Wildlife Archives

Fall Food Plots – Trying New Seed Mixes

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Leave a comment

We haven’t planted new food plots since 2014 and it is time (Summer 2017) to plant some fall annual food plots in preparation for perennial food plots in 2018. We have a half acre of three year old Imperial Whitetail™ Brand Clover which needs to replaced in 2018 with at least an acre of Whitetail Clover. This late summer (August 5th) we planted six seed mixes from the Whitetail Institute. We have found reliability and innovation with Whitetail Institute products and seldom try other brands. Seed selection is one of the most important aspects of planting food plots. This time we are planting Pure Attraction®, Ambush®, Winter Greens™, Beets & Greens™, Tall Tine Tubers™ and Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus™. These are all annual seed blends and should be killed during the winter in this western New York location.

3 year old neglected Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot

3 year old neglected Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot

We started in June preparing for this planting with a late burn down. I say late because of very rainy spring weather. We did not apply the first application of glyphosate until the weeds were about 18 inches tall in most places. We used a heavy rate of glyphosate to control perennial weeds, with quackgrass being our biggest concern. bambi phone case iphone 7 plus We made a second application about the third week of July. To attempt to control quackgrass, you must make a second application when it re-grows following the first application. Since we are planting fall annual food plots, we will have another opportunity to control the quackgrass, if it regrows. We will make another burn down application next spring, before we plant our perennial planting of Whitetail Clover.
Food plot "Burn Down" number two

Food plot “Burn Down” number two

When we look at food plot seed blends in advertising and online, we get an idea of what is in the package, but to know exactly what is in the package you must read the Seed Label on the package you purchase. The seed label is required by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). iphone 8 tough case This label will tell you the specific varieties, percent pure seed, germination percentage, origin of the seed (state), percent weed seed, percent inert matter, germination test date, amount of noxious weeds, container weight, etc. Here is the seed label information for the varieties in the seed bags we purchased: These seed mixes contain a high percentage of coating material which is very important to the germination and weight distribution of the seed as it goes out a broadcast seed spreader. It is better to ensure that the seed you plant will grow than to purchase uncoated seed that may not germinate in adverse conditions. The coating is All-Vantage containing RainBond which will also helps water adhere to the seed in dry conditions. Tall Tine Tubers: We like Tall Tine Tubers which we have grown before. The turnips provide foliage for the deer to eat after a freeze in the fall and the turnip “bulbs” to eat throughout the winter and early spring. Tall Tine Turnip – 55.24% Purple Top Turnip – 10.48% Other Crop – 0% Weed Seed – 0.05% Inert Matter (includes 34.18% Coating Material) Beets & Greens: This is the first time we have planted this seed mix. We are excited to see how the sugar beets in this mix preform. We have grown the other plants in the mix previously including Radish, Kale, Rape, and Tall Tine Turnips. It appears to be a mix that will nourish deer in late fall and possibly through winter and early spring. We had difficulty calibrating our hand held seeder to spread this seed because of the size difference between the larger beet seed and the smaller brassica/turnip seed. iphone cases iphone 6 When we opened the seeder up to accommodate the beet seed, it let out too many brassicas. We feel this was the cause of our planting too much seed on a smaller area than the 1/2 acre intended. We may need to look at other seeder options. WINA 412 Radish – 25.59% WINA 210 Kale – 18.87% Trophy Rape – 18.26% Newbie Sugar Beet – 14.81% Tall Tine Turnip – 2.95% Other crop – 0.05% Inert Matter – (includes 19.04 % coating material) Weed Seed – 0.05% Winter Greens: This is a good all around annual fall food plot mix. We have planted this previously. The deer will come in to eat it after a frost or two. In our area in western N.Y. State, it will be consumed from about mid Oct. iphone 7 plus case with cover until it gets really cold in mid January, maybe longer if there is snow cover. The deer will dig through the snow for it! WINA 210 Forage Kale – 24.32% Premier Forage Kale – 24.28 % Dwarf Essex Rape – 4.44% Trophy Rape – 3.29% Dwarf Siberian Kale – 3.28% Purple Top Turnip – 0.79% Other crop – 0.05% Inert Matter (includes 34.2% Coating Material) Weed Seed – 0.08% Ambush: This is a new seed mix for us and we are anxious to see how the lupines, peas, Alex Berseem Clover, sugar beets and Annual Ryegrass do in this mix. Our initial impression is that this mix germinated slowly, and the Alex Berseem Clover, and lupines germinate and develop slowly. Since the pea and lupine seed are large seeds and the percents in the seed mix are derived by weight, there are really not many lupine and pea seeds that have an opportunity to germinate. We’ll have to see how it looks in October and how much the deer feed on it. In our case, we may also need to change our planting procedure to make sure the bigger lupine and pea seeds are covered with more soil to get a higher germination percentage. Amiga White Lupine – 25.88% WINA 204 Peas – 19.80 Lumen White Lupine – 15.97 Whitetail 906590 Oats – 11.96 Alex Beseem Clover – 9.88 Newbie Sugar Beet – 5.98% DH-3 Annual Ryegrass – 4.99 Other crop – 0.05% Inert Matter (includes 5.10% Coating Material) Weed Seed -0.06% Pure Attraction: This is a new seed mix for us. cheap iphone 7 plus phone cases We really like Whitetail Oats and this was an attractive mix to us since we wanted to combine some other seed types with our oat planting. One of the attributes we like about the “sweet” oats is that the deer will start eating it almost immediately, where we have to wait for frosts for many of the “greens”. Whitetail 906590 Oats – 38.89% Whitetail 105069 Oats – 35.87 Fridge Triticale – 12.34% Bolero Peas – 4.41% Brundage Wheat – 3.72% WINA 210K Forage Kale -1.045 Premier Forage Kale – 1.04% Dwarf Essex Rape – 0.225 Tall Tine Turnip – 0.22% Trophy Rape – 0.14% Dwarf Siberian Kale – 0.14% Other Crop – 0.07% Inert Matter (includes 5.10% Coating Material) Weed Seed – 0.07% Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus we have planted previously several times. I do not currently have the seed label for the seed we planted, but I can add that later. The majority of this seed is uncoated oat seed. We really like this product! The deer feed on it almost immediately and will continue to feed on it until it is frozen out in our area. It continues to grow and the deer keep it pruned almost down to the ground. Due to abnormal growing conditions and our first time experimentation using a UTV as a cultipacker, we chose to over seed our entire planting this year with a half rate of the “sweet” oats. So far, this has proven to be a benefit, although we did get excellent germination for almost all our seed mixes.
Imperial Whitetail Oats over-seeded at half rate over all plantings

