Filed under: Corn, Farm, Soybeans, tillage, travel | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, machines, outdoors, Planting, pond, rain, Soybeans, travel, trees, Weed control, wildlife
Watch a farmer drive across country and you would think his head was on a swivel. Checking out first one side of the road and then the other can give you whiplash, but for me there is so much to see.
What do you see as you travel farm country? Those not involved in farming see very little, but farm folks see so much more, an example: It rained Sunday, I took a trip today and had to see how the area was doing. Because of all the rain I was checking out where water had eroded hillsides, where water was ponding or had ponded, where a deer had walked across wet ground, where geese were congregating in a ponded field and where the wind was starting to blow dust. I do that every mile when I travel, it is continuous. I also check out how tall the corn is, if the soybeans are coming up or not in planted fields and how the weed control is or is not doing. I also check out farming methods and how they are effecting water movement.
It’s a wonder I get to my destination all the things I find to look at on a trip down the road. The fact is that most farmers are the same. Driving to another state where farming practices are different can really get the head moving. We look for crops we do not plant, and different methods of planting those we do. We study irrigation and tillage methods, look for cattle (or bison) on the hillsides in ranch country and notice trees around building sites and rivers. We’ll look for wildlife and farm machines, tillage practices and building sites, there just is so much to study. Farmers look for so much when they travel.
The next time you travel through farm country, take a look at all there is to see. If you only see green fields you are not seeing, but only looking. Travel the country with a farmer if you really want to see the countryside.
Filed under: fish, garden, Minnesota, pond, spring, water garden | Tags: day lilly's, frogs, garden, iris, Koi, marsh marigolds, Minnesota, outdoors, plants, pond, sedum, spring, stone cap
It’s a beautiful April First here in Southwestern Minnesota and we are enjoying the warm before the weather turns a little more like April. I went out to check the pond and found the “flat” near the bridge was full of leopard frogs again.
We counted 12 of them before I took the picture, you should be able to see at least 8 of them in this picture. I found over 20 frogs around the pond at various times and they all have their favorite spots. If they don’t like what’s going on around them they jump into the water and head down to a hide out. So far they have been quiet and have not started “singing” to us. Most of the frogs are black with a bit of yellow-green on them, but a couple have started to shift to green.
The Koi are not easy to photograph since most of them are “black” and prefer the deeper water. These three orange one year olds are the easiest to see. There at least 12 more one year olds in “black” (several are visible as grey ellipses in the picture) and three older black ones.
The marsh marigolds are the only bits of color in the pond for now. I’m not sure if any of the other plants will come as the year goes along, but it is nice to see these yellow blooms.
Since I have had the creek running the water has cleared up a lot. It is still a bit brown due to the dead leaves in the bottom, and the brown algae on the rocks, but warmer weather should green things up a bit more.
I added rock steps to make getting into the pond easier this spring. As long as the grandchildren understand that this is a garden and not a swimming pool my plants should be safe. Since Allison and Katelyn are still too young to get to the pond without help, I should be OK for this year.
The sedum, irises and day lilly’s are really starting to green up along the “creek.” The stone cap stayed dusty green all winter long under the snow and is really spreading out over the rocks. All it needed was to have the dead plant material removed to show its color.
I spread some grass seed in a large bare patch and put the sprinkler on it today. That area of the lawn has had issues for years. So far it grows weeds best but I’m hoping with some sturdier varieties I can get it to green up properly.
Filed under: Minnesota, pond, rain, spring, water garden, weather, Wildlife | Tags: frogs, marsh marigold, marsh marigolds, Minnesota, pond, rain, spring, weather
It’s the first day of spring here in southwestern Minnesota and my springtime pond is mostly brown. I’ve cleaned up the dead plant material from around the pond and even cleaned most of the stuff that blew in over the winter off of the bottom. At this time last year we had snow on the ground and frozen water, not so this year.
We’ve broken records for both daytime highs, and high minimum temperatures this week so all of our plants seem to be getting an early start. This year the frogs came off of the bottom to warm in the sunshine of our record warm days. They’ve even found some insects to eat.
Most of the time the frogs dive in when I come into view, but sometimes one that thinks itself hidden better will sit around to be photographed. If one frog dives in there are sure to be many others taking the plunge. They are very dark so far this spring. I’m hoping we’ll see our usual green leopard frogs when the area greens up.
The surprise of the pond today was to see the first blooms on the Marsh Marigolds. This is my first year with these plants so I had not realized that they were such early bloomers. I remember them being in bloom until freeze-up, so I’m expecting a long season of sunny yellow flowers. I do hope they are not so early that they will freeze off before we get into our normal spring-time season.
The rain of the last few days has helped a lot, although we have not gotten much rain, just a few tenths. Right now we are about six inches behind in rainfall and it will take a major shift in the weather patterns to get us back to normal. One thing is for sure, it is hard to be gloomy when the weather is this nice.
