Friday 27 November 2015

What the bees do now....

So it's been a long time since I mentioned my bees so just thought I would let you know what's happening now.

Well quite frankly...not a lot!!

No bee in sight....all tucked up keeping warm!!
No bee in sight....all tucked up
keeping warm!!

Chilly days mean quieter bees!
Chilly days mean quieter bees!

Honey bees don't hibernate over the winter. They are certainly a lot less active and I won't carry out inspections over the winter as I don't want to drop the temperature of the hives as this could be devastating to the colony within but I will keep 'hefting' the hives which is where you lift them slightly to check the weight and if you think they are feeling a little light then it may be because they are getting low on honey stores so you can slip some fondant in to give them a boost.

I have made sure my bees are as prepared as I possibly can for the winter. I have used hive alive and fed them ambrosia syrup to give them a boost. Then just before the weather turned really cold I put some fondant in a feeder on the hives just as a little extra security.

As you can see from these few photos there is some clearing that needs doing around the hives which I will sort before spring. It's hard to do this on balmy autumn days as the bees will come out and fly and they can be a bit 'tetchy', this is due to there being less food about so I like to disturb them as little possible and wait for colder days to sort things out!

Although around the hives is a bit messy looking down the plot from the hives looks nice and I am pleased with how it's looking as winter approaches.

Looking down the plot from
the hives.
Although it looks nice and tidy I am thinking it is looking a bit bare and I am thinking next year that I might add some more herbs and fruit bushes to fill in some of the 'blanks' and to make it a more productive space as although I want to keep it low maintenance I also want to gain as much as possible from the plot and also to provide the bees with as much as possible.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

A few more photos.

Wasp nest in the ground.

My cutie Tro with his tongue sticking out!!

 A wonderful sunrise.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Bee Pond Hair Cut.

The first of November came a few weeks ago now and we were blessed with a glorious day for it. It started out with incredibly thick fog that soon cleared to leave us with gorgeous sies and a lovely warmth from the sun. Such a glorious day wasn't to be wasted and yet it was a Sunday and deserved to be enjoying and relaxing. So what dd I do?? I spent some time playing with a rake and a leaf collector  and then I went down to the allotment and sat giving the pond a gentle and relaxing haircut!!

Bee pond long over due for  a haircut!!
Bee pond long over due for
a haircut!!
 So with a pair of scissors and a knee pad in hand I sat and soaked up the sun whilst trimming here and there with a pair of scissors for an hour or so. The weather was so balmy I didn't even need a coat. How weird is that for November!!

See how lovely it looks? This will be the
last cut this year!!
So that was how I spent my day on the 1st of November...truly glorious!!

Monday 23 November 2015

Out on a Saturday Night!

It's not very often we go out ...and certainly hardly ever go to a black tie event so I thought I would share with you the fact that I can, on occasion, look like a real girl!!

So last Saturday saw the Hubby and me getting all dolled up for a charity event. It was at the Rugby club to raise funds to take the under 13's on the 'Dublin Tour', or something along those lines!!
It was a black tie affair and we decided to go as my friends son is one of those who will be going on the tour. It was a nice evening with nice company and a nice meal. There was an auction of things donated by people. Some were things such as signed Rugby shirts and original glasses to as extravagant as a weeks vacation in a Spanish Villa. 

Smile for the camera!
I know the photo is a little blurry but at least we are smiling!!

 I did my bit for the event by offering to auction off a bee taster morning for up to five people. I'm not sure as of yet if anyone took up the offer as we left before the auction finalised but I am hoping if nothing else that Grantham Beekeepers got a little bit of publicity as I did a bit of a 'Visual board' and took some of the course posters along too.

I don't know how much was raised for the tour but I am hoping that people were generous and that the evening raised plenty for the tour.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Not sure where I'm at!!!

Well I wrote my last post and had intentions of writing more sooner than this, then I realised I couldn't actually remember where I was actually at with what I had and hadn't written/told you so had to do a little bit of back tracking.

Then I remembered I had actually took photos that I hadn't yet posted so this is going to be a bit more of a picture post for you depending on what ever I find on the camera...let's have a look shall we.....

