Monday, October 5, 2009
October 5, 2009
Sunday was the first distribution of the fall season CSA. I harvested mixes of baby lettuce and mild greens, radishes, and chard. I also gave everyone a bell pepper as my plants from summer are still yielding. Coming on are spinach and cabbage for weeks the ahead. Although not part of the fall CSA yield, I am still picking eggplant, sweet corn, jalapeños, and lima beans from what is left over from my summer garden. Its not a lot, but enough for Kath and I to enjoy. And to my surprise, I have been harvesting a handful of Heritage red raspberries every few days this week!
The eight chickens that we got in late April and raised from one day old chicks are just beginning to lay their first eggs. As it is with any beginning chicken, the first eggs are small, approximately half the size of a grade A. Over the next few weeks, the chickens will gradually lay normal sized eggs, and get into the 26 hour egg laying rhythm, although the colder months of winter will temporarily slow them down. Our older chickens – one is going on 7 years – are starting to molt, and have slowed their egg laying down considerably. Most likely they will resume laying more consistently next spring.
Keeping a flock naturally is a lot different than running an “egg farm”. There the chickens have been bred for peak production, are kept in cages, and at first molt, become chicken fingers. They are kept under artificial light to keep them laying, fed special foods, and given medicines to keep them from passing diseases through the crowded buildings.
I will gladly accept the egg laying inconsistencies to watch my flock free range, and live longer lives…
A week ago, I opened up my hives and checked to see if there was enough honey to “take off” for myself in return for all my bee stings. Unfortunately, there wasn’t. I was a bit disappointed, but it’s the way it goes. This year was not the best for honey production. Some beekeepers did rather well, but most saw a big drop off in reserves from previous years. Most blame it on the rain.
Honey bees don’t leave the hive when it rains, which means two things – they are not bringing in pollen and nectar, and they are eating “from the hive” – two negatives. Also the rain washes out the pollen from the flowers and sometimes the nectar, lessening availability for the bees. It makes it hard for the bees to supply enough food for the brood, let alone reserves for the winter, and any extra for the beekeeper. So hard, that a few area beekeepers have lost colonies due to starvation.
So I am counting my blessings. My colonies seem to have enough honey stored for the upcoming winter, and are healthy. I am continuing to feed them just to make sure. Still, there is no guarantee. Winning and losing is all part of the game.
I think that I have made this post long enough, so will stop here. I’ve got a lot of work to do today too, so I had better get along! More on the farm later!