liralen: Finch Painting (Finch)
The high-desert moan of the wind has been omnipresent for the last week. The warm winds melted away the eight to ten inches of snow piled everywhere, other than in the most persistent shadows, still mounded with dirty ice. So the world, in the low slant of morning sun, was all the dusty taupe of Front Range winter. The trees were black lace against the grass and cold pale sky, and flocks of geese rose in deep V's heading, inevitably north. Their compasses already pointing toward a spring that still feels so far away.

Read more... )
liralen: Finch Painting (bee2)
It was warm today, nearly 60, and the side yard was sunny and bright. When I went out at 2pm I heard the hum that Jet calls 'the vacuum sound'. It's the usual sound of new bees orienting themselves!

After the other article about the fact that the bees are still rearing young in the winter, it wasn't as unexpected as it would have been before. But I was still pleasantly surprised to see the cloud of bees hovering in front of the hive. It made me put on my suit and veil and have John light up my smoker, because I was going to approach a living, active hive instead of the one that was very quiet and didn't have that many bees in December.

Cut for pictures... )
liralen: Finch Painting (bee2)
Donald Studinski is one of the more outspoken beekeepers in the Colorado beekeeping associations. He's knowledgable, experienced, and very very opinionated about how he sees the world of beekeeping. I often enjoy his missives, and recently he came up with a really nice article about what really happens with bees during the winter: Deep Freeze, Honeybees, and You. The title is kind of funny, but it has some really intriguing details about what bees really do all winter and how they actually are raising young through the cold months.

Some of my own recent adventures with the bees and the cold... )
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
We had about a week of really cold weather here, down in the sub-zeros at night, with single digit highs during the day.  Of course, it being Colorado, yesterday, today, and tomorrow we have 60 degree days with snow still on the ground in the shadows of all the buildings. I'd bought a bunch of Bee-Pro patties from Mann Lake when they were having a sale on the ten pound package. I'd been thinking of either buying the protein powder and making my own bee candy or just buying the patties, when they had the sale, I decided on the patties. The second and third ingredients are sugar and high fructose corn syrup, so I figured they really were about the same thing.

They arrived in plenty of time for our warm spell, and I went out today to check on them in the morning, just to see if they were alive. It was really the first time I'd gone out to see them since the really cold spell, and they were busy flying, getting water from the neighbor's pond, and cleaning out the dozen or so dead bees that were inside the hive. There were dead, but it wasn't bad given just how cold it had gotten.

Then, when John came home for lunch, I went in to put the patties into the top bars. One of the local beekeepers said that he always put a sheet of bee candy onto his hives, just at the top, around Christmas time, and it's close enough for me to do it now.

Read more... )
liralen: Finch Painting (Latte David)
There's a pen, made by Pilot, where the ink is "erasable". You can buy it here at Jet Pens.

The funny thing is that the ink is actually erased by the heat of friction, and it reappears if you cool the paper down below 14° F (-10° C), which is pretty easily done in most freezers (or outside today... whew it's cold). So it kind of works as a disappearing ink that's the opposite of the usual kind of disappearing ink (most of which appear with heat or UV rays or... ).

Speaking of the Cold. It's been -10° F (-23° C) outside at night or in the early morning. Jet and I have been blowing bubbles outside, catching them on the blowing ring, and watching them freeze. It takes a little while, and you can also blow them onto a pan of water (so long as the water doesn't solidify on you). You can see the crystallization of the soap solution and then the whole bubble shrinks just a little before the film goes solid. Usually they just collapse, but occasionally you'll get a really strong bubble in which holes will appear and just stay and the rest of the structure remains stable. Jet's even poked his finger through the ring of the blower and held it there with the rest of the bubble all around it. It's really... cool. (or so she says as she's freezing her BUTT OFF... ahem)

