and ready to drop onto a truck if the need arises. Most of the fields this year have been this way, thank goodness!

Anyways, time for me to get my own chores done, that way I can head out here in a bit to see what needs to be done and what fields are going to be worked on today…with the temperatures hovering around 95 degrees with a heat index up over 100, who knows what and how much we can get accomplished today.

God Bless you all…and pray with me for more rain!

Mission Accomplished

FINALLY!!!!!

Our planting is ALL done! After nearly a month of dealing with rain, ground that was way too wet, broken down equipment and work schedules giving us grief….we managed to get ‘er done! I have to say it is a huge relief knowing that all that seed is in the ground. Now we can watch the grass grow…no pun or funny lines intended!

Now it’s back to life as normal…well, as normal as farming life goes anyway.

Since we are talking grasses today, I have to tell you all more about this rotational grazing that we are doing now for the cows. We don’t have it set up yet as an intensive grazing program, but we are headed there. Rotational grazing, as described by a fellow farmer, is developing as many “spring” grass pastures as possible. By rotating paddocks the cows are always eating new growth grasses, which are higher in many of the nutrients required by cows for body condition, growth and milk production. It also eliminates much of the manure stock pile that would normally occur if the animals were kept in the barn, thus eliminating the need for spring, summer and fall manure spreading. The animals naturally take care of it themselves! This is also a natural way of rebuilding the soils due to the established root growth and when then animals walk, the break off organic matter that enriches the soils. There is much more that can be explained about the grazing…but for now, I will leave it as just the basics. We will save the full benefits of rotational grazing for a blog write up all on it’s own.

Right now, we have three paddock areas divided over five acres that we sectioned off using temporary fencing for the time being. We monitor the paddocks daily to see what type of regrowth has occurred on the two paddocks that are out of rotation and also the paddock that is in current rotation.

Can you tell the difference between the graze and ungrazed paddock?

Once the current paddock has much of the grass eaten down to a couple of inches, it looks an odd greenish/brown color…that is the time we know to transition the cows into the next paddock. The photo above was the last few moments of the cows spending time in paddock two. They were then transitioned to paddock 3. Currently, we are running between 10 to 14 days per paddock. That allows for 20-28 days until the cows are returned to each paddock. It all depends on regrowth and forage availability within a paddock.

This past month full of rain has actually caused the paddocks to get ahead of us. The grass is regrowing so fast that the current paddock is growing back faster than they can eat it down. We are going to transition the cows from paddock 1 today, tomorrow we will mow and bale what is left within the paddock while they are grazing on paddock 2. Since the grass has grown so fast, we see no other option but it will begin to supply the forage materials we will need come winter time. Remember, this is all a learning experience for us so if we do it wrong…we will let you know so that if there is someone else out there who is looking at rotational grazing like this…maybe we can save you a headache or two!

Lastly…CALF UPDATE:
Our newest Dexter bull calf, aptly named Beefy (because stocky just didn’t seem right) is growing fast!!!! You should see him out running, jumping and kicking. He is amazing to watch. He has a VERY protective group of cows out there with him…including our Jersey.

Nothing is going to happen to that calf with all these protective Mothers

It’s good to see how protective they are of him. It makes me worry that much less about him out running around with the herd. All of the girls treat him like a spoiled child! If he is laying down in the grass while they are foraging, one of the girls will go check on him about every 15 minutes…poor boy probably feels over-mothered.

We are currently watching and waiting for arrival number two! #47 aka Annie is showing major signs of progression. We are monitoring her very closely because this will be her very first calf. I am hoping that she will cooperate and have him on a nice day like today…AND a time when I can get a video of the birth! She is such a sweet girl and that would just make my year to be able to capture such a momentous moment for all of us.

Well….speaking of which…I think it’s time for me to take another pasture walk and check on my girls with cameras in hand! Hope to share some great happenings the next time I come back!!!!

 

People Ask…

People ask me questions sometimes that make me really sit back and ponder life in general.

Most Common Question:
“Why do you farm?”

My answer is simple, yet complicated.
I love cows! I love chickens! I love animals…period!

Calves holding a "discussion"
Bubba J and Rosie playing in the snow on a warm winter day.

Then of course, there is the food stuff! From canned, stewed tomatoes to home grown sweet corn, making cheese to eggs for breakfast…without the farm, I wouldn’t have those things like I do.

Right to Left: Canned Beef, Sweet Corn and Stewed Tomatoes

Question: “What is it about your farm that keeps you where you are?”

There are a ton of reasons on this one. One of them isn’t the taxes, I do need to specify that!
There is an easy answer to this one! It’s the sunrises/sunsets. It’s the views. It’s the private pond….and so much more!

The morning sunrise
Sunsets as seen from Barrows Pond

There are many more questions and a whole lot more answers…..But I think this will give anyone a good idea on why I love farming. I think it will also give you a fair idea on why I love being here!

Of course, Mr. Farmer has one very big reason……this land has been in his family for 6 generations! The deed reads out like a genealogy report!

Summer’s Gone and So Is Fall

Well, the title about sums it up! Hard to believe that we are into November already! We still haven’t completed the addition on the barn either and I am sure that snow isn’t too far out in the forecast!

This fall turned into a slow brewing nightmare. Corn harvest still isn’t done on some of the fields because they are just too wet! Nothing like trying to get a chopper into a mud pit! Only got stuck once with the tractor but that was definately more than needed to happen.

