Wednesday, April 25, 2012

That old guilty feeling

That old guilty feeling of neglecting my urban farmer duties was just plain boring.  I finally dusted off my gardening gloves and headed out to the garden last weekend to turn the earth and prep out 9 small hills for the pumpkin/melon/squash patch.  Yes, yes, I know that pumpkins are squash, but squash patch just doesn't incur those fuzzy feeling of walking through the floor forest of orange globes.  Back to the garden,  I turned the earth, added the last of the compost that had been curing and sitting for the last four months, and prepped the little mounds.  I planted four starts, two watermelon and two cantaloupe, and then planted out seeds in the remaining five hills.  I planted three types of pumpkin varieties:  Rouge Vif d'Etampes, Conneticut Field, and Jarrahdale.  The two other hills were planted with two different types of squash:  Yellow neck and Pomme d'Or.

I also tended to the neglected compost, which stopped cooking months ago and has been ready to be spread out in the garden.  I then turned two of the bins together into one, added some water throughout and waited to see if the temperature went up at all.  The spike in temperature was slight, but it around the 90s, so something is cooking in there, even at the low, low temperature of 93 degrees.

All in all, I am very happy to report that life has begun again in my garden.  Roots are growing into the earth, the chickens are happy as can be, the bees are doing their big job of pollinating and cross-pollinating, and I am watering away, happy to see my little urban farm back in the swing of things.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My new full time job as a 5th grade teacher has taken up residency in my life, thus taking time away from my urban farming and blogging about it.   Life is good but ever-changing.   Hope to update more soon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year

I can't believe it's been over a month since I have posted.  Life has been so incredibly crazy these past couple of months, but now that we are in the new year of 2012, I can finally take a deep breath a do a little reflecting.

I have started a new job in a wonderful 5th grade classroom.  I have 24 great students and am really excited about everything they are going to teach me about being an effective teacher.  I know that may sound backwards, but it seems to be the way it works in these early years of my chosen profession.

The chickens are doing well.  A few just finished molting and I am surprised at the number of eggs we are getting every day, about seven.  Unfortunately a couple of them have learned they can fly up to the garden gate and over the fence into the garden.  I have found Big Spoon on more than one occasion cruising through my swiss chard patch and enjoying the greens like I planted them for her.  It's not the worst thing in the world considering my winter garden is pretty uneventful right now.

The one colony of bees is doing well.  We are experiencing a very warm January so far, and they are out foraging on the nectar of winter bloomers, like our azaleas and rosemary.  I am grateful that we have one colony left.

In this new year and a time when resolutions are made, I refer to my dear friend Mike and what his view on resolutions is.  This year, with every resolution I make, it will start with the word more, not less:
More Water, More Fresh Air, More Reading, More Running, More Activity, More Patience, More Time With Friends, More Music, More Smiling, More Living.

Happy New Year everybody!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Sad Truth

    I was walking around the property yesterday, enjoying a beautiful autumn afternoon, and stopped by the bees to check out activity.  As I watched one of the boxes buzzing with a light flow of bee traffic, I noticed that nothing was happening with the other box.  Not one bee flying out, flying in, walking around the front of the opening, nothing, not a buzz.  I popped open the highest super and peeked inside, nothing.  One by one I cracked open each box at each level waiting for a guard bee to start checking me out, but nothing.  When you open bee boxes, there is a distinct "CRACK!" sound, and it's the propolis the bees have used to glue the cracks of the box;  this serves as protection from predators and weather. When I finally reached the first level, where all the bees should have been, nothing, not a single bee in the entire hive.  The sad truth of our adventure of bees is that my very first colony has died.  As I inspected the frames in which the bees has created beeswax and honey, I realized that this honey could be harvested.  I wasn't going to touch any of the honey this year, as I wanted to leave it all for the bees and increasing their chances of surviving their first winter.  But now, since there is no colony, I can harvest it for ourselves. 
    The second colony seems to be going strong.  They can still be seen buzzing in and out in the warm afternoons, foraging for pollen and nectar.  I am hoping they will pollinate my winter squash;  the first of the squash blossoms has opened up.
    So it's with a sad heart that I report my little pollinating creatures have died.  I don't know why, but I will be thankful when tasting their sweet contribution to our home.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


As the cooler days and nights have taken over our lives, I have watched my lovely bees retreat into their hive boxes.  One of my favorite activities during the summer was to sit right next to the hives, look upward, and watch the flying lanes of bees, an open air highway between all the treetops.  Now they are huddling together, hunkering down for the winter time, and only small numbers seem to be out foraging for pollen.  All in all, it seems they are following the natural rhythm of the season.
I went down a couple of weeks ago to check on the hives and was a bit distressed at what I found;  dead bees, hundreds of dead bees. During the summer when the worker bees would throw the dead bees out of the hive, the carcasses wouldn't last very long on the ground as the yellow jackets trolled around, enjoying a free meal.  Now that the yellow jackets have gone underground into their own hives, the number of bee carcasses has built up to massive proportions and there is a type of above-ground mass-grave.  I know this is nature, which is brutal, and the younger and stronger bees will survive the winter and spring to fly and produce again, but yeesh!  I think I will sprinkle some winter-friendly flower seeds over the dead bees as a way to say thank you for all that they did.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just In Case We Needed A Remider

Don't underestimate the power of a good natured hug!

My Beautiful Flock

So we added three ladies to the flock about a month ago, and they have finally ingratiated themselves into the existing flock.  It's a brutal process watching new chickens fight their way into a flock.  The entire order of things is thrown into limbo and the chickens spend a good two to three weeks fighting it out for different positions within the flock.  Whenever I would go down and check out the birds, I find at least three chickens with minor wounds on their combs.  When chickens duel it out with each other and assert their dominance over another one, one chicken will hop on the back of another, make them submit, and then they peck at their comb on top of their head.  This doesn't only happen with the new birds; I have noticed this happening with Stella, my Red Star, she is hopping and pecking all over Sweet Pea, one of my Barred Rocks.  It's an interesting process, and I am happy that it's over. 

Our Three New Ladies

Tina Turner, our Red Laced Wyandotte

Spooky the Ghost, our Pencil-Necked Rock

Teaspoon, our Leghorn

Teaspoon (Leghorn) on the left and Big Spoon (Leghorn/Delaware mix) on the right
Wherever Big Spoon is, Teaspoon is not far behind her.  On the first day, Teaspoon fought with Big Spoon for the dominant position of the flock.  Big Spoon let her know who the #1 was, and Teaspoon was fine with the #2 position.  It's hard to tell them apart sometimes, but Teaspoon's comb is pretty straight up and Big Spoon's comb flops over to the side.