Showing posts from February, 2013

Bird Brain

... Our chicken Lydia is a strange creature.  She doesn't seem to live in the same universe, or play by the same rules as our other birds.  Even when she was a baby, she was an odd little thing. Recently, Robb rebuilt the nesting boxes, because Lydia had decided that sleeping on the box-edges was preferable to sleeping on a perch.  I don't have particularly strong feelings about where our hens should sleep, except that hens are night-time poop factories, and I don't want them crapping on their eggs. After some experimentation, Robb attached military surplus webbing to the fronts of the nest boxes.  This keeps the nesting material in place, which cushions the eggs.  It is also just flimsy enough to dissuade hens from perching. We thought we'd resolved Lydia's confusion about nest boxes.  Until we noticed the gigantic hole that she'd dug in the chicken litter.  Lydia's winter egg-laying hiatus had ended. It would seem that Lydia kicked up

Pacific Orchid Expo, part one.

... On Thursday, I volunteered at the opening gala of the Pacific Orchid Expo.  In exchange for a few hours of very pleasant work, I got weekend passes to the event.  I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon with Allie and her sister, gawking at the splendid collection of orchids. I'm going to share my (not very good) photos later. Because I never remember this sort of thing unless I write it down, here's what I brought home.  My goal was to buy tough reasonably priced plants that would thrive outdoors. From Hanging Gardens , in San Francisco/Pacifica. Oerstedella centradenia -- delicate foliage, clusters of small pale lavender flowers -- PARTIAL SUN Reed-Stem Epidendrum radicans "big red" -- fleshy foliage on red stems, red flowers -- SUN Coelogyne cristata -- fleshy pseudobulbs, straplike foliage, cascading white flowers -- BRIGHT SHADE From the members of the San Francisco Orchid Society Masdevalia "Ken Dole" (Masd. coccinea X Masd. tonduzii)

Bloom Too Soon

... Since Robb and I have lived in the Bay Area, we've noticed that we get an unseasonably warm week every February.  It's a nice break from winter. Everyone gets to run around in short sleeves, and spirits are high. But this year, I'm actually a bit nervous about the weather.  The fruit trees are blooming, far too early.  Glancing back at previous blog entries, it seems to me that we're two weeks ahead of schedule. Our young pluot tree is covered in blooms, which I imagine will all be knocked off when normal winter returns.  I can't imagine that any of these blossoms will be pollinated, meaning that no fruit will set. Our plum tree is also just about to erupt into bloom.  I should be delighted, but instead I'm filled with dread. I've read so much about the disruption of the natural seasonal cycles, thanks to global climate change.  Birds migrating, only to find that the food they need isn't available yet.  Fish moving to colder waters,

Our Annual Sunday Tuba Alarm Clock Serenade

... Every year, on a Sunday morning in February, one of our neighbors hires a live band and the rest of us get jolted out of our slumbers by the bracing strains of tuba music.  Tuba, trumpet and drums.  A sure antidote to sleeping late on the weekend. We still have no clue what this is about.  The musicians started playing at 7am, got really loud at 8, and were done by 9.  Who on earth hires a live band to do this every year? 2010 . 2011 . 2012 .

New Eggs, New Fence

... Due to behavioral cues on their part, we've been expecting our hens to resuming laying.  (They've  been acting as if Robb and I are Sexy Roosters, presenting their rumps for our attentions.  It's all very weird.)  On Saturday, Harriet spent about an hour and a half clattering around inside the nest boxes, and after some confusion and distraction, laid us a lovely full-sized egg. Harriet is a Black Cuckoo Marans, and is supposed to produce chocolate-colored eggs.  In reality, she lays pale brown eggs, with a sort of powdery coating.  Forgive the rotten cameraphone picture.  We had that egg for brunch, shortly after it was laid.  No "real" photos were taken. So, now half of our hens are laying. And all of our hens are getting into trouble. Thank goodness we have excellent neighbors, who notice escaped chickens, and will shoo them back into our yard.  Once our hens figured out the weaknesses of our backyard barricade system, it was time t

A Dead Hive, An Unexpected Honey Harvest

... Today was a beautiful day, and Robb and I were out in our back garden, looking around. We realized that one of our beehives was swarming with ants.  That, sadly, was a sure sign that this hive was dead.  If bees are present in a hive, they'll fight off ants.  But once the bees are gone, ants swarm in to devour all the bounty of the hive. This has not been a good season for me as a beekeeper. I've been dragging around for months with a low-level sinus infection, neglecting my duties.  This past week, the infection came to a head, culminating in a really unpleasant illness.  I was really miserable, feeling downright poisoned.  Thankfully, I was in touch with my doctor just as the sickness spiked, and I'm currently in the middle of a course of antibiotics.  Why I let things go for so long is a long story, and I need to be more aggressive about pursuing treatment of this seemingly chronic condition. Taking advantage of the sunshine and feeling a wee bit better, I