Cherry tree leaf with a weird pattern, any ideas what this is??
Cherry tree leaf with a weird pattern,
any ideas what this is??

before shot of the corn and raspberry canes.
This is a before shot of the corn
and raspberry canes.
 The raspberry canes and corn looked a real mess at the end of the season. The corn produced well for me but unfortunately I didn't benefit from it as I just didn't manage to get them harvested. Didn't have much time to harvest raspberries this year either but I am sure the wildlife enjoyed them!

Finally got those blackcurrant bushes cut down.
Finally got those blackcurrant
bushes cut down.
 Now the currant bushes are all cut back you get a lovely view of Annabels hive. It is all ready for the cold winter moths now!!

corn and raspberry canes have been cut back
Tidy space after the corn and raspberry
canes have been cut back, just need to
dispose of all that rubbish now!

Unruly gooseberry bushes still need taming!
Unruly gooseberry bushes still need taming!
 So that is a little for you to be going on with...there is more to come but I don't want to bore you to quickly. Enjoy your evening!!

Friday 13 November 2015

Check, Check, Check!!!!

Well yet again it wasn't my intention to be this long in posting...that seems to be my standard mantra of late but I promise you I am working on getting timings down better so that I will get more posts up in a timely never may happen!!!

Anyway after the immense amount of work I showed you I had accomplished n my last post I did keep going but took things a little steadier as boy did I ache come Friday...seriously the closest I can describe my aches to was the one time I had the flu...not pleasant at all...luckily with a days T.L.C. I was mostly recovered and I could do some tasks that needed completed down the plot that were a little less back breaking and more akin to 'fun' maybe not the right word for it but certainly more enjoyable.

I still haven't got the main crop potatoes out of the ground but I am hoping to get it done at some point this year....however the thought of it with all the rain we've had of late really hurts my back...we will see how things progress I guess.

I was asked in an earlier comment what my summer weather had been like...well I guess as usual it was a bit up and down....we had plenty of this...

Sunny days.

But on the down side we also had plenty of this.....

Rain, rain,rain!!!
That was pretty much our summer. A wonderful heatwave giving lovely warmth and good starts to the crops late may and June but then lots of cooler weather for late June and July. Now it wasn't cold as such...but it wasn't warm either. Perfect breeding weather for all the weeds of course and not great for the potatoes. The earlies didn't suffer the main crop didn't get much size too them. The weather did lead to wonderful fruit crops though. The roots all stayed rather small!!

The other down side to this weather was for the bees. Because of the wet they couldn't get out for quite a while which led them to eat a lot of stores...which of course meant less honey harvest which isn't so much of an issue as I can deal with that. the main problem as for the swarms that didn't have the time to build their stores up before the bad weather came and so there was quite a large number of colony starvations this year. Luckily for me all my colonies were strong and well fed so I didn't suffer any losses but i know that many people did.

So that's the summer in a nutshell. Will be back later with a few pics showing you of the progress over the last couple of weeks and what things are like as the seriously cold weather (or so we're led to believe) approaches!!

Thursday 29 October 2015

Not my intention......

To be so long before I posted again, but to be honest it's not like I've had much to write...this week however is a different matter. Half term has meant some time off for me and I have used it wisely (in between the horrific downpours we've had) and got some serious work done on the allotment.

Need a reminder of the neglected field that was once my allotment??

the unkempt legume bed
This is a very unkempt Legume bed.
Due to circumstances this year I didn't
even get it harvested, Oh and say 'Hi' to
Juliette in the background who by trying to
move out of the shot actually put herself in
the centre of it!! lol.

strawberry bed ready to be moved
The strawberry bed is a complete mess and also needs
re-locating, I'm not sure if it is too late now this year.
Advice on the timing would be welcome.

weeds, but the new potatoes are out!!
Here is the first part I tackled, all the new
potatoes are out of the ground and they
were a truly bumper crop this year. In their
place i have the garlic and onions to be planted.

