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Munch, Munch, Munch

March 14th, 2018

The last two years have been great for acorns in our area of Maine, which translates to a large deer and turkey population. While deer are beautiful creatures, they’re also destructive to a garden. This winter has been particularly rough. Almost every shrub and tree in my gardens have been browsed heavily.

They hydrangeas were hit especially hard, I doubt there will be any blooms this coming summer. Now I have to take extra care to protect plants. Next fall you’ll find me wrapping things with burlap, adding fencing around the garden, and probably spraying some things with hot pepper oil to keep them safe from browsing deer.

Do you have issues with deer in your garden? What’s your preferred method of dealing with their winter browsing?

What a Find!

January 10th, 2018

I grew up in the woods, my dad’s family has a cabin on 60 acres in rural Ohio. When we were in the United States, we spend every weekend down there running through the woods, playing in the creek, and dragging home all sorts of bones and skeletons I found in the woods. As an adult, I have spent many hours hiking in the woods in all seasons (and have still been known to pick up skulls I find, most recently a porcupine skull). Winter is one of my favorite times to be in the woods, I snowshoe all winter long. Yesterday, while out on my lunchtime snowshoe, I found an antler shed.

It’s quite an amazing find. I’ve always heard about sheds and have heard of people finding them, but have never found one myself. Amazingly, it was quite close to the house. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it, most likely save it and put on the bookshelf.

Were you intrigued with nature as a child? Did you find bones/skeletons interesting?


October 30th, 2017

The big flocks of monarch left a month or so ago, but every couple days I see a straggler. I suppose they’re late bloomers, one of nature’s ways to ensure survival. Some hatch early, some late, many in between. I was surprised when I saw a monarch early last week. I was even more surprised to see one both Saturday and Sunday.

Luckily, I plant late bloomers and leave bolting brassicas in the garden just for the pollinators. I have a very large patch of broccolini that is blooming profusely. It’s constantly covered in bees and the occasional late monarch. Sadly, the tithonia that the monarch are most fond of, got killed by the frost last week. Perhaps I should consider a plant or two of it in a sheltered location for these procrastinating monarchs.

Are you still seeing butterflies and bees in the garden? What do you have blooming for them? Any great late season or cold tolerant plants for pollinators?

Oh Tom…

May 4th, 2017

One of things about having turkeys as livestock, is that it seems to attract the tom turkeys during spring mating season. We’ve been seeing this beautiful tom every so often. He’s the biggest, nicest wild turkey I’ve seen. On Monday we spent the entire day dancing for our turkey hens outside the electric fence. Of course our tom spent the day inside dancing right alongside him. He was too busy dancing to eat anything in the garden, which was the only reason I didn’t chase him off.

Amazingly, he was back the next morning as well, dancing away. Luckily we finally got him to move on. No bought this isn’t the last of him we will see.  Wild turkeys are such amazing birds (so are the domesticated ones we keep).

What sorts of wildlife you get to see in your back yard?

The Wildlife Tax

June 29th, 2016

This year the wildlife tax has been really high for the strawberries. We have a large patch of berries, they are one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fruits. There are two, 70 foot long rows that are 3-4 four feed wide. Last year we froze around 40 quarts for winter. This year we lost the first flush of berries to waxwings. A flock of about 15-20 of them came in and gobbled up about 12 quarts of berries in one night.
cedar waxwing
We realized what was happening and covered the berries with row cover to protect them. The few nights later, the raccoons came in and ripped holes in the cover and ate the ripening strawberries. Thankfully we aren’t keeping pigs this year, so we have just enough electric fencing to surround the big garden.
homegrown strawberries 1
After building Fort Knox around the strawberries, we were finally able to harvest a few quarts. We celebrated with shortcake for dinner that night and the next night as well. Generally we love to share our bounty with friends and neighbors, but there hasn’t been enough berries for that.
homegrown strawberries 2
Overall we lost about 50% of our harvest this year to wildlife. Since there has been a drought this spring in Maine, the harvest was already reduced as well. Luckily we have a large patch and are still getting a few for the freezer and a few for eating. At least we have a large enough patch that we are still getting a few berries for the table. Next year I will definitely be covering the berries really early to protect them from the birds and the electric fence will most likely go up around the garden first thing in the spring.

What methods do you employ to protect plants from marauding wildlife? 

Seeds and Sundries
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Berkey Water Filter

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.