This morning the reality of my new routine sunk in. It feels OK – great even, but I definitely had that moment of recognition like, ‘Oh, right, this is my life now.’
We’re having a late spring rainstorm. Significant rains this late in April aren’t typical around here, but I’m finding it luxurious. It’s actually humid. The world outside is heavy, fecund, abundant. Everything is green, overgrown, garlanded with flowers, like the forest is throwing itself a wild party. It’s just a moment, a blip, because when summer comes, it will turn dry-brown and dusty. I truly madly love our summers, but they aren’t like this.
But, back to the routine. The heavy skies made it darker than normal this morning, and when Junebug crawled into bed with Lola and me after her night of hunting, her little warm furry body lulled me right back to sleep. Instead of getting up at my normal 6:30, I slept until nearly 8! When I did wake up, I instantly realized I had obligations that went far beyond my normal coffee and shower and chicken-check on the way to the office. I had to let the goat-boys out of the barn – they’re used to being let out before 7. But even more urgent, it’s raining, the bees need to be fed! (Note: I also have a horse, but I’m lucky because he’s boarded next door, so feeding him in the morning is not among my chores.)
Feeding the bees is not hard. Right now they just need a syrup solution of 50% water, 50% sugar, which goes in a mason jar and then screwed onto a special bee feeder. Normally a healthy colony wouldn’t need to be fed during a couple of days of a spring rain, but this is a new colony. If they’ve been doing their jobs, they are working hard building up comb on the empty frames in addition to their normal jobs of gathering nectar, pollen, and raising brood. So a couple of days without foraging at this crucial time could potentially weaken the colony enough to kill it down the line if they get hit by parasites or other disease. I’m just learning all this stuff myself. Maybe a more pro beekeeper wouldn’t be as worried, given that we are in the middle of an enormous honeyflow (i.e. tons of blooming flowers) but I’m sticking to the rules pretty closely.
Anyhow, it was up and at ’em, on with the work boots, the veil and a jar of syrup in my hand. I tromped down to the hive, enjoying the warm rain, with Lola and Junebug (she thinks she’s a dog) romping beside me. The bees were sluggish and ready for some food. I moved slowly, knowing they can be more defensive in inclement weather, but did not use any smoke. I actually haven’t smoked my bees once since getting them, although I will when I add the second hive body, as I will have to open the cover to place the new hive body on top, which will no doubt get them excited.
Once the bees were fed it was time to let the goats out. (Did someone say “Who let the goats out”? Sorry…) They were all snuggled up on their palette covered with soft straw and wood shavings. They were happy to see me, but after checking their hay and refilling their water I had to move on. No time for cuddles. There were eggs to gather, kitchen scraps to deliver, and crumble to refill. No point in giving the hens their usual bushel of vetch and scratch grains as the run is completely muddy. Now that we have a secure – and importantly, dog proof – goat pen, I will be letting the hens into the goat yard on fine days so they can range. But unfortunately, we have neighbor dogs who have mauled my hens in the past, and I can’t let them be totally free range. I’m already down to just three girls after having 5 at one time.
Then it was back to the house, for a quick breakfast of brown bread with cream cheese and cucumber slices (YUM) and another cup of coffee before heading upstairs to finish the final edits on the brief that’s due today. Got to get this thing in the overnight mail otherwise I won’t make my deadline.
So, yeah, this is my life now. Right on.