Imperial Whitetail Oats over-seeded at half rate over all plantings

Our planting process this year included two burn-down applications primarily to control perennial quack grass, followed by three discings, planting, then fertilizing. We would like to have incorporated the fertilizer in with the discings, however with approaching rains we wanted to make sure we had the seed planted, and germination confirmed before we committed to purchasing fertilizer. We also felt we probably had enough phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to get the plants going. iphone 7 orange phone cases There might be an advantage of making one late heavy N-P-K application after germination verses a split application of an early N-P-K application followed by a later Nitrogen (N) application. Ideally you would make the two fertilizer applications. We’ll see how big the turnips and sugar beets get by November 15th?
Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus germinating!

Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus germinating!

We try to follow the seeding rate on the package, usually I purchase 1/2 acre bags of seed. Sometimes it is a challenge to get the rate correctly and achieve optimum spacing between plants. If the seeding rate is to close, you get a lot of spindly plants. If it is too thin, you get gaps which allow weeds to get established. Particularly with turnips, radishes and sugar beets, if they are planted too thickly, the root bulb will be small. For these rooting plants you want them planted thin enough to grow big “bulbs”. Having enough fertilizer will also help grow big bulbs if the plants have enough space.
Always exciting to see good germination and plant spacing!

Always exciting to see good germination and plant spacing!

An example of planting too thickly

An example of planting too thickly

We had one area that we decided to turn into a food plot late in the summer and it only received a mowing and one burn down application. It was very trashy even after it had been disced about 4 times. We planted extra seed and oversewed it with the “Sweet” oats. It appears to have had good germination and we expect this plot to do well.
Good germination in a really trashy area!

Good germination in a really trashy area!

After germination it is great to watch the plants get established and in some cases fight for light and dominance with their neighbors. If you can’t get your seeding rate perfect, it’s better to plant extra seed than not have enough planted in our opinion.
Oats and Brassicas getting established! Tillering - Sinking roots!

