Thursday, November 8, 2012

A swarm of ..... BEES!

And so apparently, you must expect your hive to swarm in Spring. Wish we'd been prepared for that! Last week we had our friends Martyn and Eugenia down from Melbourne for a few days. The boys spent time cleaning up fallen trees and fixing fences and pumps. While they were busy one day, they noticed a lot of bees around the apple tree closest to the hive. On closer inspection, there was a huge 'glob' of bees just hanging right there on a branch! What to do?! Quick. Ring the bee man, Alf. He gave Frans instructions for capturing the swarm and Frans and Martyn set to work preparing another hive. This activity was punctuated by lunch and a coffee. After lunch we all went out to witness the 'capture'. While Frans was pouring himself into his bee suit, I noticed a lot of bees above the tree. See them on the top right of the photo below. I stood waaayy back inside the shed door and observed this amazing phonomenon. The bees were on the move again! This time we would not be able to capture them. Frans was just a few minutes too late. They took flight up into the very tall Cyprus trees beside the old chook shed. It was a dissappointing loss! We were hoping to start another hive. Binoculars and cameras came out to try and find the swarm's second resting spot, but we couldn't locate it. A few days later Alf the bee man came around and brought a treasure of beekeeping goodies; new brood boxes, frames and of course the most important piece of equipment we lacked... a net capture thingie!
Standing looking up at the tops of the trees gives you a crick in your neck. So Frans improvised! Who would think a wheelburrow can be so versatile. After the swarm, he checked the hive. All still looks ok. We have since added another brood box to the top. We'll rob the hive around December and stock up our honey stores again.
This past week I also transplanted out my tomato seedlings into bigger pots. I know it seems late, but everything is later here in the Otways. I'm hoping to get the plants into the ground in the next couple of weeks and that should give us lovely tomatoes late December and January. Last year I ended up with so many green tomatoes very late in the season. I'm hoping that I can avoid that this year. There are only so many green tomato pickles one can eat!
There is a story to the two pics at the bottom of this little collage. Our friend Mark who lives in Brisbane does a lot of travelling for work. On one of his trips he was in Townsville. Beside the site where he was working he spotted a lovely vegetable garden with the biggest, most luscious Ox Heart tomatoes. He was going to nick a couple of tomatoes for the seeds, but decided to first have a chat to the old man who tended the garden. It turned out he was an Italian gentleman and had brought the original seeds from Italy in his pocket in the 50's. He was most generous and told Mark to take as many tomatoes as he liked. And so here they are.. some seedlings from the seeds Mark dried. And they're from that same original stock. I just hope I don't kill them! Thanks Mark!
Do you like our new garden setting? Looks pretty I think. I bought it at the Reject Shop for $35! I wasn't sure what the material would be, but the fact that the box wasn't too heavy should have told me that it wasn't cast iron. Nope... it's resin. But hey.... not bad for $35. And much easier to move around! And yes, it may only last a season.... I'll keep dreaming about a metal setting.....

The roses are all coming into bloom. The garden is looking pretty good. The flowers are amazing. And so are the weeds! It's a constant chore to pull them out.
Animal update.... Ducklings are doing well. Frans has had to lock the drake up in solitary confinement as he's really nasty to the little ones. Last week the drake was spotted trying to drown a little one. If Frans had his way we'd be eating him, but then there won't be any future little ducklings!
I give the chooks plenty of spinach and silverbeet. They love it. I threw some out to them a couple of days ago. Spike, the rooster, somehow got a piece of silverbeet on his back. He trotted around the yard as if he was saving it for later! Nala had a friend come to visit. His name is Harvey. Harvey is a latte' dog. He lives in the big smoke and has a very nice house with a small yard. He gets taken for walks every day on a lead as most city dogs do. He loves the farm. Can you tell? And I have to show you these two cows. A mum and a baby. Not ours. But just have a look at how strong genetics can be! Identical face markings. Crazy! 
Mother duck and babies lying under a shady shrub.
  Frans entered a few of his photographs in the Colac Show last week. So we toddled off to the show on Sunday to have a look at them. Before we got the the photographic section however, we had to first view the produce competition. It was Sunday, so the lovely leaves on plates were rather wilted and sad looking. I think the rules stated that you had to have 4 of everything. So four onions or four silverbeet leaves on a plate.

Perhaps I'll enter something next year.....
 And here is Frans' entry that won third prize. He's rather chuffed with himself. So am I. Well done Love.
And this photo below is one he won first prize for in a local competition.
And on that note, I'll head outside before it rains and go and pull some weeds.... Have a good weekend! 

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