Monday, March 30, 2009

Signs of Spring

There are flowers blooming, tiny avocados forming. And the other day I witnessed an amazing spring phenomena- honey bees swarming! First, I thought, "boy, the bees sure are active today." Then, suddenly there were thousands, maybe tens of thousands of bees all circling above our yard- a huge vibrating, humming column. It freaked out the neighbors. I called Kim, and she asked me to try to see where they landed so she could catch them and start a new hive with them. They seemed to be congregating near a branch of the avocado tree. Soon I could see them starting to form a ball on the branch. I called Kim to tell her, but then when I looked back a couple of minutes later, the bees were gone. I hope they found a good home.

Daily Harvest

This is the start of tonight's soup, plus an egg and a flower.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daily Harvest

There was so much honey in the super, that we took one frame. We didn't take all of it, because Kim wanted to experiment with using the honey as a queen excluder. She took off the excluder before we closed up the hive. We'll see if we get larvae in the honey now!

Something interesting about this frame of honey is that you can see where the bees gorged themselves on honey before they swarmed.

Here is the capped honey. The bees cap it when it is finished. The super should have been full of capped honey.

Here is a close up on that mark that you can see on the full frame. The honey has been uncapped, and the cells have been completely cleaned out! When the bees swarm they gorge themselves on honey so that they have enough food to spend the next couple of days looking for a new home, without eating.
Gorging themselves also stimulates wax production, so they will be ready to rebuild as quickly as possible when they find their new home.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bee Swarm!

When Jonathan had the day off on Friday he noticed a crazy event: our bees swarmed! Hopefully he will write about it.

Kim and I opened the hive on Saturday to see what was going on.

We found: one FULL honey super (each frame is maybe 5 pounds of honey, and there are nine frames) and a LOT of bees. How can there still be so many after half of them already took off?

We poked around a little bit, and here is some of what we saw.

They are looking healthy and invigorated! They were also very understanding and gentle. It was so amazing to see them again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The last of the tomatoes.

We fed this man the last of our tomato sauce from the freezer. We ate it on noodles made with our eggs. Obviously not in the location pictured.

There are no more bags of sauce or roasted tomatoes in the freezer.

Tomato plants don't go in for another couple of weeks, and then we still have to wait for them to make tomatoes!

Luckily we still have dried tomatoes (I put some in my soup tonight) and jars of chutney.

The goal is not unlike shuffleboard. We definitely do not want to generate freezer build up, but we still want to get the food to last throughout the year. We're trying to hit that line without going over it. We did pretty well this year, finishing off the sauce in the end of March. Let's see what we can do next year!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Daily Harvest

Four eggs in the egg box today!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Daily Harvest

Do you notice another wee little one?

The one on the right is smaller!

Go chickens! Learn to make eggs!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Daily Harvest

Two regular eggs today and one tiny one!

Look at the one in the middle.

I think that this may be The Flash's first egg.
First eggs are often odd. It takes a little while for chicken's bodies to learn to make eggs.

Sometimes they are funny shapes, or odd sizes, like this one, or sometimes they have incomplete shells.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thirsty Thirsty Bees

I don't know what the bees are up to with all of this water, but this afternoon there were SO many of them on the surface of our "pond." It is really just half a wine barrel that we filled with water for the bees.
Before the neighborhood raccoons found it we had water plants growing and flowering in it, tall rushes, and mosquito fish given to us by Alameda county to make sure that we didn't create a health hazard. At the hight of its pond-ness I even saw a bright red dragon fly come and land in its surface. I had never seen a dragon fly in the city before.
The raccoons got into it a couple too many times and now we just have azola, which has recently turned a startling red color. The color of the photo looks off, but look at the color of the bees. It is actually acurate, though strange. The azola alone is still enough to provide a landing pad for the honey bees and also to collect some of this morning's rain on its surface!

Presenting the new chickens!

Lemon Harmon, a Light Brahma
The Flash, a Delaware
Jonathan has been looking on Craig's list for a chicken. We wanted one that was not so young
that it couldn't stick up for itself and that it wasn't laying. We didn't want one so old that we couldn't tell its age - I personally cannot guess the ages of full grown chickens - and then have it not lay eggs.

He found someone advertising six month old Light Brahmas. Our all time favorite chicken Gavi was a Dark Brahma. It was perfect.

He left a note on the door of the neighbors whose dog killed our chicken with the details of the ad. When the nieghbor's called back they asked if we wanted two. They read my mind.

Thursday night, after I had fallen asleep on the couch, the neighbors arrived. They were carying a small cat carrier with the two chickens inside. Combining different groups of chickens is hard to do well, so we tried all of the tricks we had heard about. We put the new ones in while the old ones were sleeping. We put out lots of extra food so that when they woke up they could eat together and not feel competative. We gave them special treats - grains and corn any thing we could find in the kitchen that would appeal to chickens. We went to bed and hoped for the best.
So far, three days later, things are not going so well. Our old chickens have been pecking the new ones, and the new ones have been hiding behind the food box. When they are out in the yard they are foraging in two separte packs. I'm still hoping that they will learn to get along eventually.
These breeds are really interesting to me. The Brahma chicken is a very old variety, from, as you may have guessed, India. They have feathered feet and are famously calm and friendly.
The Delaware is a really new breed, developed, you guessed it again, in Delaware, in the 1930's or 40's. The Delaware is cross between a Barred Plymouth Rock and a New Hampshire. Wikipedia lists it as "critically endangered."
So given these differences are you really surprised at how similar they look? Look at the photos. Isn't is kind of eerie?
Unless you are the kind of person who just thinks that a chicken is a chicken is a chicken. In which case it makes perfect sense.

Daily Harvest

Three eggs from five chickens, posing under the flowering fava.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Daily Snack

Today I went to a pi party to celebrate the date 3.14. I didn't bring any pie, but I did bring pumpkin pudding which needed 4 eggs, and brownies that needed another 2, and we still have eggs left over. Clearly the actual output of eggs is underrepresented, I think we are getting tired of photographing eggs. But so recently we were so impatient to start photographing thAdd Imageem again!

That snow foto I promised to take.

Not that long ago.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bee Symposium

I went with Kim to a bee symposium in Santa Rosa.
It was held on the campus of the Santa Rosa Waldorf School and Farm. The main speaker's beliefs seemed to be a very close fit to the Waldorf philosophy.
He talked about how we should work with the instincts of the animal, which I really liked. He also talked about how bees were created by the people of Atlantis, which I didn't really like, and made me view him very suspiciously. He also talked a lot about avoiding manipulation of the hive.

During half time we ate a delicious lunch on the beautiful grounds of the school and looked at displays about honey bees.
Kim took pictures of the viewing window hive and of this Kenyon top bar hive which has a plexiglass window on the side. It's really nice to be able to see what your bees are up to without interrupting them!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009