Grit Blogs > News From The Nest In Rural Pennsylvania

Summer Growing Season: Life Is Good

Alvin one of the rescued squirrels

Lori DunnThings have been very busy here in our neck of the woods!

My little darlings, as I like to call them, are now permanent residents outside. Of course I am referring to the three baby squirrels that we rescued earlier this year when I found them fallen from their nest. They are looking for food on their own, but we still spoil them with corn and sunflower seeds.

Lori with two of the rescued baby squirrels

On some days they greet us on the porch in the morning, and will still come running up my leg, or jump onto my shoulder. My husband, Jim, built a couple more squirrel boxes and hung them in trees near our house. The babies are all staying in one of those boxes overnight. They have been a great success, and it is a joy to have them around!

One of the squirrel babies having a snack

Our garden is growing beautifully! I have already picked sugar peas three times, and I have gotten quite a few Eight Ball zucchinis!

Sugar snap peas and eight-ball zucchini

Our green beans are in blossom, and our potatoes just started to blossom.

Green beans and zucchini

Potatoes starting to blossom

Our cabbages seem to put size on every day, and my carrot tops are beautifully frilly!


The onions are big enough to start harvesting some to eat, and there are little green tomatoes hanging from the vine!

Green tomatoes on the vine

My peppers haven’t started to blossom yet, but I was a bit late getting them in the ground this year.

Buttercups blooming

My flowers are starting to bloom beautiful too.

Delphinium blooming

My Delphinium are opening, one of my favorite.

Lilies bloom

I’m a sucker for the cottage garden look!

On the fauna side of things, I have had lots of broody hens in the past month!

Hen and chicks sleeping where it is safe

We now have four mother hens with peeps running around, and another that is still sitting, but not on chicken eggs! Our neighbor over the hill is a farmer, and farms the fields right next to ours. He came to our house a couple of Saturdays ago. He was mowing his field when he came across a turkey hen sitting on a nest. The hen took off without being hurt, and he just missed the eggs with the mower! He gathered up the clutch of eggs and came to our house. He knew we had chickens, and wondered if we had any broody hens we could stick the eggs under? It just so happens that we had a Welsummer hen that had just gone broody. It’s funny how things work out sometimes! So that hen is now sitting on ten turkey eggs. We don’t know how long it will take them to hatch, because we don’t know how long the turkey hen was sitting on them before she was disturbed. We also don’t know how they will do if they hatch. I know wild turkeys are very touchy. It is an experiment, and we’ll figure it out as we go! Our goal is to get them big enough to let them loose.

Hen with chicks

It is fun to watch all these mothers with their babies, and as they get bigger, we will start culling some of the older chickens from the flock and put them in the freezer. The first four babies that Mamma hatched for us back in December are now laying beautiful darker brown eggs.

One of the hens hatched in December

Another change with our chicken flock is they are now in a very large fenced area. I prefer them roaming free, but we couldn’t let them roam and have a nice garden and flower beds! They thought they had to remove all my flowers and replace them with large dusting holes for themselves! We bought 300 foot of chicken fence and made a large enclosure. We hope to add another 300 feet very soon. That fence also gives us a little more peace of mind as far as predators are concerned.

My husband and I just took a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May.

Lighthouse at Bodie Island

The beach there is so nice. It is never crowded, and is within walking distance from the house we rented!

Rough seas in North Carolina

What a way to relax! We had a great time! As I said at the start … life is good!

Sunset over the sound

cindy murphy
7/8/2009 8:59:12 PM

Green beans already, Lori! Shoot, ours are aways from producing. I got a late start getting them in this year. It's a new garden on the property-line between our yard and the neighbor's. Then, their above ground pool got a tear in the lining, and pretty much flooded the garden. I lost the squash I had there, but I've got plenty to spare in the other garden. The beans survived, rebounded fine and are steadily growing, but it'll be a while before we get to enjoy them. And I know exactly what you mean about boiled vegies being bland - not to mention the mushy consistency is just blucky. Us kids all still tease Mom that we didn't know broccoli is actually a green vegetable, and not gray!

nebraska dave
7/7/2009 3:51:18 PM

Lori, I ran across a blog entry at maryjanesfarm website that is so you. Here's the address of the blog entry: It's a story about a 4th of July experience of saving a baby deer. The pictures are precious. If you continue with your animal rescues, it's possible you could be known as Lori the "Pennsylvania animal rehabilitator."

