Monday, January 12, 2009

It's winter . . . it's spring . . . it's winter . . .

January weather in coastal North Carolina is bizarre.  In the last few weeks the poor plants, bees, and hens had to put up with temperatures from the twenties to the sixties, and boy are they confused.  The bees have been out flying as though it were spring (and visiting the blooming dandelions).  I worry that, with all the activity, they will use up all their stores and be too weak to get through what could be the really cold time from late January to March.  I fed the smaller, weaker, hive a half gallon of 1:1 sugar water in a hive top feeder this weekend.  I hope that will help tide them over.  The larger hive still feels fairly heavy, so I will leave them to their stored reserves, for now.  They have such very different personalities:  Dolly's hive was out and about in full force yesterday, despite the cooler, damp weather, while Loretta's girls were hunkered down, waiting for the cold they must have sensed was coming.

The chicken coop is still full of feathers, as molting continues.  Pauline's patch of red below her beak is larger and brighter than before, and little Lena seems to now be filling out to become larger than Pauline: it may become difficult to tell these two black hens apart.  One egg a day right now.  That should increase as the length of the sunlight increases each day.  Here are the hens and Expresso after I gave them broccoli leaves and other extra greens from the garden.

The extended warm days have given me the chance to harvest more lettuce before a good, hard freeze kills it off for good.  The carrots were are getting now are like candy; I had forgotten how good a carrot can be.  We have either a salad or cooked greens, or both from the garden most every day.  As space empties, I am thinking about the spring planting that will begin soon.