Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bugs in the garden

Man, I hate it when life interferes with my blogging! Sorry about the dearth of posts. I took this photos September 3rd, before the first frost...

One of my honey bee girls on yellow coneflower.

An enterprising bee drinking water off my wet dog, Tristan! Can you see her little pinkish-red tongue?

A lovely monarch butterfly on the coneflowers.

Honeybee getting a drink at the bird bath.

Another butterfly, but I'm too lazy to look up the type!

Happy autumn. The little chickens have been integrated with the big chickens and all is going well. Pictures to follow.

By the way, I'm curious... who among you likes raw, unfiltered honey? There seems to be a specialty market for it so we are thinking of keeping some of our honey unfiltered (or just barely filtered) because apparently it's a specialty item that way. I am wondering just how many people prefer raw honey (I do!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One special kitty!

On Saturday night, we went to a dinner party to celebrate the 20th (TWENTIETH!) birthday of one special cat, Domino. She belongs to my friend Ronna.

Instead of a birthday card, I did a little painting for Domino. The other guests brought her a bouquet of fresh catnip and a fun mouse-on-a-wand cat toy!

(If you want to see pics of Domino as a youngster, visit Ronna's blog.)

We had a great evening chez Ronna!

Every day, Domino gets a cup of tea with an ice cube in it to cool it off. I like to think she owes her longevity to the tea (since I drink so much of it myself) but I know it's really the tender loving care she gets from Ronna!

Hard to believe I'd had nothing alcoholic to drink!

Would that I could say the same for Gordon...

...who was also suffering from jet lag. He came straight from the airport after spending a week in Lithuania at a conference! He gamely stayed awake until 10:00 pm.

Here I am feeding Domino some of my chicken. I figure that any cat who makes it to 20 years of age can darn well eat at the table with the humans!

Ronna made an awesome and delicious Domino-kitty cake, which we all enjoyed!

Miss Domino needed a little help from Mommy when it came time to blow out the candles.

She enjoyed making the rounds of the guests' laps!

And then she and I had a post-dinner nap. Zzzzzzz!


Here's to a wonderful cat! May she have many more happy birthdays.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A day trip to Fort Lennox

On the Labour Day weekend, we went to visit our friends in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and the four of us drove out to historic Fort Lennox. This fort, constructed from 1819 - 1829, sits on a small island call Ile aux Noix in the middle of the Richelieu River, about an hour away from Montreal. The Google Maps satellite photo is cool!

View Larger Map

It was a pleasant ferry ride over to the island. Gordon is holding my hand so I don't make bunny ears behind his head!

The island is surrounded by a moat, with a bridge across it to the fort. The fort was built to protect against potential American invaders (ah, but you Americans lost the war of 1812, didn't you?)

The fort was names after Charles Lennox, the 4th Duke of Richmond.

If you look carefully, you'll see cliff swallow nests just over the word "Lennox." Their nests are all over the site.

I think this is the guardhouse. I did the tour in French and I'm damned if I can remember what was what in English!

The barracks.

The Commissariat Store. I think.

Can you spot the cliff swallow nests?

Inside the soldiers' barracks.

An original painted sign on a barracks door. (Uh, no, the no-smoking sign is not historic!)

One of the re-enactors, who was hugely amusing!

A robin's nest on a lintel over a stone spiral staircase.

Arched entranceway looking out onto the parade square.

And an officer's room, which was quite a bit swishier than the enlisted men's barracks:

Don't ask me what part of the fort this is! I can hardly remember my phone number anymore...

I think this might have been a kitchen!

Uh... the ordinance store... maybe?

I know what this one is: the MOAT!

We had a great visit. The site is beautifully restored (and very intact from the original) and well worth visiting if you are anywhere near Montreal! And afterwards you can go find some beautiful raw milk Quebec cheese in one of the local fromageries!

Driving home through Montreal, we saw a pretty rainbow:

...which became a double rainbow over a rusty bridge. All the bridges and roads in Quebec scare the hell out of me. In a year of living there, we did $2000 worth of damage to the suspension of our car, due mostly to potholes. It's still a great place to visit, but I don't recommend lingering under overpasses or on or under bridges! Maybe take a rental car. Or a tank!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My friend suggested I rename the rooster Phyllis Diller as "Sam", because he looks like Samuel Beckett. I have to agree:

But I kind of like "Beckett" because we have a young friend named Sam who might be less than thrilled to have a nerdy rooster named after him. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And then there were three...

Ladies and gentlemen, Phyllis Diller...

...is a man! He crowed at me four times this morning.

Time for another name change! We switched "Lady Gaga" to "Lord Gaga" (when we discovered that hen was a rooster) but I'm thinking I'd like something completely different for Mr. Diller here. I could go with just Phill but somehow it doesn't suit him, plus I have a friend named Phill who is less than impressed at the thought of having a Silkie rooster named after him.

I've also been calling him "Kitten", which doesn't suit him either. That started up because he's part Silkie, and the guy who sold us our seven freak-show chickens said that Silkies are great with kids because they are gentle and don't mind handling. "They're like kittens!" he said.

Three roosters! The hens aren't going to know what to do with themselves when the young'uns move into the coop...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Honey day!

Saturday was honey extraction day! The weather was perfect, sunny and not too hot. The girls were very cooperative and didn't even attempt to sting us as we stole their honey.

Gordon made me stand in the blinding sunlight so I couldn't open my eyes. I am holding the inside lid of the hive, which I was about to put back in. We were too busy to take more photos outside! Next time I'll get a friend to take photos of us at work.

Me and the shiny new extractor. Bee suits are not slimming, nor were we dressed for fashion! It gets pretty sticky in the honey house.

A boy and his extractor. True love!

A frame of capped honey. The bees cover each hexagonal cell with wax when the honey is ripe and ready to store.

You have to scrape or cut off all the wax cappings before putting the frame in the extractor. The cappings are cleaned and eventually turned into blocks of beeswax, candles, you name it... I haven't dealt with that yet!

One frame in, 19 more to go! This extractor will spin 20 shallow frames at once.

All loaded and ready to spin. The extractor uses centrifugal force to spin the honey out of the frames. It goes to the bottom of the extractor...

...and drains out the honey gate! Here it comes!

This is a five gallon bucket, which holds about 60 lbs of honey. I think we got about 90 lbs of honey on Saturday. We extracted some honey in August at a friend's place and got about 30 lbs, so altogether this years' harvest is about 120 lbs. Not bad for our first harvest year!

We had lots of fun and as you can see Gordon is very pleased with himself. I would like to add that he does not normally wear socks and Birkenstocks. He slipped those on after taking off his boots. It was hard not to track honey everywhere!

Beekeeping rocks, and we are grateful to the bee-girls for supplying us with all this beautiful honey.