Oats and Brassicas getting established! Tillering – Sinking roots!

Our most shady/secluded plot getting established!

Our most shady/secluded plot getting established!

We have one newly cleared area where we have cut down relatively large trees to expand our food plot area and to let more light in on or existing plots. We have cut the trees, harvested the firewood, burned the branches and have planted this area for the first time. This creates the need to disc the soil and plant around the stumps. We do not plan to remove the stumps and all our food plots have stumps in varying stages of decay. catterpillar iphone 7 case
Planting around the stumps!

Planting around the stumps!

We have planted about 2 1/2 acres of food plots this year, some is planted in between rows of english walnut trees that we have planted. We have our first nut on a tree this year! We did not plant blocks of the same seed mix types, but alternated seed mix types in about 30 foot bands throughout the plots. In previous years we have planted in blocks which resulted in some plots being pretty bare after the deer at almost everything. With this approach all the plots should have something growing throughout the entire hunting season.
Multiple Food Plots with Multiple Seed Mixes Planted

Multiple Food Plots with Multiple Seed Mixes Planted

With the food plots established and the expectation that big bucks from all over will come to flock into these food plots, we decided to build a simple hunting stand to overlook about 2/3 of the plots. At the very least it will give us a place to sit, out of the rain, in a comfortable chair while we watch the show.

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Ramps

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

Separated from the soil and ready to clean

Separated from the soil and ready to clean

Ramps (also called wild leeks) (Allium tricoccum) are a forest plant which grows in “patches” in the eastern United States. iphone 6 cases rose gold marble Our ramps grow in the mainly deciduous forest of western NY state. The ramps are in the onion family and taste similar to cultivated onions and garlic. We are fortunate to have them growing on our property, however we only harvest a few every couple years. iphone 8 guess case They are really a novelty, in our opinion, for culinary use. iphone 7 gel case personalised This year we incorporated them into venison cheeseburgers and they were quite good. Some gourmet celebrity chefs could probably convince you they were the best tasting thing since Kale, but it is basically just a wild onion, and tastes like an onion.
Ramps growing in the Spring in the western NY forest

Ramps growing in the Spring in the western NY forest

We do enjoy seeing them grow in our forest, and we are glad they are a continuing part of our environment. They flower and go to seed shortly after they pop up in the spring. Then they go dormant, die back, and disappear from the forest floor until the following Spring, when they reappear. We believe mother nature has timed their life cycle this way because they come up before the leaves are on the trees, take advantage of the sunlight, and then go dormant after the trees are in full foliage. The spring is usually a damp time of year and the summer can be dry so the ramps survive this way by being dormant when the soil is dry and the other forest trees suck up all the available moisture. Energy and moisture is saved in the onion like bulb. iphone 7 rose gold case marble
When first dug, the roots are intertwined with the soil

When first dug, the roots are intertwined with the soil

The ramps reproduce from seeds. The plant flowers in the early summer by sending up a leafless flower stalk. After the foliage has gone dormant, the plant flowers and seeds develop, falling near the mother plant later in the summer. Not every plant will flower. The seeds germinate when conditions are right in late summer or early fall. Not all the seeds will germinate and live. This year we were lucky and the soil was quite dry when we dug our ramps. The soil crumbled away from the roots easily after we dug one shovel full. We separated the soil so it would stay in the woods. spigen iphone 7 plus cases red We tried to cut the roots off, but it seemed easier to just “snap” them off. A single ramp plant can be many years old and develop a root “stub” which is relatively easy to snap off.
Hauling the Ramps back to the kitchen

Hauling the Ramps back to the kitchen

Since the ramps are quite a way out in the woods we took our tractor and wagon to go harvest the ramps. avengers iphone 6 case Now we are ready to take them back to the house and the kitchen where we will prepare them to eat.
Ramps ready for your favorite recipe or fresh chopped in a sandwich or salad

Ramps ready for your favorite recipe or fresh chopped in a sandwich or salad

If you should happen to go out to the forest to harvest some ramps, please remember this is a wild plant treasure that does not reproduce easily. It is important not to harvest more than 30% of the “patch”. That way you will always leave more than you take. Not every year is a good growing year for the ramps so it is important that you leave enough so the patch can continue to grow. If you want to make the effort to go back to the patch in late summer to harvest seeds and plant them, you may be able to start another patch in another spot in the forest. iphone 8 black silicone case In some locations the ramps are being over harvested and are in danger of being eliminated from their home range.

