Beekeeping

Over a year ago I read a book that discussed self-sufficiency on a small-scale: keep a couple of chickens, a rabbit or two, learn to knit, play an instrument for entertainment, etc. The woman took a hands-on approach and tried these things and wrote about her experiences. I was absolutely mesmerized by the beekeeping account. I felt for her, she made many mistakes even with a mentor beekeeper, she lost a queen and had a bear attack. That right there kept me from jumping into beekeeping, bears are sited around these parts often enough for it to be a legitimate concern.

My brother-in-law and his wife have some chickens. I thought about chickens, but I really don’t want hands-on animals. Chickens would be nice for the garden, keep bugs down, and be needy. We couldn’t travel or be gone very long without chickensitters. I don’t know how to sit a chicken, I can guess they need food and water of some sort but that’s about it.

My husband and his brothers grew up on a bird farm, they raised bobwhite quail and I think one other type of bird to sell. They all had to help feed and care for them. He and I have discussed some responsibility for Boo Bear when he is bigger. But I have family 800 miles away and like to visit at least once a year, so the critters have to be able to either care for themselves for 10-15 days or we have to kennel them. Our house cats get a sitter by means of looker-iners.

Enter the bees. We like honey, we cook with honey, our extended family likes honey. I don’t have to pet the bees, I don’t have to clean up their poop, they can be left for a week or two and most likely be fine if precautions have been taken to keep them well fed and safe. I put out a plea to friends on a social networking site and within 15 minutes a friend stepped up who has been keeping bees for years. I have a husband of another acquaintance who beekeeps as well and would sit down with me and talk about bees. While there is no rush, there is. Bees need to be ordered soon to be delivered next spring as they can sell out. I need to get a bee house prepared for them as well as some basic equipment. Luckily, I have one bee mentor lined up and the possibility of another.

Do you keep bees? What don’t I know?

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The Trees Arrived

Tonight we planted trees. Last weekend we finished pulling trees out of the way and I tilled the soil to make it easier to plant. The trees arrived today in the mail, so we dug holes, planted, watered and caged them. Hopefully, the deer and other critters will leave them alone. I’ll put up pictures later today or possibly Saturday.

An oh, by the way, I think some brands of animal crackers have undisclosed milk. I’ve gone through countless numbers of tissues in the last 24-36 hours.

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A quest for trees

scrub pine
(n) any of several pines, as the jack pine, characterized by a scrubby or irregular manner of growth, usually found in dry, sandy soil. [Origin: 1785–95, Americanism] source: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

Where we live we have a lot of scrub pines and decided that we would eventually put in fuller, shorter trees to create the privacy row in a more attractive manner. These trees grow 20-30 or more feet but have little to no living branches closer than 10 feet off the ground. Since it takes a while for trees to grow, we understand that when we plant them it will take a while for them to grow to optimal height. We have been talking more about what to replace them with and when to do it. In tonight’s mail I had an envelope from the Arbor Day Foundation with a rather deceitful wording on the outside implying that I owed them money. Upon opening the junk mail that I most likely received as a result of seed catalogs I requested earlier this year, I found inside a rather official looking invoice implying that I requested a one year membership and did owe them money. I find this type of advertising offensive on the best day and was about to throw it out when the “10 free Colorado Blue Spruce trees” caught my eye. That was one of the types we had talked about planting. I went online to see if I could get a better deal than $10 for 10 trees. Short of ordering 100 trees for a dollar each, I wasn’t going to come anywhere near that cost. The deal in the mail offered more extras, but I don’t like mailing checks, so I opted for fewer extra freebies and went for convenience. Online I there were many different sets of trees beyond the blue spruces, but in the mail I could get a free lilac bush as well as my trees, lucky for me lilacs I was not tempted long. Lilacs are my least favorite flower to date. Some time between October and December, I will receive 10 dormant seedling blue spruce trees ready for immediate planting with a one year guarantee on it. I did this once in a classroom. One day we came into school and there were trees for us to bring to our students. I also have a one year membership to the Arbor Day Foundation, in the mailing I could have one year for $10 but online I had to up my contribution to $15 for the one year, which will allow me to order more seedlings of various types for slightly reduced prices and free shipping as of the date of this post for the next 12 months. We will remove a few of the trees up near the road to make room for my ten glorious trees and by we I mean I point and Jason takes them cuts them. We plan to use the ashes from the pines to alter the ph balance in the garden soil where necessary.

