but your roaming hens do. If you live in an area that permits roosters, and your hens are free to roam on your property, then a rooster is the best choice for predator protection. Have you watched a rooster with his hens? He will cock his head sideways at any shadow in the sky even as the hens continue to scratch without worry. He will stand between them and a dog, raccoon or coyote, and fight.
This is Potato. He replaces my elderly rooster, blind in one eye, who died fighting a raccoon earlier this year
Roosters are noisy, yes - and very annoying if there's another one nearby. If they grow up with you, they know your face, but they may attack visitors who surprise them. There are other guardians for your flock. Guinea hens will watch the sky and sound their screeching alarm to warn the hens. Turkeys may deter predators - and will nip your visitors hard. But roosters are a joy to watch around their girls and I'm glad we have one.
Adriana, babe, I know you just got home but could you find the tape measure? Dee wants me to check that new bridge in the secret garden. And if you change out of those sweats we could have dinner at Duarte's afterwards?
Oh my gosh, who are all those people in the garden?
We were cleaning up the path through our old orchard for last weekend's wedding guests when our bees swarmed, obviously enjoying the sunny weather and blossom.
Bee swarms, where the old queen and about half a colony leave a hive looking for a new home, are common in spring. If you or neighbors have bees, expect to see clusters of bees a few hundred yards from the old hive. The cluster is the departed group, hanging together, usually in a tree, waiting for the scout bees to lead them to a suitable new home. This is the best time to collect and rehouse the swarm.
Bee clusters in one of our old apple trees, waiting for their scouts to find a new home. Thankfully apple trees are easy to climb. Tell your beekeeper if they need to bring a ladder!
Swarming bees, especially in northern California, where they are likely to be mild-mannered European honey bees, are docile unless provoked, so don't panic if a mass of bees hums past you. They are not protecting their brood, as they would in a hive, and they are not yet hungry.
The scout bees are looking for a secure cavity of between six and ten gallons, with an entrance ideally about ten feet from the ground, such as a hollow tree. They will be attracted by buildings in poor repair - if they set up house in one of your outbuildings, you will need to find an experienced beebuster. Search online for a local beekeeper, looking for those who collect and rehouse swarms. County agricultural offices may be able to help. Do not be tempted by the cheaper option of killing the bees, because the huge mass of bees, comb and honey will rot through your drywall, causing considerable structural damage. An experienced beekeeper will clean the area thoroughly so that no beeswax remains, attracting future bee scouts looking for a home. And fix that entrance hole!
We've had six weeks of delightful and maybe a little frantic preparation for a Pescadero wedding in the farm wild garden this past weekend, with dinner and dancing in the farm barn. Six weeks of building a new bridge over the creek in the garden, because the last one was washed away this winter, of mowing and weeding and uncovering the garden, which has wild rambles of old roses, hydrangeas, and fuchsias. The wedding party sat down to dinner on benches painted in our farm paint, at a long table on a straw-strewn floor, and watched the moon rise on a perfect April evening.
Welcome to our romantic wild garden. Listen to the birds and leave the world behind
Violets and ferns in the grove under the trees, with fuchsias climbing into the trees
and soft grey lichen hanging down
The new bridge crosses the creek into the sunny enclosed garden
There are clipped box hedges with a sanctuary
Plums, apples and pears will be ripe in the autumn