Wednesday, June 30, 2010

belated bee emergency

2 weekends ago we had a bee emergency. check it out:

take 2:

yea, we didn't really know what we were doing.

you see, swarms of bees are supposed to be docile when they're clumped around a queen. and there was our problem. there was no queen in that clump. we're not exactly sure what happened, but we're fairly certain the hive split and this clump was left behind. so they were just chilling together on the window because they didn't know what else to do.

in the end we did end up catching them. the hubby rigged up a brilliant plan which i won't go into here. but we caught them in a plastic box. then on monday our bee friend came over and checked it out. he determined that there was no queen in the swam. he also determined that the new queen we installed in hive 2 was gone and a new-new queen was there instead. so he dumped our caught bees into hive 2 in hopes that they would stay, which they did.

so the saga was resolved. boy, what a pain it was!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

collecting baby things

now that we've passed all of our inspections and attended the 14 hours of classes, we have a few more hoops to jump through before we're fully certified to be foster care parents. however, we're close enough to the end of the process that we're starting to put together a baby room, which is quite a task, especially when you've never raised any children before.

so, that being said, if anyone knows anyone who is getting rid of any baby items, please send them our way. we barely have anything so we're looking to get as much stuff free and cheap as we can.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

lead-based paint inspection

we passed our lead paint inspection with flying colors! i was so stressed about this one, thinking that we would DEFINITELY have lead paint considering the age of our house (built in 1941). but, surprisingly, we had very little lead-based paint. there were only 1 or 2 "problem" areas but they were in good condition (meaning no chipping paint or totally painted over), so it's not an issue.

the inspector had this fancy ray gun-thingy that used a gamma ray to read through layers of paint on the walls. "it works kind of like superman's eyes," she said, and will read through up to 20 layers of paint. she took the laser gun around the house, lasering each wall. too bad she couldn't have just sent superman to do it. that would've been a whole lot more fun.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

an overthrow

monday night the hubby and i committed brutal murder. we sought out, beheaded and drowned an innocent mother.

i'm talking about the queen in hive 2 of course! remember when i mentioned that she was weak and had to go?

on monday night we picked up the new queen at a friend's house in chapin and then quickly came home, found and killed the old queen and instated a new one. this queen comes from north carolina and has a red mark on her thorax. chris was a little unsettled by the slaying, saying it was unceremonious. but i was all business. get it over with so we can keep the hive going, that was my mentality.

so, watch your back, y'all. now you know who's the brutal one in this relationship.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

june garden pictures

i can't believe it's been almost a month since i last posted pictures of the garden. these shots don't do it justice because i was using two crappy cameras. the first camera, which takes better pictures, especially close-ups, had to be swapped out because the battery wouldn't stay alive long enough to take a shot. and the second one is just overall crappy and doesn't take good pictures.

but here they are, such as it is:

a dragonfly on the corn tassles
dragonfly on the tassels of the corn. by the way, there are so many beneficial bugs and insects when i go out to the garden. it's such a great sign. i even have a toad who comes hopping out when i water.

louisiana purple pod peas
these louisiana purple pod pees are just beautiful. and so tasty. they're growing up the king corn.


patsy's beans
i think this'll be the last time i grow patsy's beans. they're doing okay, better than in years past. but they just don't do great. they turn pink when they're ready to be picked.

black eyed susans under the bottle tree

tomatoes (there are 7 growing on this plant alone)
can't wait for these guys to ripen! i think we'll have a lot of tomatoes this year. this one plant has 7 fruits growing right now!

potatoes looking good. this is the first time i've ever grown potatoes.

big eggplant and peppers
the eggplant plants are huge! no fruit yet but there's a bunch of flowers so i'm sure the fruit will come soon.

kale, green peppers, cilantro
kale and green peppers with cilantro growing in the rectangle pot in the back and lots of mint flowering behind everything.

little okra slowly coming up too close to the tomatoes
the okra is slowly coming along. it's not doing too great probably because it's just kinda wedged in there between the fence and the tomatoes. but we'll get some stuff from it, i'm sure.

