Thursday, May 29, 2014

#tbt Butterflies

#tbt circa summer 2005.  The year we hatched hundreds of monarchs from a large hanging plant on our front porch.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To Swarm or Not To Swarm..

The long weekend brought about tons of busy farm activities, but most exciting were the bees.  We had two hives survive our frigid winter and though both are strong, one in particular is massive.  B has done a ton of research and as a result our beekeeping friend has been working this winter on a Perone hive for us.  We were concerned about the hive swarming and have been waiting anxiously for the new one to be done so that we could try to transition this particular hive into the new larger system.  Though we were hosting our Tastebuds dinner club on Memorial Day, when B got the call that the hive was done, he raced out to get it (a 3 hour round trip).  Timing is everything as they say and when I moseyed out to the garden to pick some rhubarb for a simple syrup the air was alive with a hummmmm.

When I looked over I panicked.  It appeared that the hive was getting ready to swarm.  Darn it!  The bees went from covering the hive for about 15 minutes to bearding at the bottom.  The humming decreased  and then several minutes later the beard had reduced by 2/3.  I did not hear the airplane like sound of a swarm leaving, but I felt it looked suspect.  While with our friend, they engaged the help of another beekeeper, the gentlemen whom we occasionally purchase queens from.  He settled our fears some as there can be a number of reasons for the sight that I saw.

~  Our day was turning out to be our warmest of the season, and incredibly humid.  It is not unusual for bees, in high humidity, to exit the damp hive and air out, then return in.

~  We know that the brood chamber was overflowing.  This sudden appearance, then disappearance of bees can be a result of a large simultaneous hatch.

~  There could have been two vigorous queens and we had a small swarm with one of them.

When B returned home with the new hive, he immediately suited up and added the new larger hive below our Warre boxes.  Within hours the hive was calm and back to business as usual.

We do not for certain know what happened, but based on visual appearance we lost only a small swarm, if we lost one at all.   What a way to get the adrenaline going just before Tastebuds!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#tbt Twenty Years Ago

Circa May 1994 a couple of kids graduated from college.  One with her Bachelors Degree and the other with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  Feels like yesterday.

*I realized that I was not posting my #tbt pictures here, and am going to start for the benefit of those friends and family not on facebook ;-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Our week is looking springlike.  Increasing to seasonal temperatures, a storm here and there, we are heading into Memorial Day weekend with a much needed taste of summer.  Our bees are robust so far this season, one of our hives may need to be split sooner than later.  Interestingly,  the sheer numbers of bumble bees around seems much increased over previous years.  Maybe it is because of the harsh winter, or maybe they have just decided to make our abode their home and help us with the work of the garden.  Love our built in pollinators.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting it All Done

This was truly a weekend of getting it all done.  Early Saturday B was able to take in a round of golf with friends while I went to yoga, and then we were off to soccer.  Once home we spent the afternoon, early evening and most of Sunday, except for soccer game time, working on farm projects.

The early season beds are doing beautifully.  Spring onions, radishes, kale, bok choi, kohlrabi, spinach and asparagus are all in various stages of growth, soon to be in our first farm bags.  We are able to eat fresh thinnings with our meals.  The lettuces, chickpeas, peas, beets, carrots, flower sprouts and chard are all poking their heads through loving the sunshine.  The rhubarb appears to be abundant and I made an amazing rhubarb upside-down cake last night... and well, uh, am eating some for breakfast too!

The tomatoes, eggplant, leeks & more onions are in the basement grow room, looking robust and ready to be transplanted this week!

The ducklings had their first venture outside and loved the grass.  I can't wait to hear when their voices begin to change from cheeps to quacks.  With this new experience, they are so different from chickens already, and are 3 times the size of the chicks that we got at the same time.

We painted the re-worked chicken tractor and it is almost ready to be the night-time haven for our free-range meat birds.

We also cooked out and had our first meal of the season on the porch.  Not too shabby.  How was your weekend?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Meadow-Like Grass

Spring mornings on the farm tend to be pretty busy.  Getting the kids up and ready for school, taking care of the ducklings and chicks in the basement, taking care of the adult chickens in the barn, walking the garden, doing a little sporadic weeding or just noticing what is new over night, then heading on to work.   At the tail end of these chores yesterday morning my sight became fixed on a little reddish dot in the grass outside the kitchen window.  After a few moments of trying to focus my eyes on the dot I realized that it was a baby deer nestled down in our meadow-like grass (yes traveling soccer last weekend and then rain have precluded any mowing activities).