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Monarch Butterfly Overwintering in a Warmer Climate

Posted on June 18, 2016 by Leave a comment

We have our own Monarch Butterfly Milkweed patch, as a food source, for those monarchs that make their way up to Western New York State by late summer. The monarchs that visit our milkweed plants, migrate from their overwintering grounds in Mexico, starting their journey in March. The monarchs that inhabit the United States geography west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter in Eucalyptus tree groves along the pacific ocean in southern California. genuine apple iphone 7 case We visited the overwintering grounds located at the Goleta Butterfly Grove, located in Goleta, CA, about an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles.

Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Cluster in Goleta, California

Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Cluster in Goleta, California

The Monarchs start arriving in Goleta in Mid November and start migrating north again in mid February. Amazingly they return to the exact same trees year after year. Once they leave the eucalyptus grove, they will seek out patches of milkweed where they will lay eggs. The eggs will hatch and the larvae (caterpillars) will feed on the milkweed. iphone 6 cases disney stitch The larvae will pupate and become mature adult butterflies. The adult butterflies will move further north. After four generations, the last generation will migrate back to their overwintering location in Goleta, CA. A similar succession of events will happen in the eastern United States, only the monarchs will overwinter in Mexico. The Goleta Butterfly Grove protects the butterflies so that their future is preserved.
The Greeting Sign for the Goleta Butterfly Grove

The Greeting Sign for the Goleta Butterfly Grove

The trail wanders from the parking lot though a grove of eucalyptus trees located between a major highway and the Pacific ocean, along the back side of a residential neighborhood. iphone 8 plus case in slim This area is kept relatively warm by the warm water of the Pacific. The trees protect the butterflies from wind and helps moderate temperature extremes.
The Eucalyptus Tree Grove

The Eucalyptus Tree Grove

As you wander along the trail, there are signs to follow that direct you where the Monarch Butterflies are located. This is a beautiful trail between mid November and mid February, which is the rainy season for southern California. The soil is moist and winter annual weeds have greened-up and lined the edges of the trail.
Trail Marker

Trail Marker

The butterfly clusters are not easily seen in the morning when it is cool and the butterfly wings are closed and the butterflies are holding each other together tightly. They hang on the trees in clusters containing many hundred to more than a thousand butterflies. They almost look like a broken branch with brown dead leaves. This may be a natural camouflage for their protection.
Clusters can be seen hanging along the trail

Clusters can be seen hanging along the trail

When the daytime temperatures rise or the sun comes out and warms the cluster, the butterflies loosen their grip on each other and stretch their wings if they can. light pink iphone 6 case A few will start to fly and you can see an occasional monarch flying in the grove.
A Spectacle of Nature!

A Spectacle of Nature!

The hanging cluster of monarchs looks similar to a swarm of honey bees hanging from a tree branch, when you look at them from a distance. There are multiple clusters on different branches of the same tree and on different trees. The clusters take different shapes.
As the temperature warms, the Monarchs stretch their wings

As the temperature warms, the Monarchs stretch their wings

The overwintering of the Monarch Butterflies is one of those seldom seen and very amazing events. We were very lucky to visit the grove on a warm, partly sunny day, in mid January. iphone 7 plus phone bling case For more information on Monarch Butterflies check out the FAQs from the USDA (United States Dept.

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Amphibian Eggs in Allegany County, NY State

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Leave a comment

Disclaimers and Conclusions: Before you start to read this blog, we have a couple of disclaimers and conclusions to share. First we believe most of the amphibian eggs we have observed are Spotted Salamander eggs, unless otherwise noted. We researched every type of frog egg photo, for the frogs we have mentioned, and have concluded that they may not be properly labeled and therefore our descriptions may be in error. Since amphibian eggs are inherently similar, this is somewhat understandable. One would need to see the species lay the eggs to be certain that their conclusion is accurate, which is difficult to achieve. We decided to leave the descriptions of what we have observed and hope we will have a future opportunity to edit this blog and make updates with more accurate and interesting information. iphone 6 gum case

Multiple egg masses laid by how many types of amphibians?

