Posts

Showing posts from April, 2013

Backyard Chicken Coop Bicycle Tour

Image
... Don't you want to join us for the annual Alameda Backyard Chicken Coop Bicycle Tour this Sunday ? It's a fun, easy ride.  The entire island has a 25 mile-per-hour speed limit.  it's a s flat as flat can be.  it's super-fun to see the diversity of chickens and coops.  Alameda has great architecture, and restaurants, so this is a really nice way to spend a day.

Catching Feral Honeybees

Image
... This evening as Robb and I were drinking coffee, I got a call from an artist who has a studio near where I work.  He had noticed a swarm of bees on some juniper bushes, and called the local beekeeping hotline to find someone to help remove the bees.  I was that someone. It's a lot of fun, going out on these sorts of calls.  I meet fascinating people -- the kind of people who are aware of their surroundings, and who take action to help random insects.  They make the effort to find a local beekeeper, instead of ignoring the situation or calling an exterminator. This particular swarm was probably the easiest I've ever collected.  They were just a few feet off the ground, so I didn't need to bring along a ladder.  Eric, the bee-finder, was willing to help me carefully cut off the juniper branch, so that I could move it, with all the bees into a waiting hive-box.  While we were waiting for all the straggler-bees to join their friends in their safe new home, we cha

Go Look At A Tree

Image
We have been watching this beleaguered hawk from our backyard for about a week.  It sits near the top of a redwood tree and is constantly set upon by gulls, crows, ravens and, once, a Steller's jay. (The jay of course was the only one who hopped over and poked it in the butt).  Everybody's protecting their nests this time of year. Speaking of redwoods, we ran across a few mentions today of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a project devoted to cloning ancient trees in order to begin restoring our old growth forests. Today is their Global Planting Day when they will plant clones of very old (think 4,000 years) redwoods at numerous sites in North America, Europe and Australia. Found this via Treehugger , of course. Also, a very good essay in the Atlantic (actually an excerpt from James Barilla's book, Backyard Jungle ) in which he fills his urban backyard with fruit trees and vegetables, has it certified a wildlife habitat and then frets over the carpenter bees eati

Just Makes You Itch, Looking At It...

Image
...   A sphere of baby spiders, clustered on a bed of lacy phacelia.  It almost sounds like something Morticia Addams might order at a fancy restaurant.

Monday Harvest Update

Image
... We are enjoying beautiful spring weather in the Bay Area, if you edit out the horrible allergies.  It has been very windy, and my face and eyelids are puffy, red, and angry-looking.  I've been wafting through the last few days in a benadryl haze. Robb cut down our volunteer live oak. I'm horribly allergic to the pollen, and we both finally admitted that this baby tree was eventually going to mature and devour out miniscule garden.  Better to remove it while the task is relatively easy. When we first moved into this house, I acted like a worried new parent, with regards to all our fruit trees.  I'd wrap our lemon when overnight frosts were predicted.  Eventually, I drifted to the other end of the spectrum, assuming that the tree was tough, and could handle whatever nature threw at it.  This past winter had a few particularly cold snaps (for our region) and the lemon took quite a beating. Oddly, all of the fruits, regardless of size turned yellow all at once. T

April Garden Update

Image
... I find it very helpful to record what's going on in the garden. We are well into a beautiful spring, and things are really growing.  While most of our fruit trees have already flowered, the persimmon is just starting. It's easy to miss these unusual green blossoms.  It seems that we may have fewer flowers than in past years, but that might be my garden pessimism talking. I was horribly pessimistic earlier this spring , with regards to our pluot and plum trees.  I was so sure that they were blooming too early, and that all the flowers would fall off before the fruits were pollinated.  Clearly, I was wrong. If even half of these already huge pluots ripen, we're going to have a wonderful harvest. The plum crop looks wonderful, as well.  The grafts that I did on our "volunteer" tree over the past few years seem to be fruitful.  I'll keep an eye on the strain the developing plums are putting on the young branches, in case the weight is too

Chicken Thoughts

Image
... As it turned out, our hen Anne Elliott was not fatally egg-bound.   Instead, she was suffering from a dietary deficiency -- probably calcium -- which was likely exacerbated by laying eggs all winter, while the other hens took a break. Our hen had worn herself out, and needed to recharge.  Making all those eggshells had robbed her body of minerals needed for muscular control and egg-laying.  During the time that she was sick, Anne Elliott lacked the energy to terrorize her flock mates, and the balance of power shifted subtly.  Anne Elliott is still the top hen, but she hasn't been bullying everyone as energetically as was her wont. Another change that happened in the flock dynamic was the discovery of the nest boxes.  In the past, there was only a single acceptable nest box, and if more than one hen needed to lay an egg, all hell broke loose.   Low-ranking Lydia stopped using the boxes altogether, and moved operations to the coop floor.  While Anne Elliott was sick, s