Rialian's Realm

Thoughts and Considerations

Waiting for Godot-bees?

by rialian - April 18th, 2011

===I may very well name the second hive Godot, considering how I have been having to wait a bit for the hive to be complete.  The place I ordered from was apologetic, and said they should arrive tomorrow.  Seeing that I called them last week when they arrived, and one queen was dead, I think they should have mailed them at least by the 12th.,.NOT the 14th.  The bees from the package that the dead queen came in are staying in the hive, due to the last remanants of pheremone….but I need a live queen in there as of a few days ago.  (they are saying that they have not had such problems with the mail before, and I am willing to give them some benefit of the doubt….but this is rather unhappy-making. )

===I have found a local bee breeder that I may get nucs from next year if things do not work out this year.  (I wish I had known about him earlier…apparently he has been breeding Russians locally, working on getting a strain adapted to this area.  He does not have any new queens until June, else i would have already gone out there and gotten one.) For those wondering why I want “Russians”…one, they are rather friendly bees, from my experience.  They are also noted for their hygenic behavior, and in they are rather good at grooming mites off each other and out of the hive.  The original stock was also a bit more cold-resistant.

===Part of my stress is that the second hive would have already been producing brood right now, and we are in a good pollen/nectar flow.  This hive will be two weeks behind what it could have been, and the packaged bees are not going to survive forever.  They are mainly sent with the queen to get a hive set up so that her young can take over as they die off in the next few weeks or so.  (foraging is hard on the bees.  Bees can live for 3 months or so during the winter, but last far less individually during the spring/summer/fall.)

===Ah, well…we will see how it all works out.  I am also keeping an aye out for wandering swarms to put in one of the empty hives.

Winds, rain…Quiche and books…

by rialian - April 17th, 2011

===Yesterday we had our neighbors over, and they taught us how to make a fine quiche. (I rather like quiche, I am glad to have learned how to make it.).

===Heavy rains and wind yesterday, enough that I had to clear out the culvert twice, having caught it before it flowed over the first time, and after the second (chuckles) I had fun wading in and clearing things up.  When the dry season hits, I will have to pull out some stones from further up and reinforce about the area so that it does not damage the roadway next year. (the problem with heavy heavy rains is that it gets the bigger sticks and more leaves up higher on the banks, and clogs the culvert if it jams just right.)

===The upside to all the rain (other than the recharging even more of the water table) is that it has been giving me a better idea as to where might put in some ponds.  They will likely be seasonal ones, but getting the land to hold more water is a good thing up here, and who knows, I might find one of the shallow springs that are about. (they tend to be in the areas of the rain-stream flows off the mountain.  Remember, a stream is more that what you see on the surface….really, the stream is the place that the water actually comes up and is seen.  Most of the stream (in many cases) is underground.

===Reading Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture …great book, highly recommended.  It has helped refine a few other ideas I was looking at doing, and can refine to fit this area.  I am very pleased.

Baking and making hutches…

by rialian - April 15th, 2011

===It has been a busy bit recently…It looks like I have gotten the hang of baking bread to the point where it is considered really good by both myself and my wife…and I have to make more today. (grins) I am following the basic recipe from The Tassajara Bread Book, 25th Anniversary Edition (highly recommended, by the by.  Get this edition…while I like the earlier one, it is not adapted to making loves for the regular-sized home…it also has more in it).

===(Note…wow, Stirring the yeast-sugar-water mix in the spin-counterspin-spin way (like biodynamic/Schauberger methods), has apparently increased the speed of the rising of the bread.  It is taking about half the time between rises.  We will see how the resulting bread is.)

===I will soon be trying to develop a new sourdough culture from the area, and see what I get.  Right now, I am using simple red-star yeast that I got from an Amish market.

===I made 2 rabbit cages yesterday.  Due to the over-amorous actions of Foo Foo, with the increasing “I am GOING to give you a beat down if you do NOT stop” reactions of Little Bunny, I was forced to make a second cage yesterday and separate them. (they mated a while back, and had not wanted to be separated until just the other day.)

===I am still waiting for the replacement queen for the hive that is live-queenless.  I had made a slight misstatement in the last mention of the bees….HAD there been a queen that had laid some eggs and had died here, they would have been able to produce a new queen. As it stands now?  they have nothing to work with.  I am hoping the new queen shows up very soon.  (Silly mistaken statement…I had been in the mindset of what happens in a regular hive, not a package of bees). 

