Thursday, April 9, 2009
The Farm Chronicles - March
Wow, March was such a busy month for us that I barely had time to post much at all! Sorry for the staleness around here. I think that's just how it's going to be in the spring.
March was all about goats and bees. Our goats arrived, and we all spent the first couple of weeks adjusting. There was a good deal of early morning fumbling, VERY amatuer milking efforts and lots of hang time in the barn. They've settled in very well and we've settled into a good routine. Naomi, bless her patient heart, gently informed me that I was not a good milker and that I Just. Wasn't. Doing. It. Right. I shaped up, however, and by the end of the first week, had earned her forgiveness. The kids continue to grow by leaps and bounds (and eat and eat and eat!).
After a great deal of anticipation and a degree of angst, we finally opened our beehive. We found a very helpful beekeeper who was nice enough to drive some distance to our place to help us open it for the first time and assess it's condition. What we found was...surprising. After dutifully feeding the bees sugar water all through the fall and winter, and observing their activity, we were certain that they had not only moved from the log into the hive, but that they were becoming overcrowded. When we opened up the hive to look in on them, we were greeted by a wasp, a beetle, a mouse and NO BEES. It went something like this:
BEEKEEPER: There are no bees in here.
ME: There were bees in there. Did they all leave?
BEEKEEPER (pulling out a comletely clean frame): No, they never moved in. They're still living in the log, and never moved into this hive at all.
ME: So, basically I've been providing them with free meals?
ME: So what do I do?
BEEKEEPER: With these bees? Nothing. They like it in the log, and they'll never come out. Just let them do their thing, and order some new bees for your hive. Oh, and, uh...don't feed them anymore.
So it turns out we were never actually "keeping" bees. Well, I have something to tell those ingrates. I have a three pound package of Russian bees on order with which to populate my hive, so those tree bees can just put that in their pipe and smoke it. I won't be needing their help! Hmph!
The rest of March was taken up with maintenance projects. I took a week off work and spent all of it tending to things I'd been neglecting. I unpacked, organized, cleaned, and worked on the garden. One of our raised beds is now planted with lettuces, radishes, onions, swiss chard, carrots and assorted beans. The other is waiting for my tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings which are still doing time indoors under the grow lights. Spring has been quite unpredictable so far, with a lot less rain than usual and more than our share of nights below freezing, so there has been quite a lot of covering and uncovering of the little plants, and uncertainty about when to plant things out. We planted potatoes too, and they appear to be thriving in spite of the crazy weather. We also started a series of rotational compost piles and ran water to the goat barn (hooray!). Somehow we managed to squeeze in a bit of socializing, but I'm not sure how.
Looking ahead: April means babies!