Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Shout Out

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to everyone I met at the Memphis Farmers Market this morning. If you stopped by my table just to ask questions, to chat, or to make a purchase, I appreciate you all. Yes, I do plan on being there regularly and hope to see you there as well. ūüôā

Beware

This title should really be “Bee Where?” We were anticipating a delivery of packaged bees on Friday. We had placed the order back in January – three packages of bees to be delivered the first week of May. My husband received a call from the apiary during the first week of May telling him that the bees would be delayed a week because of weather. The bees were to be shipped on May 11.

I received an email from the USPS on May 11 stating that the bees had been shipped from Tennessee. They were sent second day priority mail. They had left that post office at 4:30 pm on May 11, and our expected delivery date was May 13th.

Friday, May 13th came and even though he hadn’t received a phone call, my husband stopped by the post office in the morning since he was already in town. The bees had not arrived yet but they were expecting another truck around 11:00 A.M. When we hadn’t heard from them by about noon, he called the post office and was told that the bees were not on that truck.¬†The¬†online tracking had not been updated since the bees left the¬†Tennessee post office¬†at¬†4:30 P.M. on Wednesday. Frustrated, we resigned ourselves to the fact that even though the weather was not forecast to be favorable for it, we would be hiving bees on Saturday.

Saturday morning when we got up, I checked the USPS website and the tracking had still not been updated. My husband kept his phone nearby awaiting the frantic phone call from the post office eager to get those things out of there. By 9:30 when the call did not come he called them again. Still no bees, but they again were expecting a truck in an hour or so. Again around noon he made the call to the post office. No bees, was their answer, and was he sure they were shipped. According to their website, which still had not been updated, they were.

At this point we were not only frustrated, but also left with a lot of questions. Where are the bees? Will they ever arrive? Will they be alive and healthy when/if they do arrive? What happens if they are not?

Sunday, May 15, 2016 I checked the USPS tracking site and received this message “The package is delayed and will not be delivered by the expected delivery date. An updated delivery date will be provided when available. Your item departed our USPS facility in GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49588 on May 15, 2016 at 3:17 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination” Checking the website several times later on Sunday gave me the same results.

This morning, Monday, May 16 the USPS tracking finally reported that the bees were at our local post office. My husband also received a phone call telling him that the bees were there. He went to the post office and upon his return one look at his face told me that thing were not good. I felt like crying when I saw that all of the bees were dead.

 

The feeder cans still had plenty of sugar water in them so we know the bees did not starve to death.¬†Without knowing where the bees were for the past five days¬†leaves us only guessing that,¬†since we have had¬†overnight temperatures in the 30’s, the bees perhaps froze to death.

It’s hard to define the emotions we felt today- sadness about the death of so many bees, disappointment that we will not be starting the new hives as planned and anger that perhaps feels like hopelessness because we don’t know who to be angry with. We can’t blame the entire USPS and I sure we will never have an explanation as to why this happened, but somewhere along the way their system failed. We trusted them to deliver our bees in just two days. It ended up taking more than twice that long and it cost the bees their lives.

I am certainly not writing this to bash the USPS, if fact I have always been satisfied with their service, and the two previous times the we received bees through the mail we did receive them alive, healthy, and in just two days.

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Bee Packages Received Through USPS in 2013

It’s been a pretty quiet and somber day around here today, and¬†we are now waiting for a return call from our supplier to see if they will ship more bees or our money will be refunded.

I am glad I did not publish at this point, because it turns out there is more to the story. Even though it was difficult to get motivated to do anything else, because of this whole ordeal, my husband decided to go to the farm and get some tractor work done play on the tractor for a while. Shortly before I expected him home my phone rang. When I answered, my husband informed me that we had just received a gift from God. One of our hives had swarmed, and the swarm had landed in a spot where he could capture it.

I grabbed some honey, that we had saved for feeding the new bees, and my camera, and headed to the farm. He filled the feeder so he could place it on top of the hive as soon as he got the bees inside, and I snapped a couple of photos.

My husband captured the swarm by brushing them, with his gloved hands, off the branch and into a five gallon bucket. He then dumped the bucket into a hive that we had ready for the new bees. He made a second trip up the ladder to get more bees that had gathered on the branch.

So our day ended on a positive note, with a message from God saying, “Hey, don’t worry. I got this.” I believe the moral of this story is,¬†that people will fail you, but¬†God will not.

 

 

Spring 2016

I do love spring in Michigan. I’m¬†not really¬†sure that I’d call it my favorite season. In fact I am happy to live in a place where we can enjoy the unique qualities of each season,¬†seeing the earth come alive in the spring, then the summer heat and growing season, followed by the crispness of fall and the glorious colors when the leaves change, and while I’m not a huge fan of cold weather I do enjoy a fire in the fireplace and snow in the winter.