===However, I just found out about a person that breeds local queens and will be selling nuc hives (mini hives, essentially, that have brood and comb.) in May…so i may decide to get a nuc or two from them.

===Still to do: make better stands for the hutches, with a roof (they are off the ground now, and covered…but I want to actually get a proper rabbitry setup going, with the rabbits being a slight bit higher off the ground.) I intend to build a rabbit/chicken tractor (one of each, in fact) to get the meadows soil quality improved (and the animals diets), but I also want them to have a secure area to be in at night.

===Sepp Holzer of Der Krameterhof fame has a book out in English that I just got yesterday…I am quite pleased.  I heard about him a few years back, and have seen the videos of his place and the stuff he has been up to.  (honestly, seeing some of the amazing things I would love to read that are in German have made me seriously consider trying to learn the language.  This, and the amazing bee research coming out of that part of the world would be really interesting to read in the original language….especially since a bunch of the stuff is only in German at this time..)

===Also got in the same package Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and
Healing Abilities of Invasives
.  It has a forward by one of my favorite herbalist/ethnobotanist writers, Stephen Harrod Buhner.  I do think some caution with aggressive species is important, but also look at the fact that many of these plants are essentially better adapted to really disrupted ecosystems…which would be the case for much of the United States (Those woods outside your house?  They are rather young, really…the forests behind me have a few old trees, that were left as boundary markers.  The majority of the trees are likely from the 1930s or so, with pockets of older trees that were not as easily reached (note to self, I really should look up when this areas was logged and how intensively.)

===As might be guessed, I am not on the “kill all the invasives” bandwagon.  Honestly, I think the chemical treatments we use to get rid of them are likely even MORE damaging to the ecologies in the long term, and are simply setting us up to maintaining a disrupted ecology….which is perfect for the plants we call invasive.  (also perfect for the companies that make the herbicides bottom line). 

===Seeing someone explore the uses of these plants, and inclining people to interact with their ecology to ultimately keep these things under control?  I think it is a good thing for us all.

Weather changes…

by rialian - April 12th, 2011

===Yesterday, it got to around 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  Today, it will be staying in the 40s..(actually, it was in the 50′s overnight…it dropped with this most recent front.  Nice mist, rain, and wind from the northeast.)

===The heavy rain seems to have passed now (10:45) so it should be reasonable to go out and get things done around Mithlond.  I just finished baking bread. (it takes about 4 hours to get the two loves done from start to finish).  I am finishing my coffee, looking out the window to see the large sassafrass tree greening out nicely, and the black cherry flowering white. 

===With the burst of heat yesterday, and the rain today….I think the Morel mushrooms should be out and about in the next few days. I will definitely be hunting for them, and hopefully finding enough to store up for the year. (For my friends in Maryland…Morels have already been sighted and collected as of a day or so ago….)

===Off to check the bees and the animals!

Adventures thus far…

by rialian - April 11th, 2011

===Well, not too many, this early in the morning. 

===My bees arrived today…sadly, one of the queens was dead.  I have contacted the folks I ordered from, they should be able to help me out..(the bees that arrived were quite nice…I did install both packages of bees, as the dead queen still has a lot of pheremones around her and that will keep that batch of bees around, and hopefully they will either produce a new queen, or I will get a new queen in the next few days to put in there.  Either way, I am hoping the hive does well.

===I have been involving myself in the local SCA a bit…they have a fine archery and thrown weapons crew, so i am getting to work on both.  I have finally found strings for two of my bows. 

===The chicks and the rabbits are doing well, and I am going to be starting more stuff in the garden this week. (someone I know of actually starts tomatoes in a cold frame/row cover setup…apparently, the secret is that the soil temps reach 50 degrees, you can plant.  They will start off slow, but it seems they get better yields…something to try out!

Updates and new…

by rialian - April 7th, 2011

===Ok, first, information for those folks that use LJ: it has been under serious DDos attack for much of this week: Russian bloggers accuse authorities of cyberwar.  Things like this are a good reason to have multiple sites to post to. (I use this one, and I mirror some bits at LJ and another site.)

===On to other things….

PermaSphere great link to find lots of good information on permaculture and such.

===I wonderful short essay here (This was pointed out on the permaculture listserve i am on that is at the above link):
Subtle Energies in a Montana Greenhouse by Woody Wodraska

===I will say several things…one, I have encountered Agnihotra before, and it is actually a rather impressive thing.  I might have to explore it myself sometime (I met someone that worked with it years ago, and the effect on the space when they did it was remarkable…a very clean, healing flow to it.).

