Tag Archives: harvest

Beehive reduction

It’s that time, time to reduce the size of the beehive stacks in preparation for winter, and steal their honey.

I hate it.

I don’t like taking their honey, and I don’t like the degree of disruption it causes, nor the death.  In the process of taking the hives all apart, robber bees come from the other hives and there are disputes and battles to the death.  Bees are very good at killing each other and the bee bodies pile up.  I don’t know how to mitigate this yet.

It has to be done, though.  The hives need to be in a compact space packed with full frames of honey for the winter.  It’s not heat efficient to be in a silo.

Pansy:Late afternoon, not finished sorting frames, and a bridge for the bees to get back to their door.They aren’t interested in going home though, they are in a frenzy of emergency cleanup operation, trying to save the honey that is suddenly outside their house.  It’s mayhem.

After taking the frames I’m keeping and sweeping them free of bees (time consuming, multi-stage process), they had three partials to clean up and move the honey back inside.  They will probably be at that most of today.

Pansy has the most vitality of the hives.  Despite swarming twice (and I lost one), she has been reproducing like crazy and building fast.  Marigold and Sunflower, this year’s swarm/split hives, all done.  They adjusted well, minimal death.  Marigold is maybe a little frustrated, bearding on the front like they don’t have enough space (they do), and they aren’t letting go of that completely empty frame yet, even at night.

Three down, one to go:I saved the doozy for last.

Today I get into the skyscraper.  This is Violet, my oldest hive, who has never swarmed (I split her to Sunflower this year).  Pansy is swarmy, Violet refuses, no matter how big she gets.   She’s also a bit crankier than the other three hives, less patience.  I expect she’ll winter in three supers, but I guess I’ll find out today.

The weather is perfect this week, warm enough at night for bees caught outside on salvage missions to survive.  The long term forecast says this is my last chance.  Now the bees will be contracting, working closer to home on final stockpiling, and producing their last brood for their winter population.  I hope there’s a warm spell in October too, but you never know anymore.

Greenhouse goings-on

Earlier this year in the greenhouse.

Now it’s a little wilder.  Even at this point, though, the guineas were getting lost.  The “aisles” have kind of disappeared.  I went  to open the far doors, and there was a white guinea in the melons.  Chirp chirp.  Her boyfriend came back in for her, bushwhacking towards her to lead her out.

I have a theory that the guineas have kept down the beetles this year.  I don’t have a problem this year, although I saw eggs on the leaves earlier.  I also saw the guineas pecking the leaves on their evening browse.  I think they might have been doing a daily cleanup.

The guineas are adorable.  They gather at the door at night, and when I open the door, they file right in.  This is where we sleep. They go for a browse and then perch on their swing.  If I’m too late, the seventh gives up on me and sleeps somewhere else.

I have late blight, bummer, but still plenty of tomatoes coming.  I canned 17 quarts yesterday.

Also yesterday, I turned the water on in the greenhouse, forgetting that the two new chicks and their Silkie mama are housed in there.  Some of the joints and holes in the tape spray water in jets, so it might have been an exciting moment, when the sprinklers came on.

These lucky chicks are so late in the year, and with a Silkie mom that is not nearly as destructive as a big chicken,  that they get to have the GH all to themselves to grow up in.  I get lazy late  in the year, and they are happy and safe in the jungle.

Boil ’em mash ’em stick ’em in a stew

I looked at the forecast and figured it was the last minute for getting the potatoes out of the ground.    It wasn’t.  They were plenty well tucked in and could have withstood much colder temps.  But they’re out now.First I take the blanket off.   Dig the potatoes…Oh look, I got a heart potato!  That wasn’t staged.  It really turned over the first forkful.  I got two heart potatoes today. Somebody’s been here first.  I don’t have anything against voles, particularly, but – that could change.  It’s hard to tell how much of the potato volume is lost, but there’s evidence of a pretty epic vole party.…and put the blanket back on!   Time for the garlic to in now.

Nuts and more nuts

We’re real birds!  The Blondies in a rare moment of repose:It’s funny; all the birds that grew up here, and then some,  are into perching.  They love the tangled alder brush. There’s the baby guineas.  Nice to get a sighting.  All mixed up in the flock of young adults.Time to groom like everyone else! Surprise!  The second, smaller walnut tree is bearing.  They come later, and they are a different kind of walnut.  This kind is nice.  The husks are round and super easy to shuck off the shell (on the right), and the nut is round, exactly like ye old familiar walnut.On the left, the pear shaped walnuts (from the big tree) have flat, pointy shells, and stubborn husks.I’m starting to get a respectable haul, for the first walnut harvest ever.  Nice.

Out with the green, in with the brown

Anticipating a big rain, I pushed through pulling nearly everything out of the garden and planting it in cover crops.

