Hay is done, Harvest has begun

The hay is baled and awaiting pick up. Just slightly more than half of last year’s cutting, but we had several freezing nights in May and a fairly dry early spring. It is what it is and they have more to add to their winter hay supply for their cattle.

The first fruit from the plum produced about 2 dozen delicious plums. Not enough for jam but I am enjoying them a few at a time. Peaches are almost ready to begin harvest. Blueberries are beginning to ripen and I also pick a handful each time we walk on one of our trails. The first planting of shelling peas was pulled today and a couple quarts of peas frozen for later use as well as enough for dinner tonight with a few new potatoes.

The first tomatoes were brought in today as well, a small cluster heirloom that are delicious.

While harvesting them, I spotted this large hornworm. The chickens thought it and a grub or two were delicious.

There are now two beds that are open, so I will plant a second planting of green beans. The sprouted cucumbers and sunflowers were planted in today. I think a few more will be planted out from seed.

Soon the potatoes will have to be dug, not just sneaking out a couple for dinner. Maybe some bolt resistant greens will go in the other bed.

The chickens have figured out how to escape the run, but since the hay is down, they can again free range.

Hail! Hail! The hay is down.

What a whirlwind last 5 days. Son 2 and family returned from their RV trip and spent about 24 hours with us, including a birthday party for two of their daughters, a “bonfire” (not very big), and a hive inspection. It looks like maybe two hives are queenright, frames shifted to help population and add brood and queen cells to the other two. If they don’t make their own queen, I will have to seek out a local source. We have a huge beekeepers association, and at least a couple of them raise queens for sale.

Later the night they arrived, Son 1 arrived for his delayed birthday weekend and our time with him was wonderful. Lots of good food, hikes and walks, enjoying his presence. He got to kayak with a friend, mountain bike ride all three days, and do some stone masonry work on the patio which is now finished from the house outward. The last 5 or 6 feet still need some leveling and puzzle placing some smaller rocks to finish it out. Then he and I will move the remaining small rocks to the inside edge of the stone wall and we will order soil and mulch to fill the garden. Since Huck’s coop, the old chicken tractor that blew over about a year ago, was sitting on a cedar post raft on flat stones, he disassembled the raft and moved those stones over to fill in spaces. That leave the broken frame to be disassembled, the hardware cloth saved and the rotting wood put in the burn pile once the screws and staples are removed. We don’t want them in the grass where they might end up in a mower or tractor tire.

He was driven to the bus back to the train at 5 this morning, but will return to help his brother make repairs on the roof of the RV next weekend if the materials arrive by then.

The plum tree is producing a small amount of fruit for the first time. The little plums are delicious. I may save the remaining ones as the last ones ripen to make a small batch of plum jam.

When we returned from a late afternoon walk, there were two big tractors with hay mowers taking down the hay. I guess tomorrow they will tedder, rake, and bale it. It isn’t the latest they have done it, but approaching it. I’m glad it is down. I like watching it blow, but once it dries and turns golden, it isn’t long before it falls over and ceases being useful.

Not a good Bee Mama, I guess

On June 1, my friend and I did a hive inspection. One hive had a virgin queen, one was queenless, 1 had a queen that died of shock while she was being marked, and 1 was truly Queenright. We hoped the virgin queen would make her mating flight and return to provide brood, shifted a couple of frames of brood around to queenless hives with queen cells on them, and waited to see results. Yesterday, I went to inspect them alone. Three hives have no eggs, no larvae, two with good population, the third not so good, the 4th hive thriving with a marked queen. A message was sent to Son2, the bee owner, but didn’t hear back from him. Messaged my friend and posted on the local bee keeper’s forum and it was suggested to shift frames again, look for queen cells, wait and hope they make new queens.

Another inspection with intervention will occur this week, maybe tomorrow before the heat dome returns to cook us. I feel bad that this has happened, but am at a loss as to a solution. We may have to reintroduce new queens to the three hives and hope for success. Three of the hives are or have been making honey and the honey supers on those hives are heavy.

I fear that the weakest hive has a worker layer as there are lots of drone cells in that hive and that is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the beginner beekeeper class occurred before I knew there would be hives here, so I missed it this year. A couple of the keepers offered to come put another set of eyes on the situation, but today is Father’s Day and other plans had already been put in place.

Son2 is due here this week at the end of their vacation, I hope he has time to inspect while he is here and can offer guidance.