Earlier today, as I was doing the daily chores, I heard the chickens begin to raise a racket. Sometimes they get vocal and then calm down after a minute or two, so I didn’t pay it any mind at first. Then the dogs joined in earnest so I went to investigate. As I rounded the corner of the house I could see all the girls huddled up by the gate to the run and the dogs in hackles. All these critters were saying the same thing, “There’s something in the run!” Grabbing a pitch fork from the compost bin for protection, I went around the backside of the coop and discovered the fine creature you see dangling in the photo. Since the bird was not flailing about much I decided to grab some shots with my phone before I set about releasing it. We have four foot metal fencing around the open section of the run with seven feet of wildlife netting above that. I just used the trees as posts so the run has an irregular shape and blends in with the surrounding woods. I have never seen a bird get caught in it. This one didn’t appear to be altogether tangled I just think it didn’t want to let go of the net while hanging upside down. After a few glamour shots I went back to the house to get gloves and a camera operator to video the upcoming release (potential funniest home video!) As we came back around the hawk was flying off through the woods no worse for wear. No idea how I would have gone about releasing it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out. Everybody lived to see another day. Did the hawk learn a lesson? I hope so.
Each day that I am not at one of my other jobs, I try to get one task done that has lingered on my to do list. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big job, but something that I keep reminding myself needs to be done. The urgent jobs occasionally are things that jump from the “to do list” to the “what the hell have you been waiting for list”, and are often taken care of with less attention to detail than I would prefer. So I try to keep that scenario from playing out by knocking out at least one item a day. Today was not that kind of day. I managed to move a hive from its old stand to a new stand sitting directly in front of it. The rest of the day, wasted. During these shorter days a wasted day happens fast! On the positive side, the sun was out, a few bees were flying, and until I realized it was gone, I didn’t mind wasting that time at all. Tomorrow I will be wrenching on cars and mulling over the list of things I will do, without fail, on Saturday.
The thought of getting back to nature and the country life is appealing to a lot of people for an infinite number of reasons. As for myself, it came down to a pretty short list: I wanted to keep chickens, and I wanted to get outside the ring of urban sprawl around Richmond Va. Our former residence, a quiet, semi-private acre on the outer edge of the sprawl, was quickly being overtaken by the outward push of carbon copy strip malls and corner drug stores. My commute time to work had increased by fifty percent in just a couple of years and it was clear that it was going to get much worse. When rezoning changed our land from agricultural to residential the message was clear, it was time to get out. As it turned out, “out” was only twenty miles away as the crow flies. Now we have a skinny five acre lot with a (very)small pond, a lot of gardening space, chickens, bees, dogs, cats, fish, a sizable mortgage, and a lot of personal satisfaction.
My goal with this blog is to try to give back some useful info to people who are thinking of gardening or making a commitment to keeping livestock (bees and chickens are considered livestock?). When I was first entertaining the idea of keeping chickens and bees, I did a ton of hours researching the net in order to gain a sense of the workload and cost involved, keeping in mind that people tend to show you the shiny side of things they enjoy. I want this blog to relay the kind of information I was searching for before I made the leap. The main focus will be on beekeeping as that is where my fascination lies. Chickens are great. Love the fresh eggs. But there is so much more stuff to talk about with the bees. Gardening topics will come as I start to get the spring itch to dig in the dirt.
So there is… the first toe in the water for this new blog. This is my first day. Back to setting up the page and all the tech mumbo-jumbo I don’t fully grasp. I’ll be back soon with tales from the homestead.