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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Chickens are Here, the Bees are Busy, and a Walk in the Woods

Huge Oak Tree Which Came Down in a Storm
As usual, we have been keeping busy on the farm.  Sam has been spending numerous hours on the tractor keeping things mowed, which in summer is an endless job.  Once it is done, he can pretty much turn around and start over again.  But it is necessary to keep the weeds and woods from taking over.

On Friday, a friend and I drove up to Amish country  and picked up a truckload of chickens.  It was quite the adventure, helping an old Amish guy and his 3 cute little granddaughters catch and box up 75 chickens.  My friend, Ilaina, now has most of those chickens, and I have 18, oops make that 17.  Rowdy needs to learn that chickens are NOT squeaky toys.  We are figuring this out together.  The chickens are easier to get into the coop every night and soon hopefully they will begin to lay eggs.  I was told it would be about 2 weeks.  


Sunday Sam and I went up and checked on the bees.  They have been busy.  They have made a lot of comb and seem to be thriving.  This coming Monday I am going to a beekeeper's meeting at a local farm and we are going to get into their hives.  I hope to learn a lot about what I am actually looking at as far as what is in each comb.  


A view inside the hive





I am surprised at how non-aggressive the bees are when I open up the hive.   Surprised and pleased, I should say.  In the next photo, I am actually lifting out the comb that is foremost in the photo to the left.  My photographer was standing rather far away.  He did not have a bee suit on.


Lifting a section of comb to admire the bees' work
 
I thought this week I would let you tag along on one of the walks the dogs and I (and often Sam) take daily.  We have 2 routes, each about 2 miles long.  We started walking every day when Rowdy was about 4 months old to try to wear him out and we just kept at it.  Now I feel like I have missed something important in my daily routine if I do not go.  

Last night, we did the "up over the hill" walk, which goes across part of Wayne National Forest.  First, however, we must go UP the hill.  Our first 1/2 mile, we will gain about 300 feet in elevation, but it is broken into 2 parts, divided by what used to be a hayfield.

The tree Rowdy is posing on at the top of this page actually came down into this field in a recent storm.  It was a truly impressive oak that looked as if 2 trees had grown together at the bottom for many, many years, and then this storm split them apart.  A shame.  I hate to see a beautiful tree that has taken so long to grow come to such an end.  I am sure Sam will find a use for the wood, however.



This photo shows the base of the tree(s) and how each section fell in a different direction.  The scale is hard to depict, but you can see in the photo with Rowdy that this was a big tree.

Once we cross the field, we duck under the barb-wire fence and onto Wayne National.  Here, the path is unmowed and wooded.  We must shortly climb the second hill, which is quite steep.  Then we come to  the ridgetop.  Part of this path is mowed.  I'll never say who did it, as motorized vehicles are banned on the WNF.  






The raspberries are almost ripe.  Looks like there will be a lot in a few days. Sam picks them and I make homemade jam and pies.  Maybe some raspberry wine is in order for this year.



After we cross the ridge top and start a gradual descent, the path is no longer mown.  Too steep in places and trees too close together to accommodate a tractor.  And this time of year with all the rain, the underbrush can be quite thick.




I hike with an aluminum trekking pole which is helpful in pushing multiflora roses and other briars out of the way and sometimes I use it to whack them down.  On some of the steeper places, it also helps me to keep my footing sometimes as well.


Once we come down off the ridge, we cross the old overgrown hayfields and pass the remains of what was once a nice house and several outbuildings.  It is a shame how the government purchases these properties and lets them fall to ruin.  






Then we are out onto the gravel road for the last 3/4 mile.  But first we must stop at the swimming hole where we keep a good-sized stick next to the road for Rowdy to fetch.  Sometimes the water can be flowing quite fast through here.  Other times, it is barely a trickle.  Rowdy does not care.


It's all about getting wet to him.
     



After the swimming hole, we head off for home in the lengthening shadows.


  


Along the way we can stop to admire the wild tiger lillies which are in bloom everywhere and especially along the creek banks.








There are also elderberry flowers in bloom along the creek, whose small tart berries will be ripe around Labor Day.  Those are the white flowers in the photo below.  These also grow wild.


This brings us back into the yard and the next step is a nice cold drink on the deck!  


I have done nothing this week as far as knitting or spinning.  I have skirted some fleeces.  We were busy all week with preparations for house guests for the family reunion and picking up the chickens and I also ran my second 5K on Saturday.  I was thrilled to beat my previous time by a minute and 15 seconds on a more difficult course, doing it in 29:55.  


I played with the camera in the dark last night trying to get a photo of the lightning bugs which are everywhere this time of year.  Look closely and you can see them!







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