Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movin' On Up

It is finally time to start weaning some of the older kids, and moving them out of their current residence, which has been the garage.  The wet and variable weather we've been having this month has made finding the right time to move them a bit of a challenge.  You don't want to suddenly move them from a nice warm, dry environment, out into wind, rain, and freezing weather.  We did have a few days where the lows weren't going to be too bad, and the weather would be dry and sunny, so we took the oldest three kids out to our transitional pen in the barnyard.  It has a shelter and a play structure for them while they get used to being outside, surrounded by no-climb fencing, which they  can't get through, unlike the cattle fencing that surrounds most of the property. 

Lena got some last minute questions answered

So quiet hours start at 10, and we call you if the automatic water stops working?

Then she checked out where she'd be asserting her role as herd queen for this little herd of three.

Ahem! Boys! I have an announcement!
Dude! What is all this green stuff?

Boys! Over here! I have an announcement!
Imma go exploring!
They just don't listen! I guess I'm going to have to get down to their level after all
Listen up boys! As the only doe out here, I am your herd queen and you shall treat me as such. You shall bow to me or feel my wrath!
The lighter of the two boys decided to test out how serious Lena was about asserting her power

She beat him pretty handily though

Wanna go again? I didn't think so.
And went back up to her platform of power

You will bow to me!
I'll show you- just like this
I will not bow to you! I challenge you instead!
Whoooaaa! Too far! Too far!
Having put the boys in their place, Lena decides to relax on the platform

Even young herd queens have special powers- I can float!
Maybe it's just this part of the barn yard- I can float too!

Or maybe,

There's a reason

We call this time of year


Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring on the Farm

The rains have finally come and around the farm there seems to be a riot of growth.  Dormant plants have reawakened and are blooming and/or leafing out.

Daffodils are usually one of the first harbingers of spring around here.

Then come some of our fruit trees

Almond blossoms

White Peach

Sometimes, we find the honey bees hard at work, helping to ensure we actually get fruit from these trees.

Yellow Peach with Honey Bee
Plum Flowers with Honey Bee
It should be interesting to see if our fruit yields are higher this year since we have honey bees on the property full time.  We haven't gotten fruit from our plum tree for the last two years, so we're hoping that the addition of the bees, along with the good pruning it got this winter (it had grown a little wild) will result in tasty fruit.

And finally, we get to our early blooming California native plants

Ceanothus, or California Lilac
We have several varieties of ceanothus growing on the property, from low growing and sprawling to varieties that can get up to 18 feet tall.  They are covered with clusters of brilliant blue to purple flowers, which are usually covered with a variety of bees.

Vine Hill Manzanita
The manzanitas put on a particularly impressive display this year, despite blooming on the late side.  Some types of manzanita start blooming as early as December, making them an important winter food for our native bees.

Pink Flowering Currant
We have a few pink flowering currants we've planted along our seasonal creek and I enjoy their spicy scent.  It's a nice option for full shade in our hot climate, though it can take partial to full sun closer to the coast.

The bees have definitely been busy working away at raising new workers and lots of drones.  Other people's bees have been doing the same, which is why we've been able to add two swarms of bees to the apiary.  Here's the one I caught just two days after we caught our first swarm of the year

Beard of Bees in Coastal Live Oak Tree

Between the two swarms and the two hive splits I did, I have 100% more bees today than a week ago. 

Also, at the rate we're going, I may have honey bees for sale in the near future.