Unaka Mountain summit hike, red spruce


I found this lovely hike on a blog called Appalachian Treks, which I love. The focus is in my region, and he keeps detailed directions and a customized Google map that is super helpful for me when trying to choose a hike near my current location. Also, his photos are so pretty it makes me want to get outside NOW. So I did.

The interesting thing about this hike is that it doesn’t culminate in a scenic overlook or a waterfall, as most hikes around here. Instead, it’s a beautiful old stand of red spruce (shown in two pictures above). Aside from it being a Monday escape from the world into the cool mountains on a hot day, it was pretty amazing because of all the spring ephemeral wildflowers – spring beauty, bluets, trillium, trout lilies, the works. I’m going to have to bring my wildflower guide next time, and maybe a better camera. You can find the directions to this hike (as well as some gorgeous photos) on Appalachian Treks.



Catching a Swarm…On the Ground?!


I got to go along to try to catch a swarm this Mother’s Day, which is always exciting.

However, this is NOT what a bee swarm is supposed to look like. They’re supposed to be up on a branch or somewhere else up in the air making a big, beautiful, slightly intimidating ball. After much googling all I’ve found is that the queen is either a) injured and incapable of going higher up, which is very bad, or b) has landed long enough to leave her smell there, which has totally confused the swarm following her and they have gathered here to be with her smell. Also not good.

I couldn’t find anything that actually advises one on what to do in this situation, so J decided to just stick a hive box on top and see if they feel like moving into it. We’ll see what happens!


UPDATE: The hive did stay around and seems to be doing well. Weird, huh?



May flowers

Top left is a Banshee rose from High Country Roses. I bought it along with a Madame Hardy (not blooming yet) and a Graham Thomas. The Graham Thomas grew huge, then vining, then bloomed with beautiful pink flowers. Since this is a shrub rose with yellow flowers, I got in touch with the company and they were super nice (and very surprised! We had fun speculating about what my mystery rose is.) They shipped me a new Graham Thomas straight away. I’m looking forward to seeing that next spring, but there are plenty of blooms to count on this year as well.

The chive blossoms came out just before the roses, around the end of April. Every time I see them I think I need more of them. I’ve been reading that some people use them to visually complement their roses, and also as a natural pest repellent. Perhaps I’ll sow a bunch of it around Mme Hardy. She sure takes a beating in that department.

Spring Ephemerals


My biology class took a wildflower walk on Trout Lily Trail today, a fairly easy path in Panther Creek State Park. It’s a good time to spot spring ephemerals, the flowers that take advantage of our deciduous forests to get a super quick bloom time in the spring before the trees leaf out. This trail is known for being loaded with them. Among the many, many flowers we spotted are the bloodroot above.


I am such a fan of Dutchman’s breeches. The name really just makes it, don’t you think?


Spring beauty, tiny little fragrant flowers among the first to pop out.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back for better pictures of the twin leaf, bluets, trout lilies, trillium, wild phlox, and toothwort. Also saw a few I don’t know (yet.)


I got all excited about flowers last year and bought these rare daffodils (my very favorite). They’re double headed, which I’ve never grown. The paler one is called Eggs and Bacon, or Orange Phoenix, the yellowish one is called Butter and Eggs, and that hyacinth is Marie. They all came from the Old House Gardens, just like my crocuses from earlier this year. So far I’ve had great success with their bulbs.

I realized this spring, though, I should have also done a big sweeping planting of regular old daffodils somewhere around here. That always makes me super happy. I guess I should just add that one to the wish list.



Building a kit for kidding time


I’m a little nervous about playing midwife for the first time. I know that my charges will probably drop those babies like pros and not need the least bit from me. But when you get into the realm of understanding what could happen and what you might need to know to be ready, it can get intimidating real quick.

So I’ve started preparing the kidding kit now, because those April due dates come right when I’ll be finishing spring semester. Continue reading

Springtime is incubator time.


We’re ready to increase our flock. We’ve harvested 5 of the 7 roosters from our hatch last year, and we gave one cream legbar rooster away to someone with a small show flock. So now we have this lovely selection of legbar and Chantecler eggs from our original source, along with some olive egger and black copper marans thrown into the mix. We started them on New Year’s, which means they just reached candling day recently.  Continue reading