We have had a lot of rain this summer. There were record amounts in our area of Cambridge, Wis. Dane County was hammered by storms and is still in recovery. With all of this rain comes very large puddles and swarms of mosquitoes. Our ducks usually can take care of all the mosquitoes, but cannot handle the volume this summer. Ducks love puddles and make them into a mucky mess trying to eat the mosquitoes’ larvae. You could say the ducks love rain and mosquitoes.
    I am not too thrilled with all the rain, but am pleased with the way the weeds in my gardens pull out easily. I can stop to pull a handful of weeds that are growing where they should not be. Crazy as this sounds, I find pulling weeds satisfying and enjoy doing it when they pull out with the whole root attached. Most of my flower beds this summer have been well taken care of without the use of Round-up, but I confess to using Preen.
    I do not like to pull weeds in my gardens where the mosquitoes are thick. The ducks do not eat all the larvae when they make a mess in the puddles, so the surviving mosquitoes swarm in shady spots around the front and side of my house hiding in the hosta plants and ferns.
    My daughter, Anna, has been helping get things in shape before she heads back to college, and we have taken on the mosquito areas. We are working on an area this week, because it has been cooler and we can wear a long sleeve shirt to avoid being eaten alive. It has been invigorating to clean up these gardens, because this is where we have special weeds that I love: milkweed.
    A few years ago, I let one milkweed plant go to seed, and now I have a milkweed garden. These are tall plants that have a fragrant flower and are easily noticed by butterflies and visitors that are touring our farm.
    “Oh, you have a butterfly garden.”
    They notice the milkweed, but not so much the other weeds around them from the distance.
    Since we have let these plants take over, we have noticed many monarch butterflies this summer. I am confident these beautiful butterflies are here to stop by the milkweed to lay their eggs. Monarch butterflies are sometimes called the milkweed butterfly because its larvae eat milkweed and only milkweed.
    While Anna and I were cleaning up the weeds, we spotted several monarch caterpillars on the milkweed leaves. She took many photos and posted them on our Facebook page. It was exciting to share this and get so many wonderful comments and shares. Everyone loves monarchs.
    My husband, Duane, was not so fond of the weed patch and saw the milkweeds as an eye sore until we went out to dinner with some family friends. They mentioned they too have a butterfly garden. They bring caterpillars into the house on the milkweed leaves and put them in a cage to let them pass through their chrysalis stage of life.
    After hearing this, I brought a stalk of milkweed into the house that had a chrysalis on a leaf. It took only 10 days for the transformation into a butterfly. Duane was the first person to see the monarch as it was resting on the leaf in our kitchen. It was amazing to witness this transformation, and he took photos to share with everyone. The next morning, we released the butterfly outside, so we have one more monarch to have flying around the farm.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 135 registered Holsteins and farm 2,500 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wis. They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.