The tree was humming…

I  didn’t want to go to work this morning. (And I love my job) 🙂

I wanted to stay home and putter.

The  apple trees are simply loaded with flowers…


The honey bees are scheduled to be split this morning.  (I found a local bee keeper who was willing to come by and see  if they’re ready to be split into two hives.)  He has 40 years experience…This  is my 3rd season…even that is hard to believe.   Wow,

He’s supposed to be here at 9 AM.

Let’s hope he is a good mentor

Sure looks like a  queen cell to me 🙂  (That little peanut shaped thing sticking out from the bottom of that frame).

And..well, it’s morel mushroom season again.  Two weeks of serendipitous discoveries. 🙂

Grey morel mushrooms on the edge of the windbreak.


And in the garden, I’m experimenting with a combination/ square foot gardening/ heavy mulch (think Ruth Stout) layout, with wood chips covering everything this growing season.  I do have (6) 4 ft by 12 ft long wooden boxed beds, but the level of the soil in the bed is the same as the walkways.  The problem with raised beds is that the water leaches out, so a lot more time is spent watering.

Simple is better.

2019 garden layout.

Doubling the size this year with three more 12 ft by 16 ft beds. Still need to put wood chips over the cardboard. I do this to smother the grass.  Next Spring this will be ready to plant.  No tilling, no weeding, no watering, and the earth worm count will be off the chart.   I have 6 to 12 inches of black Iowa top soil I am planting into.  There used to be 3 feet of topsoil, but now it’s measured in inches.  Much of it (Iowa topsoil) has wound up in the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s sterile.

One quick story.

Last week after work,  while I was hunting  morel’s in the orchard, something caught my attention.  The tree was humming…. I’m not joking, it was literally alive with noise…the noise of dozens of  honey bees (our bees)  moving quickly from one flower to the next.

What a joy.

Several of them were caked with yellow pollen:

Photo by Google


Couple of years ago now, I gave a link to my farming blog to a friend of a friend who ran  a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) on the East coast.  Since she had been gardening on a much bigger scale, and for a lot longer than I, I was genuinely interested in getting her input..

Big mistake.

Condescending and impatient.

I had an equally disappointing relationship with a local bee keeper the first season I had bees.  Nice guy, big heart, but that is as far as it went.  He wasn’t verbal,  I got this sense he was making things up as he went. 🙂 (turned out he was)



Good mentors are hard to find.

A mentor is a teacher.  Someone willing to pass on to another person their practical wisdom in an area of life.

Have you ever been mentored?

Have any stories to tell?

Anything else on your mind?

Take care. DM





24 thoughts on “The tree was humming…

  1. I’m smiling. The photos remind me of my land I had in Washington…I had two peach trees, an Apple, a pear until Ben had a shop built. Also had flowering apple and plum…I reveled each spring and when the bees came to the plum I used to stand under the tree with the bees buzzing above my head, that beautiful hum. I miss it.
    I don’t miss mid summer when the weeds were relentless, the earwigs were eating my garden, the house needed repairs and Ben worked full time and then had to come home and take care of something in the yard. Trade offs…but my heart aches for that little square of land I so loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I hear you Martha…trade offs. The trick (which I sense you do) is to hold things loosely, There are seasons to lots of things.. friendships, places we live, etc… practice thankfulness, focus on the good. Doesn’t mean we can’t ache for what used to be. Where are you guys this Summer? On the road? Arizona? Good to hear from you! DM

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would call those pictures abundant Doug. Full of beauty and goodness and possibility.
    Mentoring is interesting and can bring something positive on both sides. But I’m not sure everyone is cut out to mentor as you illustrate by your examples!
    I mentored many younger, newer dental assistants when I was still involved in that career. I’d like to believe it was beneficial for them to have the opportunity to see and hear and question in real time, but with guidance. I’d like to feel that they gained confidence in themselves from my input and experience. I really enjoyed those opportunities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely those young ladies appreciated your mentoring in real time. You have a good heart, think you would be an awesome mentor. I’d never stopped to think about it before, but I think you are right..mentoring is NOT for everyone. That dog story you wrote about this week..yea….I do not like those little ankle biters..don’t trust them. They tend to have a Napoleon complex if you ask me. Glad you had your umbrella! Take care. DM

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Doug. I knew for a long time we would leave our home and I knew it was time when we did. I am grateful for the 23 years I lived there. And… there’s still the missing. But gratitude is always the key, isn’t it.

