Cast and Crew

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hoop House Line-Up

We've had a busy summer! Even though things stayed cool this year, we harvested a HUGE amount of produce from the front yard. These pictures are only a small representation of the bounty we have enjoyed.

Yay for eggplant! This was our first year seriously trying out eggplant and peppers, and they were both a tremendous success. Thank you hoop house!

We grew four varieties of eggplant and four varieties of peppers, sweet and hot, and everything was successful. The peppers didn't turn red until they were picked (more on that later), but the flavor has been awesome. As for the eggplant, we had to give tons of it away because there was just so much!

Who knew we could get actual raspberries the same year we planted canes? These went in early in the spring (March to be exact), and they started producing ripe berries in September. We're still harvesting them this week. I expect they'll continue until the first frost hits, which we expect to see in the next two weeks.

Have you been thinking about constructing a hoop house for your garden? We're still harvesting ripe tomatoes off the vine, and once they're out we'll use the plastic to cover one of the winter crop beds. Hoop houses and cold frames are a great way to extend the season in your area, and they allow you to grow hot weather plants in the cool Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Spring Buzz

We installed our first package of bees on May 10th, and they've been busy buzzing away since then! I worried, as I always do with new things, that something would go wrong, but our hive appears to be strong and healthy, and they're making solid progress.

These pictures were taken three weeks ago, and there's even more comb development now. The bees clustered around the queen (who is marked and has been seen recently), so I switched a few of the frames to spread them out. They started out all on one side of the hive.

Look at all the beautiful new comb they've built! For those of you who raise bees, yes, we're letting them go wild with the comb building, and I probably should have cut some of this off, but I simply couldn't bear to destroy something so gorgeous.

Up close and personal, each individual bee is doing her own thing. During inspection they hardly notice that you're watching them. They keep working, building, dancing, and buzzing along.

Clusters of adult bees protect young larvae from the chill of being exposed to the spring air. We try to observe our hive on warm, sunny days at about 2:00 PM when the workers are out gathering pollen and nectar.

Capped brood comb is a good sign! Bees only live for about 45 days, so they really need to start that next generation of youngsters quickly.

Sometimes the girls get a little creative with where they build comb. This bit was attached to the inside of the inner hive cover (I flipped it upside down when I removed it from the hive). I had to scrape this bit off with the hive tool, but it wasn't a tremendous loss to them. The real bonus was getting our first taste of honey from our own bees!! Sure, it tasted mostly like the sugar water we're feeding them, but it's the thought that counts.

Is anyone else starting off with bees this year?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Raquel's Raspberry Bed

Raquel took ill Friday evening. I found her sitting with the younger hens in the coop, something she would never have done if healthy. Raquel was always at the top of the pecking order in our flock, and she's pecked everybody in the household including me. I brought her inside for a checkup, and I found that she was covered in poo. This happens sometimes when a chicken gets too weak to stand or move. It's terribly undignified. I bathed her in the sink and gave her a blow dry, then carried her back to the coop to be with her friends. She was worse on Saturday. I kept her in isolation in the mud room for a few hours, but she didn't last long.

We don't know what claimed Raquel's life; possibly an impacted crop or something she ate. I held her at the end when she thrashed her way out of this world, and it still hurts to think of her suffering.

Raquel would have been two years old in just a couple of months. She had a crooked toe, a wicked sharp beak, and was the fattest chicken we had ever seen. She will be sorely missed. In her honor, the newly built raspberry bed will be named Raquel, and we'll think of her each season when the new shoots come up in spring.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monsanto et al

I haven't had time to blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't had time to engage in all things garden and seed. I'm currently taking a class that requires the production of a term paper, the topic of our own choosing, to be completed throughout the course (which teaches you how to write a term paper, essentially). Sure, I know how to write up college papers, but everybody needs an "easy A" class once in a while. Gimme a break.

My topic is Seed Monopolies. The above chart represents the major seed companies and all the little distribution companies each one owns or is tied to in one way or another. Scary. This is originally from an article on The Ecologist, Revealed: how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow & DuPont, published in October of 2010. According to the article, this "graphic illustrates how just five biotech giants have increased their control of the global seed market, promoting monoculture farming and making it harder for farmers to find alternative sources of seeds."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Where Did the Time Go?

I am all apologies today, folks. I know. It's been forever. I blame college. This quarter (sixteen credits at school plus full time work) has been really rough. I'm thick in midterms at the moment (please don't ask about my Statistics midterm last night), and there are only four weeks left in the quarter. Registration for Spring quarter is next Tuesday. Seriously. Where the heck did the months go?? Sitting at my computer today, I realize now that I have spent next to no time at all doing the things I enjoy since classes started in the first week of the new year. Somehow the house isn't a total wreck (credit is due to the best girlfriend in the world) and the chickens haven't starved. Still, I feel like I'm on some sort of uphill grind, and I really can't stop to look at the scenery until I've pushed to the top.

What have you missed? Not a whole lot. It's winter, after all. The chickens stopped laying for a while (I'm sure you remember the whining last fall), they started again with a vengeance, a langstroth bee hive arrived in the mail, I learned to knit, a few snowdrops and crocuses and the tips of garlic are up in the garden, and the annual Flower and Garden Show is next weekend. Of course I meant to write about a lot of that stuff. Still, sleeping is far more attractive than spending another hour in front of a computer upright.

And I apologize again, but I now need to finish some homework, clean up the house, apply to Western Washington University, pick out my classes for Spring quarter at EvCC, eat lunch, and zip off to work.

I miss boredom.


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