A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘bird’

Common Birds of Oahu, HI

nene gooseThe Nene is the state bird of Hawaii.  I didn’t see any while I was on vacation on Oahu.  I did see lots of other birds though.  I had to look them all up online, because I wasn’t familiar with any of them.

 

 

 

 

common myna birdOne bird that was extremely plentiful was the Myna.  They’re entertaining little characters, and vocal.  We had one that began “singing” first thing every morning, just outside our bedroom.

 

 

 

 

Cattle EgretI was so surprised to see that Cattle Egrets were everywhere on the island.  We have them here in Wisconsin, so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them on Oahu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

credit:JD Kuehl

credit:JD Kuehl

One of the first birds we noticed is a beautiful multi-colored cardinal.  We learned that it’s a Brazilian Red Capped Cardinal, not indigenous to Hawaii.  They’re plentiful and really lovely birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted Dove  credit:JD Kuehl

Spotted Dove credit:JD Kuehl

We found 2 types of doves while on the island, the Spotted Dove, and the Zebra Dove.  Both are similar to our Mourning Doves, but smaller.

Zebra Dove

Zebra Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mentioned the wild chickens in a previous post on our Hawaiian vacation.

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Farm News October 2013

We had a fun and busy summer here on the Zills Farm.  We did some traveling, and had a wonderful time at the wedding of our granddaughter in Oklahoma City.  Most of our family was there and it was a renewal of our family bonds.  I’m so proud of my family and what good people they are.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to spend lots of time with various family members this summer.
Lee has been busy and even managed to get a new roof put on the old farm house.  His next project is replacing a couple of windows in the farm house, and most of the windows in our house.

 

Corn is not dry yet.

Corn is not dry yet.

Actual farming has been delayed due to the weather.  The soybeans and corn have been slow to dry so are still waiting to be harvested.  We had a very wet spring so the fields were planted later than normal.  Consequently the late harvest.
Here’s something new.  Lee found an enormous Giant Puffball mushroom.  I’ve never cooked or eaten them, but he really wanted to try it.  I sautéed some for him to put on the pizza we were having for dinner and he liked it.  I did not.  I thought it tasted like soggy bread.  I’m going to try cooking it differently by slicing it into “steaks” to fry in butter. See the picture below.
The hummingbirds are gone.  Most of the sandhill cranes are gone.  We have a robin and a couple of kildeer still hanging around and I’m not sure why.  I hope they get moving soon.

I’ve been trying some new recipes, so stay tuned!
Have a happy fall!

 

Giant Puffball.  This one was as big as a soccer ball.

Giant Puffball. This one was as big as a soccer ball.

April 2013 Newsletter

Cravings-Buffet-at-the-Mirage

Shirley and I made our annual trek to Las Vegas.  Fun and relaxation were had by all.  Our only disappointment was that the Donny and Marie show was cancelled and we had been looking forward to it.  We did go to Blue Man Group and that was a fun and very loud show.  We had good seats, and we enjoyed the show.  Weather was a bit chilly on the first couple of days but it made for very comfortable walking.  We had some excellent meals, including the Cravings buffet at the Mirage.  We visited the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.  It’s an aquarium.  We got free tickets through the MLife Players Club rewards game , My Vegas.
I have an album of photos from our trip on Facebook.  Here’s the link. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200307594110975.1073741826.1187642981&type=1&l=44bed9c791
Weather has been the topic of conversation all month.  Wet and cold!  I don’t know when the fields will be dried out enough to begin spring field work.
lamb smudgeLambing began mid month, and there are still 2 ewes left to lamb.Again this year there are triplets and twins.  We had one poor ewe who had toxemia and lost her twins, but Lee was able to save the ewe.  It seems like lambing season is never trouble free.  I’m not sure how many lambs there are, but I’m guessing 22.  Mostly boys!  The little guy in the picture was born with the huge black spot on his hip.  It will fade with time.

 
Collin is back on American soil, back from Afghanistan.  It’s a huge relief.  We’ll see him in July, along with the rest of the family, when we go to OKC for a wedding.

 
Star 4-13The horses are shedding!   They’re itchy and need to be bathed and brushed, but it’s too cold.

I’m enjoying the return of the migratory birds.  I’ll bet the birds aren’t all that happy to be back.  Kildeer are nesting on the cold ground.  Robins are finding worms now but I wonder what they ate while the ground was still frozen.  The barn swallows are here, but we don’t have any bugs yet!

