I know, it is not technically summer yet. That doesn’t happen until June 20th for the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is the farthest north and is called the Summer Solstice. The declination of the Sun on the Summer Solstice is known as the tropic of cancer (23° 27′). There is your little factoid for the day. It sure does feel like summer around here with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s and thunderstorms in the afternoon. I predict that it is going to be a really hot summer based upon how high the temps have been already! Summer on the homestead means a lot of things: mowing, weed whacking, some more mowing, veggie harvests, some more veggie harvests and honey! That’s right, I think we might get to extract some honey this year!! It also means more chickens! Apparently it also means I am in another boot. You heard me right…another boot. I don’t know about you but a boot in summer is about as fun as well, a boot any other time. There is simply nothing good about it. I see a lot of ankle strengthening exercises in my future. But I digress….
They’re here! They’re here! The chicks have arrived!!! We ordered 15 and they sent 16 just in case they all didn’t make it. They got here on June 9th and arrived in a nice box and we had no fatalities! They came again from Colorado. This time of year also means less feed for the chickens as they are getting a lot of produce from the garden and they simply don’t eat as much since eating produces heat. They get the lettuce plants that have gone to seed as well as all the veggie scraps from what we eat! They were laying 12-16 eggs a day but with this heat, they are down to 10-12 a day and I don’t know that they will lay more than that this year since they are just about all two years old or more. At two years and beyond their laying slows down. That is why we got new ones and will cull the older ones in the fall once the babies start laying. That way, the ones we cull will still be tender enough to eat without having to stew them and it will be cold and that will mean less stink when we process them! We went ahead and put on a screen on the chick box so that they can’t fly out. I am sure they actually can’t fly out but I don’t want to find out the hard way that they can too late! They are in the garage and they have a 100 degree light bulb over the box to keep them warm. We will keep them in there for another few weeks and then move them into the chicken tractor outside. Once they are about 3 months old we will move them into the main coop with the others! They are cute!
We deployed the second FlowHive on the hive down below on top of the second honey super we put on because they had filled that sucker up! This hive has a screened bottom board and I think the close proximity to water is helping a lot. We should be able to harvest at least one super along with the FlowHive! This is what it looked like this past weekend. No honey in the FlowHive yet, but they are busy filling in the cracks with propolis to seal them so they can start putting in nectar. Won’t be long now!
Our mimosa trees are blooming now along with the lavender and wild flowers we planted in the Spring. The yellow clover should start blooming soon too, so hopefully we will have some very interesting honey this year. We did an inspection this weekend of all of the hives and found that the hive with the first FlowHive in the orchard had swarmed. There were maybe 12 bees in it when we looked (versus the one down below where there were a ton of bees working in it). Our other clue was that there just weren’t as many bees and the entrance wasn’t very busy when we looked. The box below the FlowHive was empty pretty much except for some pollen. There was absolutely no capped brood in there and mostly empty frames. The good thing is that we found a frame with larvae in it. Why is this good? It’s good because we know that means that we have a laying queen. Larvae hatches from the egg 3-4 days after the egg was laid. So that means she was in there laying this past week! They really didn’t take to the FlowHive when we first put it on, so it seems they didn’t have enough room to put honey in and the brood chamber at the time must have been overflowing and the queen got mad and took off with half the hive! Thankfully the queen that they made for us is now mated and laying. They swarmed a couple of weeks ago and I know this because once the new queen emerges she has to go on her mating flight and then it takes her a week or so to start laying. This means we won’t get any honey from this hive this year as it is too late in the season for them to fill up the FlowHive and we need to leave the box below it on there for them for winter and also to get them through the late summer when there is no nectar flow. Had we seen them swarm it would have been first of all, amazing because it’s a pretty awesome sight, but second of all we could have captured it and put it into a new hive so that instead of losing half of the bees and a queen from the hive for good, we would have had a fifth colony. We would put the swarm into a new hive since they have queen with them and it would essentially be the same as when I bought the brand new nucs this Spring. Oh well, that is nature taking it’s course! The bees will do what the bees naturally do! Live long and prosper girls! That is ok since the hive next to them is going crazy! We had to add a deep honey box because we have no more medium honey boxes to add! So that sucker is huge and very happy! We ended up putting the new box below the medium super as this box does not have any frames that are drawn out so they have work to do. We figured they would be more apt to work on it if they had to go through it to get to the top box that they are working on capping honey. Looking forward to lots of honey this year! I even bought a hand cranked extractor! Fun stuff! I anticipate, depending on when the clover starts blooming that we will harvest early next month which is when the flow is usually finished. Gimme some honey, honey!
We did it! We broke down and put in a pool!! In just two weeks and without the solar panels in place, the water temp was up to 88 degrees! So excited about the pool. Unfortunately, we have been without the hot tub for the last two weeks so we haven’t been able to have a nightly soak to help with sore muscles that come from working the homestead. But it is back up and running and it is quite a lovely set-up. We started to build the frame for the solar panels and will be connecting them to the pool plumbing and can turn them on and off manually if we need to warm up the pool or cool it down by running at night. The Hubs really did most of the work since I am lame at this point…only so much I can do in a boot, you know. No judging. We have set the posts in concrete and have attached the cross beams that will have the panels. The panels will allow us to open the pool earlier in the year and keep it open later. The dogs haven’t ventured into the pool yet, but I think it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how refreshing it is! Abby has claimed her lounge chair….of course.
The sweet potatoes have been planted, the carrots harvested, the corn and peas are growing beautifully, the summer lettuce is just about done and being fed to the chickens and the zucchini, peppers and cucumbers are producing like bandits. The tomatoes are growing well and will start turning red any day now. Looking forward to making salsa this year along with gazpacho and more tomato basil soup. I have already made a batch of basil pesto and have sautéed and put 7 more quart bags of kale and swiss chard in the freezer. I harvested another 5 gallon bucket of swiss chard this weekend which I need to sauté along with a bunch of Brussels Sprouts. I gotta say that as much as I am in love with Brussels Sprouts they are a pain in the patootie to harvest. If the Hubs wants them next year he will be the one to harvest those suckers. I am taking a stand. Here and now I declare I will not harvest those sprouts next year! Did you hear me roar? It was pretty loud. We had to put in some string for the limas and peas too since the lima bush plants are apparently, not bushes. The corn is going gangbusters too! Can’t wait for some sweet corn! Yeah baby!
Have I mentioned how hot it is? Not complaining mind you…I love me some heat! And here comes summer!!
Did I mention how darn cute those chicks are? So. Cute.
Enjoy the sun folks (but wear sunscreen)!