Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Morning Farm Snippets

The morning begins with a walk through the dewy grass.  Boots required. 

I usually have at least one animal walking with me.

Then open the barn doors.  Flower, our Idaho Pastured Pig, and her piglet, Fern, can't wait to get out to do their "business." 

Feed and water the goats.

Feed and water the turkeys.

Feed and water Flower and Fern.  Most mornings Flower pushes her way into the barn and takes a quick little stroll around before rushing to her food.  Today, I had a little excitement when she opened the sliding barn door to the outside decided to take a walk outside.  Happily, she herded prettily easily back into the barn, "whew," and the morning routing continued.  

Feed and water Tigger, my IPP boar. 

Feed and water the chickens and ducks.

Check on the bees.

Open up the sides and ends of the high tunnel so that I don't cook the garden.

Check out some beautiful flowers.  Chives and beautiful dandelions, "bee food."

And then then the mornings end with a happy "tail." 

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First Bee Sting And "Fern" Update (Cute Video Alert!)

Its ironic.  Two days ago I worked in a cloud of bees as I transferred nucs to their new hives.  Not one single bee sting.  This morning, I'm pulling weeds in the high tunnel and I can hear the bee coming towards me.  I can tell by the high pitched, angry whine of it's flight that it is on a suicide mission.  The bee laps me once and starts zinging around closely to pick it's stinging spot.  Silly me, I start to run!  I know I can't outrun a bee.  But I had hope.  The bee chose my head to sting and I could hear it in my hair and I could feel it burrowing down to my scalp so I started hitting at my own head in attempt to kill it before it get to me.  No luck.  The bee made it to my scalp and stung me in the back of the head before I could hit it.  I'm writing with a burning goose egg on the back of my head and welts from hives  (I'm mildly allergic) here and there on my body.

honey bee clipart

The husband moved hives to our Odin location today and a few bees must have been left behind and they are up-set.  I think I'll work inside and around the front of the house until later on today!    

Fern, the single piglet is doing well.  Here is a video of the little cutey.  I dare you not to say "awww" as you watch it.   

Aren't the wattles on her neck interesting?  They come from the kune kune part of her heritage.  She'll grow into them like her mother. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Wait Is Over! Piglet(s)!

Flower finally gave birth to.... TWO piglets.  

The first little girl is doing well.  Unfortunately the second piglet was stillborn.  

We were afraid that there might be more piglets stuck inside her.  She was so huge!  The vet couldn't find anymore piglets.  This is our first experience with pig farrowing, so maybe its a blessing that we get to learn with just this one.    

Here is our new baby Idaho Pastured Pig.  Her new owners have IPPs named "Charlotte" and "Wilbur" from the Charlotte's Web book and this little girl's name stays in character.  She's "Fern."  I like the delicate name for such a sweet little girl.  

Her coloring is gorgeous.  She has white on all four legs, a white lightning bolt on her back (appropriate because there was a nasty thunderstorm the night Flower labored), white ears (one ear is turned over at the tip), and beautiful rust and black coloring over the rest of her body.  She looks like a mouse when you look at her ears from the back and a cow when you look at her face.  She is adorable!  

Flower is a very good mother to her and we hope this little piglet will grow fast on the buffet of teats from which she chooses.  She goes up and down the lines while she eats, getting a little bit from each one.  

BTW, we will be putting Flower on a diet after Fern is weaned!

Shared on Lil' Suburban Homestead Blog hop #24

Friday, May 16, 2014

No Piglets Yet!

My hope that Wednesday's full moon would stimulate our Idaho Pastured Pig, Flower, to farrow went unanswered.  She's still in "a piggy way."   But I think she's getting quite close!  You be the judge: 

Her teats are really filling out.  

Here's a better photo from her other side: 

And the "pregnancy indicator" on her hoo haa is pointing out, if not just a tiny bit up.  

Any guesses on a date? 

Keep watching!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Awaiting Piglets.....

We are still waiting for our gilt, Flower, to farrow!  I've just read that sometimes animals will give birth around the full moon, and the full moon is tomorrow, so maybe tomorrow will be the day.  

I played with the video part of my iphone today.  So I have some great videos.  We have warm, but quite rainy weather, so everything looks a bit dismal.  Speaking for myself, I don't care about the rain - as long as it stays warm!  

I woke up this morning and looked out my kitchen window at this.  With all the gorgeous grass out there I don't really understand why my back yard is such a draw.  Don't you love the bright green of the grass?  The color is so saturated that it almost sears the eyeballs.  

(Oops, the whooshing sound is my coffee percolator)

Aren't the deer lovely?  Lovely, delicate, and oh, so, destructive!  After I took the video the dogs went out to "relocate" them. 

The herb perennial herb gardens have taken off.  Chives, oregano, lemon balm, and the mints grow fast.  I don't think the thyme survived the harsh weather. 

Mulching, landscaping... a never ending job.  

Each morning, the chickens create a "chicken explosion."  I shut in the chickens each night because there are many predators in this area and we've been hearing a fox at night.  At 38-seconds, the vixens scream is what we've been hearing.  This is a creepy sound!  


We've been creating a permanent raised bed on one side of the high tunnel.  This will be devoted to fruit trees, tender perennials (lavender and rosemary) and strawberries.  

We checked the bees five days after we installed the packages.  All the hives were doing great with the queens released and evidence of eggs in all hives.  We'll give them a bit of time to build up and check them again - next week!

Finally, here is a picture of our gilt, Flower.  This picture does not do justice to her teats which are almost sticking out sideways!

She's created a cozy nest in the corner of the stall

Here is the big girl eating breakfast.  You can hear the turkeys and goats calling for their breakfasts as well!  The turkeys have begun to lay eggs, but the hens haven't pulled them together into a clutch yet.  

Rosie and Violet.. feeding time is the only way to get a picture of them standing still!

The big boy, Tigger.  He is a sweety and I think he's gorgeous!

The rain and thunder made for some dogs who followed closely on my heels and who looked quite miserable!   Candy Cane didn't want to leave the barn!

Cross your fingers that we'll be seeing piglets soon!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Beekeeping: A Labor Of Love

We joke about the costs of beekeeping.  

How do you make a million dollars with beekeeping?  Start with two million."  

Every year, it seems, we buy more bees to make up for the die-offs of the previous year.  This year's long cold winter was hard on our bees.  But, once you get hooked on this hobby, its hard to stop.  The little world of bees contains so many intricate parts that the fascination never ends.  Beekeeping has become more and more difficult with all of the environmental impacts that we humans have brought upon the bees.  We fight to keep our bees alive and pollinating and then the joy comes when you help your bees thrive.   Then, finally, there's the added bonus when you're able to harvest some honey and beeswax from them. 

I picked up five packages of bees at Brushy Mountain Bee Farm in New Columbia, PA, yesterday.  I got home too late yesterday to put them into their new homes.  This morning, as soon as the weather warms a bit, the bees will be installed into their new hives.