While walking through the gardens with my wife this morning, this caught my eye ... a water droplet held in place on a Lupine flower. Lupinus, commonly known as lupin or lupine (North America), is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. The genus includes over 200 species, with centers of diversity in North and South America.

I have a webcam right near the entrance of a birdhouse on our garden shed and, quite often, get some rather remarkable pictures. Here's one from last weekend! :)

"Our" deer are so tame! Just hanging out while Jim transplants seedlings for this year's garden.

Our eggs come pre-labeled!

I love our twisted filbert this time of year!

I went into winter with two of the strongest hives I've ever had. Tens of thousands of bees in each, one hive stacked two high and one stacked three high - all loaded to the gills with honey. The bees had plenty of numbers and plenty of food.

Fast forward to now. The hives are dead and moldy. They are still full of honey (but some was consumed). In each hive, about two inches of dead bees in the bottom and dead bees scattered about on the frames. Small moldy cluster in each hive.

Spring is almost here and the chicks are in!!! Yay!!!! Today, I went to the Tractor Supply store in Port Orchard, Washington and picked up 8 ISA Brown pullets. I was hoping they would have the Tints again as I loved the chicks I got last year, but I'll try these. They are supposed to be prolific egg layers - laying through the winter, even. But on the downside, their life expectancy is shortened due to the energies they expend producing all those eggs.... I read they live only two to three years, five at best. So bear that in mind if you keep them as ... well, pets.

Today I hitched up the trailer and brought home three-and-a-half yards of medium bark mulch. I spread it about a foot thick in the chicken run and also in the coop, having recently removed a yard or two of composted organic matter from the run for the lawns and gardens. I can't believe I did all this in five hours, start to finish - with my bad leg, to boot... The chickens are delighted and the whole area smells much better now... :)

It used to be that winter, to me, was just something to suffer through - something that had to be endured while the equinox and solstice came and went and the season started ramping up early in the next year.

Now, though, I have a found a new gardening-related love: composting!

I've posted pictures and information about my very healthy compost pile on this site, but I'm now also composting-in-place in my raised bed gardens and using ground cover to prevent weeds and enhance the soil, as well.

The gardens are dormant now, but as for me, I'm NEVER dormant!

While shopping at Albertsons, I found bananas on sale for .59 cents a pound. I bought four huge bunches of them. Once home, I prepared them for the dehydrator and it do its magic overnight..

Now I have four Ziploc bags full of banana chips! I am planning on using that dehydrator a lot between now and Christmas as I aim to provide healthier snacks for myself and my family.

Happy Holidays!

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