Speaking of gardens, Mom P. swears she doesn’t have deer problems with tomatoes, potatoes, and a few other veggies so I have a plan. Yesterday I ordered some veggie seeds from one of the companies that may have put my name on the “send me junk mail” list causing me to receive deceitful notices which I encourage not to stop by placing orders. The company was having a buy $40 get $20 off your order, sounds like buy one get one free to me, so I looked around to see if I could find enough seeds for that amount. Turns out the shipping was included in that $40, though I think it was a mistake as the advertising indicated it didn’t. While I chose heirloom seeds as often as possible, I noticed that with 15 of the 24 seed packets I added to my cart, an additional packet of the same seeds was put in my cart for free. So if my math is correct, I have tooooo many seeds for a really good price. I was already receiving half off my order as I planned not to go much over $40 except for shipping, which seemed crazy expensive right alongside the fuel costs. I only had to order a couple of hybrid seeds as the company didn’t stock an alternative, I will continue to look for those. I am also attempting to harvest some seeds for plants already have that I know to be heirloom. My goal is to have a self-sufficient garden by 2010. All these seeds coming my way for a 23 by 23 foot garden, well no. We are also clearing trees in the backyard to the south, gradually. We are going to expand the garden and fence was is fiscally feasible and just plant in the open – foods that won’t attract the critters. Anyone know what deer, raccoons, possums, and other critters around here eat?

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In which I need to summarize

My mom, dad and stepsister came for a visit last week. Everyone had a good time, until stepsister got sick. She’s better now. Dad P found a pontoon for us to borrow and we spent time on what I thought was a lake. It turns out it’s the river. It was so calm and fairly empty during the day. I need to kayak on it. We had Granny over the other night for waffles and cribbage.

I’ve been working on the slipper sock for Granny’s friend. It’s slow going because I am not happy and rip out my work. I made a lot of progress two weekends ago at Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord, MI. I need to write about that, but I’m not sure what to say other than I enjoyed a flexible weekend of wonderful praise and worship music. Next year I am going to spend some time researching all the bands so I know what I want to hear. I had only heard of 10 of the 40-50 bands.

The garden is doing well, lots of green and flowering things. I’m fighting with bugs and caterpillars eating stuff. This morning I woke to find 50 or 60 birds on the roof stalking the garden. After they left the roof, they raided the garden, but I think they were eating the bugs.

In which I attempt to tan

I wanted to go out on the river today. I had planned with Jason to meet him at Granny’s a little early so he could take me back to get my car after floating/paddling down the river. When I woke up I didn’t have enough energy to do it, so I decided to putter around the house. After it warmed up a bit, I decided to head outside to knit and listen to Harry Potter book 7. The sun was over the backyard, so when I sat down I faced the garden. It occurred to me that I should plant some more. I mustered enough energy, with the help of mt. dew, and went to work. I misspoke/mistyped in last week’s post, I didn’t have quite that many beds finished. Today I put in an herb bed, we’ll see how that works. I think I am going to leave the 4 ft by 4 ft next to it empty and transplant in case the plants are too big to play well together. I finished up the half planted bed and did a second planting of corn and peas. I also added some cantaloupe. I have one empty 4 ft by 8 ft bed. I am going to have to purchase tomato and pepper plants. Dad P. made a cold frame for me, but I just grabbed it this weekend. My tomatoes got too tall and too spindly and finished dying off on Monday. My peppers are making progress, just not enough. The brighter side, I have a cold frame ready for next year. Mom P has some beautiful plants from her cold frames. My first planting of onions and garlic are coming up nicely. My second go-round is so-so. The onions are growing nicely, until Jason’ tries to eat them. The garlic is trying to decide about poking through the soil. I tried to explain to Jason that my garden is a looking-at garden, not an eating-garden. He’s not buying it.