Trying to keep up with harvest while building a ten foot addition down the full 72 foot length of our barn has not worked out so well. We got the poles in the ground, the roofing on and a new water system put in but that’s about the extent of what we have managed to complete so far.

Our herd has expanded yet again too! We now have three calves here. One bull calf that already has a group of girls to spend next summer at pasture with and two lineback/jersey cross heifers! Along with those three additions, there have also been three Dexter cattle added to our mix! I will post photos in our photo page as soon as I get some time. Our jersey rescue cow is looking good and we are awaiting the arrival of her calf! The vet was WAY off his estimates when he preg checked her…by nearly two and a half months!!!! We have been anxiously waiting too…mostly because it will be the first calf born on the farm in 25 years!!!!

Two of our steers went to the butcher shop last weekend…I miss them but I do like to eat. They were well cared for when they were here and raised with the intention that they also had a purpose.

Our young group of chickens are doing well. They have moved into a temporary hut shelter until the barn addition is completed and they are loving their barn yard! A few have started laying eggs but we still are not keeping up with the local demand for our eggs! We are selling around 15 dozen eggs a week now!!!! Everyone who buys from us keeps telling us that these are the best eggs they have ever had! Makes me happy to know that how we treat our animals here shows through!

I (Doreen) have been working more on spending time doing social media things too. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with a new business, a farm (which really is another business) and just life in general. You can find our facebook page for the biomass happenings at and on twitter! I have my own account through twitter too…CNYFarmGirl! I know I am not as informative or as busy within the ag industry as some others are…but I do ask some good questions and have some thoughts about things on ag.
Right now, one of my newest questions: Are cows better off today with regard to animal welfare than they were 20 yr ago? Please give reasons on why or why not.
I am gonna talk more about that very soon! Hope everyone has a great day…time for me to head back to the barn!

Update

Yes, I know. Shame on me! I haven’t updated at all recently. There has been a lot going on and this was unfortunately not high on the list of main priorities.

BUT…I finally have the time to update what has been going around here! First off, bad weather this spring resulted in crops going in late and even some issues with replanting fields that didn’t take. Too much rain this spring made for a muddy mess no matter where you went.

Then as the spring transferred to summer, the extreme opposite happened. We went from fields of mud to field too dry. First cutting alphalpha went great but second cutting resulted in very poor yields due to lack of water and near drought conditions. Our pasture grass stopped growing and we had to feed hay much early than we ever would!

Then a couple of weeks ago, our region saw a deluge of 7-11 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Many of our neighboors, friends and family have been displaced or effected by all of the flooding in the area that recieved national attention…

Fortunately, we were not affected by the high levels of water and are high enough in elevation to not have been impacted at all by the rest reminants of Lee.
Instead, we have started construction on a 10 foot addition on the side of our barn, a new barn roof and additions to our herd!

I will update each seperate happening in additional posts…due to the fact that I have taken lots of photos and this isn’t the post to include those in.

Right now….I need to go check on the arrival of our newest addition that is coming at any time now!
God Bless and Have a great day!

Inspiration Number Twelve-Cats and Dogs

In Loving Memory of Whiskey
You can’t have a farm and not have a cat and atleast one dog. I almost think it’s a given for both. People who have cats that want to dump them off, always seem to do it at the nearest farm! Sometimes it drives me crazy but if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have great mouse and bird control! Our cat that came from another farm is perfect. She chases anything that moves and more often than not, exhibits characteristics that would make you think she is a dog!

Midnight, our cat-dog

Then, we have hounds instead of traditional dogs like Collies here on our farm. Rosie, the blood hound, was a rescue who had been extremely abused and was nearly starved to death when she first went to the dog warden. His kennel kept her for almost three months working to rehabilitate her so she would be friendly. She is not aggressive by any means, she is scared of everything including her own shadow. Once I brought her home (something I thought I was going to get grief forever for) it took her nearly three months to warm up to Mr. Farmer. Having her around our animals has been the greatest rehab thing for her. She mother’s each and every one of our animals. When we first got chickens, we kept them in our addition on the back of the house until they were about two weeks old. She would sit at the edge of the box and just watch them for hours. When we moved them into their “hut” outside, she moped around the house for a whole day. When she finally decided to come inside the hut, she discovered her little ones and she went through smelling and licking her one of them.
That is the way she is with all of the animals. From chickens to turkeys, steers to cows and mostly the calves. She is my “mother hen” here on the farm. She is also my constant companion. She rides with me to town (and sits higher than I do on the seat), runs with me when we got out to check fields with the four wheeler, assists with daily chores on the farm and sits with me on the couch.

Playing in the snow

A moment of rest while checking hay fields

Then, we have Raven. She is a Bluetick Coonhound. She was found on Craigslist, free for the taking. She was skinny, had worms really bad and was also abused. We went to look at her and couldn’t leave her there. She is Mr. Farmers baby. She pouts on his side of the bed when he is gone, she follows him all over and plays with him when she won’t with anyone else. She is high strung and really doesn’t like to sit still to have photos taken, no matter how many times I have tried! She doesn’t spend much time at the farm unless there are calves around. The only reason why she does then is so she can lick the remainder of the milk out of the buckets. She does love to go run through the fields!
Raven, our bluetick coonhound, waiting to play while out in the early, early spring fields