Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rain....glorious rain!

I tuned in to local TV news on this morning and the announcer said.....

"It's a sad, wet commute today.  Rainy and wet, and a bit colder."
Huh....sad?????? Not a chance!  We are the 2nd driest state in the USA folks.  Our high temperatures have been in the 90's and the low has been in the 70's and 80's for the last few weeks.  That's Farenheit folks! It's been HOT, HOT, HOT.  The grass is dry, the garden is dry, and the rain is a blessing. I wish it would rain for days and days. It's lovely outside. The air smells fresh and clean and I have all of the windows open wide in spite of a few errant drops coming through. The air is a bit crisper and it's not at all cold.  It's in the 70's. Its delightful and not in any way sad.

Hopefully, the rain will help the firefighters with containment of the many wildfires throughout the state.
As alarming as the smoke plume across the valley and over the mountain from The Homestead was, the orange sky and sunset glow made for a beautiful photo of the granary last weekend.
The rainy mist outside today reminds me of the weather we had in San Francisco last week.  The view from the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park is lovely.  Can you see the Golden Gate Bridge peeking through the trees?  In my opinion this art museum is one of the loveliest places in the city. It overlooks the ocean and the Presidio.  And this is just the parking lot of the museum.  The art collection is amazing.
I must be off.  I've been taking a little break from cleaning out the freezer.  There's a lot to catch up on here.  I may have to get back to wall paper steaming today too.

Have a good week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fun in the Sun....

I've not been here at the blog for a while.  We've been busy.


There's been beekeeping, berry picking (and eating of course), jamming, some really good summertime menus, a bit of vacationing which included yarn and knitting of course,  there was some reading on the veranda.

It was hard to concentrate on anything but the Pacific view, but we managed to tough it out and sit on the veranda quite a bit, morning, evening, and through one slightly foggy afternoon.

There was some wallpaper stripping going on (and a lot more of it that has to happen, unfortunately).

There was even a summer birthday, which is new for our family.  It's fun to add son-in-laws and some new summertime celebrations.
I hope your summer is going as well as ours.  I'll be back.  I'm off for a bit again.

Friday, June 20, 2014


The bee yard.
 If only the bee suits were a bit more flattering!  My age is showing...can you see my reading glasses under my veil?  I need them to see the teeny tiny eggs on the brood frame during an inspection.

Can you see the bees collecting nectar and pollen in the center of my poppies in the kitchen garden?

The new hive is doing well.  It's thriving.  I've put on a new brood box and a honey super.  Bees are amazing creatures.  We are having a good time learning about them and watching them.  I have a whole new understanding of the phrase, "Busy as a Bee".

This is a frame from the brood box.  The bees have made the white wax on the black foundation.  When they make the wax hexagons it's called "drawing out the wax".  This is the nursery of the hive.  The queen is at the left of the frame where you see a little circle of bees around a yellow middle.  She is laying.  We have twice as many bees this week as last.  Hurray!!!!

Dale is patching the limestone mortar on all the stone buildings at the homestead.  The bee holes in the house are patched...thank goodness.  No more swarms!  I like my bees were they belong, in the hive not in the wall of the house.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Last days of May.

The last rays of sunlight were filtering through the clouds when I took this photo.  The home tour was over and the rain was just getting ready to start up.  It was cold-ish but pleasant.  I'd so much rather put on a sweater than be hot.

There were a lot of people through the house.  About 1200 I'd guess.  This is the Granary of course.  For some reason I didn't take a house photo, but you've seen it before.  Too tired I guess.

This summer we are about to re-landscape the gravel pathways and areas. We never meant to have gravel but somehow our landscaper (and I use that term loosely) didn't get the memo).  Lesson learned.  Always be present when hiring out work.  Hopefully a pergola will be put in and we'll get flagstone down.  The fence is being moved to make a bigger area for eating.

For now, it's time for a breather.
Oh, and we are now beekeepers again!  IFA had whole hives for sale.  More about that later.
I've got another class lined up at the Wool Cabin.  I'll be teaching this little guy.

We're off to put our feet up.

Monday, May 12, 2014


For a week or so.

I didn't mean to be gone so long but things have been happening around here.  Not really bad things....well if you don't count someone in the family losing their electronic car key, then borrowing someone else's and losing that one too before getting the first one replaced.  Let's just say a wrecker had to be called to tow the car to the dealer.

And then there were the bees.
We've had bees in our roof/wall at the homestead for a few years.  Lots of beekeepers wanted them but no one could get them out.  Until we found Al.  Al is a beekeeper/contractor who came to take the bees out of the house and put them in a hive.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  
We waited until the middle of April due to weather and blossoms opening.
Here's Al removing the shingles.  I'm glad I wasn't up on that roof.  It was high.  The stone house has old fashioned high ceilings and Al is up higher than you might think.
After he opened the roof, he found that the bees actually were in the rubble stone wall of the house.
He removed the comb first.
The dark comb is brood and pollen deposits for food around the edges.  The pollen is the yellow pockets toward the bottom.  Al had us taste it and it was sweet.  The whole family was up on the copper part of the roof with Al.  He handed us the comb as he removed it and we put the honeycomb in new 5-gallon buckets.
The new comb is the white comb on the right that B is holding.  The colony was fascinating.
Al vacuumed the bees using a vacuum with a filter and then he dumped the bees into a small hive.  He rated the colony medium sized but most of the bees were out foraging.  Al never put on a suit or gloves.  The bees were docile.
Here they are in the small hive at the back of the property.

Al removed the bees and sprayed the hive to keep any new colonies from setting up a home there until we could get the holes in the mortar sealed up.

As Al was getting ready to put the roof back together, he noticed the queen outside the hive on our roof.  He was excited and so were we.  He scooped her up in his hand and climbed down the ladder and deposited her in the hive.

A week later we opened the hive to check the feeder and the bees and we realized that the queen had probably been sprayed and had crawled out of the hole in the roof while we were relocating the hive.  By putting her back in with the colony, she killed the rest of the colony off.  It was kind of sad.

It's too late to order bees for this season but we're prepared for next year.  The bees were fascinating and we're excited to try again. 
At least they are out of our roof and I do have some comb to harvest honey from.