===I also like the overall tone of this essay, which is to not downtalk science, but to acknowledge that it is not the only measure of worth, and that for some of us gardening (and life overall, really) is more an art than a science.  (I like science, actually…I just really do not like the mindset folks get when they turn it into a religion that uses insights as weapons against other faiths.  I am speaking of the attitudes folks carry while being “RIGHT” (put in the trademark insignia to show that it is the proper way to be, all legal-like and all that)(grins)

===Probably not surprising, I am reading more of a fine book on the history of the Luddites, ( Rebels Against The Future: The Luddites And Their War On The Industrial Revolution: Lessons For The Computer Age ) Tech and tools have their place….and I am not convinced that we have been developing our tools intelligently, nor do I believe that what we call “progress” is really Progress.

===Bees should be in this week or early next week….I am looking forward to having them about again.  (Kirk Webster site has some interesting things to read in regards to beekeeping…)

===More in a bit….have a few things to do about the Mithlond stead….

A fine evening…

by rialian - April 3rd, 2011

===Currently sipping some fine mead made by some SCA folks I know (they traded for some of mine.  They make a sweeter sort, which is quite nice), and watching the multi-colored lightning play all about…quite a nice evening.  Tomorrow is looking to be warm, so I will be finishing the chicken coup, and getting the chickens outside.

Morning at Mithlond

by rialian - April 1st, 2011

===One of the nice things about living on the western side of a mountain is that I get to see nifty things like just where the ice/snow line in spring is above us, before the sun fully warms things up.

===It is not terribly cold out, but in conditions like this you can really get a feel for what 2-300 feet difference can mean , without it being a drastic change in ecology.  (we are around 800 feet above sea level, probably a bit over that.  The weather station I have my computer set at is at 1152 feet, a bit south of us facing East across from us, I think….one of these days I will track that down a bit closer to where it is and see).

===I face west, so I get to see some nice sunsets over the far mountain…and I get to see the weather as it flows in from that direction.  Right now?  Sitting in my kitchen, looking at the iced low mountaintop, watching the clouds travel to the morning sun I do not yet see, but get the harbingers of light from.

===The young chickens are cheeping at me…they will be going outside I think next week, as it will be warming a bit more and they are mostly feathered out.  They are inquisitive little velociraptors,…you can see them wanting to hunt. (Chickens may eat grain, but they are also DEFINITELY hunters of insects.  I have been gaining a bit of respect for their intelligence and awareness as I have been watching them grow bigger.)

===All in all, a good morning. The coffee is a nice thing to have as well…(grins)

Bright ideas going slightly awry….

by rialian - March 31st, 2011

===So, I decided to start building the chicken tractor/mobile coop.

===I am using 8 foot long 2 by 4s.

===It is 8 foot long on the top and sides, the legs are 8 feet long, and meet at a right angle.

===Yes, you are possibly guessing now the slight error I made, in the length of the cross-pieces I need for the front and back.

===I will be getting 2 pieces of wood about 12′ + an inch or three and the smaller bits I need to finish up the coop areas and the nest boxes.Not a terrible mistake, just amusing that I missed that bit.

Allergies, colds, and posting!

by rialian - March 31st, 2011

===One of these days I will get around to tagging and organizing my blogs…but not today!

===I am feeling a fair bit better today.  I was having what seemed to be a bit of an allergy, but it had a hint of a cold to it. (yes, the reactions do have some subtle differences in feel).  Well, it did indeed become a cold, and I think the thing that was confusing me is that I think the onset of the cold dropped my allergy thresholds.  It is not something i had thought of before (that I can remember), so I will watch for that in the future.

===I really did not get anything done that I had hoped to yesterday.  I never did hear back from the folks with the inexpensive, but nice quality plywood I wanted to use to build the enclosed part of the chicken tractor.  The chicks are getting bigger, and should be able to be out in the next week or so,

===Next post will likely be an exploration of some of my thoughts on things elven, for those so interested. I may decide to not go into my utter dislike of how the “Elenari” term came about, but more go into my own views on what it means to be elven….or something else..(grins)

===Oh, for your listening pleasure, I direct you to Ancient FM…if you have issues getting it into your favorite player, here is the address to put into it : http://ancientfm.com:7066/listen.pls (I use Audacious on my system, as I like a slightly more minimalist approach to my music player while I am doing other things.  For those not using Linux, think WinAmp-inspired player.)