Friday, April 11, 2014

foraging


It's brown out there.  Brown mud in the river.  Brown grass.  Brown trees and shrubs.

Brown.

And I mentioned the mud.

We are making due with what the outside has to offer in these very early stages of Spring, or what the less optimistic might call mud season.  Yesterday, Elliott brought me this bouquet.  He said, It's a smell bouquet.  Smell it.


And he was right.  If you closed your eyes, and breathed in, you could smell the pine and the lavendar.  It was a lovely smell bouquet.

We pulled out taps yesterday, as there are no more predicted freezing temperatures at night.


Maple sap foraging is ending, as soon as I boil down this last batch of sap.  But the kids are just getting started with their tree use.

The Christmas tree, well, its trunk anyway, is in the brush pile.  But the bottom branches, the ones I sawed off the day Jonathan was away and I decided that right then was the day I needed to get the tree out of the house, but couldn't wrangle its girth out by myself, those branches were thrown out the porch door.  And then an ice storm that very night, or perhaps it was admittedly a few nights later, froze those branches to the ground before they made it to the brush pile as well.

But the thaw and the sun have freed them.  So they were just lying about.


And before long, the kids had found the perfect use for them.  


A tree branch fort of course.  In the shade of Sylvia.


Inside, they even found a use for the bits of blow downs scattered about the property.  Shelves.


Similarly, the snow melting and ground thawing allowed me to repair the smooshed chicken tube, or access tunnel from the coop to our garden, and it is open again.


And the flock is helpfully stirring and digging and rooting around in there.  I even saw Raspberry swallow up a worm yesterday.


Another creature of the warmer months is back at it again as well.  Yesterday evening, Elliott and I were out and about.  And we decided to go check on the river, which has completely thawed.  And we saw a small creature, head just above the water it seemed from where we were, swimming up the river.  It was creating a triangular wake out behind it.  See it, small and headed away?


Could it be the beaver, back and working on its dam?  It's a possible duck, but we were excited nonetheless, and watched it for a bit.  And then I looked to the right, on the bank where my crab apple tree is.  The one with the beautifully red and sweet crabapples that I turned into jelly this past fall.  The one who's silly apples I was picking when I almost ended up in the river.  I have a special relationship with that tree.

But it was not there.  How can a tree disappear?

And then.


Methinks that wake was created by a medium sized crab apple tree headed crosswise up the river.  I now imagine it worked into the dam up the river, woven in with our small birches and other results of the beaver's early spring foraging.  I plan to search it out once we get the kayaks in the river.


This is the pine sapling I have been protecting, imagining the shade it will cast on our river landing once it grows a bit.  If it makes it that long.

But the best foraging going on in the yard, the least destructive, and the most colorful?  Is here.


Crocuses!


And even more closely?


My bees.


Take a look at the bright yellowy orange color of the crocus pollen.  It exactly matches the color of the center of the flower.


So, then, take a look at my busy hive.  The bees are all excited and out collecting.  No pollen substitute necessary in this beeyard.


So, here is the yellowy orange crocus pollen coming in.



But what about this?  The buttery yellow color?  It's kind of shinier and smoother looking.  And the bees that have this color are not quite as fully packed.



I am thinking about Sylvia, our silver maple as the possible source of this pollen.



Silver maples are listed as some of the earliest sources of pollen here in Maine.  And if ever a large source of pollen there was, it would be from the massive Sylvia.


Maybe it's her.  But there are some other possible providers.


There is a great deal of buzz in the bee world about the coming dandelion bloom.  And how this is the time when you A) do not, under any circumstances, mow your lawn and B) do your splits and mergers and nucleus colony creations, because with the enormous amount of pollen out there created by all the lovely people who do not de-weed their yards (thank you), there is pollen and nectar o' plenty for the bees to collect and therefore have the resources to do the work that these interruptions to their colony will create.  Such as queen rearing.  And brood raising.


We live on three acres.  On that three acres?  I found one dandelion in bloom.  That's going to be one popular dandelion.  Luckily beavers don't seem to be as drawn to dandelions as they are to crab apple trees.  At least not that I know of.

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