Archive for July, 2015

Wildflowers That Require Little Care!

Posted on July 31, 2015 by Leave a comment

Sometimes on a farm it is hard to keep up with everything and the flower garden goes a little wild. If you plant the right flowers, they tend to take care of themselves. A few of these flowers are daylilies and “wild roses”. We call them wild roses because they are so old we have no idea what variety they might be.

Yellow Daylilly

Yellow Daylilly

The daylilies come in hundreds of colors and varieties, blooming at different times during the summer. Daylilies will also grow in various light environments from quite shady to full sun. They grow well from the northern states to the deep south and far west. It is important to know the attributes of the variety you are planting so you know what color it will be, when it will bloom, and if it will do well in your local geography.

Red & Yellow Daylily

Red & Yellow Daylily

Unopened daylilies can be almost as beautiful as the open blooms. The shape and color of the unopened blooms makes a nice addition to a flower garden or landscape environment.

Unopened Daylily Flowers

Unopened Dayilly Flowers

Daylilies tend to grow in clumps if left alone and may not need any fertilizer or extra care except mowing around them. Our clumps are up to 40 years old and have not had any fertilizer or pest control for more than 25 years.

An Old "Clump" of Daylilies

An Old “Clump” of Daylilies

We have a few wild roses that were planted more than 30 years ago that were planted in among the dailyness. Not all roses will have this ability to survive. This is probably some type of hedge rose that was bred to survive well on its own. Some years they are completely killed back by the cold weather. But somehow they manage to send up new shoots that reach for the light and grow above the daylilies and make a few flowers. The roses add to the bursts of color that appear throughout the summer.

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

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Late Summer Planted Whitetail Clover

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Leave a comment

In August of 2014 we decided to expand our perennial acreage of Whitetail Institute whitetail clover. The plot areas that we chose were newly cleared areas where annual brassicas had been planted the previous year. We had our ground prepared but were in a little bit of a hurry due to some expected heavy rain. We manually spread our seed with a canvas type cyclone seeder with a hand crank. In one area we over seeded some rye as a nurse crop just to see how it might work.

Late Summer 2014 Planted Whitetail Clover

Late Summer 2014 Planted Whitetail Clover

We were not able to check on this plot again until July of 2015 when we mowed it to about 10 inches tall. You can see how the plot has filled in nicely and has created a great source of food for both our whitetail deer and our honeybees. We hope to get some clover flavored honey.

Whitetail Institute Whitetail Clover

Whitetail Institute Whitetail Clover

When we checked on the plot with the rye nurse crop in July, the rye was about five feet tall with grain heads in the dough stage. A nurse crop basically functions as a protective barrier by providing a wind break, and shade for the germinating clover, helping it to become established in adverse conditions. We hope we mowed the rye in time to kill the seed in the grain heads. If we did not, we may get some secondary germination this fall. The remnants of the rye straw was still visible in July, but will gradually decompose and disappear. The decomposing rye will add calcium and nitrogen to the soil. In an open winter, without snow, you might expect to see a better stand with a nurse crop than you would in a stand without the nurse crop.

Whitetail Clover Planted With a Rye Cover Crop

Whitetail Clover Planted With a Rye Cover Crop

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Small Wildlife Pond

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Leave a comment

Over 50 years ago, just before my father bought this property, the previous owner created this small pond in what was a field at that time. This is a spring fed pond about 60 feed long, 30 feet wide, and about 3 feet deep. Most likely it was made for horses or cattle and possibly for wildlife as he was an avid deer hunter. Over the years it started to become filled in and no longer much of a pond. About three years ago we had it re-dug for about $300.00. It has been fun to see it being used by wildlife. The pond is also near our apiary and it makes a close source of water for the honeybees. The muddy water in the photograph is where deer have recently come to drink.

Small Wildlife Pond South View

Small Wildlife Pond South View

The pond is at the edge of a field where our deer food plots are located, which also makes this spot attractive to the deer. Deer require a water source and this is specially helpful to them in dry periods of the year. It is the only site for quite a distance that has a permanent pool of water that can be used by our local amphibians to lay their eggs in the spring. We have a variety of toads, frogs, and newts which utilize this location.

