One Season Ends

Rhode Island Red on the Roof
Rhode Island Red on the Roof

Honey & Bee season has closed. The Ahrens’ bee-yard was winterized a week or two ago, and the hive (yes, singular) here in Proctor was winterized yesterday. On the honey production curve, when looking at the number of hives that we had going into the summer versus the honey produced at the end, it would be seen as a terrible year. The caveats abound, however. We generally do not pull honey from new, first year hives; that would have ruled out eleven hives. We did have a bit of a swarming issue with our experimental Russian bees, and I hope to detail that in a separate post. In the end, we harvested sixty pounds (27.2 kg) of honey from our two hives at the Proctor bee-yard.

Prior to just a few days ago, winter was no where to be seen; the snow, frost and freezing daytime temperatures were stuck to the north of us in Canada. We had been taking advantage of the oddly nice (by our standards) weather. We were in a sort of weather purgatory; it was nice out, but it would have been great to be nicer but it is not going to stay this nice very long. By January-weather-standards, this sunny and 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) is fantastic, but the recent weather was much like April weather; while we are able to comfortably work outdoors with a light shirt, jeans and regular shoes (no boots), it was still dropping below freezing at night. I look at photos of the yards, and of the grass and foliage from June, and all are lush and deep green; a deep green color that only comes with countless "applications" of nitrogen rich urea from the hounds. With daylight each day, getting shorter by minutes, we leave for our day jobs in the dark, and arrive back home in the dark. This arrangement is not conducive for working outdoors and often results in worm tunneling around with a flashlight in the dark trailing hounds in an attempt to keep up with their "deposits". I have been tending to sit inside, with a hot cup of coffee and my laptop.

When the cold weather arrives, I tend to tinker with this or plan for spring about that. Spring seed catalogs have started arriving in the mail, as well. But, the recent nice weather did allow for a very strange sight: gardening, in northern Minnesota, in mid-November. We actually put in another garden.

There had been fencing around a row of grapevines, but having since removed a large, ramshackle compost bin from one end of the stretch, the hounds had found ways of getting into the vineyard area. This was unacceptable. Three feet (one meter) out from the wire fence, we sunk new fence posts into ground and secured them in concrete. We stretched new wire fencing, and fill the new enclosure with black dirt. With a couple hundred crocus and allium bulbs on hand, Melissa set to work making a nice flower-border that should look nice in the spring.

As the honey & bee season closed out, a new, hopefully continuous season started: eggs. The chickens started to lay last week, and are currently at a plateau of four eggs per day.