Lonely okra flower

As the weather has been wet and cool, growth in the garden has slowed to a crawl. Surprisingly, the okra continues to make new flowers and fruits. The okra has been such a great crop. We will definitely grow some next season. The cherry tomatoes finally made their comeback after the rain stopped and we got some sun. I have been able to pick as many to eat as I want, which is how most of them are consumed. I sometimes bring a bowl full into the house, but they never seem as good as when I pick them right off the plants. The peppers are perhaps the most durable and fruitful of all the late garden plants. We always have lots of peppers left when the first frost arrives – which it did just a few days ago. Sadly, it was a pretty good freeze – at least five degrees below freezing – and all the plants took it pretty hard. To make matters worse the freeze has continued for four or five nights straight. Any chance that a slightly protected plant might have survived is now gone. All the tomatoes are mush as are all the peppers. I picked just a few tomatoes and peppers to bring in, blanch, peel, and put in a big pot of chili. The was the End-Of-The-Garden Memorial Chili Dinner. I think it should be the start of a new tradition.


Bees in November

The bees better be preparing for winter. I keep feeding them, but I don’t really want to open up the hives to see what is happening in there. I fear that the disruption in honey production might be worse than my fears of not knowing. Next year I will definitely do a few things differently. I really like the idea of getting some kind of relative weight throughout the season. I think I will take the advice of one of the bee club members and put a scale under the back edge of the hive every time I go out to look or feed and record that. I’m not sure what conclusions I will be able to draw, but I will at least have some data to work with.After the past several nights of freezing weather, the bees still are very active on a day like this where it is around 60 degrees and sunny. I have seen them on my mums and they are still bringing in pollen. I really don’t understand what happens to the population around this time of year. I suppose it decreases as they make room for more honey then brood. I need to get back to the books and remind myself that I still have a lot to learn.


We finally got the palace chicken yard fenced in, but still need to build the gate. That’s what I should be doing today while it is so nice. They are making the most of the yard now and it looks like it could use some time off. I didn’t think that the 21 birds would eat down the grass so much, but they have and it needs a break. I guess this means that I will need to fence in the alternate yard early next spring. It was always the plan to have two separate areas that we could release the chickens into. The fencing project was more expensive than I had thought, but it really is a lot nicer than the fencing around the original coop. So if we can fence in a second area (to the south and west of the palace), it should really help the grass recover. Maybe we can move them every couple of weeks.

The Ameraucanas who laid a couple of eggs early and then stopped for a month, finally started to lay again and have been quite regular now. They are also bigger eggs than most of the light brown layers. I was hoping that by now all the eggs would be full sized, but I don’t think they are. Hopefully when they get rolling in the spring, they will be fully mature. I have been trading eggs for baked good with some of my yoga students and have sold a few dozen, but we will need a bunch of regular customers to keep up with all the eggs in the spring. And, of course, I want some more chickens next year, too. We will try to mate the Marans to get some more chocolate eggs, but will need to buy a few more Ameraucanas as we are lacking a rooster. Our two new roosters, Duran and Big Red have come to accept each other with no show of fighting. Early on Duran was clearly the boss, but more recently if either of them mounts a hen, the other will run over to ‘assist’ or at least encourage the act. I never imagined this kind of cooperation among the roosters.

In the old coop, Percy is finishing his molt and might be getting his mojo back. Since the molting started, Tarick the younger, smaller rooster has been terrorizing Percy. Percy has been the clear boss up until this molt, but Tarick has been making up for lost time. We have had to protect Percy by putting him in the nursery coop out of Tarick’s reach. Before doing that poor Percy was hiding in the nest boxes – very unrooster-like. But finally Percy is beginning to show signs of being frisky again when we step into the nursery coop to supply food and water. I almost forgot to mention that Percy also had a broken spur. We discovered it one day because his foot was bloody. It seems as though the spur sloughed off of the bone. I didn’t realize this but I guess the spur is kind of a covering on a much smaller bone. I don’t know if this broken spur is related to the molt or not, but the combination sure seems to have taken all the aggression out of Percy. Joni did a great job of cleaning and bandaging his leg to protect the spur bone for several days and it looks to be healing well. It will be interesting to see if Percy can regain his stature as head rooster or if his reign is over.