I got a bit buried this year, finishing my novel and working on some big yard projects. And, you know, all that life stuff that keeps happening!
Birds and bees… it’s actually bees and chickens in my backyard, but that didn’t sound as catchy. And technically there’s also cute little birds that flutter through the garden. Dragonflies that zoom through the yard. And a very healthy population of ladybugs.
We had lots of ladybugs, attracted by some aphids in our plum tree, and then we decided to buy some for the garden. Thanks to these little hungry bugs, there’s hardly any aphids left.
The good bugs all seem to get along fine. There’s a few paper wasps that hover around, visiting or chewing on the wooden fence. People say wasps are mean but these seem social. One had a tiny hive inside the handle of my shovel. I used the shovel all day before finding it. The hive maker had hovered around without ever stinging or bugging me.
These are my honey bees, “bearding” on the outside of the hive to cool off on a warm, humid day. You can see a few in the air too.
Honey bees are fascinating. They have guards, foragers, nurses, and “undertakers” who clean out the hive. There’s boy bees called drones that lounge around until it’s time to fly out and look for the mating track, where they hope to spot a virgin queen bee. They have huge eyes to assist them, and no stinger because they needed room for, emm, other equipment. That means you can pick them up. I’m not sure what they think about that!
You can actually let just about any honey bee crawl around on your hand and they’ll be friendly. They hang out with me in the garden, sometimes sitting on a plant or crawling around on the ground.
If you find a honey or bumble bee sitting around like it’s tired, it just might be. They work hard! You can give them sugar water in a teaspoon for some extra energy so they can make it back to their hive. They fly up to three miles and spend the day collecting pollen.
We built landscaping boxes and a tiny pond, which has a trickling waterfall. (The photo is before I got the pond clean and full, and the waterfall going.) When it got hot the other day, the bees were landing on it to drink. I made tiny little ponds in the garden for them, but they really liked the water dripping down the rocks.
Oh, here’s my funny chickens. Flower Pot is yellow and the boss lady.
Raptor is the speckled yellow/reddish one. Penguin is black, and in the back you can see Houdini the escape artist. I still don’t know how she gets through the fence from the chicken yard to the patio area. The picture has a glare because I took it through my window by my writing desk. They like to come say hi during the day.
Here’s Flower Pot eyeing a plum. If you’re wondering about her name, my boyfriend’s son Jensen was 6 when he named her, and used his grandma’s suggestion to use a flower name. You gotta love kids!
If you’re wondering if my urban farming is inspiring any story ideas…it is!
I was working on an idea about a woman running a small farm, but I knew it needed more than that. Or she needed more than that, like a big secret she’s desperate to hide and a big present day problem. The plot is in my head, so I plan to start jotting down notes on my camping trip. It’ll be fun when there’s more to the story and I can share!
I did get in some painting this year. This one is 2 by 4 feet, oil on board, and ended up decorating the wall above our coat rack.
The big one was inspired by a smaller one I did on canvas.
I practiced more ocean waves…and have a painting in mind for another board, so hopefully I get to do that one this summer.
In other news, my youngest son Caleb graduated 8th grade! My three kids are all bigger than me, although my 18 year old daughter only has 1/2 an inch to brag about.
My sons are both 5’8″ even though they’re two years apart. I could’a had twins and saved myself a pregnancy! (Ben, behind them, is 6’3″ and 14 too. His legs are pretty much as tall as all of me…)
I’m excited for this summer. It feels like I’ve done a lot of summer things already…in my backyard! But I’m so happy with how well the garden is doing so far, along with the raspberries, grapes, and plums. There’s so much to learn, and then more to learn, about gardening, landscaping, chickens, and bees, and I love that!
One final photo… Here’s a shot of one of the little bumble bees that liked the flowers out front in May. There were little and big orange-bottom bees that visited the Rhoadies.
Happy adventuring, and reading too of course!