Thursday, September 30, 2010

Visiting the Bees

Today turned out to be a nicer day than I expected; sunny, warm and slightly windy.  The morning started out cold, but made its way up to 72 degrees by the afternoon.

My mother-in-law, Carol, came up early to entertain Ava for the afternoon.  Once I got dinner started (potato soup), I grabbed up my gear and hurried down to go see the bees.

Although I observe them from outside the hive often, the August heat and humidity prevented me from donning the full bee suit and going down to take a peek.  My wasp sting scare set me back a little also.  It took two more stings--bee and wasp--for me to discover that with enough Benadryl (about 4 doses of the liquid version), I can be sure that I won't have a crazy allergic reaction.

Prior to that I had just put on another super, experimenting with top bars.  I found out later that the bars I used were too narrow and even with waxed guide strips they would not likely make nice comb.  I expected that they would just go ahead and make freeform natural comb and I wasn't too worried about that since I had a queen excluder on.  I figured I could still harvest it, even if it were a mess.

But I was not expecting this:

A completely empty super!  Peeking down between the (horribly inadequate) top bars I saw nothing--nada--they didn't do anything upstairs.  All that time, wasted. 

The brown screen you see is the queen excluder.  It keeps the queen from moving up and laying eggs in the honey super.  Like I said, I was prepared to deal with freeform comb.  I figured they'd just draw comb diagonally here and there, like they did with the lid when I had the mess to fix earlier this spring.

Ah well, I guess I am learning.  At least they are still alive, haven't flown off and appear to be completely healthy!  I'll do things differently next year.

Now this was something I was glad to see:


The inner cover was nice and clean.  No ants this time!

My husband has come with me all the other times I have worked the bees.  Today, with the day length getting shorter, I couldn't wait for him to come home and I worked them by myself.  It was actually much more relaxing for me not to have to talk through it.  I just took my time and enjoyed their buzzing company.  No pressure.  I worked off all the burr comb that I could see on the upper deep, pulled out a couple of frames to inspect and put everything back together.  I'm going to leave that empty super on there just like it is.  I will use it to accommodate a Ziploc bag sugar-water feeder with some terramycin in it when I go back to look at them next week.

I've got buckwheat sown in most of my garden plot right now and with all the rain we've had, I expect it will germinate soon.  This is the first time I've planted buckwheat for a cover crop, but what I've read on it says that it should be in bloom 3 weeks after it emerges.  It's a favorite food source for bees and will make for nice fall forage for them.  I hope that with feeding them and adding on another super, maybe they'll put up some buckwheat honey.  I will probably just leave it on there for winter, just to be sure they don't starve out; although what they have now should be enough.  It's the same set up I wintered them on last year.

After my husband got home and we all had dinner, I left myself very little time to go out and look for mushrooms today.  I got about a half hour to walk the tractor path back into the woods on my Dad's farm.  I didn't find any mushrooms, but I didn't go home empty-handed.  I found some big persimmons.  Ava liked them and said they were like jelly.  They taste better than they look.

There was also a very pretty sunset this evening as I was coming back across the hayfield.


It was a good, fairly productive day.  :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Strange Visitor

The monster morning glory vine that I planted to shade my porch has drawn many visitors.  The bumblebees love to visit the blooms during the day.  Hordes of katydids have taken up residence inside it and inevitably hop in through the back door when I let the dogs out.  There is also a lonely sparrow who roosts in it overnight.  Now this guy...

They really do look like a stick!  I've only seen one once before.

The walking stick demonstrates the Divinely designed defense mechanism of camouflage.  Even its slow and halting stride mimics a branch moving in the breeze, helping it stay under the radar of its predators.  Fortunately for my walking stick, his neighbor the sparrow won't want to have him over for lunch anyway!

 Lucky for him the toddler had already gone to bed or else he may have ended up in a jar!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wooly Bear

The wooly bear caterpillars are back.  We've been finding them everywhere the past couple of days.

Ava found this little guy this morning and has been carrying him around all day, riding on the back of her hand or the tip of her finger.

She's been so gentle with him.  She's not afraid of any bugs, except spiders!

So if a frog kisses a caterpillar, will it turn into a, moth?  Wrong story...

She has to have a critter of some sort with her throughout the day.  Usually it's a chicken.  Let's hope the two don't meet up.  It wouldn't work out well for the caterpillar.

Most wooly bears I've seen have 3 bands.  I wonder if this long orange band means it will be a really long winter?  Usually by January, you at least feel like it will never end.

We've spent most of today (and yesterday) working on getting things ready for winter.  BW is cleaning the chimney right now.  The wooly bear and Ava are "helping".

Right now I am looking forward to fall/winter.  I am ready for some downtime.  I am ready to break out my craft supplies and do some inside things...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not So Creepy

...when they're little!

He's actually kinda cute.  I guess all baby animals are, in their own way!

