Friday, June 28, 2013

Sweet stuff!

I spent all of yesterday morning working in my eight (!) hives. I was sweating like a pig in the humidity, but found it totally engrossing, as it usually is. And while I was savaged by mosquitoes and bitten by stupid ants, I did not get stung by my girls.

I am hoping to extract some honey next week, if this damn rain ever stops! The farmers' fields around here are flooded, including many tile-drained fields. There is a pumpkin farm near Ottawa that may lose 4 hectares of crops to the flooding. While we're not having horrors like what's going on in Alberta, it has been tough for farmers. And we still don't have our 21 acres of grassland planted. Kyle from Ducks Unlimited came to give it a try last week, but no sooner had he started than a thunderstorm broke out! He's going to try again when it dries up. Fortunately the grasses aren't so time-dependent on planting the way, say, soybeans or corn are. 

But my bees have been doing well! I have  a total of 15 honey supers on my hives right now, four of which are full and ready to be extracted. And it's not even July!

Here's a lovely little frame of capped honey... 

When the correct amount of moisture has been evaporated from the nectar, and it has turned into honey, the bees cap all the cells with wax. It's nature's way of sealing in freshness!

Seeing all this honey ready in June makes me very happy. I am hoping to have a really good year with my bees. 

This new hive is expanding nicely!

Yesterday, I removed some of the comb the girls had built between supers and... ate it! You haven't lived until you've tasted warm honey right out of the hive! I just chew up the wax and spit it out. I can't believe how different my honey is to the pasteurized Billy Bee-type stuff in the supermarket. I never even liked honey until I started keeping bees and tasted raw honey from the hive. The flavours are so complex and nuanced. And I love how different honey can be from one crop to the next, depending on what the girls have been getting into.

This is one reason I'm so excited about our native grasslands going in. I can't wait to see what the bees do with 21 acres of grasses and wildflowers! Sweet honey goodness!

Meanwhile, in other sweetness...

My friend Ronna has been working for Gordon a day a week, helping him out with all his admin stuff. Gordon has bought himself an office in Lancaster, but until he moves in on July 8th, Ronna has been using my office a day a week. This has made all of our pets very happy. They love Auntie Ronna! And Naomi decided that Ronna's shoulders were the perfect place to hang out.

Note who's under the table!

Ooops! Claws!

 The picture of concentration!

Here's Gordon's new office...

He has finally outgrown his teeny-tiny home office. I have been worried about him being crushed to death by the mountains of files and books that surround him in there, so I'm glad he's moving to a bigger space. :) This building used to belong to a realty company. It's in great shape, just needs some painting and tidying up. Our friend Tammy, who looks after our garden, is going to sort this one out too! It will be beautiful once it's been "Tammified"!

Meanwhile, in the bathroom...

A FRICKIN' WALLPAPER BORDER! Just when I thought I was all done with wallpaper. 
Recognize the photographer in the mirror?

The place will be painted, starting with that sign over the kitchen area! The fireplace is propane.

Gordon's going to put a dividing wall across one end, to make himself an office.

It will be good for him to have his law office out in the real world, with nice visibility on the main street through Lancaster.

So it's been a busy summer around here, and it's only just begun!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Here's a fine example of motherly love:

Emma the hen is fiercely protective of her little chick. 

And little chick has apparently developed some amazing flying abilities already! Last night, the pair of them slept on a beam at the top of the chicken coop!  I think the youngster flew up to the top of the nest boxes, then to the ceiling. Amazing how this little thing can fly.

Adorable chick butt.

Meanwhile, the guineas have settled right in. They've snagged the top roost in the coop and last night were snuggled up to our Ameraucana rooster, who is named Jams. That's in part a tribute to my bloggy friend Jams, who passed away unexpectedly in March. I think he would have been pleased to have a rooster named in his offer, given how many duck and chicken haikus and limericks he wrote for my blog contests! :) And it's also fitting because we got this rooster at an auction we were attending with our friends Jake and Sam. "Jam" is a nice combo of the two names!

And today would have been my friend Carol's 48th birthday. She left us far too soon back in 2007. I like this picture of her with the "princes" at Madame Tussaud's in London.

If you want to know more about my dear friend Carol, you can read the piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail's Lives Lived column a few years back.

Love goes on in all its forms! :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stormy weather

We had quite the dramatic thunderstorm the other day, and we're due for more this evening.

They sky got very black over the neighbouring cornfields and beyond!


It rolled in over our house from the north-west.

The bees get a little excited before a storm! Definitely not  a good time to inspect the hives. They know when bad weather is on the way.

I was hoping the swirling clouds wouldn't spawn a tornado. We do get them around here, but they are generally small and not too damaging. Nothing like what happens in the US midwest!

Still, clouds like this always give me pause!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Parade o' horses!

No, not mine but I reallyreallyreally want some horses!! We're working on it.

On Friday evening, I went to the Horse Parade in Maxville. My two favourite horses were there...

Limerick and Sarah the Belgians!

These two belong to our friends Jake and Sam.

Here's Jake and his friend Colin lounging about before the race. The horses were bathed and groomed within an inch of their lives. They looked gorgeous!

They are magnificent when they're in action!

RareBreeds Canada was there with a beautiful pair of oxen. Even rarer, they are twins. 

I think the breed is Canadienne.

There were lots of other lovely horses in the staging area...

And then the parade began!

Firefighters, not horses! :)

Sam in front of his team.

Everyone looking very noble indeed.

Then my camera battery crapped out and I had to switch to my iPhone!

Yeah, this guy had the glamour job in the parade!

I love this mule team.

THere were teeny-weeny horses, too.

I have no clue how anyone manages to ride sidesaddle like this lady. Amazing!

Here come the oxen!

But my heart belongs to these two.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The newbies, the oldies...

We have some new residents on the farm!

Three guinea fowl! Don't know yet if they're boys or girls but I think they're really cute (in a vulturesque sort of way!) My friend's son bought them as hatchlings but decided he didn't have time to build them a predator-proof pen, so I bought the trio off him. They hatched out last month and are still growing!

They came with names: Widget, Fidget, and Gidget! They are amazing tick-eating machines, but I'm not sure how much I will be letting them roam free outside the new fenced-in and roofed run, given the many hungry and agile predators we have around here. When they are a little bigger and settled in, I'll introduce them to the chickens and ducks. They are very skittish but I think they're cute. I know that guineas can be quite noisy but I have no neighbours to worry about! Rooster crowing doesn't bother me either. I love natural sounds like that. It's city noises that drive me crazy.

Meanwhile, up near the house...

Mr. Dorkalicious was enjoying a snooze! 

He loves lying on the paved driveway. You would think it'd be uncomfortable, but he's always flaked out there. I guess he likes the heat!

Happy boy, sticking his tongue out.

And Sophie walked to the new beehives with me today. I had to go feed the girls sugar syrup. Sophie found a nice shady spot nearby to lie down in. Tristan tagged along too! He's slow but methodical and eventually catches up to us.

And guess what else is going on at the farm?

Karène the duck started sitting on a nest of eggs a few days ago. Yes, more ducklings in our future! The eggs should hatch in about a month.

Hope you are all having a good week!