Multiple egg masses laid by how many types of amphibians?

When we visited our two ponds in late April, we observed clusters of amphibian eggs, in the water. One pond is about an acre in size, has a stream running through it and is stocked with fish. The other pond is very small, spring fed, only about 30 feet in diameter and has no fish. This pond is very similar to a vernal pond, but it never goes dry. One of our first questions was what amphibians laid these eggs. We see and hear various toads, frogs, salamanders and newts from time to time, but how do you tell which eggs belong to which species? Our first action was to look up the names of the amphibians known to be in this geography of western NY state. Toad: American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus – Lay eggs from April through May, in two strands of black eggs. The black pollywogs hatch in 2-14 days. The eggs we have photographed are most likely not American toad eggs. We have lots of these toads on the property. Salamanders: Eastern Red Spotted Newt – Notophthalmus viridescent – breed in the water in which they live, they lay a few eggs each day in different places. So, these are not the egg masses we are observing. iphone 6 case soft The newts and red effs are common on the property. Spotted Salamander – Ambystoma maculatum – These salamanders migrate from land to breeding ponds in late winter and early spring. These egg clusters are similar to what we have photographed. Spotted salamanders are common on the property.
Amphibian eggs in dead marsh grass

Amphibian eggs in dead marsh grass

Amphibians developing within the eggs

Amphibians developing within the eggs

Frogs: Bull Frog – Lithobates catesbeiana – Bull Frogs which live in and around ponds, breed in late May – July. They lay and abundance of eggs which form a thin floating sheet on the water surface near the edge of the pond. So, the eggs we are seeing are not Bull Frog eggs. Bull frogs are common on the property. Green Frog – Lithobates clamitans – Green Frogs also live in and around ponds. The frogs lay their eggs in mid April though June. ted baker iphone 7 plus mirror case The eggs are in clear masses with black eggs and are not similar to the eggs we photographed this April. Northern Leopard Frog – Lithobates pippins – Northern Leopard Frogs live near water but are seen in fields and on land in the summer. They overwinter near a non-freezing water source. They breed from March – June. The egg masses are clear with black eggs which we did not observe in our photographs in April. We are not sure if we have Leopard frogs or Pickerel Frogs, or both, but we do have this type of frog, which we observe most often in fields in the summer. Pickerel Frog – Lithobates palustris – These frogs lay their eggs in early May. The egg masses are clear with black eggs which we did not observe in our photographs in April. We are not sure if we have Leopard frogs or Pickerel Frogs, or both, but we do have this type of frog, which we observe most often in fields in the summer. exo phone case iphone 7 Wood Frog – Lithobates sylvaticus – These frogs lay their eggs in March and April in smaller clusters. iphone 6 rose gold charger case These frogs hatch very quickly and look very similar to toad tadpoles. iphone case 6 apple In our photo of the black tadpoles are most likely wood frogs. Though seldom seen, we do have Wood Frogs on the property.
Wood Frog Pollywogs

Wood Frog Pollywogs

Gray Tree frog – Hyla versicolor – These frogs lay eggs between April and August. The eggs are laid in floating masses of about 40 eggs, although the female will lay up to 2000 eggs. We do not see this type of egg in our photos. We do not know if we have this type of frog? Northern spring peepers – Pseudacris crucifer – Lay their eggs March to June. They prefer to lay clusters of up to 1000 eggs which they hide on the pond bottom under debris. However if the water pool is shallow they may be laid closer to the surface where they are in clear masses with lots of black eggs. We do not believe our photos show Spring Peeper eggs. We hear these frogs but they are seldom seen. Western chorus frog – Pseudacris triseriata – Lays up to 1500 eggs in masses of 20 to 300 eggs from March through May. We could not find a photo of Western Chorus Frog eggs to compare with the other frogs. iphone 7 case with power bank We are guessing the egg masses are clear with black eggs, similar to the other frogs, and assume we have not photographed this type of egg cluster. We do not know if we have this type of frog? The life cycle of amphibians is one of the wonders of life. Amphibians can be observed almost year around except for the dead of winter.

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Signs That Spring Has Arrived!!