We already had a frost, so the squashes come out – their plants are fried despite covering them.  Covering only saved the fruits.  Of course the potatoes, already late, have to come out avant deluge, or they will all rot.

Now everything is bedded in mulch where garlic will go in before too long, or else seeded.  Not a speck of green where I don’t want it to be.

In no time, it will all come up in a fine green mist of mostly winter rye.

There are few tactile pleasures to rival plunging a hand into a sack of seed and hand broadcasting it:)

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seasonal rhythm

A random casual conversation tripped me up the other day.  “So, what are you guys up to these days?” like it was a mystery.  Uh, working?  I think I said.  “So, where’s your husband today?”  Working!?

Working at his full time farm job, which he commutes to by bicycle, adding hours to his day, while I meet the needs of at least four species (and that’s just the ones with eyes) plus us at our home farm and work at a third farm part-time, and try to keep up with preserving the deluge of food that rolls in at this time of year, because it’s harvest time!  Because it’s the busiest freaking time of year!  What do you think I’m doing these days!?  Playing solitaire?  My brain was sort of screaming but my mouth happily short-circuited and I had to run anyways because I was between three different things I had to do very quickly.

I realized, though, that if one is trapped in a 9-5 life and not outside most of the day, viscerally connected to the seasons, the shortening days, the building urgency, then one wouldn’t be in touch with what this time of year means.

It’s beautiful to be connected to the seasons.  There’s been times I wasn’t.   I’m grateful for it now, even if I am run off my feet and harvest has just begun.

 

Garden aftermath, year 2

The garden is all in now.  Just like last year, I was gone for a lot of the summer, but I can still pronounce Garden 2011 a roaring success.  Only two growing seasons from an arid, hard-packed clay bed, and now there’s deep, soft, dark-brown-if-not-quite-black-yet soil, and millions of worms.  You can’t even scratch your fingers in the mulch without disrupting worms, and plunging a shovel in feels like mass murder.

The tomatoes produced virulently; the evidence was all over the ground, too late to benefit from when we came back post-frost.  Similar for the hot peppers, but most (dozens) of the squash and sugar pumpkins survived to be picked.  The kale did very well this year in its new location, and we got several pounds of beets and root onions.   The scarlet runners and peapods were dry on the vine, and I picked and shucked all of those and dried them for an impressive amount of dried beans for eating or planting next year.  Scarlet runners are so attractively purple.

I’m happy to have at least made micro movements towards seed-saving.  The two skills I really need to improve on are seed-saving and seed-starting- the two shoulder season activities.

My favorite bounty of this year was the kale seeds!  Some kale went to seed and dried outside, and we cut it all to save the seeds.  Look at the mound of them- it’s more than a pound of seeds, which feels like incredible wealth, considering how much a little packet of kale seeds goes for these days, when you can find any.  They also feel really cool, a bowlful of tiny black ball bearings.  I’m sure they’ll be viable, because that kale has already been known to self-propagate.  The pods were all grey and dry, almost uncurling and dropping their payloads at touch, and I threshed them all out by rubbing them between my hands.  Great success.

Oh, and I put in a bed of garlic: at the appropriate depth, and at the right time of year for once.  The chickens made a stab at rearranging my rows, but the garlic should still come in droves next year.

Garden, R.I.P.

I can’t say I didn’t expect it.

What I didn’t expect was that it would go down to deer.  Not weeds, or lack of water.  Deer utterly destroyed the garden, and more so by trampling it than eating it.  It looked like a herd thundered through it.  Mucky must’ve had an off day to allow this.

Even with the destruction and inconvenient conclusion that a deer fence is vital, guard horse notwithstanding, I’m happy with my gardening success this year, and even post-deer, there are quite a few meals on the ground.

The scarlet runners were as fail-safe as always, and many escaped the depredations.  I’m sorry I missed the amazingly quick spiral climb they do up their trellises.  The other beans and peas, despite being completely defoliated (by the looks of the stalks, they were quite healthy before attack), forced out a fair number of pods.  Celery- healthy, ignored, but not long like you’d buy in the store at all.  All leaf.

The corn are the most successful and unmolested vegetables, if you don’t count the zucchini that won’t fit in the fridge.  I’m already wise enough to only plant one zucchini.  A megalomaniac  among squash, they are.  Tomatoes, trampled, although my upside down tomatoes are passably successful.  Possibly too much water.  They aren’t reddening, although I hear everyone’s tomatoes are doing that.

I got the cutest, perfect cucumber- amazing considering total neglect and trampling.  I’m surprised it had enough heat, likewise for the jalapeno peppers, which also came through.  My favorite of the flight-of-fancy plants, though, is the watermelon.  At the end of a gnarled, shriveled, pale thread of a stalk, a perfect, green sphere of a watermelon, exactly the size of a softball.  ♥! Continue reading Garden, R.I.P.