Thursday, May 7, 2020

Watching The Bees






A week ago, I received a package of bees and installed them in their new hive.  I waited a week (because the weather has been too darn cold to open the hive!) and checked to make sure the queen had been released from the little cage in which she is delivered.  Success!

I took a quick look into the hive and was very pleased to see that the workers were pulling out honeycomb and the queen was laying lots of beautiful bee eggs. 




A quick tutorial:  

When you receive a package of bees, you set up your hive and then you pull up the little wooden square in the middle of the top of the box.  What you'll see is the top of a tin can which hangs from the top of the box.  This is a can of sugar water to feed the bees in transit and it fits perfectly into the hole.  Your next job is to carefully pry out the can of sugar water.   I save the wooden square that I've pryed up so that as soon as the can is out I can cover the hole - so the bees don't come flying out.  

You can see in the pictures above that there is a strap attached to the queen cage.  This holds the queen and a few attendants safely near the top of the shipping package.  You don't want the worker bees to get to her before you put everyone in the beehive!  They'll start building comb and she'll start laying - or because she's a new queen, they'll ball up around her and she'll die.  Now you pull out the queen's cage and set her aside.

Now it's time to dump the worker bees into the hive.

You then carefully slide the frames back into the cage.

You then pull a little cork plug on the queen cage.  The bees still can't get to her because they have to eat through a sugar plug.  This gives them a chance to get to know her scent and accept her as their queen.  I like to lay the cage on top of the frames facing down.  

I close up the hive and wait....

It's always a good idea to keep a water source close to the bees... this way they hopefully aren't going into your neighbors pool.  


I've tried to give them nice fresh water and they don't want it.  They'll go for the nastiest, dirtiest water before they'll touch the fresh water... so I let the water get pretty gross.  

Now we're having terrible cold weather and I'm crossing my fingers that they don't suffer too terribly.  I know along with everyone else I'm ready for spring to come once and for all!






Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Fishing Season, Beavers, and Bees


Fishing season opened early in Pennsylvania this year and we took advantage by hauling our drift boat to Stevenson Dam in the Susquehanna State Forest.





Fitz loves to fly fish, but with both dogs in the boat it wasn't going well.  So I told him to let me off on the bank and the dogs and I would hike up the mountain.  I'd rather hike than fish.  

It was an overcast but, for North-central Pennsylvania, a warm day. 






I hiked way up to the top of the mountain (not the one above - I just thought that was a beautiful photo) and to my surprise found that beavers had been very busy!










Normally I expect to find a beaver lodge and there weren't any. I learned that these were beavers that had their dens in the side of the lake's bank.  That had to be hard work to go all the way up the mountain for food!

I'm so excited that both of my hives have made it through the winter.  I'm waiting for a day in which the weather gets above 60-degrees to see what's going on inside the hive and hope to be able to split the hives into more.




You can't see it very well here, but there are a LOT of bees going in and out and the pollen baskets on their little legs are loaded.  

I went for a walk yesterday and found this giant bird track.  I put my foot next to it for scale.




The turkeys are getting big around here!

Is anyone else concerned about the lockdown on buying gardening products and seeds?  I know I consider them essential items.  

“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”
-Henry Kissinger


Stay safe, stay healthy, and get outside when you can safely do so!











Monday, March 30, 2020

Hope


Like most people I know, I've adhered to the stay at home strategy of not getting and passing around Covid-19.   

In that time  I've had plenty of time to work on my garden ideas and have already started some plants - perhaps a bit early.  But seeing these little stems climb up from a seemingly dead brown seed fills me with hope... for all of us.  




I like these little expandable peat pellets.  I've used them for many years with good results.  Once the plants get going I feed them with an organic plant food.




My little self-serve egg stand has been very popular.  I've also put some bottles of maple syrup in the container for sale.  Sorry if the labels get a little wonky from the damp!




Stay safe my friends.  Please take good care of yourselves.  Stay home.  And I look forward to meeting with you on the other side of this difficult time.  






Monday, March 16, 2020

Brown And Green Eggs For Sale - Self Serve


 My chickens are laying like crazy - usually about two dozen a day - and I have lots of wonderful eggs for sale!  I live on Snowman Road, Coudersport, Pennsylvania.  

We're pretty easy to find but do NOT take any GPS route that takes you on Black Hole Road!  Go around.  Black Hole Road is aptly named - it is a no winter maintenance road and at this time of year the mud will be up to your hubcaps. 





Come to Snowman Road.  You can't miss my little egg "stand" when you drive down.  This setup allows people to help themselves and, because it's along the road, it keeps the dogs from jumping on cars and people during this muddy season!




Be sure to tightly close the cooler!




And boy, oh boy, are these eggs pretty and delicious!  Look how deep yellow those yolks are!

You'll get spoiled. 





I bring out the eggs in the morning and if there are any left I bring them back and put them in the refrigerator at night.  

Here's an interesting note.  If you plan to hard boil your eggs, you'll find eggs that are at least seven days old peel easier.  Grocery store eggs can be a month old or even older.

The dogs love driving out to the egg stand  LadyBird thinks she's in charge!




Stay safe and healthy everyone!










Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Fitzgerald's Family Farm Will Not Be Participating In The March 21 & 22, 2020 Potter Tioga-Maple Weekend




We are very sorry to say that due to a family death and a strict work schedule we will not be participating in the March 21 & 22, 2020 Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend.  We definitely plan to be part of this great event next year and in future years.

We still have maple syrup in glass bottles available for purchase. 

There are still many wonderful sugar houses to visit in Potter and Tioga counties.  You can find a map and more information about them here on the Potter - Tioga Maple Producer's Association website.  



Potter - Tioga Maple Producers Association






Saturday, February 15, 2020

Rooster Gets A Name


I put out a request for a name for my new rooster boy and people came back with some fun names!  

The suggested names were: 

Rooster McRoosterFace

Flash

Fancy Feet

Reveille

and 

Doodle

And the winner is...

...Fancy Feet!






So perfectly fitting with the Fancy feathers on his Feet!





Monday, February 10, 2020

Nest Sharing


Did you know you don't have to have an individual nest area 
for each chicken?  

The hens will climb in one after another and lay their eggs in the 
same nest. 



This can be confusing if you want to let a broody hen sit on her eggs to hatch them. Because the other hens continue to climb in with her to lay more eggs.  

When I decide I'm going to let a broody hen set, I mark the incubating eggs with an 'x' so I know not to collect them.

The broody hen can be very upset with you reaching under her to pull out the non-incubating eggs and will sometimes peck at you while you're doing it.  Heavy gloves can help!