Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News Around The Farm: Bees Good And Turkeys Bad

Good News.

Yesterday we had lovely warm weather and I was happy to see activity around the entrances of all of the hives.  I was really worried about my bees after the very sudden and extensive temperature plummet last week.  The warm temperatures finally gave me a chance to put up the windbreak behind the hives.  The wind blows in that direction about 95% of the time, so hopefully it will give them a break. 

Bad News.

A few days ago, a bobcat got into our new turkey enclosure and killed all of my turkeys.  The sprinkling of snow on the ground clearly identified the culprit as a big cat.  

It was my fault in part that the cat was able to get in.  The dumb turkeys wouldn't go into the very nice house we built for them to roost so that we could close them in at night. They would sit on the ground in the back corner of their pen.  With the snow, I worried about them sitting on the cold ground, so I ran a piece of wood across the corner of their pen as a roost.  I put the wood diagonally through the fence.  What I didn't see, was the gap that the weight of the wood created.  This was the only place the bobcat could have got into their pen and it proved fatal.  

I really liked the turkeys.  They're dumb and not friendly at all, but I found them so very interesting to watch!  I loved listening to the jake's gobbling and the hen's cooing.  I would like to replace them, but if I do, I think they will be kept safely in the barn until spring and then put into a VERY beefed up outside enclosure.  I will probably keep them in their house for a couple of days so that they identify it as a roosting place and then they can be shut in at night. 

What a sad turn of events. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hive Quilt For The Bees

I've seen a number of beekeeper posts about the hive quilt put on top of a beehive and after reading all about it I decided to give it a try.  It seems as if it would help keep moisture out of the hive AND insulate the top a bit.  

The first blog I saw built a brand new box for the quilting box and I know I don't have time to do that before winter set it.  Then I saw this post on Tilly's Nest and it looked do-able!

I gathered my supplies and quickly built the boxes.

I first put fondant and pollen boards on the hives - called candy boards.  

Cooking the sugar water to a hard fondant.

After the candy boards, I put on the hive quilt boxes, filled them with fine wood chips, and made sure the hives had good ventilation.

It will take until spring to find out the effectiveness of this experiment.  

The only chores left are to create a windbreak for the hives.  I've got the t-posts and burlap ready to go and then we'll finally wrap the hives when the temperatures become consistently below freezing. 

I've done all I can for the bees.  Now its up to them and Mother Nature!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

And It Begins.......

The past few weeks have been a rush to get everything before true winter sets in....

Now it begins!

Each of the below chores have a multitude of sub-chores attached to them.  I've listed a few.

I've been caring for the bees
-feeding sugar water
-Combining weak hives
-Making winter "sugar boards"
-Insulating hive tops
-Stacking the unused boxes and frames and mothballing them

Trying to get the high tunnels put to bed
-Pulling out the dead plants
-Pulling and freezing or processing the last of the produce

This was some of the last of the raspberries I picked last week!  
-Fertilizing and mulching the fruit trees

Winterizing the animal pens.
-Dumping loads of mulch in the wet, muddy spots.
-Cleaning out the damp corners and liming the interior
-Airing and drying everything out
-And more, more, more!

Putting an awning over the barn's sliding door.
-Digging the post holes
-Picking up the necessary supplies
-Building the awning
-Putting stones under the door's sliding area

Plus the sugar house work, general clean up, weeding, and mulching, around the place in an attempt to tidy up!  

There are a few more nice days in the forecast.  Cross your fingers that I'll be able to pick off more chores on my long, long list!