Tuesday, November 28, 2006
These are pictures of the woods, mushrooms, and animals, no people, except for one of CC and me extracting honey.
If you want one, tell me. Some of you are in transit, and I need a secure address for you.
Email me at HscSusiQ at AOL dot Com
But it comes, whether you're ready or not.
I'm officially grown up. When you hit sixty you have to admit to being an adult.
I have created, unthinkingly, an idealized version of Grove Farm here in Virginia: No silage fermenting in the bunkers, which my nose remembers so vividly, no pigs to flee from in the big pasture which I had to cross after jumping the Haw-haw (a big ditch), no huge hay barn to climb around in, looking for bantam eggs; but here are woods to explore and get to know, tree-by-tree, a just-right-sized lake, and a huge garden to dump mountains of black riches from the local stable into and grow things. Here is meaningful work to tire me and make me sleep, worry free. Here is the wonderful man I love!
I still miss Little Grove Priory. I miss Old Norwood, and Lady Jean. I miss the rose garden and the chickens. The long walks to school, where sewing was taught by a man, and we had to take exercise in our knickers! I thought that we lived there for years, until my Mother told me it was only eight months. When we had to leave I hugged all the trees goodbye, down by the chalk pit in the woods. I cried, and still cry, for that beautiful place. Luckily we married into the Lady Jean's family, so I now have cousins who are rooted there, too.
Roots don't take long to form in rich ground.
Monday, November 20, 2006
And that brings me to the bright cherry on the whipped cream: Felix.
His sweet personality glows on his face as he sits figuring out how his toys work. I could go on and on and on... I got to spend some hours gazing at his perfection and talking to the lucky Moms. We had a fine old time cooking and consuming a good dinner at my brother's where they'll have a Thanksgiving vacation.
CC got a small four pointer on the first day of the regular gun season. He'd spent all muzzleloader season stalking the property and taking shots, occasionally, at the biggest buck. I have five deer damage tags, so he knows that we can harvest all the deer he and DC, who secures the upper part of the property, can shoot.
I went out with CC and found about a gallon of oyster mushrooms and two Lion's Mane mushrooms. There had been 2.5 inches of rain the day before, so they were all soggy. I wish I had weighed the large one, it felt like 5 pounds, but most of that was water. I pressed a lot of the water out of the lion's mane after I'd sliced them. They were solid mushroom meat, with the 'spines' or 'teeth' all over the outside. Unfortunately, they were very bland. I sautéed them in olive oil, and discovered the lack of flavor (they're said to taste like lobster or seafood). So I added chopped garlic and shrimp, using the shrimp's boiling water to make a thick white sauce. We had it over fettuccine. Pretty good, but not outstanding.
CC left me half of the deer. At that age they're pretty tender. Sam really doesn't like venison, so I gave it to BG, who will return half to me in jerky and a roast or two. She makes really good jerky. So I'll end up with a quarter of the first deer, ready to eat; she'll do the work. I feel guilty. I'll be glad when the boys move the big freezer into the basement.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
When I told them about our new touch screen machines, most were attentive, even some who dislike 'computer stuff'. They wanted to be sure their vote counted, and were willing to make an extra effort to do it right. We had almost 3/4 of the registered voters come out on a cold rainy day. Each of the parties (R, D, I) had groups outside in the cold all day.
No one argued, complained, or otherwise disturbed the solemn proceeding. When I thanked them for their vote they smiled and spoke of duty, pride and obligation. We had three referendums on the ballot, which many voters stood and read in detail and discussed at length to understand and vote on.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
We're all battened down for winter, with a full woodpile, and equipment winterized. The upper garden has been manured, plowed, disked heavily, and sown to greens, turnips and rutabagas. CC's Grandfather says we planted 5 acres of seed in a quarter acre. We'll see. We did plant late, but with the winter coming later and being milder I am pleased that the seed has germinated and seems to be doing well.
The bees are mostly bedded down too, though I still have to put pollen patties into the garden bees and about four of the driveway bee hives. I'm feeding straight corn syrup now to allow them to put it into the comb and cap it off. They probably will take wax from other parts of the hive to use, since it's too cold to secrete it.
The bee inspector came a couple weeks ago and we looked at most of them. There was no indication that there was nectar coming in from the asters. I put in pollen patties and fed this last week, but found that there was a huge amount of capped honey in the hives (I did all of the hives I split this summer). Evidently the asters, or something, started producing. Still not enough, and way too little pollen stored. There was no brood in all but one which had a tiny patch of eggs because they had superseded and had a new queen (black). She had laid multiple eggs in each cell, neatly on the bottom. I'd heard that new queens would do that. I wonder if they'll raise brood now that they have the pollen patties. I'm not worried about the hives I've yet to get to, since they are better provisioned than the summer splits.
High on the priority list is getting the tractor working so I can finish putting the garden to bed and get the ground ready to plant in the spring, bush-hog the CRP fields and drag up some more wood to be cut up. I love that tractor.
CC has drilled his left middle finger to the bone in a car-renovation accident. He and some buddies had cleared the time (i.e. no girls) to spend a Friday night working on one of their cars and instead had to make a trip to the hospital. He's out of commission for a while. Our tractor is currently in pieces, because he was in the last stages of doing some maintenance on it, changing out filters, fixing a relay that was iffy, etc. I bought the full set of maintenance manuals for it, and CC has been gleefully studying them and figuring out the inner workings.