Hope you're all doing well! Hope Thanksgiving was fun and that the shortening days are inspiring you instead of bringing you down. I managed to do Nanowrimo before I left for San Diego, but I'm sitting here with half a novel of my David finally finding his true love (and Afghanistani fissionables, Ukrainian nuclear power, and Russian politicians who were once Russian Bratva) and wondering if it's even what I really want to do to finish it, but I might as well just finish it so that it's done and David is finally settled down with the love of his life, and then get on with the 'real' one. *laughs* I may just finish it so that I can publish it as a weekly somewhere (including here, since I'll likely do it for free). Nanowrimo certainly made me realize that there's lots of ways to publish on-line content.
liralen: Finch Painting (bee2)
We've been having streaks of 60+ degree days, and with the Colorado Front Range mostly devoid of flowers at this time, I've been feeding the girls pounds and pounds of sugar syrup. They've been sucking it down like crazy, too, much faster than they did in the early spring, last year. Their stores are still good, but I've just been putting quarts and quarts and quarts of 1:1 sugar:water syrup into the internal feeder. No reason to encourage, even more, the robbers that keep trying to get into the hive.

I've been seeing wasps, flies, wild bees, and all kinds of creatures trying to get into the front entrance. I've been seeing the girls throwing out the intruders, too, literally grabbing them and taking them away or balling them up, heating them to kill them and then dumping all the bodies out the front door. There's a huge spider living under the hive, that gathers up all the bodies and eats them, leaving all only the wings. The spider's been a kind of amazing clean up crew.

I've smashed a few wasps just because they're so easy to spot and they move slowly in 50+ or even low 60 degree weather.

Tonight it's supposed to rain down freezing sleet, so I've finally reduced the entrance to the smallest setting, and took the feeder out, simply to give the girls less space they have to heat. I'm also putting the feeder in a place away from the hive so it'll lure the robbers there instead of to the hive, and the girls can still pick up sweets when they are energetic enough to be out flying. The last two brood boxes are heavy still with stores (or even the syrup, I imagine), and when I opened them to take out the feeder, there were still a lot of bees.

So I'm pretty hopeful about them lasting the winter. We'll see. I'll probably still put patties on around Christmas, in case they want them, but I've now zipped their boxes closed for the winter.
liralen: (crane)
The weather is going cold in Colorado, and we're starting to have freezing nights. I've closed up the front entrance, taken out the screened bottom board, and the girls seem very content inside their boxes. I left one super on top, as that seemed to give them enough room, and I think that I'm supposed to start feeding them sometime. I'm wondering if any of the more experienced keepers have a good idea on when. I have a top feeder, and I think I'll wait until a warm and sunny day to open up and put that in.

Read more... )
liralen: Finch Painting (superglue_flake)
I've earned a new habit this winter. Walking in the cold.

It started during the time before Christmas, when the days were short, the nights long, and the neighborhood had all the pretty lights out. The temperatures would get down into the single digits, and I'd be out there anyway, usually when there was no wind to add to the chill factor, and loved seeing the lights and walking out where no one was.

I had my thick wool cowl, my down jacket, my handspun mittens, and a wool hat that I'd bought on one of our innertube sledding trips out into the mountains. Thick wool with a brim to keep the sun out. Though I didn't have to worry about the sun today. It was overcast and cold.

And it was beautiful... )
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
One of the few traditions we have as a family is taking the annual horse-drawn wagon ride, which our Home Owners Association does each year. One of the local farmers brings their draft horses and draws a hay wagon or a simple benched wagon around the loop of our neighborhood.

We always love it and, traditionally, it's on one of the coldest nights, usually in the teens (-16 to -6 C), in the dark, and crunching the dregs of recent snowfalls. We always bundle up and enjoy ourselves. This year, it wasn't nearly as cold. We haven't had the snowfall we usually have in November, and our weather is well on the way to a two-year drought. It was still below freezing, however, and the big bonfire and the giant jug of hot chocolate were very welcome.

