Thursday, June 30, 2011

We Have Eggs! & Happy Bees.....

This is how a hard-working dog ends his day......

Summer is upon us and so far it has been great.  Not TOO hot, but still quite rainy.  We know that once it stops raining, we are not liable to get more rain for months.  It's too bad it can't be evenly spaced out.

It has been almost 2 weeks now since our chickens arrived.  On Saturday, we got our first egg!  It was very small, as I was told the first ones would be,  and since then, we have gotten 3 more.  Quite  EGGciting.  All 4 eggs have been laid in the same nest box and all at least a day apart, so we think maybe it is the same hen who has laid all 4.  Maybe I need a live "chicken-cam"  so I can see what's going on in the chicken house!

Here are our first 3 eggs in a carton with some commercial eggs.  The brown speckled one in the center was the very first one.  The subsequent eggs have not had the speckles.  As you can see, these are quite small.  I was told I could expect small funny-looking eggs to begin with.  

Tomorrow I plan to let the chickens out of the chicken yard.  They should now know where "home" is and should go back to the chicken house at dusk so we plan to let them free-range as long as they don't become a nuisance.  My biggest worry is Rowdy.  I will have some work to do with him.  I talked to my friend, Tari, this morning.  She is a herding dog trainer and she gave me some tips.  Basically, I need to get Rowdy to not focus on the chickens because he will become somewhat entranced by them and will not heed outside influence (like me screaming my head off at him).  Tune in next week to see what happens.   And yes, I do sometimes scream my head off at Rowdy.  Calm, assertive behavior sometimes just flies out the window.  Sorry Cesar.  Hmmm, maybe I can get Cesar to come help me!

There is a local beekeeper's group and Monday they held a meeting at the farm of a local family and we had some very experienced beekeepers open up some hives and show us how to maintain the hives and show us things like capped honey, capped brood, and drone bees.  Very interesting and informative.  I need to learn so much.  These hives are standard hives like most beekeepers use, not the top bar hive like we have, so there are some differences.  In this hive, the bees build their comb on foundation on a frame.  Here is a photo of one of the experienced guys holding a frame which is full of capped honey.  The bees cap the honey with wax and they also cap their "brood" or growing offspring.  The honey is capped with white wax and the brood is capped with yellow.  I need to ask what the difference is.  If I were to guess, I would say that the yellow may be pollen or something that is a nutrient for the young bees growing in the cells.

You may note this guy (sorry I do not know everyone's names) is wearing no protective clothing at all.  He did get stung once
but I don't think it was from holding this frame.  
I was wearing my bee jacket, of course.  I am not yet that confident.  I have not been stung yet, but I am sure it will happen someday.  I have contacted my doctor's office about getting an epi-pen to keep on hand in case of an emergency.  I am not allergic to bee stings that I know of.  I get stung every year by wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, but have not been stung by a honey bee in years.  

While at the meeting, the beekeeper who was doing the presentation pointed to a weed about to bloom with orange flowers and asked me if I knew what is was and I said that no, I did not know what it was but I always just called it a "pretty orange weed".  He said it was orange butterfly weed and that butterflies and bees love it.  I replied that that was great because we have a lot of it on the farm.  Last night I was up in the field near the beehive and it was all starting to bloom.  You have to admit that it is very pretty.

And there was at least one honeybee on each flower!  Often more like 2 or 3.  So I went back to the house and grabbed my camera to get some shots of happy bees.

Can you see the happy bees on these bright orange blooms?   I told Sam to be sure NOT to mow this field until the butterfly weed is finished blooming.

We attended an estate auction a few weeks ago where the accumulation of a couple's lifetime was being sold off by their family.  They had lots of cool stuff and lots of junk as well.  Sam scored big this time.  He has been wanting a natural gas refrigerator for sometime now, but they are expensive and hard to find in good shape.  He got this one for only $50!

 It is in great shape and it is out in his workshop and as you can see is full of beer.  Those are some of his homebrews on the top shelf.  Sam is a bit of a beer snob (pay no attention to the Miller and Busch Lites on the "lower" shelves) and enjoys brewing his own beers.  He also loves having people over who don't mind taste-testing several different beers.

The fridge needed a little bit of work to get going but I was surprised at how  quickly Sam got it up and running.  I still have a hard time with the concept of a natural gas flame keeping things cold........But it works!

I took 2 more rugs off my loom this week.  I am very pleased with them.  

Still slogging away on fleece skirting.  I have sold several fleeces and am planning to send some more to the processors,  I got back my light fawn alpaca that I sent to be blended with the white wool fleece I bought at the Fiber Festival.  I can't believe how quickly I got it back!  It seems quite nice, so I will be sending more to that processor for sure.  It is Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan.  I have used them before, but it was several years ago and I had kind of forgotten about them. 

Other than the holiday weekend this weekend, there is nothing exciting on the horizon.  I am doing a booth for the Humane Society at the 4th of July "doin's" in town this Saturday.  Always trying to raise money to help the animals.    Happy 4th of July everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cathy, enjoying reading all of your adventures and things you are learning to do. We have horses and chickens, and know people with alpacas and bees as we live in a rather rural area of KY. I was in high school at MDN with you, which is how I found your blog. Have a great day. Cathy (Matthai) now Alger