Nature Dresses in Dramatic Colors for Spring

Author: Meera, April 16, 2018

Many Northern California gardens are beginning to awaken in a riot of color from bulbs planted in the fall. Local gardeners will tell you that to achieve lots of color in a spring garden, you can’t beat blooming tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, allium, crocus, anemone, and ranunculus bulbs.

 

 

These Kaufmannia tulips make a bold statement wherever they are planted

These Kaufmannia tulips make a bold statement wherever they are planted

 

 

Buried in the earth, the bulbs are growing and sprouting and colonizing throughout winter. Many bulbs naturalize and spread year over year. One of my favorites is the deep blue Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica). The plant comes from the family of asperagaceae and thrives in Zones 2-8.

 

 

Siberian scilla adds a lot of color for a small grouping of bulbs

Siberian squill adds a lot of color for a small grouping of bulbs

 

Bright green foliage appears first. Later, tight little buds open atop sturdy, straight stems. Each flower yields a bell-shaped bloom that is roughly one-half inch wide. It is only slightly fragrant. When established, three to five flowers form a stunning blue cluster on a six-inch stalk poking above sword-like foliage.

 

It’s best to plant these bulbs about six inches apart and three inches deep in early fall. Choose a spot in full sun or part shade. Siberian squill require medium amounts of water. For the greatest impact, do mass plantings under deciduous shrubs and trees or in circles or rows.

 

 

Masses of blooming daffodils provide a focus and cheery greeting in a bleak winter garden

Masses of blooming daffodils provide a focus and cheery greeting in a bleak late winter or early spring garden

 

 

When planted near yellow daffodils, the rich blue color of the Siberian squill will really pop. These bulbs do not need to be lifted as they will naturalize and colonize over the years. And come spring each year, you will have dramatic color combinations sprouting all around your garden.

 

 

_________________________________________________

 

 

If you enjoy reading about gardening or farming topics, keeping chickens and bees, caring for fruit trees and vegetable gardens, or living well, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries from Kensington Publishing and my health and wellness books from Adams Media/Simon and Schuster. The mysteries contain end-of-chapter tips on beekeeping and related topics. The rituals and meditation books feature tips and strategies for living your best peaceful life now.

 

 

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

These mysteries are available online and in bookstores everywhere

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

On my birthday in late March this year, I noticed a large swarm of honeybees in my neighbor’s yard. The weather was warm and perfect for the overpopulated hive to release some of its citizens to find a new home with their new fertile queen.

 

 

Then on April 8–Easter Sunday, my own Italian honeybees swarmed. Our hive had made it through the winter although the bees had battled hive beetles. But just as hubby and I were on ladders that Easter afternoon building a new trellis for our grapes, I heard the low hum of thousands of bees lifting skyward.

 

 

 

Grape arbor

Grape arbor

 

 

Sure enough, the new swarm had emerged from our hive. We dropped our drills, screws, and lumber. He banged on cooking pot with a wooden spoon (to disorient the bees and encourage them to land in a nearby tree) while I set up the extra hive box with empty frames.

 

 

 

Healthy bees on a frame

Bees on frames in a hive box

 

Suited up in beekeeper gear, my hubby clipped a couple of branches from the pin oak tree to make it possible to do a hard shake on the one limb the bees had coalesced around. He placed the prepared hive box beneath the tree. Our beekeeper neighbor joined us and helped. Then, a hard shake and boom…the entire colony dropped into the hive box.

 

 

We waited until after dark to ease the hive box lid in place and then take the entire box to its permanent location in a sunny, dry spot in the garden.

 

 

A healthy hive box with lid removed

A  hive box without its lid. The bees do a waggle dance to tell the bees still in the air that this is their new home

 

 

The work on the trellis that will serve as our grape arbor was nearly complete when the swarm occurred. Now the finishing touches will have to wait for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

Springtime Projects on the Farmette

Author: Meera, March 29, 2018

After weeks of rain, Mother Nature has put on a robe of splendor.  Warm weather has arrived. Already, my beekeeper neighbor has had his honeybee hives send out three swarms.

 

April 13, 2016 bee swarm on Henny Penny Farmette

Previous bee swarm on Henny Penny Farmette

 

My own bee population seems to be swelling. I’ve fished out my swarm catcher, primed it with scented lemon oil, and placed in among the blossoms in a nearby apricot tree. I may be blessed with a swarm as well.

