Category Archives: Bees

The Garden Is Planted and Other Farm Happenings

We got some light rain yesterday and there is more in the forecast for tomorrow. Boy is that a good thing. Our garden is planted but we haven’t had much rain so we’ve been watering plants to keep them alive.

On Saturday, May 15 my husband put the pump in the pond so we could begin filling the tanks that we use for irrigation.

It may or may not have been my turn to put the pump in the pond but here’s how that works each year.

My Husband: “It’s your turn to put the pump in the pond.”

Me: “Ok as soon as we have a couple of consecutive days of 80 degree F (26.6 C) weather for the water to warm up I’ll do it.”

My Husband: Puts the pump in the pond when temperatures are still in the 60’s or 70’s F.

OR some Years it goes like this

My Husband: “It’s your turn to put the pump in the pond.”

Me: No honey. Last year was my turn. I know you did it but it’s still your turn this year.

My Husband: Puts the pump in the pond.

I didn’t get any pictures of the planting or the garden as of yet but I’ll tell you what we have planted. Potatoes, onions and cabbage were plated first and are all doing well at this point. Tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant, melon, cucumbers and basil were planted as seedlings or young plants. Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, green beans, three types of squash, dill, sweet corn, pumpkins, sunflowers, and broom corn were planted as seed. ** My husband brought home a package of okra seed yesterday and we are going to plant some. We have never grown okra before and I have only eaten it a few times but we decided to give it a try.

While it feels good to have the garden planted we realize the work has only just begun.

Now for other farm happenings:

Puppy Playground

This spring we doubled the area that we have fenced in the back field. It’s an area where we have apple trees, our blueberry patch and our strawberry patch. It is now known as the puppy playground. It’s over 52,000 square feet where Ranger can safely run off-leash and sniff ’til his heart’s content.

Prayer Garden

As always the prayer garden is a work in progress.

We decided this year to add mulch to dress it up and for weed control. I started by weeding then edging.

Then we began adding the mulch.

It’s nearly done and I hope to have it finished by this weekend.

Salvia and Thyme

Mean while we have watched the transition from mostly yellow blossoms to lots of purple and some pink blossoms.

Irises
Dianthus
Chives
Lilac

Chicken Coop Construction

We are in the process of building a new home for the chickens. It’s a slow process because it gets worked on in between other things that need to be done. I don’t have any photos yet but as we get further along I’ll share some of the process. Hopefully by the end of June our chickens will be in their new home.

Bees

Our bees arrived as scheduled on May 13. It was a lovely day for hiving bees and my husband had the two new hives set up before noon.

My husband and I agree – it’s nice to have bees on the farm again.

Mowing

It seems like I’ve spent a lot of time mowing grass this spring. According to the mower it’s been over 18 hours. The task has been made easier by this new mower we purchased last month.

Outdoor Décor

When the local greenhouses opened in the beginning of May we stopped by a new one just down the road to purchase flowers for our hanging baskets and porch pots. Their prices were a little higher than the one we usually shop at but we wanted to support this new local business.

They did have a nice selection.

Thanks to my husband’s diligence in taking them inside on the frosty nights and making sure they have enough water each day they are all thriving.

The one above has a volunteer sunflower growing in it. Not sure how it got there but I see it as a gift.

Play Time

It’s not been all work though.

We’ve been blessed to have a couple visits from the grandkids (and their parents).

And we’re looking forward to many more of these.

Thanks for visiting. Do you have a garden planted?

Yesterday’s Harvest

From the garden we harvested green beans, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers.

From one hive we harvested 8 frames of honey and wax. Now the bees are cleaning up the frames.

Honey is our oldest hen. She turned 7 this spring.

From the coop we collected 11 eggs. Only 8 of them made it home though. It seems that Ranger learned a new trick. He figured out how to steal eggs out of the egg basket. They didn’t break until he stepped on them. I’m not sure why he decided to take them – either he thought he had found a new toy or he was telling us he wanted to eat. Crazy Dog! LOL!

Where The Bees Are

Yesterday while walking around the back field I spotted Honey bees on several different flowers. I first noticed a bee in the white clover, then another foraging in the birdsfoot trefoil. I spotted a couple of bees on Canadian thistle blossoms and there were many buzzing about in the sweet clover.

Honey Bee on Sweet Clover Blossom
Honey Bee on Mountain Mint Blossom

I then walked by a patch where we planted wild flowers several years ago to see what they might be foraging in there. While the mountain mint that grows in that patch was not part of the seed mix that we planted, it has become a favorite of the bees when it blossoms.

Honey Bee on Oregano Blossom

Back at the prayer garden I found many bees in the oregano and a few on the anise hyssop.

Bumble Bee on Anise Hyssop Blossom.

The bee in the above photo is a bumble bee. Honey bees and bumble bees often forage the same flowers.

In addition in all of these plants my husband has reported seeing the bees pollenating the squash and pumpkins and I have seen a few foraging in the marshmallow plants.

The beauty in the bees foraging such a wide variety of plants is that each time we harvest honey the result is a deliciously unique blend of various plant nectars that the bees have collected. I dare say that we have never had two batches of honey that were exactly the same.

Thanks for visiting.

Dog Days Of Summer

According to almanac.com the dog days of summer run from July 3 through August 11 which is normally the hottest and most humid time of year in the northern hemisphere. Around here every day is a dog day. Just ask Ranger and Trooper. But, yes, the HEAT IS ON and it is accompanied by a dry spell so keeping the gardens watered has been the main focus for the past week or so. If you are curious about how we manage that on our off-grid farm you can check out our off-grid irrigation system here.

In the mean time I put together a collection of pictures that I’ve taken over about the past few weeks to share with you.

