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We Visited Japan

At the end of May, we visited Japan. Since our visit was only for 6 days, we decided to stay within the Tokyo area. We had a wonderful time. Paul opted out of going, not really enjoying large crowds. We appreciated that he took care of the farm while we were away, and he did a great job keeping up with everything. Below are a few photos from our trip. There were huge crowds in Shibuya. We walked across Shibuya Crossing several times. It's one of the largest intersections in the world. When it's time for the crosswalks to open, all the lights turn red so that the entire intersection opens up to people who are crossing the road on foot. People can walk diagonally across the intersection if they want. We visited the Inokashira Park Zoo and Aquarium, along with several nearby parks, while waiting to go to the Studio Ghibli Museum. While wandering around near the zoo, we came across a sculpture museum with many enormous sculptures both inside and outside. In Harajuku, we went to a c
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Our Honeybees Survived the Winter

Last fall, we installed extra ventilation in our beehives and converted their honey supers into quilt boxes to place at the top, providing added insulation and moisture control inside the hive. As a result, for the first time since we became beekeepers, our honeybees were equipped to survive the harsh cold of winter. We are so excited to see them coming out of their hives with the warmer spring weather, foraging for nectar and pollen. As I stand looking at the hives, I can see bees flying back to the entrances, the pollen saddlebags on their legs full of bright orange pollen. The bees have especially enjoyed the grape hyacinth growing in our flower beds. The bees also love the purple deadnettle and white chickweed flowers. There are many flowering cherry and plum trees around us, and the maple trees are putting off nectar and pollen. These are just a few of the flowers blooming around us. It is truly a smorgasbord for the honeybees this time of year, and it only gets better as the weat

Spring is Not So Far Away

 During our walk today, we noticed the Osoberry trees (also known as Indian Plum) are budding, and those closer to the sea are actually in full bloom. Spring is not so far away. The daffodils have come up, although their flowers are not open yet. Crocuses are blooming, as is the heather. On the bluebells, the flower buds are forming down inside the plant and getting ready to rise up and bloom. Some of our irises have bloomed. The delicate crocus is the first flower to appear in the new year, braving frigid winter temperatures to bring us cheer. We planted heather for our honeybees so they would have something to forage in the winter and early spring. The plants are still quite small, though - it will be a few years more before the bees can gather much from them.   Our honeybees survived the 9-degree low we had in mid-January. I credit the extra ventilation we put into the hives. In the photo below, notice the round hole toward the top of the hive as well as the square opening near the

Single Digit Temperatures During Winter Storm

We had a new low temperature record here on our farm a couple nights ago, when we noticed it got down to 9 degrees F. Likely it went even lower, but we ended up going to bed. During the daytime highs, it's only gotten up to about 15 degrees the past two days.  While we didn't get a lot of snow during this first winter storm of the season (only about four inches), it has been a lot colder than we are used to. Of course, we left the water dripping in all our sinks to avoid any frozen pipes (we don't want a repeat of an earlier year when the  pipes burst under the house ). We've had the pellet stove and wood stove going continuously along with space heaters in several rooms. Even so, it's only about 55 degrees in most of the house, so we're bundled up in warm clothes. The chickens and ducks don't enjoy the cold. The ducks dislike the snow way more than the chickens. I ran a long extension cord from the garage and plugged in a hard plastic heating pad for the du

A Winter Harvest

Here it is late December, and I just came back in from the garden with a small harvest. It's been rainy the past few days. Despite the drizzle, I threw on my raincoat and ventured outside to pick fresh greens and see what else I could find.  When I came back inside with the basket full of vegetables and herbs, everything was covered with mud. The beets and horseradish had clumps of dirt on them that got onto the rest. So, I washed it all really well and then soaked it in a bin of water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar to help clear away any impurities. One last rinse and a spin dry in the vegetable spinner, and there they are. My lovely garden veggies. What did I find? Kale, swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, beets, horseradish, and parsley. All except the beets and horseradish were plants that reseeded themselves over the summer. Actually, greens and herbs have been reseeding themselves for the past few years. I have literally not planted any seeds of these plants for a long t

Meet the Flock: Part 3

Hello! Welcome to our little farm where we raise chickens and ducks, watch over an apiary full of honeybees, tend to a garden, and wait for the field of blueberry bushes to mature. If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series where we introduce you to the birds in our flock! We are proud to introduce... Beaker #2 A few years ago, we had a hen named Beaker who was all gray. She was hatched from an egg that one of our other hens laid (we weren’t sure who) and her father was Captain Rooster . So, her breed was a mystery. The first Beaker has since passed away, and then this second all-gray hen came along last spring when we purchased her from Coastal Farm and Ranch. She was supposed to be a Rhode Island Red. But, as can happen, the chicks got mixed up in the bin and we ended up with Beaker #2. We adore her anyhow. She is very shy and runs away if approached. Chandler & Janice These two golden hens are super friendly and easy-going. They are also good

Meet the Flock: Part 2

Welcome to the second in a three-part series featuring the members of our flock! If you missed Part 1, you can read it by clicking here . Little Red A good egg layer, Little Red is a Rhode Island Red hen who produces healthy brown eggs nearly every day of the year. She has an inquisitive nature and loves to forage. When she is cuddled up on the roost at night, you can pat her on the back and she will make cooing noises in rhythm with each pat you give her. Foghorn Leghorn Foghorn Leghorn hatched from an egg one of our other hens laid back when we had a rooster. The hen who laid on the nest for her is Cheech, a kind mother hen who gets broody every year. Foghorn’s father was Captain, the meanest rooster on this side of the Rockies. Captain lost a battle with a bald eagle that swooped into the chicken run a few years back, which has since saved us from being kicked with his wicked spurs every day. Simon & Garfunkel These two black-and-white speckled hens were purchased from Airpor