1 After a vigorous early morning workout with my trainer, Mary Tedesco, I drove around the farm with Mike Fiore, my property director, along with Francesca and Sharkey, for a bit of an inspection.
2 Watering in hot and steamy August is crucial, so I stopped the Kawasaki so that Mike could move a sprinkler from one area to another.
3 Unlike so many parched areas of this country, we have no water restrictions here in the northeast and we are able to keep sprinklers going.
4 Weeds are growing rampant and that is one chore that is keeping the crew very busy. This is Chhewang, who was pulling large weeds from beneath the rose of Sharon border.
5 There are still beautiful vegetables growing in the cold house and when those vegetables bolt, the row is cleared.
6 Rather than throwing the spent vegetables onto the compost pile, they are gathered and fed to the chickens.
7 This is a type of spinach past its prime. The chickens will love it!
8 We have two Kawasakis at the farm. The one we're following down the boxwood allee is a real workhorse that the crew uses heavily every day.
9 We stopped by the donkey paddock where we are in the process of browning part of the field. Billy, one of the Sicilian donkeys, has been eating entirely too much grass and has gotten quite overweight, which can cause serious health issues. By browning, she will have less to consume and hopefully, lose the weight.
10 The main door into the chicken yard is in the process of being fixed. Mike was explaining how the frame is being made stronger. Obviously, the hens have been moved to another yard while repairs are made.
11 The tops of the chicken yards are also fenced to keep out predators.
12 It's wonderful to have so much produce to feed to my chickens. They don't mind if it's tough and overgrown. It's still very nutritious.
13 I spread it around for all to enjoy.
14 After the chickens, we headed down the wooded carriage road to the Japanese maple grove.
15 The Japanese maple grove had gotten terribly overgrown with weeds and Chhiring was using the weed whacker, cutting them down.
16 I had instructed the crew to pound 3 bamboo stakes around each Japanese maple tree to protect the trees from the weed whacker.
17 When the weeds are removed, the crew will spread a new layer of composted mulch around the maple trees.
18 Unfortunately, we have a big problem on the farm with a highly invasive type of grass called Japanese stiltgrass. It is well-adapted to low light conditions and spreads rapidly, threatening other plants that can't compete with it.
19 Japanese stiltgrass has been around since about 1919, when it is thought to have come to this country as a packing material for porcelain. As you can see, it's very difficult to control and it's driving us all crazy!
20 If allowed to grow rampant, the stiltgrass can change soil chemistry and shade native species, choking them out.
21 On another part of the farm, I pointed out another highly invasive species of plants, growing in a marshy area - phragmites.
22 in suitable conditions, a stand of phragmites can spread 16-feet or more per year by horizontal runners. In many areas, phragmites are insidious.
23 As I've watched this stand grow larger, Chhiring was also instructed to cut it down. Another weed to stay on top of!
24 Driving past the corn patch - It was planted with good intentions, but the darn crows wreaked havoc with the seedlings. We should have had a scare crow!
25 The honeybees are buzzing strong, but someone will need to pull the weeds from around the hives. They're blocking the hive entrances.
26 I'm very disappointed with this grove of Chinese scholar trees that were planted when I first bought this property. They just aren't growing and I can't figure out why. These trees can reach heights of 50 or more feet.
27 Unlike this adjacent stand of ginkgo bilobas, which were mere twigs when planted a couple of years ago.
28 Other trees that are growing like crazy are these osage orange trees near the run-in pasture.
29 When mature, the osage orange (not really an orange) produces a spherical bumpy fruit that is filled with a sticky latex sap. Extracts of the fruit have been found to repel several insect species.
30 This is a stand of larch trees, planted as saplings just a few years ago. This deciduous conifer is native to the Bavarian Alps, and reaches soaring heights of 120-feet or more!
31 Earlier in the season, I decided to extend the larch border by planting more saplings, which are supported by bamboo stakes. It's fun to see how fast they grow.
32 We made our way up to the compost yard and the field of Christmas trees.
33 This is an enormous pile of composted mulch, which was made right here from all of the farm's organic matter. I call this black gold.
34 Driving through the pinetum, we came upon a couple of families of wild turkeys. Like guinea hens, turkeys eat a lot of insects, including harmful ticks.
35 Mike has a long list of things that need to get done while I am away in Maine.
36 Parking the Kawasaki in the carport, I noticed that the baby barn swallows are venturing further out of the nest. I suppose they'll be flying any day!
37 Before the drive around, I went to the vegetable garden and picked all of the vegetables that were ready, to take to Maine. I'll be making pickles with some of these cucumbers.
38 Beautiful eggplant, okra, and peppers!
39 Many types of summer squash
40 Flavorful hard neck garlic
41 And gorgeous onions - Lots of good eating in Maine!