I caught a swarm of bees a few weeks ago. A swarm is usually a lot smaller in number than a full sized hive and they are often a little weaker and disoriented so I usually try to keep them separate from the bee yard for awhile until they get themselves together. By consulting the bee gods, I determined that this weekend was the weekend to move the swarm to the bee yard in the country. I usually catch swarms in a smaller “nuc box” which is easier to manage and seems to be better for the smaller swarm too. As I transferred the swarm to a full sized hive, I found the queen and did a general “once over” of the colony. They looked great so I called the move a success and started on some other clean-up tasks in the apiary.
Turtles are master hiders
We have had some serious winds lately so a pile of junk had toppled over. While I was suited up, I decided to work on that a little too. As I started to gather things up, I noticed a small turtle hiding out under some stuff. Friends, I have always wanted a pet turtle. I don’t know why but I am fascinated by them and they are just cool to watch. I stop on the road to get them to safety, almost every time I see one. They are fascinating and I am curious so it’s a good match. I had to check out this turtle that was right before me…he was in my bee yard after all! This turtle had a crack in its shell but did not seem to be bothered by it. Still, being a turtle sympathizer and seeing an opportunity for a pet turtle, I picked him up.
Like all kids, I heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. Of course, I know this was a box turtle and not a tortoise but my turtle was more hare-like than I expected. He paddled and squirmed and when I set him down, he moved quite well. I wanted to call him Flash, like the speedy super-hero. Of course, we already have a cat named Flash, like the super-hero, so I knew that wouldn’t work. I decided, instead, to name him Gordon, like the super-hero’s last name.
That crack in his shell worried me…
I got permission from Emily and I was all prepared to have a new pet turtle. I did a little reading on pet turtles and found out that it’s probably not cool to grab turtles from the wild as the breeding range is fairly limited and though momma turtles lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetimes, only 2-3 survive to adulthood. Taking potential breeders out of the area can really mess with turtle populations and I want lots of turtles at the cabin. Turtles in captivity also are very susceptible to dry-eyes and other ailments including nutritional issues and pneumonia. I didn’t know it but turtles need calcium and all sorts of other minerals and they need light but not too much heat, but not too little heat either. They need to roam some and dig some and…well, it seemed like more than I expected to keep a pet turtle. With enough work (translate: money and time), some folks are able to manage keeping turtles in captivity but I don’t want to hurt the local turtle population and I certainly don’t want to have to work at it.
Turtle eating a raspberry
Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that, in my reading, I determined Gordon is a girl. Sexing a turtle is an interesting process. They don’t like for people to peek inside their shells so…aw shucks, just kidding…it is easy. Boy box turtles have red eyes, girl turtles have orange eyes. Gordon definitely has orange eyes. So, next weekend, I will return Gordon the girl turtle to where I found her so she can breed (if she is so inclined. I like to think I raised her as liberated turtle who doesn’t cave to societal norms) and keep moist eyes and eat all the slugs she wants. If anyone asks, I once had a pet turtle though and her name was Gordon and she made me very happy!This entry was posted in Nature and tagged Nature, Pets, Turtles are cool! by warren
My brother and sister-in-law love travelling around to music festivals, especially bluegrass shows. They have made lots of friends and met many of the bands and finally decided to have a show themselves. Last weekend, we traveled to their place in MD where they had gathered 6-8 bands to come play in their barn over the course of 2 days. They don’t have a typical nasty old barn but rather a large, modern facility that happens to have a stage area built in! It was perfect for the bands to play upon! Between musician friends and their own collection, they put together a first-class sound system and had an all-around great party.
I took some pics and videos of some of the bands so you should definitely check out their websites to hear what they are all about. I wish I had gotten info on everyone. Oh well, next year you will have to come to hear for yourself!
The David Mayfield Parade was there.
In between bands, there was much time for frivolity. Of course, even when they played, there was much opportunity for dancing and acting up. Many people were fueled by a common liquid wheat-based fuel source which added to their courage levels and self-determined dancing skills! It was a ton of fun.
