Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Flying by

Time is flying, as usual during our short summer. Also flying the last few days were thousands of dragonflies. Elden (my resident expert on dragons) caught and released a few and identified them as Common Baskettails, which he said must be migrating (yup, dragonflies do that). Look up: dragonflies everywhere. Look down: dragonfly shadows everywhere. I rescued a few that flew into the hoophouse and couldn’t find their way out, also a giant bumblebee (I just rolled up the side of the greenhouse a bit so it could be on its way).

The veggies are growing and so are the chicks! They seem to be enjoying their movable outside pen (chicken tractor). I started them out on the grass between the greenhouse and house so I could keep an eye on them. Eventually I’ll probably get them into a vegetable field somewhere so they can fertilize for us.

The dandelions are about done blooming and other wildflowers just getting started, or about to start blooming. The first batch of tomatoes in the hoophouse are blooming and tomatoes starting to form here and there. Lots of promise!

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Everything is lush and green right now here … it rained yesterday morning and it’s currently raining with more in the forecast, so it might get a little soggy again. At least I don’t have to irrigate, and the lettuce is happy!

The pigs like puddles, and apparently it’s fun to run back and forth through the old hay ring that my dad rigged up to provide shade for them (see below).

Our builder finished up the porch on Friday (thanks, Steve), but Elden is now putting up the ceiling in there, so it’s still a construction zone.

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The Night Has Ears

NiteRaccoonNiteBunnyWe moved the trail cam at the farm because it took 200 photos of me walking back and forth, but before that it captured a raccoon . . . rabbit . . . and skunk? (The blur on the very left side of the last photo.) It’s kind of fun to see who’s out and about at night.


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DorkyHatCompetitionElden and I (and his mom) just spent a week in Anchorage, Alaska, visiting Elden’s brother and family. One of the highlights was on Saturday, when we walked over to a cross-country ski trail to watch some of the Iditarod teams go by. The dogs seemed very happy to be running, and the weather there was awesome compared to what it’s been like in Duluth. (Who knew, right?) For the record, we saw a moose in the distance while driving one day, but our only up-close sighting was of moose droppings. Not exactly a highlight, but you don’t see moose poo every day, either.

mtnsIt was nice to see a pile of CSA sign-ups in the mail when we got home. We still have plenty of Stone’s Throw Farm CSA shares for sale, though, so if you’re looking to sign up, please do so. I’ll post an update here as soon as we’re sold out, I promise.

If you’re a past farm member looking to renew, our early-bird deadline is March 14, so you’ve still got time. You can even renew after that, but I won’t be holding a spot for you after the 14th. It’s not exactly a race, but you don’t want to miss out, either!



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kale_transplantsThis past week the sun kept shining, the soil kept drying, and I was able to get many seeds and all the transplants (those that were ready to go, anyway) into the ground. At the end of the week I was tired and sore – and I’m sure my parents were, too – but relieved to have made progress. It rained on Friday night, forcing us to take a break … a welcome break. There’s always more that I wish had gotten done, but I can’t complain when I really think about all that was accomplished.

The week started with seeding of the first snap peas, which is very important as it seems to be almost everyone’s favorite veggie. On Monday evening, I put the collard greens and kale into the ground. I hoped to be transplanting these crops in late April, so May 13 felt pretty pathetic, but it could be worse! I spent the next couple of days transplanting, transplanting, seeding, and transplanting. On Thursday and Friday, I spotted tiny leaf lettuce and spinach plants that I had seeded last week (in some sandy soil that dries out faster) finally poking out of the soil. Thank goodness.

Sometime toward the end of the week, I looked up and noticed for the first time the light green cloud of new leaves in the trees. I also saw three crows chasing a raven through the air above the fields.  On Friday, I saw a porcupine crossing the road in front of me on Highway 23 as I headed back out to the farm from Duluth. I slowed down and stopped to take what ended up being a crappy photo of his rear end with my phone. What interested me was that the porcupine never altered its pace as I approached in the car, slowed down, and stopped. I guess I can understand why a porcupine might feel pretty invincible.

My progress in the field sometimes seems slower than the porcupine’s (think turtle-speed), but it is much, much faster than it was the first couple years I was farming thanks to my parents, Craig & Jean. It’s almost as if I have a magic wand – I say that a particular task needs to be done, and it happens. My dad has been taking care of all the field prep, spreading compost where needed, disking and tilling – a real gift to me, the clumsy tractor operator. While I was transplanting in the west field on Tuesday, he was prepping the middle field. On Wednesday I transplanted in the middle field while he prepped some beds in the east field … and so forth. He also keeps the piggies happy, and are they ever – their lives seem completely stress-free from my perspective:  smelly, but content.