After I finished, I washed up and sat down again to knit in the sunshine. Most of the exposed parts had been toasted on Monday, so I thought no harm. I’m trying to get some vitamin d naturally. I got a bit too much and am rather red. I’ll have to make a trip into town to get more aloe vera. My knitting is coming along. I have a long list of half started and want to start projects. I finished one reusable grocery bag and started another one. The second one has turned into a knitting bag for me, I made it too large, but I’m sort of please with it. I have to finish the handle on it, then I’ll try to remember to post pictures.

Tuesday’s Tug of War

Two mornings in a row I have been out of bed before 8:30, who knew I was capable. Yesterday I visited two clients with some nasty little spyware and viruses. I’m not quite done with either machine, mental note, only visit one client a day! I’ll return Thursday to one and Friday to another. I called the oral surgeon’s office last night. I like to leave a message so that if there is an open appointment, the receptionist can grab it for me, selfish, yes, effective, quite. I’m off to what’s trapped in the hole that used to house a tooth in a few minutes.

On the productive front, I have gotten some wash done and my garden is half planted. I need to catch up with Mom P. so that I can learn how to put the rest in, that or I can use a search engine of my choice and hope the sites I find have good information for Michigan. I have two 4×8 beds open and two 4×4 beds open. I want to put tomatoes and peppers in one of the large beds, possible one and a half, I’ll use the other bed to plant more of what’s already down in a few weeks. The smallish beds may become my herb beds, haven’t quite decided that.

I had hoped to head to the river this afternoon to try out my new Otter, but a trip to Cadillac isn’t quick, I also need to go to the vet to pick up meds for the critters. As a result, I feel like I’m playing tug-of-war with myself. I want to accomplish a thousand things in a time span that can accommodate 10. I have knitting to finish, continue and start. That list just keeps growing. My first reusable grocery bag is nearly complete, I have to bind off two sections of 10 stitches. I don’t know how I want to do it, so I am going to try one method on one side and the other on the other side, then I can compare stretchiness.

Fatigable Friday

While trying to come up with a catchy title for my post, I was attempting to browse an online dictionary. I have finally discovered a flaw in online the dictionary, thesaurus, reference type site; you can’t open to a letter and browse the section. I desired an alliterated title, so I wanted to flip through the F section. I will keep looking for an online tool that will let me do this.

I spent some time last night mourning the loss of my father. I am sad that we are unable to reach a place where we can have a relationship of some kind. It’s not for lack of other wonderful male influences, I have many older father-figures in my life, but there is a part of a girl that desperately needs a daddy. I acknowledged a long time ago that while God designed me for that, I would not have that this side of eternity. I still have the desire, the wish, hope, dream. This topic came up because a friend of Jason & Jeanne lost her father in a motorcycle accident earlier this week. I had never met her father, but I had met her and my heart went out to her. I can’t imaging the pain of losing a loving father, but the emotion of losing my grandmother was raw enough to bring tears.

Today we attended the funeral. Her father was a retired firefighter, I have never attended a funeral for someone in that career. Beyond the countless men and women in many public service roles, the service ended with one last call and Amazing Grace a-al bagpipe. I’m one of the ones that appreciates the bagpipe and the talent behind it. The last call brought many tears to many eyes across the church. Central dispatch beeps the men, then they all turn the volume up and we hear the dispatcher call the deceased’s name several times. After the dispatcher is unable to reach the individual, she announced that he had gone home and sent him off with well wishes or thanks. I’m afraid I was crying by the end and don’t remember her exact words. The service leading up to that was beautiful, very Christ-centered. His wife read her testimony, which was really her husband’s and her testimony. Jason’s Dad went with us, we decided to attend the graveside service and return to the church for lunch with the family.

Upon returning home, Jason and I set to work on the raised beds in the garden. If I had to guess, I would say it was around 5 or so. I’ll post pictures later on Saturday or Sunday. I have onions and garlic pushing up through the earth. All of my beds are down with black dirt sitting in them and I nearly knelt on a snake. We put down some screen in the hopes of keeping out the moles and I didn’t trim it. I was kneeling down to work in a bed and Jason said in a serious tone, don’t move snake. The snake had gotten tangled in the mesh, so Jason carefully cut it out and set it free. It had lost some color, it may have been in the sun too long. When we finished work today, I made sure to tear off the extra mesh, I would hate for that to happen again, we came in the house around 8.

