Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coop roosts; bee clean up

Since the rooster and hens no longer are allowed free range of the yard (due to their love for all things vegetable garden), we are trying to make sure that their coop environment is as interesting and stimulating as possible.  Inside their coop they always had a two level perch for roosting, and outside they had a single branch style roost both for hanging out and to help with getting into and out of the coop itself.  To give them more options, we now have added a second inside perch (and now the three big girls perch on one side of the coop, and Expresso and Lena perch on the new roost on the other side).  The best addition, however, is the new outside branch perch.  It is higher than the existing perch, and can be reached from the ground if they are willing to fly up, or from the other perch with a good hop.  They love it.  Expresso now chooses that as his crowing perch (starting at 4:50 am by the way), and the others hop up and down all day long.  It is a little thing, but I think it goes a long way towards enhancing their quality of life.

We finally extracted the tiny (6 lbs) bit of honey from the last of the super frames, and here you see the bees as they clean up every last drop of honey in the basins we used.  We let them clean up first, then we wash and rinse them.  However, they way the bees clean up, no rinsing would be necessary if you didn't mind little bee footprints.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yes we can . . . grow citrus

Here it is, just starting to turn wintery and cold, and look, two huge, somewhat cold-hardy, Quanita tangerines just starting to turn color! And in the next bed:  a Nippon orangequat bush just loaded with  .  .  . ORANGQUATS!  They, by the way, are delicious, but fairly tart (that may be because they are not yet ripe, or it may be their nature).  To show you the size, I have placed a cut orangequat next to a dinner fork.  You eat the orangequats skin and all, and I love the taste.  My husband dips them in a little honey first, and that's not bad either.  The other semi-tropical you see here is the fruit of a pineapple guava.  So far I haven't tasted one, but the smell is wonderful.  This weekend I lost about 40 of these: they just fell off the tree and were on the ground each morning.  I'm hoping it was just wind, and that the remaining few mature.

These plants all are in the warmest, most protected part of my yard. Still, I know there is a risk that they will freeze down to the ground if we have a really harsh winter.  They were all seedling plants, however, so I have hopes that they will spring back even if severely winter damaged.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall flowers

Hard to believe the number of beautiful flowers in bloom in November.  The bees found them all just too appealing to pass up.  I especially love the off-white pollen they are bringing in from the hollyhock and the deep yellow from the mums.  You can see those two pollens on the petals of the red hollyhock and of the peach mums.  Also shown are the white ginger lilies and the tiny toad lilies.

I harvested a few collards last night, just enough for dinner for two. They were wonderful.  I also harvested the remainder of the sweet potatoes.  All this rain has encouraged my delayed fall vegetables, and they are starting to get a little bigger.  I still have high hopes for them.