Tuesday I get to see all the neighbors who come to the Polls to vote. Around here you can visit with everyone who lives in the district by being a Poll Officer. Most people hereabouts believe in voting. Well, most of the folks who've gotten serious about their lives. There are some organizations that also figure into that 'serious' category: Church, Volunteer Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Hunt Club, Rotary, Lions, etc. Once the kids have grown enough to get out of the house the serious ones gravitate toward the places where adults are available to mentor them. Grandparents, uncles and aunts have had their time, and the kids go out looking for other adults to explain the world to them.
It's common to find that kids, like CC, have learned how to work by helping their grandparents. He plans to get his education and do as his forbears: support his farming habit with a job. CC knows that without a good job, backed by that degree, he can't afford to run the farm. Wanting to be a farmer is his incentive to get his degree. Farming is an expensive hobby. You hope to raise a family and pass the land on. The farm life is its own reward. Profits and losses will, hopefully, even out.
Wednesday I get to go see the nieces in DC. They are coming down to the farm to spend the long weekend doing farm and field things. It's mushroom season and I hope to coordinate with the hunters so we can canvas the woods for mushrooms (lots of orange). My library of mushroom books is growing and I'm memorizing as fast as I can. So far I've only eaten the oyster mushrooms I've found, and have identified fairly conclusively some Amanitas to stay away from. Spore prints and photos have helped, and there is so much on the internet! Luckily it will be in the 70s for the whole visit.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
I got about 5 supers of honey (about 120+ pounds) from both spring and fall crops.
We're tearing down the garden, and CC is laying on the horse manure thickly as the ground is cleared of gardening infrastructure. Next year is already in the works. I'm hoping that next year we can roll out old hay and plant through it into the well manured and limed soil we've prepared this fall.
Our total production of vegetables was fairly high, but since only a few would come pick for themselves, harvesting added to the work load. Bless IC and BG for their hard work harvesting, without them a lot would have rotted. BG used her share to buy goodwill around the community. We took a load of tomatoes to the local cannery, ending up with lots of canned tomatoes and tomato juice. Thanks to IC, CC and his girlfriend we had enough help. I also have put up beets and chopped peppers
The drip tape was a good experiment, but no better than the overhead sprinklers, since we irrigate out of the lake. We still had split tomatoes and other over-watering problems, as well as breaks in the tape that caused dry areas. The drip tape has to use well water, double filtered, and the sprinklers can take the lake water, unfiltered.
The best weed barrier seems to be newspaper, although it's a stinker to put down. We used woven landscape cloth, in 3 foot and 6 foot widths, some with staples, some without. If that has dirt on top of it (to hold it down) the weeds grow right through it, making it hard to pull up in the fall. It is hard to plant through, since you don't want to make the holes for the plants too big. With bigger holes the weeds grow up neat to the plants, choking them out. The landscape cloth also unravels, leaving tough long strands in the dirt to tangle in wads on the tiller or tools. When you are rototilling to keep the weeds down, you can't get too close to the landscape cloth or you'll rip it up, along with your plants, so weeds get a good foothold at its edges, even with hoeing. Grrr. Back to straw or newspapers. Straw is expensive, so we used old hay, adding lots of weed seeds to the garden. Thick enough, it smothers even big weeds, but it's very labor intensive, unless you roll it out with the tractor, which works well.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Their kindness and generosity were demonstrated this month by a 'Howton-Harman Fun in the Sun' reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. They rented 22 condos! We all flew in, from California, Great Britain, etc. and had a GREAT time, thanks to their thoughtfulness.
The highlight was seeing the children, especially the babies, and seeing how they have grown. Such beautiful children!
I also got to meet some of my SIL's family; they are as nice as I expected. Maybe in the future we can get to know each other even better. All their kids were nice; their son Tony is just back from a tour in Ramadi, and talking to him was a delight. Daughter Allie kept all the smaller children occupied by playing in the pool with them: Kudos to Allie!
The garden is a 'wag the dog' production. It's WAAAY too big. We really have to restrain ourselves next year. The good news is that BG has a freezer full of food. The bad is that we can't keep up with the maintenance. Bless her, BG is slowly mulching the ground with old hay, and we're using the drip irrigation to good advantage. I'm paying CC for too much time to maintain garden and grounds, though, since I can't do it all (or won't) myself. We aren't using the raised beds as much as I'd like to, though.
I started another apiary in the south field with 22 nucs. I requeened them with 20 Purvis Goldline queens, 18 took. I gave away the queens I removed, and reports are that they're doing well. I've used powdered sugar on two hives so far and plan on doing the rest. I have 18 hives that are mature and making honey on the clover. We'll see. The goldenrod has just started blooming, too.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Macks, who had been confined, immediately stuck his nose into the baby's face and my finger got tangled with kitten's teeth. A bath, a trip to Jim's vet clinic for a checkup, and we started socializing him. I think he's socialized now: he's sitting on my shoulder and grooming my ears and hair! Booger is NOT happy that he's been displaced as the youngest. Rascal, as we've named him, has weathered septicemia from the bash on his chin and is arrogantly taking control of the house. Macks is his adoring buddy, Amelia, the queen of the house, studiously ignores him.
