Warming Up in Mendota

We’ve just come off of a very cold week here in Mendota.   It’s been all the way down to zero and today’s 45 degrees was balmy.   Each night during the extreme cold, I have kept a tarp over my beehives to give them a tiny bit more protection from windchills below zero.  I pull the tarp back during the day so that the sun will shine directly onto the hive.  Today, Hive #1 rewarded me with a bit of relief.   They were working…removing dead bees, flying out to powder their noses, and just being honeybees.

Honeybees in Virginia

Meanwhile, over at Hive #2, there was this.

Hive 2

No bees coming outside of this hive. I saw one bee. Just one. I don’t know whether they have remained clustered today (it wasn’t really warm) and Hive #1 did not remain clustered, or if the worst has happened.    Please no.    At any rate, it has driven me to drink.  Here’s the proof.   Thank goodness my sister, Pat, and cousin, Barb, are here to support me during this difficult time.    It’s got so bad that I lost my top.

Drinking Baby

We heat with wood via a woodboiler in the winter. Since we pay for the wood, it normally is not a moneysaver, but we stay really nice and cozy; and during extreme temperatures, it may be actually saving us money. I have no idea what our heat bill would be with three heatpumps running during these low temps.    There’s two heatpumps for  the main house, and one heatpump for the garage apartment.  However, we only use the heatpump fans as the woodboiler heats both places. At any rate, I’ve appreciated the warmth we’ve had when I know others have struggled.  We’ve been able to keep our house on 70 or 71 degrees on the really windy nights.   Mike has to go out twice daily and load the woodboiler. He calls it “feeding the pig.”


Others we know with woodboilers seem to be able to burn anything in their woodboilers.  However, I insisted Mike get one with very high EPA requirements (such a tree hugger).  This has resulted in a real challege as it only works efficiently with seasoned (as in one year) hardwoods.  As we approach February, we have a great deal of wood, but we may soon run out of wood we can use. Great. However, we do still have the heat pump, and winter is going to be loosening its grip as the weeks pass.

Even though below zero or near zero temperatures are returning tomorrow evening, I’m thinking of spring now…

My succulents…I have these growing everywhere. I do nothing and they just show back up and I place them in pots, shoes, and give them to everyone.    My cousin’s wife, Pam Powers, provided me with these succulents years ago.  They look sad and brown.


Do not dispair!   They’ll be large and a soft green in June…similar to these in the boots…just in time for my friend’s daughter’s wedding.  I’ve been on Pinterest and succulents are the new thing for wedding flowers.

Randy's Boots

And these dried, dead looking mums...sad.  

Winter Mums

In May, I’ll trim the tops off, add some compost and they’ll come back looking like this. These mums are several years old.   They are old friends who stop in to spend the summer with me.   Lovely.


Are you looking forward to spring?

Mike and I are.  We’re already planning our garden.   We’re increasing the number of 4 x 6 raised beds.  I’m planting all my green beans in raised beds, all potatoes and onions, cucumbers, and some will become the permanent home of new blueberry bushes.   With the 12 new raised beds that be put in place in the coming six weeks, we’ll have a total of 12.

More Raised Beds

Plans and more plans!!   I’m off to go look at seed catalogs while I watch Downton Abbey.     Could a Sunday evening be more perfect?  Stay warm!



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  1. Good luck with the bees. I hope hive 2 is just like me–lazy!!

    • Worked on adding bubble wrap today in addition to the tarp. While I was working, it must have disturbed them…they started buzzing! Both hives! Yay!

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