      We are headed to the Northwest for the summer—haven’t been there in two years. My son is there, good friends are there, a storage unit to go through, appointments to keep, and some work for Ben. We will stay put until fall, and then go back to southern Arizona. More extensive travel is on hold for a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bet you are looking forward to your time in the Northwest! Sounds nurturing…son, good friends, and some work 🙂 Great combination. Take care Martha! DM


  3. Ah! you’re well ahead of us. No blooms yet–the first almost ready yesterday, the late season varieties just barely past silver tip. The dooryard orchard is shaping up nicely. We thought it was finished, when it occurred to us we might like a peach tree or two in the mix. (northern hardy of course–we looking at Harrow Diamond and/or AC Harrow Dawn, if anybody has experience in such things) Last year, the first of the apples bore fruit. This year we’re hoping for plums, and maybe even pears. The bees are flying–but nowhere near ready to split.) It’s tempting to start direct seeding in the garden…but we know there’s still a good chance of a killing frost. Maybe the beans and snap peas…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you guys in Michigan? What is a dooryard orchard? Intrigued by that name 🙂 I still get a rush when I see a new tree bearing fruit for the first time. Pear trees…don’t have any and the two plumb trees we had both died. We do have peaches, (northern hearty) but I see that we had quite a bit of winter kill on them as well. Had a slow day @ work yesterday, so I was able to get a lot done in the garden. got 24 brandywine tomatoes planted..want to plant the same number of Amish paste today if I have enough time. You guys have bees? if so, how long have you been doing it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re in Northern Michigan (north lower peninsula–Traverse City area.) A dooryard orchard is that, closer to the house, orchard near the garden, where you plant the variety of things you’re likely to can for home use. Often, farmers who did orchards had acres of them–not necessarily convenient for the Missus when she wanted to put food up for winter. So you’d plant the varieties for eating out of hand, or simple canning, so she could do that without having to harness up the horses and wagon. With us, it’s mostly dooryard orchard–that’s where the fruit trees are. We also have hazelnuts, but they are down the hill a bit. It’s still too early to garden–but I’ve been doing a lot of prep–solarizing some of the garden beds, mulching around the fruit trees (always meant to get to that.) Last year we got apples for the first time, on two trees. This year, it looks like another apple–and the plums. We’d have pears, except that the pollinator tree up and died and we had to replace it. It’s too small to pollinate anything this year. Next year will be the pears. (Except that Rick has a plan to cut branches from some local wild pears and try hand pollinating.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I love details like this! Thank you, I too am trying to do some prep-solarizing for the first time, in this case for a new strawberry bed. A friend gave me three baby strawberry plants she’d gotten in the mail from one of those mail order places…(assortment of random seeds, etc. and three bareroot strawberry plants) we’ve not had strawberry plants before. I know they will dovetail nicely into the other fruit we grow here….I’ve been on a do it yourself greek yogurt kick the past month. figured out how to make it with the instapot, so been sprinkling peaches, wild black raspberries, and store bought strawberries on it before freezing in little containers….I’m easily entertained 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • We have the little wild (alpine) strawberries. Bursting with flavor, but so tiny that it takes forever to pick anything worth while. I treat them as forest candy. I’m thinking of making yogurt–used to in my college days. I cannot do dairy from cows–so the only yogurt I can get is goat milk yogurt from California. (Surprisingly, from Sonoma County, where I used to live. If I could only get a supply of fresh goat’s milk!


  4. Mentoring. I hated being nominated for doing that and here’s why.

    Girls I taught to shoot or fix electronics all said I was patience personified.
    They also learned twice as fast as the guys.
    Meanwhile guys I taught on both those skills generally said I was ‘overly aggressive and uncommunicative’. In the main they learnt their stuff ‘painfully’.

    The end result was the same but the girls got more out of the ‘mentoring experience’ than the guys.

    Thus my mentoring results and the feedback always confused me.
    I got there with both and both went on to ‘succeed’, so where was the problem?

    MY MENTOR eventually pointed out something I had missed.
    The reason why I got on with girls better than guys was girls came with little preconceived ideas.
    So they listened, questioned, copied, and learned.

    As for the guys? Ever tried to teach an old dog new tricks? Difficult isn’t it.
    As for a new dog? Add a bit of testosterone, Hollywood thinking, plus youthful ‘I know it all’ and most will understand what was going on.

    To unlearn the bad and replace it with the good by definition takes twice as long.
    Problem was they both had a fixed time to complete the course.
    Thus the guys had to work twice as hard.

    As for our Gardening Doug, we are surrounded by trees in bloom.
    The problem is none of them are in our garden.
    Meanwhile our Buds and onions doing great, and our fruit bushes are looking good.

    There is a problem though. Bees.
    They keep on arriving but it’s too early for the flowers and pollen so SWMBO and me are now very adept at warming and refuelling them with a warm spoon of sugar water.

    Funny isn’t it. I’ve get to work with an all female cast again, and love doing it.
    BUT (and a bit weirdly) feel remorse for every bee that doesn’t make it.

