We are well into Spring and all of the usual signs abound: trees blooming, barn swallows mud collecting, carpenter bees hovering, and Buck the bratty mini-horse shedding. Still, we have some new things to see too, at least new to us.
Our bees from last year seemed to have survived the winter when I checked the hive in mid-March, but it was still a shock to open the hive to see how many died over the winter. I’ve since learned that an average hive of 60,000 bees sees about 2,000 deaths a day, and about as many births. Over the winter, those bees die in the hive as opposed to out in the field working, so it’s a mess in the Spring. Unfortunately, when temps hit 75 degrees in February, all of the brood started to hatch and then it dropped back below freezing. Those babies never made it; I found many half out of their cells. I checked again a couple of weeks ago, and the remaining bees had either perished or swarmed and left the hive.
But, they left behind a great deal of honey, so I have harvested about half of it and will harvest the rest soon. I’ve decided to leave it in the comb, which is the way it is sold in most non-US countries. In-the-comb honey shows it is pure, has not been heated or treated in any way, and by some accounts, includes more beneficial ingredients. Usually, nature’s way works better.
We may have also purchased our last ever birds from a hatchery, because our hens hatched their own, and it’s way the heck easier on us anxious humans. Birds from a hatchery or Tractor Supply need a heat lamp, bedding, special food, and a basketful of patience. But in our coop, a Buckeye and a White Chanticleer teamed up to sit diligently on eggs for several weeks, and one morning last week, I heard a new sound in the coop: “peep peep peep!” A baby chick! With four to follow the next day.
In the past, we have coddled the new chicks, and cuddled them too, as though they were a perishable as a baby human. Well, these naturally born chicks were out in the barnyard on day two, pecking around for food, getting inadvertently kicked by their scratching moms, hopping up on bricks, and then scurrying off for a nap under nature’s heat lamp: Mom. We will just stay out of the way and let them do their thing.
Back in December I wrote about starting a sourdough starter, and my sourdough baking has been going well; the natural starter using wild yeast yields delicious bread that is easily digested since the grains are fermented for over 24 hours. It’s pretty incredible what just flour, water, salt, and wild yeast can create.
We humans tend to think we have things figured out, or can figure them out, but usually nature already has things well in order. We tend to intervene and cause more trouble than we need to. When I first met Chris, she told me “Ninety percent of life’s problems can be solved by minding your own business.” Turns out that advice from a then-city-girl sure is true of nature in the country.