Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter Preparation for the Bees

The early fall had very low nectar flows, probably due to all the rain. We were disappointed as we have a couple of acres of golden rod, which vary though in nectar production depending on the species. So, not only did we not have the opportunity to collect honey but the bees barely have made enough for themselves. They need about 35-60 lbs of honey stored to survive a PA winter, depending on who you ask. We have been feeding them a heavy syrup for a few weeks now. Our stronger hive all year has actually declined a bit and has not produced enough honey still, maybe about 15 lbs. We continue to feed them using now ½ gallon plastic buckets rather than the glass jars with metal tops that are difficult to clean and rust. We hope they will build up their stores in time or we will simply have to feed them all winter. We noticed at our last visit that wasps were feeding on the side of the hive and trying to gain entrance. Our second hive is finally well organized and strong and has produced at least 45 lbs or so of honey based on the non scientific method of just picking up the hive body for weight. We attached mouse guards on the hives a month ago but we noticed a mouse living underneath, who scurried out as we were feeding. Using 12 bales of hay, we built some walls behind and around the hives to protect them from the impending winter winds and to help reflect the warmth of the sun to the hives. November has been luckily a mild month and hopefully the bees will continue to build up their supplies using the food we provide.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby Snakes in November

I am sad to report but I have counted about 4 dead baby snakes on my driveway for the last few weeks. That must mean though that there are many more slithering in the grass. After doing some research, snakes are born also in August and September, so now they are looking around for a warm place to rest during winter. This photo was found online, click on it for the URL.:)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Solar Powered Gadgets

John and I have enjoyed finding functional solar powered gadgets we can use around the house and yard. John found this handy shed light online – a GAMA Light My Shed II which requires no wiring. After only 45 minutes for installation, I now have a bright functional light for my shed. It uses LED lights which never have to be replaced and when fully charged will last for 2 hours.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunflower Seed Surprise!

After the frost, I gathered up the sunflower seed heads to dry them so I could feed them later to the birds. After remembering a couple times to place them in the late summer sun to dry, I left them in a basket in the garage to tend to later. I finally went back to collect the seeds to store them but found instead a huge pile of shells. Instead of feeding the birds, I fed some very lucky mice who are now fat and lurking in my garage.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where are the Turtles?

Usually I catch a peak of the snapper turtles moving from the pond up on the road down to the little creek that runs under our driveway and into the little boreal pond that is finally filled with water again. They are amazing when you see them as they are huge – some as big as a foot in circumference with a thick tail and huge feet with strong claws. They dig down deep into the mud for the winter. Maybe I have just missed them or it has been too wet or too balmy this November? We will remove the turtle crossing sign up at the road soon until spring so when it is again erected it will attract renewed attention and caution. Last year, a female was hit by a car, despite the sign. She was filled with eggs but we found her in time, gathered her into a huge plastic container using gloves and a shovel. We raced her to the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, a non-profit group that rehabilitates injured wild animals, where they nursed her back to health. She was released a month later in good condition. The Aark has recently moved from Newtown closer to us up on 1531 Upper Stump Road near Tabora Farms. If you find an injured wild animal, don’t hesitate to contact them at : 215. 249.1938 and/or visit their website: There is an excellent article with great pictures about them in the November issue of Bucks County Town and Country Living magazine. I also found a helpful British site for advice on how to care for injured wild animals at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fox is Back

I was busy working and looked up in time to witness a fox trotting into the side yard. In just the last few weeks, I have seen him more regularly walking on the edge of the meadow in the middle of the day. He walks with purpose, looks thin and has a scrawny red tail rather than the bushy one from spring. He is circling around, suddenly pounces and is eating something vigorously, perhaps a mouse or mole. Off he goes back around the bend already. Hopefully with the next sighting he will be wearing his full winter coat and look more robust. Note: This awesome shot was found online and the URL can be determined by simply clicking on it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Water Anyone?

This hasn’t been the year to collect water here in eastern PA. We are currently over 10 inches ahead of normal. But boy, were we ready, just in case. We bought 2 large green water barrels from the site: They can be connected easily as well. I wanted to be able to open and close the downspout without cutting it and attaching a annoying flexible funnel. I explained this to The Gutter Guys and they found and installed an amazing and functional metal “lip” that can easily be pulled down and pushed up again after collecting the water you need or when the barrel is full. It only takes one good rain to collect an entire barrel. We empty them and store them in the garage during the winter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Crow Adventures

Early in the summer we were awakened daily by a sharp knocking at the window. Not being farmers and rising with the sun, these rude awakenings were not much appreciated. Our windows are tinted and a young crow seemed to be either fighting with his Doppelgänger or trying to beg for food from this cold reflection. He went from window to window. It wasn’t just mornings either, sometimes he would arrive in the middle of the day. He would peck away until he either became tired, bored or scared away by a clap or bark, then rejoin his flock of crow friends who watched from afar and then fly away until the next day. Initially our cats were greatly amused but they too tired of these daily antics. It was difficult to capture him on film, as I think he might have also been spying on us. After many failed attempts, I finally had to crawl on the floor to the window to take this photo. After several months of tolerating this and convincing the family not to kill him, he simply didn’t show up one morning. I missed him but spotted him and his friends later flying by above the tree tops. Perhaps he finally grew up.