Last night I found myself at the annual meeting of the Ulster Beekeepers Association. It was a fun and interesting evening chatting about everything and anything, and also chatting about bees. I also found out that I won 2nd place in the annual PowerPoint competition. Not only was I quite pleased with myself but I also received fifty pounds in prize money! It should be poetic that it should be spent on the bees but we are thinking of building a more permanent, and much larger, run for the chickens.

one of the powerpoint slides

I have and idea and a plan. The injection of some more money into the budget prompted me to buy the wood to get started. The three new arrivals are still being bullied by the three old hens, being hen-pecked I think. This means they are spending more time in the coop than on the grass in the run. Eggs must have been stepped on and consumed as they loafed about in the coop.  There were no eggs for a couple of days; a very bad habit to start, and difficult to stop. We are now policing this by lifting the eggs as soon as we can to prevent them being munched. We have also popped a few plastic eggs in the coup. The idea is that if they try and peck them they will begin to realise that they are inedible.  We intend to expand their space as soon as possible. This is part of a long term project that has been moved up the list. The idea is that we might raise our own hens next year, for the pot!

About a month ago I received word that I had won 3rd place in a different beekeeping competition; a photo competition.

the image that won the bees a new super

The competition was for customers of  Peak-Hives build beautiful beehives from cedar wood. The wood is locally sourced, where possible, and look fantastic. I can still remember the amazing smell of the hives when they were delivered. The smell filled the garage on the cold winter nights when I pulled on a thick fleece and hammered and glued the hives together.

tonight’s autumn mushrooms in the gathering darkness

Tonight I made up more sugar syrup for the bees, but not before heading out for an autumn dander. I strapped the little man to my back and we headed out as the light began to fade. We nibbled blackberries and shouted “doyi, doyi, doyi” at the hedges. We watched the sheep and we looked for strange mushrooms along the way. Tonight we read about a boy who found a lost penguin. We rocked in the chair as we drank our milk (he drank his milk as I pretended to; to entertain) and we read our book by moonlight (a light shaped like the moon). The real moon is waxing now and will be full in just over a week. It is bringing with it the darkness and the long nights. But the little man and I have our moon shaped lamp and books about penguins and bears to hide in, on these gathering winter nights.

the rocking chair under the ‘moonlight’

our bedside reading material (two options for if he wants to read or if he wants to fall asleep in my arms)