Late Winter – 2021!

Well, yes, it has been awhile. While we are busy most days, the downtime we have is spent doing just that – embracing the downtime. Winter is perfect for that. We’ve been spending our time at home admiring “fire world” (which is what we’ve named what happens inside the woodstove when it’s lit), reading, playing our various instruments, cooking, organizing, and relaxing. Making dinner at home every night has become a pretty sacred time for us; we have music playing, drinks in our hands, and we get to talk and catch up with each other. It’s lovely.

Most recently, I’ve been experimenting with infusing various things – thanks to a book called Simply Living Well that my Mum got us. So far, we’ve got Fire Cider sitting in a cold corner of our house, I’ve made an apple cider vinegar herbal hair rinse that won’t be ready for a few more weeks, and our favorite so far… infused whiskey!

Last week was lemon, rosemary, and blackberry whiskey. Delicious. (sorry I don’t have whiskey pictures… yet).

The weather has been, ya know, winter-y. Mostly chilly with some sunny days. Snow, rain, wind. Late Winter is a funny time here. It’ll snow a foot, then be 45 and sunny the next day, and then we have a gross mud path from the house to the chicken coop. Then it’ll rain and freeze overnight and all of a sudden we have a skating rink in our driveway. Fun stuff.

This time of year can be a struggle for our ducks. At this point they’ve quite literally been cooped up for several months, without access to a real bath. They start to look a little ratty come late Winter. We’ve been doing our best to encourage them to come out of their coop (they really aren’t fond of walking on snow or ice), and I’ve been giving them at least smaller bowls of water to get wet enough that they preen their poor crusty feathers. Since we lack running water here at the homestead, and with freezing temps still at night, filling up their kiddie pool in the Wintertime doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

At least if I can get them to preen themselves, they start looking (and I’m sure, feeling) a lot better pretty quick. 

Wildlife news! We’ve had 2 bobcat sightings here within the last month or so. One afternoon we’re lying around on the couch and a pair of bobcats walked right up in front of the bird coop! One of them sat and looked right at us through the windows. As I slowly tried to get up to get a picture, they wandered off. A couple of weeks later we got a few pictures of them on our game camera!

Obviously they are aware that there is potential food inside that coop. Luckily the girls have been safely locked up whenever the bobcats have been sniffing around. We’ve never seen bobcats before in the 5+ years we’ve been here, so that’s been kind of a fun treat! Our neighbor says he hasn’t seen a bobcat out here in 15+ years!

Other fun game camera pictures:

Let’s see, Boris the tiger aloe is flowering again! I love watching him flower every Winter. We’ve also added quite a few more succulents to the family this Winter, which it always feels nice to have more green in the house. 

Boris is so handsome. And yes, those are solar xmas lights wrapped around him. He did have xmas ornaments on him not too long ago as well…

Loki and the gals are all doing great. The bees, however, are a different story… One hive for certain did not survive the Winter, and we don’t have high hopes for the other one. We took apart the dead hive back in November, and they had tons of honey stores, which means they didn’t starve to death. There were a lot of varroa mites though. Our theory is the skunks (oh yeah, we had major skunk problems in the Fall, more on that in a minute) did more damage to the colonies than we originally thought. We don’t think the hives as a whole were strong enough to survive Winter after the skunks did their damage.

So, apparently, as we learned this year, skunks are a potential major hazard to beehives. Now, I’ve read so much about beekeeping, and had never seen anything about skunks bothering hives. Then we’re visiting family in Minnesota and a friend up there who also keeps bees is telling us that skunks will destroy an entire colony in one night. We were like, nah, that can’t be right.

Sure as shit.

Little jerks.

We get back from MN and discover right away that skunks are bothering our hives at night. They go up to the hive, scratch on the sides (they aren’t big or strong enough to knock it over), then they stick their noses in the hive entrance. As the bees come out to defend the hive, the skunks knock the bees onto the ground, roll them around in the dirt to disorient them, then eat them. They do this all FREAKING NIGHT. 

So we set up solar motion lights, alarms, all this shit. I swear we didn’t get a full night’s sleep for 2 weeks. We slept either in our sunroom or on our deck. We were chasing off skunks constantly, and of course, it’s always in the middle of the night. Finally, enough was enough. R shot 2 skunks within a couple of days, and that was the end of it. But we think by that time, they had already done a lot of damage.

Anyway, we learned a lot from our first year of beekeeping, and we’re certainly not going to give up. We are going to change what kind of beehives we have (from Warre to top bars) for lots of reasons, and we’ll get more bees this Spring. 

We got a bunch of stuff on our project list for this year, and while we’re anxious to get started, the snow on the ground is forcing us not to rush. So until Springtime comes, we are going to enjoy this time of year with indoor projects and chill time. 

What are you all doing this Winter? What are your upcoming Springtime projects? 

I love this picture of Loki caught by the game camera, haha!

One thought on “Late Winter – 2021!

  1. Stefanie, can’t thank you enough for your updates on what is happening in your wonderful world – except of course for the little jerks (skunks)! Love the game camera photos, the succulents and of course the star of the show Loki!

    Always delighted and so happy to “see” your news updates in our inbox! Stay warm and well and know there is someone in the Caribbean on a little island called Culebra who loves you and thinks of you often!

    Virtual hugs with real love attached,

    Aunt Jackie and Ralph

    On Mon, Feb 15, 2021 at 12:17 PM Amelia’s Meadow wrote:

    > srolston posted: ” Well, yes, it has been awhile. While we are busy most > days, the downtime we have is spent doing just that – embracing the > downtime. Winter is perfect for that. We’ve been spending our time at home > admiring “fire world” (which is what we’ve named what hap” >

    Like

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