The barn…story about the firetruck in another post
The view from the barn
Abigail played on stage some and out in the yard some and collected a few tips
All told, there were 150-200 people that came. Some folks camped on his property, others “fell asleep” in the beds of the pickup trucks and some never slept at all. We opted for the hotel a few miles away. I think that worked well for us. Anyhow, we had a really great time and heard some really great music…some was bluegrass, some was folk, some was hard to describe but that’s what makes music so much fun, isn’t it?This entry was posted in Fun and tagged Family, Liquid courage!, Music by warren
I have a tree that shades my driveway and makes me smile every day. No matter where I stand or how I look at it, it just looks amazing and beautiful to me. Regardless of the season, it has something to offer visually. I am not sure if Emily or the kids even notice it, but I hope they do. Anyhow, here are a few pics I took of this beauty back in April.
Click on the pics to enlarge…I just love the tree in detail
This same tree, however, is the one that sheds hickory nuts every fall. Our house is at the top of our long and somewhat winding driveway. We have become pretty proficient at backing up and down it. When we first moved in, however, I did not recognize the importance of keeping the nuts from the tree off of the driveway. One rainy day while backing down, we happened upon a sea of hickory nuts. As I turned the wheel to follow the driveway, the car continued straight. I applied the brakes but the car kept on rolling. There were so many nuts that we just kept sliding until we slid into another tree in the yard which stopped our movement…luckily because we were at the edge of a small drop that would have been very bad to roll over. We literally (yes, I am using that correctly there) would have rolled over. As it was, the car stayed greasy side down. We spent a few hundred on a wrecker and a grand or so on body work. I did learn a lesson…keep your pathway clear of nuts. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good motto, tree or not!This entry was posted in Nature and tagged Nature, What a tree! by warren
I mentioned a few weeks ago that we converted a bit of yard-space into raised beds for growing food. We got everything in the ground and it has pretty much all “taken”. If you have never tried, stuff grown in your own garden is far superior to food you buy in a store. I don’t know if it is due to the extra talking-to gardeners give their plants or if it is the extra-special compost we add, but homegrown veggies are just the best!
Broccoli and tomatoes and Brussels sprouts and peppers growing!
Perhaps my favorite garden veggie and the one that is most distinct in taste from what you buy in the store is that magnificent little delicacy most people call broccoli. Raw broccoli is better, cooked broccoli is better, and deep-fried broccoli is better! It is sort of magical as it grows. The plant first sets really nice leaves that are a little hard to distinguish from cabbage or Brussels sprouts (my second favorite veggie!) or cauliflower. So, if you garden like I do, sometimes it is a bit of a mystery which plant is which as they become jumbled in the frenzy to get stuff planted. But one day as you check your garden, you notice a little green bush growing in the center of the stalk of leaves. It quickly grows into a little broccoli head and then that grows and grows and before you know it, you have a magical head of broccoli!
A baby broccoli growing!
I was so pleased to see the first few heads present themselves and now they are growing like mad. In a few weeks I will take the first heads from the garden and we will make entire meals of broccoli! The coolest thing is that when you cut one head, two more come to replace it. Broccoli keeps making heads to replace the ones that were removed. The plants looks a little Frankensteinish after a cutting or two so, to preserve my children’s sanity, I don’t cut too many heads before we retire the plant to the compost pile in the sky. Until then, however, we delight in the glories of home-grown broccoli!This entry was posted in Garden and tagged Garden, It's food...coming from the ground! by warren
Last weekend, Abigail and I ventured to Pennsylvania to share the celebration of my Uncle Bill’s 80th birthday. He and my aunt are wonderful folks and have been a huge part of my life as well as that of my brother and my parents. We had a great dinner with close family and friends and then went to tour the “marvel of Northwestern Pennsylvania”…well, that’s what I call it anyhow. You see, there are apparently 4 working lighthouses in all of Pennsylvania. It’s a good-sized place but not a typical lighthouse state. Three of the lighthouses are on Lake Erie and one is in Tionesta, PA, my hometown.
A local family that owned a very successful business built the monument and now donates proceeds from tours to the local Lion’s club. There are 76 stairs leading to the top of the 75 foot tall lighthouse. Form the top, there is a great view of the Allegheny river and the surrounding mountains. It’s simply beautiful. It’s also cool because it is framed like a house would be rather than being made of stone, brick or concrete. All that really means is that the inside is decorated much like a house could be and it is well apportioned. Anyhow, my aunt and Uncle had a party and then arranged a private tour for everyone to go up inside the lighthouse and see the sights. It’s been in place since 2003 but I had never had an opportunity to see the insides.
