Tuesday, May 22, 2012

hive inspection 5/21

Well there wasn't as much new comb as I was hoping to see. The bees hadn't moved up at all into the upper box, and the comb drawn in the lower box is just as wonky and all over the place as before.  My rubber band and twine mods seem to be holding, and the bees have reattached that comb to the top bars, but they've continued to build cross frame so that you can't pull one frame out without breaking the comb next to it.

I'm wondering if it's an issue of the hive not being level? Next time I will definitely use starter strips at least, to give them a guide for the comb.

The thing is, it's the brood chamber, and although my queen does not apparently care at all about WHERE I want her to build comb, she is actually making lots of brood, and we saw capped honey cells as well. I didn't think it was worth breaking and retying the comb again, since that seemed to set them back so much last time. I'll just leave her alone down there to do her thing and then when I re-super it, I'll use starter strips in the top box to hopefully convince my workers to build the honey comb ON the frames. I'm ambivalent about using a queen excluder - I don't want to discourage them to move up, especially when it gets really hot and they need the space.

I have to admit it was kind of disheartening to do my hive after seeing Todd's super-ultra-healthy bees - they've already almost filled their top box with drawn comb and it's full of brood. The hatched brood comb is being used for pollen storage and there's a ring of capped honey around the central brood comb on most of his frames. It was good to see such a healthy hive though - I know what my bees need to look like in a few weeks, hopefully.

I also need to address the leaks in my roof- more caulking and sealant. It looks like the quilt box did not completely insulate the hive interior and things were definitely dampish in the upper box. I've got to fix that- they definitely won't move up into a leaky house.

Another priority is to get some more bee-favorites in the yard before August/September, when their honey flow starts to slow down and they'll need some food. Anyone have any suggestions for things that bloom in Texas in August?

Monday, May 21, 2012


The littles and their tent, closest to the river. 

There are different methods for eating smores - some people make a sandwich and delicately eat the whole thing.

Others cannot wait that long and eat the burning marshmallow straight off the stick. 

Others still soak the marshmallow in the scotch our friends smuggled into the campsite and eat it on top of reeses cups and nutella. I'm not naming names, but it was amazing. 

Dirt - endlessly entertaining.

Also, water. 

Specifically the Perdernales. It was a perfect wading depth for the little kids, and there were enough pockets of deeper water for Wren to practice her swimming. 

We walked down the falls and wished we'd remembered to bring tubes. Maybe next time! 

We came home early because we'd had to rope friends into emergency Bear-sitting.  Also, we're going to be out of town next weekend and if I'm away from home for more than two weekends in a row it makes me feel scattered and crazy. More than usual, I mean. 

When we realized we couldn't bring Bear and didn't have anyone lined up to take care of him, I thought about staying home -  I needed to do laundry, and grocery shop, and throw away a dumpster full of end-of-the-schoolyear paperwork. Also vacuum. 

However.... camping on the Perdernales River with great friends... or laundry -- it turns out it's an amazingly easy choice after all. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

spring kitchen

A garden, friends with a CSA, LOTS of wonderful rain, and four chickens very happy to see spring have all combined in my kitchen in the last few weeks to make my attempts at menu planning pretty irrelevant. 

It turns out we're eating eggs. For breakfast, sometimes lunch, and often dinner. 

We're eating greens, hopefully before they go bad. Even if it means sneaking them into spaghetti sauce, frittatas, or under the cheese on a pizza. 

We're pickling! I might be guilty of eating bread and butter pickles out of the jar every time I walk by the fridge. I'm saving one jar for my dad, so it's okay to go ahead and have a -snacking- jar, right?

We're eating basil on top of everything, and it's still not disappearing fast enough, so we're about to be making pesto. 

We're talking about the fact that beets are PINK! and isn't that AWESOME? To have a PINK SALAD! (in answer: awesome enough for the girls to try it, not awesome enough to finish it -- which is okay because I actually love beets as long as they're not borscht).

