Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member}

Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

I can’t believe it’s May already. I can’t believe spring is half over and we’re hurdling right towards summer! Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday everything was dead and there was 6-inches of snow on the ground?!

The Bees are a Buzzin’
It was finally warm enough to crack open the hives after a long winter and see what was happening in there! The first inspection of spring we are looking for a few things: 1. Did they survive the winter and how do their numbers look. 2. Is there brood (babies) in the cells, meaning there is a queen that is laying eggs. 3. Do they have enough honey to sustain them until the flowers start blooming. 4. Are there any signs of disease, stress, or anything else.

beehive first inspection in spring; Homestead monthly April 2016 | Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

We are amazed at how awesome our hives did over the winter! Especially because the reports of hive loss from our local bee club were some of the highest ever this year.

Speaking of honey bees, this month I also shared my recipe (well, technically our bee club’s recipe!) for Honey Sundaes!

We have one hive that looks about average for this time of year, and one that is super-charged… their population is huge, and their hive was already filled with a ton of brood! This is good and bad actually… they are so strong and healthy that they will likely want to swarm early this summer, so we will have to take precautions so this doesn’t happen. We will be splitting them in the coming weeks- meaning we will take this colony and split it in half (well, not quite half exactly, but almost). This will eliminate their feeling of overcrowding, plus it will give us an additional hive. This is our first time splitting a hive- wish us luck!

Privacy Border Project, or… “Planting all the Trees”
Pretty sure the neighbors think we’re having some kind of carnival… we’ve got 200+ colored flags (representing different tree varieties) spanning our property near the road where our privacy border will go. All of our neighbors are great, but there’s no way they’re not talking about us behind our backs!

We’re putting in a grand privacy hedge at the front of our property that borders the road. And not just a couple staggered rows of trees, nope, this is fully designed hedge of 18 different varieties of trees. The goal is to create a privacy border, provide a habitat for local wildlife like birds and beneficial insects, and have something pretty to look at.

planting rare Junipers, Homestead monthly April 2016 | Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

After all the planning, the first trees arrived this month! In fact right now we are over half done with all the planting- which is a huge relief! This project has consumed our lives this month, partly because we have to be one step ahead and ready to plant whenever trees show up (most are bare root so they need to go in the ground ASAP). There has been a lot of raking and a lot of hole-digging!

Our antique and rare apple trees have also started to arrive and we’ve given them a home in our new orchard! Each tree was mulched and outfitted with deer repellent (read more about that here). Next month we will be incorporating some more permaculture techniques into the orchard with the addition of beneficial companion plants like Comfrey, among other things.

It feels like we’re in the homestretch of the big tree projects and so far everything has gone about as well as we could have hoped for! I can’t wait to show you the privacy hedge in about 10 years… :)

The Wonderment of Spring
I think spring is my favorite season. I love watching everything come back to life, and the excitement of gardening, seeing the land burst into color, and being able to walk outside without freezing my face off.

chives in spring, Homestead monthly April 2016 | Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

I recently wrote about some of my favorite plants that were popping back up this spring, including my Variegated Mint and Golden Oregano! —> Read about them here.

Meet Keto
Back in March this friendly little guy showed up on the homestead (I think he was dropped off in the countryside, abandoned). He was tiny, had mats in his long fur and was desperate for love and affection. He stole our lunch (and also our hearts) while we were boiling maple syrup and wanted nothing more than to be held and cared for.

Meet Keto, Homestead monthly April 2016 | Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

It’s over two months later and he’s still here. He follows us around whenever we’re working outside, and joins us every night when we put the chickens away, our little sidekick. He sleeps on the porch in a cardboard box filled with straw and blankets, and we feed him two squares a day. Since we’ve been caring for him, he’s about doubled in size and his fur has become silky smooth. His name is Keto- which is the same name that Karl’s grandpa gives every single one of his barn cats. :)

Because of all the wood ticks around, we can’t safely have indoor/outdoor cats here. We will need to have him neutered, and then this fall and winter we will transition him to an indoor cat (he shows plenty of signs of wanting to be a lazy house cat…) Hopefully that works out well for everyone- fingers crossed!

Seeds are Started
April is the month that I start seeds here in Zone 4, and every year I seem to start more seeds than the year before. I started so many this year that I had to turn our car (one that we really don’t use) into a greenhouse, because my single light setup in the house couldn’t hold them all! See my seed-starting setup, plus tips and tricks for starting seeds indoors —> here.

Indoor seed starting, Homestead monthly April 2016 | Homestead Monthly April 2016 {honey bee update, seed starting, and a new family member} | Whole-Fed Homestead

I’ve got more tomato varieties than ever before, including some really cool and really rare ones! I’m trying my hand at starting celery for the first time. Something brand new to me, which I am most excited about is the Lady Slipper Gourd from The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium. Also getting a head start are two extremely rare varieties of winter squash, along with four varieties of kale and some other cole crop veggies.

Everything has sprouted and is growing great, and I can’t wait to get them all in the garden in May!

♥♥♥

We hope your spring is filled with fun projects and new life!

Enjoy reading about what’s happening on the homestead?
Check out our previous monthly updates!

Homestead Monthly March 2016

Homestead Monthly Jan 2016     Homestead Monthly December 2015     Homestead Monthly Nov 2015

Homestead Monthly October 2015     Homestead Monthly September     Homestead Monthly August 2015

Cukes in crock Feature Image     June homestead photo feature     The homestead monthly May 2015

Homestead Monthly April     Homestead Monthly Feb March     Homestead monthly december january, Whole Fed Homestead

fall leaves     chicken gang porch w words     homestead monthly w words

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Comments

  1. says

    I always love to hear what other homesteaders are working on! It’s inspiring and gives me ideas for incorporating on my own homestead! I’m looking forward to reading you articles on deer repellent and seed starting! I always enjoy reading your blog!!

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