We all climbed up and got to the actual lantern room of the lighthouse…the part where the light resides. We wanted to walk around the outside of the lantern room which is a proper way to tour any such monument. The door was locked so Abigail marched back down the 76 steps to the bottom to ask for a key. I felt a little bad but the older lady giving the tour climbed back up with Abigail and unlocked the door. It was absolutely wonderful to check out the river and the valley and the party-goers who didn’t make the climb. Also, I got the chance to lick the exterior of the lantern room. You didn’t think I would climb 76 stairs, enjoy a breathtaking view and not lick something did you? Consider it done. I am also going to lay claim to the title of “the first person to lick the Tionesta Lighthouse”.
Abigail and her aunt were a trip as always. They joked about the shortcut to the bottom and wondered whether a paper airplane would be noticed by anyone. All-in-all, it was a proper tour of the lighthouse!
It was a perfect day for Abigail especially as my brother earlier had requisitioned a golf cart at the golf course where we ate lunch. I mean requisitioned in the same manner as Hawkeye from MASH requisitioned a jeep on date night…without permission. She rode around on a “hot” golf cart, climbed a lighthouse twice, and got to walk around my hometown with the wind in her hair. This was a great party for my uncle but I think we all got a gift in time spent together!This entry was posted in Adventure, Awesome, Family, Fun and tagged Family, Fun, Lighthouse...in Tionesta!, Pennsylvania by warren
They say any lock or chain is really only designed to keep an honest man honest. I definitely think that is true, but some men need a little more help than others. As we work on our small cabin, we carry a generator to run power tools as we need them. I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but generators are very tempting for people to snatch.
I have cut chain with bolt cutters before. I was surprised how easy it was to get through a typical chain with bolt cutters. It’s all about the leverage. That concerned me as I considered leaving the generator on my trailer, somewhere at my house or at the cabin. I looked around at options and discovered square-link security chain. For bolt cutters to truly work properly, they must bite on a typical round chain. Security chain is shaped differently which makes it very difficult to cut with typical bolt cutters.
Of course, specialty chain is pretty expensive and any chain is only as strong as its weakest link so I bought a serious lock to go with it. I am not sure if any thievery has been thwarted, but I still have both my chain and my generator!This entry was posted in Technology and tagged Is a chain technology?, Locked down! by warren
Is it weird to have a favorite bridge? I occasionally have to drive to Columbus, OH for work stuff. I cross the Ohio River at Ravenswood, WV via my favorite bridge. I am not sure why I like it so much…maybe it’s just the color but I think it is also a mix with the architecture of it as well as the surrounding land. I always take a number of pictures as I drive across it. I never pay much attention to the pics as I take them since I am driving, but occasionally I get some pics that almost capture the essence of why I like this bridge so much.
The air just got a little sweeter
We have another tradition also…whenever we cross back into WV from another state, we call interested parties and report that, “the air just got a little sweeter”. I sent this pic to Emily on my last trip with my message. I think Emily is possibly my all-time favorite wife. She even rates a little higher than WV and this bridge!This entry was posted in WV and tagged Ohio River, That's a cool bridge, The air just got a little sweeter...WV, WV by warren
I was outside pouting about something the other day and somehow, out of the corner of my eye, spotted movement. I rose from my self-pity to discover a swarm(?) of newly hatched praying mantises (mantii?). I suppose they were newly hatched though I didn’t see still-attached umbilical cords or anything. Anyhow, they were itty-bitty and there were tons of them.
We have miserable English ivy at our place and though I hate the stuff, I was delighted by its greenness which is the only way I could have seen the little critters. They scampered as well as any baby 6-legged creature could scamper. I guess they liked being in the sun though mostly they stayed hidden. It was awesome!
I looked around some more and noticed some cool lady bugs though I couldn’t get a good pic to save my life. I figure they were probably eating my baby mantii anyhow so I didn’t want to stick around for that show. I moseyed over to the driveway and found a cool collection of ants. I am not sure what ants do in their spare time but they were certainly busy doing it, whatever it was. Ants can be sort of hypnotizing to watch, much like rushing water. Does anyone else ever get the (sort of) urge to get closer and closer to running water? Maybe it’s just me but I am drawn to water as if I being compelled to jump in. Of course, that sort of water would end me so I am lucky to have some power over my compulsion…anyhow, ants…back to ants. I took some video and they just make me want to stand and stare at them. I suppose I could jump into them. They are not nearly as dangerous as rushing water!
