Sunday, April 30, 2006

Why Bees?

Why Bees?
(Guest entry by David)

Many people have asked us “Why bees?” So here is my answer.

Last fall we began talking about increasing our livestock. We’ve always liked goat cheese and thought a few goats would help keep down the weeds in the yard, reducing the need for the John Deere. There are also a few goats breeds that can be raised for meat. With just 2 acres and a nice barn, we could easily take on a few goats.

Sheep were also a consideration. The neighbor’s boys raise sheep and have won numerous prizes in the county fair for their little lambs. The wool could be used or sold , or we could sell the offspring

Similar to sheep, we also considered another trendy animal – Alpacas. They make very gentle and loving pets and have valuable wool and a breeding pair can provide a significant income.

Ostriches are also trendy in some locations, be we never seriously considered them in our climate. However we considered a variety of other birds including chickens, turkeys and peacocks (we have plenty of “free-range” geese already).

I’ve also dreamed of having horses for a long time. Last fall I even bought a couple of books on how to keep horses on small acreages. I began a brief self-study on the needs of horse keeping.

One of our criteria was that we wanted something that would be productive. We wanted something that could provide useful food or some other form of gain (riding also counts) for the trouble. Being the engineer I am, I began to think about the benefit to effort ratio of various choices. That got me thinking about the efforts.

As I dug into the horse books, I soon realized how MUCH work they are. Sure I have three strong boys, but none of them are begging for a horse, so adding more to their chore list didn’t sound like a good idea. I was also reminded how much I don’t like the flies that come with horses.

At one point during our consideration, Becky and I started planning our summer vacation. I suddenly realized how hard it would be to find care for most of the animals we were considering and how tied down to the house we’d be if we had goats, chickens, or alpacas.

In one of the gardening magazines there was an article about beekeeping. Becky asked if we could do that on our property and she was serious that she would even consider bees. I quickly went through the benefit to effort ratio for bees: There are no worries about buying feed or keeping them watered, you don’t need any fencing to keep them contained and best of all, there is no shoveling of poop!

On the production side, a single hive of honey bees typically produces about 100 pounds of honey per year. Finally the clincher was that we could still go on a vacation for a full week or two and never have to hire anyone to care for them while we were gone. They are very low maintenance and only need attention a couple of times per month during the flowering season and during the winter, no attention at all. Best of all Becky agreed to be the official beekeeper and I am just the helper.

The bees are due to arrive on Friday of this week, and I’ll be out there with the camera as Becky puts her bare hands into the box of 30,000 live honey bees. Let the buzzing begin!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Frost on the lupines

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Garden Envy

This entry could also be called, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the Mississippi". I just returned from a trip back to Georgia, where I lived for about five years. Mid-April looks very different in Georgia than it does in Colorado. In fact, the gardens in Georgia look different than Colorado anytime of the year. I stood looking at the house I had once lived in and admired all the plants that I had so tenderly planted and nurtured. There are gardenias, hostas, ferns, iris and more that were lush and green. The smell of blossoms hung in the air along with the smell of fresh laid pine straw. There is something magical about the gardens in the South. Now I am back in Colorado and it is snowing. The only thing that looks lush and green is my sunroom that is growing the plants that will be planted in my garden when the weather is warmer. It is hard not to get discouraged, but years ago I got a wall hanging from someone that said, "Bloom where you are planted". That may sound trite but it is true. Sometime in July, I will be standing in my garden admiring my Dephiniums, daisies, dahlias, and sunflowers and it will be magical. It may not be my Georgia garden but Colorado has a beauty all it's own. So don't get discouraged, summer is right around the corner.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Good Life

What could be better than the taste of a fresh tomato, warmed by the sun, or a sweet strawberry pulled right from the vine? This is what a garden is to me. Not only to feel the dirt on my fingers but to taste the rewards from a season of patience and work. Knowing this about me, you also need to know that I have a low technology I.Q. I would much rather be working with my hands than typing at a computer but I have been a journal keeper for most of my life and this seems like then next natural step to journal keeping. I have lately been asked to share some successes we have had in our garden and give some advice that might help other gardeners. I don't feel completely comfortable with that since gardening is a hobby of trial and error but at least I can share some of the errors I have made and hopefully tell you some success stories from our garden.

This is the time of anticipation in a gardeners life. We (my husband and I), have cleaned up the weeds, tilled the dirt and planted our first seeds. I have decided to try planting snow peas this year. I have not had lots of success with regular peas and thought that this would be a better vegetable for us since my family really likes stir fry. I planted the seeds and waited and waited. I watered them everyday, since it has been extremely dry lately, but nothing. I tried not to get discouraged but where were my seedlings? I still watered them everyday and said a silent prayer that they would grow but I must admit that my hopes were fading. Finally after more than three weeks of watchful gardening, the first of several plants started peeking through the dirt. Oh happy day! So my first advice to my fellow gardeners, be patient. Seeds like people, often develop and grow in their own time. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Initial Post

Greetings. Welcome to Becky's Bees and Blooms. This is the blog site for Becky's garden.