Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hives, & Spring hath arriveth

These catkins have been out for a while, but posted them up anyway. Love the dangliness of them, the way they dance in the lightest of breezes. 

And Bools and Gussy investigating, and trampling on, a patch of spring flowers sheltering beneath the hazel tree with the dangling catkins.

And the fruit trees just sqeezing themselves into blossoming.....

And managing with a flourish a couple of days later. You can see the side field in the background, with the newly planted posts. This is the dock filled sheep field. Docks doing well. Grass for grazing the sheep on, not so well. Been dry here for weeks. Cold, but dry. Thought the heavens might give us a drop or two of rain last night. Nope. Sheep arrive soon. Ah well. Not to worry. The rains will arrive soon. Slap me over the wrists if I dare to even mutter the slightest of moans about the mud and wetness when it does.

Mr T (of the sheep flock) came by yesterday. And delivered to us yet more rabbit hutches. Have given strict instructions to Hubs / Chief Rabbit Keeper that we do not need more rabbit hutches. 'We are not going to go into rabbit production, after all', I said.
This was met with a frown on his part. 'So can I keep the rabbits by the office?'
 "NOOOOOoooooOOOOOO". I quite loudly responded, loud enough for the dogs to scarper, one under the bedroom caravan, the other under the old kitchen / potting shed caravan lest I be on a rampage against them. 
Hubs looked even more frowny. "So WHERE can I keep them then".
"I don't know, but NOT HERE, not in the courtyard". Rabbits are fluffy. Rabbits are cute. They have long ears you can fondle. That is what I say.
Yes, but they also have meat you can eat, is what Hubs says.
And I agree. But only if I am given the meat to cook. Preferably in pieces, so I can't see the actual shape of the animal. And neither can I do bonding, because it would be like eating your friend. Rabbits are very bondable-with creatures. Therefore I can't have them living in the same proximity as us. Out in the fields, then yes, I could manage to see them as part of the living system at Labartere, the same as the other animals. But any living creature in the courtyard is family. 
Which includes the robin who has taken it upon himself to partake of the food in the kitchen, and is often to be seen popping in for a snack. He is not to be shifted in his desire to share our food, even though Hubs / Chief Bird Scarer has tried by numerous methods to chase him out. Like yelling, "Get out you ********ing thief". Like imitating a windmill by flapping his arms about to make much wind. Like using a baton (handy piece of old wood) to poke in the air at it like a sword. Like grabbing a teatowel and flipping its botty. Like blocking up the small windows with perspex to prevent entry, leaving the large windows with their shutters closed to also prevent entry. However, I saw that robin literally squeeze himself through a gap in the shutters yesterday, after it had cheerfully perched on a chair near to where I was cooking to see if there was any food going. Bless. Which is not what Hubs / Former Chief Bird Scarer now retired, would say. 
Re: the rabbit hutches. Their position is still 'To Be Decided'.

And here is what Mr T brought with him as well. Et voila....

