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Showing posts from April, 2013

Beans back; branch still there

Michelle's post about her perennial beans prompted me to take a closer look at the weird sprouts popping up in last year's pole bean area.

Ignore the oxalis; the real stars are those beans. I can't say enough about how much I love these beans, so even a few vines of resprouts are cause for celebration. Plus, I don't have to decide what to put in that spot. I'm struggling enough with a bad case of the Garden Flakes.

And even though the sprouts might pass them, the newly seeded bed is going like a house afire, mostly.

They're climbing the twine and the bamboo, and it's a case of "If you can't be/climb on the one you love, then. . .

Love the one you're with!

And tree news. The neighbor's acacia still hasn't fallen, but the branch is going to die and eventually fall. I guess I have to decide if hiring someone to do it myself is worth it. I don't have a relationship with that neighbor.

The other tree news is that the Katy apricot is dealing w…

First one this year

Got a call from my friendly local police department about a swarm, a big one, they said. I remained skeptical because the first call was for a swarm of wasps -- not bees, did I do them? No, I said, call a pest company.

Ring, ring. . . they are bees, it turns out. One flew into the caller's house. Sigh. I thought to myself, well, of course. Wasps don't swarm.

Drove out there after dinner, and hooray! Another beekeeper was already there. I offed to provide backup, and carried things, etc. The swarm was so high in a tree I wouldn't have been able to get it. He had the patented "five gallon bucket duct taped to an extension pole" toolkit.

The swarm was huge. Truly impressive. He did the bucket under, thwump, approach, and half the swarm fell into the bucket, half on the ground. So many many bees. Once things settled down, I left him to continue coaxing the grounded bees into the box.

The children had been patiently waiting near the car to go get some post-Frisbee ice cre…

Almost Earth Day

April 20th -- first ripe strawberry of the year.

When Sarafina was very little, like babe-in-arms little, she didn't like wind. If it was gusty, she'd bury her face in my shoulder and say, "Windy! Windy, mama, windy!" We tried to skip days like that. She gets it honestly. I'm not a fan of gusty wind, although I like that the dogs like it so much. Must be fun to have your nose stuffed absolutely full of All The Smells. Like a moveable feast. It's also hard to throw a frisbee in windy conditions. I heard a coach today saying, "Make sure you release it low in the wind! No higher than three feet! The wind is absolutely unrelenting!" as the discs sailed randomly around.

The garden appears to be on my side of the equation. It's just drying -- seedlings looking sad, asparagus already leaning (guess who did NOT make a strong support structure in the off season?), stuff flying around. The chickens even sound kind of indignant. Maybe their feathers are literally being ruffled?

And that's not all. I w…

The long and the short of it

It has been a crazy-busy week, with no end in sight. The pole beans are growing and stretching. I'm having to water already, as it's been hot and windy here. Sucks the moisture right out of everything. Despite some of the baby beans being nibbled by something slug or caterpillar like, they are all looking pretty good. I probably ought to reseed some of the bush beans, as there are gaps. Gaps are pointless and need filling.

Ultimate Frisbee continues apace. I've had the great good fortune to find a twice weekly pickup game for adults that's made me very very happy. I'm not a great player, but it's so much fun to play that it makes running feel like child's play. I'm looking for more playing opportunities and playing catch with anyone who will play with me. 
One of my favorite catch partners is my long-haired nephew. Denise's kid is a good Ultimate player, but more than his skill level, his interest in and commitment to the game is pretty intense. He…

Swarmy weather

I'm not even going to bother with pictures.

Another swarm, not sure which hive it came from, but I newspaper combined it with the latest one (actually, as I was doing it, I saw drones cartwheeling out of the hive on the stand, so that was probably it).

And, I'm done. I have no more deeps, I'm needing to order some more frames for the mediums, and I feel overwhelmed already. Dratted bees. I keep assuming it's something I'm doing, but these swings between cold, rainy weather and sunny days can't be helping.

I'm going to call another keeper for the next swarm. Probably lessen my honey crop, but that's the way it goes.

Adding after division

I wonder why it is that the bees swarm when I'm not looking? I was off getting young missy's cast off -- everything healed nicely, thank you! -- and got home to hear, "Mama, the bees are in the tree again."

Yep, it's the Magnetic Apricot Tree:

Since I'd already set up a fourth hive, for just this eventuality, I grabbed the bucket, but then thought, maybe if I add more room to the other hives, this can be the last swarm of the season. Please. . .

So a quick dump, and voila! Four hives:

It took them some time to agree that they wanted to be in here -- at least for about 20% of them. Despite the brave signaling of one bee, they clustered at the top of the bucket instead of marching up into the hive:

I just kept dumping, and in fact have "thwumped" another couple of softball-shaped clumps into the bucket and into the hive over the course of the afternoon. The tree is probably smelling pretty attractive now -- so either scouts from this swarm or from some oth…

Extra Eggs?

Our hens are gracing us with 5-8 eggs each day. Even with an egg-happy household, we sometimes have extras. I've also introduced the "everyone has a night to cook" approach. What this means in practical terms is that I have to think up only a couple of meals a week, and sous chef two to three. Three family members are pretty much completely independent, including Eric, who has revealed a heretofore unknown facility with a saute pan.

Tonight is my son's night, and he thought making pasta would be fun. Bonus? it uses LOTS of eggs. This double batch used up six.

Homemade pasta is also really easy. To 2 cups of flour (this is 1/2 white whole wheat) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, add 2-3 eggs. I used 3 because our eggs are smaller than "large" supermarket eggs. Use a fork to gather in the flour.

Once the dough is mixed, I kneaded it until it was acceptably smooth -- not perfect, and much harder than bread dough. Then it went into a plastic bag for about 15 minutes. This…

Beans and other things

"What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them; and this is my day's work."
from Walden

And the beans are, indeed, up. I don't hoe them, however. This pale beauty is only one of the rows of large Italian pole beans that constitute my main bean interest.  Although I believe I sound like I've become slightly unhinged, there are few tastes that I find as thoroughly satisfying as this bean. Hot, cold, dressed and plain, I love these beans. While I've done everything I know to safeguard them, with bird protection and iron-based snail poison, I'm not confident enough to have planted them all. I kept back some of my stock to fill in any nibbled beyond survival.

The yellow wax bush beans are also emerging, but I didn't get any good pictures of them. Imagine a triple row of them in front of the six sweet peppers I broke down and bought and put in early, just because I was feeling optimistic. (Also…