Monday, April 25, 2011

Current State of the Homestead

Well, time for an update on the state of the ol' homestead.  The bees arrived last Saturday (a week ago) and Toddy successfully installed them in their new home.  The kids were on hand to help and luckily, the only one who got stung was Todd.  The whole process took about 20 minutes and due to the frigid, rainy weather, the bees were so cold that they simply didn't have the energy to be agressive about someone manhandling them! 

We took advantage of another rainy day, this past Saturday to open the hive and check on the bees and the queen.  Todd had been putting sugar water (1 part sugar to 1 part water) in the feeder of the hive all week and so he wanted to make sure they had enough food.  The feeder is essentially a wooden tray with one end screened off to keep the bees from crawling into the sugar water and drowning.  They can suck the sugar water through the screen. 

Due to the cold weather, the bees were all in the hive and were pretty placid about our disturbing them.  Todd was able to gently scrape them off of the plastic frames to see what their progress was on building up the hive.  Basically, a frame is a flat plastic rectangle that the bees use as a foundation to build their honeycomb on. To our delighted surprise, we found that yes, the bees are actually building honeycomb and you can see a little bit of honey in some of the honeycomb cells!  Todd wasn't able to locate the queen but we didn't want to rile up the bees too much by pulling out each frame to check.  He's pretty confident that the queen is alive in there as the bees are working to build their home and not trying to make a new queen.  We will probably check again on the weekend. 

I love watching the hive on a sunny day.  Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous at 80 degrees.  I walked down and sat on a log that is about 2 feet from the hive.  It is fascinating to watch the bees fly in and out of the hive--it reminds me of watching takeoffs & landings at a busy airport!  What's interesting is that they don't simply fly in and out of the hive, but rather they land on the platform where the "door" is and walk around for a few moments before walking into the hive.  It's almost like there's an occupancy limit in there or something as usually the same amount bees come out as the same amount of bees going into the hive.  On top of that, I love listening to all the buzzing going on in there.  It really does "hum" on a hot day.

On a side note, a bee happened to fly into our son's room.  His friend who was visiting suggested using a flyswatter to get rid of the bee.  Our son cried out, "No, stop!  That could be one of my Dad's bees so I don't want to hurt it."  He then proceeded to gently coax the bee out the window with a piece of paper.  Gotta start 'em young!

Our froggies are going to be parents soon!  We have two species of frogs in our little pond--peepers and leopard frogs.  We're not sure which ones laid the ropes of tadpole eggs but I guess we'll find out eventually.  It is very nice listening to them through our bedroom window at night.  My sister, however, disagrees with me on this point.  To me, it reminds me of listening to the frogs who resided in the stone walls of my grandparents' swimming pool in New England. 

Our garden is finally starting to come together.  I planted all my lettuces and onions in two raised beds and I'm now in the process of hunting down the type of staples that go in my Japanese staple gun so I can tack down the netting I put over my two raised beds to keep it from becoming a kitty potty spot.  The netting has so far discouraged them from getting into the boxes but I want to make it a permanent solution.  I believe in organic gardening but not THAT organic, if you know what I mean...

Todd was able to double our rows over the past week so we now have double the planting space.  So far, we've planted potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots, spinach, three types of lettuce, arugala, collards, cabbages, okra, peppers, watercress, and of course, rice.  Toddy has visions of turning the swampy part of our yard into a rice paddy.  We'll see...

Hubs also got proactive about trying to screen our backyard further from the neighbors who live across the brook behind the house.  They are not close enough to hear them but their house/deck is visible from our house/deck.  He dug up some bamboo from the Christmas tree farm where he deer hunts and transplanted it down by the brook.  His hope is that it grows/spreads enough to eventually screen their house from us.

I finally finished putting the final touches on my front yard herb garden and should have seedlings popping up any day.  I've always wanted to have a "cutting" garden right outside my door and now I have one.  If everything goes well, I'll be able to go out there with a pair of scissors and harvest the herbs I need for a recipe.

Inside the house, the kitchen cabinets are in and level and have almost all of their handles put on.  We had another case of sticker shock last week when we got a call from Lowe's (they are doing the countertops) saying that they had miscalculated some measurements and it would be an additional $94 to complete the job.  I paid it of course, but I was really irritated about having to do so as the same thing happened with the floors.  The flooring job was originally estimated to be $1,040 but when the installers came out, they found that the sub flooring wasn't level so they had to level it before installing the new floor.  That made it go up to $1,340.  Since our pay came in weird due to the whole government shutdown mess, I didn't have the entire amount on hand so we've had to put it off for a little bit.  Gotta love Uncle Sam~

I'm in the process of trying to put the dining room and the office back together after the Great Kitchen Cabinet Installation.  It's amazing how much crap I had in that tiny little kitchen.  I'm being very careful about what I'm allowing to go back in there, so there's a lot of stuff that I need to find a home for elsewhere.  But, at least we don't look like an episode of "Hoarders" anymore.  The countertops and new sink should be finished and installed sometime in the next two weeks.  Because it's a Corian-type of material, the sink is molded directly to the countertop so it takes a while to make it.  I can't wait until it's in and I can make a sandwich without having to balance a cutting board on top of the contents of my silverware drawer...

And finally, we had a wonderful time attending the wedding of Todd's bro Shand and his new wife, Lexi.  The ceremony was held at the historic Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace and the setting was absolutely gorgeous.  Both the bride and groom looked dazzling in their wedding attire and the whole family seemed to be wearing various shades of purple and green to match the beautiful bridal flowers.  Toddy somehow didn't get the memo and was wearing a burgundy tie, but it was all good.  Todd's folks, Mom & Bill, were there, as well as Todd's sis Krista and her boyfriend John, who came all the way from Seattle.  It was an intimate affair, enjoyed by all and will provide lovely memories for years to come.

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