Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

This and that {in which your intrepid blogger rambles a bit}

Golden evening

Golden evening

I have been enjoying down time lately. I manage to get the minimum done, but mostly it’s rest and restore as much as possible. Today was textbook in that regard so my to do list has only the shallowest of dents in it. I pretty much add more to it than I remove. I’m okay with that. I managed to fritter away three whole days over Memorial Day weekend, and really, three days is nothing when it comes to the time needed for renewing/refreshing.  I’m still dealing with the health stuff, and trying to concentrate on research, make a plan, take steps, but the rest is needed and the down time very much so. A time to disconnect and just float, mentally. And to reconnect, too.

The property is in full jungle mode now, and though I hate to say it, we could use some rain. It’s been overcast a lot, but nothing in the way of precipitation. It’s not been too chilly, as sometimes happens with the clouds, but warm enough to putter around outside with just a vest, and if I’m puttering with my pole pruner, the vest is too warm. I’ve been having a good time with my pruner, and feel like maybe someday I’ll be ready for a real chainsaw. I like cutting down all the weedy overgrowth in the trees, opening up the sky a bit. The need for a chipper is still acute, but I can live with the piles of brush for now. And the need for a few trees to come down (anything bigger than 6 inches in diameter is a bit too large for my pruner) is also acute. It would make all the difference here. The county restriction is no more than 5000 board feet a year without a permit (meaning, if you want to do some serious clear cutting, you need to get a permit from the county to do so). I’m good with that, as 5000 board feet is enough to give me an idea of what I want to do. I’ve targeted some trees to start, and will hopefully get them down this year. Then, after getting a feel for the property after this initial thinning, I’ll know better where/what to do next year. That’s the plan, anyway.

The farmstead.

The farmstead.

I’m enjoying time reconnecting with the property, though. I sometimes get frustrated with everything – the trees, the chores, the lack of grass/pasture, the chores, and the road noise.  But when I take the time to sit with it, I realize I love this little place, and that the flaws aren’t really flaws (well, the road noise sometimes is frustrating) but character. I know the sheep like it here, and much better than they would a flat expanse of pasture, and the hillside keeps them fit.  To see them moving around the property, a beautiful little collection of gray, brown, black, and buff sheep colors, or watching them graze the pasture, their sheepy pleasure and contentment is a balm to the soul. The hens dust bathing under the cedars, or scratching for bugs in the fallow garden, is perennially entertaining, and satisfying to know they’re doing what they were born to do while they provide me with eggs. Or to watch Pal running the perimeter; or Farley trotting down the hill from a foray to the back somewhere; or Daisy slumbering in the middle of the driveway – it makes me happy.  I didn’t really purchase this place with any of them in mind or for them; it was for me, and what I needed, but their enjoyment of it makes it whole.  It’s integral to all of us, and the joy I receive at their enjoyment of the property, their happiness, fills me up.

I awoke at dawn on to the cacophony of birdsong that defines spring. It was like a concert, and wonderful in that it wasn’t underscored, or drowned out, is often the case, by the Indy 500 soundtrack that is so prevalent here. I know I’m sensitive to noise, and that the road noise here isn’t as bad as some, but it’s annoying nonetheless. Oddly, though, this weekend hasn’t been too bad. No packs of motorcycles to speak of, and the morning chorus of diesel pickup trucks grinding by the house has been minimal. Weekday mornings it starts up around 4:30, reaching a crescendo around 6:30 or so. My thought is always – where these people all going so early, and what hellish time to they wake up to do so (and they must go to bed before the sun sets…so weird)? It’s so odd to me, these uber-morning people, who are on a schedule almost the opposite of mine. It even makes me a little angry, which is weird, I know. But why do they insist on getting up so early; before the sun, and going to bed before the sun. What is the point? Right now the sun is rising shortly after 5 a.m., and sets just before 9 p.m.