Jim, my BIL Vet, says that the chin-bash and lack of fleas says that Rascal was probably tossed out of a car. He's surprised the rest of the litter hasn't shown up, but they may have chosen several roads to leave them on. We're up to 8 cats now. Sigh.
Friday, May 26, 2006
We got really sticky, and harvested at least 60+ pounds of honey (In the comb it filled two five gallon buckets). We used file folder sized rubber bands to hold the brood in empty frames, and got 8 frames of brood. Unfortunately we didn't find the queen, so we can only hope we got her. We left the hive in the window for the bees to go inside, and hope that the queen is there to lure them. If not, they have plenty of eggs to raise another. They had drawn comb from the outside wall toward the inside wall in one section, and in the other section, parallel to the outside wall. They must have been there for a year, maybe more, though there were no signs of wax moths. What a mess we left for the bees to clean up.
The hive was located under a window between the framing that supported the window. They were out of room to expand, and probably swarmed this Spring. Considering the disruption we caused, they were very well behaved. Thank goodness CC went with me, because his young back could tolerate the work. I'm pooped. After this CC could do it alone, and maybe do better without so many folks interfering.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
This will give his Grandfather, who can't walk well, another thing to watch. Most days he drives out to the cow pasture and sits in his truck watching his cows. He used to keep bees, so this will give him great pleasure. CC loves his Grandpa hugely.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
CC planted 63 watermelon yesterday. What? You say, What in the world do we need that many potential watermelon for? Beats me. Maybe we'll bomb the neighborhood with them. Now to plant the cantaloupe. Planting is fun, keeping out the weeds isn't.
I planted the pole limas, also, since they need warmer soil than the other beans. We'll se if the growing season is long enough for them. Today I plant the rest of the Sugar Dots corn, and about the middle of June the last of the Silver Queen corn. With the extended, warm fall, the corn grows well into September, and the pollen helps the bees store enough for their January brooding.
CC & I went into the garden bees, because he thought one was swarming. He had just seen a swarm leave, headed for the woods. Out of five we looked at, three were queenless, with no queen cells or eggs to make one from, but one was full of queen cells at the hatching point. We could see their antennae sticking out of the cells. So I showed CC how to gently open the cell and let her out. He was thrilled. (He doesn't say much, but grins a lot) We made up a nuc and put queens in all the empty hives and the nuc. Got to go through the hives again. No sign of EFB, though. Phew!
We think it was that swarm that just took up residence in a hollow trees down by the sheds, too high to get to. CC & Sam heard them, then saw them go in. I'm sure we're repopulating this part of the world with bees.
CC brought his adorable girlfriend over the morning after the Prom to fish. (She has a snaggle tooth similar to my Mother's. I bet she hates it. I bet everyone will miss it when it's gone, as it probably will be when she gets the money. Perfection isn't perfect, it's boring.) Watching them together brought tears to my eyes; he: solicitous, she: passive. He exudes adoration, she pretends indifference. Oh, the pain and ecstasy of love, especially young, naive, tender, first love. It was like watching two young of any species go through a courting dance. Sam and I watched them as CC baited her hook and handed her the pole; we held hands and remembered. (I'm sure it felt different from CC's viewpoint. My ignorance will embarrass him!)
Friday, May 19, 2006
Gwin has returned, reconnected with her baggage, and is off to her 'Boot camp' to prepare for the MLE step 1 test in July, then Brooklyn in September, for a year. She'll be in Brooklyn Heights, the only area I know in Brooklyn. I really liked the areas I saw, close to the Verrazano Bridge and Ft. Hamilton.
Sam's last IVIg treatment had to be curtailed to 2, instead of 3, treatments. However he got some benefit: he's a bit steadier on his legs, and the numbness has receded to mid thigh, rather than the upper thighs. He has been walking more, which is difficult, but necessary. He is also writing; setting aside 3-4 hours a day to work on the writing that he's been swearing to do for years. I'm encouraged.
I went into the Driveway bees last week, just before getting Gwin. They looked as if they might swarm again! I can only assume it's because they're Russians. Several were not crowded, and had unmarked, new queens who are laying well. Some of those queen cells were huge. I set up nucs from all of the hives that looked to swarm, which I may rejoin to the original hive after swarming season is over. Or I could run them as two queen hives, with an excluder between the hivebodies. Now I need to put the swarms, that are in nucs, 5 frame small hives, into 10 frame regular boxes, so they can have more comb to expand their populations and store honey for the rest of the year. Once dry weather comes the nectar will dry up and they'll need the stores from spring nectar flow to continue to raise babies so the population will be strong enough to get through the winter.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Today I'll do the Driveway bees and tonight I'll move the nucs we made from swarms to the garden apiary, or maybe to a friend's house several miles away for a week and then back to the garden apiary. If I do the latter they will not lose their small foraging forces since the area will be completely new to them. In familiar territory the foragers will return to the place the hive used to be. Since it has moved they will be forced to go into another hive, where they will be welcomed and allowed to join the foraging force for that hive. The weak nuc will be weakened more by the loss of its food gatherers. In strange territory the foragers will reorient and then return to the new place, since all the landmarks have changed.
Since I last posted we've been blessed with a sweet, felicitous arrival: Felix. He's already growing well, thanks to his sweet Mommies.
