Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Bit Fishy

We ("we" meaning "Rog") harvested the tilapia from the aquaponics fish gazebo pond today. Being tropical fish, they cannot survive water temps below 48 degrees, and it is getting cold now, so their days were numbered. Rog hasn't been fishing since we moved to the farm, 7 years ago. Until today!
First, he had to empty out some dried corn somebody had stashed in the feet of his hip waders.
Rog used a seine  net to corral the fish in a section of the pond.
Once caught in the seine, the tilapia were scooped up in a fish net (the one I use to catch errant chickens) and flipped them into a big bucket.
The catch today was 29 tilapia and a couple of koi that were caught-and-released.  There are still a few sneaky tilapia in there to be caught tomorrow.
They are so pretty, and not so big. I am sad about harvesting them.
Rog cleaned all the fish. A little  bit of blood and guts  to celebrate Halloween. 
I know they will taste delicious, but I wish we could keep them in the pond as pets.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


After morning chores and a delicious breakfast from the garden (potatoes,chard, onions peppers) I  took a walk around the farm with my camera. It has been too long!
It was a gray, drizzly day, making for muted yet saturated colors.
I am about  a third of the way through cleaning out the garden. Until last Wednesday, this was the tomato patch.
The greens (and purples) patch is still providing us with  kale, chard, celery, salad greens and  walking onions.
Gordita the scarecrow looks a bit faded and rather somber about approaching winter. That's exactly  how I feel.

A few flowers are still blooming -- ageratum by the farm store,
gaillardia out by the pond,
and black-eyed susans in the wildflowers strewn along the septic mound.
A dose of blue from the bottle tree.
Seeds from the blackberry lilies.
Wild cranberries by the garage.
A few straggling leaves remain on the serviceberries by the garage.
Hydrangeas and the trellis I made last year in the welding class.
Ducks squeezing in as many baths as possible before winter freezes the  pool.
Many of the hens are in moult right now, but these two look pretty good. Egg production is way down with the shorter days; today I only got 3 eggs.
One of the crazy color combo chickens that were Speckles' chicks last summer.
The guinea keets zooming past. When they pause and stretch up their necks to peer around, they look like a family of meerkats.
The cows are getting their fuzzy winter coats, and they are eating a lot more, which means mostly hay, since the grass is pretty much done.
Zinnie has extreme patience with Mojo, and I am so grateful for her  helping to wear off his boundless energy.
Zinnie hunting in the pampas grass.
She found a stash of eggs.
The pond has been very low and green since September, but the water  has risen a bit with the drizzle of rain the past couple days. It is not a very impressive pond, but makes me happy to have a successful tadpole hatchery. We had an abundance of young toads and frogs last summer!
 My walks always  turn into mental "To Do" checklists.  Must get the canopy off the  gazebo, put away lawn furniture and potted plants, mulch leaves, clean adn fill all teh birdfeeders, wash and cover windows with plastic film...
prune back hops vine, mow, weed, set up store for holiday fair, hang  xmas lights, make wreaths...
clear out stuff in garage stall to move the Willys truck and lawnmower in, tune up snowblower, deep clean chicken coop, spread compost on garden, shovel manure from loafing shed, extract honey from the frames, get another load of hay, harvest tilapia in aquaponics pond...
Fingers are crossed for a warm weekend to get some of this accomplished!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Turkeys and Other Fall Beauty

This post is dedicated to my beloved turkeys. It is their last day roaming the farm and a very sad day for me.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Few Fall Projects

Now that our Summer Sundays at Squash Blossom season is over, we have a little time to tackle some fun and unfinished projects...oh, and get ready for winter. 
Yesterday I took a welding class through Crossings at Carnegie. My big (and heavy) result was a bottle tree I have been wanting to make for years.  I set it up in front of the store and was  delighted to see the  blue glass glowing in the early morning sun when I went out to do chores today.
I still need to remove the labels and find a few more blue bottles.
A couple other welded creations for the garden A dragonfly...
and a coneflower.
I also made a rustic (and soon-to-be rusty) "open" sign for the store.
While I was off having fun welding, Rog made progress on the  greenhouse (with some help from friends Jerry, Elizabeth and Beth.)  All the panels are up (and hopefully will stay up though the 50-mph wind gusts forecast for this afternoon.)
Still to complete are the roof ridge, baseboards, furnaces, wiring for lighting and flooring pavers. 
Last weekend, Rog got the fish gazebo enclosed (with  the same dual wall polycarbonate panels as on the greenhouse) for the winter.
A view of the panels inside the fish gazebo. We have disconnected the aquaponics system for the winter.
Enclosing the fish gazebo makes it into an unheated greenhouse and the greenhouse effect buys us some time before the water gets too cold for the tilapia. We will have to harvest them soon because they can't survive when the water gets colder than 48 degrees. The goldfish and koi will survive the winter underneath the ice.
I cleaned up the south side of the barn for a tour of ladies who came for pie and coffee and shopping in the store on Saturday.  You can see the  aquaponics green wall at the end of the room. It is recirculating water as hydroponic system now, and will be moved into the greenhouse when it is finished.
 At a recent  trip to the ReStore I found a lighted  cabinet that I thought had great potential for displaying baked goods in the barn, but it had very dismal dark oak stain. I repainted it with yellow and cream chalk paint in time for the tour -- it turned out pretty cute! (better than it looks in this dark photo taken late the night before the tour.)
Yesterday when I got home from the welding class I pulled on my beesuit to finally harvest the honey. On Saturday I had installed a bee escape screen beneath the supers I intended to harvest, the idea being that over 24 hours the bees would move down into lower boxes and not be able to get back up into the honey supers.  This worked pretty well!  There were only a few bees on the frames and I brush most of them off easily with a stem of dried asters. I put the frames of honey into big plastic tubs, covered them and hauled them to the barn in the wagon. I usually have hundreds of bees in the barn when I harvest honey but I only had a few bees this time. Of course I also only had one hive to harvest--when I went out to put the bee screens on, I discovered two of my hives (which had seemed to be thriving  a week and a half earlier) were totally emptied of bees and honey, only containing sad, empty comb. If I had harvested my honey a month ago like most beekeepers, I probably would have still lost my bees but I would have at least gotten the honey!

Now, off to extract the honey from the hives!