To me spring seems to be a magical time. As we walk our farm I am fascinated by seeing the life emerge from below the ground. I observe the daily changes in the vegetation as the trees get their buds then the  buds turn to leaves and blossoms. I enjoy walking in the wild areas of the farm and trying to identify the various plants, as much as I love seeing our first asparagus shoots appear, the blueberries blossoming, or picking a piece of green garlic and chewing on it.

I have to say that I am truly thankful for my husband who also has a great appreciation for nature. We shared the excitement of watching the daffodils flower, we were¬†delighted¬†to see the bees foraging on the dandelions, and we marveled this¬†year as¬†our forsythia’s,¬†that were just small twigs 4 years ago when we planted them,¬†have brightened the back of the pond with their beautiful yellow blossoms. Yellow is the color of early spring on our farm.¬†A very appropriate color in deed. Yellow¬†is a happy color. It makes me smile.

My husband doesn’t think it’s¬†corny when I give him daily reports about what is blossoming. He indulges my crazy ideas,¬†and he will help preserve the natural beauty of our farm by doing things like moving wild rose plants before we disturb the ground in which they reside.

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These rocks have become my rose garden. Four wild roses have been relocated here. They are all doing well.

He has also designated an area where we can transplant Mullein this year.¬†We have discovered mullein coming up in several areas where we will be mowing, and rather than kill these valuable plants we have decided to give them their own spot. Mullein is a medicinal plant which I will use for teas, infused oils and tinctures. This website explains¬†it’s uses http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html

We also enjoy bringing new life to our farm. So far this year we have planted 4 basswood trees, 3 willow trees, 25 new asparagus crowns which are sending up small shoots, a row of potatoes which are beginning to grow, a small row of sugar peas, and two rows of cabbage.

We also planted my Mother’s Day gifts from Tina and her husband Ken. Tina knows of my love for growing things so she called me a couple weeks ago and¬†said rather than her just picking out something,¬†she thought it was a good idea to ask what I wanted.¬†¬†Upon going to the website of the nursery she shops at I discovered that they had the one plant that I thought would be hard to find. Solomon’s Seal.

Solomon’s Seal grows in wooded or shady areas, and although we have some wooded areas where Solomon’s Seal might grow wild I had never noticed it growing on our farm. It is another plant that has desirable medicinal properties, and even though I will not harvest it this year I intend to use¬†it for teas, infused oils and tinctures in the future. You can check out this website to learn more http://www.herbcraft.org/solseal.html¬†I also planted the three Thyme plants, that Tina and Ken brought me, in the prayer garden.

The new life of Spring is not limited to plants. We had the first hatching of tadpoles in the pond this week. I believe these are baby toads since we have seen many toads in the pond lately. Toads are beneficial for the farm as they live on the land and eat insects, grubs and slugs that that might cause problems in the gardens.

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Another part of spring in Michigan that we enjoy is seeing the birds return to the area. Seeing the first Robin and Red Winged Black Bird are sings that Spring is here. We have fun watching the Killdeer protect their nest by doing the broken wing act to make the dogs chase them in the opposite direction. We also try to identify birds we are not familiar with.

This year we have two birds that have become rather annoying. One is a duck who is visiting our pond regularly.¬†Since we use our pond for¬†swimming and fishing as well as irrigation we really don’t want ducks in the pond. There are many other ponds in our area that go unused where this duck could stay and no one would care.¬†Even though we¬†tell¬†Trooper and Scout to chase it away whenever we see¬†him, he just keeps coming back. The second is a robin who likes to sit in the¬†maple tree outside our bedroom window and sing. There is no nest being built there, and there are plenty of other trees in the area,¬†but this robin¬†insists on sitting in this particular tree, every morning in fact.¬†It¬†starts singing before the sun comes up – sometimes as early as 3:30 a.m. While we are usually up around the time the sun comes up, and it may be true that the early bird¬†catches the worm, we find this birds wake up calls to be a little too extreme. I do suppose¬†this is one well-fed robin.

 

 

Vaccines-Informative Workshop

Vaccines are a very controversial subject nowadays and education about the topic is the best way for people to make informed decisions. This educational¬†workshop on the topic is being held in Clarkston, Michigan. I have been invited to be a vendor at this workshop and will have Don’t Eat It!¬†natural soaps and skin care products available for purchase.

 

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Since I was unfamiliar with the presenter I did a google search and found her website which I have linked at the bottom of this page. Clicking on the tabs at the top of her page leads to many health related articles.

http://childhoodshots.com/about-mary/