I spent a long weekend with the wonderful nieces in DC, dallied in Charlottesville while Sam got his Immunoglobulin infusions, worked the plants sale for Heart of Virginia Festival, and worked in the garden and greenhouse. The boys, CC & BC, have been invaluable, since I can give them a list of tasks and trust them to do them expeditiously. They worked while I was away. BC caught about 4 swarms, and CC & I caught three, one twice. We had to let one go, since it was too high in the tree for us. If I were younger, and a normal weight, I'd have been up the tree. The boys used the front-end loader, the ladders and the saws to catch the swarms. I need a telescoping pole with a bucket attached to get those high ones.
I pick GT up in DC on Mother's Day. What a wonderful gift!
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
In one hive I saw several queen cells that had hatched, but there were at least a dozen more that hadn't. I could tell a couple were cutting themselves out, so I helped them. Light brownish with darker tips, like identical twins. So, I cut out about five to save for another hive, putting them in my little bucket. By the time I had gotten to the next frame of bees, and saw more queen cells I could hear the queens croaking, creaking, and quacking to each other, and making very high pitched buzzing sounds, like a plane getting ready to take off. They were all ready to hatch! So, I watched them come out, find each other, move away and get a deep draft of nectar from a cell, and run over the worker bees with their wings buzzing full tilt. In that hive they were all identically marked. I just sat there and watched. Some flew up and then landed, others ran down to the other side of the frame. I finally put that frame back and worked on the rest of the hive.
Each frame was similar. Finally, I looked into the bucket where I'd put the cells I'd cut out to make sure they were all OK, and they'd hatched, too. I found about three queens. When I was closing that hive up I kept finding queens wandering around, on the sides, in the grass, etc. No telling what I did to their impressionable minds.
I found three hives like that, made up a 5 frame medium nucleus with two new queens and a queen cell, three frames of almost hatching workers and pollen and a full frame of honey/nectar. I hope it takes.
Ohhhhh! Yes!!!! They have both bunkers full and a hillside that has been filled with aged stuff. RB is coming over tomorrow to look at it and plan how to move it. The stuff may be free, but the haulage isn't, especially with the price of fuel going up! I helped him buy his dump-trailer so he's glad to pay me back with its use. We'll use a front-end loader at both sites and do most of it in a day. I've promised a load to my brother in law and to my friend with the chickens. I also called a man for some straw and found that he has a mountain of old straw to give away. Unfortunately it's about 15 miles from here, so that will have to be later, when the press of Spring is gone.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
They eventually got into the deep I'd brought. I put them under the shed, closed them up with a feeder and went to bed. This morning I found most of them clustered on the front of the box. They'd gotten out, but couldn't get back in. I put them all in again and left the box open. They've stayed, and have half emptied the feeder.
I figured I'd better find the mother hive. I'd already set today as the bee working day, so I loaded up, and went looking. I found one in the driveway apiary that had about 3-4 hatched queen cells and 3+ unhatched. I opened a ripe-looking one and the biggest, sleekest, black queen walked out that I've ever seen. As big as a fully mated queen. I put that frame in a 5 frame deep nuc that I had almost full of honey, pollen and brood and will hope for the best. I hope the new queen of that hive looks as good as her sister. If the swarm came from there then it should have a marked queen.
I was surprised at the strength of a couple hives. One had 6+ medium frames and 4+ full deep frames of brood. In a couple weeks that hive will swarm. I gave them a super to draw out and expand into.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Enough resources to sustain my family
Work that makes me glad to get up and satisfied when I go to bed
A stable environment that doesn't interfere with the above
Think about those things that you hope your life will give you. On your deathbed, what will you be glad you did, and what will you wish you could still do?
Are experiences, such as seeing the world, important to you? Is accumulating enough for retirement or leisure important, or are these necessities? What is the purpose of education: Brain food, a means of achievement, a way to find work? What gives you more satisfaction: internal or external things? How do your emotions affect your life: all consuming or just feedback? Is your life a voyage or is the destination more important? How does your family affect you (both nuclear and extended), are they just window dressing or the center of your life. When riding in a car (train, etc) do you look out or in?
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I worked the Garden Apiary yesterday: 8 hives, and looked at the hives BO gifted me (a nuc and a deep with a shallow of Honey and nectar). His large hive was not well behaved, but I found the queen, who was laying drones, and may be out of sperm, split them into 2 boxes and left one with a queen cup with an egg. Saw 2 Varroa on top of a drone larva, showed them to CC, who was helping so he'd know next time. We had to scratch out about a full frame of drone brood. I need to check back with that hive and see how she's doing. We saw some Varroa poop in the bottom of the drone cells, but most of the larvae were too young to pull. I figure they were going to supersede the queen shortly. I added a queen cell on a medium frame of mixed brood to the nucleus box and treated with Terramycin
The Garden girls looked OK, but I was chagrined to find EFB in 3 hives. Several had suspicious shotgun brood, so I treated them too. One was bad enough that I smelled it when I opened the top: that sweetish sour smell. The swarm bees had really nice brood patterns, but the 3rd generation queens from the Jester Russian lines are the weakest. I'll be happy to get the Purvis Gold line that I've ordered. I've asked to buy 10 nucs from BO to put them in.
