The creek (that is really a ditch) has been covered in ice thick enough to walk on for months now. In the last few days it has begun to break up, clink and clank its way into life, yesterday great shards of windowpane ice could be seen floating past. Ice floes break up in between, snow drifts drifting, picking up speed and wagging their tails through, making that singing crackle-crick, jingle, tick-tock of melting ice, like cooling metal, the hiss of cooling iron. A tinging and crickling. A crackle with a song in it. Then the jostle and click of ice shouldering ice shoving and pushing in a crowd trying to get head way.
I made a wee pen for Marcel the Happy in the corner of the sheep’s field, he has a mini culvert for shelter and some company. Only for the day though, at night it is back into the barn for him.
We had not bargained on Daisy who was allowed out for a wander yesterday as the ice has melted. I am terrified of this big gangly cow slipping on ice she is the clumsiest cow I have ever seen so she has not been allowed into the fields for a while. She was out having a mooch when I brought Marcel over to his new pen. She trotted across as fast as she could, her stomach heaving low and loose from side to side and immediately the cow tried to lick the lamb through the fence, she wanted to inhale him, again. With her tiny mewling noises and coy looks.
Marcel obliged with some loving. But I am not a zoo, he said. You can all go about your business!
Bad news on the bee front though. It reached 56F here yesterday, warm enough for bees to come out on toilet breaks, but when I went down to check them it was grimly silent. With a sinking heart I took the hive apart. The bees were all dead. Scattered across three plentiful trays of honey. They had piles of food. They had broken formation to eat and must have been caught by a sharp drop in temperatures, unable to huddle back together for warmth, they had frozen. And only recently. So, so sad. Evidently the Italian bees often come out when it is not warm enough and often hives are lost because of this. Though it was a brutal winter. None of this is much consolation. But this year I cannot think of one thing I did not do. The extreme cold beat us. I am going to give it one last try with my Russian Queen and her hive who arrive in May. Hopefully the progeny will be tougher in these Illinois winters. I need to have bees that are bred for this tough environment. Russians surely must know about the cold.
But the sun was shining yesterday and it was warm enough to work without a jacket or gloves. Everyone took a minute just to stand in the sun, even Sheila. We all stood a little straighter and even though it was all slosh and deep water sitting on frozen ground in the fields, there was warm sun.
I hope you all have a lovely day.
Your friend on the farmy