Read more... )
liralen: Finch Painting (superglue_flake)
It's -3 F (-19 C) and is supposed to get down to -22 F (-30 C) tonight. Jet got today off from school, and will also get tomorrow, his birthday, off as well. He is probably the happiest boy ever. *laughs*

I have a final eye appointment in the morning (and while my eyes are still bloodshot, they're not as bad as in the fall), and while it snowed yesterday, the streets are actually clear and mostly dry today, thanks to sunshine all day and it only being a few inches. It's not the coldest it's ever been since we've lived here, but after 65 F on Friday, it's a bit of a shock.

Nice days to just stay at home, make lattes and hot chocolate, play the Christmas Wii and enjoy the sunshine.
liralen: Finch Painting (superglue_flake)
It's -3 F (-19 C) and is supposed to get down to -22 F (-30 C) tonight. Jet got today off from school, and will also get tomorrow, his birthday, off as well. He is probably the happiest boy ever. *laughs*

I have a final eye appointment in the morning (and while my eyes are still bloodshot, they're not as bad as in the fall), and while it snowed yesterday, the streets are actually clear and mostly dry today, thanks to sunshine all day and it only being a few inches. It's not the coldest it's ever been since we've lived here, but after 65 F on Friday, it's a bit of a shock.

Nice days to just stay at home, make lattes and hot chocolate, play the Christmas Wii and enjoy the sunshine.
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
A few years ago we went to Frasier Hill, up in Winter Park, and we discovered that inner-tubing can be a lot of fun, especially down a huge hill that's icy with packed snow and actual rope lifts to do the hard part of hauling oneself and the tube back up the hill.

John planned it in detail. The battle plan included going the night before, getting to Fraiser Hill by 10 am, when the place opened, tubing as much as we could before the skiers quit skiing, and then going home once we were completely exhausted.

His plan worked. )
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
A few years ago we went to Frasier Hill, up in Winter Park, and we discovered that inner-tubing can be a lot of fun, especially down a huge hill that's icy with packed snow and actual rope lifts to do the hard part of hauling oneself and the tube back up the hill.

John planned it in detail. The battle plan included going the night before, getting to Fraiser Hill by 10 am, when the place opened, tubing as much as we could before the skiers quit skiing, and then going home once we were completely exhausted.

His plan worked. )

Snow!!

Oct. 10th, 2009 10:08 am
liralen: Finch Painting (superglue_flake)
We have four inches of snow this morning. 28 degrees.... and the quaking aspens still have green leaves!

The boys are out sledding. Jet is just so excited!

It's supposed to be 60 tomorrow. *laughs* Colorado weather...

Snow!!

Oct. 10th, 2009 10:08 am
liralen: Finch Painting (superglue_flake)
We have four inches of snow this morning. 28 degrees.... and the quaking aspens still have green leaves!

The boys are out sledding. Jet is just so excited!

It's supposed to be 60 tomorrow. *laughs* Colorado weather...
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
There are things I love and hate about the first morning at the bus stop when there's snow everywhere.

The things that I love include my liquid velvet leggings under my sweatpants, my big wool scarf, my rabbit-fur bomber hat with the ear flaps to die for, my felted wool mittens, and my big, huge sub-zero REI boots that I got at like 75% off from one of their spring sales. I love Jet's snow pants (which he wears over his shorts because he is my husband's son), [livejournal.com profile] aelfsciene's gift of a hat with the huge pompoms that he wears religiously (even when half the kids are like, you look like a girl with pigtails!! He just laughs and throws snow down the back of their necks), the big coat my Mom got him because she was too cold when she looked at him, and the snaky blue-green scarf that he loves to wear along with the felted mittens he goes no where without when it's cold out.

With all his stuff on, he can play in the snow before the bus all he likes, take it all off when he gets to school and he'll be warm and dry for the day.

What I hate... )
liralen: Finch Painting (snowflake)
There are things I love and hate about the first morning at the bus stop when there's snow everywhere.

