Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Farm report – fauna

Last week was the first week of apple picking and we picked, processed and delivered just over a ton of Gala apples, most of a relatively small crop. We used our washer/sorter for the first time and it saved a lot of time and hassle. But we still do all the picking and I do most of the weighing and bagging by myself, in the kitchen. We also gave about 120 pounds of apples to a food pantry. This week we took about 160 more pounds to another pantry. Fortunately, there are plenty of people happy to have not-perfect apples and we’re delighted to be able to put them to good use.

We also had a range of animal experiences last week:

Mammal. First, Tom was having trouble getting the pickup to start. He finally opened the hood and found a large nest inside, and the animal had chewed through three wires. On Tuesday we had seen the beginning of a nest in the garage, so we finally went and bought two traps, a live trap and an oversize snap mousetrap on Wednesday. Thursday morning the live trap was sprung and empty and there was a dead packrat in the killer trap. We reset both traps and I’ve caught two adorable mice in the live trap – released them in a distant field. The packrat seems to have been working alone.

Amphibian. I like to have a little baby pool for Rosie to use when she’s hot from chasing Frisbees or balls. We discovered four baby frogs living in the pool. They go away when it rains and come back when it’s hot. Also the Beisecker Farms tree frog finally made his/her return to the back door, where the inside lights attract bugs for him.

Bird. The eggs hatched and the babies have grown. The mourning doves fledged and the baby goldfinches are almost ready to go. Last week they had little fuzzy heads; this week they look like goldfinches. I’ve seen two Baltimore Orioles, one male on the deck on Sunday and the other a dead female who got caught in the last grape nets.
Baby mourning dove

Pair of mourning doves. They disappeared, along with their nest, a few days later.

You can see how big the babies are, pushing mama dove out.

Goldfinches, just fuzz balls.

A few days later; we’ve counted at least four babies.

Insect. Suddenly the hummingbird feeders are swarming with bees. The Oriole feeder has bigger holes and the bees would go inside and end up in the main container, where they couldn’t escape and just piled up. We had to wait till dark to get them out. One of the hummingbird feeders had one plastic flower knocked off by an oriole last spring and they were getting into that one too. So we’ve taken those feeders down and only have feeders with hummingbird-sized holes. The bees are still there, but not in swarms. It was interesting to watch the hummingbirds try to get to the feeders around the bees, and to see bees chasing hummingbirds away from their feeders.

Yesterday I saw this beautiful huge caterpillar on a tomato plant. Tom says it’s a tomato worm and will destroy the plants. I’m afraid it probably is, but if there’s only one, maybe we can leave it. I don’t have a picture yet.

Finally, I’ve had a request for a picture of Thunder, the other dog. Here he is:

Blue eyes.

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