My mom helped me a bit with transplanting onions and Brassicas and did the entire second round of lettuce– 244 plants – by herself. She has mainly been taking good care of the greenhouse, watering, weeding, seeding and potting for me. Unlike the tractor work, I do enjoy that stuff, but I’m more than happy to hand over the reins at this point so I can take care of other things. My interest has waned a bit, but my mom still seems delighted that the seeds germinate and the potted plants shoot up and out in the sun. I have a feeling the plants appreciate her enthusiasm as much or more than I do.

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Recently at the farm, Elden & I noticed several signs of winged predators.

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, it’s time to buy fresh, locally grown produce . . . it’s just not quite time to eat said produce. Sign up for your 2013 Stone’s Throw Farm CSA share now, and enjoy the fruit of our labor starting in mid-June.


Soon the farm will be bustling again. I’ll start onions from seed next weekend . . . and once the work starts, there’s no stopping!

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A big chikin meandered through my parents' yard near Wrenshall. Apparently.

In case you’re wondering . . . you can still get a summer CSA share – click here to go to the printable sign-up form. For more info about our shares, click here or contact me at stonesthrowmn at gmail.com or 218-728-6774.

Checks can be made out to the farm and sent to Stone’s Throw Farm, 1420 Jefferson Street, Duluth, MN 55805.


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The deer have been eating some of our cucumbers, which didn’t concern me too terribly much since the cukes are pretty prolific, but now they’re eating our punkins! I’ll probably have to make some fence tomorrow to SOS — Save Our Squash. I thought I would be able to get away with having the cucurbits unfenced this year, since my across-the-road neighbors do, but then again their fields aren’t right next to dense woods, either.

Elden has been faithfully chipping away at our building projects on weekends and has the front of the quonset building almost done, by my estimation anyway. It seems like he’ll for sure be able to get the thing buttoned up for winter, and perhaps a little work done on the inside, too. I am not much help, unfortunately, as I’m all thumbs with any kind of power tool and pretty busy in the field, anyway.

My friend Jacob stopped by the other day and saw this 2-pound tomato sitting on the counter and said, “What’s THIS?” As I explained, it was my prize tomato out of the greenhouse, a Big Beef I believe. I brought it home for a few days to admire, then eventually gifted it to my neighbors Randy and Kathy Wolf, who supplied our compost this year. It seemed appropriate.

The Sun Jewel melons that did so well last year might surprise me and produce something edible this year. I was sure they wouldn’t make it to maturity last year, but they did, so I’m not counting them out entirely even though the fruit is still tiny right now.

Finally, the “horsetail” weeds that are so prolific at Stone’s Throw Farm are maddening, but I have to admit they’re pretty covered with morning dew.

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Last night I dreamed that it was June and I hadn’t seeded any peas yet. I think that means it’s time to do some serious planning for the 2011 season to make sure nothing like that happens!

I probably dreamed about Stone’s Throw Farm because Elden and I went out there yesterday to check on a few things. I’m happy to report that everything seemed fine. The hoophouse is shedding snow respectably well, the quonset shell (a.k.a. wind tunnel) had just a dusting of snow in the middle, and there’s even a little bit of rye growing in the hoophouse. I scratched in some rye seed in mid-to-late November and watered it a few times with a sprinkling can, but didn’t really expect it to grow. Apparently it’s been warm and moist enough in there for it to limp along.


The deer have messed up the west side of the deer fence a bit (as Elden said, it looks like 3 or 4 of them ran full speed ahead right through it), but that can be repaired in the spring. There’s enough icy snow cover now that I don’t think they’re bothering to paw the snow off the field to eat.

We snowshoed back to the cove to take a look and noticed that the two old shacks that were on our neighbor’s property just 10 feet from the property line have been torn down. Plenty of people considered them eyesores, but it’s strange to look west and not see them now. I suppose it’s nothing like the changes that have happened on our side of the property line in the past year and a half!

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Empty Nest

A few farm members saw the killdeer nest in the leeks last month, and you might have seen my photo of it on this blog:  three little eggs nestled in what must have seemed like a safe spot, since I hadn’t hoed or weeded the leeks in some time!  If you’re not familiar with killdeer, the birds protect their nests from potential predators by acting injured (easy targets) and calling out to attract attention to themselves, thereby distracting predators from the eggs.

So, while I transplanted broccoli and cauliflower, the killdeer called. While I weeded carrots and scallions, the killdeer called. While I hilled potatoes . . . harvested spinach . . . hoed onions . . . . I was actually almost dreading picking the peas this week because the birds were so loud and persistent. You can hear the “alarm call” on this website if you’d like to experience it yourself. (My cats now think there’s a bird under my laptop!)

On Friday, I was weeding nearby and the killdeer were going nuts. I reached over into the leeks to grab a weed, and saw a baby bird hunkered down in the dirt between rows. The killdeer had hatched! I decided to finish weeding another time (not that one is ever finished weeding). When I came back to the east edge of the field on Saturday, the birds were gone.

It’s a relief to have some peace and quiet, but on the other hand it feels like something’s missing in the field. I hope they’re doing okay.

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