The garden is disked, and laid up in rows. BG planted all the Cole crops, including about 72 broccoli. She'd like to have covered it with spun row cover, but that had to be shipped and got here late Tuesday. I'm hoping that we can risk planting out the tomatoes soon; if we cover them well to keep them warm. They are leggy, 18" tall, but the root systems aren't crowded yet. I've potted up almost all the larger plants, mostly peppers and tomatoes to give their roots room.
The raised beds are full of Cole plants and peas, but we left 3 beds for tomatoes and will plant a row of tomatoes in cages in the field. I think there's room for 3 more raised beds. but 4'x6' this time.
I'm hoping to have a bunch of plants to donate to the Master Gardener's group for their Heart of Virginia sale on May 6th, so I've been working in the greenhouse seeding the little holed flats. Don't know if they'll be ready or not.
The diet is doing well, now that I've recovered from visiting DC and eating too much. It was fun for a while, & emphasized that I still have the old behavior lurking around.
The nieces' visit was a wonderful time. They are so nice to be around, so well behaved and responsive to guidance. My complements to their parents. SH started a blog, populating it with cute pets and composing her stories like a pro. At home she's been writing books for some time, so a blog is not surprising. Most of the time was outside, so we came in tired and only looked at the computer or TV after baths and dinner. We did eat some junky food, though. We took all our cans to the junkyard and used the money to buy pizzas.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
We keep setting dates to plant the garden, but the weather is just not cooperating. We're aiming for next Saturday, April Fool's Day! I hope it won't be me that's fooled again. It's supposed to be freezing or below most nights this week, so we didn't plant anything today. Ben came by and said he'd come next Saturday and help, and I'll have my brother's girls, 5 and 7 years old. It's supposed to be in the 70's. I'll hope!
BG cleaned the basement apartment for company next weekend. A nice couple looking at the area to possibly move here when he retires. They would be a great addition to the area.
BG and I moved the old doors and trash off the downstairs porch and cleaned up the shed storage area to store them. BG has muscles! With her on the other end, we move air conditioners and building materials around to clean up an area that had gotten really messy. I got a workout, she wasn't breathing hard.
I picked all the lettuce yesterday, so the roots will have something to do besides grow. I hope to slow down the plants until I can get them into the ground. I divided the ones that had come up two or more to a place, and filled in the blank space in the planting trays. Busy work to keep me in the sweet smelling, warm greenhouse. Having done the taxes, I can see that it would be much cheaper to buy our veggies at the store.
I remember an essay by playwright Arthur Miller, who mused that there was something in him that demanded that he plant a garden every spring, but not for food, for the planting of it. He bought a farm for his garden.
Maybe I'm that way. I can't imagine not having something to plant in the spring. It represents so much: Hope, Faith, Connections. Like having children, a home by water, a real wood fire in the fireplace, a cold room when I'm sleeping, sunshine to wake me up, dogs, cats, stars in the sky, birdsong. I feel these things viscerally, gut-feel them. I need them. When I'm gone they will go on, eternally, here or on another planet.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
In Ft Walton Beach, where family lives, it's already Summer. They are about a month ahead of us. Grass mowing has begun in earnest, and the heat has started. I envy them in the winter, but right now is such a lovely time here.
I'm looking forward to spring weather for the next week. I'll check on the bees after I get the Spring garden planted. They seem to be happy, though.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The bees are seeking water, pollen and nectar in everyplace they can go. In the garden they're everywhere snooping around. Buzzzzing and tasting, hoping to find something good. I love to hear them, and rejoice seeing them, and have a vague feeling they're pulling me into spring. Silly me. I guess I like them for their optimistic hard work. No depressed honeybees! No sitting around, no philosophy, no dreamy bees! The antithesis of me! Hah!
I checked the baby plants that I'd covered with jugs and coke bottles, worried that they might be parboiled. They were perky and happy. I'm trying to think of how to keep the weeds down and the only thing that occurs to me is newspaper, so I guess I'll wet it and plant through it. If I use three sheets I can use staples to hold them down and the water will still go through. Next week it's supposed to be warm enough to check and repair hoses, a very wet job. Then I can put soaker hoses in all the beds. That's a job I should have done last fall! Shoulda, woulda!
The greenhouse is really full, warm and moist. It smells rich and loamy with all the growing plants. Most have their second set of leaves and will need to be set out in the next week.
Taxes are hounding me. Please, Lord, help me get them done soon. I have to force myself to sit and work on them!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I met Dawn, a beginning beekeeper, here and we started looking at hives and putting in the pollen patties I made last night. The hives that had pollen patties looked stronger than the three that didn't get them last time around. They're bringing in pollen, but still eating the patties. We're going to have about 10 days of chill, so I figured I'd use this blessed warmth to stock them up. The hive where I'd combined two weak hives had died out. There were enough bees, but evidently they just couldn't make it. Mysterious. I think that the mild winter has allowed some of my weaker hives to survive. . I moved the honey to a hive that didn't have a feeder so they could use the leftover honey to feed on instead of letting the bees rob it out.
When I finished the bees, I cut the bottoms out of milk jugs and put them over the broccoli plant, then covered the 4 planted beds with the frost cloth, which I'd removed so they could soak up the last three days of sun and warmth.
I stayed outside until dead dark, bringing in the baby plants and watering in the greenhouse. I just hated to see this day end.
