Off to Santa Fe |

Off to Santa Fe

Sometimes it seems like the column takes on a “dear diary” quality. I don’t know that this is necessarily a fault, I frequently find the day-to-day things of much greater interest than some of the larger events that swirl around us, and when I sit down to write it’s those little things that often bubble to the surface. In fact, it’s sometimes the “dear diary” part that I find most interesting.

I always read the column from the previous week before I start on a new one, and I’m often amazed at how much has gone on in just a few days. Last week we’d just had three freezing nights, the chickens has been let out into the garden for the first time and I was anticipating the fall cleanup.

I sometimes think I’m not getting much done, until I read what I was doing just a few days ago. This is some of the most satisfying time in gardening for me, the working of the ground. There’s something intrinsically and fundamentally rewarding about working the soil and seeing it laid out smooth and dark and seeded back to rye. I’ve always coveted that dark, Midwestern glacial/tall grass prairie soil of Minnesota and Wisconsin and after many years of work I think I’ve almost recreated it, and what a pleasure it is to work.

The garden is now all cleaned off, the cattle panel trellises have been stacked and stored, all of the t-posts have been pulled, the tomato vines are going off to the composter and the rest of the vines, weeds and frozen plants are in the west chicken yard ready to be worked over by the chickens. The chicken coop and pigeon loft have been cleaned, the results tilled into what will be next year’s fallow garden, the winter rye has been broadcast and lightly tilled in so if I get some sunshine it should germinate and get at least a little top growth before freeze-up. This year’s fallow plot, next year’s garden, was tilled and planted two weeks ago, no manure, the rye is up about 3-inches now, nice and thick, and given some sunshine it should make a good blanket for the winter.

Whew! It’s time for a break, and tomorrow morning Miles and I will head out for a road trip and several days in Santa Fe at the Western Apiculture Society Convention. Miles is going as the President of the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association and the Colorado representative to WAS. He asked me to go along as representative of the Boulder County Beekeepers.

Beekeepers are the joiningest bunch I think I’ve ever seen. While they pride themselves on their individuality, the solitary nature of their craft, and while as a group they are generally quiet and unassuming, they have a long tradition of “getting together.”

One of the oldest agricultural organizations in Colorado is the Colorado Beekeepers Association, organized by four forward thinking beekeepers in Denver in 1880 when there were only 250 colonies of bees in the entire state. This organization is still active and their winter meeting is next month. Along with the state organization, there are a number of beekeepers’ associations in various parts of the state; Boulder County, Denver Beekeepers, Northern Colorado Beekeepers, Highland Beekeepers, Pikes Peak, Walsenburg and Durango, and there may be a few more that have come into being in the last few years that I don’t know about.

Historically these meetings came at two times of the year, in late June when all of the spring work was done and the bees were set for the summer honey flows, and in the late fall or early winter after the honey was off and the bees were set for winter. The early Colorado meetings were held in early December, usually in Denver, so beekeepers from outlying parts of the state could get in some Christmas shopping in the big city along with the winter meeting. Just within the last few years the CBA winter meeting has been moved forward to November and I suppose that makes sense. Travel across the state in early December can be chancy, especially for those beekeepers who have to cross the mountains.

Even now we may face some weather problems on the way to Santa Fe as there is a storm front moving in. The straight shot is down the Interstate all the way, but the more interesting route is west from Walsenburg over La Veta Pass into the San Luis Valley and then the back way down through Taos to Santa Fe. There is some great open country down that way and it is a refreshing counterpoint to the human concentration here along the Front Range.

Whatever happens, it should be an interesting few days and we will get to see beekeeper friends we don’t see the rest of the year. Off to Santa Fe. ❖