caturday


Relax, it’s caturday.

relaxed cat by stychy

Sit back, relax, it’s caturday.

unknown source

Friday night Christmas dinner with the lovely Sharon’s work.  A massive amounts of food was consumed, it feels like enough to last me till Monday.  A cold night and a frozen dawn.  Saturday pancakes are even nicer when shared with visiting family.

A little chess was played between my nephew and I after breakfast and before a snow ball fight.  The little man joined in the chess and the game was then forfeited to him.  Neither of us could find a way to defend against the little man’s aggressive attack.  Little man’s choo choo train to B3 taking white’s bishop, pawn and knight, and also black’s queen.  I had never seen anything like it.  Such a creative flare that even a Grand Master would never think of.

Last night I read a bit more of a book. It is hard to break little habits and make room for reading; a good habit that is easy to break. I am not one that thinks much about the actual writing of a book. I don’t think I have the experience or authority and usually just like a book full of geekness, facts and weirdness. Sometimes a book comes along that changes my mind and I find myself eating the words. This book is such a book. The chapters themselves are so far about things like finding a whale on a beach, but the words are poetry. I am not even through to the middle and I already know I am going to hate finishing it and I am already thinking of who to lend it to.

Findings by Kathleen Jamie

This morning the tradition of Saturday morning pancakes has returned after a break in that habit. The lovely Sharon is making Banana Bread and the little man is in his walker with his arms help high at the patio door. Toys are being slammed against the glass to attract the attention of the cats. Yelps of joy can be heard from him when they humour him with occasional glances.
It will be my turn with the dessert soon.  A vanilla, lemon and honey cheesecake is the intention (with our own honey).  The lovely motherly Sharon will move from sweet to savoury as she prepares little pots of meals for the little man’s dinners.  The kitchen will soon take on the smell of steaming vegetables and cheese sauces, and it will fell like Sunday dinner is imminent.  While we are doing all this we can’t help but keep looking out the window.  The season is changing more rapidly now and the coming storm be sure to push it along faster.  At the moment it is far out at sea but is only a day or two away.   The bees will be fed tonight, and then they will be strapped down ready for the winds, ready for rain, and ready for the storm on the horizon.

the coming storm

very brave cats and beehive by klara kim

The day started lazily and continued at this pace for quite some time.  Even though a lie-in is just a fable now or even a thing of folklore, the morning can still be leisurely.  The little man has developed the habit of tunefully singing with the birds at dawn.  We believe this to be a random fluctuation in genetics as this trait is not an inherited one.  We had only a few objectives for the day other than the regular chores.  Cheesecake and Banoffee were on the lovely Sharon’s list and, as a family, we had the aim of heading out for lunch.

Making the little man’s tiny pureed packets of apples and pears was on the list of chores

The bees were not on the list as they need time and space on their own for a while.  As I cleaned out the chickens I had an opportunity to lean on the brush shaft and stand for an eternity and watch the antics at the hive entrances.  The hive with the baby queen showed some encouraging signs as several bees were doing orientation flights.  They change jobs from nurse bees to flying bees and the first thing they do in this new role is make circular flights around the hive in ever increasing circles.  In this way they imprint the surroundings of their new home into their mind.  This hive has very few flying and so every one of them is essential to bring in the pollen and nectar to feed the hungry mouths.

The other hive seems to be a mirror image of this.  It has a ridiculous amount of flying bees and few nurse bees.  This hive has the queen we have now named Grelder.  I am not a fan of naming animals that are not truly pets.  I named the chickens only as a joke (Roast, Lemon, Szechuan and Rosemary) and never use the names or can ever tell them apart anyway.  But, after the artificial swarm adventure we thought she deserved a name and Grelder seemed fitting as GRound ELDER is something we have to deal with a lot here; just when you think it has completely gone it suddenly appears again from an unknown hiding place.

If I had been a more experienced beekeeper I would have put the hives closer together to make evening out the number of flying bees a possibilty.  This is achieved by swapping the hives to each others positions over a couple of weeks in a strange ball-in-a-cup type manoeuvre.