I need to spend a few more minutes on the last box. By the time I stopped, I was saying good enough with the amount of rocks still in it. I know I encountered more stones than I would have liked to when I planted the onions and garlic. I have determined that I am going to have too many tomatoes and not enough broccolis. My broccolis are refusing to stand up straight, too spindly. My sweet peppers are just starting to come up after weeks and weeks and weeks, I planted the sweet peppers and broccoli on April 21. My tomatoes are growing fast, planted those April 30th, along with the hot peppers and bell peppers, I think.

To wrap up the online reference discussion, I did discover that thefreecitionary.com site has a way to search for words that begin with or end with. I also found a rhyming dictionary and a few other tools that I book marked. I also subsribed to a word-a-day rss fee, maybe I will learn some new words.

It’s official

Spring is here. My plants are happily growing under their light, I have broccoli plants, chives, dill and what I think is a hot pepper plant, only one smallish sprout. The cat grass has sprouted and Duke as bitten the tops off of all the blades. Maybe the boys won’t mind pre-chewed blades. Birds are returning, the blue jays have invaded again, finches abound and cardinals zoom past my living room windows off for an adventure. Most of my winter friends have moved on to warmer places or found their own food supply. I spent a few hours on the porch this morning, snuggled under a blanket reading. The sun was peaking out from behind the clouds, Daisy Mae vigilantly keeping guard near my feet, lest any birds or butterflies drop in for a visit. Today is a new day, full of possibilities.

Time to backup again

I have finally finished going through all my posts, 103, checking for tags, categories, bad coding, and a random spot check of grammar and spelling. I will admit that the first 75 or so got a good going over, mostly. There were 10 or so in that first 75 that I have gone over multiple times, so they only received a cursory glance. The last 28 or so, let’s just say, I checked out during those. I’ll recheck them eventually. I did update my blog to be tableless! So very excited about that. I will admit that I am not sure if I used proper CSS to manage the photo layout, but I did it as best I could. There are a few things that didn’t go right, but I worked around them. Time to perform a backup from WordPress so that I don’t lose my categories again. I had one of my plug-ins break, but found a fix on the author’s webpage, though I don’t understand why it fixed, it is. Now Reading breaks with WordPress 2.5.1, I tried downloaded 4.4.4beta, but that was useless. I rolled back to 4.4.1 and went into my permalinks menu, didn’t change anything but click on update and the plug-in magically began working again.

My garden is underway in the basement with a grow light. I have several more broccoli plants breaking ground and one hot pepper plant. I picked up some tomato seeds and trays for the seeds, planted those a half hour ago. In preparation for two of my wisdom teeth departing on Thursday, I am packing as much as I can into these last few days. I have no idea how I will react to anesthesia, I haven’t had it since I was a kid. I also don’t know how much pain will be involved, so I am planning on losing a few days. By Sat. morning, I am hoping to be back up to snuff.

New birdfeeders

65 spam comments blocked with a total of 117 over lifetime of installation, I really appreciate the work that plug-in authors put in to create helpful resources. As I read through them, there are many advertisements for drugs from pain management, to ADHD management to, well, I’m sure you can use your imagination.

feeder 1 feeder 2

Meijer has birdfeeders and food on sale this week, so I picked up some summer feeders and food. In the future, I will use sugar water and food coloring, the price does not seem to equal volume in my opinion. There was a slight problem with the angle of the orange feeder, it was about half full when I started. I had to rehang it so that it was level. Liquid is a much different animal than seed, live and learn!.

My photo for today is of my garden. The planks are for raised beds, my soil is not up to par, so I will have to bring some in and I would like to stave off erosion. Behind the planks is the garden-to-be, a lovely fenced in area with higher gauge at the top and small gauge at the bottom. I don’t know how far into the ground it goes, only time with tell about the burrowing critters.

garden

day three

An interesting side effect of taking a photo a day is I will have at least a post a day. I’m not sure I like that so well, but I don’t know that I want to start a blog just for photos. I could just publish them to the gallery and call that good. Time will tell what I have the energy to do.