So as you can see I have made a bit of a start here...the potatoes came out the weeknd before last and then the ground was dug over and weeded in preparation for the roots on Sunday. However that's not all I have done this week....what I now have is beginning to really resemble my allotment again and is making me feel a lot better about the weather changing so quickly.

old potatoes 0- roots 1!!
So you can see to the back here that I have weeded and
winter dug the roots bed where the veggies have
been harvested. I will be putting some broad beans
in here and pulling the beetroot soon too,
freshly dug and weeded earth.
Here is the same piece of land as in the first
photo but from a different angle. As you can
see all the weeds have been pulled and it has
been dug over ready for winter. Hard work all
round but very satisfying!!
It's not quite all plain sailing yet however...there is still this...

brassica bed and sweetcorn
The brassica bed still needs a tidy up
and I need to get the sweetcorn pulled up!

And then of course there are still the old potatoes to be dug and the strawberries I mentioned earlier to be sorted. Oh and the raspberry canes need cutting back, the pond area sorting out...and...and...and.
Okay I'm stopping there before I burst the bubble I am in about how much I have got done this week. I think I have tackled the hardest areas first though so hopefully (fingers crossed) everything from here on out will be childs play!!

Sunday 11 October 2015

Garlic, onions, beans and weeding!!

So I have been to the allotment this weekend but have to admit if wasn't overly productive. I did get a fair  bit of land cleared around where the brassicas are planted and took the netting off them to give them more room for growth over the winter. I have to say I was very excited to see some lovely head forming on the calabrese....not sure if this is the right time of year for them to be doing it but I am sure we will enjoy them anyway!!

I have got my garlic ready for planting and I am also trying autumn onion sets this year so I will let you know how that goes. I have also bought my broad beans ready to plant. I know a lot of people don't plant them until spring but I find autumn planted ones never suffer as badly from blackfly!!

Currently in the dehydrator I have my garlic and some tomatoes. These will all be ground to powder to be used later in cooking. I did this last year and it was a huge success and it is so much easier to have one kilner jar of tomato powder than hundreds of jars of tomato sauces!!

No pics of the plot today unfortunately but I do have this to share with you.....

Trojan with his pigs ear.
Trojan with his pigs ear.
I had shares in a quarter of a pig which came last week. I had asked for an ear too as Trojan loves them and here he is tucking into one of his favourite treats after it has spent 12 hours in the dehydrator. Picture is a little blurry as he was far to busy eating to pose.....there was nothing going to stop him tucking in!!

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Hunt The Trunk.

So I needed to have a bit of fun with some secateurs. I started with this.....

is is a tree???
is is a tree???
And after about half and hours or so I had this.......

The tree is free!!
The tree is free!!
On closer inspection I see this......

bush growing around trunk
bush growing around trunk.
So I think I need to get more of this cut away and maybe find a way to get it killed off so that the tree has more freedom but how to do it without damaging the tree itself is the big question...any ideas would be much appreciated.

Friday 2 October 2015

Barrowby Village Scarecrow Competition 2015

Okay so I told you about the scarecrow competition in my last poat and just thought I would quickly show you a couple of pics or our entry!!

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Scarecrow Competition, Barrowby Village 2015
Juliette and Annabel busy making the
body for the caterpillar

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Scarecrow Competition, Barrowby Village 2015
Elysia, (believe it or not Annabel's twin!)
cleaning up after painting more of
herself with glue than the balloons!!
 So there were just a couple I took whilst we were in the process of making the 'scarecrow' though I use the term very loosely as I don't think the end product would scare anybody!! The theme this year was books so we decided on 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' as we could incorporate some fruit from the allotment into it. We made the caterpillar out of paper mache balloons which were then painted and for the butterfly we sculpted a frame out of garden wire which we then covered with tissue papper and 'mod rock' for the body. There were some truly fantastic entries...unfortunately ours wasn't up there and in the league but we were quite proud of the finished item none the less.

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Scarecrow Competition, Barrowby Village 2015
Our completed 'Scarecrow' in position
and ready to be judged!!

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Scarecrow Competition, Barrowby Village 2015
A close up of the butterfly.

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Scarecrow Competition, Barrowby Village 2015
A close up if the caterpillar.
Like I say we were rather proud of what we made but next year strive to do better!!

