Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Warriors

Sorry to post so many stories in one day, but this blog is partly intended for me to keep track of our farm progress. We had a particularly productive weekend and I want to record it.

First, Rog installed a vent in the high tunnel greenhouse.  Easier said than done - it took all day Saturday, and was not fun, working overhead, high on a ladder in a hot greenhouse.  But the vent works perfectly and almost magically:  automatically opening to let hot air escape when the greenhouse gets too warm and closing as the greenhouse cools off.  Knowing how forgetful I am, the vent will avert disaster if I fail to roll up the sides in time. I don't want to risk cooking my veggies before they are harvested.
While Rog installed the vent, I pruned the raspberry bushes, cutting out the spent canes and trimming everything back to 4 feet high.  It was a crazy eighty degrees out so I wore a t-shirt and shorts, forgetting what a dumb idea it is to bare your skin working in a raspberry patch.  I don't know why bramble scratches don't start stinging until it is too late, but my arms and legs look like a road map now.
I checked on the Langstroth beehive, which I had fed two pints of honey last week, and the bees had devoured both jars of honey.  I gave them two more pints of honey, this time diluted 50:50 with water. The nectar-like consistency is supposed to  inspire them to start raising brood as if it were actually spring with flower nectar flowing.  An increased population will give them a head start, allowing them to  collect more nectar and make more honey as soon as spring actually gets here.
Rog and I  also cleaned and repaired  the two Warre hives, scraping off the  old comb adn porpylis and replacing the wimpy nails with sturdier screws.  I still want to repaint these hives before the new bees arrive in a couple weeks.
Rumor is that bluebirds have been spotted in the neighborhood, so we hung two bluebird houses on the  fenceposts between the garden and  road.   I would be so thrilled to get bluebirds in one of these houses!
On Sunday, Rog spent most of the day smoking fish while I tilled a quadrant of the garden where winter rye had been planted last fall for green manure.  (Our friend Joe has given us use of us his wonderful, big rototiller in exchange for storing it in our barn.)  After tilling in the rye grass, I turned in a thin layer of fairly-well-composted brown leaves to add extra carbon.
Then, because we were forecast to get rain, I transplanted some  chard and kale from the high tunnel greenhouse and planted a few seeds:  peas, spinach, lettuce beets, carrots, radishes.  It is way too early to plant, at least in ordinary times, but this is a very unusual year and all these plants can survive a bit of cold.  If  the weather turns too cold and snowy, I have plenty more seeds, and if it doesn't, I have a great head start! Anyway, that one row of green in the garden makes my heart sing.
It's not the only green in the garden, though - the garlic is coming up!   Time to remove the wire fencing that I laid over the garlic bed last fall to prevent the darn chickens from scratching out the cloves.

Rog and I worked really hard all weekend, and we woke up  pretty stiff and sore today to prove it!  However, we did manage to squeeze in a little nap in the hammock in the afternoon sun yesterday, the first hammock-nap of the year. Life is good!


Clint Baker said...

Don't apologize for posting! They have all been great reads and inspiring! I don't comment a lo but I do read. Everything is coming along well. God Bless!

Fiona@RowangarthFarm said...

Wow -- we'd be lucky to get this all done in a week! And yes, thanks for posting -- I learn a lot from your progress reports.
I've been quite enjoying your greenhouse updates as we're looking to install one this year -- we're a bit late for this spring season (it would have been "better" to put it up in the fall, but finances didn't allow that). At least I'll have a place for my tomatoes and peppers in the summer, and greens in the fall/winter! In the meantime, I'm eagerly awaiting growth in the cold frames.
I also enjoy your bee posts. I currently have Langstroth hives, but I'm considering building a top bar this spring. I haven't started feeding the bees too much yet as I was warned that they'd build too much brood too early in the season and swarm, but I've also learned that there are SO many ways to keep bees that it's best to read widely!