Bees and Other Things

I meant to do a blog post a few days ago, but life happened.

Or rather spring happened, or continues to happen, or whatever. I should probably get more sleep.

The garden is in now. 30 tomato plants of various types, 41 pepper plants (mostly different types of sweet bells but also some hot peppers), in addition to cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, beets, radishes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce.

Because we are in west central Kansas, summers can be rather dry, windy, and hot, and usually weeds are prolific. So, after everything is planted, we mulch by spreading wet newspaper everywhere the plants aren’t and then piling old hay on top. This keeps weeds to a minimum, helps hold moisture in the soil so we have to water less, and keeps us from having to wade through mud after the garden has been watered. It’s also a huge job that takes six people most of the day to get done. But, better a day spent doing that than traipsing through mud and fighting a plethora of weeds all summer. Of course, we do still get a few weeds, mainly the stubborn and ever frustrating bind weed. But it keeps even that down to an annoyance instead of a full scale invasion.

Here is me, my youngest on my mom’s lap, and my two oldest kids in the background (my husband managed to escape getting caught in the pic). We were hot, sweaty, dusty, and pleased with our day of work. Three generations working together to get the garden in.

(never mind the mess behind us, that is another project in the works)

All of the baby chickens, mirds (meat birds) and little layers, graduated to the big chicken house. This of course means they quickly revealed every possible shortcoming in our baby chick proof fencing. After several escapes, we’ve managed to shore everything up for the most part. A couple of times we’ve been completely baffled as to how a chick got loose from the pen. Of course an escape always means herding the loose chick to an area where we can actually catch it (you wouldn’t believe how fast those little buggers can move), and returning to its agemates. They always seem to relieved to be back in familiar territory with their buddies.

They’ve done a good job of exploring their actual pen as well. They share that with the goats, so it’s a fairly large area. When we made our order for chicks this year, the order was big enough to qualify for the free exotic chick. Usually it ends up been a rooster of some fairly common breed. But this year, it ended up being a poof headed chick that will end up looking like this:

We have named it Heihei, after the chicken on Moana. Since it was just an extra chick they threw in, we have no idea if this Heihei is a hen or a rooster, but either way, we are all quite attached already.

And Heihei can be quite funny. One day he/she ended up right under Inara (one of the goats). Inara caught sight of little Heihei and freaked out, leaping straight into the air, legs flailing, her eyes wide as if saying, “Oh my god, there is a little poof headed thing under me!”

Meanwhile, Heihei was flapping and running in circles while shrieking in chicken speak, “Oh my god, there’s a giant flying goat thing above me!”

They managed to get clear of each other and promptly ran in opposite directions. Inara to the safety of Kaylee (our older doe), and Heihei back to the safety of the hen house where the rest of the chicks were.

 

Then came the bees…

Don’t get me wrong, I love bees and they are integral to our gardens. But I don’t much care for them in the house.

First there was one on the inside of the front door. I couldn’t get it to go outside, so I ended up having to squish it. Then there was one on the TV screen. Then five or six on the inside of the window screen, another caught in the curtain, and another crawling on the couch, and the twelve or so in my entry way.

Bees went from being cute little garden helpers to creepy. Almost like a bee version of The Birds. While my husband battled bees inside with one of those electric fly swatters (they just kept showing up), I went outside to try and discover the source. It seemed that when they swarmed this spring, one of them found a tiny chink in the armor that is our house’s siding and decided under there would make a fabulous place to install a brand spanking new bee home. Apparently they didn’t think to first ask if we wanted roommates.

Thankfully, we have industrial strength spray for bugs, the same kind bug companies use. We usually only use it right around the outside of the house to keep spiders and such out. They have free reign over the rest of the yard and we are even careful not to break spider webs when we are picking in the garden, or if there is no other way, to carefully relocate the spider to another area of the garden if he (or she) has set up shop right where we need to pick. But I draw the line on them being inside (other than the little jumper spiders, I don’t mind them when they come in). But we hadn’t sprayed yet this spring because it’s either been too windy or too stormy. All except the day we did the garden. So we got it out and soaked the area, being sure to get it up in the area they had discovered (still have no idea how they made it on into the house). The next day there was one bee in the house. And after that, none. I hated having to do that to them, but the house is my hive, not theirs. And under the siding is NOT a good place to set up a home for bees. And it may seem mean of me, but I’m also not going to share the couch and TV with them.

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