Looking South March 7: Today was the official first day of Spring for me.

I raked for five hours. It was like meditation. I scratched and scratched and surveyed my work with satisfaction, my queendom emerging from its cold white blanket. I scratched a mat of shiny wet leaves and uncovered the brilliant green shoots of spring, glistening wet, bursting with anticipation. It brought a grin to my face and strength to my soul. Life emerging, the promise of great accomplishments to come.

The white blanket is shrinking, dry and brittle at its edges when it is cold, and vanishing to mist when it warms. The north end of the brook is ice free, including its banks, and the south end is still covered with a smooth ice bridge but the middle is falling in progressively from north to south. From a crow's perspective, it must look like a ribbon of torn white lace.

March 11: Another beautiful sunny day in the 50's. I continued cleaning up fallen branches, burned a large pile of slash from last fall and fertilized all my little evergreens, weeping willows, lilacs and dogwoods.

stepstonesJune 6: I ordered two 3-yard truck loads of crushed bluestone a couple days ago and I'm having a field day with it. One load went on the number 1 driveway and 1/3 of that went into my Japanese style garden... my solution to a rock ledge jutting up out of the lawn. I also reset the stepping stones at the top of my stone steps and I will extend that path over to the front deck. I underlaid it with landscape cloth so there will be no more weeding! Unfortunately, the stones are coated with clay dust and appear white. They will not show their true blue-gray color until we get a heavy rain or I get an outdoor spigot so I can hose then down. The rain will come first.

The second load is dumped right in front of the house, on an excavated area, covered with landscape cloth. After I remove most of it to other areas, I'll grade that and set slate slabs into it. These will also be on the other side of the deck. And that deck is going. I'm going to make a stone deck.

Japanese style garden Stones in front of house
Shade Garden
Irene has been working on my shade garden, her project in exchange for the website I built her. It's coming along very nicely.
The bees went in on May 22. Trying a new technique this year... the bottomless hive. Only the varroa screen underneath.
shade garden 07242004

June 13: A day to remember. Sammy installed an outside spigot. The bluestone is lining the north side of the house and next I have to make a stone or slate or paving stone walking path next to that all the way to the bridge. Two frogs have taken up residence in a 5 gallon bucket in which I am rooting willow cuttings. They have been in there about 3 weeks. They perch in the willows or right on the edge of the bucket and on the rock I put next to it for their "deck".
Herb garden

Spigot and Stones

Barn floor
June 19: I've begun the compost fence and have parts of it nearly full of dry leaves, effectively creating a privacy fence. The terraced herb garden is nearly completed. Having the outside spigot and being able to easily bring water wherever I want with 150 feet of hose has changed my life! Oh joy!

June 20: I now have 2 coats of oil-based stain on the barn floor.

June 23: Taking advantage of a day of rain yesterday in which they could travel in a comfortable medium, my two frogs relocated. I miss them.

June 24: Late this afternoon, one frog was back in the bucket. That made my day. But I was also happy to have built another little rock wall in a formerly unsightly bank on the northeast side of the bridge. I planted a Lambs Ears which I had bought a couple weeks ago at the Arlington Garden Club plant sale. The wall needs a little more work. And more work on the herb garden which also still lacks some rocks. Sunflowers have sprouted around the stump where I feed the birds in winter so I am encouraging them with fertilizer. Northeast side of bridge
Herb Garden Garden
I've planted three lavender plants, one rosemary, a Japanese blood grass and a type of perennial geranium called Crane's Bill of which the root is used as a tonic and astringent. Peppermint and lemon balm was already established last year and onions have come up unexpectedly. In the upper flower garden is bee balm, iris, myrtle, ivy, ferns, black-eyed susan and coneflower.

Stonework Stonework
Saturday, July 24: Today I dug out the area to the left of the deck in front of the house and started filling it in with stone (above). I ran out and will order more on Monday so these are progress images. Likewise, the shade garden (below) which I imagine will be a work in progress until I die. I will continue to develop the wooded area in this fashion right to the end of my property at Sophie's Way.

Shade Garden Shade Garden Shade Garden
Shade Garden Frog Friend Sunflowers

September 7
Outhouse Landscaping
Behind the outhouse
Landscaping in front of new fence
Lots of snakes this year
Outhouse Landscaping
Back side of outhouse
New fence and shade garden

September 25 & 26

Bees cleaning up the cappings
Bees cleaning up the cappings

Extracted today using another borrowed extractor. This one, like the last one I borrowed, was very old but this one held 3 frames instead of 2.

All 9 frames were capped except about 3/4 of the outside of one on the end. I didn't spin that side out but put it back in the middle of the super with the extracted frames.

Sept 26
The Honey Gate
Jar #9 filling
Maybe the bees will get around to finishing that side before I pull off the next super in a few days. The honey is still running but it looks like I'll get 10+ 2½ lb jars from 8½ frames or about 26 lbs. I would have had a little more but I wasn't paying attention and one jar overflowed and some ran down the sink drain. Now I keep a bowl under the jar.

Last time I extracted I was so thrilled by the experience and gave away so much honey that I ran out myself in the middle of the winter. This year I am going to set aside 12 2½ lb jars for myself and that will get me through the year until I extract again next year.

Oct 9: Second extraction and I made a tactical error. I left the extracted super sitting next to the hive for them to clean out. Foreign bees found it, which precipitated a war. As soon as I discovered this, about an hour after I put it out, I quickly put the super back on the hive but the battle fury went on. I reduced the entrance to give the guards easier control but fighting was fierce and there are dead and dying bodies strewn around. I believe my hive is strong enough to fend for itself but there will be many casualties. I wonder if the queen has stopped laying. All this coincides with the eviction of the drones, who are gathered around outside and I assume not given permission to enter although with all they had to contend with today, the guards probably didn't bother excluding the persistent drones. Robber Bees
My girls duking it out with robber bees

The other extraction equipment is on the back deck, the centerfuge and 3 frame holders, and it's getting picked clean. Despite its further proximity from the hive, my girls are possessive and there are skirmishes there as well.
Extractor Drum Frame Baskets Extractor Drum

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