Friday, April 12, 2013

Update for the week - birthdays, corn planting, runaway chicks

The hens have been averaging about 7 eggs per day this week, with some beautiful weather! We did have one day with 9 eggs, which excited me way more than it probably should have. If I only knew who the one slacker was...

Someone's not earning their keep

I saw a post on Facebook this week that said, "spring was beautiful, all four hours of it". It did get very warm, very quick, but I'm not complaining! Not yet anyway. I'm loving having the windows open, seeing a full clothesline flapping in the breeze, and even the dandelions scattered throughout the yard. 

Did you know...European settlers brought dandelions with them to the colonies to use as salad greens? I've never tried them, although I've always heard that you can eat them, as long as they haven't been sprayed with chemicals and other toxic nasties. The leaves make good salad greens, but I don't think you are supposed to eat the stems of the flowers. According to Organic Gardening, dandelions have more beta carotene than carrots. 

We did get about 600 feet of corn planted yesterday, and had a nice rain last night. We never have done much with corn, so I'm excited to see how it goes! 

Our chicks have been giving us a fit. Well, when I say us, I mean me, because I think all I've been doing is chasing chicks this week. We used welded wire fencing instead of chicken wire on our chicken fence, and of course the little Hampshire chicks have escaped every chance they get. 
Here they are taking a walk on the wild side.

Today is our middle daughter's 18th birthday! Up until she was about four years old, she thought her name was Honey. She was the baby for a long time, until Henny Penny came along, so it's been tough realizing she's all grown up and about to graduate high school. She loves Captain America, so when I saw the Captain America flag cake on Instructables, I knew it had to be her birthday cake. Here's what it SHOULD look like:


How cool, right??

Well, here's my version:

 Nailed it!

I can hear you laughing. 

Close one eye and squint real hard with the other one, and it doesn't look THAT bad.

And for a cake like this, not just anything will do to light the candles:
Yes, that is a propane torch. It was all I could find. It got the job done!

All in all, it's been a great week! Looking forward to relaxing tomorrow and enjoying the weekend!! Hope you have a great weekend. Stay sweet and don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The bees, they are abuzzing

What?? Two posts in one day? What do you know about that? (Although, in my defense, there have been times I have tried to post, but living on the backside of the boonies limits good internet access. The girls and I have done the Lion King thing with our phones many times trying to get a signal. You know, the Lion King thing, where you hold your phone way up in the air trying to catch a signal, like they did with Simba? You know you've done it too)

What was this post about? Oh yeah, bees. Pa had ordered a nuc of bees a while back. A nuc (short for nucleus) is a smaller version of a hive. Ours came with 5 frames of bees. He was scheduled to get them this morning, about an hour away, so we decided to ride with him. The plan, I THOUGHT, was to put the box of bees inside his toolbox, in the bed of the truck. I mistakenly thought this because apparently, when Pa said he was cleaning out the toolbox to put the bees in, what he really meant was, "how about you hold a box with 10,000  bees in it on your lap for an hour". No, I am not kidding.

I had a much tighter death grip on that box than what it looks like. Don't let the picture fool you.

Our youngest daughter, Henny Penny, has a huge phobia about bees. She and our 7 year old nephew were in the backseat. She's freaking out crying, convinced they will get out and sting her to death, and the nephew is asking to hold the box. "Don't worry, it's ok, and NOO you cannot hold the box." She soon realized it was all ok, and calmed down.

Once we got home, the fun began. Well, fun for Pa. Here's how you get 10,000 bees from a box into their hive, in case you were wondering. I had wondered too.

Believe it or not, he only got stung once, on the leg.

Smoker on standby, he takes the rubber band off the box. He's already taken out the yellow plug so they don't all swarm out the top when he takes the lid off. (at least, I assume that's why he did it.)

 Our first peek at them!

 The first frame coming out of the box

 Going into the new hive.

 This one tried to get a little frisky with him, but some smoke took care of that.

Another nice frame.
In reality this is how far away I was. Very happy for the zoom on my camera. A few bees came and checked me out, but I did good and didn't panic. I was begging Pa to come get them away from me (the 4 flying around me as hundreds are flying around him). But I didn't panic. Yes, I know I'm a big baby. 

Once they were all in, he put the top feeder on and gave them some sugar water.

 Look at the pollen on the back legs! These bees were loaded down with pollen. 

 They settled right into their new home.

 Little Rosie No-tail was not impressed. She kept her distance.

 Another closeup of a bee with pollen already loaded on board.

Burlap makes great smoke!

And one last picture to leave you with...
This one landed in my hair. Pa took his time in snapping the picture before finally shooing it away.

We have one more full hive ordered. It's about 3 hours away. Guess what I will NOT be doing?

Let the clucking commence!

Wow, I really have to do better about posting here, don't I? The last few weeks have been crazy busy here on Honeybee Hills. Between honeybees, hens, and getting the garden ready for planting, on top of everything else, we've been busier than the proverbial one armed paperhanger.The chicks and ducklings we bought from Tractor Supply are doing great, we didn't lose a single one. A few days after we got them, Pa brought home 10 hens and a rooster he bought from someone getting out of the business, so that means we are getting eggs already. Yahoo!!! We're getting 5-8 per day, which is good considering our crazy weather. How crazy, you ask?

 This was yesterday. See that white stuff on the roof of the henhouse? Yep, snow! April 4th, snow!

 One of our garden spots, Pa had just tilled it the day before in short sleeves.

If you look very very closely, there are two tiny blue flowers freezing in the sleet and snow.

And then today, back to almost 70 degrees again.

Ok, so back to the chicks and hens. (Speaking of that, I'd love to get some of those hen and chick plants. My grandma always had those, and I thought they were the neatest things.) Anyways, Pa called the guy up who had the chickens, and was talking to him about them. The guy had all kinds of equipment that we didn't need, sounded like he was quite the professional. At least, until Pa asked him what kind of chickens he had for sale. "Oh, I got some white ones, and some brown ones, and black and white speckly ones". Umm ok, sure. 

 Yep, she's brown

 And so is she (she's also my favorite, one of the best layers)

 And here's us a speckly one!

And the original chicks we ordered from McMurray came in. One was DOA, and we lost a few more over the next night or two. As cold as it had been, and with them being shipped, we were still very pleased. And since that first batch, we haven't lost any more. They are growing and starting to get some color on their wings.
 Look how pretty the coloring is on the Barred Rocks (aka speckly ones)

 Gus and Gusala are doing great, although Gusala is twice the size of Gus already!

 We opened up their section of the henhouse to see if they would come out yet. Will they...

 Just for a peek. She wasn't too sure about all this. (bless their hearts, they're in that awkward adolescent stage, where they just aren't cute at all. Just kind of gangly)

I have more to tell you about bees, but I'll save it for another post. I promise it won't be a month!