Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love those bumbles

I wish I had a way to describe how great the bumble bees are here at Butternut Farm.  I'm afraid I will not do it justice.   A video of them zooming around the farm to and from the blueberry patch would be great!  If only we could hook a camera onto one of them so to travel along with them.  That You Tube video would surely go viral. 
    They don't fly more than 15 or 20 ft off the ground so you can see and hear them coming!   Anyone familiar with the layout here at Butternut Farm knows that the barn is next to the Blueberry Patch.  The barn is about 25 feet tall so the bumbles don't fly over it when they are coming and going they fly around it.  By standing on either end of the barn for a couple of minutes I can count about 10 bees that fly by per minute.  It appears as if they fly to the blueberries load up with nectar from the flowers and then bring the nectar back to their nest.  Then they return for more.  They do this all day from sun up to sun down.  So I decided to walk thru the pick your own blueberry field and tried to get an idea of how many bees were there.  Today a nice sunny day with temps near 70 I kid you not there must be 2 or 3 in each bush.  Really it is a remarkable thing to see!   
   They say that the Bumble Bee population is making a comeback during recent years!  Maybe with the honey bees having so many problems recently mother nature is filling our fruit crops pollination needs by increasing the number Bumbles.   It is fascinating how "She" works. 
    Irregardless of the the reason for their numbers, the large number of Bumble Bees in Butternut Farm's pick your own blueberry patch are working there butts off to sustain themselves, and unknowingly pollinating our blueberry crop.  A crop which looks like it will be a doozy this year. 

Maybe some day in the future the technology will be available to hook a camera onto the back of a bumble bee.   Certainly that would be a neat video to see.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Farm Dogs Purpose?

For anyone who has been to Butternut Farm to enjoy some of the pick your own fruit that it offers you may remember seeing this guy. His name is Mr Spot. His place of residence is Butternut Farm and he has just completed his first year of being a farm dog. Mr Spot was rescued from the kill shelters in Tennessee. Last spring we found him on Pet and decided on adopting him. The picture on the left is of he and Gala, the old lady of the farm whom sadly passed away shortly after Mr Spot arrived. It is now up to him to "Carry the Torch" all on his own! He is about one and a half years old and becoming a great dog.

As you can see in his picture he is showing off a trophy. Yes it is a dead mouse which he caught when we were up trimming the upper apple orchard just last week. A job well done if you ask me, and for any of you whom have seen what orchard mice or voles can do to an apple orchard during the winter you will surely agree. I just wish he had a pile of 5 of them at the end of the day.

Now I was saying to Mr Spot the other day that being a "farm dog" is not an easy task. The job description is very vague! And for a dog who is looking for a lot of direction like he is it can be confusing at times. Except when the farm is actually open for the pick your own fruit season! Then he falls right into that "scratch my belly" and "Hey do you have any treats in your car for me" roles. That part of the "Pick your own Farm Dog" job description is not vague at all. For the rest of the year though it can get fairly boring for a dog around Butternut Farm. The sheep are gone and the cars full of people looking to give him attention aren't driving up the driveway any more. To boot the farmer is usually very busy growing the crops for the upcoming season so he has little time to give Mr Spot attention. This is where the life of a farm dog can get a bit confusing. There is no clear purpose to everyday life.

Finding a purpose in the life of a farm dog is not easy, however Mr Spot is navigating the terrain fairly well. He has already demonstrated his ability to catch mice. A worthy purpose to fill his spare time. Also the squirrels behind the farmstand have shown to give him hrs of companionship and fun getting chased around the rock walls, always just out of his reach.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Those stinkin pallets

Here at Butternut Farm we receive a lot of stuff on pallets! Those pallets seem to accumulate over time and I've finally found what to do with them.

At first you start stacking them behind the barn. Then the stack gets moved "Out Back" where it is out of sight. Eventually though the ever growing stack of pallets starts to wear on you and a solution must be found. They are handy in helping the yearly brush pile to burn! This seems kinda wasteful though unless of course the pallet is "Beyond Repair". So the old rotten ones are tossed in the brush pile to burn but we are still left with the good ones! There must be a use?

The answer came one day during the pick your own apple season a couple of years ago. Todd Scruton was visiting the farm with his family and we got to talking about firewood. Now anyone who has ever used wood as a source of heat knows that it must be moved way to many times before it gets moved into the woodstove, and each move is almost always done manually. Todd said to me: "Gee Giff you have plenty of pallets and a tractor with a set of pallet forks, why not devise a way to use the pallets to store and move your firewood around". Seemed simple enough and it could save at least one if not two "moves" of the wood. So I figured I would give it a shot!

3 years later I have finally come up with a design which seems to be working. The first two evolutions of this design were prone to blowouts which always seemed to occur while moving the pallet full of wood. Nothing like stacking it twice onto the same pallet! The most recent design involves using slats from one pallet which is ripped apart (more on that later), to build a combinations of braces which hold the 3'*3'*4' stack of firewood on the pallet. The only thing is those stinkin pallets are hard to take apart! Talk about questioning if your using your time wisely or not. Taking apart pallets to generate the pile of slats necessary to build the braces is very time consuming. I often thought maybe it would be more economically feasible to just buy some strapping from the home depot to build the braces with? However for the sake of using the resources I had without spending money on bringing more stuff onto the farm I decided I would continue to tear apart the pallets for my source of slats. Turns out too that the pallet slats hold up better over time because they are made of hardwood, while the construction strappin which is made of pine falls apart very easily when exposed to the elements.

When all the dust has settled our pile of pallets is no more and with the advice of one of our customers and some stubborn desire to "find a better way", we have eliminated one manual move of the wood. Was it all worth it? I think so.

The snow covered firewood was processed in January and is now seasoning for the upcoming heating season of 2012/13. The other photo shows wood which was processed last winter and is now staying dry in the barn ready to burn.