Monday, December 14, 2015

Winter chores

On a nice day, after the last big snow, the dogs and I took the gator to the pond to do a bee check. I was very disappointed to find one of the hives was not thriving late this summer despite me feeding them sugar water in copious amounts and one day there wasn't a bee to be found in it. I closed up the hive, plugging the holes so nothing could get in. 

The second hive did extremely well with the feeding, I had two jars of sugar water and had to replace them every few days but have to try to feed them over the winter.

Yes, I know, I tried last year but I was not ready to give up. So I looked into making sugar bricks, not as much work as fondant and made 20# of sugar into bricks. I feed sugar water as long as I could but when it got cold, they would not take it in so it was time to help them out. The first thing I did was take bales of hay over and put around the hive for insulation.

After the first snow I took the sugar bricks over, I had fashioned some mesh bags that I stapled to some top bars to hang down in the hive but did the 'Mountain Man Sugar' where you just lay newspaper across the top of the top bars and dump the bricks on top.

I had to move the bales first to get at the hive and several mice bailed out, scared the beejeebers out of me!! So I gave them a present when I left, several bags of mouse bait, enjoy your little buggers.

I thought the bees would be very quiet inside the hive, I was wrong. When I started moving top bars to place the sugar bricks they took offense and tore out to do battle with me. I retreated to the car and got the smoker out to control the hordes. After removing the half finished jars of sugar water, I separated some top bars and carefully lowered the mesh bags in place. When I had done the three I made, I separated the rest of the top bars until there was a bee sized space, spread the newspaper and dumped a pan of sugar bricks on top. I have done all I can to get them through the winter, just praying for the best. Whether or not they make it though this winter, next spring Bruce and I are going to tear up some of the brome nearby and seed it to bee friendly plants. It seemed like there should be enough natural food for them in those 14 acres but evidently not.

Then the dogs and I took off for a hike through the pond, Murphy was so excited but Mollie wasn't so sure.

When I reached the north end of the first pond, there was Murphy, knee deep in the water! I yelled at her to get out of the water and she gave me the most puzzled look, "What? Who? Me?" What a dufus!

On the way home I looked across the corn field and thought it looked like the scenes out of Dr. Zhivago, remember when they were in the sleigh going across the frozen tundra?

Back at home the "Icicles were hung from the roof line with care..."

It was a beautiful day and time to cut more wood to keep us warm at night but first Bruce had to spear the loader into the snow covered pile to get at some logs.

The dynamic duo were there to 'help!'

"What can we do, huh, huh??"

But first Murphy had to quench her thirst, do you think she knows about 'yellow snow?'

Bruce does most of the heavy lifting, I'm there to fill the loader bucket and give moral support, the splitter does all of the heavy splitting. It was one of our best purchases, we have some logs that Bruce would never be able to split by hand.

Mollie is intent of ferreting out some creature that lives deep in the pile.

There is no way she will ever get at it but does not give up.

"Snowbonnet? What snowbonnet?"

Fast forward, 10 days later.....

.....what the hey??

No, I did not slip some spring photos in, the snow is gone due to warm weather and rain, the grass is green, a hardy pansy is blooming and the pasture is flooding!

In December!!

This is something Bruce said he has never seen, we wish we could share some of our excess moisture with drought stricken CA but perhaps El Nino will bring them some much needed rain and snow. This kind of weather makes it hard to keep cattle dry but my hubby does his best, cleaning and bedding often.

And then he gets up early and builds a fire so this is what I see when I stagger downstairs in the morning.

He is definitely a keeper!

1 comment:

  1. what a flooded little creek, hard to believe all your snow is now gone, Julie...and the lovely little pansy, beauty when you least expect it!! we had snow overnight last night, I went to bed ~ 0415 (I know, how weird is that!!) and the ground was all covered and there were the snowflakes that looked like the size of up @ 11a and it is already is such a weird season, our grass is still green!!