Ramble On

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chores and Progress @hawksbillhops

This Cascade is 7 feet tall!
Overall, last weekend was one that marked a lot of progress at the hop yards: our rhizomes are now a month old, and we've got a lot of the start-up work done.  Out thoughts turned to maintenance in the yards...and marketing the crop, which we'll harvest come August.

So I had two goals at the farm on Sunday morning, first, to weed out the feral patch of butternut squash that was taking off in the Cascades and Fuggles rows, and second, to walk through and train any bines that were ready.  I also had an idea that I might take a walk over behind the hedgerow to see the bees that David has just added to the farm, getting ready for vegetable season.

This field hasn't been used for much over the last 30 years or so, and it was just cleared in the last couple.  It made for a great winter hunting ground, though, and somewhere along the way some surplussed butternut squash got dumped there.  During the clearing, when we did the big burn pile, the seeds from the squash were spread around, and then they were spread even more during soil prep.

By last Sunday, they were covering an area as big as the backyard in Alexandria, and spread across four rows.  We'd weeded some of it out when we checked on the Centennials, and then again when David planted the fescue cover, but there was still a bunch and it was right in our rows, so I got the chore to clear it.

It took a couple of hours to get it all - literally blood, sweat, and tears, since apparently I was a prized morsel for a bunch of chiggers out there.  But at last I had persevered and staved off all manner of threats, and I outlasted the butternut.  So we celebrate this small triumph and move on.

At the end of the chores, I decided I might like to head over to the hedgerow, where the new hives have been set up.  There are seven so far, but there's room inside the electric fence for 10, and the rest of them will go in soon.  I could see the bees flying around over there so I kept my distance while taking my photo.

So why the electric fence?  These hives are far enough away from the other day to day operations, and they are out of sight from the barn, so the fence is designed to keep out the varmints - not just ground hogs and the miscellaneous low-slung critters you have everywhere, but also the bears that we see from time to time.  We'll see how that works out, but in the meantime, these worker bees will have plenty to do at Public House Produce...there's a tomato in their future!

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