Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fabulous Weather Means Lots of Outdoor Time

We were blessed this past week with sunshine and warm to very warm temperatures.  I was able to complete some tasks outdoors that have been waiting on just that type of weather.

On Thursday, I bleached the maple taps, finally.  This is cleanup that is best done outside because it is just messy and warm weather is required because one cannot do this without getting wet.  Once I run bleach water though the spyles and tubing I hang them on the fence panel to dry.  It works well.

On Friday, which was even warmer, I bleached and scrubbed the remaining buckets, about 30 or so.  Now all this is put away until next February.
 I also washed the handspun alpaca/shetland yarn I have been working on.  I wanted to see if it would finish out to the size I wanted it to be and yarn changes a lot after spinning once you wash it.  It tends to "bloom" a little and get loftier.  At least that is the hope.  And I am quite pleased with this.  My plan it to spin enough for Sam and I each to have a sweater from it.  
Saturday I checked in on the bees and gave each hive additional room to expand in the form of another box of frames.  I took the sugar water feeders off as I think there is now enough natural nectar and we don't want honey made from sugar water.  The bees were quite docile, which I appreciated. 

Sam decided he would like to catch a swarm this year if possible, so he made a couple of swarm traps with some drawn comb and lemon oil in them to attract bees who might be looking for a new place to live.  Swarming is how bees multiply;  the worker bees make a new queen and the old queen takes half the hive and leaves to look for a new place to set up house.  Our hope is that if a hive swarms, they will find our "trap" and move into it.  Sam put one trap up by the pond and one along a path we walk regularly just up from the house.

We will keep an eye on these and if we see bee activity we will go up after dark, close the entrance and bring the box home to install in a hive.  Incredibly, after Sam put these up, he found a wild bee colony way up in a sycamore tree not far from the pond.  I will also be watching that over the summer and maybe I can get some photos.  It is not easy to get to, though.

I also got out my deck furniture and cleaned it and we ate our first dinner of the year on the deck.  We eat most meals outside from spring through fall, weather permitting.  And it is so wonderful to be able to do that once again.

On Sunday I mowed the agility practice area and set everything back up again.  Grover and I have a trial this weekend, and we had some trouble in class last week with the tunnel under the A-frame.  He will choose the tunnel over the A-frame, even when I give clear direction that I want him to take the A-frame.  So that has been an area we are working on.  Notice on the tunnel that my sand bags are made with cat food bags.  They work well for a while, but they eventually break down in the sun and I have to re-bag them.  So I looked around on line to find a way to make vinyl bags and found a blog with some directions to do so.  Yesterday I made 2 sets of tunnel bags.  I still need to fill them and cut the straps that will go across the top of the tunnel, but so far I am pleased with how they turned out.

 They are made of Marine vinyl, which is meant to be outdoors, so they should not disintegrate in the sunshine, and sold in many colors (to my surprise) at JoAnn Fabrics, so easy to come by and a reasonable price if you have a 50% off coupon, which I did.  And these will look a lot better than cat food bags and baling twine.  I need to make some more to put on the teeter and the tire, but they do not need to be joined together, so will be a little easier to make.  

The lettuce is doing well in the garden.  I uncovered it on Friday since it has stayed above freezing at night and I've been watering it since it has been quite dry.  I think I will plant some beets and some swiss chard next week since I will be away all weekend.  I think we should be getting some rain in the next couple days, so the soil should be good for planting.  Sam has been hunting for morels in the woods (that's how he found the bee tree) and is hoping that some rain will make them pop up.  He has found a few, but it really has been too dry for them.  

 From the look of the maple trees in our yard, the deck will soon be covered in pollen and the bees will be buzzing in the branches. 


  1. Fewer alpacas = not so much work? How about bottling up some of that energy and send it to me. Good luck on the trials.

  2. Fewer alpacas = not so much work? How about bottling up some of that energy and send it to me. Good luck on the trials.