Sunday, April 04, 2010

Procrastination

This afternoon I'm procrastinating. (I procrastinated in sending this out -- it was written Friday afternoon)

It's not that I haven't already put a day's worth of work. We started this morning up in the greenhouse around 7 am. The tables were full with about 50,000 seedlings so if we were going to get anything else in we had to reorganize.

The first thing we did was set up another six tables, each one holding 45 trays of seedlings (our trays hold 50 seedlings each) and then moved the seedlings that were up and growing from where they were (they were on heated tables) to the new ones (unheated).

This way we have room to start another 270 trays where the seeds will have an ideal environment for germination and early growth (we keep the new flat temperature at about 80 degrees).

And then there was collecting eggs (half a dozen dozen this early in the day), followed by a couple hours of putting together the pieces on the new 34 by 96 foot hoophouse. then laying out and connecting new pipe for the water system and finally sitting up here in the office doing some paperwork (which turned in to writing a newsletter).

And I foregot the 1500 pound pond/reservoir liner that just arrived along with its traveling mate, the smaller (500 pounds) goose pond liner.

Lifting a roll of rubber matting weighing almost a ton and moving it from the far end of a truck trailer out the back door is an interesting project. The driver said it was loaded with a forklift that drove into the trailer and deposited it.

We don't have a forklift, or a loading ramp designed for driving into the back of truck trailers. In fact the truck can't navigate the road to our farm so we ended up meeting him at the end of our road, backing the truck up to the door, putting one end of a chain around the roll of liner and the other to the tow bar on our truck and driving off.

Sort of...

Actually we pulled the liner out so it was hanging half way out the door of the trailer, then we backed the truck up underneath the liner and pushing and pulling managed to get it the rest of the way out the door and on to the truck (where it hung over the tailgate.

by now several of our neighbors were lined up (probably cursing under their breath) waiting for us to get out of their way.

Right now the roll of liner is on the ground beside the reservoir waiting for enough people to come out to help roll it out and put it in the pond.

The lighter goose pond liner, (when the bulldozer was here last week flattening a site for the new hoophouse (this is 4 feet wider than our large greenhouse) we finally gave in to our guilt of our weeder geese bathing in a Toys R US kiddy pool and had the operator dig out a real pond.

But so much for that. I was talking about was procrastinating which means putting off dealing with the thirty pounds of honey bees.

The story is that yesterday, an e-mail arrived with the message "come pick up your bees."

A beekeeper friend of mine had just returned from Georgia. He'd driven his empty flatbed truck down there several days ago.

And had returned with it full of bees. Packages of bees. Three pound packages of bees, each package with one queen.

For those of you who don't keep bees, or don't have a family member who keeps bees. Or hasn't ever helped out introducing a new package to its new home, a bee package, is a wire and plywood cage.

Sort of a box with the top and bottom made out of screen wire.

Cut into one of the plywood sides is a round hole that a quart can has been inserted into. The can is full of sugar water and the other end. The end surrounded by bees, has several holes poked in it. Holes big enough for the sugar water to slowly leak out and for the bees to hungrily drink it up.

And inside this cage, or package, are three pounds of bees (honey bees are sold by the pound). And one queen bee separated from the other bees by in her own little cage (a small version of the 3 pound cage).

So yesterday afternoon, we're talking Thursday afternoon, I took Wenonah's commuting car, a Prius and drove the 40 miles to pick up the bees, and putting down the back seat, loaded 30 pounds of bees divided in ten packages into the back.

And then drove back to the farm.

It was already six when I got back to the farm and I would have left the bees right there until the morning only I was thinking about Wenonah wanting to take the car to work in the morning and her thoughts on sharing the car with 30 pounds of bees.

I quickly got into my bee suit (white shirt and vail), rolled down the car windows, (onthe way some several hundred bees had escaped from their cages) opened the hatchback, the doors and started taking the packages of bees out of the car and hurriedly carrying them across the herb garden to their waiting hive boxes (sort of a house before someone moves into it and makes it a home).

