Yesterday two fawns came up to the house to graze just a few feet from where Donna was sitting. Here they are between the barn and the dam. Adult deer had been stumbling through the gardens and I'd find fresh tracks on almost a daily basis. Their grazing is evidenced by a tearing away of the foliage, in contrast to the clean, knife-like cuts left by the rabbits. We'd been leaving the northwest field to grow up however it might, but after I found many spots in the interior where deer had been sleeping, I mowed it to deprive them of cover and move them away from the gardens. That was a couple weeks ago, and it seems to have worked.
As Sylvia suggested, we wrapped the main gardens in 24" poultry netting and this finally seems to have excluded the rabbits, though they continue to ravage the roses and other flowers around the house. The fences we erected earlier are of welded wire and at first they seemed to do the trick. But the manufacturer, who apparently never actually tested the product, increased the spacing between the wires from bottom to top from about one and a half to four inches. Within a week of installation the rabbits learned they could just stand on their hind legs and pass through the larger openings. So now we have a second fence over the first fence – live and learn...
There appear to be four different sizes of rabbit now. Their gestation period is only thirty days, so three new generations since April. This bunny was grazing near the concord grapes vines, which are heavily laden with fruit, at twilight yesterday.
Yesterday's beautiful sunset, painted in Maxfield Parrish hues.
We probably should have looked under the leaves earlier because now we're confronted with bushels of cucumbers from the seven hills, each with three or four vines. We're having a little pickling contest. Donna's are in the large half-gallon jars on the right, mine in the quart jars adjacent, and Alan is working on his batch. None of us has made pickles or done any canning before. A common ingredient in the recipes is calcium hydroxide, the same lime that one sprinkles down the hole after using an outhouse. We're pickling green beans, too.
Between the transplants and the volunteers there are going to be lots of tomatoes and I want to build a dehydrator before they ripen.
The cicadas have been singing for a couple weeks now, and there are fireflies every night. The coyotes have been close lately, as close as the far side of the pond, and I'm now hearing owls in the vicinity. At one point today there were three great blue herons on the pond, and a pair of plover have made a home here.
The algae in the pond remains an aesthetic concern but all other evidence seems to indicate the pond is healthy. We spoke with the neighbor upstream who is growing only hay crops and who said he has not fertilized those fields in years, so nutrient loading doesn't seem to be an issue – Donna's aquarium test strips confirm this. We'd like to displace the algae with such plants as grasses, arrowleaf, and pad lily, but for now all it takes is a little breeze from the right direction to clear the algae to the side and leave the beach area clean and inviting. It's pretty fun being able to take a break from outside work and just walk into the pond for a splash and a paddle.
The heat and lack of rain are a concern. Corn and soybean prices have been spiking in recent days on forecasts of drought throughout this growing season.
I've been reading about raising fish in cages and I think I can use the sunfish and catfish in the pond for stock – a natural hatchery. That may wait until next spring; building the cages will be a good winter project.