Saturday, November 22, 2008

And Still, The Crickets Sang...

Dreamy Clouds Moving In...Putting an end to our unseasonable warm spell. Temps in the high 70*-80* with nights so warm doors and windows were left open we have been saving firewood. The crickets were singing mid November...when frost should have long ago silenced them. Three days of rain has stifled their song somewhat, but we have yet to receive a frost on the hill. I tore out the tomatoes and they were all still green, and blooming! Below, Green Tomatoes to bag up for December eating.
Salvia in the Afternoon Light...Below, Roses Post Rain Shower.
Honeybee Gleaning the Last of the Pollen...Below California Poppy.
Persimmons After All! I thought the crop was a loss this year, but it turns out there are a half dozen or so ripening in the cover of the foliage. Beautiful. Below, Perssimmon in Changing Hues.
Pear Tree on Fire. Below Strawberry Still Trying...
Hazelnut in Fall Bloom...Below, Fall Gardening: Leeks, Onions and Garlic. I am loving raised bed gardening.
Honeybee Up Close and Personal. I gazed in the eye of a worker bee. Did I see its soul? My last hive inspection of year was performed about 2 weeks ago. It was a wonderfully warm day and my smoker stayed lit..for the most part. My intention was to calculate the honey stores for both hives, look for signs of mites and assess brood and pollen status. It is a thrill to tear into a strong hive. I am very impressed with the fall build up and have a good feeling about their ability to survive the winter. No mites were on collection boards. My strong hive is kicking butt, and I am going a little overboard by allowing the nearly full super of capped honey to remain on the hive. But, there are so many bees in there, they still had nearly 4 frames of brood raising going on, and their bottom box is virtually FULL of pollen and bee bread. So, I figure, they probably need it. Should they go into the spring with such abundant stores, I will have the option of splitting the hive and introducing another queen, or letting them raise their own. My weaker hive, which had been re-queened in June, has built up impressively. I fed it (sugar syrup 2:1-with cream of tartar or lemon) consistently throughout September, and they filled their upper box completely. It is suggested to feed bees in the fall, so they can store that surplus as honey, rather than introduce liquid nutrition (moisture) into the hive in early spring when their stores may typically fall low. Ideally, you feed until they start to make "burr comb." I was elated to find EVERY FRAME of this hive completely affixed to the lower frames, and top cover, with beautiful new comb. There was a couple frames of brood/eggs, and a good supply of pollen as well. I cleaned up the errant comb, moved things around only slightly, and closed up the hive confident that they are on a good path. Below, Check out the Evaporation Stance of the worker bees at the entrance. They will stand side by side, beating their wings rapidly, drawing air through the entrance in an effort to cool the hive and aid in evaporating the nectar, into the honey we know and love.
Pollen Sac Full...Late fall, the bees are enjoying Dandelion, Calendula, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons, Marigold, Zinnia, Borage, Brassicas like Mustard and Broccoli and the California Poppy.Funny Dwarf Pippin...Late, late apple. Below, buckets of Granny Smith. I neglected to prune this stately tree, there was a late killing frost, and still we've too many apples from this tree!
Haiku...St. Francis...
Cover Cropping ...Clover of two varieties that were planted prior to the rain. It was perfect weather for germination, the warm spell got it growing, and now with the return of cooler, wetter weather, I am confident they are going to be just fine. For me it's all about the bees now. If they like it, I want to plant it.
Red Cabbage...Below Late Broccoli. These were planted in late August, and performed nowhere near as well as those planted the 1st week in Aug. Way Below, Early Broccoli Blooming. More bee forage!
Pink Vista...Below, Pepper - Lives! READY FOR A HORROR STORY? Amitraz Reaction! I have used the Preventic Collars for years, for the control of ticks. I understand the toxic nature of them and am cautious in their use. I enjoy their effectiveness, and assumed they were "safe." I have never witnessed any sort of reaction in my dogs to them. But this time Pepper was found cringing in the wood shed about 3 hours after I put on her collar. I immediately took it off and gave her a bath. She continued to shake and looked very ill. The vet reported that the soap for AMITRAZ removal is LIQUID DAWN, so I put in an order to my partner in town, and continued to monitor her condition. I thought she would be fine. Of course about the time the vet closed for the day, she went down hard, and had a fever of nearly 105*~! It was several phone calls to the preventic poison hot line, the emergency vet, a couple more baths, and 12 hours before her fever went down. She never puked, had no diarrhea and I was certain there was no chance she eaten any collar pieces, so and I took a wait-and-see approach. It was a full day before she would eat anything, or even attempt her usual obsessive Jack Russel tricks and antics. (note: Pepper has been taught many tricks, one of which is "pick it up." So she often spends her spare time collecting pencils, and what-not off the floor bringing them to us in hopes of a goodie!) We were very concerned about her, and needless to say, I removed the collar off Snoopy as well, and am now using some lame organic tick remedy that appears ineffective - but safe. Amitraz is highly toxic to, and can even kill your cat. Most reactions in canines are dog specific. I just don't feel good about having in my home at all. I know more about Amitraz now, than I ever wanted to. Way Below, Snoopy - most likely harboring ticks - plays with Simba. Carrot Soup...We enjoyed a few rows of carrots this summer, and with the last few stragglers I made a delicious autumn soup. They were not the sweetest carrots, so, to the above recipe I added a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. With that, and the sauteed onions, it turned out wonderfully rich and sweet. Spicy too!Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. See you in December for the Year End Wrap Up. Do you have a favorite image from '08? DO tell. xxoo Jj

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Gold

And Purple..and Red..and Pink..and Green and White...
Many Pics...Few Words...It's autumn, which in many ways is so much like spring here, everywhere.
Figs...So close and yet so far away...
Cosmos ...A carefree EZ Autumn Flower...The bees LOVE them - they are a great pollen source.
Last of the Apples...Simba - All Grown Up! Nothing wordy to share. Enjoy Autumn.