Friday, January 30, 2015

Blizzard, Winter storm watch, active weather pattern

Welcome to the end of January in Maine.  I used to want to see snow falling on Christmas morning when I awoke, and have resigned myself to the fact snow will probably be falling on my birthday-or it

 will be 20 below zero.I

I have pledged that once before my years come to pass I will spend my birthday someplace warm and sunny, and one has to be careful what they wish for, because that may mean spending a birthday in Georgia moving 100 pound hives onto a truck bound for the California almond pollination.

This week we had an official blizzard on Tuesday, we think we got around 2 feet.  The Firebird and I spent three hours midday in the teeth of the snow moving the snow out of our 300 + foot driveway.  The wind was howling and like idiots we were revelling in it.

Wednesday night we had to move the last 6 inches of it to make way for today-our area to have "the jackpot" of 12-18 inches.

I crawled up to work today while the saplings slept in-their third snow day of the week.  I made it to the shop on Wednesday to be greeted with eight foot high drifts in front of the doors which needed to be cleared-after our drive, and then work, and then our drive again my legs were pretty sore yesterday.

I have to take comfort in the fact that I must be pretty ripped for my age-once I get out of these sixteen layers of clothes sometime around April I will be able to tell...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

RIP Cricket the Beautiful

Cricket passed Friday.  Willow and I found her at evening chores;the the does were all riled up.  Cricket was always tied last because she was at the bottom of the pecking order, always submissive, always going to her spot when it was her turn.  Lately she had been lingering in the houses in the morning, but when it came to tie her that night, Willow said, "where's Cricket?" and found her stretched out on the icy ground.

She had been failing of late, picking at her extra helpings of grain, so I had been trying to prepare for the inevitable.  She was such a good goat, that she died on the least inconvenient time possible-the evening before my only day off.  Willow and I interred her against the rock wall in the upper pasture, since the ground is too frozen.  The Firebird had a track meet that day.  Cricket's daughter Anna and the other goats as well as her human friends are all mourning her loss

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Framed and Floored

So what happens in the northern beekeeping realm after all the bees have shipped south for the winter?

Making new equipment of course.

Initially I was thrilled to hear, "we have a bunch of new equipment to build".

Then this translated into 3,000 deep-or brood-frames. 

Frames parts consist of a top bar, a bottom bar, and two side pieces.  each top and bottom bar has to be attached, in our case, stapled with a pnematic air gun, and glued, to the side pieces.

Then plastic foundation is snapped into each frame, and each frame gets a counter staple on each side.

I was a bit apprehensive, since I once had a job at a woodworking shop assembling wooden windowboxes, and we were supposed to meet a quota of so many an hour, and I had a penchant for blowouts, whereupon the person at the receiving end had to fix the nail jutting out.

Now I had the pleasure of being under the tutelage of a college attending employee on winter break, and we got into a bit of competitve mode.  She made 18 perfect frames in 8 minutes.  I followed with 18 in ten minutes with two minor blowouts.  Since my "quota" was 40 in an hour, things were looking good.

Until days stretched to weeks and I woke each morning to a half hour drive at sunrise to staple frames all day arriving home at sunset....the days are supposed to be getting longer, and they certainly appeared to be never ending, frames after frames after frames....

I recognized I certainly am a victim of ADHD, because I would have cheerily stapled my hand to relieve the endless monotony of standing in the same place doing the same thing.

Luckily for me, my outdoor kitty co-worker, who normally did whatever he could do to avoid doing anything involving work, took a shine to the repetition.  he stapled perfectly.  I assembled, he stapled, we listened to the radio and disagreed about every song, (he being a semi professional musician, and me having extensive music recording experiece, but favoring different genres), but we still banged out the frames.

Then the boss reappeared and put J back on a picky little task and stuck me solo on frames, which was a disasterous combination, as I grew grumpier and grouchier by the day while he sauntered in and out to the woodshop pretending to cut wood for his project.

Finally the day arrived that Boss and J left together to join the other J in Georgia, leaving me to start assembling hive pallets.

Boss went over the dimensions prior to leaving, sketching out a few drawings.  My eyes lit up.  I am the type of person if you ask me for directions I have to draw you a map. I love architectural drawing.  My job was to build jigs for pallets, and then the pallets.

Boss left me to the jigs and proceeded to rip up enough pressure treated two by fours and 1 inch stock to make 100 pallets.  The jigs are done and two proto type pallets are finished. 

Just 98 pallets to go.

*wanders off singing, off key, "98 pallets of bees on the wall, 98 pallets of bees....*

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Miracles

Happy 2015!

So what's all this about miracles?

Well, the last few years I seem to manage being able to dig potatoes for Thanksgiving, which is really unusual for Maine.

This year we had a huge snowstorm November 2nd, and a big freeze shortly afterwards, so there was no digging potatoes for Thanksgiving.

I resigned myself to the fact that last row of Kennebec whites was lost.

Then we had rain Christmas Eve day.  

I walked by that last row of potatoes at nightfall coming in from night chores, the digging fork stuck in the ground next to row, and gave the fork a wiggle,  The fork moved! 

I started poking around, flipping frozen earth crust in large pizza sizes...and lo and behold, the potatoes below were not frozen yet.  I kept digging and digging, and this is what I ended up with-enough for Christmas dinner and a hearty serving of homefries a couple days later.,  Best potatoes evah!

These were also "freebies"-descendants of the 50 pound bags for 5.99 I bought fall of 2013, leftovers that had started to sprout.

Follow up number two-the bow building.  I failed at that attempt, the oak twisted horribly and I couldn't string a good piece out of it.  Willow in the meantime took matters into her own hands, cut a good sapling, tied on a string, and was shooting Jeruselem Artichoke stalks in lieu of arrows.

I picked her up a real arrow for her birthday, and she got a lot of use out of that with her little homemade bow.  It had a pretty good draw strength-more than this 15 pound draw I bought her for Christmas, along with a handful of arrows.

Here her brothers are taking their turns along with her on Christmas afternoon:\

The Firebird has had a goal to break the school record for 55 meter dash, which he did this past Tuesday.  Here's a pic of him on the long jump, one of his other events:

courtesy event photographer

Me?  Having the winter blahs, underpaid, underappreciated, overworked...but at least I have some money coming in-can't have everything! (don't we wish)