Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's Heating Up

Rowdy cooling off in the beaver pond
It is mid-May and the forecast for today is for a high of about 90 degrees.  That's pretty darn warm.  At least the leaves are all out on the trees for the most part and the shade will help to keep things a little cooler on the farm.

As is usual for this time of year, there is a lot to do.  May usually means planting the garden, shearing alpacas, and starting the long summer job of keeping things mowed, which includes doing the first cutting of hay.  I will admit the mowing is usually mostly Sam's job.  A lot of our property is not flat and he is much better handling that mowing than I am.  I am happy to mow the flat pastures,  which I started on yesterday.  Due to a warm wet spring the grass was incredibly thick in these pastures.  And the two I have left to mow will be even worse.  And this photo reminds me that there is a lot of weed clearing to do as well.

Alpaca shearing and haymaking will have to wait until Sam returns from a fishing trip he is supposed to leave for in two days.  There has been a lot of haymaking going on in the area though, and this week would have been perfect for it.  Hot and dry the next 2 days and the past 2.

I have gotten most of the gardens planted.  Though I need to buy some corn.  It's on my list for today.  This is the tomato and pepper garden.  I am trying something new and using old broken down cardboard boxes as a weed barrier.  It should act like mulch and hold in the moisture as well.  And it uses up what would otherwise be garbage.  The large green plant is parsley that came back from last year.

 In this garden I have lettuce, arugula and romaine all coming up, as well as beets.  The romaine to the right was planted last fall and over-wintered under a hoop cover.  It did really well with the mild winter we had.  I set  out some cucumbers yesterday that I started in pots and also planted butternut squash.  Corn will be at the far end and I'd like to get some pumpkins, though I may put them somewhere else entirely.  All this planting took up a good part of the last two days.

 Here are the beehives from the swarm (swarms?) we caught almost 2 weeks ago.  The nearer one is the huge clump that was hanging from the barn ceiling and they are doing really well.  The farther one is the box of bees that was in the barn which we relocated in the hope that it was a swarm with a queen.  I think it may be queenless.  It still has bees in it and there is some coming and going, but it does not act like it should.  Tomorrow I will open it up and look more closely at what is going on (or isn't).

Me and the agility dogs!
Grover and I went to an agility trial in the Cleveland area this past weekend.  It was a three day trial and we got all three of our jumper's runs, but only one standard run.  So we have one more Double Q toward our goal of 20.  We are up to 6 now and we managed to score 45 MACH points over the weekend, bringing our current total to 243 out of 750 needed.  By my calculations, we are almost 1/3 of the way there.  One more Double Q and we will pass the 1/3 mark, as long as we score at least 7 points.  We were with my friend and instructor, Sharon, and her three papillons.  We took advantage of the wonderful weather on Saturday and went to the beach with the dogs.  We also went on Friday, but the weather was overcast and windy. If you look carefully you can see the Cleveland skyline in the central background.  Our next trial(s) will be the 16th, 17th & 18th of June and we will be a two different venues that weekend.

  Check this out!  Sam and I moved my loom from upstairs in Rowdy's room AKA the guest room last week.  It seems so small in that large space and I have had time to actually sit out there and weave only once, but it was wonderful.  Rowdy took up residence on the rug and Grover sat in the doorway and kept and eye on things.  I still need to put in some shelving and have plans to hit Ikea in a few weeks since there is one right by where I will be for an agility trial. 

 I may have only spent a couple hours at the loom in my new space, but my sewing machine is in there as well and I did spend some time out there sewing one of my hand-woven valances for the dining room  I will admit I have not yet had time to sew the second one, but now that I have done one the second should be easier.  That's the theory anyway.  I am so pleased with how this turned out.  I hung it late in the day and I was disappointed that the pattern did not show, but wise Sam said he thought it would show much better in daylight with the light coming through it.  And wouldn't you know he was right!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Things Are Buzzing

May has arrived and there is so much to do all of a sudden.  Even since I took this photo, the woods have burst into leaf and the wildflowers are everywhere. 
The grass in the pastures is knee deep with only 3 alpacas to eat it, so I will be on the tractor mowing soon.  We had some extremely warm weather this past weekend and now it has turned around and feels much more seasonal.  But it is enough to make me start planting and preparing gardens.  

 The asparagus is coming on nicely and we enjoyed some last week sauteed in butter with ramps and morels.  The root bulbs of the ramps are minced and sauteed, then I added the asparagus and morels and when everything was nice and tender, I threw in some of the ramp leaves chopped up fairly fine.  Quite yummy.

I have planted some herbs outside in the herb garden and I may have to cover them overnight this weekend as we may get frost.  I have sunflowers  and cukes sprouted in pots on the back deck and am waiting for tomatoes and peppers to come up.  Lettuce, arugula and spinach are starting to come up in the garden and beets have been planted.  

Mom came to visit this weekend.  She brought the ashes of Luca, her Springer Spaniel, and we buried them up at the pond.  He loved that pond and I think it will be nice to think of him being there.  While Mom was here I took her out to the stalls in the horse barn, which have become a storage area, to show her the new front door Sam got to replace the ancient drafty one that is probably 50 years old, and we discovered that the barn was full of bees.  Honey bees.
There were bees in these bee boxes I had stacked in there last fall with intentions to deal with them this spring. 

There were bees clustered on the the window (this photo was taken after dark once they settled down).   There were what seemed like thousands of bees in the air, coming and going through the doorway.  This was on Sunday afternoon.  I was pretty sure it was a swarm of bees and that they had likely been attracted by the stacked hive boxes which still had frames of drawn comb, though no honey, in them.  

By Monday morning, this is what we had going on.  Those bees are not covering anything, that is a solid mass of bees hanging on the ceiling and support beam above the stall divider in the barn.  No doubt, this is a swarm.  So while Sam was at work on Monday, I prepared a hive box and when he arrived home we decided where to put the hive and then Sam stood on one side of the stall divider and held a box and I climbed up onto something on the other side so I could reach the bees and I brushed and scooped them into the box.  We then took them to the prepared hive box, into which I had placed frames with drawn comb and one with honey and some lemongrass oil, and I dumped them in.  Then we went back and scooped up some more bees and dumped them into the hive as well.  We will see if they stick around.

My dilemma is that there are STILL bees in that box in the barn and there is STILL a cluster of bees in the window. And during the day yesterday there were STILL large numbers of bees coming and going through the barn door. Is that a second swarm?  This evening I will delve into the box in the barn and see if we need to set up a second hive.  I really thought I was done with bees.  But it seems as though I am not yet meant to be finished with them.

On Friday, Grover and I have a private agility lesson over near Columbus.  I am excited about this and hope we can get some good input on things we need to work on.  I would like to do this monthly and have homework to do between lessons.  And then the next weekend, the 12th to the 14th, we are going to an agility trial in the Cleveland area.  This is a new venue for us and we are going with my friend/instructor from the Club, Sharon.  So next time I post I hope to have lots of good runs to share.

I am still working on the same two weaving projects.  The exciting news is that I have started to move things into my studio!  So far just my sewing machine table, drum carder table, and a plastic bin organizer with some of my weaving stuff in it.  Moving my loom from Rowdy's room will be a chore, even though it folds up, but maybe Sam and I can do that this weekend.  I am still trying to figure out storage and shelving, etc.  But it is every exciting.  

See the frog?
Grover among the Trillium