Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We have bees!

I wrote this before we got periodically stuck at our farm and half our street evacuated because of protests in Masiphumelele.. I'm not sure what to write about that, yet, so I'll just leave the post as it was.

Around the time Hana was born, a swarm of bees came into our hive. It had been sitting there empty for a few months, and I wasn't sure anything would happen with it, given that here in South Africa, we're affected by American foulbrood and I wasn't sure if there were enough healthy swarms out there. We're excited to see bees coming in and out of our first hive, and apart from giving them some water, we're leaving them alone for now.

With me super pregnant and giving birth, and Eug busy with lots of different farm projects, my dad has been watering our trees as we head into summer. We don't have any irrigation system set up as yet. So my dad is watering by hand, and Eug and I also water with the kids, hauling buckets out to our trees. We are so grateful for my dad's help this summer. I'm banking on the idea that a deep (20L) watering once/week is better for root structure than more frequent watering in smaller amounts. I reckon this will be a hard year for our trees, then next year should already see major positive changes. I've been spending a lot of time mulching, but now I'm holding off and allowing support plants to grow and provide wind breaks and shade. We already have a lot of fruit trees started, and it's fantastic, but keeping them alive and growing this summer is going to involve quite a bit of labour.

In anticipation of Hana starting to walk (! and the safety of visitors' kids), Eug and I are starting a living fence around our (empty) reservoir. We have wonderful neighbours with a family nursery, where they sell a huge variety of plants cheaply. Looking at the cost of growing fence vs. buying poles, wire, and cement, we realized that buying thorny shrubs with edible fruit (Natal plum and kei apple) was cheaper and more long-lived. The problem is that the fence takes time to get established, and needs some pruning to make it impenetrable to kids. We're hoping that a year's effort and growth will produce a good living fence, even as we think through other areas that need fencing. Even on a tiny plot, fencing requires a lot of thought, and quite a bit of money. We're trying to figure out how quickly we need fencing up (relative to other priorities) and what kind of fencing makes the most sense.

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