Friday, February 24, 2006
My goal is a modest one pound a week, and I'm losing at 2 pounds a week so far. As I lose the rate will slow, and the plateaus will get longer. I figure my body's getting readjusted to itself, and I'm content to let it do so. My mind, appetitite, and body image has to do that too. I figure plateaus are a learning experience. I'm on that 5 year plan: 2 to lose it and 3 to learn how to keep it off. The goal is to maintain a normal weight. The process, not an end-point, is the true goal. I'm weighing daily, to see how the water/salt combination makes my weight fluctuate. I also have 'off' days where I eat too much. No matter, as long as I record everything so the computer program is correct. GIGO...Garbage in = Garbage Out. I want to keep accurate information so I can plot my progress. So far, so good.
Today I made a big meal: pork loin, broccoli, baked potatoes, biscuits, tomatoes, rice, cornstarch gravy, broccoli, baked carrots & onions; ate mostly the veggies, and 2 biscuits. Sam was so pleased!
So that I will look in the fridge and find something healthy to eat, I chopped up lots of onions, celery, etc. to go with the chopped lettuce, cucumbers and grated carrots already there. I'll also use some to make faux crab salad and chicken salad for Sam and Susan. BG is keeping us in fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. A huge salad, with 1/2 cup homemade croutons is about 250 calories.I'm still enjoying figuring out lower calorie recipes. Two days ago I concocted a big pasta salad w/ beans, celery, onion, tofu, grated carrots, grated cheese, etc with Fat Free Caesar salad dressing. It's really good, Susan even likes it. I figure for each 1 1/2 cup there's a cup of pasta and rest veggies, beans & tofu. It's about 250 calories for a cup and 1/2. I got some red miso & agar thickening @ the RIC health store, which I will try in my veggie-heavy chicken soup. That should fill me up
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I start in February and finish by the end of March, at the latest. Then I think about it for two weeks, so I haven't missed anything, hopefully. I couldn't pay anyone to do this. I was given an estimate of $1000 to do them, and that was years ago. It would irk me to pay what it's worth, especially since most of the preparers these days want you to do all the adding up before they tackle the job. So I use the tax program and noodle all the figures myself. I take every deduction that is legal, down to the penny. I used to figure all the medical costs, even though they weren't deductible for us. I quit that. I am obsessed with taxes and accounting for TWO months.
Think of all I could do if we had a flat tax system. It'd put alot of folks out of business!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
I took the pictures in the vertical Flickr badge just as the sun was coming out. Within an hour most of the twigs had no more snow and by evening the only snow was where the sun couldn't reach. By Thursday it's supposed to be 65F. Spring is here. I know because I saw a maple blooming in the treetops where the sun hits. In the shade the bright scarlet blooms will be later. A beekeeping friend said that his girls were bringing in pollen in that last warm spell. Sunday the air will be back to 40s.
I'm hoping that the higher humidity, cold snap, and then the warm-up will bring out some more oyster mushroom flushes. I'll start hunting tomorrow.
BG and I potted up the plants that had sprouted and replanted all the flats with fresh dirt and new seeds. We didn't get a good germination rate on what we'd planted before, so we've used a planting mix that has a fungicide and fresh seed.
BG's foot massage, Reflexology based, has helped Sam's feet and legs immensely. He's sleeping without pills and walking steadier. She's going to work on a friend's feet this week.
I put all of my Flickr pictures on the 'Public' setting so they can be downloaded. No pride of authorship. The one with daffodils in the snow is my sister's favorite.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Friday, February 10, 2006
Thursday, February 09, 2006
I rarely see them, but I see huge rings of water and swirls rising from their antics underwater, mostly in the mornings. When I've walked around the lake they get curious enough to float with their heads and bodies just out of the water, like sea otters in California, and watch me. If I stop and look at them they'll dive, like porpoise.
I figure they're the ones who've been eating the Israeli Carp and leaving the skulls and sometimes the skeletons. They're called 'Fishermen's Friend', but all my redneck buddies tell me that I should let them kill them. A good pelt can sell for $1500!
Not in my lake! Too interesting to watch. Our lake needs some fish culling. Supposedly Bass are too fast for the Otters. We'll see!
Saturday, February 04, 2006
That meant there were fewer bees in the hives to get upset when I opened the hives.
It was predicted to be 50F & rainy. What a gift!
I loaded the Gator with the buckets of syrup (super thick, gooey), the bee tool bucket, bottles of water warm from the greenhouse & an empty bucket for trash. I raided the kitchen for scooping tools and a bag of rags.
Once into a couple of hives (nice girls!) I found out that some of the styrofoam top feeders had sprung leaks from being chewed on by wax moths. One feeder has wax moths salted through the whole bottom. They went straight in. Grrrrrr.
I think that I can coat the bottoms with fiberglass, silicone or something similar.
I was happily through four hives when I opened a feisty one. Like a cloud of avenging angels! I walked through the weeds back to the shed, looked for the duct tape, taped the ankles and wrists and lit the smoker. They were with me all the way! Fewer, but enough so they were a bother. Serious Girls: Bent on a mission!
When I got back and smoked them down, I found that they'd gone through about half of their pollen patty. It's two boxes, and they seem to have it filled. I really need to get some "Imrie shims" to give me enough room for a larger pollen patty and a bag feeder. All the bees were eating their pollen patties well. I need to make more and put them in the freezer.
