A friend of mine once showed me a picture of a village home in Nepal. The frame was built with wood, but then covered with a variety of material similar to cobb. On this one particular picture I noticed a large protrusion, almost like a huge chaga mushroom growing off the side of the home. He told me that it was a bee hive and that it was traditional for their homes to have hives built right on the side and for them to have access from the inside.
I immediately knew that I wanted to recreate a similar situation on my farm. Perhaps not the whole cobb house idea, but at least a hive that I to could access honey from in the warmth and protection from the outside elements; all while perhaps providing the bees with a greater opportunity of surviving the winter months.
This project has been on my farm bucket list for two years now, and this week, along with our carpenter friend Scott, we designed and built a 4 foot top bar bee hive out of 200 year old pine boards that are 14 inches deep. It is secured in the loft above the goat milking parlor which faces south east, ten feet up off the ground.
It all seems and looks perfect to me, but the bees coming in May will be the determining factor on whether they think their new home is as cool as I think it is. Bees teach patience. Something my friend says she can’t understand about me. How I have the patience to keep it all together? I don’t know if it is patience that I have or just a great deal more tolerance than most? Perhaps both.
Bees, and all farm animals really, teach you that we really aren’t in control of anything. We like to think that consistency in schedules, the perfect home/ barn, good food and fences are all factors that lead to a perfect situation and that there is no room for error. In the end, if the bees don’t want to stay, they don’t and there is nothing you can do about it except hope that you can see where they swarmed off to and try to bring them home for a second try.
Besides the bees, goats take number one in teaching patience or better yet, tolerance. I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to my goats “give them three inches and they will take a foot” What does that mean? Well, just this week, a new homesteader in training began volunteering at the farm. Prior to milking goats that afternoon, I shared my rule of thumb about goats with him. He seemed a bit puzzled, but I told him he would find out what that meant at some point during his time here in the upcoming months and he would know what I meant. I didn’t realize, however, how soon that experience was going to take place. While I was back to preparing the milking machine, he thought he would fill the water bucket in the holding area. He also figured he could enter the area, leave the door ajar for a few minutes while he completed his task. Before I new it, I had a dozen goats in my parlor, jumping over cabinets, running up a closed ramp acting as if they were being chased by a pack of wolves. I turned to look at the culprit to this disaster. Hence give them an inch and they will take a foot, in this case a wide open door. The expression on his face? Priceless. No words needed to be shared. We consolidated the goats back to the holding area, cleaned up the mess and proceeded to milking. I am glad I was there to help bring it all together, because for a new want to be, things like this can seriously put one over the edge.
Experience is truly the best teacher; even the apparent disasters.