Friday, June 29, 2018


Introducing Edgar, a blue-black raven of a tiny little rooster gifted to us by a friend with too many roosters and not enough space. He was the lowest guy on the totem pole, and he comes to us a bit picked at with no tail feathers, but he's as sweet as can be (he rode home on my lap). My girls don't know what to do with him yet, and are testing his resolve for sure, but even though he's only half their size he's holding his own! And I'm super excited to add a more watchful member to the flock, as I'm considering expanding their yard into an area much more open with way less cover. An extra pair of eyeballs will be excellent!

Last night I was sitting out with my girls, watching them get to know their new beau, and little ol' Edgar decided to sing them a love song:

The 'honk' at the end kills me every time!

Welcome to the fam, Edgar!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Ever wake up and realize you've been doing something all wrong?

That was something we came to terms with this past weekend after hosting a dinner party wherein everyone stood almost the entire night because- ultimately- our furniture arrangement was wrong.

Our two living spaces are hard spaces to fill; the formal living room has a curved bay window framed by stairs and a fireplace, but it's basically open to the front door with no real delineation between where living space ends and front entry begins... and there's a traffic path to the master bedroom cutting right through it all.

Our "family" room is even more awkward, sharing what is our main dining space with an area that was designed to be a more casual living room with a media space contained in a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelf. It has an angled fireplace, a weird zigzag corner, two cased openings into the kitchen, and a backdoor to contend with... not to mention a wall of windows.

We've tried all kinds of arrangements in the past; a sectional in the family room, upholstered chairs, a couch-love seat combo with a coffee table... there was always something not quite right about it all. And after dinner this weekend we realized it still wasn't right. So we started thinking outside the box, and I think we finally figured it out, y'all...

Once we stopped worrying about the bookshelf-as-entertainment-center and just started thinking about how we use the space(s), it all fell in to place. We moved our dining table into the smaller, more intimate (and more awkward) area near the bookshelf, and we brought the bulky, more casual sectional into the "dining" area (so now there is a good place to sit, open to the kitchen, for when people are visiting and mingling- yay). We then moved our newer, more formal couches into the formal living room. It all makes more sense and the flow is really nice. We just need to rethink our rugs and coffee tables, but that can come with time.

I just love freshening up spaces and improving function! And bonus: we got to vacuum those netherland areas under the couches, so everything is cleaner now, too! A 100% humidity, 99-degree day well spent inside, if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Our Solstice feast this hot and humid First Day of Summer was very much kid-driven, with little hands prepping a large portion of dinner, setting the table, serving the food, and even helping to clean up afterwards. It was the first time they participated at that level, and it was really fun. They took their roles so seriously, and they did a great job. It is an awe-inspiring thing to watch a tradition take root and grow to fill a space of importance in your Littles' lives.

After dinner and story time (we're reading the A Wrinkle in Time books right now), in the half-light of a summer bedtime, I tucked my big helpers in to the tune of the tree frogs croaking and the cicadas buzzing, and each one wished me sweet dreams and a happy Solstice.

It was a very bright way to kick off the new season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sick Hive Follow-Up

My new queen is installed, accepted, and laying in my European Foulbrood-stricken hive, y'all! I did have to let her out of her queen cage on the fourth day because the girls didn't get it done, but details details. She's laying! 

And what's even better is I think this approach to EFB management is working for me- taking out the old queen broke the brood cycle, which gave the nurse bees a chance to catch up on cleaning out the cells. At the same time the forager bees were also able to use the break to start storing food again, and I'm also feeding them to make sure any bacteria-laced stores remaining are quickly purged.

I'm cautiously optimistic, but it feels so good to be optimistic again!

Monday, June 11, 2018

First Summer Ferments

This weekend I called my kiddos down from nap time (aka quiet time these days) to indulge in a growing seasonal tradition spurred by all the things coming in from the garden: our first round of ferments! We pulled out the crocks, the genuine antique pounders, and the homemade weights. We washed 'em, made up our saltwater solution, and did a lot of chopping and pounding, and in the end had a big crock of 'kraut, a small crock of kimchi, a big jar of jalapenos, and a small jar of banana peppers salted and weighted and covered on our counter top!

24 hours later and they're bubbling away, and my laundry room smells like spicy and sour and clean clothes, and that is a lovely summery smell to come home to!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Sick Beehive

It seems like I jinx my hives every year when I get in to them after the winter and get all excited because they're strong and rearing to go. I start thinking, 'Maybe we'll get to harvest some honey this year!' Aaaaaaaaaand then I always figure out something has gone wrong... and usually it's something I've done- or not done- due to my inexperience.

My first year I didn't harvest honey because my girls were all new and I wanted them to have the best chance to come through winter that they possibly could have.

Last year I didn't harvest honey because I (stupidly) didn't treat them for varroa and they were significantly weakened and not able to make a surplus of honey.

This year I thought we were in a good spot- I treated for varroa at the end of the winter, their populations were looking really good, and I was able to stop feeding them sugar water at the end of February. High fives all around. So I made my annual mistake and said out loud, "Maybe we'll get some honey this year!"

And then South Hive started to decline. Rapidly.

So I pulled the hive apart to try to find a clue as to what was going on, and this is what I saw:

The first thing that should jump out at you: a terrible brood pattern, ie a very low number of capped, almost-fully-developed baby bees. So uh-oh.

Then, looking a little closer:

Wait a second, there is a larvae or an egg at the bottom of every single cell, but they're not making it to the capping-age... so what's going on with that? Then you look a little closer...

The bigger larvae look mushy, squished, darkened... and dead. Something bad-wrong was (is) going on. Other things I noticed in this hive: a sharp decline in the adult population and a significant decrease in food stores.

So I pulled out my books, I started texting my photos to my bee friends, and I hit the Googles.

My terrifying (to me) conclusion: South Hive has European foulbrood (EFB). The photos I took during my revealing hive inspection were just as good as the example photos in the books and on the websites explaining this bacterial infection. Textbook, if you will.

What's sad to me is that EFB can actually be managed by a strong hive without intervention, but probably because I didn't treat for varroa like I should have the previous year, they are being destroyed by it instead.

My solution: requeen the hive (which is not easy in June, because queens are hard to come by y'all).

Step one: find the old queen and get her out of the hive with enough time before the new one arrives for all the daughters to realize she's not there any more.


Step two: order a new queen and choke on how expensive she is.

Step three: work from home on delivery day so the new royal can be installed ASAP.

So now I wait... I wait for UPS, I wait for my hive to release and accept their new queen, and I wait to see if her new genes will save my last original hive.