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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 middle. Those two holes ensure the bees don't get too much moisture buildup in the hive from condensation when it gets cold out. They also help to ensure the bees don't suffocate if their lower entrance gets blocked for some reason. We've had a few warm, sunny days recently, with the temperature getting over 50 degrees F. That meant bees were out and about, flying around, letting us know they were doing okay.

If you look closely, you can see numerous bees on the front of the hive. The photo doesn't pick up the many other bees flying around in front of the hive. There were probably 40-50 bees at that moment when I took the photo, all hovering in front of the hive - they were coming and going, enjoying the warmth of the sun on that beautiful winter day a couple weeks ago.

In addition to checking on the bees, I've been exploring the weeds growing in the garden, trying to figure out what they are and whether they are okay for chickens to eat. I've learned about a few that people can eat too...

This one below is called hedge mustard. It's a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. That means it's good for humans as well as a healthy snack for chickens. 

Isn't it a perfect plant? Now that I know what it is, I thought I might dig it up and feed it to the hens. Maybe I will try some too, since there are a dozen more out there. Apparently, it's good in a salad.

Weeds grow amazingly well in my garden! There's also chickweed, which hens can eat, too. It gets pretty white flowers and grows like a groundcover. Chickweed is one of the most lush plants in the garden right now. I guess young hens love the tender leaves, so I will give some to our hens tomorrow morning when I'm out in the garden again.

The last weed that I identified this afternoon is henbit. This plant is also edible to chickens and it can be used medicinally for humans too. It's growing all over in the garden. Look at how beautiful and lush it is, below.

Henbit leaves can be brewed in a tea that can apparently help relieve pain, soreness, and stiffness. I will have to give it a try.

Other activities of late have been learning Japanese so that we can travel to Japan in the late spring. We are finally going to go! It is the hardest language to learn, though, so I'm not anticipating we will be very fluent. I have a feeling that I will spend the rest of my life trying to learn Japanese, as it is quite difficult. But, I find the language and everything about Japan to be fascinating.