Posted on June 14, 2016 by Leave a comment

We took a trip to southwestern western New York state during the last weeks of April and first few days of May. This year this was a cool period of time with Spring unfolding very slowly. iphone 7 phone cases polka dot We like this time of year because it is a time of re-birth for both plants and animals. Trees start to grow new leaves, animals like foxes are searching for food for their newborn kits, birds are arriving after overwintering further south. personalised iphone 7 cases photos On our initial walk we observed at a small pond, polliwogs hatching from eggs near the waters edge. We were surprised they were already hatching since it must have been quite cold when the egg masses were laid. The egg masses could be from frogs, toads, or the eastern newt. We took some of the eggs and placed them in a large jar in the kitchen to watch some of them hatch.

Polliwogs hatching!

Polliwogs hatching!

On our porch in the stacked firewood, each year ladybugs find a way inside to overwinter in the protection of the porch and the stacked wood. When the warmth of the sun awakens them in the spring they seem to have entered a maze and cannot find their way out. Notice all the differences in color and spot configuration.
Overwintering Ladybugs waking up!

Overwintering Ladybugs waking up!

When we walk into the woods, we find several spring flowers, that have emerged from the cold soil and are now blooming. Sometimes these plants will grow right through the layer of dead tree leaves that fell last Autumn.
Trout Lilly - Erythronium americanum

Trout Lilly – Erythronium americanum

We have both the white trilliums and red trilliums growing in our woods. The flowers are scattered randomly throughout the woods. There is one place where there is a large group of white trilliums which is quite spectacular, if you can be there during the very short period of time when they bloom. iphone 8 case for ladies
White Trillium - Trillium grandiflorum

White Trillium – Trillium grandiflorum

In our woods, only about one out of 10 trilliums is a red trillium.
Red Trillium -Trillium erectum

Red Trillium -Trillium erectum

The Slender Tooth Wort is a much smaller flower but is also beautiful if you can get down on your hands and knees and take a closer look!
Slender Tooth Wort - Cardamine angustata

Slender Tooth Wort – Cardamine angustata

In wet areas grow different flowers. One is the Marsh Marigold. iphone 6 case otterbox
Marsh Marigold - Caltha palustris

Marsh Marigold – Caltha palustris

Another is the False Hellebore. Although the False Hellebore has not yet bloomed, the leaves and foliage are quite beautiful as they begin to grow in the early spring. This plant is very poisonous if eaten!
False Hellebore - Veratrum virile (extremely poisonous)

False Hellebore – Veratrum virile (extremely poisonous)

Salamanders and snakes overwinter under rocks, logs and in this case, a discarded automobile tire. shock case iphone 6 As the soil temperatures rise, they will become more active. Snakes and amphibians are cold blooded and move slowly when it is cold.
Salamander - most likely some type of spotted salamander

Salamander – most likely some type of spotted salamander

A few years ago, also in April, we lifted a rock where a spring was coming out of a hillside. When we did, we encountered a Garter Snake (genus Thamnophis) and a Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereous).
A garter snake and Red-Backed salamander disturbed when lifting a rock

A garter snake and Red-Backed salamander disturbed when lifting a rock

We often wondered how long it takes a Robin to build it’s nest. iphone 6 minnie mouse case We noticed a robin starting to build a nest very early in the morning on our truck tire. By 7:00 that night the robin had finished and was sitting in the nest. That seemed pretty quick to us!
Robin's nest on a parked truck tire!

Robin’s nest on a parked truck tire!

The hay fields that are used to feed local dairy cows are also beginning to green up. The grasses have grown several inches tall, the clover is leafing out and dandelions are just starting to flower. The dandelions are a good source of early season pollen to feed honeybee larvae which are developing in our honeybee hive.
Grass, Clover and Dandelions starting to grow!!

Grass, Clover and Dandelions starting to grow!!

The entrance to the honeybee hive is reduced in the fall to keep out cold winds and uninvited mice!
Honeybees entering and exiting through a reduced entrance put in place last Fall

Honeybees entering and exiting through a reduced entrance put in place last Fall

Early Spring is a great time to put on your jacket, and go exploring to see what you can see.

