Saturday, April 30, 2005

Myriad thoughts

This April has been an idyllic time. There have been days that seemed like deep summer followed by days chilly with snow. This wacky weather has made me use each day as if it were the last. I have therefore enjoyed each moment more fully than normal. Carpe Diem!
Sam has made his decision to stop teaching year after next (07). I am much relieved, since by that time he'll be 84. I know he will push through to the end, even if he's in a wheelchair.
GT has finals this next week. Next term she has a repeat of her Public Health classes so things will be familiar, maybe easier. She said that today was a beautiful day there, but she's camped out at the library to study for her finals. I keep the Instant Messenger online so she and I can say hello in passing.
Sam is growing a beard to use at his Summer College skit. He'll come on stage in a cape, hat, bearded and with his grown-out eyebrows, skulking around in a cloud of dry Ice smoke. He's billed as "The spy who loves us". The next day he'll show up clean shaven and trimmed, in street clothes. Hopefully this will demonstrate something about disguises. Joe and Mac are donating their speaking time to help boost the attendance.
The audience will have to work on an intelligence problem over the Saturday afternoon and brief it back during supper. Knowing the usual attendees they'll have a good time with the problem.
I'm boosting my stamina by staying out in the garden and bees for longer periods. I even have a bottomless bucket with a seat on it so I don't come inside and get trapped!
The seedlings in the greenhouse are coming up fast. I'm going to have to fill those beds myself if RB doesn't come soon! Spring is moving into summer!
CC hasn't come by for a while, and I miss his smile and chatter about his cars and mechanics. He is mechanically minded and will make a good engineer. I think in his later years he'll come back to the farm, though. His Grandfather trained him up right.
My bee buddy has a huge swarm up a really high tree and wants to hive it. His brother has a bucket truck for powerline work, but won't help him get the swarm. They go back and forth. I'm hoping the brother gives in... but, you know families!
The houses in Florida that flooded and have been rebuilt flooded again. Seems like the land has subsided and the neighbors have built up to the point that all the water drains through my property. I've hired a landscaper with earth moving machinery to work out a solution and written the neighbors to get them to solve their problems on their own land. A sticky wicket. The neighbors are touchy, and not pleasant to talk to.

Fall Swarm that survived, prospered and were split


Jester 04 Queen


Raised Gardening Beds in Progress

Raised Beds in Snow

Bees survived the weird winter

My 16 hives got through the winter with only 3 dead-outs. The survivors were split between April 1st and 11th into about 28. One was strong enough to split into 4. I did shook swarms with the old queen and let the splits raise their own second generation queens. Most of those queens are laying now. About 4 are either out mating, or haven't started laying yet: No eggs, but ragged queen cells in the hives. I lost two weak survivors that I hadn't split to a short cold spell. One was from a fall swarm that had too few bees, and hadn't built up this spring, the other kept going queenless through the mild winter and into the spring, having had several queen cells and brood added. Just bad luck? Lots of honey and pollen in both.
I went into all of them Thurs, 4/27/05, and checked queens and brood. It's prime swarm season and I need to establish new hives or have them swarm. One may already have swarmed, but I can't be sure. It superseded at least. Still strong, though. My Bee Buddy came over to look at them and we stampeded into them. No smoker lit, though I usually don't use it I keep it handy for the occasionally hot hive. He's a commercial guy and I like to pull up a chair and really look, going slowly. So he broke open the first hive with a loud "Craaack!" and started into them. They rose in a cloud, looking for the bear. My veil wasn't on tightly, due to my hurried dressing.... Soooo classic case of Bees in the Bonnet! Lots of bees. Good thing I'm acclimated to stings. I figure that I got about 25-30 on my face, neck and especially in my hair!
I walked off from the hive, after muttering to BeeBud and got far enough away to jerk off my bee bonnet trapping the stinging bee in it. He left not long after, deciding that I have really bad tempered bees. I went into the rest of the 28 hives with almost no stings, in my usual slow, plodding way, all the way down to the bottom board.
New Purvis mite resistant queens arrive this next week. They will be shipped UPS overnight on the 3rd, Tuesday. I have to run up to DC to sign papers for my brother's company's sale, so I'll dash back and install the queens asap after. Rain is predicted off and on into next week. I'll make 5 frame nucs out of the strong bees and temporarily enlarge the operation until I rejoin the nucs to 10 frame hive bodies.

Amazing!!! Clean House & Organized Garden!!

I've been looking for someone to help me get the house in order like RB and later CC have put the yard and farm in order. The place looks great outside due to their hard work. But the inside has been sorely neglected. It's the pits.
I used the rapidly approaching meeting of the Garden Club as a spur to clean the house, at first in the 'public' areas, but ultimately in the whole house, which has several 'Pits' used to store 'Stuff' and lots of dust and mildew.
I advertised on the radio chat and trading programs, my favorite listening in the AM and at Noon. I got lots of calls, most useless. One was intriguing. A Corrections Officer, female, looking for a second job. She's former military (Helicopter mechanic), has grown children and lives about 10 miles away (closeby in the country way). She can work interesting hours and has a grown daughter who'd like to clear our trails for the wood, which they use for heating. BG is flexible, and likes gardening.
She came, after the interview (most of the folks didn't show for their interview), and cleaned the basement apartment thoroughly, which it needed! While she cleaned inside I dismantled the outside porch on that level and pressure washed it and the furniture. Both jobs took 2 full days! What a mess.
Inspired by a clean lower level I cleaned the main level, except for the MBR, over the next week. I was moving slowly due to my cold the two weeks before. Work, rest, work...
The day of the Garden Club meeting was also my day to host the Mah Jong group. We had Mah Jong in the basement living room, and Garden Club in the yard off the downstairs porch. I'd bought out Walmart's snack aisle so we had lots to eat. Garden Club members hadn't gotten directions to the farm, so only 8 out of 40 showed up. I did my Bees and Garden Program, and had a slide show going to show the differences between Honeybees and Wasps. Several scout bees showed up at the demo Hive.
BG came back Tues and Wed. We worked all day seeding and doing cuttings in the greenhouse on Tuesday (several days work for me). Wednesday she started on the Master Bedroom. That's a two day job, so she got through most of it. Sam's happy to have a fairly clean room. She's due back next week. Bless her!

Raised Gardening Beds in Progress

CC built ten raised beds 12x6 feet and lined with 5 mil plastic on the sides and rat wire in the bottom. We've filled them with really good composted soil from my multiple soil storage and compost places. I have two full enough to plant and am working on the third. RB is due sometime soon to fill the rest with good fertile dirt from the upper garden and some donated rotted horse manure from a friend. I hope to have them in production by May 15th.
I used a day's work from BG to plant all the seeds I had backlogged in the greenhouse. We also made lots of cuttings of the tomato plants that were getting leggy. Then I forgot to open the greenhouse door and almost cooked the cuttings! They look likely to survive. I need to put a fan in there to stir the air and discourage damp off. If they all come up I will have alot of work to do!