Friday, June 11, 2010

what are you cooking for dinner tonight?

one step closer to certification

i just found out today that we are ready and registered for the june dss foster care classes! that is (I THINK) the last big hurdle in this process. as we know, when we finish one thing they tell us to do 2 more. so we'll see if that happens in this case.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

reading rainbow is so smart

erica sent this to me today. it's a reading rainbow episode on bees! and, as if i expected anything otherwise, it's totally accurate. i wish i had seen this before i actually had bees. it probably would've helped a little, especially in the instillation.

and, speaking of my bees, i emailed my bee friend to ask about his thoughts on our slow progress in hive 2. he said it sounded like that hive has a weak queen, which is what i thought too. so he's ordered me a new queen and i should be getting it tomorrow. sad for that current "weak" queen because that means she'll be overthrown and killed very soon...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

june foster care update

i haven't had an update on our dss foster care application since april. so, while i'm sitting at home waiting for the fire marshal to come to our house, i thought i'd do a recap of what's happened over the past month and a half.

basically, nothing. well, not nothing. a bunch of waiting.

as i mentioned in april, we are required to have home inspections before we're cleared to attend the foster care classes, which are 2 full-day saturday classes. we were aiming to have our inspections done by may so we could attend the may classes. the dss case worker schedules the fire marshal's fire safety inspection and we schedule the dhec health and safety inspection, both of which require us to be at the house during the inspection. our case worker scheduled appointments with the fire marshal on two or three separate occasions. but because she doesn't check with us first to see our availability on any given day and because she couldn't get a time from them, the hubby and i were not able to be home for any of the appointments she scheduled so she had to cancel and reschedule. after several canceled appointments, we finally found out that the fire marshal will only do inspections in our area on wednesdays. but unfortunately neither of us had a wednesday available until june. so we tried to have the case worker schedule a june appointment (it was mid-may by this point) but the fire marshal doesn't schedule appointments until the current month (?). so basically, we had to wait a month to schedule a june appointment for the fire inspection (meanwhile attempting to keep wednesdays in june open on our work calendars, which is a very difficult task for both me and baldman's busy offices).

the dhec inspection seemed to be a bit more logical. we could easily contact dhec ourselves and schedule the appointment based on our own schedule. however, when i contacted them, he informed me that our animals (cats) have to be up to date on their rabies vaccines, which, they were not. so i had to get them vaccinated before i could schedule that inspection. it took me several weeks to get that taken care of and i didn't really see the rush anyway since we couldn't schedule the other inspection until june anyway. so, i finally got the cats vaccinated at the cheapy mobile cat clinic in late may. and was able to schedule our dhec sanitation and safety inspection for yesterday.

i wasn't too worried about the dhec visit. however, there were a few things i was a bit concerned about. namely, our bees, the fact that we have a water heater sitting in the middle of our kitchen (sort of), and a few other things. I was also concerned about lead-based paint, which i'm certain we have under layers and layers of newer paint. so we cleaned and cleaned and purged stuff, rearranged dangerous items onto higher shelve, put locks on our kitchen cabinets and outlet covers on our plugs throughout the house, and sanded and painted the 3 outside doors. the guy visited yesterday and his inspection lasted less than 10 minutes. i'm not even kidding. he checked our outlet covers. he made sure our medicines and chemicals were on locked or high shelves. he checked the cat's vaccination records and the temperature of our water. but he barely looked around the house. he did, however, say that our house was "very cute" and "very clean." so perhaps if we had a dirtier house or a house that wasn't as aesthetically pleasing he would have looked a little harder. but it just seemed so easy. the hardest part about it was getting it scheduled.

but, like everything else with the foster care certification process, once you check off one box, another box is unveiled. he didn't check for lead-based paint. he has to fax the information to another person at dhec and they have to come out and check for lead-based paint. i told him on the phone that our house was built in 1941, so you think he could've scheduled both visits at the same time. but no, apparently not.

and, yesterday (june 8) at 9:15 am our dss case worker emailed to say that our fire inspection would be on june 9 and she would let me know when she knew the time. so, thanks for the notice on that one, ms. dss case worker. by some miracle, however, june 9 happened to be the only wednesday of the month where i had no work appointments on my calendar. go figure. so i'm at work today and doing my thing, wondering when i would hear the time of today's inspection, when at 10:06 am i get an email from the dss case worker saying that the fire inspection would be between 11:00 and 12:00. so i had about 20 minutes to finish what i was doing and high-tail it home. to sit and wait. for 45 minutes now. until the fire marshal shows up. probably for will be a 10 minute inspection.

wonder if whenever he gets here he'll have to schedule another person to come out for some random thing that he won't be able to do. i'll keep you posted.

