It’s Late October, CSA’s Over

It’s said that all good things must end one day.  October 23rd  was our last harvest for the 2010 CSA season.  We had plenty of vegetables until the end. Delicata squash, parsnips, head lettuce, parsley, daikon radish, sunroots and garlic. Our membership was small, but enthusiastic. 

The honey harvest failed.  The honeybees provided themselves honey, but none for me.  I don’t understand why they didn’t put up extra honey like they do every other year.  Each of the 3 hives has a queen laying well in the brood boxes. I put mesh bottom boards on each of the hives in an attempt to correct a lack of ventilation which I assessed to be the reason they didn’t put much honey up last year.  After 15 years of beekeeping, I think my beginners luck is gone. I haven’t done anything differently, except try to correct problems as they arose every year.  Last fall I fed all 5 colonies sugar water through November after learning that it helps spring survival rates.  When the snow fell in December, I had strong colonies. But in March, only 1 had survived.  I learned that wildly fluctuating temperatures in the hive in spring can cause moisture build-up in the hive, so I added the ventilating bottom boards this year.  Maybe my 3 hives will survive into the spring.  But I feel terribly discouraged.  In past years I’ve extracted 200 – 350 pounds of honey from my modest apiary.  This year only 10 pounds. And that was contaminated by oil which leaked from the motor, something the manufacturer said is very rare and must be a result of a factory defect. Unfortunately, the extractor is no longer on warranty.

Rani the Peahen seems committed to staying with us. She free ranges, sometimes in with the chickens, other times with the sheep and still other times she wonders off by herself, but never very far.  She outlived 2 mates already. She layed eggs this spring, but without a mate, they could not be fertilized. Maybe we’ll try 1 more time in the spring to find her a worthy peacock.

I’m learning when to plant and how to manage the greenhouse.  Last year I planted too late and nothing grew well.  This year I planted too early – late August – and the vegetables ripened inside at the same time as similar items matured outside.  To extend the season, timing is essential, but the weather is unpredictable.  Next year, I’ll wait until early September to plant and see how that goes.