Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catching Up with you Part 2

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for sticking with us.
Empty comb.
Honey Comb.
 We're going to go over a few more things that took place between September when Ben last posted and our catching up posts this week.
Emptied out Comb.
The top bar hive upside down on the table.
BEES !! - we had the most fun and educational, for us, experience with our top bar hive in 2011. So much that we are getting 2 more swarms this spring. OK so we tried hard to take care of our bees this horrible hot summer and set up a feeder for them in the fall incase that they had not been able to get much honey collected for the winter for them to survive. We checked on the hive in October and all was looking well. There was honey, the bees were cleaning house, and to our inexperienced eyes, looking good for winter. We went out in November to check on the hive again - and the bees were GONE. Not a single live buzzer in the hive. We are not sure what happened- wondering if maybe the queen died- which will make the bees swarm and leave.  We decided that since there were no bees - we would make sure there was honey in the hive. Boy howdy was there honey. We got a little over a gallon of some of the best honey EVER made out of the hive. This time around we are going to use the top bar hive again and also a Warre hive. Ben is excited to try both styles of hive to see which one is better for us. Bees are on order and hopefully will arrive in March.

Final Product !!!!!
Rabbit revisited - we had 3 adult rabbits - She, Her and Bucky. Got 2 more from PA, Izzabella and Minnie.  So that was 5 adult rabbits. She had never had a litter of babies. We had her for 7 months and she miscarried 2 times, and that was it. Her was the irresponsible mother who lost 2 litters of babies and had no instinct. Bucky is the only male. Bella is the pro-Momma and Minnie won't be old enough to breed until April. We needed to thin the herd out, and She and Her were relieved of duty in January.  Ben did a great job - handled it like a pro and we shared the meat bounty by having friends over for dinner a week later. Rabbit taste like chicken.  Another lesson learned.

Our fall/winter was a full season of learning new things. We did not have any squash out of the garden due to a bore beetle invasion. We spread a 4-6 inch straw cover onto the garden hoping to add more organic material and to help keep the moisture in for the 2012 plantings.
Looking back, we agreed there would have been a few changes we would have made to our 2011 farming life- so we marked'em down and will try something different this year. Isn't that all you can do ? Learn from your failures and try a different way the next go around.
I think the next posting will start in on the Plans of 2012, and how we are expanding and trying all sorts of new things. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Catching Up with you. Part 1

Yeah - we are pretty horrible about staying up with this whole blogging thing. But hang on to your pantaloons, cause it is catch up time !  Oct/Nov 2011 - our 30 baby chicks arrive. 10 each of Black Stars, Barred Rocks and Rhode Island reds. Didn't lose a single one !!! We had our first experience with a litter of rabbits. Our momma California kindled a litter of 7. We lost all but 1 in the first 48 hours, that one lone bun survived for 10 days and then also died. We thought we were done - it was an awful experience. the Momma was not showing any signs that she was going to handle kindling  next time around well and then ( trumpets proclaiming) our friends from PA brought us a very experienced Momma rabbit. Izzabella. Bella is a baby making pro as rabbits go. We made it through December with no bad weather and only a few days of really cold temperatures outside. As we were sliding into January 2012 - Izzers is pregnant.... and yes on Jan 2, she kindled a gorgeous litter of 9 buns. Holy Cow Batman !!  5 survive the first week and we are now hunting new homes for 3 of those 5, and keeping 2 back to add to our "herd". 

Our 30 baby chicks are growing like crazy, they should start laying eggs in April !!
We have2 roosters. Yes I know - that is unexpected. We never wanted roosters. EVER.
But when we did the meat chicken adventure last year, we got 2 exotic free chicks from McMurray when we ordered the meat birds. Hoping that the freebies would be hens... didn't happen.  The Colonel started crowing- Thanksgiving morning. We identified him as a Silver Spangled Hamburg and is SO beautiful, but the bird has an attitude. After we had a serious "coming to Jesus" meeting 2 weeks ago - he is now leaving a wide berth around the kids.
So then fast forward to the mid of January - Brownie our pretty Partridge Cochin is full feathered and has the ginormous feathered feet- We're working outside on a weirdly warm Saturday and we hear this horrible noise, sounds like something is dying...... oh no - its "Brownie" trying to crow.... so renamed J. B. in honor of the lead singer from WideSpread Panic. Those dying sounds have become a lovely baritone croon. So we have decided to split the flock. Our hard core egg producing hens are going to go hang out with Colonel in the back of the property. My pretty fancies along with JB are going to stick close to the house along with the goats. Oh let me get to the goats.... Persephone got all out of whack from the HOT summer we had and once the cooler fall temps came back. She went right back on track with her heat cycle. We talked and talked it over and last week when Persephone did her thing, we had male goat product ready and waiting at the Vets office. Hoping, wishing and praying that all worked out and we will have our very own baby goats in July.  A few days after that it was Groundhogs day. Ben surprised me with getting us another goat. A 7 month old dwarf Nigerian doeling from a farm in KS. It was another adventure for us. Got her home, she is a stinking cute black and white doeling named Sierra. Has some very good bloodlines and we are hopeful for her.  Heading back to the chickens : we have roughly 50 laying hens - that should be laying now... as we type. The entire flock molted this summer. Some days I was only getting 8 eggs a day... from 50 hens. And when November hit - the feathers were mostly re-grown and egg production amped up. We now get 20-30 eggs A DAY and this is before the babies from Nov. have even started laying.  So we talk to our dear friends at BadSeed Market - if they have need for more eggs . Yes they do. So we are in the process of getting our egg vendor license and will be selling all excess eggs to them. I'm already selling 8-10 doz a week to everyone we know and we aren't going to be able to handle the eggs getting ready to arrive in just a few short months. YIKES.  Ben's greywater system is starting to take shape in our backyard. Especially now that we have had NO snow to speak of and its almost mid February.  I'll do part 2 of this catching up later in the week... for now I am all talked out.

Mrs Phantom