 

 

Our grapes are Thompson Seedless and Merlot

Our grapes are Thompson Seedless, Merlot, and golden Italian muscat

 

 

There are plenty of other springtime projects to attend to here on my farmette. I’ve got to reassemble my temporary grape arbor. Each year, I think we’ll build a permanent structure, but there never seems to be enough time.

 

 

My cell flats have organic plants up now and ready for placing in my garden or raised beds. I’d like to add some more chicken manure to the strawberries since they are rapidly growing and producing small fruit.

 

 

strawberries lg em

 

 

Other plants need a spring feeding–the citrus, apples, and apricots, for example. I usually do the feeding before the trees break bud, so I’m a little late.

 

 

 

This candy-stripe rose was a gift from a friend--a cutting from her rose that became a large bush in my care

This candy-stripe rose was a gift from a friend–a cutting from her rose that became a large bush in my care

 

 

 

I will be turning the compost pile and mulching all my rose bushes (which have already leafed out and are setting buds). Finally, I’d like to put up a couple more bird houses (mating is already in the air) and fill my hummingbird feeders.

 

 

These six-month-old hens love treats like greens from the garden

This–my original flock–was massacred by a wild predator, fox or coyote,  last year

 

 

I need to purchase baby chicks from the feedstore to start my new flock. Hubby and I will build a new, reinforced chicken run and expand the existing hen house.

 

 

Then, there’s the side walkway that needs pavers. Painting of the fences. Building a new porch. Widening the patio…the projects are seemingly endless, but that’s fine. We’ll have a lovely six months (maybe an occasional storm). The dry season is upon us.

 

And I’m ready for the Adirondack chair…oh, that’s right…we have to build it first!

 

 

Classic Adirondack Adirondack chair, surely created for the enjoyment of a a garden

Classic Adirondack Adirondack chair, for the enjoyment of a a garden

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________

If you enjoy reading about farming topics and you love a good cozy mystery, check out my  novels from Kensington Publishing–A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES. All are available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and other online retailers as well as in bookstores everywhere.

 

 

 

My debut novel Sept. 2015

The debut novel for the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

 

 

COMING Sept. 2017

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

read comments ( 0 )

Helping the Hummers Refuel

Author: Meera, February 3, 2018

In a single day of darting to and from colorful flowers, the tiny hummingbird consumes nearly half its weight in sugar as it searches for nectar-rich blossoms.

 

A hummer's iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

A hummer’s iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

 

 

 

 

 

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums

 

 

Their wings beat so rapidly, they make a purring sound. Ever industrious, these tiny birds work from dawn to dusk. They are drawn to tubular-shaped flowers or brightly colored ones in shades of red, orange, blue, and pink.

 

 

If you want to help the hummers refuel, consider putting flowers on your patio or in your garden that appeal to these little energy burners. Or, better still, plant trees, vines, perennial, and annual plants that will produce the flowers that attract hummers. Choose from the list below.

 

 

Behind the unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia are the blue blossoms of borage frequented by bees, butterflies, and hummers

Behind the unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia are the blue blossoms of Borage, an herb  frequented by bees, butterflies, and hummers

 

 

Annuals: Borage (blue star flower), impatiens, flowering tobacco, petunia, plox, salvia, and snapdragon

 

Perennials: aloe, alstomeria, bee balm, California fuschia, cardinal flower, columbine, coral bells, foxglove, gladiolus, parrot’s beak, monkey flower, salvia, and sage

 

Vines: blood red trumpet vine, cape honeysuckle, lonicera (honeysuckle), flame vine, and trumpet creeper

 

Trees: acacia, chinaberry tree, citrus, coral tree, eucalyptus, silk tree, and tulip tree

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

If you enjoy reading about gardening, keeping chickens and bees, and other backyard farming topics, check out my series of cozy mysteries, including A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing, NY)

 

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

The novels in this series are all available online and in bookstores everywhere

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

A HIVE OF HOMICIDES

 

http://tinyurl.com/yd7pz7af

Murder of a Queen Bee

 

https://tinyurl.com/y6ue28xb

A Beeline to Murder

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

Grow Seasonal Greens Now

Author: Meera, April 6, 2017

The cool season of spring is the optimum time to grow seasonal greens for salads and healthy blended shakes. In my kitchen garden, I’ve planted a variety of lettuces, spinach, kale, and chard. Most salad greens are easy to grow also in containers, raised beds, and window boxes when gardening space is limited.