After lunch I found myself in a well known bookshop in the ‘town’ and bought yet another book on beekeeping.  At the desk the lady asked me if I was thinking of keeping bees to which I replied (half embarrassed, and I do not know why) that I already do.  Then came the classic next question of’ “do you make your own honey then?”  I am sorry to say that my reply is always the same very annoying phrase, “no, the bees do that.  It would take me too long to make my own honey.”  I can’t help myself.

One of Grelder’s daughters

 

the pointy bit

 

a bee’s bum

 the sting in the tail

Looking at the wing of one of Grelder’s daughters can apparently reveal how close she is to the pure Irish Black Bee family tree.  One day I hope to figure out how to do this.

The weather these last few days has not felt like it should.  It seems silly to think that only a month or so ago the lovely Sharon and I were dining outside in the cool evening air.  Today seems to have been a little better and pleasant enough to try and repair some of the damage from the wind storm a few days ago.  One of the apple trees was blown over.  The damage may not be all that bad as the bark seems intact.  A steak driven deep into the ground is giving it a chance to try again at life.  One of the rowans took on a worrying tilt from the wind.  It is a tree that looks to be in teenage in tree years.  It too now has a thick metal steak driven into the grounds beside it.  The rowan is not a tree I want to loose, it is also called the quicken; a tree of life.  It is steeped in rich folklore in Ireland and is said to be so powerful that it drives away witches.  This is not lost on me and I mention this fact to a friend who visits sometimes.  She is the seventh daughter from the glens of Antrim.  I want to remember to mention it ever time she visits to see how much it annoys her (it won’t).  I want to look surprised and reflect rhetorically, “Oh, you made it?”

rowan tree by troutcolour

The damage of the storm makes me wonder how bad it was.  These trees have stood for years and have stood worse winds in the winter.  The recent storm was out of season and the trees were heavy with foliage and sap.  For a while today I sat beside the hive and watched the bees go about their business.  Pollen is being brought in, in small amounts.  This is a good sign and indicates that young larvae are still being fed.  However, a bad sign was the thirty or so dead bees outside the hive.  Some were nearly dead and looking forlorn, some were dead and showed deformed wings.  These are both symptoms of viruses which themselves are consequences of a varroa infestation.  I suspect that today was good enough weather for the bees to do some housekeeping and clear the floor of their dead that had accumulated over the last few housebound days. They are still being treated with their medicine to fight the mite and I must keep it in perspective as a handful of bees pale in comparison to the likely forty thousand (roughly) bees that live in the hive.  Also, scores of bees are constantly plucked from the entrance of the hive by the sparrows that nest in the corners of the cottage’s eaves.  Although it must be extremely expensive bird food, it is amusing to watch.  They hop down underneath the hive and pluck the bees as they arrive.  Once a bee is in beak they fly away as quickly and as desperately as possible.  I am sure it does not take much bee venom to kill a sparrow. With the varroa, viruses and sparrows I just hope they recover and are healthy again soon.  I suspect that with the extent of their infestation that they will be clearing out their dead for a few weeks to come.  We have noticed that bees have featured a lot in the media recently, and so they should.  They are having real problems and are an essential component of our agriculture, which translates into; food.

a bit of BBC radio Ulster about bees this morning

the hive today

Today we wandered around garden centres.  We slowly pondered weird and wonderful flowers and then had lunch.  At lunch we were entertained by the little man showing us his trick of deconstructing biscuits in the most messily way humanly possible.  We did buy a few plants.  We got a small collection of foxgloves to replace the ones that the destructive  lovely  Sharon disposed of.  A couple of months ago she did a little weeding and got stuck on a ‘weed’ she did not recognise.  She researched the books for a few days before deciding that the unknown was unfriendly and weeded out the mystery plant.  Luckily she missed a few that are now in flower and are unashamedly foxgloves.  The lovely Sharon is not very happy with herself at all.  She has now vowed to leave everything that she cannot identify in place just in case.

Wind, drizzle rain, sunshine, wind, and more rain.  The birds keep singing throughout it all and the house is filled with the sound of laughing and the other strange noises that the little man makes.

coffee by ben cumming

The small dark coffees are made leisurely and the smell is as rich as their taste.  The long weekend starts here.

Next Page »