Winter Around the Homestead

It’s been a while since we last had an “around the homestead” update. Freezing temperatures and snow is here to stay. The piles of winter coats, boots and drying mittens are growing. As is my collection of empty milk jugs to tote water out to the animals.

DSCN4512

The goats never seem to enjoy the snow. Already their tracks are mainly confined to a path between their shelter and the waterer. Manson has been taking his job very seriously so we should be expecting a new kid or two in the coming months. Nonetheless he still chases all the does around- just to be sure.

DSCN4369DSCN4365DSCN4366DSCN4508

Now that the snow is sticking the chickens are glad to stay in their camper. A week or two ago I gave the camper one last good mucking out and a deep bed of new shavings. As long as the cold temps are here the deep bedding shouldn’t get too gross and it acts as a layer of insulation. I stir it around every few days and add additional shavings when needed. The camper has a handy hatch in the back that makes mucking out the old shaving that much easier.

DSCN4370

Sad news- my bees have already succumbed to the harshness of winter. I checked on them a while back while I was prepping the hive for winter and they had already devoured their store of honey. I didn’t have my camera with me but they were positioned headfirst in their comb, in what my resources say is a classic starvation position. They had plenty of natural food around them and I had been supplementally feeding them. I didn’t take any honey nor is there another hive nearby (that I know of anyways) that could have robbed them. My thought is that perhaps our warm season is too short for a package of bees to really have time to get established and really produce enough for our long cold winters. If I can convince struggling_along I think our best bet would be to purchase a nuc, or two. Of course with bees there are no guarantees.

On a happier note: PUPPIES!

DSCN4496

They are all doing well and growing plump. They’re quite fun to have around but… 9 dogs! The very thought makes me glad the puppies are being spoken for left and right. Still for now we can take advantage of all the puppy snuggle time we can get, right?!

mossy_stone

Advertisements

Bees- Inspecting the hive

Every two weeks I check on my bees. My favorite part of a hive inspection is the smell of the smoker, a sweet smokey smell, reminding me of honeycomb and wood fire. Second to that is the walk to the hive through our hayfield. The variety of plants, insects and animals are endless. Third to that is finding the queen – a “find it” challenge not too unlike Where’s Waldo.

I took along my camera on the latest walk/hive inspection:

DSCN2727

DSCN2730DSCN2735DSCN2742DSCN2747

DSCN2751

DSCN2767

Milkweed

And the purpose of this journey – the hive:

DSCN2458DSCN2451 DSCN2444You can see some of the larvae in this one (above). Especially in the upper left hand corner.

DSCN2761

DSCN2755 DSCN2754The Queen. Towards the top of the photo, look for the large body and short wings.

The hive is doing well. Inspections are starting to feel routine and a little bit like I know what I’m doing. A little bit.

mossy_stone

Springing Ahead: Around Fried Farm

As seen in previous posts this spring has brought us: bees, kittens, chicks, baby goats (1) (2), and oxen! Thanks to Struggling_along for struggling along Fried Farm has its first fenced pasture and a garden is under way. It feels late to be just starting on the garden but around here the cold temps linger – not even a week ago we had an inch of snow!

Sadly not all news has been good news. Yesterday we had a vet out to turn the oxen bulls into steers. Turns out one of the oxen (Will) may end up in the freezer due to testicular issues.

A few photos:

DSCN2194

Struggling_along working on projects. Stacked in front of him are some beams from the barn.

DSCN2199

Megan- never more than 10 feet from my side.

DSCN2208

Chevy rooting up each square inch of pasture he can get his nose on.

DSCN2269

La la Bianca enjoying some time out in the field with her mama (Rita).

DSCN2291

A quick! peek into the hive.

DSCN2296

The trees are blossoming and everything is turning green, fast.

There’s a lot to do!

mossy_stone

As The Barn Comes Down

Earlier this week the boys and I took another trip back home, this time to install a  package of bees. The weather was fabulous (at least while I was working with the bees, not so much for the drive); the leaves were finally budding out and everything was starting to look green.

DSCN1747

Photo by my Mom

DSCN1752

Photo by my Mom

  Finally, I was able to see what progress had been made on the barn. Amazing! It’s really coming along. See The Parker Dexter Barn for lots of photos of how the barn used to look and the first stages of barn removal. There’s also this postcard of the barn Long Ago.

Here’s the barn in it’s current, nearly skeletal state:

DSCN1723

DSCN1798 DSCN1796 DSCN1794 DSCN1792 DSCN1791 DSCN1790 DSCN1789 DSCN1786 DSCN1785 DSCN1781

The barn removal is progressing nicely; the bees are in their hive…

DSCN1779

it’s finally spring! I think I can safely say we are all pleased.

DSCN1751

Photo by my Mom

mossy_stone