Sweet Harmony Farm

  (Deerfield, New Hampshire)
Simple joys of the alpaca life ...........
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The Nest

Today's post is written by my friend Val of Crown Point Alpacas.  Thanks Val!

There in the field was a little treasure. Adorning the green, green grass of spring, was this beautiful bright blue birds' nest. It had fallen from its lofty throne, sometime during the winter months when the last of the winds blew the last leaf off the bare branches, leaving only silhouettes of trees. I thought about that little nest as I picked it up. It was so beautiful. It had been carefully and thoughtfully constructed by a master at the art of recycling! The main part of this blue nest was an old tarp that had been covering some wood.  This little bird had used the blue tarp as her main weaving material. And then there was a fishing string found from a nearby brook. And then I saw the ribbon; it was the ribbon from a child’s balloon. I imagined that perhaps it was a child who'd had a special day. The balloon had floated away as the child watched, soothed by loved ones with gentle words, and a hug that the balloon would find a happy home.

Nest made with alpaca fiber

Little did they know that the ribbon would weave a home, safe from winds and storms and give a family a chance to soar.  As I held this tiny little nest in my hands, I then looked into the nest, and there inside the nest was a thickly felted layer of alpaca fleece! Soft, and felted to perfection! I imagined how the nest was at first lined with fluffy fiber which swaddled the tiny eggs, and kept the little bird warm while she warmed her eggs. Then as the eggs hatched and the tiny little bird feet started to pitter and patter when mama brought them their food, they felted the nest! Teeny, tiny baby bird feet felting away!!  This little nest had been a wonderful home, protected them from harm and kept them warm and safe till they were ready to fly.

This nest is a lot like our lives; we weave it together. Our relationships, some like the old tarp, some the fishing string, some the ribbons, and our families, they are like the felt. We keep them close to us. Sometimes things change, sometimes our lives take turns, but the stuff we are made of, and what we choose to weave into our lives, gives us all the chance to “soar.”

 
 

Dragonflies

We’ve finally had another stretch of hot, sunny days so it feels like summer.  I’ve actually had to water the vegetable garden for the first time since I planted it.  Our mid-summer flower gardens are blooming with many brightly-colored hybrid daylilies, purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, liatris, and hostas.  All the nearby fields are filled with bloomers too, goldenrod and queen’s anne lace, wild black-eyed susans, ragweed, and many others of which I haven’t got a clue.  In the late-day summer sun, our yard and pastures are teeming with hundreds of beautiful dragonflies.  Walking by the nearby fields there are clouds of them, hovering and swooping, their presence so magical and uplifting.  Sometimes one will land on us while we’re floating in the canoe or in the gardens.  We love to sit and admire them close up, such a fascinating little bug.

We love to see the dragonflies and have planted many of the flowers that attract them.  Dragonflies are harmless to people and animals, and because they eat so many mosquitoes it only makes sense to have plantings that attract them.  These same plants also attract many insect-eating birds too, another bonus.  And when it comes to eating mosquitoes, we don’t argue with the bats that show up at night either!  Attracting dragonflies and birds (and bats), not having standing water, and fans in the barn are our top choices for keeping mosquitoes, flies, and other disease-spreading insects away from the alpacas.  We know there will always be some bugs, and plenty of them, in our humid climate, so every little bit helps.

 

 
 

The Birds (063009)

Don’t worry........ this is not an Alfred Hitchcock type entry!

A fun thing about living here is all the birds!  Ever since we’ve moved here, we’ve been focused on creating our pasture.  We did move several hundred perennials over here from our former home, but otherwise have not done too much to attract birds. And they are plentiful!  We’re enjoying all the usual backyard birds:  robins, chickadees, goldfinches, cardinals, hummingbirds, juncos, house finches, sparrows, blue jays, mourning doves, downy and hairy woodpeckers, etc.  We’re surprised and excited to see the others that have showed up:  indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, scarlet tanagers, evening grosbeaks and rose breasted grosbeaks, bluebirds, northern flicker woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, catbirds, bobolinks, and more.  They have me running to my Peterson’s bird manual so that I can identify them, when they stay in one place long enough for me to do that.

Even funner than just seeing all the birds is that some just love to nest on the criss-crosses of the log ends.  So far it has just been the robins doing that, and one mourning dove pair did once too.  It’s ‘normal’ for us now to walk by certain corners of the house as quietly as possible so as not to disturb momma robin and it’s great to just stand quietly and look at the 3 or 4 beaks peeking out of the nests.  And, now, we even have a bird friend nesting in the rafters of our little barn!  We haven’t identified her yet, probably some kind of finch, although the 4 little heads looks like juncos.

There are always tons of birds around throughout the day, singing their beautiful songs and chit-chatting. Sometimes they do all get quite squawky and we start looking frantically for the most likely cause – a hawk.

Don’t get me wrong; we absolutely love hawks.  They are also gorgeous birds and are amazed to watch them fly and soar.  BUT, we get protective over the little bird nests!  We just have to stand nearby and the hawks will fly away once they notice us.  The hawks have to eat, but not our baby birds!   

Our fencing is the 5 foot, woven wire no-climb type, with pressure treated pounded posting.  These posts are perfect for setting nesting boxes and bat houses on, which we will start doing as time allows. Oh, have I mentioned the bats? ................

Rain, rain, go away! (062409)

Here in the northeast it has been raining for the past week and it seems like it’s getting to be time for us to build the ark.  I’ve been reading a rather funny thread on alpacanation about all rain we’ve been getting here in New Hampshire, Maine, and the entire Northeast.  I say funny only because I just thought it was a funny topic to start a thread on.  But, here in the Northeast excessive rain is certainly a real concern for us alpaca farmers.  The rain brings out the slugs, gross little creatures, which bring along the meningeal worm, hosted by our cute wildlife, the white-tailed deer.  M-worm is of particular concern for alpaca farmers as it is a deadly disease, and here in the Northeast we routinely de-worm as part of our prevention program.  (Note to self:  get chickens, sooner rather than later.)  And of course, any of us with new pastures from recently disturbed soil, as well as anyone with clay soil, is having additional problems with mud, mud, and yes, more mud!!

Not to mention all that standing puddle water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and all the yucky diseases they carry.

So times like these make me appreciate the dry Southwest more and more, and like I already mentioned, make me start thinking about building that ark.

Or perhaps at least I should remind myself of the good things about rain........  The most obvious benefit is it waters, usually evenly, our lawns and gardens.  In a previous post I mentioned that I had planted seeds and transplants for our little vegetable garden.  I’ve only had to water once, the day I planted!  Most of the seeds are sprouting, but by now, they could certainly use some sun! ............  A related benefit is that I don’t have to be out there watering morning and night, and subsequently feeding the mosquitoes while I stand there.......... Another benefit is that is replenishes our wells.......Rain runoff from our roofs fills up our rain barrels, to water the gardens............ The birds have plenty to drink naturally, rather than me filling up birdbaths.  Water attracts birds to your yards, and birds eat many, many, bugs; no need for pesticides! 

But we’ve had many, many inches of rain and we’re more than ready for sunshine!  Those of you who practice yoga, please join me daily in spirit for a Salute to the Sun!!!!

 
 
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