 

 

Newly planted Swiss chard is a valuable source for Vitamins A, C, and K

The newly planted Swiss chard shown here is a valuable source of Vitamins A, C, and K

 

 

 

Add compost and aged chicken manure to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Plant heirloom seeds about 1/2 inch in the soil, cover, and water. Within a week or 10 days, you should see the seedlings pop up. The greens will be ready to pick in about 25 days.

 

 

 

 

Water the plants to keep them hydrated but don’t drown the plants. When you are ready to make a salad, snip the leaves you want with kitchen scissors. New leaves will soon form if the roots are not disturbed and the plant continues to get nutrients and water.

 

 

Spinach can be started in seed cell flats and then transplanted into your garden when all danger of frost has passed

Spinach can be started in seed cell flats and then transplanted into your garden when all danger of frost has passed

 

 

 

 

SALAD OF FRESH GREENS

 

1. Snip a variety of greens in the early morning. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves.

 

2. Place them in a bowl and crumble on some sharp cheese such as your favorite goat cheese or a Gargonzola (blue-veined, sharp tasting, and crumbly).

 

3.  Add 1/2 cup sugared or candied walnuts.

 

4. Add some slice red onion and a handful of dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots.

 

5. Drop into the bowl some slices of a pear such as Bosc (considered the prince of pears).

 

6. Gently toss the salad and then spritz with red wine vinaigrette prior to plating on pretty salad serving dishes.

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you love reading about gardening and other farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries that include A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES.

 

 

Coming Sept. 2017

The newest mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

  • Delicious recipes

  • Farm quips and quotes

  • Tips for gardening and keeping chickens and bees

  • An exciting whodunnit mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

The Star of Spring–the Mighty Magnolia

Author: Meera, February 24, 2017

My spouse hails from the Caribbean where a variety of magnolias grow, but many in the islands are under threat from deforestation and small distributions. He’s wanted to plant a magnolia tree since we moved to the farmette. Recently, on a rainy evening, we ventured out to our local nursery and purchased a Royal Star and a Jane magnolia for the large entrance area at the front of our property.

 

 

A honeybee checks out the blossom on this Royal Star magnolia

A honeybee checks out the center of the fragrant blossom on this Royal Star magnolia

 

 

Often, it is the m.  grandiflora that comes to mind when someone mentions a magnolia tree. It’s a big evergreen tree with glossy leaves, large tulip-shaped white flowers, and dense canopy. This tree blooms summer and fall, while other types of magnolias bloom before their leaves show in the spring.

 

Magnolias offer gardeners many options–evergreen or deciduous types, wide-range of flower colors, slow or fast-growing trees, and small to large and stately specimens. Named for the French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), the genus includes about 100 species.

 

Magnolia blossoms are fragrant and attract various pollinators. While some magnolias grow well in containers for a few years or as espaliers, the larger, showy trees are often planted along city streets and in parks.

 

Until we have settled on the exact planting site for each of our magnolias, they will remain in their pots. Where to plant them is an important decision since magnolias do not like to be moved once established. As a general rule, they need rich well-drained soil and benefit when the soil has plenty of organic matter like leaf mold, peat moss, and ground bark mixed in at planting time.

 

 

Unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia hold the promise of gorgeous blossoms to come.

Unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia hold the promise of gorgeous blossoms to come.

 

 

Magnolia trees must be planted no lower than their original soil level (where the trunk begins in the planting pot). Because they need plenty of water until established, it’s a good idea to dig a watering basin around them. Young trees must be staked to protect against wind damage.

 

 

We chose the Royal Star magnolia (magnolia stellata) because it can hold abundant and spectacular white (or pink) perfumed blossoms throughout spring into summer. Reaching a height of 15 feet with a canopy spread to 10 feet, this beauty looks magnificent against a garden fence. Such a barrier will help protect it against the wind and also create a foil for the blossoms. Come autumn, songbirds will feast on the high-fat content of the star magnolia’s capsules of orange seeds.

 

 

Still in its pot, this "Jane" magnolia is positioned in what will be its planting hole

Still in its pot, this “Jane” magnolia is positioned in what will be its planting hole

 

 

The Jane magnolia is one in a Little Girl series of hybrid magnolias that include: Ann, Betty, Judy, Pinkie, Randy, Ricki, and Susan. These magnolias were developed in the mid-1950s at the National Arboretum by Francis DeVos and William Kosar. Jane has large-cup flowers opening reddish-purple with white interiors. Shortly after the blossoms show, the leaves emerge as a coppery-red before turning green.

