Where has the time gone since my last post? Oh, I know exactly how the time was spent since we hosted the 2019 Seven Oaks Bohus Stickning Symposium the last weekend of March so most of January, February and March was dedicated to all the details that went into having 25 delightful knitting companions gather at the farm for a weekend of sharing one of my favorite subjects: Bohus knitting.
Although the farm blog isn’t really intended to be about my love of knitting, I think I’ll write a future blog dedicated to the Symposium held here and all the details about what went on so that readers won’t think I was idly hanging around with no purpose all winter, ha!
But, I can’t resist this teaser about our mascot, Sven, who was spotted all around the house during the Symposium and served as our greeter at the door on opening day. Here he is sporting the Bohus design called “Dean” that I knitted for my brother’s 60th birthday. Notice in his pocket is the Exhibit Brochure which was a grand part of the weekend. More later…I promise as this was one of the early highlights of 2019.
In the meantime, we have been experiencing yet another spring of horrendously wet weather. Our constant rainfall has kept us out of the fields more than any previous year to date and simple tasks such as mowing and other maintenance as been challenging at best. Besides not being able to plant the fields, many of our trees and perennials are suffering as the water table is too high to accommodate the normal drainage. We are expecting a tough year but sympathize with those not too far away whose entire enterprise is underwater.
But luckily there are some things that are not quite as affected by the weather such as the new baby chicks that were hatched April 8th and are growing like weeds. As in past years, we drove to Cackle Hatchery in Lebannon, MO to pick up our order of 3 new breeds to our flock, Rhode Island White, black sex linked (a hybrid of Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red) and ISA Brown which is another sex linked bird meaning that the color of the baby chick indicates their sex…something that makes it easier to choose pullets (females) rather than cockerels (males).
Such cuteness! Fast forward 8 weeks and they are now 6X larger and have transitioned outside into the mini coop of the chicken run where they are separated from the “big girls” until they can all play together. We expect this to be mid July, so watch for that update.
Beekeeping has also been interesting this spring as I had the good fortune of our bees overwintering with 100% success rate vs. the devastating reports of an average of 45% losses in our region. My initial glee at realizing my success has turned into a double edged sword in a way since our hives were teeming with bees at a time when the persistent rain didn’t allow for the normal spring foraging.
So, they spent their idle days ‘indoors’ making multitudes of swarm cells in order to strike out on their own (think of it as eloping from their crowded childhood home) whenever a break in the weather allowed. I frantically divided the strongest colonies to make nucs and splits of bees and at one point I had turned 6 colonies into 12. This demanded additional equipment to be produced and I’ve been spending hours and hours building and painting new hive boxes and frames in my workshop in the barn. Dave helped me build a new hive stand and at one point, the apiary was quite over crowded. It now looks like an urban high rise district as we have 12 spring honey supers in place with 5 more ready to add as soon as I can finish up the wiring and wax installation!
The berry patch has had some mixed results. I think we will still have an excellent blueberry year as the bushes are flush with first blooms and now fruits.
The strawberries will be more challenged this year for several reasons as the wet has caused slugs and other bugs to be relentless and the wet has bogged down the fruit so there is some ‘point rot’, where the tip of the fruit is sitting in a wet condition instead of high on their tiny branches. All the same, I’m picking every day but have to wear Muck boots to do so! ARG!
The cherry trees and blackberry bushes are flush with fruits and blooms.
So we carry on and try to celebrate life’s best moments….like Willie’s first birthday.
And Coulter’s 4th…
The fun today was extra special as we quietly celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with family and friends. The Wards came for lunch in shifts as nap time ruled the day but we had a very, very special guest…Fran Vandermeer…Kate’s Williams College volleyball coach who has been a dear friend to all for years and her presence today along with a tour of the farm made our day so special.
Despite those who advised we celebrate with a special dinner out…we delighted in cooking ourselves a very special meal with as many Seven Oaks ingredients possible…Seven Oaks Bibb lettuce, scallions, radishes, chives, asparagus and strawberries (dessert not pictured) were served at dinner along side the salmon and risotto. Yummy! Cheers!