Filed under: fish, Minnesota, pond, spring, water garden | Tags: garden, Koi, Minnesota, plants, pond, sedum, spring, warm temperatures, water garden, water plants
It’s March, we should not be having weather this nice, but my pond is greening up so it’s time to get cleaning.
After this mornings fog burned off the weather turned really warm. Temperatures approaching 80 degrees were found in our area. This is unusual for March here in southwestern Minnesota. I was hauling beans in to town, but an oil leak in the engine compartment of the truck meant I needed to add 1 gallon of oil to the truck motor. The truck is now in the shop getting fixed. What to do?
My visits to the pond revealed not only awakening frogs, but new leaves on many of the plants in or near the pond. It’s time for a pond Spring cleaning.
These pond side plants are sending out green shoots. These plants have been here at the waters edge all winter. I started seeing some green here before the ice was completely out of the pond. This is much earlier than would have been possible the last two years.
If you look in the water near the center of the picture you can see one orange baby koi and a few little circles in the water indicating more just under the surface. Last years hatch of koi are checking out the water’s surface for food. I counted three larger koi and at least 19 first years. Too bad that most of them are dark colors.
The plants that normally would grow just under the waters surface had their pots moved to deeper water for the winter. Now they are sending leaves up to the surface. You can see the two pots as green leaves near the center of the picture. Today I moved them to their platforms so they could grow in the place they should. It meant putting on the chest waders so I could go into that COLD water.
Part of the spring pond cleaning is to remove some of the dead plant material from the bottom of the pond. Leaves that blew in last fall started to rot on the bottom of the pond and they make some really good compost. They do tend to take some of the oxygen from the water when they rot so air needs to get mixed into the water either with a bubbler or by pumping water down a “creek” when there is ice on the pond. Not all of the material should be removed from the pond bottom since frogs and turtles need that as a place to hide. You can see the water plant on its shelf in the middle of the pond.
Shore line plant material needs to be removed to keep it from entering the water as they break up. Removing the plant material revealed these sedum starting to come up. There were several other perennial plants starting to green up. There will be more to do if the weather stays warm. As with any garden, this one takes work to keep it nice. Spring is coming!
Filed under: fish, Ice, Minnesota, pond, snow, spring | Tags: frogs, Koi, Minnesota, pond, snow, spring, water plants, wildlife
Our pond has awakened from it’s winters sleep. The real clincher was seeing frogs sunning on the shore.
Our weather has turned warm with highs in the 70′s and lows staying much above freezing. The pond has responded with new leaves on underwater and shore line plants, and increased activity from the koi. To see frogs out of the water was a real delight. I’m hoping that we will see one of our baby turtles emerge from their winters nap soon also.
After the partial die off of koi in early winter I have watched for activity in the pond when ever the ice melted a bigger hole in the pond. Once in a while I would see one of the small orange koi in the depths. Now that the sun is getting higher and reaching into the depths of the pond it is easier to see the koi in all parts of the pond. Having several black or grey koi, I do not often see them unless they come to the top. Now that the sun is reaching the bottom of the pond I can get a bit of shadow on the dark bottom that betrays their presence.
All of this is all the more exciting because for the last two years this part of Minnesota had temperatures below freezing at this time of year and large piles of snow. This year we are expecting record or near record high temperatures. Most of the fields and lawns now are devoid of snow. Only in the deepest shadow, where the snow piled deepest, is there any snow left. The warmer weather has me ready for spring.
Filed under: Ice, Minnesota, pond, snow, weather | Tags: january thaw, melt, melting snow, Minnesota, open water, pond, snow, southwestern minnesota, weather, winter
Here it is January 26, and the temperature is almost 40 degrees. That may be cold for some others, but for our part of southwestern Minnesota, it is wonderful. We’ve had a few days lately where the temperatures were just below freezing with cloudy weather, but today the sun came out and snow started to melt.
The snow melting off of the roof was making a lot of noise coming down the spout from the rain gutter. Anyplace with only a little snow is now free of snow.
Our pond got some welcome recharge as water covered the ice and infiltrated the snow. I had placed a bubbler in the pond to keep up the oxygen level and with the warmer weather the open area has really grown.
Yes, we do have snow left. Anyplace where snow had piled up over three inches deep is still covered and not likely to go away today, but less snow covering is welcome. This January thaw has gotten everyone in a good mood. Winter will not linger long now.
Filed under: cats, cold, fish, Minnesota, pond, winter | Tags: cats, cold, Koi, leaves, Minnesota, pond, snow, trees, winter
I thought after my experience with my goldfish pond I had it all figured out. Obviously not.
My new, larger, Koi pond has had more than a few problems. One of the worst has just surface now that winter has truly set in. I’ve been losing koi.
