Spring Damage

As busy as our Pumpkin and Christmas Tree seasons are, this May has been time-consuming.  From all the rain delays, transplanting, changes to the barn and tending to our new baby farm animals, my husband Wesley thought I was crazy for wanting to add one more project to my list.  But, I did anyway!

We have always been avid bluebird watchers, but I never knew until recently that Christmas tree farms were the ideal habitat for New York’s official state bird!  A big thanks to Jim Missel, the Monroe County rep of the NYS Bluebird Society.  He helped us to get 5 new nesting houses built and up.  While it is the end of nesting season, as of this past Saturday, we have at least one pair of bluebirds in the Douglas fir field that is just west of the barns.

While I am still hoping that Bob Melville, our resident photographer can catch a few photographs, the above picture is courtesy of Jospeh Woody.  He took this picture of a bluebird that Jim Missel tends.  Jim currently tends over 60 nests!  Which is impressive.

If anyone is interested in learning more about bluebirds, go to the NYS Bluebird Society web page at www.nysbs.com for tips on identification and building nesting boxes.

We have also had some animal damage in the Christmas trees this year.  Not atypical but still something  that does need to be dealt with annually.

In this picture rabbits ate all the new growth off the bottom of the tree as high as they could reach.  If you have ever seen the black bunnies that run around the farm, you know that they are not small!

Here is a picture I took of where deer had eaten all the bottom branches off a Fraser fir.  Notice the Concolor in the center was not touched.  Dad and I have talked about adding deer fencing to the west  part of the fields to help limit this damage.

 

This last picture is of a broken leader (or top) on a Douglas Fir.  Crows perching on the tender new growth tend to cause this type of breakage.  Crows also prey on songbird eggs and young.  Since crows have moved into the farm, it’s a rare sight to see a songbird nesting in the Christmas trees.    Which makes me doubly mad.  Crows are an important part of the cycle of life, but I would much rather hear a songbird sing than a crow sqwak!

 

The picture above makes me think of White Christmas.  Dad and I have never seen this happen to a tree before, it essentially turned white.  We have reached out to our friends, tree farmers who belong to the National Christmas Tree Association, to see if anyone has insight as to what is wrong with this tree.  This is the only one in the field like this.  Leave a comment if you have any thoughts or information about a tree turning white.

As of this post there are 111 days left until we open for our Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Fest.  Julie, our marking manager, mentioned that to me.  Do I feel overwhelmed?  At times.  When I think about the changes yet to be made to the barn, that our corn maze and pumpkins still need to be planted and we have yet finalized our mailer or plan the American Lung Association fundraiser (5th Anniversary for this event), it can be a bit much.  But, then I think about how in the end it always gets done.  The almanac suggests a nice fall, so here’s hoping.

A happy spring to all!

Suzanne Stokoe

Spring Christmas Tree Planting at Stokoe Farms

Two year old Fraser Fir with Phytophthora

Two year old Fraser Fir with Phytophthora

This unusually wet 2011 Spring turned out to be a good year to try a new planting technique with our Fraser fir transplants. Fraser fir trees do not like to have “wet feet”, that is they do not grow well in wet soil and can be susceptible to a fungal root disease called Phytophthora, causing the transplant to die. So to remedy this many farmers create ridges in these marginal fields to help increase drainage and move excess water away from the root system.

To test this planting technique we borrowed equipment from our friends near Ithaca, Richard and Kaye Moore. The plow makes the ridge and then the roller packs and forms the planting bed. Larry created the ridges last Fall and we planted the trees on them this past week.Plow to make the ridgeRoller to form the ridge

   The last of our transplants arrived on Friday from a Christmas tree nursery in Quebec Canada. They are a Fraser Balsam cross that is proposed to be faster growing and will tolerate more soil variety then the Fraser. We also planted traditional Fraser, Douglas, Concolor, and a few Grand Firs over the past two weeks on those occasional dry days.

With planting behind us, Larry is busy with weed control and fertilizing. The warming weather means buds will be breaking on the new growth and we will have to be on the look out for harmful insects.

Happy planting to everyone  working in their flower beds and preparing your garden!

4th Annual American Lung Association Fund Raiser at Stokoe Farms

Billy Goat Mountain Slide

A very BIG thank you to the over 900 people who came out to Stokoe Farms to support the American Lung Association’s Fall Family Day! It was a beautiful sunny day filled with lots of fun and good food. Thank you to Zwiegle’s, Caledonia Market Place, Frito Lay, Pepsi Bottling Group, and Upstate Niagara for their in-kind donations of food and drinks. Also thank you to our sponsors: Five Star Bank, LeRoy Motors, Paetec, and Kidsoutandabout.com for their generosity in sponsoring this year’s event. All proceeds from the event will support the Lung Association’s mission to prevent lung disease and promote lung health in the Rochester community.

The Stokoe Farm Animal Family Grows and Grows…..

Early morning breakfast at the milk bar

Early morning breakfast at the milk counter

Wilma our very large sow arrived very pregnant at her Bunnyville Farm Animal pen this past Sunday. She has been enjoying snacking on pumpkins, ice cream, and cookies along with her regular feed. And yes, even pigs have cravings. You try to say “no” to a 550 plus pound pregnant sow!! Amanda (granddaughter, CFO-Chief Fun Officer, and animal caretaker)  arrived early Tuesday morning to the squeals of 11 healthy, well feed piglets.Wilma is an experience  mother and took the large litter all in stride. The piglets spent the day exploring the pen and sunning themselves in the nice warm afternoon.

Farm Animals Invade the Pumpkin Patch at Stokoe Farms

Ora Mae, Helga, Hermione,Gilligan,Patches, Noah, Jake and Hank await your arrival at the Farm. Please come, we are lonely without you!!! Watch for us walking around the Farm or visit us at the Lower Forty Goat Walk.

Wildlife Education Fundraiser at Stokoe Farms

Saturday July 31st the Wildlife Educators Colalition presented:

Creatures from Every World

There were over 20 species of exotic animals, live animal stage shows, vendors, crafts, food and lots of fun. This fundraiser generated over $5,000 to help WEC provide wildlife educational programs to the greater Rochester and surrounding areas. For more  information visit www.nywec.org.

A Busy Summer of Events at Stokoe Farms

Wow! Where has the Summer gone….and only 6 weeks until the opening day of out 10th year of the Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Fest. We have been busy this past month hosting a variety of events on the farm.
The Summer started off with a graduation celebrate – congratulations to the Wheatland-Chili Class of 2010!

Wilbert's Christmas Tree Farm family of Webster NY with Larry Stokoe

The next weekend brought in Christmas tree farmers from across New York and neighboring states. Some came as far as Las Vegas. Over 200 people attended this two-day meeting of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York where we shared ideas and learned the newest practices on growing the highest quality Christmas trees.

We then moved on to welcoming Stokoe family members from New York, California, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Connecticut. A Stokoe reunion has not been held since 1923 so there was a lot to catch up on! We renewed old connections, made new ones and we all celebrated the 200th year of Thomas Stokoe’s  journey to the United States from England.

Stokoe Reunion July 25, 2010

Reunion 1923

Stokoe Reunion July 14, 1923