Between the weeding and the planting and the harvesting I’ve been keeping pretty busy. A big thanks to everyone who came out to my weeding party a couple weeks ago- the field is still mostly clear of weeds and the clover is growing up and I’m sleeping much better at night now!
Minus the hail early in the season and the extremely late planting date, it’s been a perfect summer. With all the rain I haven’t had to water at all and in the last week almost everything I’ve planted is now ready to harvest! My favorite vegetable to grow, harvest and eat is squash. Here is a picture of one of my harvests. I love squash because it grows quickly and smothers the weeds while allowing an early understory of lettuce. The harvesting is pleasant and I don’t need to get my hands wet processing it. It can be stored at room temperature and cooked all sorts of different ways, from BBQed to fried to stuffed, in stews and soups, or simply eaten raw when young. It can also be shredded and frozen for the winter or used in baking. The yellow ones are patty pan squash, which I’ve been stuffing with tofu, mushrooms, breadcrumbs and cheese. Delicious!
A few weeks ago I invested in a scythe. The plan was to use it to cut the grass as I moved my chicken tractor around but instead I’ve been using it to hack down the thistle groves in the pastures. It’s very pleasant work so long as I don’t look up and see how much more there is to do! While I’m scything the calves try to make friends with Hawthorne the dog, but she’s too much of a chicken and runs away every time they get to within ten feet of her. And when she yowls and runs the calves spook too, and then they spend the next ten minutes creeping closer to each other again.
And a long overdue update on my honey bees. I have two hives, one of which is always referred to as the strong hive, and the other as the weak hive. As I mentioned previously, I just garnered about 30 lbs of honey from the strong hive. My mother came out to help extract it and many of you reading this have probably already tasted it.
The weak hive has been a problem all summer, with the drone layer early in the season. I did not do the new queen’s introduction properly and the bees balled up around her. I was told that she might die because of the poor introduction and sadly, that now seems to be the case. I just finished checking the hives a few minutes ago and the weak hive has empty brood cells with no eggs so something has happened to their queen. They are in the process of superceding, though, so thankfully I’m not going to have to introduce a new queen this time. Bees can raise their own queens when something happens to their queen by feeding more royal jelly to normal larvae. There are about six queen cells on the face of several frames. They look like they will hatch any day now and I can hear a pipping sound when I open the hive. The pipping sounds like a cross between baby chicken peeps and a cricket. According to what I’ve read, virgin queens pip shortly before and after emerging and before they mate. I should have taken photos and perhaps I will open the hives again to do so, so you can see the queen cells and maybe hear the pipping.
Here is a photo of my chickens eating ant larvae off of a 2X4 that was flipped over for them. They ate all the larvae within a few minutes and provided a stunning display of chicken beak dexterity in doing so. The poor ants were packing up their larvae and hauling off as fast as they could but they didn’t stand a chance. The chickens will be laying any day now. In fact, I think they may be already but I haven’t found their nesting spot yet. And did I mention that Harvey is a rooster? He started crowing a couple weeks ago and confirmed my growing suspicions. He’s the black-and-white one in the photo.
Those are all my updates for now; I’ll take some more photos to share soon.