July 2012 Newsletter

The wheat has been harvested, and most of the straw has been baled.  The wheat yielded about 65 bu/acre.  The price is high right now, sadly due to the misfortune of farmers everywhere.  Now we’re seeing the sandhill cranes and Canada geese gleaning our wheat fields and probably finding bugs and frogs in the stubble. The next crop related job will be cutting and baling a small field of hay.  The lack of rain and high temps have burned up our pastures (and lawn) so we’ll be needing more hay than usual.  The sheep aren’t getting anything out of the pastures now, and Lee’s had to supplement them with hay.
We are still very dry.  Last night while all around us rain was falling, sometimes in gully washer proportions, we got a measly 1/10″!  It didn’t even settle the dust and only served to raise the humidity levels.  There are more chances for rain in the next few days and we’re hoping some of it will fall on our farm.
Even with the lack of rain, the roadside weeds and wildflowers are still abundant.  One of my favorites is wild chicory.  Its flowers are such a pretty shade of blue.
This summer has been hard on the farm cats.  We started this spring with 10, and we’ve lost several, either to illness or the road, or just unknown causes.  One of the kitties was dead on the road the other day and it’s the first time I’ve ever lost a cat that way and known it, in all these years.  We have more traffic on our road lately because we have new neighbors building a house and there’s lots of construction activity.  Well anyway, I think our current cat count is 5 or 6.
We’re anticipating some family visits in the next few weeks.  Collin will be home on leave soon, and Meredith and her family will be here for a few days in August.  Kay and the girls will be coming in August too.
Here’s a slideshow of photos I’ve taken in the past few days:

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Farm and Family Newsletter May 2012

I started this blog to keep in touch with family and friends who are scattered all over the world.  My intention was to write about the farm and our family, keeping everyone up to date on everyone else.  We all know what can happen to good intentions.  Somehow I’ve become scattered and eclectic, writing about whatever pops into my head, and throwing in a bunch of recipes to boot.  I don’t think that’s going to change because my thoughts and my focus tend to bounce around.  I do think that I should make some kind of commitment to the original premise so I’m going to try to write a monthly newsletter that will stick to actual family and farm news.  Good luck with that, right?

So here we go!

Lambing this year was busy!  We had 18 pregnant ewes and all but one of them has delivered.  There were several sets of triplets and we have 32 lambs.  The lone hold out ewe will probably have a single lamb any day now.

There are 2 lambs being supplemented by bottle, and they’re doing well.  They will stay with their moms and just get a bit of extra help from us.

All of the ewes did well, but we did lose 2 lambs.  One was stillborn (a triplet) and one was deformed and dead in the womb as well.

It’s no secret that the weather has been crazy and unpredictable this year.  We had hot weather in March and then in April it cooled back down.  Now in May we’re getting a lot of rain.   Lee was able to get his wheat fertilized early and he did some digging, but it’s now too wet to do any more.  Some farmers in our area planted corn in April.  That’s very unusual.  The strange weather has caused serious problems for agriculture here.  Specifically, the fruit trees blossomed and then the blossoms froze so apples and cherries in particular will be scarce.  Maple sap ran so early that the taps weren’t in place yet and so there won’t be much maple syrup made in Wisconsin.

My horse pasture greened up very early and I was able to get Star, Irish, and Artie out on the grass in March.  Unfortunately, even though I was careful to let them graze for short periods, Irish has foundered and his grazing days are now over.  He’s doing well now.  He was sore footed for  a few days but is feeling much better now.  Cody never gets to eat grass because he has chronic laminitis (founder) and will get sore on the tiniest bit of grass.  I’m down to 2 horses that can graze the pastures for a few hours each day.  I see lots of mowing in our future.

The early spring brought many of the migratory birds back early.  Specifically the killdeers and barn swallows and robins were here in April.  Sandhill cranes were back a bit early too.  Just in the last few days we’ve been seeing orioles, and Lee thinks there was a hummingbird buzzing around him when he was installing our new bird feeder (made by cousin Ron, and it’s a very nice feeder!).  I haven’t seen a hummer yet.  I’ve been keeping the nectar feeders filled for both the hummers and the orioles.

Lee and our brother-in-law Mick put a new roof on our house a couple of weeks ago.  We’re so happy to have it done, and I’m especially happy to have the hammering on  the roof finished.  Project #2 is the remodeling of our guest bathroom.  It has been gutted and Lee installed a new shower.  No more tub in that bathroom.  The shower takes up the same space that the tub did, so it’s nice sized.  Everything in the room will be replaced so it will look completely different.  It’s been a challenge because it’s a tiny bathroom.