This is how Ranger cools off on these hot days. (Did you know beagles can swim?)

and Trooper enjoys laying on the beach after a swim in the pond.

The grandbabies love the water as much as the dogs do.

Dragonflies are yet another creature that appreciate the pond.

This one is drinking water from the sand. Check out the honey bee (on the left) that photo bombed this shot. She too was coming to the beach for a drink of water.

This beauty hung out with us on the beach, for a couple of hour yesterday evening, fluttering about and pausing now and then to rest or perhaps get a sip of water.

One last pond picture because we can never have too much cuteness. LOL.

Speaking of cuteness, here is a double dose – twins.

The lavender is gorgeous this year and the bees and butterflies are all over it.

We have transitioned from strawberry season to blueberry season. On the same day that my husband, and (daughter) Kara, picked the last of the strawberries, I took (daughter) Tina, and Jackson and Addy into the blueberry patch to pick the first ripe berries. While Kara took her 3/4 of a basket of strawberries home. Addy couldn’t wait, so she ate all of the blueberries we picked while they were still at the farm.

Start them off young – that’s my motto. They posed for a group photo then dad took Jackson and Addy, one at a time, for a ride on the tractor.

The garden is flourishing. I have harvested basil and calendula flowers twice so far.

We have green tomatoes, peppers starting to develop, blossoms on the eggplant,

blossoms on the green beans and the corn is knee high.

We cut garlic scapes (check out this post to learn more about scapes) about two weeks ago and will be digging garlic soon.

It seems that every summer our back field is dominated by different plants. This year it is full of clover and birdsfoot trefoil and I think it is just gorgeous. It’s also great bee food.

I’ll leave you with one last photo of this pair who stopped by our deck for a short visit last week. They were kind enough to stay so I could get a photo then they hurried on their way.

Thanks for visiting and remember – stay hydrated, breathe deep and stay well.

Are you having a heat wave?

Our Little Piece Of Earth

Several blogs that I have seen this morning have reminded me that it is Earth Day. In fact it is the 50th year that this day has been celebrated. It is really just a coincidence that I have prepared a post with lots of pictures of our little piece of this earth but I invite you to have a look around.

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Even though we lost all of our bees over the winter we still have two hives that have some honey in them. On the days that are warm and sunny they are being visited by what we assume are wild honey bees. Since there is little available for them to forage this early in the year these bees are eating the honey that remains in the hives. It is good to know there are still honey bees in the area.

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Daffodils are blossoming and the bushes in the background are forsythia just beginning to bud out. We have never had the forsythia blossom so fully. Last year we decided not to prune them but to wait until after they are done blossoming this spring. It seems to have worked.

Yellow is a happy color. 🙂

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It shouldn’t be long before the forsythia is fully blossomed. I think it will be a stunning backdrop for the pond.

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These small daffodils and white hyacinths were planted 5 years ago in memory of my husband’s mother. My husband had bought them for her to brighten up her room when she was in the hospital. After she passed away we brought them home and planted them in the prayer garden. They are the first daffodils to blossom every year.

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The garlic is doing well. I love seeing them come up in neat, orderly rows.

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These small red shoots are a peony bush the I planted last year in memory of my Aunt Shirley. I am so happy to see it coming up.

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I spotted the first dandelions to open. They were growing in the middle of my oregano patch so I will likely dig them out. Personally I love to see dandelions in bloom they just don’t belong in my oregano patch.

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Above are cosmos and below are primrose. Both were added to the prayer garden last year. They were given to my husband by a lady whose home he was working at while he was working the landscaping job.

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The cosmos continued to flower all last summer and were not touched by the deer, but the top growth on the primrose died off after being transplanted. They then formed new leaves but did not flower. I guess I will find out this year if they are deer candy or not.

 

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A cardinal was visiting the chicken yard. This is not unusual. Many birds (and rabbits, and squirrels and even deer) visit that area since there is always food available.

 

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Blue berry bushes are beginning to bud out as are apple trees (below).

IMG_6435We witnessed something we have never seen before on Sunday. Honey bees were foraging in the daffodils.

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We have had daffodils growing since before we began keeping bees and if you have been following my blog for very long you know that I always watch to see where the bees are and what plants they are foraging.

 

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This is the first time in eight years that we have seen the honey bees collecting daffodil pollen. Since I am not skilled enough as a photographer to get a picture of the pollen attached to their bodies you will just have to take my word that they were collecting pollen to take back to their hive.

As I was working at the farm on Monday I noticed this egret land near the pond. He or she quickly swooped up a tasty treat. I’m not sure if it was a frog or a fish.

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It then continued to make it’s way around the edge of the pond.

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It was about 45 minutes later that I saw it fly away so I can only assume it left with a full belly.

Not everything that is happing at the farm is as passive as this appears.

On Sunday I decided it was time to start preparing the ground around the apple trees for the companion plants I am going to put in.

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Since my husband was working in a different area, we put Ranger on a tie near where I was working. When he saw me digging in the dirt he decided to come and help. I have to admit that he was much more efficient digging with his paws than I was with a trowel. Unfortunately after digging for a short bit he sniffed the area and realized there were no mice hiding in that ground, so he was done.

I finished removing the grass and top layer of soil around the base of the tree – only six more to go. I will then be planting chives which are said to ward off insects and prevent apple scab and nasturtiums which are also reported to repel insects. We won’t know until summer if these methods are working but lets all hope that I’ll be posting pictures of beautiful apples later this year.

Now this post is getting long and we’re heading out to work in the asparagus patch (it should be coming up soon) so I’ll save the information about the work we are doing there for another post.

Thanks for visiting and until next time be well.

How are you celebrating earth day?