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Eastern Box Turtle Hatchling

Posted on June 12, 2016 by Leave a comment

In mid October in north GA we were removing our summer flower beds and replanting pansies for the winter. When walking through the yard our eye caught a newly hatched Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina, Linnaeus). We see mature box turtles regularly in the yard so finding the hatchling was not surprising, although we had never seen one before. Box turtles will mate in the spring shortly after emerging from hibernation. The females lay eggs in a chamber they make in the soil in June or July. Hatchlings will emerge in 70 to 90 days depending on the weather. Since turtles are cold blooded, the eggs will have a tendency to emerge earlier in warmer weather with sufficient moisture to keep the soil soft. In our case we found this hatchling within a few weeks of hatching. Since harsh winter weather is sometimes fatal to hatchlings, we decided to keep the turtle over the winter for spring release.

Hatchling box turtle first found in mid October in GA

Hatchling box turtle first found in mid October in GA

After a little research we determined that feeding the hatchling meal worms would work best. Meal worms can be purchased at a local pet specialty store. iphone 6 black case apple The meal worms stay alive for several weeks if kept in the refrigerator and the turtle seemed anxious to eat them. Although mature box turtles are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal flesh, the hatchling are carnivores.
Meal worms make a good meal for a young box turtle

Meal worms make a good meal for a young box turtle

Throughout the winter months we observed the turtle eating well and growing well. As spring approached we decided to set it free. iphone 8 red leather case
Contemplating Freedom!!

Contemplating Freedom!!

In early April on a nice warm sunny day we placed the hatchling on the ground not far from when we originally found it. It sat still for so long I became tired of watching it and I became distracted by something else in the yard. When I returned a few minutes later, it was no where to be seen. Certainly it had scurried under the nearby dead leaves in the woods just a few feet away.
Baby map turtle next to a 3 1/2 inch pocket knife

Baby map turtle next to a 3 1/2 inch pocket knife

The Eastern Box Turtle has several color and shape phases. We observed both the box turtles pictured within our neighborhood. iphone 6 case watermelon We often see evidence of their visits to our vegetable garden where they feed on low hanging tomatoes. You can tell by the bite marks that it is not a squirrel or some other animal.
Mature Common Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina, Linnaeus) (dark phase)

Mature Common Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina, Linnaeus) (dark phase)

Although these box turtles look quite different in their appearance, this is quite normal for Eastern Box turtles. iphone 6 pastel case They are a welcome sight in our yard. iphone 8 case solid We mainly see them in the spring or early summer before the hot months of July and August, and then again in early autumn as the temperatures cool down.

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Late Summer Planted Whitetail Clover

Posted on June 29, 2015 by Leave a comment

In August of 2014 we decided to expand our perennial acreage of Whitetail Institute whitetail clover. hermes iphone 7 plus case The plot areas that we chose were newly cleared areas where annual brassicas had been planted the previous year. iphone 8 plus torro case 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. iphone 7 phone cover cases

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. iphone 8 plus battery case red 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. black iphone 8 case The remnants of the rye straw was still visible in July, but will gradually decompose and disappear. iphone 6 cases spurs 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.

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Small Wildlife Pond

Posted on June 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. iphone 8 plus 360 case screen protector This is a spring fed pond about 60 feed long, 30 feet wide, and about 3 feet deep. uag iphone 7 plus folio case Most likely it was made for horses or cattle and possibly for wildlife as he was an avid deer hunter. scotland iphone 6 case 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. samurai iphone 6 case

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. iphone 7 case giraffe 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.

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Our Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Sanctuary!

Posted on June 28, 2015 by Leave a comment

Monarch butterflies are increasingly having a difficult time maintaining their population. iphone 8 case slim fit One factor influencing their survival, is the limited about of their only food which is milkweed. card holder iphone 6 case 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. swarovski iphone 6 plus case A patch of milkweed will gradually expand over several years by the growth of underground stems. iphone 7 plus case water 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. pink victoria secret phone case iphone 6 plus Other insects will visit the milkweed blossoms like honeybees. purple iphone 7 case
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.

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Mowing Whitetail Clover as Part of Summer Maintenance

Posted on June 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. iphone 8 cases with initials 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. iphone 7 case glitter liquid 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. iphone case 7 red 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. tropical iphone 8 plus case 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. iphone 6 case fish 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. iphone 6 rick and morty case We have also observed foxes, woodchucks, squirrels, hawks, crows, and bluejays. me to you iphone 6 case The whitetail deer are in our plots all year long except for the yarding period in the dead of winter.

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