I am sitting at my dining room table looking out the big windows into the yard and the tangled forest beyond, watching as spring stumbles into the world.  It’s an early, clumsy entrance that I welcome as I would the unannounced arrival of an old friend for dinner – I’m happy but unprepared.

The lilac sprouted its leaves on Saturday. From bare twigs to green leaves in a day!

The lilac sprouted its leaves on Saturday. From bare twigs to green leaves in a day!

We need a lot more rain before spring can really happen. There are more than a few buttercups blooming, but without a good soak the rest of the Ranch’s celebrated wildflowers have no chance.  The black oaks are sprouting leaves but the dry ground makes me fear that the trees will be too brittle by summer and we’ll lose a lot of them before the year is out.

Luckily rain is in the forecast. And other springtime things. For one, I will be getting new bees! I have determined that I lost last year’s bees to varroa mites. This is frustrating because I tested them several times and never saw any, and as I’d been advised that first year colonies rarely succumb to mites, I never treated them. But when I opened the hive I saw plenty of dead mites on the bottom board, and there were very few dead bees in the hive.  There was also a TON of honey (mostly from all the sugar syrup I fed them) which I was glad to see because I meant I hadn’t starved them.

There is an upside to the discovery of varroa as well: it means they didn’t die from American foulbrood. That is a huge relief, as I would have had to burn all my equipment and start over completely from scratch. There’s no way I would have been able to afford to do that this year.  Additionally, I moved the hive closer to the house, which will make the regular powdered-sugar treatments for varroa I plan to do much easier.

Also, the Freedom Ranger chicks are growing like monsters. I’ve never raised meat birds before so I’m not sure if they’re growing especially fast for the breed, but they’re definitely impressing me.

Feathers everywhere!

Feathers everywhere and fluff disappearing by the minute!

I just planted seeds for my tomato, tomatillo, fennel, and eggplant starts. I’m going to have to do some online shopping for my pepper seeds. For whatever reason, the stores around here are only the most boring kinds of peppers in their seed selections. Meanwhile I’m pondering how the veggie garden will be organized this year, and how I will fit everything in with the chard and kale and other things already planted that I don’t want to pull out. Hmmm….I need a bigger garden!

Peaches the goat is hopefully bred – we’ll be getting a sonogram (!!!) in a few weeks and then we’ll know for sure, and whether or not there are multiples in there. Nigies are known for having up to FOUR kids at a time.

Oh, and guess what? It just started to rain. Okay spring, come on in and make yourself at home.