Small Wildlife Pond North View

Small Wildlife Pond North View

The pond does require some maintenance. Since we have re-dug the pond, we have made an effort to control the vegetation that wants to grow up around the pond. We do this with a combination of herbicide use, a bushhog (rotary cutter), and a string trimmer. We are certain that a lot of additional wildlife species use the pond, they are just more difficult to observe during a casual walk by.

Frog Tadpoles Just Hanging Out!

Frog Tadpoles Just Hanging Out!

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Our Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Sanctuary!

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Leave a comment

Monarch butterflies are increasingly having a difficult time maintaining their population. One factor influencing their survival, is the limited about of their only food which is milkweed. We have a natural stand of milkweed in one of our fields which we have designated as a sanctuary for milkweed; meaning that we will let the patch grow with out any interference. A patch of milkweed will gradually expand over several years by the growth of underground stems. We are going to allow this patch to expand and we have the space to allow for this.

Milkweed Sanctuary!

Milkweed Sanctuary!

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants and the larvae of the monarch butterfly feeds only on milkweed plants. Other insects will visit the milkweed blossoms like honeybees.

Milkweed Plants!

Milkweed Plants!

Milkweed plants can become a beautiful addition to a perennial flower garden as long as you are prepared for the underground stem expansion of the milkweed plant and are wiling to either allow it to expand or willing to keep it trimmed back so that its expansion is limited.

Milkweed as Part of a Flower Garden!

Milkweed as Part of a Flower Garden!

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Mowing Whitetail Clover as Part of Summer Maintenance

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Leave a comment

Mowing Whitetail Institute Whitetail Clover as part of summer maintenance. (we apologize for the quality of the photos in our blog, which is due to the remote location of our camera) We also wanted to highlight the multiple wildlife species that take advantage of our food plots. In the spring after a long western NY State winter, the plot struggles to come back to life. We say struggle because there is damage to the plot during overwintering due to extreme cold in the absence of snow cover. With snow cover, mice make tunnels under the snow damaging the crowns of the overwintering clover plants. Competition from other “weed” plants, both grasses and broadleaf plants, begins immediately as the soil warms in the spring sunshine. The beginning of spring in a perennial food plot is like the start of the Indianapolis 500 with a multitude of plants and seeds competing for light, nutrition and water.

May Fox in Whitetail Clover!

May Fox in Whitetail Clover!

By the time June arrives, unless you have kept up with the herbicide application side of your food plot maintenance program, a variety of grass and broadleaf weeds will begin to arise above the whitetail clover plants and begin to take their place as a permanent part of the food plot. If you miss your opportunity to apply your herbicides in a timely fashion, you now have limited options to control your weeds. The best option for controlling the grass weeds is to use either the herbicide Sethoxydim or Clethodim. Always read and follow label instructions. Control your grass weeds before mowing your plot. The blades of grass prior to mowing will have more surface area to absorb the herbicide. The next best option to reduce current and future broadleaf weed competition is to mow the plot and cut off the seed heads which are trying to produce seeds. We mow the whitetail clover as high as we can to limit damage to the clover, but low enough to cut the tops off as many weeds as we can. The clover is quick to recover if you remove some of the clover foliage. In general cut, not less than 6 inches and not more than 12 inches off the ground.

June Whitetail Deer in Whitetail Clover!

June Whitetail Deer in Whitetail Clover!

Since this year we will not be able to make herbicide applications to our plots, we only have the option to mow, as our only maintenance option for 2015. Our only hope is that for the plots we planted last summer, and for some of our well established plots, that our stand will be strong enough to out-compete the constant threat of being overtaken by weeds. This is the first year we have photographed turkeys taking advantage of the whitetail clover in our plots. We have also observed foxes, woodchucks, squirrels, hawks, crows, and bluejays. The whitetail deer are in our plots all year long except for the yarding period in the dead of winter.

