We just saved sixty dollars; our vigil over the three queenless hives has ended, and they are queenright, young queens with good brood patterns. Thanks be to God, and to Joe K.’s good advice. We have been in there every two days or so looking for eggs or brood, and all the mature brood had hatched before we found, today, two- or three-day-old brood in both halves of the #6 split, and in #5, which had also swarmed. The smaller split, on #4 stand now, is queenright, but only has enough bees to fill a single hive box. We will watch it carefully, and hope the good young queen will bring up the hive strength before fall comes. All the colonies are putting away lots of honey and drawing lots of comb, and #1 is three bodies and two or three supers high right now, doing business like a New York highrise.
The stacks of lumber around the mill are growing high, and the men have set all but three of the locust poles that will hold up the thirty by twenty foot extension to the “new” barn. (The quotation marks refer to the fact that the barn is actually older than our residence in this place, but is still new to us because we only acquired title to it a year ago. Always buy land when it is adjacent to your own, says Buzz McG., and we have never felt one moment of regret for paying approximately three times – make that four times – real market value for our south pasture.) Tomorrow they will set the last three posts, and begin mounting the two-by-twelve beams to hold up the floor.
Mom will probably get stuck inside most of the day, because Saturday was to have been baking day, and was instead get-a-new-truck day, and we are just about out of bread. Baking day here ususally means we fire up the oven mid-morning, have it too hot to touch by four-thirty, make pizza enough for dinner and the next day’s lunch, then quick-bake six or seven dozen hamburger buns, after which the oven is just cool enough to bake eight two-pound loaves of whole wheat/potato bread, and we’re lucky if we’re done by ten. We throw damp towels over the cooling loaves and go to bed.
We got about four hundred fifty bales out of the first two fields with the new sickle bar mower, which saves far more hay than the brush hog. About one hundred twenty-five of those bales go to our friend Barry, who owns one of the fields, and we are still nowhere near done with the first cutting. For once we have been ahead of the game, and four aces: no rain fell until last night, about six hours after we lifted the last ninety-three bales. Sometimes you win. Be it understood here that while we bale our own hay, which is to say we bale other people’s, who want their fields cut, and give us the rakings, it is not necessarily economical for the one-cow revolutionary to do this. By rotating stock over small paddocks, the grazier can extend his animals’ field time and minimize the hay necessary to overwinter them. What hay is necessary can then be bought in affordably. More on this later.