Shaping upApril 11, 2002: Spring is here and project #1 turned out to be what I call the West Wall, the rock wall along West Road on the south lawn. The rocks were already there in the form of two huge piles that looked like a wall from the road but were just a large cascading pile sloping down to the lawn. They were on each side of this new long wall. I forgot to get a "before" pic but this is a pic of the rock pile next door which is the same as mine was. I rebuilt the two large piles into one long straight sided wall. First below, the view from the road. The section between the trees is completely new from the ground up. The photo below that is the view of the south end, facing north. That is driveway #1 (property line, south) which is the beginning of a circular drive that exits at the north end of this wall where Sam's truck is parked. He was backside, cutting up all the trees Verizon cut down for the new lines. After several consultations with tree people, I learned that firewood was the best use of those trees. It kills me to cut them up. I still have to fill in a bit on the ends of the wall and lay cap stones.

West Wall
South end of
wall, facing north
Top of wall
Facing south and looking
down at the new section
with cap stones.

April 15: Billy trimmed the front window on the inside and I gave it two coats of paint and installed a shelf over the top. Major improvement.

April 16: Billy trimmed the kitchen window on the inside. I've put 2 coats of stain on and more is coming.

April 17: CVPS strung new lines today on the new poles. There was no power from 9 to 1 so I left and when I came back I had a hard time getting into work. The temperature was over 90°. Eventually I went out and stacked the cut logs and raked up out there. One of the CVPS guys told me the wood cutters should come back and chip up all the slash. I'll have to rattle someone's cage. looking south

kitchen view 1 kitchen view 2
April-May: Click to enlarge. I've been working on the inside of the house and particularly the kitchen. Just made the spice rack to match the shelves over the range and painted the walls. Billy did the window trim and I painted that. It has a roomy 7½" sill. I put a small shelf up under the big shelves and am still trimming out the breaker box, which will have a door. The plate rack is wall mounted with storage underneath for small appliances for which I made covers.

May 3: Zoe died, I buried her next to Ali. No more birds.

Bee installation May 6: The bees went in May 4. I hadn't done an installation since 1995 so it was like all new to me and I improvised on the "recommended method" in moments of panic. I didn't wear a veil or gloves and at the end I did get nailed twice. They are drinking 5 lbs of sugar syrup every two days. The small entrance feeder is way too small. This was a three pound box of bees, about 13,000! I have to suit up for every refilling, twice a day. Business looks normal today so I am assuming all went well and the queen is alive, released and laying eggs furiously. In two days I will open the hive to remove the queen cage in which she arrived and respace the frames after checking a couple to make sure there is brood. I will definitely suit up for that one.
The box in the foreground (above), with the round hole cut in it, is the box in which they arrived. The round hole accommodates a syrup can with tiny holes punched on one end to feed the bees. To the right of that space is the slot that accommodates the queen cage and about 5-6 of her attendants. The boxed bees have to be acclimated to her or they will kill her, hence the separation. Her cage is suspended at the top of the hive frames and a hole (I used a nail) is made into the hard candy plug that seals her in. Once the hole is made, the outside workers will eat through it and release her. She will immediately begin laying eggs because she is already bred. Her attendents will be killed. Order will be established, jobs assigned, and production begins. I have to buy a large syrup feeder. Replacing the syrup feeder
Mowzer is always curious
but understandably wary
May 8: I opened the hive to check the queen and she was still in her cage and everyone seemed frantic about it. They were all over my hands and trying to sting but I was suited up and impervious. So I removed the candy plug from the end of the cage, fumbling around the mass of bees, trying not to hurt anyone. There was still some stuff in the opening so she couldn't just walk out. Apparently the hole I made wasn't enough. I hope she's out now. I will check in a couple days.

Nature Trail June 24: Making a path around the southern backside of the property, cutting unwanted saplings, planting conifers, transplanting ferns, digging up rocks (and arranging them somewhere, of course). Cleaning up stream bank, dealing with all the slash the treecutters left. Thinking about a tree house. Some of the trees are huge and there is a high canopy.

July 4: Baking! This is the second year of work on the retaining wall. The flood 3 winters ago washed away 5 feet of the bank in front of my shed, leaving only 2 feet in front of the door. I got used to climbing down there to get water so decided to build steps into the wall. Neither photo clearly shows the three steps. There is a small ledge at the bottom as well. Still have about a foot to go on the thickest part of the wall (5 ft high) and between 2 to 4 feet in other places.

