Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bees + Yarn + Shearing = Not Enough Hours in the Day

I have a lot of white doors that all need a new coat of paint this year.  Here is one I got done. 

And one in progress........

I missed posting last week. The timing was just off and I didn't get a chance to sit down and put something together, so this week I have a lot of content.

I'll try to be somewhat chronological and maybe I won't leave anything out that way.  A week ago Monday, Tari and I went up to Amish country and picked up my yarn at Morningstar Fiber Mill.  I  have to say I was really disappointed with my rug yarn.  They are using a different core than they used to and I had a lot of loss in processing, which I think may be due to that.  The yarn is thinner and there is much less of it  than I had expected to have.  The only difference I know of was the core.  But my 2 ply alpaca wool yarn is lovely.  I have 79 skeins, about 14 pounds. It came out to 60 % alpaca and 40% fine wool.  

 In this photo, 14 skeins have already been removed from one bag to be dyed.  I have a lot of dyeing to do in the next 2 weeks before the Great Lakes Fiber Show on Memorial Day weekend. 

Thursday, April 30th, was our treasured Rowdy's 10th birthday!  It is so hard to believe he has been with us almost 10 years (we got him at 10 weeks old).  Here is what he looked like when he came to live with us.  He is here with me at the office today, keeping me company.  

Friday I put together 10 frames  for the deep boxes for the new bees, which were arriving the following day.  In the past, my bees have come in a "package", which is just a screened box full of bees with a queen suspended in a cage in the center of the box.  I have had to dump the package of bees into a hive box, then leave the queen in the cage.  The queen cage had an entry/exit hole in it which was plugged with a piece of candy or marshmallow, which the attending bees eventually eat through in order to free her so she can start laying eggs and building up the hive.  Keeping her confined in the cage for this time allows the worker bees to become bonded to her so that they will protect her, literally with their lives.  I have always used medium sized boxes on  my hives as they are smaller and therefore lighter when full of bees and honey.  But this year, my bees came in "nucleus hives" or "nucs".  The nuc is a box in which there are frames.  There are bees and there is a queen who is already laying eggs, there is capped brood, there is honey already being made.
This is the nuc with a couple empty frames in it.  The frames in the nuc fit in a large, or deep bee box, so I had to have two deep boxes on hand and 5 more frames for each box since the nucs had 5 frames.   So I picked up my 2 nucs of bees on Saturday evening at dusk.  Why at dusk?  Because the bees in the nucs need to be able to leave the nuc during the day to forage and do what bees do.  By dusk, most of the bees are back at home in their little hive and the entry can be closed up with most of the hive's population inside. Very early Sunday morning, I opened each nuc and carefully transferred each of the 5 frames that were inside it into the waiting deep boxes.  

 It was interesting to note that one nucleus hive was noticeably stronger than the other even as I was installing them in the hives.  The hive on the right, or foreground, in this photo was very strong.  And yesterday, upon sitting and observing the 2 hives early in the day, it was easy to tell that that hive was just busier.  They were coming in with loads of pollen and I could see that they were backed up at the hive exit like airplanes at O'Hare waiting to get out.  I just hope the other hive will catch up soon.  I'll bee keeping an eye on them.

Next, after the bees, came dyeing.  I dyed on both Monday and yesterday (Tuesday).  I have one batch of yarn hanging to dry, though I did not photograph it yet, and one batch still soaking in its post-dyeing wash.  This is a colorway I have dyed at least twice before and I always sell out of it.  It is wet in this photo and will look much nicer once washed and dried.  I tried a new colorway with the first batch I did and I'm not sure I like it.  I may like it better once it is dry. 

And on Monday, we started shearing!  Most of the year, the alpacas have about 80% of the barn for their use,  but during shearing season, I have to re-arrange the barn to give us room to work around the shearing table, so I did that Monday afternoon. When Sam got home from work on Monday, we were ready to go and we got 6 of the 13 alpacas in the main barn done before dark, including the 2 pregnant girls.  Our plan is to shear again this evening and Friday evening, and then we should be almost done.  

Here are a couple of shorn alpacas and a couple un-shorn alpacas.  I am glad we are getting this done as it is forecast to be around 90 degrees this weekend.  And to  think I was wearing coveralls just this past weekend!   It is hard on the alpacas when it gets so hot. Especially when they are not yet shorn.  Here is what Peg likes to do to keep cool 

 I filled that little pool for her yesterday.  It is from last year and I think I originally bought it for the dogs.  It's a bit small and this morning I noticed a rather large hole in it that wasn't there yesterday.  I need to remember to stop and buy a new one on the way home today.

Another thing I am happy about which I have not mentioned in a while is the beaver pond.  I was afraid that the beavers were no longer in residence as I had not seen much sign of new construction and I had found a snare near their lodge in early February.  It was not a legal snare as it had no identification on it.  I had to remove it from the water to determine this.  So sorry about that whoever set it.  I had some conversations with my neighbors this past weekend and was delighted to discover that they are all in agreement with me that the beavers are doing no harm where they are and we all want them to be left alone.  And then on Saturday, I saw a beaver!  This is only the second time I have seen one of them since I noticed their presence back in October (?).  I have noticed renewed work on their dams and the pond is getting bigger.  I plan to go take several photos of it in the next week or so as time allows. This beaver habitat is on national forest land and no one's farm fields or roads or anything else are in danger of flooding, so I hope these animals will be left in peace for me and anyone else who cares to to enjoy and observe.

And work is still being done to remove the pine trees from Grover's and my training area....


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