My video isn’t great but I still love to watch the ants
I guess it was good to look down and see some small stuff. It made my pouting go away. That was small stuff too..This entry was posted in Awesome, Nature and tagged Bugs, Cool, Nature, Quit being a cry-baby by warren
We have been busy lately with the school year winding down. There were banquets and trips and concerts and just lots of activities to round out the school year. There just hasn’t been time to do much of anything…including write anything on here. That changed this weekend! We finally got back up to the country and were able to work some on the executive deer stand. It’s a small cabin but we do not want to be without amenities. Mainly, by amenities, I mean a bathroom with actual running water. Awhile back, I cut holes in the floor for the shower and toilet drains to exit the building. We started to tile the floor but then winter came. This weekend, Isaac and I finished cutting and laying the tile one day and Emily and I grouted it another day. Finally! Progress!
Installing ceramic tile isn’t so bad…with a good helper!
We had originally planned on this place being pretty basic and not too pretentious. It is a deer stand after all. But, like all things with me, it comes down to price. It turns out that if you lay it yourself, ceramic tile is about as cheap as you can get. We found tile we really liked for a really good price. I mixed the thinset mortar and grout by hand so that keeps the price down as well. And dang! It looks great!
Tile near the shower basin
So, now with floor down and grouting done, I have no real reason not to connect the toilet and shower to the drain system. In a solid day’s worth of work, we could actually have a real pot to….well, you know what I mean. It would make our time at the cabin much more pleasant!
Deck framing is done on one side
We were not totally exhausted by tiling so we worked on the deck too. I don’t know if you remember but our place is built on posts and piers so it is well up off of the ground. Look back at this page and you can see that we had to climb a ladder to get up into the building. Of course, I know it sounds like a lot of fun, but we have grown tired of free-climbing our way up into the house so the deck is a welcome addition. It isn’t finished by any means, but we framed a 10′ deep deck on one side of the place that allows us access into the house from ground level!
One of four decks framed!
There is much debate among the wage earners in my house about whether to deck it with treated lumber or composite decking. Composite is 3-4 times the cost but should last a lot longer. We will need around 600 sq feet of decking which will be pricey either way. We’ll see what comes of it but at any rate, we can now get into the house without a ladder!This entry was posted in Cabin, Family and tagged Break's over! Back to work!, Cabin, Family by warren
I am registered on all sorts of lists to catch bee swarms around Charleston. The folks at the 911 call center know me. Several exterminators know me. The Department of Agriculture folks have my number. I get lots of swarm calls. I LOVE SWARMS! Catching swarms of bees has to be my all-time favorite part of beekeeping.
A gentleman called me the other day reporting a large swarm of bees in a tree at his house. He lives within a mile or so of me so it was the perfect situation. I ran to the house, grabbed up a bunch of equipment and headed to his place where I met his family and the neighbors too. The cool thing is that I know the neighbor family. Abigail plays soccer for the neighbor and their son plays for me.
Anyhow, Abigail and I walked up to the swarm and it was a good one. It was about shoulder high on a smaller tree from which I could easily cut a branch to remove the swarm. I typically lay a sheet out, place my destination hive on top and shake the bees from the branch into the swarm box. Bees in a swarm are usually not terribly defensive. I typically approach a swarm pretty boldly to see how they roll and rarely have any issues with them. That being said, never touch a swarm of bees because there are still 10,000 or so stinging insects who don’t care much about manners. Call a beekeeper every time.
So, I sent everyone inside where they could watch from behind screened windows and started my tree trimming. Within a few minutes I had the bees in the hive and we were all done but for the crying. Wait…no crying. Just loading the bees into the car.
edit: one of the ladies took these pictures…
I think I like catching swarms for the “show-off” factor as much as anything. The two families that watched the swarm catching were curious and interested and called me crazy! It doesn’t get any better than that!
When I got home, I had three more calls from people with bee swarms…it might be a busy few weeks!This entry was posted in Bees, Nature, WV and tagged Beekeeping, Bees, Honeybees, Pshaw...stingers? I fear no stingers!, Swarms are cool! by warren