Friday, August 19, 2011

Things that happened this week

1) I finally got stung while working at my hives. A bee flew up my pantleg (I am too blasé about tucking my pants into my socks these days!) and nailed me on the thigh. My hands were busy at the time so it took me almost a minute to get my hand in there and scrape out the stinger, allowing oodles of venom to be  pumped in. As per usual, I didn't have much swelling or reaction but it was my most painful sting to date. That said, the stings really don't bother me that much. I was mostly surprised at how long it hurt this time, more than 24 hours. I have read that later in the season, the bees' venom is stronger because they are older, so it must have been a combination of aged bee plus extra venom. Even after the stinger pulls away from the bee's abdomen, it takes the venom sac with it and keep injecting the stuff into you. Amazing.

Of course the pièce de résistance was when I brushed some crap off my pant leg without realizing the extracted stinger was there. I guess I flicked it off my fingernail onto my pants.  It poked into my finger and delivered another sting with a  little more venom!

2) Today Ronna the duck caught and ate a small leopard frog! The ducks and chickens had an outing this afternoon while Gordon was out working on the "duck nursery." The ducks had not even wandered out of the barn until yesterday, when they finally went on a bit of an exploring adventure into the thicket of sumac next to the barn. Then today they hung around the woodpile for a while, where Ronna assassinated the poor frog. A few smacks of the bill and it was gone!

3) We introduced five new young hens into the coop this week. While our six chicks (now two months old) are still residing in the chicken tractor in the garage, we got another five youngsters from our friends Judy and Bruce, and have tossed the lot of them into the coop. They are as big as the adult hens and are coping okay, but on the first day they were a little scared. One of the youngsters was chased into the corner of the outdoor run by a hen, and in a desperate attempt to escape, stuck her head through the chain-link fence into the duck run. She then refused to back up.Charlie Sheen, MacGregor and Ronna went over to investigate the chicken noggin poking into the run. Gordon watched and was surprised to see each of the ducks gently touch the chicken's beak with their bills, not aggressive at all. It was like they were curious and wanted to make sure the youngster was okay.

They do seem to get along well with the chickens. Their runs are side by side but a fence keeps them apart.But today Gordon had the doors open in both the chicken coop and the duck run. So I came down this afternoon to see Errol Flynn the rooster and lady love Penelope sauntering past the ducks into their run, and no one batted an eyelash. Of course, if the chickens had gone into the duck house where Eugenia is sitting on her eggs, there would have been hell to pay.

4) We saw several bats fly out of the barn tonight around 8 pm. I am pretty sure they are big brown bats, and it looked like they were coming from the eaves. This is great, as we want to encourage bats here. We have one bathouse on the back of the barn and thanks to our friend Happy Wombat Boy, we have three more bathouses to put up. He brought us a carload from Toronto when he last visited, as he had a teacher friend whose students had made bat and mason bee houses as a project, with many leftovers. We took 'em all. Great!

That's it for now. Happy weekend!


  1. How is the bee sting doing now? Has the swelling and pain gone down?

  2. Mason bees? I need more info. Have you done a blog on them before? Are they native pollinators?

  3. I saw so few honeybees this year in S. Carolina, but the bumblebee population was booming and made up for their missing judge by the fruit, flower, and vegetable production.

    As a barefoot child in clover, I suffered several bee stings a year for many years. All you have to do is say "bee sting" to me and I can FEEL your pain! The worst ones were always on the instep, which would then itch like crazy during the healing phase and have to be scratched across a rock.

    You know, we did have shoes in the South in the fifties. Honest. We just didn't wear them in summer.

  4. We have this product called After Bite, it works instantly to take away the sting. If you can't find it in Canada let me know and I'll try to find you some. (Our tube is ancient)
    I've also made a paste of baking soda and water and that seems to help as well.

    I got my cards and they are lovely. Thanks so much. Have I told you lately that I think you are awesome? Well I do.

  5. AHab, it didn't take long to feel better. The stings really don't bother me much, complaining aside!

    Musical Gardener, I have not blogged about Mason bees before. I should! Here's a link. they are more prevalent out west:

  6. Sugar creek, I think you are awesome too, and I'm glad you liked the cards! I found some AfterBite at the drugstore. Thanks!

  7. Nance, I hate shoes and always go barefoot in the house. As I kid, I was barefoot all the time outside in summer. I have not-so-fond memories of stepping in dog poo rather regularly. I would have gone barefoot in winter were it not for hypothermia. ;)


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!