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An exciting find in the garden in June

June 5, 2014

It’s been a while since I shared an update of what we’ve been up to at home but I discovered something exciting in the garden this evening that’s prompted this post…

BeehiveWe have bees!!!

A neighbouring beekeeper (John) heard recently that we were interested in keeping bees so he dropped a beehive up “just in case”. Apparently bees like to swarm at this time of year and as it’s quite expensive to buy a ‘nuke’ of bees, a swarm that finds you is a lucky bonus.

As it was such a beautiful evening I headed outside with the camera just before tea to take a few snapshots and stopped in my tracks as I suddenly noticed a group of bees surrounding the hive. We don’t yet have any beekeeping kit so I didn’t venture too close but they are definitely honeybees. John has advised that we stay respectfully away from them for the moment and he’ll call by and check them over the weekend. Although we attended a beekeeping morning last year our knowledge is scant so John’s offered to teach us as much as he can about how to keep them. Fingers crossed they’re here to stay and not just visiting… I’ll keep you posted!

A swarm of bees in May Is worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in June Is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm of bees in July Is not worth a fly.

Greenside Up Garden JuneElsewhere in the garden there is a lot¬†going on. The flowers are starting to bloom in the front garden and although quite wild (I haven’t weeded much) it’s looking quite pretty.

Greenside Up Garden June A very bold fox has visited during the day time and took our last remaining duck ūüôĀ and the little black hen which leaves us for now with the big rooster, a little brown hen and a very broody white hen in the main run.

broody henWe’ve separated the other hen who had three chicks that are growing quickly and are keeping them safely enclosed and safe from our cheeky young cats and hopefully the fox too.

piggiesA couple of weeks ago Alfie arrived from Oldfarm¬†with a couple of young boars that we’re fattening up for the freezer.

Although we struggled a bit with sending Rashers and Sausages off to the slaughterhouse last year, the taste and flavour of home reared pigs is second to none and knowing they had a happy life and not one squashed into an intensively reared unit means it will be difficult  for us to ever buy commercially reared pork again.

fedge and mikeIn the veg patch growth is delayed but happening at last. I was late getting started but everything is coming on nicely now that we have some heat during the days, the odd downpour and a stretch in the evenings.

Outside the mangetout are managing to survive the slug attacks, unlike the kale seedlings that are struggling which means I’m constantly sowing more to replace them.

The broad beans are surrounded by poached egg flower (limnanthes) in an attempt to attract hoverflies that will eat the black bean aphid which is sure to appear as the plant’s soft tips develop. We may curse the wet weather when it arrives but the growth it encourages is worth it (in small doses.) The Sarpo Mira potatoes are coming along nicely, as are the onions and inside the polytunnel everything is flying up. We’re now enjoying picking the strawberries every morning for breakfast and the grapes are starting to form.

I still have a couple of beds empty that I’ll need to plant over the coming weeks if we’re to fill them. I’m hoping to get more kale¬†out there as well as runner beans and in the polytunnel I’m scratching around looking for space to transplant the peppers and cherry tomatoes.

front garden

How’s your garden growing? Are you enjoying sitting outside and feeling the sunshine caress your skin?


Beekeeping and the realities of becoming self sufficient

August 26, 2013

honey beesA short while ago I received an unexpected phone call. Did I know of anyone who could remove a swarm of bees from a tree in a garden? The family in question were alarmed to see so many bees that close to their home and were at a loss to know what to do.

I pointed them in the direction of the mid-Kilkenny Bee Keepers Association who can help with bee swarms and subsequently received a text letting me know it had been sorted, so I guess the group had helped or the bees had moved on.

Perhaps it was no coincidence when I heard the following day that the Association would be extracting honey from the apiary at Lavistown House in Kilkenny and that anyone was welcome to watch. Mr G and I headed along with our youngest to find out more.

Mid-Kilkenny Bee KeepersWe’ve been thinking about keeping bees for several years but as with most activities on the quest to self-sufficiency, we’ve been hindered by a common denominator – it costs money. Funny how we have a romantic, fuzzy round the edges notion that providing food for ourselves will be straightforward, cheap and easy, with just a little bit of extra but enjoyable hard work.

The reality is an eye opener. To begin with, compost, seeds and polytunnels have to be purchased, all animals need housing and fencing, educating ourselves in the form of courses or books is a must given that the knowledge hasn’t been passed down through the generations and buying feed is ongoing.

All of this adds up to expenses we hadn’t considered 15 years ago when we were day dreaming about our idyllic way of life, when we handed in our notice from full-time jobs, packed up a van as carefree newlyweds and sailed across the sea to the emerald isle and a fresh start.

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