A Garden for the Bees

I use to be so afraid of getting a bee sting since I have a pretty adverse reaction. My Mom carries an epi-pen since she has an even worse reaction, so I learned to fear these little bugs early on. Needless to say I would swing and bat at the bees when I would garden.


Three bees are in this flower!

Flash forward to now many years later and in the middle of our bee crisis (thank you Monsanto) I have developed a much different relationship with these creatures. It began with sitting at my pond and watching my turtles and fish. I guess because I was in observer mode I wasn’t fearful of being stung and I watched just how many bees came to drink from our pond. Hundreds of them come at the end of the day and if can be scary if you let yourself go there. We made our pond for turtles from the pound and its very natural, murky, full of plants and logs and things turtles like. The plants make it safe for the bees to land and drink. They actually drink the water from the roots of the plants that are above the water level. They are not interested in people, they are bees and have a mission and usually it does not involve you!

At about 6:00 if you are lucky enough to be sitting at the pond you can watch the bees one and two at a time fly off in the same direction home. Within 30 minutes hundreds of bees fly home and they are all from the same hive. I totally understand the meaning of bee line, until I witnessed this I never really knew what that expression meant! These bees have become dependent on my pond and since I know that without bees we would starve to death I have changed how I garden and plant many extra bee-liscious things to keep them near by.

This year purely from my compost I have begun to grow pumpkins I think. I composted so many different kinds of squash, pumpkins and gourds that I’m now sure yet just what is growing but I tell you what the bees love these! I am fascinated and more in awe each day and have pretty much lost my fear of getting stung.


Down under the leaves its cool and there are so many bees flying from flower to flower


Creating workouts that fit with my busy life

I have a lot on my plate I have 40-ish animals, 2 kids, 1 husband, a new career and I cook nearly everything we eat each day starting at 5:30 making my hubby breakfast and lunch to take to work. I sometimes don’t stop until 5:00 and by then I am tired and its time to start to think of cooking dinner and locking down the farm and feeding the rest of the animals their dinner.

I do not want to stop exercising and yet I find myself wanting to put that last on my list of things to do especially in the winter with the shorter days, cold weather etc. Most often I succeed and run out of time to get in a workout and my lazy self wins. Inside my head I am doing two dances; a celebration for the lazy winner and a sad dance of disapproval for the high energy side of me that loves to move and sweat.

Today however I have figured out how to accomplish a few tasks and combine them. I do not consider this multitasking I will call this being fit and focused with prioritizing my to do list. Each day on my farm there are things that need to be done but its cold and dark in the morning and by the time I get outside to feed my animals I leave little to no time for yard or garden tending.

breathe and get through tough times

So the breakthrough was simple; pick one task in the yard/garden that requires repetitive movements and that can keep me active for 45 – 60 minutes. As I looked around my yard today there was so much I could do since I have been neglecting my yard since….um December (gasp!) I picked the most urgent, my leaf covered roof. I lugged my rake, shovel and a broom up a ladder to my rooftop and proceeded to work myself into a nice elevated cardio just with raking and shoveling. To add to my workout I had to climb up and down the ladder to stomp down the leaves in the green bins I had place below. I have 3 green bins so I would climb up and down 2 times per bin and jump and stomp the leaves down so I could cram more in. When my bins were full and placed out on the street I walked down to my neighbors and borrowed two of theirs and played repeat. So with two more bins came more raking, shoveling, ladder climbing, bin stomping and lugging them to the street.

All in all I worked out for 45 minutes and worked up a nice heart rate. I know I could have done more but for today I was able to accomplish working out and getting one thing done on my farm that needed to be checked of my to do list. Tomorrow will be a new adventure and I think I will now look at my chores around the property as my daily exercise routine and really work at getting fit while enjoying my farm and garden chores.

Gardening is my Religion

The word gardening for me does not simply apply to working in my “garden” it is a term I use loosely for any yard work I am doing. There are days when I cannot wait to get outside and grab a pair of clippers or a shovel and get to work. As I walk through the farm to the back to feed my animals first thing in the morning I take an assessment of what project I might be able to get done today either before or after work. Now the funny thing about that is by the time I finish feeding and tending the critters then find my gloves and tools I have often found yet another “project” that I wind up doing instead! I always have a “wish” list of things I really want to do and sometimes when I think about them all I can get a bit overwhelmed and then I put on my gloves and grab my tool of choice and like listening to the choir sing my attention becomes focused to one task and becomes a job of pure delight. The world around me disappears as I listen to the birds chirping, see the kitties playing all around me and I joyously trim, weed or plant.

Multitasking is greatly over-rated in my opinion; when one uni-tasks the mind becomes quiet, the world is manageable and you are able to let stress dissipate  because the job in front of you if your only focus. When approaching my ever-growing to-do list and pick just one thing and make that one thing impeccable, I feel accomplished and good. I feel whole and worthy. Then when I walk through my yard later on I see that one improvement that looks amazing and it makes me want to do the next little item.  My gardening is my meditation and my ME time. I believe that gardening is my grounding force and by nurturing and tending my land I absorb the good strong and earthy energy it provides and in return I put my love, sweat and happiness into it and viola! The creation is a relaxed, centered and earthy Jen (me) and a piece of property that exudes love, happiness and beauty.

One of my projects that really must get handled soon is to tie up the long new growth on the grape arbor. I planted these little tiny plants 3 years ago with dreams of producing a shady spot to sit under in the heat of the day. I had no idea how to grow grapes or prune them nor did I realize how much I would enjoy the enchanted grape arbor. This is my outdoor classroom and I take my iPad and books under here and study! I must say it is the best classroom to relax and learn in that I have ever experienced and to see the hundreds of bunches forming this spring is such a treat!