    So I’ve got a question from both of us.
    To us bees are so important to life and deserve a helping hand,
    but should we be doing that i.e. refuelling them?

    Or is there a better way to help a tired cold bee running on empty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great question about feeding the bees. Having just had this conversation with my bee mentor yesterday (with 40 years experience) He said they won’t take it (sugar water) if there are other sources of nutrition available…and will stop taking it, once the other is abundant. so I would say…feed away..the girls will LOVE You for it. Especially when they are building comb, it takes a lot of raw material. I also get what you said about why the girls were easier to mentor, and the young bucks were not so much. I’ve experienced that in the construction field as well. Take care. DM

      Liked by 1 person

      • Di started me off on it and we’ve yet find a tired out bee that doesn’t lap the sugar up. The hard bit is making it warm enough to be attractive but not too hot.

        Locally temperatures can drop dramatically and rapidly on the coast so it’s not unusual for us to find bees just sat quietly not taking an interest in anything.

        The worrying thing is within 20 miles of us is a farm who was chemical mad AND got a lot of publicity for using unfriendly to bees sprays. He blamed the EU, we just thought he was a £$%%$ as other farmers used non toxic to bees sprays. ]]

        Our latest problem is it’s rape seed season and the fields are full of it. Again the toll in bees is high.

        There ought to be laws protecting the bees because without them, the world dies.

        As for mentoring, glad it isn’t only me who thought that.

        Stay safe , Paul


  5. Love the bees Doug. Fantastic pictures.
    Wouldn’t say I was a mentor, but I did train a lot of people in my time, and at the end, all of them were good at their jobs. If they had to cover for me on holiday or if I was ill, I had no worries, and no backlog when I was back at my desk.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My first inspection in March (just happened in to have a warm day) I saw a queen cell under construction. No way was the hive ready to split – not enough bees and I don’t think they could have stayed warm enough. I took a gamble and swapped brood boxes (top to bottom – they were in the top) and last week (finally warm enough for another inspection) they dismantled it.

    Mentoring – that’s tough – mostly trying to coordinate it. Here – we have the bee club that meets once a month, so people can ask questions there….and a coffee klatch afterwards for more questions. We also have two or three ‘field days’ each year at a bee yard of a member. There are ‘stations’ set up as well as hands on the hives….this year I’m manning a station and showing how to assemble, wire and embed foundation. There will be ‘sugar roll mite test’ station, etc etc. In the fall we do a extraction station, a ‘winterizing’ station and so on. This fall I’m manning the ‘how to make candy board’ station.
    The club also has a Facebook page where one can post pictures and ask questions. The field days seem to work pretty well (and the potluck food is always awesome).
    This year the club has decided to try and make a list of people who are willing to mentor – with the idea maybe they can match up people who are reasonably close to each other. We’re pretty spread out here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You guys are doing it right. Hands on training is the best. Quite a commitment from those of you teaching. This was the first time I had someone on the property that I sensed knew what he was doing and he was great. Took our time. pointed things out. was not a “know it all” even with 40 yrs experience, he kept telling me, there is more than one way to do this or that, and I’ll eventually find out what works best for me. I like that…sometimes people can be so opinionated and not let you know about the other ways of doing things. Felt like I made a huge jump this week in understanding just what the heck I’m looking @ in the hive. Still don’t have much of a clue when it comes to disease issues, but one thing @ a time. Good to hear about your bee club Val. DM

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved that your orchard was humming with the sound of (your) bees happily snogging on apple blossoms! ~ That image will stay with me – thank you 🙂

    I’ve mentored and been mentored ~ I do think it has to happen organically i.e. when the student is ready the teacher appears. When I’ve gone looking it’s not to be found. And sometimes some of the worst people (think of the Rat) offered some of the best (painful but necessary) lessons.

    Fun, thoughtful post, DM!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been thinking about what you said about “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” since I first read this. I like that! The guy who came on thursday to help me split our hive was just such a one. Patient, verbal, and knowledgeable. (and affirming) He said more than once, we had a great hive of bees…(gentle,and the queen was a strong layer) Have a good weekend MJ! DM

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds like the fellow who came on Thursday is a contender ~ and even if it was a one-time thing, isn’t it wonderful to experience someone being patient and knowledgeable .. not just verbal? Usually we get the latter without the former .. blah blah blah. Enjoy! ~ MJ


    • I see mentoring in a slightly different light than some..rather than I being an expert, I like to think as I open my life to those close to me, and vise versa, (like even on this blog) we can be mutual encouragers to each other, learn from each other, think out loud to each with each other. etc. It’s a win win. I appreciate your affirmation Jen! DM

      Liked by 1 person

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