4.27.2014 New name. New fence. New hive. New horse.

For the last couple of years, I have been known as “The Egg Lady.” I suppose that’s fitting. Despite all the troubles I’ve had with my chickens, I normally have eggs, almost year round. I can’t say that about any other farm product. In fact, having product, consistently week in and week out, has been the greatest challenge for me.

Yesterday, at the market, I got a new name. Despite two other vendors having lettuce, I have become the Lettuce Lady. I am flattered. I had several repeat customers this morning, saying they really enjoyed my lettuce and were back for more. That means a lot. After all the trouble I had with lettuce last year, now I am the Lettuce Lady! I’d call that progress.

There was also talk at the market this morning about lettuce being a fleeting thing – that come the summer heat, none of the vendors would have lettuce. I found myself thinking, “What do they know that I don’t?” I have lettuce planned for all year. Sure, during the height of the summer heat, it’s spending four weeks in seed flats and 2 weeks to 10 days in the ground before harvest. The growing schedule comes from a farm about 50 miles north of here. Yet the farmers at my market suggest that it can not be done.  (Or maybe it should not be done for economic reasons.) But . . . if it can be done . . . if I can do it, I will be the only vendor with lettuce all summer long. If I can do that, I will have truly earned my new name. (Well, I can dream. It’s still April and that means cool and wet. Lettuce weather.)

It’s also fence weather. When I got home from market yesterday, my husband and the two best neighbors on the planet were finishing up the new fence on the eastern side of the farm. My neighbors are simply beasts at fence building. They put in 460’ of mighty fence in no time flat. And the thing is, they built this fence for us. It’s not a boundary we have in common. We supplied the material and they supplied the labor and experience. I don’t think they have enough suicidally-inclined animals on their farm that I could rescue and call us even. We are so blessed!

And the blessings continue in the beeyard. Sort of. It’s Sunday and I was last in the hives on Tuesday. Less than a week. But I did inspections today because the weather forecasters keep saying that foul weather is coming – at least four days of heavy rains and potentially severe weather – starting tomorrow.

I found surprises and not. My two mini-splits failed. Why, I am not sure.  Not enough nurse bees to cover the little bit of brood? Not enough guards? Not enough foragers who knew the way home? I’m guessing the main reason was drift back to the old hive. There were still a few bees in each of the minis, but the sealed brood comb and the queen cells were largely unattended and, I suspect, dead. The follower boards worked just as they were intended, so there’s something good.  But there may yet be a happy ending for the stalwart ladies who stayed on the job.

You see, I had one hive make it through the winter and spring – a combination of two weak hives from last year. It is now my blue hive and so far this season it’s been rather ambivalent about ramping up for a honey flow. Today, it was nursing new swarm cells, uncapped with little queen larvae inside. So I split that hive. The top super, and possibly the existing queen (I’m pretty sure I saw her), and two queen cells went to the other side of the blueberry patch where I combined them with the remnants of the mini-splits. A newspaper currently separates the minis from the blue split.

The lavender girls are in good spirits despite last week’s subdivisions. Their supercedure cells are open. I suspected my math was wrong. Time will tell if they’ve worked out their problems. They still have a lot of empty space to fill in their hive, so they got a jug of hooch to tide them through the rough weather.

The pink party hive is nearly wall to wall brood. I don’t think I’ve ever had a hive like this. Third brood box went on today. I hope I don’t screw it up.

To top off this wonderful week on the farm, my horse, Ophelia decided she needed hugs. Lots of them. She was in rare loveable form. As in snuggles, muzzles and embraces. This has never happened before. The stress of being alpha mare is wearing nicely on her.

Leave a Reply