That was one of the feeders that leaked, so I pulled an empty drawn frame and, using my hive tool, scraped some of soft sugar syrup into the wax cells. It worked fairly well. I did that on a couple other hives. I also filled the inner cover on the downhill side with the soft crystallized syrup. The bees will put it in cells where they want it.
Overall, they looked good. I think the tape and smoke will be necessary until 'real' spring comes. I still think I have a couple of losses to come. It may depend on the weather.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
I hope the addition of the pollen patties outweighs the bee's deaths. Some folks say that the bees prosper in spite what we do. It could be that my adding the pollen patties, breaking the seal of propolis that keeps the wind out, will cause enough of a heat loss that a weaker hive will die.
After the rain that is predicted for the next few days, I'll go back into the hives and give them more syrup. If I see a chance in between showers I may do it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, back to taxes.
Everytime someone hears about the bees they want to know that number! So do I!!!
So, today, about 3PM the temperature should get close to 65F. I wish that would happen earlier, but this is still winter. I am going to put a pollen patty on the top of each broodnest, which should be in the top of each hive, by now, & I'll top up their corn syrup supply, adding water where needed to soften it. I'm debating putting a jar of water in a front feeder (boardman feeder) on each hive, since the bees need water to thin the syrup and to raise the humidity for brood rearing. I can do that another day. I won't leave the hive open for longer than necessary, so I don't chill the brood, if any. The forsythia are blooming, so there should be at least a tiny patch.
We have had some nights that were very cold, but no snow this January, so if I have dead hives I know that it's fewer than it would have been with a hard winter. We could have winter coming, but I'll be surprised. You can see the pictures of the daffodils in the snow from last years Mardi Gras snow! That cold spell killed two hives (sniff, sniff).
When broodrearing starts it will be a tiny patch, maybe only a few cells, that they can keep at 96F constantly. After capping the pupating bees don't need outside warmth as much. Once they hatch, they'll warm the hive so more larva can be raised. Even the tiny clusters of bees will raise some brood.
This is where the parasitic mites take their toll. If the wintering bees were not properly nourished as larva, their lifespan may not match the length of the winter, and the cluster will lose their warmth. That's often the case where lots of hives die in the spring. When the Tracheal Mites hit England the beekeepers had huge early spring losses. The mites can only be seen in the spiracules of the affected bees by a microscope. It took alot of research to find the cause. Now the bees and mites have developed a modis vivendi. We are all hoping that will happen with the Varroa mites. We are breeding for it, and the mites are inevitably working toward it.
End of lecture! I can see you're all asleep! Will report on the girls.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Spring is creeping up fast, & I need to get the taxes done before the spring rush overwhelms me. About the time taxes are due the garden will be crying for work and the Beehives will need constant vigilance against swarming. I buckle down tomorrow and start the tallying process so I can plug the numbers in as soon as the tax programs gets here.
First I have to get the bookkeeping program fixed. Then enter a bunch of numbers into it. Time's awasting!!
Monday, January 30, 2006
It looked like rain yesterday, all day, but only tiny sprinkles. I'm looking forward to finally getting some rain to bring the oyster mushrooms & woodears back. I'm looking forward to tasting the woodears, since they are so prized by the Japanese. They use them in soups, like my favorite soup with clear noodles and asparagus.
The folks who came by Saturday were so excited about mushrooms and gardening that we never got into the bees. RG, the guy, says he's using hydroponics on his backporch and growing lots of veggies. He was very excited about the greenhouse. He and BMcD left with lots of ideas. RG says he wants to help us with our garden this year. He works out of town for two weeks on and home for a week, I think.
That tiny hive is still alive, but has dwindled so much that I have little hope for it getting through to the summer.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I'm also learning that my Dear Husband (DH), wanting me to be 'Happy', will encourage me to break my diet. He likes the 'idea' of my 'slimming', but can't stand that I have to deprive myself to get to a NORMAL, Healthy weight. So he came to me yesterday and pleaded with me to take my book to a restaurant and eat 'a good meal'. Stupid me to listen to him. Foolish me to DO It. The thing I really craved was the chips & salsa! I'm craving salt. Imay need to re-educate my taste buds by going salt-free for a while. I suspect that will help the weight, too.
So, I'm back on the wagon. I'm going to look for some more of those oyster mushrooms today. Macks will love that.
The good news is that I got the scale's fat calculator working again. I'm 46% fat. That means I'm 111 pounds (!) (if the weight of the fat is removed). So all I have to do is set up the conditions to lose the fat and preserve the muscle mass. With a normal 20% fat I'll be 133. It looks so much more achievable that way. It IS achievable!!!
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I made a mushroom stew by sauteing them with about 2 T garlic and adding the Garlic Mushroom soup (Campbell's) and beef broth. The water from the sauted mushrooms thinned it out. I had my first helping over rice, and the second on saltines! Very tasty! Mostly free, and right on my diet! I'll look for more tomorrow. This makes me anxious to go back out in the woods. I need the exercise, too.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Then she looked at the stockpiled rotted horse manure and so 'we' got the tractor out to start filling the beds with it. Of course, I'm a reluctant participant in this, since it's a lot of WORK!!! She has the energy & drive, and I'm still getting up out of my chair!
