weekending :: around the house
aside from a trip to ballet class and a short playdate with friends, we stayed close to home this weekend. kept the home fire burning, drank tea, started her pink hat with the yarn she chose all by herself, watched as the first seedlings began to valiantly break the surface of the seed starting mix (hurrah for the onions and tomatoes that are already up!).
it was very icy and cold around here last week, as it was in many parts of the country. highs in the teens, lows anywhere from -4 to a handful of degrees, windchill well below zero…… we are used to freezing temperatures and snow around here, but wow. we got used to bringing fresh water out for the chickens every few hours, swapping it for frozen. we put a heat lamp in their coop. after the second or third day of brittle intense cold, we decided to give the remaining hive a bit of love and packed some straw around and underneath it. by the weekend, it was warming up quite a bit, and by Sunday it was in the low 50s. a hopeful glance at the hive made my heart sink and I knew we hadn't added the extra insulation in time. Dammit. Yep- it would seem we lost both hives this winter. they were just too cold. there were enough bees, enough honey, no pest infestation….. just a large clump of cold, limp bees. throw a week of -20 windchill in between a couple weeks of slightly balmy, and our girls just couldn't hang. I couldn't help but feel like a half-ass steward, wondering if they'd have made it if we'd added the straw sooner…. and who knows.
so that's a big, big bummer. I felt crabby for the rest of the day and still feel generally crappy about it. yes, we now have two almost-full supers of honey to extract, so there is that sweet silver lining. but oh how I'd rather have the healthy bees still hunkered down in there buzzing away to keep each other warm. funny thing, the man we always get our bees from called me last week to let me know he'd be picking them up soon and did we need any? he's never done that before. but, we're not so sure. we've had bees for four years now, and have lost at least as many hives over those years. we'll either replace both hives, or take a year off. and while the thought of not having those two happy white towers in the corner of the yard, not being able to just sit and watch those ladies go about their day, in and out, in and out, makes me kinda sad……. maybe a break is called for.
we are also looking into replacing our wood stove insert with a much more energy efficient (and environmentally friendly) freestanding stove. we've narrowed it down to a large handful of possibilities based on the dimensions/firebox size/efficiency ratings/etc that we are looking for, but I'd love if any of you have any feedback on stoves you've used and loved (or not loved). we are debating the merits of catalytic converter vs. non-catalytic as well, so please chime in if you have opinions there.
weekending with Karen