 

At the moment, our Jane magnolia, with its roots balled and wrapped in burlap and looking like a shrubby bush, is covered with an abundance of buds as yet unfurled. The buds hold the promise of the fragrant purple blossoms in a couple of weeks. This slow-growing magnolia will reach a height of 10 feet with a 10-foot canopy spread. The plant will be a sure show-stopper in any Northern California  garden, especially in spring.

 

 

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you enjoy reading about gardening or other farm topics like keeping bees and chickens, check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and (coming Sept. 2017) A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

My farm-based novels feature delicious recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

 

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

See, http://tinyurl.com/zsxqmm3

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

20 Things to Do on a Farm When It’s Raining

Author: Meera, February 6, 2017

Rain . . . unrelenting rain makes working outside near impossible. Since rain is in the forecast for the rest of this week, I’m doing indoor projects here on the Henny Penny Farmette. Why? Because let’s face it: try driving screws into wet fence boards or digging when the earth is like a giant mud ball, or pruning trees when looking upward against a downpour is rather ridiculous. Here are some things to do inside until the weather clears up.

 

1. Clean the clutter from the kitchen and test some new recipes

 

2. Read seed catalogs

 

3. Order beekeeping supplies (to be ready when the weather turns warm and the bees get active)

 

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

 

 

4. Make a batch of blood orange marmalade (since blood oranges are ripe now)

 

5. Feed bees, birds, and other wildlife

 

 

 

Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe

Our resident black phoebe eats a lot of insects but other birds are attracted to our feeders

 

 

 

6. Work on indoor renovation such as finish the installation of base boards and crown moldings

 

7. Sew curtains; make a quilt, or start an embroidery or knitting project

 

8. Start the spring cleaning in one or more indoor rooms

 

9. Plan the spring vegetable garden on paper with a drawing

 

 

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

 

 

 

10. Clean out closets and recycle unused items from cupboards and drawers

 

11.Make herbal teas  (for example: dried leaves of herbs such as mint, dried lemon or orange peel, spices, rose hips, and dried berries)

 

12. Catch up on your reading for pleasure or books and periodicals about farm and homesteading topics

 

13. Bring your beekeeping or gardening journal up to date

 

 

Bantam is a small breed; here, a rooster

This Bantam rooster likes to strut his stuff

 

 

14. Order supplies–antibiotics for the chickens or medicines for your bees and other domestic stock

 

15. Bottle honey from the bucket and affix labels

 

 

 

 

Filling from the bucket spigot goes fast because the honey flows quickly; it's quite heavy

Filling jars of honey from the honey bucket in the kitchen

 

 

16. Make a dazzling dessert

 

 

This sunflower bundt pan turns out a pretty cake

The  sunflower cake comes out near perfect when baked in a bundt pan

 

 

 

 

17. Mend clothing

 

18. Start working on the taxes for the upcoming season

 

19. Play your fiddle, piano, horn, or drum

 

 

 

 

Amendments are easy to work into the soil in raised beds

New seedlings moved to an outdoor raised bed

 

20. Start heirloom seed in flats or get some sprouts growing in a jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

If you enjoy reading about farming topics, check out my cozy mystery series from Kensington: A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides. Delicious recipes, farm lore, and tips for keeping chickens and bees add to the charm of these delightful mysteries.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017
COMING September 2017
These books are available through online retailers and traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Author: Meera, January 23, 2017

Here on the Henny Penny Farmette, we love watching the spectacular aerial maneuvers of male hummingbirds attempting to attract the interest of a nearby female. These gorgeous feathered flirts know how to bedazzle a potential mate with spectacular maneuvers that show off the intense coloring of their iridescent feathers.

 

 

A hummer's iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

A hummer’s iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

 

 

Depending on the species, these tiny birds can flutter their wings in a figure eight pattern (they don’t flap them) from 12 to 80 times per second. All that fluttering requires tremendous energy.

 

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums and the promise of nectar

 

 

Hummers mainly get their energy from plants with brightly colored, nectar-rich flowers. They will dine at hummingbird feeders filled with red sugar-water and hung around gardens that feature plants with brightly colored blooms, especially if those blooms are high in nectar.  The following is a list of plants known to attract hummingbirds.

 

  • Impatien
  • Nasturtium
  • Phlox
  • Nicotiana (flowering tobacco)
  • Salvia (scarlet sage)
  • Snapdragon

 

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is a vine with tubular flower loved by hummingbirds

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is a vine with tubular flowers loved by hummingbirds

 

 

If you like plants that return each year, tuck in these brightly colored perennials.