We used the front end loader to scoop up the well rotted manure. Sounds easy? It isn't. I'm on the tractor, BG gesturing which way to move the loader.... and I'm trying to remember how to move the joystick control to make it go the right way. And it's a hydrostatic transmission, which means there are two accelerators, one forward & one for backing on the right & the brakes on the left. I kept wanting to hit the forward accelerator to stop! WRONG!
My peabrain was overloaded. I had to tell myself what to do out loud, so I could translate BG's wishes into what I had to do with the controls. By the end of the task I was doing better, but poor BG's frustration level was high. She was shoveling the whole time, so each bucket load would be a full one. I was sitting on the tractor uselessly watching her work.
Each load she'd shovel in, because I couldn't get a full load by just scooping (unlevel ground, operator error). Then she'd jigtime over to the bed and guide me in so I didn't dump it on the ground. I'm sitting, she's moving fast. It didn't help that I'd had the stuff put on top of tarps which got tangled up in the manure, and made the last foot or so a dense muddy mess. We did this for about 3 hours.
How can she work at that pace! I called for the only break, as I remember!
Friday, January 20, 2006
We're going to have a house full of young men this weekend, so my exercise is to clean the basement. That means I have to put the tiny beehive somewhere.
Yesterday I walked for 3 ½ hours around the Eastern boundary of our land. Macks had a ball! Woof! Woof!
I thought that guys weren't skittish about bugs, but GT told me differently.
She was the first to get to the St Vincent apartment & settled into what, by her standards was an OK situation. However her Roomie didn't agree and thought that it was substandard. They heard that a 3 bedroom in the same enclave was available & went to look at it. Before they did they asked the vacating guys why they were leaving so precipitously. One of the last two to arrive had found a spider in his room! Not just 'A Spider' but "A Huge SPIDER!!!!". It was as big as his palm. Gwin said the guys killed it, but refused to live there. Bear in mind, on this 3rd world island the spider population probably outweighs the human population, in the aggregate! But these guys thought that this spider was 'Apartment specific'. Wait 'til they find out the truth! Welcome to the real world!
GT, being my daughter, swept up the spider, taped up the cracks, and moved into the 'Spider room'. Their loss, her gain! She and Roomie found a likeminded third Roomie and now have a bath for each bedroom and better accommodations.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Normalcy is underrated.
GT is starting her own web log: HTTP://Gwinny.Blogspot.com
I'll link to it when it's up and running.
The Doctor was pleased that all my numbers were good, and the fat numbers were the best I've ever had. Total Cholesterol was 167. Maybe they mixed the samples up.
I lost about 10 pounds while I was sick. Most of that was empty gut and dehydration. I'd rather lose it more slowly and keep it off. Tomorrow starts the regular walking. My first goal is to go around the small lake once a day. The rest of the trails will get used later. All I read emphasizes regularity over intensity for the first couple weeks. And I'll log it, like I'm doing the food.
The tiny hive I rescued from the tree is still alive. I don't think they'll make it through the whole winter, but I'll see how long I can maintain them. I got 5 pounds of pollen today for pollen patties this spring. February is the time for them.
BG seeded lettuces and I'm going to start some spinach, etc, asap. I stopped by the wholesaler and got two big bags of potting soil and a box of time release fertilizer plugs. They cost 6 cents each, but last all season. Great for me, since it means I can plant and cover the ground with mulch for the season.
I'm still hungering for a drip irrigation system. It would be a wonderful help with the raised beds.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I must be feeling better, though, since I've got a meatloaf in the oven.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Not thinking of any other place to let them rest undisturbed, I put them in the basement bathroom, in the dark and warmth. I included some of their comb that had some honey in it, but I'll have to put a feeder on tomorrow. They had already been decimated by the cold, and there couldn't have been more than 3-4 cups of bees, but maybe they'll make it. I read that the smallest hive that had a chance of survival was 120 bees. This is surely more than that... with a very young queen.
I think they were a swarm from my hives, which my neighbors called me to come see. We couldn't find them when I got there, but this is the result. They would have died out with this current cold snap, except for their tree being cut and having been tucked away in my basement.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
There were two dead hives, too few bees to stay warm, and two weak ones that I joined up. I had to move some of the hives so the sun could get to them. The girls flew low and covered my ankles. I should have used duct tape over my socks. There's no brushing them off when your hands are carrying the hive to a new stand. It was more the actual pricking of my skin, rather than the venom, that made my ankles painful that night! Imagine poking needles all over your ankles. I took benedryl and lavished them with lanacaine before going to bed for 13 hours! Thank goodness my immunity to the venom held up. All was well but the bruising in the morning.
The girls who valiantly defended their homes died. I got off easy. It hurts more to have lost them than to have been stung by them. Their loss may be the difference between that hive living through the winter or dying due to too few bees to stay warm. Spring will tell.
Today she got the car, groceries, telephone, internet, and stuff out of storage (shipped from Grenada). She's unpacked and having a bunch over for supper, for which they're grateful, I bet. Last night was alone in a strange land, so I'm sure all are glad for company. (Haven't we all done that!)
Monday classes start. By then the island of St Vincent in the Grenadines will be a known area and a feeling of familiarity will have begun. I'm so glad that she went down early enough to get settled.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
When Fuzz came home from Daisy's he fit back into the house, licking Macks, sparring with his brother in rolling fights all over the house.
By this morning, after a night of fun, they were best friends.