Winter, Planting and Birds
A week ago we woke up to a temperature of 1°. That’s what it said on the weather app on my smart phone. I love this phone. I resisted for a long time, but now I’m hooked on my iPhone. I love that I can see how cold it is outside, before I ever get out of bed. And I can see that on that same morning it was -15° in Turtle Lake, WI – Kim’s home town. So then I didn’t feel so bad about our 1°. Of course it was 68° in Oceanside, CA where my brother lives.
We’ve been lucky so far when it comes to snowfall. We haven’t had much at all. And we’ve had a good bit of sunshine which makes the cold a little easier to deal with.
One of my favorite Winter activities is watching the birds. Kim diligently fills the six or seven bird feeders that we have and then I and the two fat cats get to enjoy the view. We have a deck just off of our dining room and sometimes there will be up to 20 birds right outside the sliding glass doors. It’s a great distraction when you’re supposed to be working.
We have mostly sparrows, finches and starlings, but there are also one or two bluejays that come through and occasionally morning doves. But the most amazing one to me is one of God’s greatest creations – the cardinal. We are lucky here in Ohio to have the cardinal as our state bird. Just this morning as I’m writing this I’ve seen at least three males and several females and youngsters. That splash of red that you can see from yards away is so stunning. I can see how people get interested in birdwatching.
Watching the feeders provides an ongoing cacophony of color and the constant jostling for perches and the flurry of wings. I love it when something unseen by us humans startles them and they’re off, in a flash and a panic. Every one. Gone. Then, one comes back, then three and it starts all over again.
Kim and I did a frost planting on some small patches of land. You can kill the grass by covering it with cardboard or plastic – you don’t have to use chemicals. If you don’t kill the grass first then you have lots of competition for your Spring flowers. Then just scatter your seeds, preferably when there is no snow on the ground but the ground has frozen.
There are several places you can order wildflower seed mixes especially attractive to honey bees and other pollinators. Check out the ad index in this issue. It’s a great way to get more food out there for our bees and eliminate some of the mowing.
We’ve done this at the Root Company property and it has been very successful. This will be our third Summer for several gardens there and they are flourishing.
Good nutrition is one of the top things we struggle with as beekeepers so try and help out where you can. Don’t forget about seed bombs also which you can just throw out anywhere you see bare land – roadside ditches, your neighbors back field.
Speaking of nutrition, have you tried any of these online food companies that send you all of the ingredients and instructions on how to prepare a good healthy meal? We decided to try one about six months ago. So every other week three meals arrive with all of the ingredients, except butter, milk, oil – things you already have. You can schedule it for every week if you want, you can pause the deliveries if you’re leaving town and you can cancel anytime you want. The one we’ve been using is called Hello Fresh. There are several that seem to offer basically the same kinds of food.
I can say that we have enjoyed most of the meals. Nothing has been inedible. We’ve been exposed to some different seasonings and have to watch the spicy stuff. You know “Food shouldn’t hurt” as Kim loves to say. They tend towards healthy – a lot of Couscous and Quinoa – and I’ve learned some new cooking techniques along the way. It’s been fun, so we’ll keep it up for awhile.
Cost wise it comes to about $12/meal/person. Although we usually have leftovers that make a lunch or two. And it’s delivered right to your door. That’s a big plus.
We’re getting ready for the Spring Beginning Beekeeper classes. Kim has been teaching for probably 20+ years and for most of those I’ve been his grunt labor. I look forward to it every year. It’s always fun to see people start to understand beekeeping. Not everyone sticks with it, but we get a lot of new beekeepers that got their start with Kim. He’s constantly having people come up to him at meetings or sending him emails saying I took your class 12, 15, 17 years ago and I’m still keeping bees. That makes the extra long days we spend worth it.
Spring is on the way! The years seem to go by faster and faster the older I get. Start planning that garden and getting ready for your bees now. It will be time before you know it.