 

Alcea rosea

  • Aloe
  • Bee Balm
  • Columbine
  • Coral Bell
  • Four-o-clock
  • Gladiola
  • Penstemon
  • Phlox
  • Salvia

 

 

Shrubs such as the butterfly bush (Buddleia) and the flowering maple, hibiscus, and rosemary hold a special appeal for the hummers. They also will be attracted to blooming vines (especially those with trumpet or tube-shaped flowers in intense colors). Tuck in Cape honeysuckle, flame vine, or the blood-red trumpet creeper and watch the hummers darting in and around these vines from dawn until dusk. For more ideas, visit your local nursery or birding store.

 

*          *          *

 

 

Do you enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

My farm-based novels feature delicious recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries. Initially released as a hardcover novel and in e-book format, it is now available as a mass market paperback.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

Winter Solstice Day

Author: Meera, December 21, 2016

It’s that time of the year when we mark the shortest day of the year, the beginning of winter, and the return of the light. I like to think of it as a day when I decide what I do and don’t want to take with me into the coming New Year.

 

 

Cold winter night with moon's wan light

The moon casts its cold light over the farmette through trees hanging onto their leaves.

 

 

 

We’ve had a run of cold nights with temperatures in the upper 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But the light will soon return and warm the Earth. Late January-early February marks the beginning of bare-root season. My work now includes pruning and spraying and clearing out the old to make way for rebirth and renewal.

 

 

 

 

Among the plants that renew are the fruit trees.  The pruned branches, garden clippings, and old vines are being recycled into compost for next spring’s garden. Come late spring, I’ll have trees with gorgeous canopies and tons of fruit to make into jam.

 

 

 

This DIY birdhouse is crafted from a repurposed fence board. Not all birds will take up residence in a house, but many will.

This DIY birdhouse is crafted from a repurposed fence board. Not all birds will take up residence in a house, but many will.

 

 

 

Garlic and onions are growing now and will through the winter months, thanks to our mild Mediterranean climate. But there is so much cleanup of the property that needs doing, I can only hope to start that today.

 

 

I’m putting out seed balls for the birds as well as refilling feeders and suet holders. Easy-to-find food keeps our feathered songsters around through spring when they start their families. For directions on making a birdhouse for your garden, check out https://hobbyreads.wordpress.com/category/crafts.

 

 

 

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

JOIN THE CHRISTMAS EVE FUN–Read a short excerpt from my newest book, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE and check out blogger Brooke Bumgardner’s interview of me at http://www.brookeblogs.com

 

My farmette and bee-based novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications. Get your copy while you can. It’s sure to sell out like novel #1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

I enjoyed studying botany and zoology in school, but never felt attracted to the study of butterflies, bees, beetles, and bugs with any kind of intensity. I regret that. Not only because some of these pollinators are beautiful, but many are also beneficial to gardens and orchards.

 

Between showers and periods of sunlight, this beauty showed up in the bee garden

Between showers and periods of sunlight, this beauty showed up in the bee garden

 

 

As a beekeeper, it’s my job to notice moths, hive beetles, and other flying and crawling insects. Though some are beautiful and beneficial, others can harm my honeybee hives. That’s why when walking around my garden, I pay attention to all sorts of creatures–whether winged or not.

 

 

I do love to see butterflies and Lady Beetles (also known as ladybugs, a beneficial garden insect) amid my flowers, bushes, and trees. Today, I spotted a lovely winged creature with black-and-white patterned wings and a blue body.

 

 

It stood out against the green leaves of plants in my bee garden and waited for me to run inside the house to get my cell phone camera.

 

 

I wonder if anyone can correctly identify this blue-body, black-and-white winged flier for me. Could this be an Arrowhead Blue butterfly? These, I know, are found in Northern California and the Sierras.

 

 

Another pollinator that “posed” for me earlier this year is the longhorn bee. It’s about the size of a bumble bee. Some of these fliers are so lovely, I could see spending hours taking pictures.

 

 

A longhorn bee is twice the size of a honeybee

A longhorn bee is twice the size of a honeybee

 

 

But chores and all the other farmette tasks take priority over photography. Still, I hope the pictures are clear enough for someone to identify the species when I can’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

NEWLY RELEASED–The Murder of a Queen Bee (Kensington Publishing, NY–Sept. 2016).

 

Discover recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as sort out a charming whodunnit. Click on the link under the picture.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )