Busy as a bee

It’s Spring!!  A lot going on around here.  Mostly play and no work but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

I can’t really report I’ve been working around here much.  The yard hydrant still has a leak but it’s not costing me money so…..  I call a guy and ask if he can come out.  “well, we’re going to have to bring in an excavator and then I’ll have to charge you $90 each way to bring it out and blah, blah, blah”.  I’m thinking while he’s talking “yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re just telling me that so I won’t ask you to come out.”  He finally says if you need this and that and the other it might be $500.  OK, never mind.  I call Duane in town and he gives me a name of someone local who just might come out and do it.  One guy in town has an excavator but he retired and word on the gravel road is “nope, I’m retired.  Never touching the thing again.”  That was a couple of years ago so maybe he’s softened up by now.  I go outside and stare at the puddle.  Yeah, I really need to get if fixed because it’s becoming the cats watering hole.  They’re all sitting around it like they’re migrating through the Serengeti.

I go outside in the morning and there are two cats intently doing something over by the chicken coop.  Is it a mouse?  Is is something worse?  I go over and say, “Hey, what’s going on here.”  They all jump up and there are four cats.  What the heck?  Oh drat, there is still one female in town that isn’t fixed?  Three Toms are trying to have their way with her.  Poor thing.  You couldn’t even see her there were so many cats after her.  I chase them  all off and they go streaking off after her.  PLEASE, don’t let her get pregnant.  Yeah, right.  I’m pretty sure Mama San has had babies in the cellar again.  I haven’t taken the time to look.  She’s hanging around a lot though and hissing at other cats so I’m sure there’s some down there.  I wish we could catch her but she’s one savvy Mama.  Just can’t get near her.  There’s just too many cats around here  I had 10 in the back yard at one time the other day.  It’s time to find some barns that needs some cats.

Karen and I take off one day and go to Yarn Fest.  Wow, so much yarn candy to look at.  There is only one spinning/weaving place in the center.  We watch a spinning demo on how to Navajo Chain and ply some yarn.  I lust after the blending boards and decide I can’t afford one right now.  I get some cool funky yarn to weave a scarf and some nice fine cotton to weave a bed throw.  The lovely cats are keeping my bed spread filthy laying around on it so I’m going to weave a throw for it that will be easy to throw in the wash.   I haven’t started either of those projects because I found some cool roving to spin (oh gosh, have I done that yet?).  I’m sitting her and can’t remember if I have done that yet because I went and found some other cool  Noro wool and I spun that and then I decided it would make some great fabric for a jacket so I went and bought a really pretty fun yarn to ply it with and I’ve been spinning the alpaca with the merino wool blend and I went and got my fourth quilt block and got that done and then I had some material for Kidz Quiltz and I made a quilt top and then I started knitting some slippers (why? I ask myself).  This is where it gets hazy if I’m working or playing.  Of course I’m doing all this while I look at the kitchen and say “I really need to get this painted.”

Finally some tulips have bloomed.  I’m still waiting for the iris to start popping up some blooms.  Lots of leaves but not much else yet.  Every year I put a little more out and every year it looks a little better.  The clematis I planted last Fall is really going to town.  I’m looking at the other one and it appears to be dead.  Oh no, wait, what is that little tiny green nub I see.  I think it’s going to have a leaf.  Now, it’s about 4 inches tall and really sprouting up so hurray, both survived.

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Those apple trees out front are hanging by a limb.  Last Fall I decided to really go to town on one of them to see if I could save it.  The main trunk is dead for all practical purposes.  There are some new branches coming out above the root ball to maybe there is some hope.  I cut off a bunch of dead limbs and branches as much as I could with a small hand pruner.  I go to Jax Farm Store and I see a nice tree saw.  I’ve really been needing one so I get it and come home and cut the dead top out of the tree.  Doesn’t look too bad and it’s blooming up a storm now  I might even have some apples (if the freezing weather we had a couple of days ago didn’t freeze them).  Hmmm, there’s another one that I hack up but it’s a little late to see if it will do anything this year.  Dang it, as I dig around near the root ball I notice it’s in a plastic bag.  None of the other plastic bag trees lived.  Oh well, I’ll keep working on it and it will either live or die.  It’s got a few blooms and some nice new branches so maybe it will make it.

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Hey, I actually ordered a tree and some shrubs from the Greeley Conservation District.  I’ve been meaning to for three years now.  I barely put my order in on time but the day comes to go pick them up.  I go over to Karen and Bob’s and we head on over to the building on 392.  I get my Native Plum and 30 Lilacs.  I bring them home and admire them.  They are really good looking lilac bushes.  Really green and healthy.  Now, where shall I plant them?

Ok, it’s time to do some real work.  I get up early and get outside.  I’ve decided to plant a pollinator garden so I decide the plum tree can go over in that direction.  I am going to have my two seater glider there, and I brought up my shepherd’s hook that I hang my chimes and bird feeder and decorative fun art ball thing that looks like it’s spinning up and down which is really just an optical illusion (hmmmm, how much crap can I hang on one hook?), and my bird bath (with the handy dandy solar powered pump that I thought was broken but I figured out it had a battery and I replaced it and it works, yea!!).  Oh, and not to forget the cool iron headboard I found at Uncle Benny’s (see previous blog).  I get the plum tree planted and decide I will use four of the lilacs to provide some protection for the beehive I am setting up.  I head on over to the corral and plant four where I think it will provide a wind block for the bees (and hopefully some afternoon shade).  I get those planted.  Then I hand water them with water from the two rain barrels I put out (see previous blog).  I thought it was never going to rain and fill the barrels but it finally happened.  As always it’s a little bit of beauty surrounded by chaos.  Every little bit will help to get rid of some weeds. OK, tha’s only four out of 30 lilacs.  What the heck, I will just go hog wild and plant a whole row of lilacs along the corral fence.  When I finish I’ve planted 15 of the lilacs along the fence.   Karen gave me a clump of tansy.  I split it into 6 clumps and those are my first plants for my pollinator garden.

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Hurray, it’s bee day.  I go over to Karen and Bob’s and we head off to pick up our bees.  We have to go to Evans to pick them up and our time is at 8:00 am.  It’s snowing today of all days.  No snow most of the year but today when it should be warm and sunny for our ladies it is awful weather.  We drive 40 minutes to go pick them up through the snowstorm and when we get there we find out the bees have been delayed.  They had to stop at Silverthorne due to the snow so they won’t be here until around noon.  Well, what to do other than go to breakfast.  We go to the Sugar House in Eaton and have a great breakfast.  Then we head off to Ft Collins so I can get another candy plug for my queen (I got one and promptly misplaced it).  We were told we could stick a mini marshmallow after uncorking our queen (and then the attendants eat her out of the cage because she’s a new queen and if she gets out to quick they will kill her – bees are totally fascinating) but I went to Copoco’s in Ft Collins and they had some candy plugs that I was told should have come with our bees too.  We head back over and the bees have arrived.  We are worried because we have to keep them in the package overnight instead of releasing them in the hive.  It should be warmer and sunny and tomorrow will be a much better day.  We are going through angst and trying to figure out how to keep them warm enough overnight .  At Copoco’s I tell them of my dilemma and they say, “Oh, easy, just take this cardboard box and put your deep in it and put the bees inside the shed and they will be fine.  Well, they were.

I get up early the next morning and go out and the bees are just fine.  They are swarmed around the queen’s cage trying to protect her or at this point maybe trying to kill her if they could get to her.  Until she releases her pheromones and the bees spread it through the hive she won’t be accepted.  I get my bee suit and head over to Karen and Bob’s.  I want to watch them put theirs in their hive.  I get there just in the nick of time.  They are just about ready to put theirs in.  I watch as they take their queen cage and pull the cork out.  You have to put your finger over the hole quickly otherwise the queen will fly away and that’s a whole other problem.  Karen has her finger over the hole and then the candy plug will be inserted so she can’t escape and the other bees will eventually eat through the candy and release her.  This will give them time to get used to her and accept her.  There is a lot of anxiety making sure the queen doesn’t escape during the process.  No, not yet, she at this end of the cage.  Shake her down and try to get te plug in.  No, wait, she crawled back up.  Ok, finally the queen is at the bottom of the cage and the plug is put in.  Then they pound the pack of bees on the ground and the swarm drops and they pour them in the hive.  Hurray, now on to my house.  I get my pack and we go through the same process.  Whew, what a relief that is finally finished.  They are not supposed to stay in the pack too long and with the weather and the delay and on and on we are all glad the bees are finally in their home.  Bees are so fascinating, I could stand watch them for hours.  Just a few guard bees out in the morning in this picture.  I put it on the north side of the chicken coop to protect it from the north winds and hopefully the bushes will give protection on the south.  I will put up some boards on the fence in the meantime while the bushes are growing.  The blue box is their brood box.  As soon as they fill a few frames with comb I will put on a second box.  Those two boxes will be their winter food and where the queen lays all the new bees.  The white box is a top feeder that I put sugar syrup in to feed the new hive.  They’ll need that for a while until they get going.  IF (a big if) they fill the two top boxes I will put on a honey super and possibly get some honey this year.  I”m not rushing them.  I really do it more for the pollination they provide but the honey is a bonus.  I can’t have chickens so the bees are my livestock.

Well, that’s a little of what I’ve been doing around the homestead the last month.  It’s never ending!!  Now,I have to go out and watch my bees.




About pbodwell

Master Gardener; Nat'l Award Winning Photographer; Garden Writer; Artist - art books, print maker, hot glass, wire jewelry designer; sometime quilter; new homesteader; bee keeper; very crafty; Baseball fan, enthusiast, and researcher; all things vintage
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