Saturday, October 8:
We finally got the supers off the hives on Thursday. I say “finally” even though some people in our area will not take their supers off until the goldenrod is through blooming; we have to move when we see an opportunity, else we may lose our chance. So, we pulled the supers off on Thursday afternoon, discovering as we did so that somehow – how, we can’t guess – the queen in the colony on stand number five was above the queen excluder, not below it, where she belongs, and where she would have plenty of room for brood. This is something that happens if you don’t get into your hives often enough; when you do, sometimes you find out things have gotten a little weird. A queen in a super means a scattered brood pattern, since she has to move around a lot to find empty cells to lay in. more work for her, more for the young bees in charge of nursery operations. Hoping the colony has not been mortally weakened by this situation, we moved the super with the queen in it to a position under a hive box containing seven full frames of honey, and three of drawn comb. We hope queen and court will move up into the empty comb, and winter will find them concentrated in the middle of a good store of honey.
We have spent the week trying to fit some school into the gaps between winding up things for winter, and to fit some final farming tasks into the gaps in our school work. The split focus is something we always have to deal with, and don’t much like. So, as Wednesday was beautiful, we spread a ton of lime at the TOR’s, pulling our antideluvian spreader behind the F-250. It is a little cheaper to spread our own lime there, but it will save us time and trouble to get the rest of it spread by the Co-op, in those parts of the property where their tractors can go. In the home pastures, we have to spread it ourselves, because the Co-op equipment can’t even get down the lane. We told you this is the most worthless acreage in eastern Ohio.
We are very hopeful that the lime we have spread will mean better vegetative growth for several years to come.
The lettuce and spinach in the raised beds has not germinated very well – there are a lot of empty spots. Or maybe that blamed RI Red that comes up the hill to the yard is defying the garden wire we have spread over the raised beds and is picking out the seedlings through the wires. If we catch her at it, she’s for the soup pot. We waited until late July through mid-September to plant lettuce and spinach, as per instructions in The Winter Harvest Handbook, and now I am worried that the salad greens won’t grow well enough before the days are too short, and we won’t have winter salads. Argh. On the right side of the ledger, the July planting of beans has given us some thirty or so quarts of beans to put up, and lots to eat fresh. As long as the warm weather holds, they should go on producing, though not so generously as the first picking.
There is always some freak thing to add to our already long list of jobs. The ceiling fan on the porch was found to be running on high speed, and investigation revealed that the chain by which it turns off and on had been snapped off — inside the motor housing. Inquiry drew from the little girls that they had been up on the table, yanked the chain with more beef than necessary, and thus broke it. When asked what they were doing up on the table, they admitted with charming frankness that they had climbed up there in order to put Picky, the half-grown mouser, on the fan blades. “We wanted to give him a ride,” they said.
And they love this kitten.
We wonder what kind of mothers they will make.
The same kitten nearly met his maker this morning. One of us went out at six a.m. to light a fire in the bread oven, so that it would be hot enough by nine thirty for us to bake loaves. S-5 had split wood for the fire the previous night, and being a thorough person, as well as a thoughtful one, had laid a fire in the oven all ready to be lit – all it needed was a match. Bleary-eyed, the morning baker struck a match and drew an orange flame along the edge of the wad of newspaper stuffed in the tipi of kindling wood. Orange flames licked orange fatwood, which caught immediately, crackling from the sap. The oven glowed.
And then something caught the attention of the fire starter. Orange flames, orange wood – wasn’t there something else orange in the oven, behind the firewood? Had the responsible son put wood to the back of the oven? Holy angels and saints — it was the orange kitten.
The cat didn’t even know his danger. He never broke from the comfortable couchant position he had assumed. Even after we squealed and grabbed a poker and raked all the fire out of the entrance to the oven, we had to reach in and grab the kitten bodily and pull it out – purring.
That cat is technically a tom, but there are a lot of times when he really reminds us of the girls.