Seasons and Years of Change

September 14th, 2010

Beautiful weather after last week’s rain, and everything is growing once again. With late summer I have the joy of allergies kicking in for a few weeks…  the last Hurrah! as the grasses and goldenrod bloom. Which is great for the bees at least :)   Some years I don’t notice my allergies at all, and others it seems crazy and I’m sneezing all the time- like this week.   I could use a few days at sea…

Sometime within a week after putting to sea, you suddenly realize that your nasal passages are totally clear… the air at sea is usually so clean and fresh. Well most places that is, unlike the Persian Gulf where the dust storms would roll off the desert and engulf everything in a near brownout of fine dust particles for a day or two at a time. But the South Pacific was a different story!  I’ve been thinking of sharing few more stories of my past life (seems like “lives”), but I mostly want to share the beauty and experience of nature and our day-to-day life as it is now.  We’ll see.

The sedum flowers are also blooming, and the butterflies are enjoying the tiny flowers. The bees will follow when the flowers open a bit more.  Sedum is such a great plant… drought tolerant and blooming at just the right time in late summer when the insects really need them.

I saw a hummingbird the other day, surprised they were still here- soon they will depart on their migration south. The bees are incredibly busy now, which is a good sign.  I’m hopeful that the hives will build enough stores to carry themselves solidly through winter.

It was amazing watching the bees this afternoon, dropping through the sunlit sky, diving down to the hive by the dozens like tiny fighter jets… and then I stepped close to the front of the busiest hive, smiling as I watched a host of bees taking their first orientation flights outside the hive.   This tends to happen on warm afternoons, and is a good sign of a strong hive.

Bees spend about the first 3 weeks of their lives inside the hive, growing, building comb, acting as nurse bees to the young larvae- feeding and capping their cells. They must fly during that time, if only to relieve themselves,  and somehow they heed the call and head outside the hive to fly, becoming workers, orienting themselves with the sunlight and shadows, somehow knowing with amazing accuracy the exact position of their hive on the earth.

Honeybee on Sweet Autumn Clematis

If you move the hive more than a yard or two from its position, the bees will not know where to go…  I’ve read an old expression if you need to move a beehive:  Stay within two feet, or move it two miles!   I’m not sure about that, but I know if you do want to move it, you wait until after sunset and seal up the hive.  Then you move it to its new location, releasing the bees the next morning.  If it’s too close to the old hive location, you risk the bees flying back to their original location and not having a home to go to.

In the distance, I hear Captain Jack crowing, also enjoying the afternoon sun.   I went to collect the eggs from the henhouse, and picked up six of them.  Later on we gathered two more…  one of the first days that I’m sure each of the eight hens laid an egg.  Hooray for the girls!

I let them out into the garden for a good bit of the day… they love it.  In fact, Jack has figured out how to fly out of the run, and then fly back in if he wants to.  But the hens wait patiently, and after they’ve laid their eggs they deserve an outing to feast on greens and tiny critters.  One of the Barred Rocks was just running from the coop to catch up when I took this picture.  By the way- I thought our white “Snowy” might have been a Leghorn, but she doesn’t lay white eggs-  I think she might be a Wyandotte hybrid of some sort?

In the morning as we get ready for the day, the animals are ready to go too… the little kitty is becoming a holy terror within the house.  The yellow lab doesn’t seem to mind- she grabs his tail and he can’t help but wag it all over the place.

The shiba waits at the door for leftovers.  Anything the boy doesn’t eat the shiba gets to try.  Sometimes the chickens too.  I’m finding out that chickens love to eat just about anything!  So far it has been fairly simple to incorporate them into our lives and that of the other animals.

Here’s a neat photo from our trip last month.  We had a chance to stop at the marvelous national historic site of Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois.   Perhaps I’ll write more about it later, but as we walked from the first floor to the upstairs, the historian told us that the stairway railing was completely original to the home, exactly as it was over 150 years ago.

The young boy’s hand is there, and I’m amazed to think that President Lincoln- and his family- used that railing when they went up and down the stairs.   They had four boys… Robert, Eddie, Willie and Tad (Thomas). Only Robert lived to adulthood, and died in 1926 at age 82, buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Eddie died young at 3 years, 10 months, and Willie at 11 years. Tad reached age 18 before he died. But the boys did spend their happy childhood years in that house, listening to stories, singing, playing games, and holding that same railing.  I could almost imagine hearing their voices…

10 Responses to “Seasons and Years of Change”

  1. Ed

    As a self proclaimed land lubber, I would love to hear your adventures of the high seas some day. It will probably be as close as I come without serious medication.

    Never heard that moving bees not enough away from the original spot can be similar to moving them miles away. But then, I can’t recall moving a hive only a couple feet away. Too much work. We just moved them at night and then tossed some weeds or sticks up against their opening which I suppose in theory was to give them pause when they left and realize they had moved.

    Just imagine, my hand touched that very railing earlier this summer. I hope you got the scoop on the sidewalk made of boards behind his house which I blogged about. I’m sure they told me they were original too but as Vince and common sense points out, I don’t know how that can be after all these years.

  2. Ed

    Did you eat a horseshoe when in Springfield?

