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July 31, 2017

Homestead Happenings #7


What's new on my homestead.

Welcome to Volume 7 of the Homestead Happenings, a sort-of-monthly peek into what's going on behind the blog.

Blister beetles! Ack! I found damaged leaves on my cherry tomato plant and looked for tomato horn worms, but instead I found a dozen or so black beetles congregated on the plants.

Not knowing that the insects were, I asked in our OHH Community facebook group. Several suggestions were made, and we decided they were blister beetles, which are a real problem here in Oklahoma. In fact, if hay is harvested and baled with these beetles in it, then eaten by a horse, the dead beetles can actually kill the horse.

Blister beetle on tomato plants

I wanted an effective, organic remedy that would still allow me to eat the tomatoes so I knocked the beetles into a container of soapy water to drown. I wore gloves because the beetles can cause blisters if you touch them. The first morning I drowned 34 of them, with just a few over the next couple of days, and then I didn't see any more for a couple of weeks. I've seen a couple since then but always knock the bug into my handy container of soapy water and haven't had any more damage to my tomato plants. Whew!

Borage deters tomato horn worms.

This year I planted borage to help deter tomato horn worms. Does it work? Well, I don't have any tomato horn worms. I also planted nasturtiums (only a few survived) and marigolds (even fewer survived). All are supposed to prevent insect pests, but I had limited success with them this year. I'll keep planting them though.

Squash bugs killed both my zucchini and yellow squash plants. (It's a good thing I gave you that tour of my garden before all the bugs arrived, isn't it?) The squash plants were growing in large pots, so I dragged the pots away from the garden and dumped the soil out. There are probably squash bug eggs in the dirt and I don't want to re-use it, at least not for several years. I spread it all out thinly and hope that the sun and summer heat will kill the eggs. The dead plants went in our burn barrel, not in the compost pile.

When I put the garden to bed in the fall, I think I'll rake the soil around a bit. Hopefully I'll disturb any insect eggs in the ground and they won't survive the winter.

The OKC Bombing Memorial and Museum

Our granddaughter arrived for her usual summer visit, always one of the highlights of my year. She told me that she loves going to museums with us; it's one of her favorite things to do and we go to at least one each summer. This year she requested a trip to the OKC Bombing Memorial and Museum.

The Oklahoma City Bombing National Memorial and Museum in OKC
"Team 5, 4-9-95
We search for the truth. We seek justice.
The courts require it, The victims cry for it, and GOD demands it."

At the end of our granddaughter's visit, her mom came for the weekend so they could travel home together. Our central air conditioning broke the day she arrived, right in the middle of our summer heat wave and the hottest, most humid weather of the year. I think they were happy to go home!

Day-old Rhode Island Red chicks

Remember my cute little Rhode Island red chicks? They're three months old now and it always amazes me how fast chicks can grow. They are as big as my adult hens, although not as heavy yet. I moved them from the brooder to the grow-out pen in the coop, and then let them loose in the coop, and sadly have lost about 25% of them. One of my buff Brahma hens is a bully and I think she's responsible for several of those deaths. Lesson learned: don't be in a hurry to integrate them into the flock.

Muscovy duck hen on her nest.

The Muscovies are laying eggs again, but something is eating the eggs in the black-and-white ducks' coop. A snake? A rat? I'm still not sure, but something is squeezing through the 2x4" spaces in the fencing and eating the eggs. The chocolate-and-white hen's eggs in the smaller coop lined with hardware cloth are unmolested, so I've taken a couple of the black-and-white ducks' eggs as I'd find them and added them to her clutch.


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We were blessed with a drenching rainfall last weekend, well over an inch in the middle of that heat wave, blowing sideways on the strong wind. I wanted to go dance in the rain but there was too much lightning, so instead I opened the front door and stood in the rain that blew in through the screened door... then mopped up the water on the floor.

What's new at your homestead this week?


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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15 comments:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful few weeks! (Especially time with your granddaughter!) Our big excitement on the homestead is our first-ever calf bred and born here and--of course--lots of fresh milk to go with it. :-)

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    1. I'm loving all your calf photos on Facebook, Michelle!

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  2. Ha! I love that you let the water pour in and cleaned it up later :) Sounds like a fun and interesting summer, even with the set-backs!

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    1. Definitely my favorite part of summer is our granddaughter's annual visit. :-) Thank you, Danielle.

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  3. Ah ha, blister beetles, wondered where they went. Have been plagued with them here in southwest Missouri for the last several years. Had to pick green beans with gloves. The only nice thing about that is it keeps the rabbits from eating my beans. They love potato and tomato plants too. Blister beetles eat grasshoper eggs. Get rid of grasshopers and beetles disappear. This year we don't have any, no grasshopers either, and the rabbits have decimated the green beans. Agh!

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    1. Hmmm, did your blister beetles come here, Suzie? I've noticed some damage on my potato leaves too, but haven't seen the beetles on them yet. Grasshopper eggs, yes, we have grasshoppers; they were a plague a couple of years ago. Maybe - silver lining here - maybe the blister beetles will eat all the grasshopper eggs, so I'll have no grasshoppers next year and the blister beetles will move on! I'm sorry about the rabbits eating all your green beans.

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  4. Your life sounds peaceful although I'm sure it isn't always easy living on a homestead. Thanks for sharing your experience with us at #overthemoon and have a lovely day.

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  5. Bugs and egg-nappers are so frustrating! I'm glad other things are going well! Have a great week!
    Anne

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    1. They are, Anne! Thank you, and hope you have a great weekend.

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  6. I'm sorry you lost so many of your Rhode Islands, they are beautiful birds. We were worried about combining flocks ourselves, but we never really got the chance as the dogs took care of it all for us. We are at our legal limit now (eight, I live in city limits), so it will be a couple years before we need to worry about that again. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop!

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    1. I'm sorry you lost your chickens to the dogs. Hopefully it will go smoother next time.

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  7. Just read your blog about eggs being eaten. Last summer was the 1st time we experienced that.....even though our chicken yard is double fenced with 1" chicken wire and 2 X 4 non climb. That happened for a few weeks before we found a 4ft. gopher snake in one of the nesting boxes. Shocked me! Our son charmed him out of there and we then put 1/2" chicken wire 3ft. up around the pen. Not fun fencing a 30' by 70' yard. Haven't had any problems since then. Patty Mc

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    1. It also shocks me to find one, Patty. The "startle factor" is the worst part about snakes, if you ask me. I've truly considered layering 1/4" hardware cloth or even screen on the duck coop door where I think that snake was getting in, but putting it around the bottom half of my chicken run would be "not fun" and expensive just like you said. I'm glad you haven't had any problems since doing that; I might have to bite the bullet and do it.

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  8. Joanne8:09 PM

    I cut blister beetles in half with scissors that way I don't have to touch them.

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