Mmmmmmm? None the wiser? OK, so let me take you for a recce round that patch of the courtyard. I know that it looks a mess, but it won't in the future. At some point all things will be banned apart from garden plants. For now, though......
To the left is the bedroom caravan and porta potti holding place. The orange box you can see propped up against it is Hubs's shower tray. Swinging right is the now retired kitchen caravan, the awning of which is now the potting shed. The black buckets in front are the soil savers in which the potting compost is kept. They were our recepticles for making nettle fertilizer last year. The smell from that rotting liquid has gone now. Which is good. It did chuck up a fair old stink. 
Just in front of the bins is my washing line, with its artistic arrangement of sundry blocks of concrete and stone together with some old iron gate hinges, all of which defy my washing line to topple over. Which is won't do when empty, of course. But when it is fully loaded, then there is earnest discussion all the day long between the artistically arranged  pieces and the loaded washing line about who is going to stop doing their job first.  I often have to intervene with their squabbling. There was a moment the other day when the artful pieces decided to go on strike. I think they weren't fussed about the wind that was blowing the washing about. Thought that it was unfair that they had to work extra hard. 
To the left of the washing area, is the nursery which is planted up with all sorts of goodies. Loads of saplings and cuttings, most of which are growing. Shame about the lemon tree which Hubs / Head Gardener had neglected to take inside during the last bout of cold weather. I think it is on its way to plant heaven. 
To the front and left is the shovel head which belongs to the digger, which belongs to the builders. The digger is not here, but the head is. 
Which leaves the pile of grey boxes in the middle. Four. Two bottoms, two tops. Et voila! Les ruches. The bee hives! Yeeeesssss! We have bee homes. No bees. But we do have their houses. So: Mr T said: Put the boxes out like this, after inserting these yellow sheets in these wooden frames and melting them so they stay put using my heat gun which you can borrow for the moment. Get citronella from the chemist, its like toothpaste. Doesn't cost much. Put bottom boxes out on site. Don't put them onto the ground because the river might flood them. Put them on blocks. Put the citronella paste on the front entrance of the hive. In May bees will come. If a small bunch arrives then they will live in the hive house. If a big bunch arrives then you will have to give them them an upstairs, which means putting the other box on. In autumn, take this top box off.  Open the lid, and  with a smoking implement have a look at the frames. If there are baby bees in a frame, just put it back into the bottom box. The queen will follow her babies and go back down there. Leaving you with the reward of the honey. 
And that's all there is to it! Yes, well....... And here is Hubs / Head Beekeeper proudly showing you a ruche. Behind him is the shutters through which that robin squeezes when foraging in the house.

And so you have finally arrived at the end of this catchee-up blog. I hope you enjoyed your read and that it made you smile. Sending you loads of best wishes for a happy week ahead, revoir pour ce moment.


Tommo said...

An excellent read. Cor, it's all 'go' down at your place. Nearly said 'hive of industry'. But I won't.

DUTA said...

Your pictures display Spring images. Lovely!
Indeed, as usual,I enjoyed the reading,and your british humor which made me often smile.

There's reason in madness as they say in Shakespeare; there's reason in your yard's mess, it will gradually dissappear, and everything will fall in its right place.

Have a blessed new week!

Ken Devine said...

Hi Vera
I enjoyed reading the post.
It's all coming together nicely don't you think? Thank goodness it's Spring at last.

I never realised that you didn't have to buy bees. Thinking about it, how could you anyway?

How far away do you need to have them from the house?

Hope all is well.

Roz said...

I love robins - it always cheers me to see them, and as for the hutches - my friend has rabbits and they are VERY smelly in summer and she is quite anal about cleaning them out. I was suprised how much they smell. So one good reason for not having them within sight/cuddling distance! lovely pics too xx

Vera said...

Hi Tommo. Yes indeed, as the weather continues to heat up so does the list of things to do. I have even caught myself dawdling with my memories of those lie ins because it was too cold to get out of bed!

Duta: You are right. The mess will disappear. It did a while ago when we had a huge clean up and then it all came back again!

Bees, Ken, can be bought. Through the post. They come in a box and you have to go and collect them from the local post office because the post people won't deliver them. As far as distance from the house. Wouldn't know about that one, but you wouldn't their house too close to yours otherwise they might get into the habit of popping in for a visit, rather like our robin does!

Roz, I am developing a love for those little birds myself. And thankyou so much for giving me another reason as to why we can't keep rabbits in the courtyard. Flies. Hubs hates them, and swats them at every opportunity. Rabbits make doings. Flies like the doings and come visiting. That is my next line of argument when the subject comes up again!

Barry said...

We've had a pretty dry winter here as well, but today it's raining, not hard, but a consistent drizzle.

I am fond of rabbits, but not as meat.

Hope your bees stay healthy.

Vera said...

Hi Barry. Hope you are well, and going to do that public speaking that you mentioned on your blog recently. As for the bees: should a swarm decide to take up residence, then we will do our best to give them as much TLC as poss, given that if they are not happy with us then all they will do leave again!