“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011

Last Friday I caught my third honey bee swarm in three weeks. Each swarm came about seven days apart – Sunday, Sunday, Friday – and all three came to rest on the same branch of a beech plum bush in our front yard, about two feet off the ground. Being low to the ground made catching these swarms easy- all I had to do was to set the new hive body under the swarm, shake the branch until they fell in, and put the cover on. I didn’t have to balance on a ladder, cut tree branches, etc. The hardest part for these swarms was finding enough frames, bottom boards, and covers for the new hives because I never organized my bee stuff last winter to have it ready…for the third swarm I had to put together frames and make a cover before I even approached the swarm. Luckily the swarm was not in a hurry to go anywhere, and patiently waited for me while I sawed and hammered, nailed and glued all the stuff together.

We now have six hives on the farm – my son has two, and I have four. If all hives stay healthy and grow, it could mean that there will be up to a quarter million or more honey bees buzzing around and pollinating this summer and fall!

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011

Sometimes the strangest things happen…

Friday I came home to find that flats of bok choi, cabbage, etc that I had set outside the hot house to “harden off” had been damaged. Many of the flats had been smashed, rooted through, and uprooted. The fiber cells I had started them in were destroyed. I gathered all the salvageable plants and replanted them in new fiber cells – I lost maybe 50 plants in all. I really had no idea…

I had kept the chickens in that day, so it wasn’t them. Maybe a fox? There were prints in the nearby soft mud that might be from a fox…but then I thought that a fox would have tried to dig itself into the chicken coop, but there was no sign of that.

That evening I prepped a new flat that I planned to start squash plant in. I topped the cells with soil and set it outside. I watered the soil and left it outside the hot house to drain…and Saturday morning I found it ripped apart, with cells scattered up to ten feet away…ruined!

I found the same tracks.

Kath, who was out running errands when I got home, later told me what she saw.

A Pekinese dog – all groomed – was outside the duck pen harassing the ducks. Kath heard all the commotion of barking and quacking. Snoops was trying to bust out of her cage to go after it (Snoops and the ducks are close friends – seriously – and Snoops wanted the chance to protect them). When Kath stepped out the door the dog took off in the direction of the woods on the north side of our property, passing the hot house.

We haven’t seen the dog since, and we have no idea if it had gotten loose, was let out to run, or if it was a stray. Being so well groomed and clean, Kath couldn’t imagine that it was a stray or lost for very long, but probably someone’s dog that got out of the house and thought our place was a fun place to play.

Though we haven’t seen it since Saturday morning, we are being careful with the ducks, chickens, and transplants. Snoops and the hippos can take care of themselves.

It’s just strange. I’ve guarded against hawks, rabbits, deer, fox, and the occasional curious turkey, but I never would have thought a dog to be a concern.