I went down right at dusk to put the chickens to bed and found this little guy crawling around on a shelf in my chicken barn.  Looking to get into my feed, no doubt. 

I scooped him easily into a bucket and took him up to the garage where my husband was busy sharpening his chainsaw blades.  He looked into the bucket and jumped back a bit, surprised.

This baby opossum is only about 8 inches long, nose to rump.  I didn't have the heart to kill it, so I had hubby haul it off a few miles and turn it loose out in the woods.  He hasn't tried to kill any chickens yet, so I'll let him off this time!  I'm sure there are probably more of his kin out there to keep an eye out for...

We shot a big one a couple of months back that was trying to get the chickens.  And we also found the head--just the head--of a smaller one lying in the yard a few weeks ago.  I'm not sure what would eat a whole opossum and leave only the head... We have a lot of barn cats up here.  Must have been very hungry, whatever it was!

Monday, September 20, 2010

No Go

Just got off the phone with Rocky's owner.  She rode him "one last time" and realized she couldn't part with him.  I guess I understand... I was wondering how anyone could part with such a handsome horse in the first place.

Well, moral of the story is:  Don't count your horses until they're in the barn!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I LOVE the feeling of marking another project off the list!

And this one had been nagging at me for a long time.  Well, let's see...we got the fence up in April, bought the lumber in July and just stared at it for a few weeks.  It took us three separate sessions and working past dark tonight, but we got 'er done!

My husband and I are really getting good at working on these projects together.  He's the muscle and I'm the "measure twice, cut once" kind of gal.  We balance each other well!

Now to install a couple of strands of electric along the fence line, cage off the bees their own sector and build a small run-in and we'll be ready for goats.  You didn't think we were going to all this trouble just for a couple dozen chickens, did ya?  ;)  Although it does rest my mind to know the dogs can't pick them off so easily now.

I am also getting a new horse.  Hopefully we can go pick him up tomorrow.  I was looking for a new pasture mate for my gaited paint gelding, Journey.  This new horse, Rocky, is a 12-year-old Tennessee Walker gelding.  He's on rehab from an injury, but is cleared for light work and to build up from there.  He was free to a good home because his current owners needed to downsize.  I will definitely post lots of pictures of him when we get him home.  Here's a picture that was forwarded to me. 

Isn't he a looker!  I'm debating whether or not to change his name.  If you've got any ideas for a good name for this handsome boy, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Now this is Journey (the Paint) and Lily, his old pasture mate (also a Tennessee Walker).  This picture was taken in October of last year.  I've had Journey since he was a colt.  I won him at the County Fair on a one dollar raffle ticket in 2002.  He's a good boy and I love him.  I hope that Ava can ride him in the Fair here in a few years.


Now the horses don't live here on the One Sunny Acre.  They live on my Dad's 44-acre farm 10 minutes down the road.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken Wrangler

Persistence pays and my child is learning that at a very young age.

Barefoot, in the rain, chasing chickens...

The Beast has Bloomed

It has taken over my porch, consummed my gutters and even swallowed my windchime.  Finally this monstrous morning glory vine is blooming!  We are about a month out from first frost.

I made three plantings of these Heavenly Blue morning glories and the other two, which look sickly and sad compared to the big one on the porch, they bloomed weeks ago.  At least it has served well to shade the evening sun from my porch this summer.  We like to take our dinner outside most evenings, but my husband was always complaining that the sun was in his eyes.

Now he will be complaining when I have to send him up the ladder to pull this vine out of the gutters.  Ha.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One Year

I was just standing at the sink cutting up vegetables for tonight's dinner, wondering what I want to do tomorrow for my birthday "date" with my husband, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had blogged about my birthday date last year.

And that means it is also the one year "anniversary" of my adventures in blogging.  How could I have missed this milestone, this momentous occasion?

Yes, I had to stop right in the middle of making dinner to post this... I am a day late, but I had to make it right!

Well, this also happens to be a very busy time of year for me anyhow, so I guess I can cut myself some slack.

It really doesn't seem like it has been a whole year though.  How funny that feels when I think about it.  Much like when you start your family, there is something about watching children grow up that makes time really fly by, when it seemed that it stood still waiting for life to BEGIN prior to that.

I confess I really don't get to write as often as I'd like to, or think to, or have something worthwhile to write about.  Many things go on in my life that I'd like to tell the whole world about, if only I could find time.  Living with a toddler will do that to you.  Often by the time I get around to it, I realize it's no longer relevant or "in season" anymore.

But really, even if no one else ever read my blog ever again, I'd still keep posting.  A little here, a little there as it came to me.  I feel like I am keeping a journal and I enjoy looking back on it all.  And sometimes you guys comment--and in my hectic, solitary, mommy-life here on my One Sunny Acre, where things get done when I get around to it--it's as if someone stopped by and paid me a visit (minus the shame of a messy house.)  And it's refreshing.  So thanks for reading!  :)

Maybe when I get all these beans put up, I'll get back around to catching up on some posts!