Barefoot in fields with hooved friends is the best way to spend Summer days.
I don’t even know where Summer has escaped to. One minute we were celebrating the Full Moon at the end of June, blink, and July’s Full Moon has also passed us by. This Summer is flying, and I wish I could find the pause button and slow – it – down.
Mother Nature tested us this month, barraging us with rainstorm after rainstorm. We received the most horrid night of hail, waking both Dan and I in the middle of the night with thoughts that the roof might just collapse in on us. Marble sized hail fell from the sky for almost a half hour. It wasn’t until the light of the next morning arrived that the actual damages were visible. Flower beds were flattened, vegetables were shredded and even our vehicles felt the force of Nature, pock marks in the hood evidence. We were devastated. All of our hard work and planning seemed to be destroyed over night.
Thankfully as harsh as Mother Nature can be, she is also forgiving. While my flower beds are definitely a little sad looking compared to the full beauty they were sporting, they have for the most part bounced back. Flowers are blooming, bees are busy, the only tell tale sign is my poor shredded hostas who won’t be bouncing back this season. In the vegetable garden our plants prevailed, and we have a harvest to boast about. Our carrot tops stand tall once more, and we have had several little meals of baby carrots straight from the garden. Our broccoli florets flowered for the first time this year. Beans are growing in bunches on our plants and little baby zucchinis are growing right beside them. Squash and pumpkin plants are flowering, little heads of lettuce are trying to grow big and we’ve definitely got a bountiful harvest of potatoes hiding under the soil. I think sometimes our patience needs to be tested so that we fully appreciate what we are blessed with.
Our other big concern with the storms, was our bee hives. We had previously started using a ratchet strap to hold down the hives and lids, as we’d had some windy days filled with anxiety. Thank goodness for security, our hives greeted us the next morning untouched and unharmed! The only thing that didn’t fair well was my beautiful circle garden of wildflowers. While the clover lay flattened, my sunflowers still stood tall and I am holding out hope for some beautiful blooms!
Our journey this Summer with bees has definitely been a learning experience. We’ve had our ups and downs, our moments when we don’t even know whats going on, and our moments of “ah-ha”. We’ve seen first hand the signs of a hive that’s queenless, as we do believe we lost a queen last month. As we watched, waited and hoped for the bees to straighten it out themselves, we also witnessed what happens when your hive absconds. As we watched the numbers dwindle in the hive, we came home one day to find one of our apple trees out in the orchard alive with a swarm of bees. We suited up that evening, took an empty brood box over, and captured the swarm. We added the swarm box back to the original dwindling hive, separating the two with a sheet of newspaper so that the pheromones from the queen would attract the other bees and they would eventually chew through the paper and join. We aren’t sure that this worked, that the hives joined, and that they perhaps didn’t swarm again, but the population was up once again in this hive. After watching for a couple of weeks for the “egg of the day” and not seeing any, we knew we needed to take action again. We removed a frame full of uncapped brood from our good hive and added it into the struggling hive. This was in a hopes that the struggling hive would use this brood to create a queen and still keep up the population.
When we completed our hive check just last night, our struggling hive has brood to be seen in the frames. We are hopeful that this has saved the hive and that they’ve got themselves a new queen to carry them through the winter months. While we may not get any honey this year as we let our hives develop and figure themselves out, we’ve learned so much and look forward to the months ahead in this journey. I think it’s safe to start calling ourselves beekeepers now!
Everyone else here on the farm seems un-phased by any inclement weather that may have passed us by. The donkey boys are loving life out on pasture, and they are learning to share better and better with the alpaca gentlemen. You can always spot the pairs out in the field grazing, sometimes even all four together. They love to wander into the woods on a hot day for shade and the alpaca love a good soak down with the hose! While they are still quite shy, the alpacas have come so far in the two months they’ve been with us here on the farm. We love having them around. My favourite thing is watching them run through the fields, loping along, they are so majestic!
With the summertime wild flowers in the yard being in full bloom, that also meant it was time for my annual photo-shoot with the donkey boys and their floral crowns. I do believe I need a little Jenny for this job, as the boys just want to indulge in a tasty treat. I feel like a Jenny would appreciate my artistic endeavors a little more.
The three little pigs love the long summer days in the sun. They have rooted up so much of the back area we extended in their pen. It’s the perfect spot with boggy soil and mud puddles for cool downs. There is plenty of shade among the trees too, but they can often be found out sunbathing in the dusty dirt. Tui has been surprising me lately with his affection, and it makes my heart burst with joy. During evening feeds I sit down on the front porch of the Pig Haus’ and watch as everyone squabbles over bowls. Once Tui finishes bossing everyone around and gets his fair share of dinner, he wanders over for a scratch. He places his little pig snout on my knee and enjoys the scratches behind the ear and belly rubs. I never knew this little pig would be so affectionate!
Of course we can’t forget about the lovely ladies in the coop, who despite the rain, have used any days of excessive heat as an excuse to go broody. As long as I still get some eggs during chores each evening, I’ll let it slide for now. Hot, hot days call for cool treats in the coop and the ladies have been enjoying tasty treats of frozen watermelon. On weekend mornings I’ve been taking my coffee with me outside to enjoy some quiet time in the coop. I love sitting and watching the hens scratch around and forage in the run. The little chicks we picked up to raise for the Summer are growing like weeds and will soon make their move from the Pickup Palace into their mobile run in the yard for the rest of the Summer months.
We had a lovely surprise at the end of June when friends of ours, the Wittal’s, welcomed two healthy twins into the world. A boy and a girl, we were over the moon for them. It put the pressure on for me as I has been busy making baby quilts for the pair, and when they arrived a month early, this Auntie was not prepared! I was able to get them completed and gifted this past week. These two quilts are the third and fourth baby blankets I have made. And tooting my own horn if I can, I am so flipping proud of myself. Each blanket I complete gets a little better each time, my technique improves and everything looks sharper and cleaner. I have been having so much fun quilting and look forward to my next project!
This coming week we are looking forward to having my brother Mackenzie and his girlfriend Alexis visit us here on the farm for the first time! I can’t even wait for them to arrive on Wednesday, and we have some fun days planned to head to the mountains and show them what the West is all about!
Now, I’ve spent enough time inside this morning writing, it’s time to head outside and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and warm breeze!