Crazy Weather and Bees

In spite of 3 nights of freezing temps and graupel coating the deck two mornings, the bees seem to be thriving. They have emptied their pint syrup feeders twice already. Today I purchased 20 pounds of sugar. I don’t think I have bought that much sugar cumulatively in the past decade, but they need the 1:1 syrup until they are fully established and the weather settles in. They will feed in the winter too, but there are online recipes for making sugar bricks that are placed in the hive for their consumption during cold weather when they can’t fly about and there is no pollen available. Since the bricks have to dry thoroughly and as this is a fairly humid area, the making of the bricks will begin during the summer, dried, and stored in airtight containers for winter feeding. This is a good use for a dehydrator, but we don’t have one.

After the frigid three days, the temperatures have moderated and this weekend it is going to feel like summer and return to near freezing nights part of next week.

The asparagus are producing, peas, sugar snap peas, and potatoes are sprouting. There is a fair amount of spinach, and more goodies are coming to the Farmer’s Market each week now. The hens are being generous enough to share with family.

It really seems like spring is here for real. We are still about 3 weeks from last average chance of frost, but the potted herbs and tomato and pepper starts are spending more time on the back deck.

The week had two living history events with tours from local schools to the museum. We had about 100 sixth graders yesterday and a smaller group of 4th graders, scheduled for tomorrow that has had to be rescheduled due to illness among the teachers of the school. I love these events. For yesterday’s event, I set up in the “loom house” an original log cabin from around 1768. The original Newbern community along Wilderness Road was what today we would call a planned community. The residents were required to build a 16 foot square home with a fireplace and a storage/sleeping loft along the road. Many of these original homes can still be seen by placement of windows, though mostly now covered in siding and all expanded. The museum property also has the original German barn that has been restored, several other original buildings, and a reconstructed summer kitchen with a loft. The loom house is next on the renovation schedule, it will get a new roof and the chinking repaired, the chimney also repaired, though “real” fires are not being burned in any of the fireplaces, many have electric logs to simulate fires. Only about a dozen students and a teacher at a time could be in the house with me as the loom and a bed take up most of the space. The loom has enough space around it for a single file of students to stand and still leave enough room for me to set up the small quill wheel. Though not a lot of spinning gets done in the length of time, because each class had to be split in half to fit them inside, history of where and how the fiber to make their clothing was obtained and processed, lessons on fiber preparation, spinning, weaving of tapes and fabric and how family members were all involved in this process. Types of fabric made and how it was used, why certain fabrics were used for particular items. And personal grooming during the period. Kids are either fascinated or repelled by some of the information, and they are all left with the question of whether they would like to return to that lifestyle.

Not Lost

But not much to report. The huge family Easter Eve dinner has been reduce by a handful due to familial conflicts, but all three of our grown children will be here. Only 3 of the grands, though Easter egg hunt baskets had already been purchased. The ones for missing grands will be sent home with their Dad. The beehive set up is still on board and Son 2 will arrive with the bees, a suit and veil for me, and feeders for the two hives until they are free to roam the property. He says they will go for the dandelions first. The native bees love the Dead Nettle which is prolific. Fruit trees are blooming, lilacs are about to, Redbuds are blooming, so soon there will be plenty of pollen for them. It is already in the air and granddaughter local and I have already had to begin our daily antihistamine.

This is one of the Thanksgiving cactus plants. Both are in full bloom again. Never since they were introduced to the house have they fully bloomed twice in one winter/spring.

The hydroponic that was planted with basils is not doing well. One plant is thriving, the others molded. Perhaps it was not fully rinsed after cleaning it out. More basil and other veggies will go in a starter tray soon. The peppers are ready to move into 3″ pots which will free up that unit for salad greens. The herbs that were transplanted into pots are thriving, but move in and out of the house depending on the daily weather. It continues to flip flop between warm days and nights to cool days and cold nights and we are currently in one of the cool periods. The tomatoes have gone in and out with the herbs.

Yesterday, I was reboosterized (as Son 1 said) and this one hit me harder than any of the other vaccines with body aches, chills, and a massive headache for about 14 hours. It finally subsided after my third nap yesterday enough to prepare dinner, do evening chores, and finish knitting the second mountain hat for the museum. In two weeks the second Shingrex is scheduled and I understand the side effects will be similar.

The peas and potatoes are not showing signs of appearance yet and one of the hens got into the garden and tried to scratch up the potatoes. A few wheelbarrows of compost need to be added on top. We are looking forward to spring veggies, but even the asparagus are still not showing.

This year’s spinning challenges have been to earn Bingo cards, up to two a month and that doesn’t appeal, so not a lot is getting done. Some spinning, mostly when a passenger in the car, the hats for the museum knit, and a scarf from some of my handspun is also being knit.

It took a few attempts to get the hat design workable, but two have been added to the two “Swiss flag” ones for the museum gift shop.

Perhaps, more attention to the construction details should be made so the pattern can be published. It might sell at events at the museum. Or a pattern with yarn and button as a kit.

It is coming

Spring really seems to be trying to win the battle with winter with a series of mild days and nights not reaching down to freezing. The mini ground greenhouse was checked in daylight and opened so as not to overheat in yesterday’s bright sun and mild temperatures and not everything had failed as feared. It was watered and given the afternoon sun as the open sides face west. The spinach that overwintered is okay, the Komatsuma looked a little weary but will probably perk back up, most of the lettuces took a hit. One looks okay, one may recover, the others are toast but the sprouts indoors are thriving and will be planted out in a couple of weeks.

The tiny daffodils in the garden were mostly picked prior to the freeze and are producing new buds, the full sized daffodils had yet to bloom prior to the freeze and are just now showing buds. The Daylily and Iris greens that had emerged seem to have fared okay and fortunately, the Forsythia, Lilacs, and fruit trees had not yet bloomed here on the mountain like they have in town. You can see cherry trees, forsythia, and spring flowers all over town and some of them took a hit.

With the stress of the world news, more spinning and knitting is being done to calm my mind. Two designs are being done for hats for the Museum gift store, one easy to design, the other should be, but the paper plan so far is not satisfying me. The spinning took a turn as the new spindle that hubby gave me for our anniversary had a shaft failure. The 2022 version of this spindle has a slimmer, longer shaft and the very thin neck that provides a place for the half hitch broke off. A new shaft has been ordered, but it required a spindle change until the new one comes.

Additionally, as the stress is causing sleep disruption, some social media has been logged out of for days and is not missed. Perhaps it will leave forever. One was kept only to keep up with kids and events from a couple of groups, but the kids send pictures via text or Instagram or Google share and the groups email as well as posting on social media. The walks have been more vigorous as stress relief and to calm the mind.

We have rainy days for the next several, but it looks like walks can be scheduled around the rain. The spinning group challenges are still being met as they do not incur stress, but rather alleviate it. This month there is a word of the day and it is to be represented in a picture, with or without discussion including the current spindle spin. The word a few days ago was Achievement and this is the representation.

Taken at the beginning of our daily walk in front of the map of the Huckleberry trail. We have missed fewer that a small handful of days all winter, regardless of the cold, walking avoiding icy trails, walking in snow flurries and a few rain sprinkles. Not all have been pleasant, not all at the pace we like to keep, but persistence, thus Achievement. Today’s word is Peace, much needed right now, and this is my peace.

Our beautiful retirement farm and the garden and animal chores it brings. We all need Peace right now.