Has everyone else been crazy busy and absolutely astounded that it’s already June, or is that just me?
Every ounce of energy has been spent on schoolwork, carting kids to various appointments, gardening, and work.
I DID manage to finish my Chimney Fire Sweater, though! I haven’t taken any pictures yet because it’s a thousand degrees outside, but soon! That’s the upside to having my kids going to lots of different meetings: lots of knitting time for me!
The garden has been incredibly frustrating and slow, but it’s coming along. I lost a lot of the pepper and tomatoes I started by moving them out too soon. There’s still plenty there, though, and keeping up with the weeds is of course a daily struggle. The worst part is the ticks. Every day I’m pulling about a dozen off of me. And trust me, I’ve tried everything.
I’ve used every essential oil and bug spray on the market, including the crazy mostly-DEET kind, to no avail. I even went out in the garden in my damn BEE SUIT and still pulled a couple off my back and neck that night. They freaking love me. The harvest this year better be worth it!
I put up deer netting after learning from last year’s total tomato loss, and I’ve got plenty of diatomaceous earth and Neem oil. Once the plants get big enough to withstand them I’ll probably try and keep the ducks in there, at least part-time, to help with the bugs and weeds.
The honeybees are doing very well. I’ve added another box to the hive, since they have mostly filled the two they have already.
They seem to be happy here. We definitely have plenty of wildflowers, and I just confirmed that we have several wild American Elderberry trees! They’re all in flower right now, and I’m crazy excited to have them.
What post would be complete without cats? Widget and Poppet are such fat and happy things.
And then there’s Pippa, who’s starting to show her age, but certainly not acting it.
I went out this evening fully intent on taking plenty of good pictures of the flock in this glorious weather, and realized my camera battery was dead. So, I used my phone.
Everyone is doing very well on the plentiful grass, and the new honeybees are thriving. I’m hoping the temperatures stay reliably warm now, because I’ve transplanted my tomatoes and peppers into the garden.
Oona chose watermelons to grow in her garden space, and if we can keep the ducks out, I think she’ll be successful.
A few days ago I made a honeycomb cake in anticipation of today.
It didn’t last very long, but it made me happy to think about how close I was to being a beekeeper again. And today was the day!
I drove out to Scottsville this morning to pick up my package of honeybees. It had been postponed a day, which is probably okay considering it rained a bunch yesterday.
The lovely folks from Scottsville Supply Co handed me my bee package and queen cage, and off I went, the sound of thousands of buzzing honeybees filling the car. I serenaded them with a bit of Hamilton, but I don’t think they were too into it.
The queen is in her own separate cage. These bees have not been “bonded” to her yet, so she’s being attached by rubber band to a frame in the hive, which is blocked by sugar. The rest of the bees are then dumped into the hive with her, and this evening I will make sure the hive is closed securely and “lock” them in with her for now. In the time it takes for her to eat the sugar and emerge from her cage, the bees will have fallen under the spell of her pheromones, and that will be that. A queened colony!
The can contains the sugar syrup they were shipped with. There were still quite a bit in there, so I’m leaving it for them to continue to feed from while they acclimate. Since there were still a lot of bees in their plastic bus after shaking most of them out, I decided to leave that in there, as well. After a few days I’ll go out to check on them and I can remove it then, and hopefully remove the entrance reducer and allow them to go forage for pollen on their own.
Go bees! Draw comb! Feed your queen! And pollinate!
I’ve watched our friend Emily shear our sheep for several years now, and it never stops being mesmerizing to me. Her speed has increased dramatically over the years, and the ease with which she handles even the biggest sheep is wonderful to see. Yesterday she arrived after shearing probably 100 other sheep and goats on various farms in the area and got ours handled in less than an hour. Which was a good thing, because it started sprinkling just after the last sheep was done. The wool was packed off on bags with her, off to be sold to the wool pool. I have a substantial amount left here for hand-spinning, and until we decide what direction we are taking this venture, I’ll be allowing commercial buyers decide where it will go.
The disappointing news is that it looks fairly certain that our ewes are not bred this year. But, that gives me another year to prepare and plan. The good news is that everyone is fat and healthy.
As soon as the weather clears out and the thunderstorms (and tornado watch) have passed, I’ll be moving everyone out to the back pasture, where plenty of fresh, green grass awaits.
We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store). I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.
We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow. We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.
This was our glorious snow storm:
It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.
So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?
First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.
Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.
Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.
I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.
It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do. It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).
I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.
I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.
Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!
Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling. If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.
I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy. I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!
Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.
Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February. Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably. I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!
I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants. For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.
On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!
Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now! It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.
Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.