Hunny-Bunny Happenin’s July 9th 2014
The month of June was largely spent in maintenance, upkeep, and trimming. Comes St. John’s Day, (June 24th) classically referred to as Midsummer, as in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, is generally when the herbaceous world reaches its zenith. At this time everything that is going to grow is growing in leaps and bounds. So it is at Hunny-Bunny! We must get caught up on trimming bushes, shrubs, and trees. It never ceases to amaze me how tree branches trimmed only a year ago have densely filled back in. This June was no different and the majority of time was spent clipping and sawing branches, limbs, and wood. In fact a whole eight days straight was used just for the hedges alone. Since June also tends to be increasingly hot and humid, time spent in the hard physical labor of pruning and cutting must be guided by prudence. What in spring and fall would take a day must now be divided into two days in order not to suffer heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke, to which I’m prone from my childhood summer’s in New York City before the advent of the now ubiquitous air conditioning. Needless to say proper hydration is mandated as is frequent breaks. As can be gathered by all the foregoing it is no wonder why June is almost exclusively dedicated to maintenance. The next time this is done will be late summer, generally in early to mid-September. It is important to not prune, trim, or otherwise cut shrubs and hedges later than this time because the new growth, depending on the plant, may be next spring’s blossoms. Cutting later than September, at least here in New England, could spoil your spring garden as new growth can suffer from frost damage, or worse, outright death of the plant. If you don’t make the window of mid-September it is better to wait until after spring blooming for the necessary care.
Over my 40 odd years of gardening not only am I acutely aware of the critical windows of opportunity for chores and functions to be done, but also the cyclic nature of the natural world. From the seasons of the honeybees to the pruning of shrubbery nature has its own ineffable time-table and as the poet has written: time and tide wait for no man. Therefore, nature can be a hard task-master when it comes to gardening, farming, and animal husbandry. You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines is a maxim that every serious gardener and homesteader must live by.
In addition to following up on gardening and landscape maintenance, there is also upkeep of the “hardware” of Hunny-Bunny Farm, which means cleaning and painting of decks, patios, and siding where needed. This is largely an annual task, which again, has a critical window. The best time is March or April if you can be assured of at least 48, if not 72 hours of sun after painting. In June, the painting is laborious because of the oppressive heat, but a consolation is that it dries amazingly fast. Not only that, it soaks into the wood very quickly because the wood tends to be bone-dry and thirsty enough to sop up the paint fast and deeply. This project alone, again depending on weather, takes at least three to four days and usually longer. So this is what occupied several days of June as well.
As to the progression and production of goods here at Hunny Bunny Farm, I must say this year, even with the salt hay mulch, has been a time when the weeds have gotten ahead of me. This will be remedied this week and next. It seems that this spring, and so far, this summer have been ideal for growth. From March through today we’ve had a consistent mixture of three to four days of sun, followed by one or two days of a good soaking rain. Add to this formula the relatively cool nights followed by warm, (but not hot days) and conditions are ripe for growth of everything in the gardens …including weeds. Since my WeedEater © is in the garage awaiting a tune up I will be forced to use my hand scythes, cycles, and other weed cutting tools. Again this is hard work for the hot sun of July so I relegate this chore to the early morning hours only; say 6 AM to 8 AM. Beyond this time period the work goes from mildly strenuous to body numbing drudgery. Also at this time, I can listen to the wonderful Sunrise Symphony of the waking birds whose songs make the work light. …talk about whistling while you work, nothing can be finer, and this is one of the prime times of the morning to enjoy God’s natural world. It is a tantalizing sip of what Eden must have been like before the fall of Adam.
Meantime, in the apiary, while I’ve gained two additional hives of bees by my capture of May-June swarms, I lost one of my established hives to what would appear to be the Colony Collapse Disorder, as when I went into the hive nary a bee was found; none, zilch, nada… Deo Gratias that critical time remains to build up a new colony. As to the captured swarms: the first is extremely strong with a good queen and sitting comfortably in the herb-St. Joseph’s Garden; the second, on last check ten days ago, was still queenless and so I introduced a brood frame, from freshly laid eggs to sealed brood, into the hive giving them a basis to build a queen from 1 to 3 day old brood larva …once again a critical window of three days –it is amazing how precise nature is yet at times seems so serendipitous to mankind. I believe that mankind has so far removed himself from nature that he can no longer observe or discern her ways. Assuming all is well; the worker bees will select a properly aged larva and begin to feed it Royal Jelly, which is needed to make queens. In fact, they may select several candidate larvae in order to have plan B, C, and more. These I’ve left to themselves to move the process along and I will check this week to see if all is going as planned. If not, I may have to invoke a plan B as well by purchasing a new queen from a nearby beekeeper; time will tell.
In the rabbitry, I’m afraid that the little kit, (bunny) that I was hand-raising died. I think the temperature variations of day and night without the warmth of Mama’s body to mitigate it did him in while in his nest box set up in my den. So here is yet another wrinkle to my plans for my own strain or Florida White rabbits. Now I must rely on a doe (female) that I’ve bred previously with no results. I’m hoping that the short time spent with the orphaned kit above may have triggered her fertility once again. At this writing, she is now visiting the buck, (male), Lil Mac 2. If all goes well we should have kits in a month; if not, on to plan B, once again, by purchasing two new does from a fellow breeder in northern Massachusetts. Oh! The foibles of Mother Nature! It is no wonder my Irish brethren retreated to city and suburb after their collective bout with the Great Irish Hunger of the 1840’s and 1850’s.
As to the Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans, and squash, ala the American Indians; it seems that few of my corn and beans were viable, albeit, I did use older seed to avoid throwing them out, (an inbred characteristic of my Depression Era parents); and so far, I’ve not yet seen any Hubbard squash coming up. Again with the maintenance work out of the way, I will be able to investigate this garden further and cultivate it more attentively.
Despite all the foregoing, we have been harvesting quite readily from the gardens; peas, cukes, herbs, lettuce, mustard greens have all been added to our Sunday after -Mass barbecues. The tomatoes, peppers and, yes, even the eggplant are showing blossoms. As is the broccoli and squash. So, now that all the big chores are behind us, I can readily sing: ♫Summer’s here and the livin’s easy♫.
Remember, relentlessly storm heaven with Rosaries to effect the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It now remains our last and only hope for Heaven’s peace plan for mankind.