**UPDATE: the fire marshal just left. he arrived about 10 minutes late and apologized several times. apparently he's been having computer problems, which continued during his visit. his was a bit more of a thorough inspection:measure windows, check smoke alarms and fire extinguisher, check the lint trap on the dryer. we *almost* had a violation and i could feel my face getting red from frustration. even though we have smoke alarms in both bedrooms and the kitchen, we also have to have a smoke alarm in the hallway (less than 3 feet from the bedroom detectors!). and, of course, we didn't have one. well, actually, we had one but i thought it was defunct. i could've sworn i bought an extra detector but i couldn't find it anywhere in the house. so he was going to cite me with a minor violation and have to come back again. but, we decided to check the detector in the hallway again and it worked! it is too old for their specifications and it ultimately has to be replaced, but he let us slide. the only issue was that his computer wasn't working properly so he couldn't print out the record and have me sign it. so he said he would call our case worker to see if she will allow him to sign on behalf of us. let's hope that works...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

june 4 harvest

it's been raining here a lot so we've not had to go out and water the garden as much as we usually do. so i was so surprised when i went out this past friday to water. everything had grown so much and it was time to start harvesting several veggies!

louisiana purple pod peas
the louisiana purple pod peas are going gang-busters. this doesn't look like a lot, but it was a couple good handfuls. i cooked them up and they turned green and were so delicious.

a crap-ton of kale
i've neglected this kale for a long time. and now we've got this huge load of them. i think we'll be having kale in every meal this week. i love the kale because not only is it yummy, but it grows consistently all year round. and the same plant will last several years. a great garden staple.

the husband was happy because he loves to pull plants out of the ground. there is some sort of super-mario-brothers-sense of satisfaction in that, i guess. but he's always asking me, "is it time to pick the garlic yet?" "is it time to the pick the garlic yet?" he couldn't have cared less about the kale that was falling all over the place. he just wanted to pull out those roots. so we did. i think we've got a pretty good harvest this year.

hydrangea from our wedding
this is not something you can eat, but i thought i'd show that the hydrangea from our wedding is just starting to bloom. for those who don't know, when baldman and i got married, instead of having cut flowers we did potted plants. and then we divided them up amongst the family and friends to take home after the wedding. we didn't have a home at that point so we didn't get a flower. but my grandmom took one and after several years of it unsuccessfully growing in her western pennsylvania home (due to deer eating the flowers), she passed it along to me. so 2 years ago i planted this outside our kitchen window. it grew bigger but the flower never bloomed. i was thrilled when i noticed that it was getting buds this year. i took this picture on friday and already today the blooms are much bigger and deep, deep purple. just beautiful!

we also did a bee check again on saturday. my sister was in town from nyc so she got to see us doing the check.

my sister observing the bee process

the status of the hives is pretty similar to what it was when i last posted- hive one going strong, hive two much weaker. in fact, i'm going to email some other beekeepers i know to see what they suggest for the slower hive. i'm not sure if hive 1 is just so amazingly extraordinary, or if hive 2 is just so amazingly slow. or maybe a bit of both. but for a minute on saturday, we thought we had no queen in hive 2 because things are progressing so slowly. i wish there was some sort of bee-keeping list serv or something so i could ask other beekeepers these types of questions more easily. hmm, maybe i'll start one...

anyways, here is what the frames should be doing:
baldman holding up a great-looking frame
capped and uncapped honey. they cap it for later storage (aka so we can steal it later).

a closeup of the capped and uncapped honey
closeup of the capped and uncapped honey and some bees.