We have a family of deer that seem to call our little farm home and last spring I caught sight of a fawn that was a week or so old, but was unable to get a decent picture of it.  Never before have I seen a newborn and yesterday I just watched and watched the little sweetheart.  It was getting lighter and mom was not around, which isn't unusual.  I had hoped to be home and able to see mom come and collect her new little ward, but that was not in the cards.  However, I did get to see his/her first attempt at standing, and then promptly sitting right back down again.

When we returned home later in the day, all that was left of this morning was an indent in the grass.  Mama Doe is well aware of when it is quiet here and took her baby off to a more sheltered spot.  Oh, but how glad I am for our  yet to be mowed meadow like grass, for without it we would not have had our morning visit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thirty Short Hours

This has been a whirlwind weekend.  It was our first overnight travel for a soccer tournament and prepping to get out of town at the peak of planting, pruning, transplanting and taking care of baby ducks and chickens inspired quick bursts of productivity in very short segments of time.  Yes, there is an annual tournament scheduled for Mother's Day weekend, but I say what better way to spend the day than by being a mom!  The tournament itself was great and deserving a post of its own.  When we got home this evening with storms approaching and spring heavy in the air we threw open all of the windows, walked the property and marveled at the massive amounts of change that can occur within thirty short hours.  We were truly awarded by the first lilac blooms opening outside our kitchen window.  A deep breath of gratitude for the spring that seems to have arrived, a beautiful farm to work and an amazing family to share it with.  A Happy Mother's Day indeed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Big 1-1

It is hard to believe that time can fly so incredibly fast and seems to speed up with each passing year.  This little man has interests far and wide and is willing to try long as it is not b-o-r-i-n-g.  Like his dad, he must know how things work and will work very hard at anything new that he tries.  Along with all of the rugged outdoorsiness that he loves, he found music this year in the form of baritone and piano.  The way he can quickly process new things and the internal drive that he exhibits is quite amazing.  To my eleven year old: as you grow may you keep your drive, inquisitiveness, wit, politeness and incredible empathy.  They are wonderful building blocks to the man you will become.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Looking for Love

The air is alive with the the sounds of birds this morning, peppered with intermittent quacks from my little friend here.  The sun is shining and Spring is in the air, can you feel it?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Promise of This Year's Garden

The cool damp weather has been perfect for beginning to harden off all of this year's garden babies.  Even the wind is helpful giving them some exposure and allowing them to strengthen.  We seeded the peppers and tomatoes four to a pot and they are now ready to transplant into their own pots for a couple of weeks when they will be put in the ground.  If the weather remains moderate then they will take up permanent residence here in the cold frame, on colder days or if there is a chance of frost, they will be tucked into the warmth of the grow room in the basement.   The broad leafed plants in the immediate front of the photo are our first succession of Kaleidoscope (Kale Brussels) and as they are cold tolerant, they are headed directly to the ground in the next week.

The cool weather crops are all growing nicely.  We pulled the covers back from our little hoop houses yesterday so that we could weed and everything looks wonderful.  The beets have sprouted in another bed, but are much smaller.  When they are about the size of these radishes, then we will plant the next batch.  Based on how these have grown in the last week, it looks like it may be time for our next seeding of radishes.  One of our challenges this year is staying on top of succession plantings so that we can have volumes of one time harvests regularly.

The mammoth rhubarb plant that we inherited with the farm is emerging beautifully this year.  This plant gives tender stalks the size of B's arm and is prolific long into the season.  The mound of dirt that it is pushing up this year as it comes through is quite impressive.  It is an almost cathartic feeling, after a week of such gray, to finally see some beautiful color and the promise of this years garden.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Even The Bees

I have been somewhat absent this week, but along with work, busy school and sports schedules, and hosting a birthday party, we have family in town visiting.  It  has been a week of very cool temperatures and almost constant overcast skies with drizzle.  Though it was not the best for outdoor activities we have managed to escape, stay busy and enjoy one another.

Today for the first time all week we have real sunshine.  Perfect for soccer if not for the 22 mph sustained winds, making for a blustery hour.  Despite the wind we are basking in the sunny 62 degrees, soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible.  Even the bees who have been cooped up all week and are not fond of gusty wind are out and about coming home with legs caked full of pollen.  Aaahchooo Ah Spring!


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