Thursday, June 26, 2014

Odin Bee Checkup

We checked our beehives located in Odin this week.  We're pleased to say they're doing very, very well - we were even able to put a honey super on one hive.  This is a huge accomplishment for bees that were purchased this spring as nucs.    

The brown box comes from one of our hives here at home.  I took frames from one of our hives to split it into a new hive.  Its boiling with bees, but we couldn't find a queen.  The bees had created two queen cells when we last checked, but it doesn't look like they "took".  Its possible the queen who first came out (and the first to come out kills the other) was killed on her mating flight.  We will purchase a queen and put her into the hive.  There's still some capped brood so that there will be young bees to do the duties needed inside the hive.  Cross your fingers that this hive takes off!

These are my bees, says the Lord
I will make them to rise up
Out of the darkness, and into the morning sun
They will, unerringly,
Find every flower and the goodness I have put in it,
The tastes and colors of the soul,
Gather that sweetness,
And bring it home.

by Lee van Laer, "Parabola Magazine"

Beehive update:  After talking with a much more experienced beekeeper than I, I checked this hive today to see if I could put a frame with eggs in it to get the bees to make another queen.  Imagine my surprise when I found a frame with 15 capped queen cells on it!    Research tells me that I may not get the best queen out of this hive because the bees may have created a queen from an older larvae and she'll have smaller ovaries, but at this point I'm glad to see progress towards getting a queen!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Isn't There Something So Peaceful About Watching Chickens?

A friend said, "Watching chickens is like watching fish in a fish tank."  I think its even more relaxing!

I have my compost bin inside the chicken coop so that the chickens can work the compost (and they eat the tidbits that they like).

P.S.  This is where those great eggs come from!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Look What Came In The Mail Last Week

They're under the heat lamp, thus the red tint to the photo. 

I like Ideal Poultry for my chicks.  I've had good luck over the years and their customer service is very good.  This batch of chicks came with: 

5 New Hampshire Red Pullets
5 Delaware Pullets
5 Speckled Sussex Pullets
3 Gold Laced Cochin Pullets
2 Gold Laced Cochin Males
5 Hatchery Choice Guinea Hens Straight Run

Unfortunately, we lost one Guinea Hen to the stress of shipping and then on of the Cochins got a pasty butt and even after cleaning it didn't survive.  All the remaining chicks are growing fast and getting sassy!

I used to order my chicks in April/May (Easter time) - the traditional chick starting time.  But I found that I had to keep the heat lamp on them night and day because of the chill weather.  These spring-bought chicks tend to not mature enough to start laying eggs before the short days of winter set in, so I wouldn't get eggs from them before the following spring anyway.  

So I decided to start getting the chicks in June.  I can put the heat lamp on them at night and turn it off in the daytime (saving electricity).  Its soooo much nice to walk down to the chicken coop - the chicks are in the garden tool half - in summer's warm weather than to have to brave cold temperatures.  And, after a couple of years of having chicks in the basement and getting chicken dust everywhere (chickens can be quite dirty), I decided I would rather they be outside!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The High Tunnel Is Done... Except For Cleanup and Weeding Begins (Plus Some Cute Piglet Videos)

I wish I had more time to blog, but sooooo many things take my time.  One thing I've been working on - and its time sensitive (the garden must get put in in the spring!) - is my high tunnel and outside gardens.  Just building the infrastructure of the high tunnel takes a lot of time and that's just before the planting begins.  But, I finally got everything pretty much in except for the fine tuning and the cleanup.  

From the picture above you can see that I've built a permanent bed on one side of the high tunnel.  This is dedicated to trees and tender perennials.  I'm excited about the little shrub below... its a goji berry tree.  

I've also planted sweet and sour cherries and peaches.  I hope to keep them pruned to smaller size. 

Every year I try to plant greens and broccoli and every year the flea beetles and cabbage moths destroy my crops.  I tried using row covers but the heat would build up under them and pretty much cook my vegetables.  Then I came across these sheer curtains and thought I'd give them a try.  

They worked VERY well as you can see by the beautiful greens below.  Now I'll sew the curtains together and make a proper support for them.  I think a PVC tube cage will work well. 

I love having flowers in my high tunnel!


Remember my fig tree?  It was just coming up?

Look at it now!  But I don't think its going to grace us with figs yet this year. 

Finally, a couple of short videos of Fern, our Idaho Pastured Pig piglet.  She's growing fast and getting solid!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Bourbon Reds Are Sitting On Eggs!

For the past few months, my four bourbon red hens have been laying eggs here and there but not paying any attention to them after they laid them.  Now, I have one hen sitting on a clutch!  I was able to sneak a peek at about 16-20 turkey eggs in a pile.  I know some of them must be fertilized (I caught them in the act).  So maybe, maybe we'll have some bourbon red chicks before long!

Fern, our Idaho pastured piglet, is growing fast.  She seemed skinny when she was born, but now she's a solid little girl.  She is quite friendly and positively swoons when I scratch behind her ears.