Honestly, sometimes I struggle with farm life. I love to write about our romantic charmed life of rural living for about 290 days of the year. However, there is this crazy hot and humid section of the year, spanning from early July through the middle of August, that is hot and humid and drives me nuts. My upstate New York thick blooded body is still not used to this southern heat and humidity. I am told it will take a few more years to adapt.
The phrase “the dog days of summer” are in fact that exact section of time I mentioned above, usually spanning July 3rd through August 15th. This historically is the period following the rising of the star Sirius – called the dog star, which Greeks and Romans connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs and bad luck. The phrase is now taken to represent the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer. And, yes – these days are upon us.
Last evening I took a stroll across our property wanting to head down to our fish pond and feed the fish. I took my camera to record what we have been doing on the farm as we tried to stay away from the heat of the days. Over the course of the last several weeks we have worked early in the morning and in the eve, leaving the hot days to more restful indoor pursuits.
I headed out around 8pm and the sky was still brightly lit. I am reminded how long our days are this time of year. In fall and winter the chickens would be in roosting already indoors, completely dark out.
I first directed my attention to our bee hives. We have two very active hives with a third hive set up by me this last week to get ready for another colony this coming spring. I cleaned out all the frames, scraping debris and the like, so it was ready to go when I install a new nuc colony. I also added another small super on each of my other two hives now active. I set boards down in front as well as grass grows up and blocks the bee entrance which is not good for the bees in their foraging pursuits.
As our followers know, we just completed two years of pretty extensive lanscaping and infrastructure work here at the farm. You can read our blog about that journey here. What an effort that has been. After leaving the bees I stopped by our next phase of our farm multi-year project which is our addition. We are doing two in fact. This is where a 23×23 foot great room/family room is going to go looking out over the Smoky Mountains. we want to do a big vaulted room with open beams and stone fireplace, where we can truly enjoy the mountains of East Tennessee in rustic fashion. There will also be a big deck off that room. We will also be adding a 12×12 foot room off the kitchen that will expand the kitchen eating area and create a mud room. We are really looking forward to the next phase of our farm rennovation project.
I have to stop and appreciate the landscaping that we finally finished this last week as per the blog I linked to this post, above. You can see the soaker hose working. We added lots of hydrangeas and mulch. Late this last week I also came through and added four dozen cone flowers, black eyed susans and other flowers that will cause this landscape to explode with color like a true victorian farm house, next year and beyond.
Another special element of living in the south are crape myrtles. Crape myrtle trees are truly stunning. They are among the most satisfactory of plants for the South: showy summer flowers, attractive bark, and (in many cases) brilliant fall color make them year-round garden performers. Long, cool autumns yield the best leaf display. As I head down to our fish pond to feed the fish, I have to stop and take some pictures of Crape Myrtle lane, our special pathway through the trees down to our pastures.
After walking through the floral display of trees, I stop to inspect the grape orchard to assess the maturity of our grapes. Yes, again I am reminded it is nearly time to start preparing the canning jars for grape jelly! The bounty never seems to stop around here.
I walk through the pasture gate with my can of fish food and stop to appreciate how truly private and peaceful our little farm is. The horses notice my arrival but opt to stay next to their hay munching away.
I head down to the dock and sit down, just watching for a time. All of our ducks are roaming about, quacking and exploring. This little guy seems to prefer to be alone sleeping in the pond by himself. I am struck by the stunning blue color of his wings. You rarely see that rich deep blue in nature. I always appreciate it when I see it.
I throw the catfish food in the water and wait. It doesn’t take long before dozens of small catfish swim to the surface and begin eating. I was truly shocked last night at how many two to three inch long fish are in this pond. The pond is doing absolutely fabulous without any artifical engagement with the pond ecosystem whatsoever. Some really large catfish rise to the surface as well. I am pleased.
With circles swirling and fish rising, I was struck last night at the amazing beauty and dynamic nature of our farm. Though these are truly the dog days of summer, when you can get out in the evening when it is cooler, it is truly amazing to see the life that exists on the farm. I am not sure I could ever NOT live on a farm. I often wonder, what would I do? What would I look at? Every moment on our farm is ALIVE. The farm forces us to physically engage with the natural world around us. That in and of itself reminds us of our humanity and the gift of being alive.
Last night, in the coolness of evening, I was thankful – deeply so – just to be alive to witness all this greatness that we call “farm life”.
God Bless! L. Davis