The things that I love include my liquid velvet leggings under my sweatpants, my big wool scarf, my rabbit-fur bomber hat with the ear flaps to die for, my felted wool mittens, and my big, huge sub-zero REI boots that I got at like 75% off from one of their spring sales. I love Jet's snow pants (which he wears over his shorts because he is my husband's son), [livejournal.com profile] aelfsciene's gift of a hat with the huge pompoms that he wears religiously (even when half the kids are like, you look like a girl with pigtails!! He just laughs and throws snow down the back of their necks), the big coat my Mom got him because she was too cold when she looked at him, and the snaky blue-green scarf that he loves to wear along with the felted mittens he goes no where without when it's cold out.

With all his stuff on, he can play in the snow before the bus all he likes, take it all off when he gets to school and he'll be warm and dry for the day.

What I hate... )

Cold...

Oct. 15th, 2007 09:27 am
liralen: Finch Painting (My_hat)
It was really cold last night for the first time this season. I actually was up a whole hour after going to bed just trying to warm my feet up, but finally I went downstairs and got the rice bag warmers out, nuked them and then brought them back to bed with me. Ahhhh... I hadn't realized I was THAT cold. *sigh*

Today was a no school day, as the teachers needed it to get their stuff together, but the school offers an all-day program for kids that have parents that have to leave them there. So Jet decided he wanted to go, even though he didn't have to, he really wanted to be with kids all day, so we took him into school on the bikes this morning. We were all bundled up and Jet was still shivering. I should have put mittens on him at least for the ride there... anyway... it's good.

Better yet, last night, I put together all the dry stuff in one bowl and all the wet stuff in another bowl for pumpkin muffins. So, this morning, all John had to do was put the two bowl's contents together after letting the oven heat up and we had "instant" muffins for breakfast. They were very warm and yummy and Jet and John ate a bunch of 'em. So it was definitely a good way to start the morning.

I'm making slow progress on the camel down. I'm finally screwing up my courage for the phoenix sweater again, as I'm still terrified of not being able to finish without ordering more yarn or something... actually, worst case, I just spin up some of my Shetland white wool for the last few rows, I think. White at the very top wouldn't be that off-beat, all in all. Sigh... but so it is. I just need to keep going.

Cold...

Oct. 15th, 2007 09:27 am
liralen: Finch Painting (My_hat)
It was really cold last night for the first time this season. I actually was up a whole hour after going to bed just trying to warm my feet up, but finally I went downstairs and got the rice bag warmers out, nuked them and then brought them back to bed with me. Ahhhh... I hadn't realized I was THAT cold. *sigh*

Today was a no school day, as the teachers needed it to get their stuff together, but the school offers an all-day program for kids that have parents that have to leave them there. So Jet decided he wanted to go, even though he didn't have to, he really wanted to be with kids all day, so we took him into school on the bikes this morning. We were all bundled up and Jet was still shivering. I should have put mittens on him at least for the ride there... anyway... it's good.

Better yet, last night, I put together all the dry stuff in one bowl and all the wet stuff in another bowl for pumpkin muffins. So, this morning, all John had to do was put the two bowl's contents together after letting the oven heat up and we had "instant" muffins for breakfast. They were very warm and yummy and Jet and John ate a bunch of 'em. So it was definitely a good way to start the morning.

I'm making slow progress on the camel down. I'm finally screwing up my courage for the phoenix sweater again, as I'm still terrified of not being able to finish without ordering more yarn or something... actually, worst case, I just spin up some of my Shetland white wool for the last few rows, I think. White at the very top wouldn't be that off-beat, all in all. Sigh... but so it is. I just need to keep going.
liralen: Finch Painting (gaia-me)
On Friday morning, the three of us packed up and loaded up into the Eurovan and headed a little south and a good bit West to Winter Park, Colorado. It was just a one-night trip John had planned for a bit to go up and enjoy the show now that we weren't snowed in by it down here in the Front Range.

This is *really* long. )

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