During the fall, the falling leaves fell freely into the pond. This has never been much of a problem before, so I ignored it. The water that once was so clear, turned brown and started to stink as the leaves rotted. I netted wheel borrow loads full of dead leaves out of the pond. Every time the wind blew, more leaves blew into the pond.
The first cold days came, with the pump hose threatening to freeze up, I turned off the pump and drained the hose. The pump was removed and stored in the house. I added a heater to keep the water open, and fish started to die.
Today I have a small air compressor running to pump air into the bottom of the pond. My theory is that the rotting leaves were using up all of the oxygen in the water leaving none for the fish to use. With four large koi and several small ones dead , it is emergency time. I’m not sure how long I will have to run the compressor. It is not meant to run constantly, but I hope that with the cold weather it will not over heat. As long as the air filter stays clear, it should run for a while.
It has been an expensive lesson. The two largest koi were the first to die and they cost me $50 each. But nothing goes to waste here on the farm. My cats have been eating well.
Filed under: cold, Fall, Farm, frost, Minnesota, pond, seasons, Trees | Tags: autumn, falling leaves, farm, frost, leaves, Minnesota, pond, trees, wind
With all of the cold we’ve had lately most trees have been shedding their leaves quite quickly. The lack of rain has meant that the leaves have remained dry and light in weight. Some trees, like the catalpa shed their leaves mostly in one day, its large leaves dropping like rain as the frost went out one morning. Many leaves in our area blew off in the wind and made piles in sheltered areas, or blew into the water. A few leaves are still hanging in there. Here’s a few pictures for you.
Only a few leaves remain on this maple. The leaves have been turning from red and gold to brown as they wave goodbye to fall.
While most of the leaves are gone from our trees, this maple has hung on to its leaves. Oak also are waiting to shed their summer glory as their now brown leaves cling to the branches. Locust have compound leaves, and so may shed a leaflet or two before the whole leaf drops.
The pond has been a leaf magnet. Leaves hit the water and stop. I have scooped wheel barrows of leaves out and still the water is brown with leaves. It’s a wonder that the fish can swim in it sometimes. The leaves dam up our little creek and cause the water to run places I do not want it to go.
As the temperatures cool we will lose more of the leaves, a little at a time, as each leaf lets go of its summer hang out and drifts to the ground. It has really been a colorful autumn here in Southwestern Minnesota. Perhaps one of the most colorful I have ever seen. Just 44 more days to winter.
Filed under: cats, cold, fish, garden, pond, water garden | Tags: cats, flowers, frogs, garden, goldfish, Koi, pond, turtles, water garden
Although some areas near by were affected by the early frost this past week, our ponds remain healthy and blooming. The Sedum is in full bloom and a few other flowers continue to bloom near the pond daily. I was surprised to see the Blackie with a pale purple flower hidden in the leaves one day. Sorry, I missed taking a photo of it.
The baby Koi continue to grow.
Trying to get a picture of them in the water is a challenge. Most of them are just darker spots against the sand bottom. A few have already become colorful, but most are a dark grey to black in color.
It is obvious that we had two hatches since they are of two different sizes. Even the large adults are hard to see in these pictures, so finding the young ones is really a challenge.
Most of the time the baby Koi hang out under the plants, but when I feed them they will come to the surface to grab a chunk. They have a tough time getting the big pieces of food in their mouth, but they try. Mostly they work the bits of algae off of the rocks and floor of the pond for food.
There are still a few frogs around the pond but the weather has been cool and they don’t come out much. I think the cats have been lunching on them.
The Hyacinth are not growing so well in the cooler water of the big Koi pond, but are still thriving in the smaller Goldfish pond. Most of the water plants are slowing down and could use some warmer days.
We only got a few blooms on the water lilly in the Koi pond this year, but rarely missed a day in the Goldfish pond. There is one there yet today. The water lilies seem to prefer to be open when the sun hits them and close up when they are in shade.
I’ve not seen a sign of the turtles since the hatch. I don’t even know if any survived. The old nest was cleaned out by some creature just last week.
There’s the pond news for the week, come by and see them for yourself some time.
Filed under: garden, Minnesota, pond, water garden, Wildlife | Tags: garden, Minnesota, painted turtles, pond, turtle, turtles, water garden
In the early days of our Koi pond our landscaper had brought us some turtles. Those turtles decided to head off for bigger ponds and our pond was turtleless. Later he brought us some turtle eggs which we gently buried near the pond. At that time he told us to expect a September first hatch. As I was walking by the pond just now I looked down to see a bit of turtle shell peeking out of the mulch.
Soon you could see a little turtle checking out the world.
Once he hit the water, he was gone between the rocks in no time at all.
There are three more eggs in the mulch and I can see that they are already split. The babies will go into hiding as they grow larger. When winter comes they will burrow into the sand and silt on the bottom to sleep off the cold months. I’m hoping they will call my pond home for some time. Just another exciting bit of news from the pond.