July Turkey in Whitetail Clover!

July Turkey in Mowed Whitetail Clover!

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Honeybee Survival Winter 2015

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Leave a comment

The winter in western NY in 2015 was characterized as extremely cold, with a lot of snow and many successive cold days which made it unusually difficult for honeybees to survive the winter. This was our forth year of trying to overwinter honeybee colonies. We had been getting Italian honeybee packages sourced from the state of Georgia. We were not able to keep any of these colonies overwinter. In 2014 we purchased two nucs of Carniolan honeybees from a local beekeeper in Rushford, NY. This beekeeper has 400 hives and has been successful overwintering his hives. One of these two Carniolan colonies survived and was quite vigorous by the first of July 2015. When opening the hive, both deep hive bodies were full of brood and the one super was almost completely filled with honey. There appeared to be little room for additional bees.

Honeybee Winter Survival 2015

Honeybee Winter Survival 2015

We are only able to visit this location occasionally, which forces us to be absentee beekeepers and this leads to making decisions and waiting to see the results some months later. We needed to make two basic decisions 1) How are we going to manage our mite population? 2)How are we going to manage space within the hive? The assumptions are that we have a healthy queen and that we have a mite infestation at some level. Controlling mites and managing space will impact both honey production and overwintering potential for the winter of 2015/2016. We treated this hive with 2 Apiguard trays above the brood chambers to suppress the varroa mites. We additionally added two medium depth Illinois supers plus one hive body on top.

The purpose of adding the hive body on top was done for two reasons 1) As we disassembled the two hives that did not make it through the winter, we had hive body frames that still had some honey in the frames which needed to be cleaned before storing this equipment. 2) We wanted to add additional top space to possibly prevent swarming and/or provide additional storage space for surplus honey. This hive is surrounded by the constant presence of nectar producing white clover flowers. We have established approximately 2 acres of Whitetail Institute Whitetail clover.

You may notice the 3 additional “ventilation” holes in the Illinois supers. We added these holes to provide winter hive ventilation, and to provide an additional hive entrance in deep snow. We made the decision to leave these holes when we added the Illinois supers. We will check this hive in early October to see how the bees adapted to the structure that we have left them. Hopefully the bees will be ready for winter and have left a little honey to share.

Carniolan Honeybee Survives Severe Winter in NY State

Carniolan Honeybee Survives Severe Winter in NY State

Note: The electric fence surrounding the apiary is a “Bear Fence” to keep out the local population of Black Bears. Within days of attending to our apiary, a local beekeeper was a victim of a local bear and her cub.

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Growing New Whitetail Antlers

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Leave a comment

We have been trying for several years to capture whitetail deer anger growth during the summer with the camera. It appears we are having some success this year. Antler growth is influenced by age, genetics, and the quality of the nutrition on which the deer feeds. In this field, the deer are eating Whitetail Institute Whitetail Clover, which is specially developed for white-tailed deer. We can see that the main beams, and brow tines are forming and additional points are beginning to form. It is difficult to tell at this point how many additional points will form prior to the completion of growth for this year.

Growing New Antlers - Mid July - front view

Growing New Antlers – Mid July – front view

The antler growth starts at the pedicle where the antler is attached to the skull. The antler is made of bone. The antler growth is regulated by hormones and controlled by day length (photoperiod). The antlers will harden off and the velvet will be shed prior to the breeding season in the fall. Then in January or February the antlers will fall off and the process will start again next spring.

Growing New Antlers - Mid July - back view

Growing New Antlers – Mid July – back view

On this particular deer we can observe that this set of antlers is developing on an animal that is probably 2 years and 4 months old. The deer is of medium weight and condition and the antlers are nicely formed but somewhat thin and not very big. It appears that it will be a 7 point buck. Deer in this location have an abundance of food choices, between forest browse, abandoned farm fields, cattle pastures, dairy hay fields, and deer food plots. If we are lucky, this deer will re-visit our camera site and we can continue to watch his antlers grow.

Antler Growth by August 21st

Antler Growth by August 21st

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