Signs of SpringI’m going at the weekend a little backwards, spending time at home and doing my writing work early, then going out later. I usually hit the road early on Saturdays, running the errands and doing the chores, leaving the “me stuff” to the evening (which means it often doesn’t get done). It’s a bit of reprioritizing, but also convenient.
Daisy’s Nosework classes are on break for a couple of weeks, so that added to the luxury of changing it up. She’s been doing very well with Nosework and progressing nicely. I work the boys some too, and forget they’re behind her in skill level; it took Farley a while to find the last hidden treat in the garage the other night and I realized I’d moved him to elevated hides too quickly, so while his back was turned I moved the box down to the floor. I’m also progressing slowly with Daisy on her carting. She’s not thrilled about this idea, but I was able to get her to stay within the shafts last time I harnessed her up. She doesn’t like it when the cart moves, and quickly shimmies sideways, causing awkward positioning outside the shafts and tangles with her harness. For now having her sit quietly with the cart behind and around her is progress.It rained (and hailed) hard on Saturday afternoon, after a very nice morning. Not sunny, sigh, but very mild weather and dry. It was a thrill and a half to see both beehives active, with lots of flights out and several of the incoming carrying full pollen sacs – fresh food! I’m not sure what’s blooming right now that they’re finding, but obviously something. The Indian plum shrubs are the first native plant to bloom but the ones on my property aren’t quite there yet. I found one or two just opening blossoms on a couple of them, but most are still just twigs with a few new leaves starting to unfurl from the pregnant buds. At any rate, I was so pleased to see my strong girls out and about on this late winter day.
While our winter was mild from a snow standpoint, it was still wet and cold, with many freezing cold days, all very hard on honeybees (especially the damp). I just had to wait and watch. The Warre hive, with its two observation windows, was a littleeasier. On most days when I checked, I could see live bees among the combs. With the Langstroth hive the only thing I could do was put my ear to the side and tap lightly on the wood. I almost always got an answering momentary bZZzz from the girls, reacting to this noise. With all the dead bees in front of the hives, I just never know for sure. The masses of die offs are normal, but still disconcerting to see. I periodically insert a thin bamboo stick in the hive openings and use it as a crude scraper to pull all the dead bees on the bottom of the hive out the door. When it’s cold, but not cold enough, the rot and decay sets in, and isn’t healthy for the live bees clustered above. And, hopefully it eases the work load for them when we do get a day like this. Seeing them struggle out the door pulling a dead comrade to dump in the grass nearby takes a lot of resources. They have to work hard to tidy up the hive to keep things hygienic, but at this time of year nectar and pollen flights are just as important and I try to give them a little help. We’re still not out of the woods, with at least six more weeks before they can get out regularly, but I was very glad to see the activity before the weather turned.
I trimmed up the lavender patch, something I should have done in the fall. I gave all the plants a bit of a haircut to encourage new growth and keep them from getting too woody and leggy. The cut foliage smells so good; I’ve put some of it around the house to give the house a fresh scent.The sheep were out loose this weekend, and the chickens too, of course, all enjoying a little exercise and finding the first nibbles of green. I, too, am enjoying those. I picked a bunch of nettle sprouts and baked a soufflé/quiche thing. I used a dozen or so eggs, the last of the raw milk (a little past its prime – it separated into curds when I steamed some to make my mocha this morning), some cheese, a bit of mayo and sour cream (used up the last of each container), some onions, mushrooms and a couple small peppers, plus some cumin and chili powder, salt and pepper. It turned out quite delicious.
The longer days are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to spring. Equinox is just three weeks away – yay!!