And once there, pulling out the can of sugar water and queen cage and pouring the bees from each package into their new home.


Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to complete the job.

While the sun officially sets at something like 7:30 I was still out there running back and forth in the twilight at around eight.

I didn't pull the cork on the queen cage (for those of you not in the know, a queen cage comes with two corks. One cork leads directly into the queens cell where her and a half dozen hand maidens are imprisoned and the other opens to a plug of soft sugar candy).

When releasing the queen you pull the plug on the candy. This way the three pounds of bees on the outside slowly free the queen by eating the candy.

And the other thing I didn't have time to do was feed the bees.

Remember, this package of bees are being put into an empty hive. Sort of like 10,000 people being dropped off into an empty town.

The buildings are there but the shelves are bare.

There aren't any groceries on the grocery store selves. No CSA's coming in from the country with van's full of produce. And while the restaurants have their cooks, waiters and dishwashers, there is nothing for them to cook.

The truth is, if someone doesn't do something and soon people are going to get hungry. There's a need for an emergency feeding program. A bread line until the town can get up on its feet and running.

That's where I come in.

A sugar water bread line (one part sugar to one part water) and through one of several types of bee feeders put this concoction inside the new bee town/hive.

Last night I ran out of daylight. And while around midnight I did mix up the sugar water (using buckets in the bathtub) I still need to go back through the ten new hives, uncork the queens and feed the bees.

And I should have done that at first light this morning.

But I didn't.

So that's what I mean by procrastinating. And here I am writing a newsletter instead.

And while we're at it, here's the farm news.

Greetings to all of the new shareholders. We are approaching the 85% full mark. Our shareholder list should be filling up in the next several weeks. If you want to sign up and haven't yet its time.

Questions Answered. This section of the webpage has been recently rewritten with an idea of being brutally honest about the true nature of a CSA. Going with our new motto, 'A CSA is not for everyone'. we try to make it clear to those whose sole motivation for joining a CSA is to find a bargain or to get a better type of supermarket vegetable section they will be disappointed.

By reading this section before they join up we are hoping to weed out the people that are not going to be happy with a CSA before they join one.

We also make it clear that a CSA (and particularly our CSA) provides the freshest vegetables anyone can get outside of growing them in their own garden. But that's a lot different than going into the store and buying a tomato that was harvested three weeks ago in a greenhouse 2000 miles away. Or a orange bell pepper that grew in Sicily. Or strawberries from Mexico.

Eggs. We will have free eggs for subscribers all through April. Not this weekend (my weekend is full of family visits, dinners and whatnots) but next weekend we'll have an open house -- I'll send out details during the middle of next week - expect the details about April 6th or 7th. I'll even give out free eggs to non members who come out and help with the pondliner.

Asparagus.  Two weekend's from now the asparagus should start appearing and we'll do a sort of asparagus pick your own, Or maybe Asparagus in exchange for picking up rocks. (anyone who has been out knows we do a great job of growing rocks)

Greens. And then the weekend after that hopefully, the greens will start to ripen in one of the hoophouses. (yes, salad greens in exchange for rock picking).

Seedling give away. We haven't set a date yet but it will be in the newsletters.

Growing Season. Up here on the side of the mountain we're about a week behind you down on the flat, but our last frost is generally around mid April and we plan to start planting the broccoli and cauliflower then. Right now our seedlings are doing very well.

(last year we lost most of our broccoli and cauliflower seedlings that night in early March when the temperature dropped into the single digits and the water feeding the greenhouse boiler froze).

This year all of our seedlings are coming along just fine. Many of them have never looked so fine. (we switched our fertilizer to a fish and seaweed mix)

Helping out. If there is anyone out there that wants to help put up a hoophouse, play with the bees, collect eggs, check anti deer fence and a hundred and one other chores and has free time during the week, I would love your help.

But right now I need to stop procrastinating. Those bees our hungry and the queens are anxious to get down to work (laying eggs).

Leigh

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