  3. a) i did not know that about bees. one of my tweeps just moved his hives temporary while he is out of the country for his job; i can’t image the hassle of moving them.
    b) lovely photos. i love sedums (and succulents of all shapes and sizes), and they really do attract our winged friends.
    c) that picture of kitteh and dogs? that thud sound is me falling over ded from teh qte. kitteh has gorgeous markings! shiba so alert! lab looking so…labby!
    d) re: handrail: i like to imagine that vibrations of history resonate through that lovely wood.
    e) i’ve been lingering too long in corporate world, can you tell?

  4. Ditto to Ed’s comment about hearing the stories, though I’ve always loved the ocean. It sounds like you miss it.

    As for places of historical significance, I’m always amazed at how moved I become when I consider what went on at various locales. It goes to show that the earth and geographical coordinates are immutable, but we humans are not. We appear and go, perhaps to be remembered for a time, but eventually those memories will fade too. Only the land remains.


  5. Ed- Good info on the bees; I hope I don’t have to move any hives, but I’ll try the sticks/brush method if I do. I did move a small nuc about 2-3 feet to a a full-size deep, and it was funny to watch the bees fumbling around where the nuc used to be, and eventually finding their way to the new entrance. I leaned some frames near to make it easier, but I definitely saw they were challenged.

    I forgot about your post re. the wooden walkway… but I remember seeing it at the time and asked our historian guide- he said it was the original location and form but not the wood, etc. But that railing… cool that you guys did the same tour and climbed those stairs! It’s a small world… even through time :)
    a) I learned a new noun (“tweeps”) for language usage! Must have been hard for him…
    b) Thanks- they are awesome- I want to plant more…
    c) The kitty is beautiful… there was another when we (the boy) picked her… I wanted both :) The labby lab’s personality is just what he looks like, but gentle as a lamb… unless he’s running around and then it’s hard to stop a 90 pound animal! And the shiba’s eyes are always so penetrating…
    d) That is a cool comment… “vibrations of history, resonating” …through time… love it!
    e) This reminds me of far too many powerpoint presentations of the past… but hey, I’m sure everyone really appreciates your comments and thoughts!
    Another wonderful comment regarding our human experience in the context of time… somehow visiting and experiencing those unique places of historical significance really brings it alive. I think people, especially some who are more intuitive and/or perceptual can really “feel” history in that regard, experiencing it as you said in terms of being “moved” and how it relates to our experience and journey… esp.too in ways Chook mentioned. One of the reasons I love travel I think…

  6. Yep, I’d love to hear the sea stories too… Looks like things are going well on your farm; fall is coming here, the corn and soybeans are all yellow

  7. I’m having the devil own time reading about Bees. It has to do with the Queens laying habit. Take a fresh Queen laying 2000 a day with 21 day to hatching that’s 42,000. Now what with pollen and honey and a few other things the hive needs about 75,000 cells for simple survival.
    A. is there a shape that the queen uses when laying, the oval of a football or the sphere of a soccer-ball with the outer cells used for stores. Or B. Does she lay to the extent of the comb from corner to corner. Or C. little or no pattern whatsoever.
    And when the Bees need to cool the hive and blow air over the combs, does that mean that there are vents in the top of the hive itself chimney-like. For all the books write about only one opening at the base of the structure.
    Odd is it not but that banister in the bottom photo probably had years of beeswax polished into it. And that kitty has the oddest colouring. Lovely dogs.

  8. Sage/Vincent- We’ll see :) Thanks- Changes are coming fast; That’s great Vince that you’re researching bees- I’m no expert, but…
    a, b,c) I know a “good pattern” is when the queen starts in the center of the frame and keeps filling it solidly, outwards. It looks like a nice roundish, or oval pattern- but very consistent. Typically there may be honey stores like a wedge shape at the upper corners, but some frames are all filled with brood! A spotty, scattered or infrequent brood pattern indicates a weak queen or some other problem…
    Great question about vents! Some beekeepers swear by using both lower and upper vents. Others use just lower ones, perhaps until the greatest heat of summer, and then opening the lid or adding a spacer to increase the ventilation and cooling air for evaporation. More importantly- in winter most beekeepers ensure some type of ventilation in the upper hive to allow for moist air to escape and prevent condensation. It’s the moist air in winter that really kills the bees- they can tolerate the cold, but not wet conditions.
    I never considered that beeswax would have been used for polish on that original wood! Great point… the kitty is so cute, I’ll post some more pics :)

  9. I just want to say I love your blog and all your animals are just adorable!

    I have a black and tan shiba inu her name is Saya. :)

    Kuma is such beautiful shiba lucky to have such nice land.

    Do you have any issues with ticks? if so what do you use to prevent them?

    Does your dogs live outside or come inside sometimes?

    I live in country kinda got 16acres and Saya just loves exploring it. She’s been bad and ran off few times, but she came back right away.. shiba do know how to give you heart attacks. hehe

  10. Hi Nicole- Thanks so much for your kind thoughts… been a bit under the weather here responding! Yes- there are ticks; I have kept a good 1-3 month treatment on him during the early-to-late summer months. I don’t like to use the chemicals year ’round. But nothing really prevents them on the dogs- they get a few, and I’ll take them off if I see them. He loves to explore also- I put up a 3 acre “wireless pet fence” and that helped for a couple of years. As he became 9 years old, he settled down and didn’t seem to wander off as much! Thank you for coming by :)

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