Unfortunately I don't have photos of the other scarecrows but if you would like to see them then follow this link and you will find a link at the bottom of the page for all entries of this year. You never know you may find some inspiration for yourself in there!!

Saturday 26 September 2015

A hard day at the allotment!!

So I managed to get a day down the allotment was hard going but that was inevitable after not getting down there for 2 months. This is what I started with....

Plot 2, I promise there are crops.
Plot 2, I promise there are
Plot 1, not many crops here though.
Plot 1, not many crops here though.
So as you can see from above I really had my work cut out for me. I started off I think a little over ambitious thinking I could get it all done today but it didn't quite pan out that way. I did get plot 2 more or less cleared though and after two full wheelie bins and finding some shallots, onions and new potatoes I was left with this....

Old potato bed cleared and ready for digging, new potatoes dug up.
Old potato bed cleared and ready for digging,
new potatoes dug up.
Shallots and onions dug up, weeds cleared and earth ready for winter dig.
Shallots and onions dug up, weeds
cleared and earth ready for winter
So it was a good days work but boy am I tired. I forgot how much you feel achy after you have spent a while away from the allotment. There is still plenty to do but I am quite pleased with today's progress. I had a beautiful day for it which was kind of a bonus. It's supposed to be nice weather for the rest of this week so I may see if I can get some more time up there throughout the week.

If I do go up the plot tomorrow I think I will take it a little easier and maybe mow the bee plot and just tidy up around the greenhouse. This is what it looks like around the greenhouse...

Chilli's dried on the plant.
Chilli's dried on the plant.
Un-watered tomatoes.
Un-watered tomatoes.
Dropped fruit rotting away.
Dropped fruit rotting away.
Trees unkempt and brambles going wild.
Trees unkempt and brambles
going wild.
So as you can see even those easier tasks will take some time but I am determined to get it all done before the really sold weather comes. Watch this space!!!!

Thursday 24 September 2015

Getting back on track........

So it's been a long time...I know this and there are many reasons behind the sporadic postings this  year and the long absence of posting but I am trying to get back n track with everything...not just the posting on my blog but also getting to grips again with the bee blog and also the allotment.

It's been a hard even harder summer but I have got to get on with things and I am going to start this weekend by trying to get the allotment in order.

The weather has been weird but my crops have grown although I got few sown this year. I have many wonderful crops which I want to grow next year though!!

The bees are doing okay, I recently lost a queen in one of the hives but did have a nuc which I was able to merge with them so I now have two strong hives for the winter. They didn't produce much honey this year with the weird weather and I am now feeding them to give them an extra boost before the cold sets in.

We had a nice holiday this year and it was a welcome break. We went to the coast and it was the first time Trojan and Louie had seen the beach and the sea...they loved the sand but were a little more dubious of the  sea!!

The allotments association entered the local scarecrow competition this year...the theme was books so we chose 'The Hungry Caterpillar' as it meant we could incorporate  some fruit from the plots....we didn't win but we were quite pleased with the entry that Juliette and I made.

I also participated in the R.S.P.C.A. 'Big Walkies' event last weekend along with my Dad and Juliette and Annabel. Of course Trojan, Louie and Barney were the stars and raised over £250 between them for the charity.

That's about all I have for now. I hope you have all had productive summers and are all well. I will leave you with a couple of photos of the 'Big Walkies' event and share some other photos of what I have talked about later in the week.

Annabel and Barney

My Dad, Myself, Louie
and Trojan.

Juliette, Annabel and Barney.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

As the mist rolls in.......

Walking Tro early one morning I glanced across the horizon to see what I first though was the sight of smoke rolling along.....

It was only after carefully watching for a while that I realized it wasn't smoke but mist rolling along the horizon in the distance.

Nature has some truly magical spectacles to show us at times!!

Wednesday 29 July 2015

R.S.P.C.A. Dog Show

So this year we once again returned to the R.S.P.C.A. dog show at Waddington where we first met Trojan two years ago. This year not only was it the second anniversary of meeting Trojan but also fell on our 17th Wedding Anniversary too so got to spend it with family, friends and people who made our family grow...enjoy the photos!!