Summer wanes

Despite the beautiful day, I can’t shake this feeling of melancholy. I believe it is predominantly a change-of-season reaction or, more explicitly, summer-to-fall. I love fall, its crisp coziness, and the winding down of work in the garden. But unlike other seasons, this change seems less about a shift in the weather and length of day, and more about events. Labor Day weekend. The start of the school year (long past but still looming large in my memory). New beginnings. All things I relish and look forward to, once I give up on trying to answer the “what on earth happened to summer” question, and accept that, once again, much will be left to another year.

Yet the day—and weekend—was full of enjoyable and interesting moments. Today we checked the hives, discovering that the newer one might once again be without a queen. We found a great deal of honey but very little brood. The other, older hive is thriving, with good honey stores and brood. Some of the honey-laden frames are so fat they are touching neighboring frames. To create a bit more space, we pulled one out, and Cherisse used our casual extraction method to remove the capped comb and pull out the honey. Next weekend we will check the hives again, and we should be able to tell if there are signs of a queen in the newer hive. If not, we may try to combine the two; a queen-less colony won’t make it through the winter. In combining them, it is possible we might be able to take more honey (although the increased bee population will need additional food for the cold months).

Little brood in new hive
Too little brood in new hive
Brood in older, stronger hive
Brood in older, stronger hive
Capped honey
Capped honey
Extracting honey
Extracting honey

The baby chicks continue to grow rapidly. They venture further afield, intermingling with the older chickens outside. Soon we will figure out how to introduce them into the roosting area.

Cherisse’s hard work with the tomato fence paid off. She erected a nine-foot deer fence (the only fencing we had available) around the two tomato beds, and while squirrels could climb over this, it seems to have sufficiently deterred them. We are no longer finding half-eaten tomatoes…although someone has eaten half of one of the biggest cabbage heads  Our Raven zucchini and Yellow Sebring were so riddled with squash borers, Cherisse pulled them out. Only a couple of pattypan remain, and so we won’t have the winter stores of squash soup, ratatouille, or quite as much zucchini bread as in past years. Each year’s harvest produces different results, one of the key arguments for crop diversity. (On a related note, Mark Bittman had a great piece recently in his blog called “Celebrate the Farmer!” http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/celebrate-the-farmer/.)

The flower garden still looks beautiful (however another weekend passed without weeding). Our eggplant is now coming more rapidly, and for the first time in years our peppers are big and perfect looking. We have two large, lovely Asian pears on a tree, not quite ready to pick. So the days may get shorter and the nights cooler, the urge to start something new might linger in my subconscious, but melancholia has no place here.

Sunday afternoon, from the bee hives
Sunday afternoon, from the bee hives
The adults
The adults (the Dominique is on the seat behind the RI Reds)

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