Friday, March 31, 2017

The Bear Did It Again

These are the words a beekeeper really, really hates to hear. 

Last fall, a bear came and tore apart three out of four hives in our Odin bee yard.  This week, a bear, possibly even the same bear, came back to finish the job.  

We tied the hive to the wooden pallet with ratchet straps to keep any wind from pulling the hive apart and we've found that it gives the hive a fighting chance of not being torn apart if a bear comes.  

This bear didn't care.  It took the shock from the electric fence.  Then, it dragged the whole wooden pallet and the hive all together and tried to pull them out of the bee yard.  It couldn't go any farther when it got to the wire fence, so it stopped there to pull the hive apart. 

When I got the message, I loaded up my supplies and headed down to the bee yard to assess the damage.  Surprisingly, you can see an almost intact deep box (upside down) in the middle of the bottom picture.  This was the top deep and you can see that, thankfully, the top lid is holding everything together.  

This box was filled with a large cluster of bees!

So I pulled the pallet out of the fence and set up the bottom board.  Then I very carefully flipped over the single deep onto the bottom board.  Yes, I was wearing my full up bee suit.  That batch of bees were angry!

I fed the bees some dampened sugar inside their hive (It was an emergency feeding.  I lay down a piece of wax paper and dumped the dampened sugar on top of it, then put on the inner cover to leave a cavity, and then the lid).  After that I ratchet strapped the whole thing back together. 

It kind of feels like I put a band aid on a bullet wound, but if the queen survived we may be able to pull them through. 

This bear has developed a sweet tooth, so I've called the Game Commission to ask them to put a bear trap near the hives.  Maybe this bear can be relocated to a more remote spot and will stop going after my poor bees! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bourbon Red Turkey Hopes

One of our farm hopes is to raise Bourbon Red turkeys.  They're so beautiful and we hope, in the fall, to find out how good they taste.  We've heard excellent reviews!

When we got our poults, I asked the gentlemen if he knew what their sex was and he said, "Your guess is as good as mine."  We found later that we ended up with three jakes and one hen.  So I'm always telling our hen that all of our flock hopes are pinned on her.  

Saying that, if there is someone that has a bunch of Bourbon Red hens and wants to trade a jake for a hen they should contact me!

Our hen has started laying.  Of course she doesn't lay eggs in the nice big pile of hay that I put in her coop, but instead on the bare ground.  So far, I've found eggs frozen to the ground so I'm sure they're not viable.  

However, I'm hoping the warmer weather will give me a chance to stick a few eggs under some chickens (I'm crossing my fingers for one of the girls to go broody) and to deliver some to the high school's Agriculture department for placement in their incubator.  

I'll keep a couple of eggs under our turkey hen to see if she'll set and I'll give her a chance to be a mommy.  But I've been told that they're terrible mothers and often leave the eggs after two weeks of sitting.  

It seems like there's always some interesting experiments/projects going on around here!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Maple Weekend Success And IPP Boar Update


We made it through our very first Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend and even though we weren't on the map, we had a fair amount of visitors.  

It was so interesting to talk to everyone about the maple process and the visitor's kids really enjoyed going around to visit the horses, pigs and piglets, chickens and ducks, and turkeys.  The horses loved all the extra treats they got from their visitors and the turkeys were happy to have an audience to whom they could strut their stuff and show off.  The piglets were, of course, a hit.  They provided lots of entertainment as they ran and chased one another.  

As we were preparing the sugar house for this past weekend, we said that even if no one showed up we would have the sugar house all clean and organized.  It was a win-win!  

We sold two meat piglets during the weekend.  Out of this litter we felt that two piglets really stood out - a gilt and a boar.  The absolutely beautiful gilt and a meat piglet are sold for pick up this weekend.  We are keeping two meat piglets to raise ourselves and I'm contacting the other people who were interested in meat piglets about the other two.  

That leaves this black and white boar.  He's really something special and we hate to castrate him for meat.  He's a big boy with great body shape and the short nose we want.  So, if someone wants to get into Idaho Pasture Pigs, this is the boar you want.  Please contact me via the link on the upper right hand side.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

IPPs and Potter-Tioga Maple Producers 13th Annual Maple Weekend

Thank you everyone for the great response on the Idaho Pasture Pigs.  This has been a crazy week in preparation for the Maple Weekend and I will contact you shortly.  

So big news!  

For the first time ever, Fitzgerald's Family Farm will be on the Potter-Tioga Maple Producers Maple Weekend Tour! (with the Association's blessing)  

The Maple Tour takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 18th and 19th.  The sugar house hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.  Although you won't find us on the brochure, Fitzgerald's Family Farm is conveniently placed on the road between Brydonson Farm and Sons of Dunn Farm.  We have signs out on the main road pointing towards our farm.     

So don't forget!

Saturday and Sunday, March 18th and 19th

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Fitzgerald's Family Farm
144 Snowman Rd

Look for signs to Fitzgerald's Family Farm between Brydonson Farm and Sons of Dunn Farm

Here is a link to the Potter-Tioga Maple Producers Annual Maple Weekend Brochure.

We look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Registered Idaho Pasture Piglets For Sale

Finally, a chance to get the new, small-homestead, Idaho Pasture Pigs in your barnyard!

We sell only the best for breeding pairs and the rest as meat pigs for butcher.  We request that you do not breed pigs purchased for butcher as this would ruin the qualities for which we're striving.  

If you're not sure if you want to start out as a breeder, we offer you the opportunity to purchase and raise one or two piglets for butcher, see how you like them - their characteristics and their outstanding tasting meat - and we're pretty sure you'll be looking for a breeding pair next year! 

This little black and white boar (he's a big boy!) and ginger-colored gilt below are really something special with the traits we look for in the Idaho Pasture Pig.  They will NOT be sold as a breeding pair as they are brother and sister.  We work with another farm to bring you high quality, non-related breeding pairs. 

Here are a few more pictures of our piglets.  This little gilt flopped over on her side after eating and allowed the other piglets to poke around at her.    

For more information about Idaho Pasture Pigs, click on the above link to "Idaho Pasture Pigs" and follow the link to this and this site.  

2017 Pricing:

Breeding Gilt: $350

Breeding Boar: $350

Breeding Pair: $700

Pigs for Butcher: $85

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March = Spring!

We saw the first robins this weekend.  They must migrate together because all of the sudden there were lots of them!  

I haven't laid eyes on one yet, but while we were out tapping maple trees we've heard the familiar trill of another harbinger of spring... the red-winged blackbird!  

The daffodils and tulips are pushing up through their mulch, and yesterday, at my son's trap shooting meet, I looked down and saw a true, yellow, dandelion flower!

I hadn't written about it, but late last fall we had a disaster in our Odin bee yard.  A large tree branch had fallen across the wire from our solar fence charger and a bear had taken advantage of the power interruption.  The damage speaks for itself. 

One hive managed to be just shifted and there were still bees in it, so we're hoping they'll survive the winter.  

Every year we contemplate going on with beekeeping and every year we decide to keep doing it.  I guess it gets in your blood.