Here I am again, with six months passing and no posts. Time goes by so fast and life just seems to get in the way of sitting down at the computer to keep our blog updated. It isn’t because nothing has gone on around here…our summer was just as busy as past ones. So, since the holiday chaos has passed and the cold temperatures have me trapped indoors, I am feeling inspired to finish some posts about some of our projects around the farm last summer.
The funny thing about blogging is that it is easy to get hung up on putting together the perfect post with great pictures and clever writing. I have to remind myself that the reason I started this blog was simply to share our experiences and to connect with others who have similar interests, and to create a history of our projects and improvements. Keeping that in mind, I will just plow forward and try not to worry too much about the details, so bear with me. 🙂
We are well into winter here in Minnesota. We have had several subzero days in the last week. Even with the cold temperature and snow on the ground, there are some pretty sights to behold on the farm.
Have I mentioned how much I love our barn??? No matter the time of year, it is one of the most charming parts of our landscape.
But anyhow…back to last summer. We enjoyed three separate home visits by our oldest, the West Point cadet. He came home during his breaks from his summer military training and it was such a treat to have him around. As you will see in upcoming posts, we put him to work and he helped us complete some fun projects.
We also had a roller-coaster of a summer with our bees. After being so thrilled that we had successfully wintered our bees for the first time since starting beekeeping, we were devastated to discover that they had swarmed in May because we waited too long to divide the hives and they became too crowded. The early spring and warm temperatures moved everything ahead and in our inexperience, we missed the signs that they were preparing to swarm.
All was not lost however, because when bees swarm they leave behind a portion of the worker bees along with new queen cells, one of which eventually becomes the new queen. We observed the hives over the next few months and it appeared that things were back on track, they had a new queen, and were rebuilding their population. Of course, the hives were not nearly as strong as they would have been had they not swarmed, but we knew we would still get a honey harvest.
The honey started flowing and the bees had built up a good amount of supers of honey. Once again, our optimism for our honey harvest was shattered in October when Jesse went out to the hives to check on them and discovered they had been robbed! Yes, hives can be robbed by feral bees. All the frames that the bees had worked so hard to fill all summer long were stripped completely clean, as if they had never had a bit of honey in them. The other unfortunate effect from robbing, is that the honeybees usually die in the process of defending their hive against the invaders.
Needless to say, we lost both hives of bees and only ended up with a very small amount of honey to harvest…another year of learning about all the things that can go wrong beekeeping. We have just put in our order for two nucs of bees this spring. We are not giving up; we’re just starting over again.
In the garden, we added two raised beds with blueberry plants, something we have wanted to do for some time. More on that later…
My perennial garden, particularly my Echinacea (coneflower) plants were hit with yellow asters and I decided to pull every one of them out in trying to rid my garden of the disease. I was a very sad gardener.
Our vegetable garden was very productive and we enjoyed fresh veggies for months on end. We decided to forego any preserving this year and to just enjoy the bounty as it ripened. Now that we are in the depths of winter, I am questioning that decision. I think we will take the time to do at least a minimal amount this coming season.
Around the first of the year, the seed catalogs started arriving. I have started pouring over them, marking pages, and making my wish list. I plan to expand my winter sowing into some annuals and vegetables this spring and am anxious to get started.
Like every other gardening nut out there, I cannot wait to get back out into the gardens and start digging in the dirt. In the meantime, I will share some of the projects we accomplished last summer. To be continued…