The pumpkins and summer squash are blooming in the garden, and the squash bees (Peponapis sp.) are hard at work. This species of native solitary bees specializes in curcubit blossoms: zucchini and butternut squash, pumpkins, and gourds, among others.
I took this photo just after seven one morning, when the zucchini blossoms were busy with bees. Peponapis are early risers, often getting up before dawn to get to the blossoms as soon as they're open for business in the morning. Unlike honeybees, these are ground-nesting insects: the females dig tiny tunnels and deposit their eggs with balls of pollen to feed the emerging bees. The males hang out, flitting around, looking for an unclaimed, unmated female. The job done, they crawl into an open blossom to sleep it off until the next day. Their territories are smaller than those of honeybees, and the chances are good that if you plant squash, they will come--especially if you plant every year. Important: if you want squash bees--or any species of bee, for that matter, lay off the insecticide.
Homestead report. What with one thing and another, the laying flock is now down to two Buffies, who produce an egg every other day. If I want more fresh eggs (I do!) it's time to expand the flock. A trip to the feed store produced 6 Barred Plymouth Rock pullet chicks (that is, girl babies), who grow up to look like this.
But a snake (a six-foot rat snake) had other ideas. I thought I'd snake-proofed the chick cage in the coop, but snakes are tricky characters and almost impossible to keep out, if they're determined to come in. I caught this one in the act and rescued two survivors, but he'd already devoured four. Boo-hoo. It's silly to put in the effort to raise just two chicks, so it was back to the feed store to get four more. They're now in a small stock tank in our dining room, where they'll stay until they're too big for a snake to eat.
I dug the last of the potatoes this week, and now have enough for meals the rest of the year, plus seed potatoes for the fall garden. The sweet potatoes are now in, and doing well. We've had as much rain in the first six months of the year as we normally get in twelve, so the garden is flourishing.
Book report. Working now on the last editing pass through Loving Eleanor, my biographical/historical novel about the relationship of Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. I'll be publishing it through my Persevero Press in February 2016, available in print (hardcover, trade paper) and ebook formats.
Story Circle. I'm serving as president of the Story Circle Network through 2017, so you'll be hearing a lot from me about my work with this wonderful community of women writers. If you're interested in journaling, memoir, fiction, and poetry, you'll want to know about us: we offer classes, workshops, conferences, and much more. This week, I've been helping with the 2016 conference planning. Right now, we're recruiting faculty for the conference (April 15-17, 2016, Austin). If you're a writing teacher, coach, go here to learn why you should send us your proposal.
Reading note. Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. —Mary Oliver