Retaining wall
Retaining wall, looking down at steps

 9 1/2 jars, 2 1/2 lbs

Honey running from the gate and cappings
The cappings are sliced off with a hot knife.

Triangle escape board, a one-way trip
Triangle escape board, a one way trip out of the super when it's time to extract. It's put under the super that is coming off a day or two before to clear out the bees. The few that may remain are easily removed with a bee brush.
Sept 1: Extracted honey today for the first time ever. 9 1/2 jars, 2 1/2 lbs each, from 7 frames. I borrowed an ancient galvanized extractor but for all its antiquity, it did the job. The uncapped honey spun out easily.
Modern extractors this size are stainless steel with 3 radial frame holders
Modern extractors this size are stainless steel with the crank on top and a cover!

Smoking the bees
Smoking distracts them from my intrusion and masks the sting scent.

The 7
frames are going back on the stack for refilling with Goldenrod honey
Adding back the two previously unfinished frames
Too many bees to tell if it's finished!

Installing the two frames
When I pulled off the super to extract it, 2 of the frames were not quite finished so I put them, by themselves, in an empty super and returned it to the hive. After extracting the seven frames and putting that super back on to be refilled, I added the two finished, or nearly finished, frames back in on the outside so I'll extract all nine next time... hopefully in a few weeks after the Goldenrod honeyflow.
Normally I would not be so heavily dressed or even smoke for an operation this simple but these Carnolian bees are aggresive and I'm well over my bee sting quota for the year! After my first "experience" with them, I was planning to requeen with an Italian queen in the spring but now that I've seen how they can produce, I'm not sure I want to do that. These bees severely propolize or "glue" their supers together making them difficult to separate, another downside factor. 10 July 02

Sept 17: Exasperated that I could not galvanize myself to do it, I hired a carpenter to repair/reinforce the rotted sill. So, with that done, I removed the battens and overlapping gable end boards and began piecing it all back together to make a flush wall on which to shingle. "Flush" is a joke. The wall is not square, not plumb and it's bowed. The various types of wood also have different thicknesses. This will be a very inventive shingling job. It would be a miracle if I actually got the whole thing sided before winter, but this is progress.

Sept 14
Sept 17

Oct 1: Extracted my second super of honey with Bob Stroffeleno at his place. Bob's been keeping bees for 63 years. There's still another 2½ lb. jar sitting under the extractor honey gate which Bob said he'd drop off here one day. He extracted 204 lbs from his three hives this year. He sells it to a long-standing private clientele. This is goldenrod honey. Extraction 1 Oct 02

south side Oct 28: The shingles are on up to about 8 feet and the shed around the utility boxes is done except for the doors. I cannot shingle any further now until I've installed the octagonal window in the gable end, a prospect almost as daunting as the sill repair which I hired a carpenter to do. All the various wood types are different thicknesses and the center where the chimney was is bowed in so I am not working with a flat surface... it's challenging... I use shingles underneath going in all directions to ease the transition which, in some places, is a full ½". I also discovered that the house is not level either. So this wall is not level, not square, not plumb, and it's bowed.

Bridge Can't remember exactly when I finished the bridge... sometime in October, but here it is. Actually, I still have the trim piece to put on the south side (left side in photo). The two dark boards were there before. All the rest are new and will gray like the older two. I may add a center 2x6 span next year. The utility poles are placed so they are directly under the wheels of my car, should I ever feel the need to drive over it.

Nov 8: Today was exceptional. Besides temperatures in the 60's and sunny skies, I installed the octagon window in the south gable end. Now I can glimpse the sun, the moon, the trees, the southern horizon... wonderful. The weather is supposed to stay warm so I am hoping to continue with the shingles. I worked outside in my tanktop all afternoon. A couple weeks ago, Billy installed my new front door and I have to finish insulating with spray foam and then trim it on the inside as well as staining the top trim over the door on the outside... easy stuff.. the kind that can take a long time to get done. 9 OCT 02

Nov 20: Right: After a week of snow and freezing rain, power and phone outages, today was sunny and warm, in the 50s, so I got on a few more shingles and made the drip edge for over the window.

Nov 27: Below: My new view

new view
27 NOV 02
Very little left to do but
OK as is for the winter.
20 NOV 02
December 2: My new (to me) buffet and hutch was made in Townsend, Vermont

buffet and

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