Another remodeling/repair project will be new steel siding on the barn.  It’s on the contractor’s to-do list but it may be a while until he gets at it.  Lee and I had a discussion about color and he was leaning toward  grey, while I think that  a proper barn should be red.  Red it is.

In family related news….Aubrey, Josh, and Carys, and Josh’s mom Sally, are in Hawaii on vacation.  They’re having a wonderful time and posting pictures to Facebook  daily.  It’s fun to see what they’re doing there, and I have to say they all seem so very  happy!

 

 

 

Shirley and I will be leaving on Mother’s Day for Las Vegas.  What a great Mom’s Day present!  We’ll be there for 5 nights, staying at the Monte Carlo again.  It’s become our favorite hotel in LV, mostly due to its location and ease of getting around.

We’re looking forward to seeing Alora soon.  She’s going to be coming back to the US from Scotland and we’ve missed her and can’t wait to see her.

That’s all for this May update.  Wish me luck in Vegas!

 

I Don’t Get It

It’s the State of Wisconsin and the Federal Governments that have me baffled.  Is it just me, or is the thinking really skewed?  The thing that has me scratching my head these last few days is the news that one of our Wi Senators would like to see a sandhill crane hunt here, and to that end he is circulating a bill that would require the DNR to create a sandhill hunting season.  From the Fond du Lac Reporter “State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican and avid duck hunter, began circulating a bill last week that would require the DNR to create a sandhill season.”  Proponents of this bill are using farmers as their reason for wanting to kill sandhills.  They’re saying that farmers would be happy to see these beautiful birds hunted and killed because of the crop damage they cause.  Lee and I are farmers.  Yes, we’ve had some crop damage, but the treated seed helps with that.  We don’t want to see a hunting season on cranes.

The thought of going from this:

to this: really makes me sick. Click to see the pictures full size.

Sandhill cranes were once on the endangered species list, and they only raise one or two chicks per year.  I just think it’s a crazy idea.

Along the same line of thinking, Gray Wolves were also on the endangered list and were recently delisted in WI.  Now, according to some of our neighbors, gray wolves have been documented right in our neighborhood, by people using trail cams.  We have sheep and miniature horses and we sure don’t want wolves anywhere near them.  Why didn’t the government just leave it all alone.  Now they’re talking about allowing limited hunting permits to kill the wolves that do damage to livestock.  Why build them up so you can knock them down?  Crazy!

PS:  This is my 100th post on my blog!

 

Good Bye July…..

…..and a big hello to August, soon to arrive.

I’d like to say I hate to complain, but that would be a lie.  I love to complain.  So does Lee.  Lately we’ve been complaining about the weather, and more specifically, how the weather has impacted our lives this summer.  It’s been a crazy roller coaster ride, trying to make good crops, and trying to care for livestock.  We’ve had too much rain, too much heat, too much humidity, resulting in too much insect activity and too little time in the fields.

We’ve learned that there are numerous species of mosquitoes, and they’re all residing in the grass here.  It doesn’t matter what time of day we’re outside, there are mosquitoes biting.  The animals are suffering.  The hogs have super thick hide to protect them, and the sheep have thick wool except on their poor little faces and legs.  The horses are not so lucky and are covered with skeeters all day long.  Sprays aren’t working so I have to limit their time outside.  We have vaccinated them against West Nile virus.  Too bad there’s no vaccine for us!  The barn cats are all content to laze inside the barn 24 hours a day.

It rains and rains.  The weather man tells us this has been a record-setting summer for precipitation.  We knew that.

Farming has become more of a guessing game lately.  If Lee cuts a field of hay, will it get rained on?  Of course it will.

Is it any wonder that we look forward to a new page on the calendar?  August has to be better.  Right?

We’re highly anticipating a trip to Kentucky later in August.  We’ll be visiting family there, and we look forward to the change of scenery, the few days away from the farm, and the company of  folks we enjoy.

We’re fortunate to see an abundance of wildlife here.  We’ve been seeing deer every day, and the bucks are in velvet right now.  Recently I witnessed a turf war between 3 deer and a flock of wild turkeys.  They kept trying to chase each other away, and the deer eventually won.

Lately we’ve had Great Egrets swimming in the overflowing ditch, and they’ve been landing in a field across the road.  I got some pictures, but without a good zoom, the pictures aren’t the best.  We have a bumper crop of frogs, so I think that’s why they’re here.

Every year we have a turkey vulture family nesting in a rotten stump just on the edge of the horse pasture.  In the morning they sit in a tree or on a post and dry their wings.

The slide show is at the end of this post, and of course I had to include pictures of little Payten, who is gorgeous.  She was 4 months old on the 20th.

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