Beau 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.
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…