7/7/2009 8:04:24 AM

Hi Cindy! Our peas are pretty much over with too, but the green beans have more than taken their place! They are producing like mad! They need picked every other day it seems, and this last picking, I got two buckets full of beans. This is a good thing, because we eat a lot of green beans. It's funny, when I was a kid I didn't much care for green beans. Now I love them! I think a lot of that has to do with how they are cooked. When I was a kid, everyone boiled their veggies, drained the water and ate them that way. Yuck! Very bland to me without much taste. Now, I stir-fry all my veggies, mostly in olive oil. I think the taste is sooo much better, and all the good stuff for you is not boiled away in the water. I always love going to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. There are a number of lighthouses there. I have photos of 4 different lighthouses from down there now. Bodie Island is the one in the photo. There is also Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which they actually moved because of beach erosion. That would have been something to see in person. You can actually climb to the top of that lighthouse, except when there are strong winds. There is the Ocracoke lighthouse, which is on an island below where we were. You have to take a ferry to get to that one. Then there is the Currituck Beach lighthouse, and you can also climb up in that one. It would be very cool to stay in a lighthouse. I like to think about what it would have been like to be a keeper before they had electricity! One thing is for sure, whoever was keeper had to be in shape! It is very hard in today's world to mesh schedules, but I hope you and your friends can do just that sometime, and take the trip you mentioned. I'm sure it would make unforgettable memories!

7/7/2009 7:39:41 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave! We garden in raised bed garden boxes. It makes life so much easier when it comes to weeding and harvesting! We have 8 garden boxes, and each one is 12 foot long. That seems like a lot, but I actually wish we had more. When it comes time to plant, the space gets used up quickly! Our broody hen has hatched 5 of the turkey eggs, and 4 of those have survived. They are all healthy looking, and seem to be doing very well. Within the next couple of weeks, I hope to be able to turn them outside the fence. We will continue to feed them, but the hope is that as they grow, they will eventually go off on their own. Ham bean soup...YUM! What a great thing to break the canner in with! Ham bean soup is one of those things that gets better with age. My hubby and I were just talking about peaches the other day. He wants me to do even more of them this year. I prefer to freeze my peaches rather than can them. No technical reason, just a personal preference. My husband likes to take them out of the freezer and let them thaw to the point that they are still a little icy, and eat them that way! This has been a good year for gardening here as well. I believe we've had more rain this year, and that helps. Plus, the temperatures so far have been a bit on the mild side. Not a lot of the scorching heat yet. I am totally fine with that. I can do without the scorching heat!

cindy murphy
7/6/2009 9:08:36 PM

Hi, Lori. It sounds like you've had quite a busy summer already! I hope your hen does just as well being a surrogate mother to those turkey eggs as you did with the squirrel babies. Your gardens look wonderful. We did well with peas this year also. Shelby and her friend shelled a big batch of them last Friday, and Keith picked the last of them yesterday, He and I sat at the picnic table and shelled, and talked about this and that. Shelling peas is so methodical and relaxing - it was a quiet respite from the busy holiday weekend. I glad for you and your husband that you were able to take some time and relax too at the beach. I love the photo of the lighthouse. Lighthouses are such interesting structures to me; they're such beautiful buildings surrounded by beautiful scenery. The one in your photo is no exception. Our lighthouse here in town is much smaller. It and the lightkeeper's house were built in 1872. The lighthouse is still operational, lighting the way from Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Black River, but there's no lightkeeper anymore. I tend to romanticize what life would have been like as a lighthouse keeper. I was just talking about this with a friend last week. It's been a long time since the group of us girls got together - we're spread out all over the country. There are a few lighthouses up north where guests can be "lighthouse keepers" for a week, performing light maintenance, giving tours, and working in the gift shop. It might not be the most relaxing of weeks, but sounds like it might be just the type the vacation for our group. It'd be too cool if we could all get away for the trip. Ah, maybe some day. I hope the rest of your summer is as good as the first part.

nebraska dave
7/2/2009 3:45:32 PM

Lori, your garden pictures look marvelous. You must spend a lot of time working in the garden. From the pictures it looks really big. Most anything is bigger than my 4 X 8 garden plot. I have to tell you that my peppers are not doing as well as they did last year. It looks like some kind of bug is trying to eat the leaves. I planted more peppers about a month after the original ones and although they are smaller they seem to be doing better. You seem to just have the knack for rescuing wild creatures. First it’s squirrels and now it’s turkeys. What will be next? It kind of shows the heart and nature of a person by how they treat animals or birds. Apparently others see and know that as well. Good luck with your new venture of hatching and raising wild turkeys. I did get to try out the new pressure canner. I gave it the maiden voyage by test canning the hardest thing I could find. I had a pot of ham and bean soup so decided to give it a try. I canned 6 pints of soup. All looks well and I sampled one about a week after the canning process. Now I’m ready to begin the real adventure of food preservation. I still haven’t tried any Jelly yet but that’s coming soon. I really wanted to try some mulberry Jelly, but before I had enough time to pick the berries the season was over. Well there’s always next year. I see the peaches are starting to show up in the road side stands so maybe I’ll try a lug of peaches next. The poor man’s living patio is coming along great. All the plants look wonderful. It’s been the best year I’ve ever had raising plants. The watering system keeps on dribble dripping along. When the hot weather hit I had to bump up the watering schedule to every day. The picture of you and the squirrels is a treasure for sure. "Gardening is the purest of human pleasures." -- Francis Bacon