Friday, May 28, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 130

 A busy week here on November Hill. The painting began on Wednesday, on the back side of the house so we could get that “back” for the dogs as quickly as possible. However, there was significant wood repair to be done to window trim and fascia boards and this crew did a gorgeous job with that and caulking, so they just finished the painting up yesterday. It is gorgeous! The quality of their work is impressive, and I’m a picky person. 

Yesterday afternoon they moved to the cat tunnel side and are doing repair work and caulking there, and they started the first coat of paint. They should finish up that side of the house by the end of today. 

Of course, this is all meaning cats and dogs are much more restricted than usual and it’s been challenging but has also coincided with 90+ degree days, so keeping the dogs and cats in with dogs going out on leash for bathroom breaks hasn’t honestly been such a bad thing. 

In addition to the contracted work, the crew and foreman agreed that they can build additional ‘screen panels’ for the front porch railing sections so that when they remove the chicken wire that was previously stapled on to the actual porch rails to keep our cats in, they can paint and then screw these panels on so we can remove them as needed to freshen up the rails and banisters as needed. I’m really grateful that they’re willing to add this to their work. 

This company was very highly recommended. They’ve been in business 50+ years and are both local and a family effort, and the foreman and several of the crew members have worked for them for 20+ years. It’s a pleasure to deal with a business who treats their employees so well they stay with them for entire careers. 

Outside the umbrella of the painting being done, we had another big thing happening this week. On Tuesday morning my son alerted us to the sound of a cat meowing over and over and over again. The stray cat was in a tree adjacent to our property line, 40 feet up a tulip poplar tree, in clear distress. We tried for 36 hours to get the cat to come down, and on Wednesday evening we paid a man with a bucket lift on his truck to come and rescue the poor cat. He was in surprisingly good shape for having had no food/water for that long a time. We brought him in to our garage room which is nice and cool, set him up with a little food and water, a litter pan, and a comfy carrier, and took him to the vet yesterday to have him scanned for a microchip, which he didn’t have. The vet said he was around a year old, appeared to be neutered, and on the surface seemed healthy. We made an appointment for next week to get him tested for feline diseases, and brought him home again, and moved him to the camper so he could have more room to explore.

We put announcements on Facebook and NextDoor and last night the owners contacted me. They live close by, though not in our neighborhood, obviously, and it turns out a little girl whose 15-year cat died the day before this cat, who lived with her grandparents, disappeared. This cat was slated to go live with her at some point, but he was in our neighborhood, getting stuck up in what turns out more than one tree since Mother’s Day! She’s coming to get him after school today with her mom. A happy ending to a big cat adventure. I’m relieved because we were all struggling with the idea of trying to incorporate another cat into our currently stable animal family. 

The horses and donkeys are managing the stress of having a work crews adjacent to their barn, but between the heat, increase in yucky bugs, and the commotion, I know they’re ready to get back to quiet early summer days with the fans on and their breakfast tubs and hay. 

We have electrician work and HVAC replaced June 8-9 and then the front windows replaced June 14, and that is IT FOR BIG PROJECTS until the summer heat has ended officially in the fall. 

In honeybee news, we combined the queenless Artemis hive with our captured swarm Mnemosyne. We used a single sheet of newspaper to separate the two deep hive boxes, putting Artemis on top of Mnemosyne. The idea is the bees below will gradually chew through to the upper box and by that time the pheromones will be adjusted to so there won’t be any fighting. So far, so good. This is the first time we’ve combined a hive and we suited up but did not use smoke. The bees were all very gentle and cooperative. The hard work of this fell to my husband, who closed the entrances on Artemis and heroically carried the entire deep box with bees inside plus its stand down a hill, through a gate, and up a narrow and difficult path to where the Mnemosyne hive is. I’m glad this is done!

Hegemone 1 swarmed on - gosh - I’m not sure what day it was without looking at my calendar. It seems that their swarm and return to their hive a couple of weeks ago was a practice swarm in advance of the real thing this week. My son was again the one who saw it, and videoed it, and this time they flew up and away from November Hill toward the 100-acre Wood behind us. May they be happy and thrive in their new bee tree home! 

The bees that stayed behind look very busy and presumably have a new queen in process. We’re keeping an eye on them but so far they look great.

Hegemone 2 is doing some bearding in this heat, which makes me think their population is such that we may need to split them sometime soon. Ditto with Echo, who are bearding a LOT, and I’m sure we need to split them. We’re trying to wait for a cooler day to do that. 

So, overall, we came out of winter with two hives and after these splits we’ll be up to six. I have just enough equipment to contain all these girls and that’s going to be it for this season. If we have more swarms that I can capture, I have two nuc boxes to put them in, but otherwise, whoa! The apiary is full and I think we have more than we can handle on our hands for this year!

The vegetable garden and potager are great. I meant to take some photos - I have installed a bench to sit on and a butterfly house, and I have a new bird house to put up once I have time to get it out there. The 5-lb. very easy to use electric weedeater I bought has made it so easy for me to keep the grassy part of the potager trimmed back. I like having the grass in there, mixed in with clover which the bees love, but it does add another maintenance chore to keep it trimmed. 

Rafer Johnson had a little bit of hard swelling below one eye last night and he absolutely refused my offer of a cool compress but was perfectly willing to take a little dose of Banamine and a peppermint. This morning it’s back to normal, thankfully. I realized I don’t have my usual tube of Terramycin, so this was a reminder to order some for my kit. 

Today my house helper sent us a beautiful cake for Memorial Day, and we’re going to enjoy it on Sunday (the painters are working tomorrow AND on Memorial Day Monday) for what will be a nice day of relaxation in this very busy week. 

And, finally, we’re getting a very welcome break from this heat starting tomorrow, and hopefully some rain late in the day to water everything. If Sunday ends up being gray with drizzle it will be icing on the cake!

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