And yes, again with the pizza. Pizza is kind of perfect for us right now, because usually the kids aren't coming inside with like a -bushel- of tomatoes. It's more like one or two ripening a day. Not a lasagna in other words, but enough to make a couple little kid friendly pizzas taste great. Thanks to the Artisan Bread book, I usually have a ziploc bag with pizza dough in my fridge, so at 5:30, when the children's piteous cries of hunger get my attention, I can get pizzas on the table pretty quick - sometimes with one of our less successful attempts at homemade mozzarella on top! 

And if I cover the "grown up" pizza with bacon and kale, it's less likely that Jane will eat it before I get back from topping up my wine. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Well this is Bear. Technically, Hershey Bear. Wren campaigned for Hershey, I campaigned for Whisky, and Chase wanted Bosque or Brazos. Bear is our compromise, and so far he seems to like it. 

Other things he likes: belly rubs, noses, My Little Ponies (and anything else made in China for children to play with) and of course, sitting under Ben's high chair. 

He is a soft, cuddly, puppy-breathed little destruction machine. We are so glad to have him. 

Well, most of us are. Bear's favorite game - tug-of-war, is interpreted by Ben as a direct assault on everything he loves. So that's not going super well. But overall I'd say he's a keeper. And hopefully we'll teach him not to chew on people before the end of the year, when he'll weigh approximately 80 pounds. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Walk

Stillhouse Hollow is a little city park, long abandoned by the city, in the neighborhood where Chase grew up. It's sandwiched between two big neighborhoods close in to the city and yet it manages to feel pretty remote. 

It's a good place to explore on a Saturday morning walk, as long as you watch out for cacti. 

It's also a good place to take a new puppy...

Who's not quite used to the leash yet...

And might get left behind. 

We managed to get home with both our stragglers. Look at that guy right there, that sneaky little smile.  That smile is promising that the next couple of years are going to be hilarious and exhausting. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To Do

This weekend Chase realized a long held dream of having a pegboard in the garage. I know. Rodens dream big. 

And I think it adds a special level to this disclosure to know that HE didn't actually realize it. Although it's been on his list of things that would increase his quality of life by 1000% for like 5 years,  we always end up being so overwhelmed at the store by whatever situation was dire enough that we actually WENT to the store that we've never managed to come home with pegboard.

We're not the type of people who BROWSE the hardware store- we're more reactionary Home Depot-ers. We're there because something broke, or there's some crisis, or we're moving.  For the most part, it's not a place filled with pleasant associations. 

But this weekend I was there by myself, not in a huge hurry, and with a very short list, and HURRAY! I remembered pegboard. I did not see Chase again for the rest of the weekend. He was so deeply, perfectionist-ly thrilled to have this place to organize his tools. HOOKS! and BRACKETS! It warms a librarian's heart. 

And organized tools called for a project! He rescued Wren's old chair from the yard and took it apart, sanded it down, and tightened everything up. I'm going to paint it and get it ready in time for Ben to use it. It's a great chair- perfect for that in between highchair and regular chair time. My kids have so far seen booster seats as a personal challenge. Oh, you built this so it can't slide off the chair? Yeah we'll just see about that. 

Overall, it was a good weekend project and another thing to tick off the giant before summer to do list. The other option on that list, when I was at the hardware store, was supplies to make a rain barrel. Which we've been meaning to do for nearly as long as the pegboard. I even had a full list, with instructions, and then I got distracted by something (as ALWAYS happens in those stores ugh) and left without finding any of it.  Thinking, well it hasn't rained in two months anyway... and of course it's rained EVERY DAY since then. So yes. Nice to have the pegboard. In hindsight though...? Yeah. At least I've got wading pools full of rain water... that's almost the same thing, right? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good dog, Ramona

Ramona at Red Bud 2


fish float

Ramona gets dry


ben and ramona


She was a great dog, and we got 10 great years with her.  We'll miss her very very much.