Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring has sprung!

This is our new hive body, purchased from Steamboat Lil's, near Olympia, WA.  Mike bought it from Lil directly, unassembled, and spent Sunday gluing and nailing it together.  I will be painting the exterior this week.  We originally planned to use a top-bar hive, which is much less expensive and easy to build, but a beekeeper explained to us in detail why this would be a huge mistake for first-time beekeepers.  I am terrible at retaining information, but here is what I do remember:  When you remove the honey from your top-bar hive, you have to remove all of the infrastructure that they built, and they need to start all over.  Their energy goes into building a storage facility, rather than producing honey, which greatly limits honey supply and drains the bees.  We have decided to put off using that method until we feel fairly competent keeping bees, and have more hives.  For now, we will have only one, which is not ideal.

Turkey update: Tom became even more aggressive after my last post, attacking Mike viciously, clawing him through his jeans.  I emailed a couple of heritage turkey breeders for advice, and I was told that we need to cull that tom right away.  Right after that, our female turkey began to nest and lay eggs.  Now, when I enter the coop, I carry a long pole that I keep pointed in his direction.  I feel like I'm using a lance to defend myself against a very silly foe.  We have ordered some baby turkeys, but we will also let our pair breed and see what happens.  But Mr. Tom will likely end up in the freezer by summer.

Mike has all of the raised beds prepared for planting, and I put potatoes in the ground on March 16th.  This week, Anouk has spring break so we'll be planting peas, carrots, turnips, beets and greens.  Nicer weather means she is playing outside more, allowing Mike and I to work in the garden and studio much more than we can during winter.  She builds fairy houses, collects worms, and we are turning her sandbox into a raised bed garden just for her.

Anouk and I were in Chicago last week, and while we were away, Mike took up all of the remaining lawn in our front and back yards.  His plan is to till it all up, level it out, and re-seed it with a more maintenance-free grass/herb mix.  We are hoping to switch to a manual lawn mower this year, which is timely, since our gas mower has died.

Thanks to Mike's dedicated, ongoing efforts on weekends all through winter, the garden is relatively weed-free and waiting for the busy work of planting to begin.


  1. Hooray for spring and for bees. Steamboat Lil's is THE best place to go for advice and supplies. I love both of those two lovely people.

    I'm giggling thinking of you going out to the turkeys with your primeval defense gear. Maybe a suit of armor would be helpful? Tee-hee.

  2. Yes, I also have a piece of plywood that I sometimes use as a shield, so I've imagined the same thing!