I should go out and do an inspection of my beehive, but just did so last week, so will wait.  I don’t like bugging them too much, but I’m on pins and needles with it right now.  I installed a package on April 29, and on the first inspection, 10 days after installing, I saw only a small amount of brood, and the presence of some queen cells.  WTH?  This means the queen that came with my package was weak enough that the hive saw the need to replace her immediately. I didn’t look at her closely when I installed the package, but assume she was alive in her little cage. I inspected again, two weeks later (one week ago) and found NO brood whatsoever.  I didn’t see a queen, but the bees were fairly active and bringing in honey. They were also a little peeved at my opening up the hive and I got two stings right through my leather gloves (!!). I like that they were angry, because that means they feel there’s something to protect.  No brood, but hopefully a baby queen ready to start laying. I looked at a chart for queen development and if the queen larvae I saw on May 10 was 4 – 8 days old, she wouldn’t start laying until about now anyway.  Fingers crossed she got out and found a DCA, mated and returned safely.

Community dust bath.

Community dust bath.

I’m reading a book now called Morning Light, by Barbara Drake. It’s a nice little rambling memoir of life in the Oregon countryside. The subtitle is “Wildflowers, Night Skies, and Other Ordinary Joys of Oregon Country Life,” and is a series of essays on the various topics. She lives in an area near to where I was looking back in ’08 and ’09 (and am still interested in), and provides some insight into things I would (or may) have to deal with, including water issues (wells, etc.). And the oaks. I’ve only read a small portion of the book so far, but am enjoying it and her insights. She’s someone I could enjoy a cup of coffee with, and a like mind. And makes me realize how much I really have here.  There is so much to savor in the little moments.

It’s dusk now as I write this, and I’m enjoying the evening birdsong. The Swainson’s thrush and Robins, and the grosbeak and little twitterers. There’s a Swainson’s thrush singing his flute song deep in the maples behind the house, and another doing his “whiit” over in the trees by the sheep shed. I love listening to them close out the day. The sun has set, and the sky is going from a deep blue to purple-gray, with pale peach brush strokes fading out.

Gratuitous cuteness: Daisy after she took a dust bath too.

Gratuitous cuteness: Daisy after she took a dust bath too.


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6 thoughts on “This and that {in which your intrepid blogger rambles a bit}

  1. I love the dust bathing chickens and Daisy. Nice to slow down, but you slow down still sounds productive. I will have to check out that book it sounds good.

    • mcfwriter on said:

      I love reading farm-y memoirs and this one is nice because she had sheep and has border collies. One of the essays is about her taking one of her bc’s to herding training, and the feelings of inadequacy as a trainer (not quite how she put it). I could relate. 😉

      Daisy had a hose down after that dust bath. She wasn’t happy, but I told her she’d be less happy if she had to sleep in her crate with her dust, instead of on the bed with me and the boys. Heart her!

  2. I love your comments about your place. I am now realizing how watching our critters enjoy our place brings me great joy. I hope your bees do well. It seems like my hive is not progressing as quick as it should according to the book but it is progressing. And I hate our road noise too.


    • mcfwriter on said:

      Thanks, Donna. I find when I have time (make time) to sit (literally) with the property, I find these small joys much more readily, and connect with them emotionally instead of only intellectually. I know I like my little farm, but when I sit with it, I feel it. Not sure if that makes any sense, but with working full time, then coming home to farm chores, it can become hard to remember why I’m doing this. Thankfully it doesn’t take long to reconnect and the reason becomes obvious. Except for the darn road noise! The packs of Harley motorcycles on the weekends are the worst – why do they have to be so loud?!

  3. Emily on said:

    I’ve seen a lot of people online posting that their new packages have quickly replaced their queens. Perhaps the stress of being posted puts stress on the queen and affects her health, or because the bees are shaken together from multiple colonies that makes them less likely to be content with a queen who is not genetically related to them? Hope the new queen does well.

    • mcfwriter on said:

      So far so good, Emily, thanks! I am keeping my fingers crossed. I wasn’t going to do a package this year but wanted to get an early start (so much for that!) after the unexpected hive failure early this spring. I’ve seen YouTube videos of how they create the packages and don’t really want to be a part of that anymore, never mind the brutally long drive for them from California (12 hours driving, and of course longer with rest stops or overnight). The speculation is that they were probably overheated at some point–it’s been a warm spring/early summer on the west coast U.S.–given the number of dead bees in my package and other failures I know of in the same shipment. We’ve had a lot of warm weather (not our usual cool wet spring) so with any luck I may still be able to do that split I want to do. Thanks for writing!

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