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“For now is the winter of our discontent”


My girls in the garden. They are having a ball scratching around. In the background are Apple and Olive hives, shrunk for the winter.

A phrase penned by my mate Bill, ways back in 1594, is often misused to present a time of sorrow. I relate (in partial means only) to the truer intent, for though it is now winter in this fair land, I am in anything but discontent. Whilst our summer was poor, cold, wet and miserable, for both sapiens and apis we have now had some of those balmy autumnal days, with cool morn and eve yet strong warmth around the noon-time.

The hives have been buzzing happily, whilst our hens have passed their recent moulting ugliness to regain their fine feathered beauty. Since the gardens have been let go for another season, the girls have been free-ranged, to spend the day casually circuiting the house, or having dust baths in the brick garden. Dust bathing chickens always look funny, being so content yet appearing to be a clump of broken fowl – wings, legs, and necks in all untidy array, followed by a cloud of dust as they shake their feathers clean.

There are still leeks and carrots growing, but the rest of the crops have finished. It is good to have some chook-poo naturally turned into the garden, and the girls remove all the slugs and snails.

A friend recently needed a stay in hospital, right at the time his hive needed extracting and mite-strips needed inserting. He asked me if I would look after them, and of course I did (what else could one do for a friend). The hive was a brand-new one, and was so easy to work, with very little build up of propolis. I felt surprisingly honoured and privileged to be able to intimately examine his hive. Thankfully it was in very good shape, with a full super of honey, many bees, and no obvious signs of mites. I wish them all the best for the winter, and a speedy recovery for my friend (though a sternum tied back together will take a while before hefting full supers becomes a possibility).

’till next time, 

Keep on buzzing

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