Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cicada Invasion

First line of defense against cicadas!
Nymph stage
This is the year of the 17 year cicada emergence in our part of Ohio.  The last one was the summer after we moved to the farm from Indiana.  I remember it, but I don't think I was spending as much time outside as I do now.  For the last 3 or 4 days, the nymph stage cicadas have been emerging from the ground, where they leave a hole about as big around as a pencil, climbing up onto trees, fences, our deck, anything, to cling to while they molt into their adult form.  


 They are mostly white as they emerge and they will leave the empty husks behind as they become adults and fly away.

There are thousands of these all over our yard, trees, deck, just about everywhere.  I must say the chickens are eating themselves into a food coma and are not even making a dent in the population.  I will not be going barefoot around my yard anytime soon.

Here are the newly emerged adults drying their wings and allowing their exoskeletons to harden.  

So far it is still quiet.  I don't think the cicadas are ready to start their singing yet.    The females will eventually lay their eggs in cuts they will make in young tender tree branches, the branches will die and fall to the ground allowing the hatchlings to burrow into the earth and wait 17 years to start this process all over again.  

Meanwhile, springtime work continues on the farm.  I checked in on the swarm bees on Friday and gave them a new box to expand into.  I observed brood (baby bees) being raised in a couple of the frames in the hive, but it is still a very small colony.  We had used some plastic frames that Sam had acquired in the hive box and the bees don't seem to like it.  They had really not drawn out  much comb on it.   I think they will be happier with the new  frames with wax foundation that they now have to work with.    I also checked the other 2 hives  and will be putting another box on the larger hive this week and maybe taking some honey off.  They were really putting some honey away.  I'll check on them again this Friday.

buckwheat and sorghum planting
I have gotten a lot of the garden done.  I have planted tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers, pumpkins, butternut squash, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, beets and swiss chard.  We still have some carrots and more arugula to put in.  I also planted dill, basil and parsley in my herb garden.  Up by the orchard and bee hives I just planted buckwheat and sorghum yesterday.  >>>>>>

Buckwheat is great forage for the bees and it should flower in July when there is a dearth of other nectars.  The sorghum is an experiment.  We had some planted a few years ago and we got some wonderful dark honey that tasted slightly of molasses.  I am hoping maybe we can recreate that.  Plus, we can feed the sorghum grain to the chickens and if I can devise a way to squeeze the stalks, I will cook down the juice and make sorghum moslasses.  We shall see come fall.

We put in an orchard several years ago and we have had very little success with it.  However, that could change this year.  We have lots of apples and peaches!  I certainly hope the cicadas will not ruin our chance to harvest our first real apple and peach crop.


Just 2 days ago, Sam and I sheared all 5 of our remaining alpacas.  I remember not so long ago shearing was a huge multi-day event for us, doing 4 or 5 in an evening and up to 10 on a weekend day.  On Monday evening, we did all 5 in about 2 hours, start to finish.  3 of these alpacas are 17 years old, so most of the fleece is not worth much.  These seniors just deserve to live our their lives quietly and comfortably. 

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer.  I was going to be vending at the Great Lakes Fiber Show this weekend, but due to a couple of weddings, Tari and I will not be vending.  We still think we may drive up just for the day on Sunday to enjoy the festival and maybe do some shopping.  And to enjoy each other's company.

Then there is the big wedding.  My older son will be marrying his girlfriend of about 7 years.  My whole family will be there (well most of it) and I am so looking forward to it.  I plan to take lots of photos.

Here is the most recent project on my rug loom.  It was kind of an impulse because I saw the pattern in an old magazine and I had the materials on hand and it is different from anything else I have done.   And I love it.  Even Sam commented on it.   It is made with cotton rug warp like I use for the alpaca rugs and then I am weaving with the same warp and a wool rug yarn in blue.  At least I think it is wool.  It was acquired with a whole lot of other yarn I bought from an estate and it is very coarse, but it is making a lovely rug.  And so much fun to weave.  I am in the process of putting warp for towels on my small loom.  I want to keep something on my looms at all times as much as possible.  

And here's what happens when I go up to take a shower after a long hard day working outside.  I come out of the bathroom to find the bed occupied!


  1. Good luck with your orchard this year! We also have a good sized orchard--13 apple trees, plus plum, pear, peach, and quince trees. We manage the fruit organically. This will be our first year for peaches, hopefully--there are a number of small fruit on the tree this year. Seeing your rug makes me want to get back to weaving again, too. Wish there were more hours in the day!
    Karen (AKA your new friend on Ravelry, Kuntzknit)