Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Un-Welcomed Guests

What a month it has been for Bee Haven Acres. We have been under attack. Our casualties are multiplying daily. It seems the deadliest of our foes is a family of foxes that has made their den in our woods. We have lost more than half of our chickens in the past 3 weeks. And, several of our ducks have perished....the saddest being our mama duck who was taken along with her 8 precious eggs while sitting on her nest. At this rate, we will have no birds left by June. A neighbor has volunteered to help us trap this sly fox family. (I did not take this picture)

We have also been inundated with tent caterpillars. They are all over everything and have taken their voracious appetites to our 100 baby blueberry bushes. So far, hand-picking them off of the blueberries has saved the bushes. Our next line of defense will be an organic, environmnetally friendly product that contains Bt (a type of bacillus bacterium that kills the caterpillar).

Last, but certainly not least, is a big old Pennsylvania black bear who has decided to frequent our Cottage Garden in search of delectable bird seed. He has bent our shepherd's crooks to a 90 degree angle and destroyed a couple of our bird feeders in this process. Our biggest worry with this unwelcomed guest is that he might eventually disturb our beehives in search of delicious honey!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Goodbye Mr. Boo

It is with much sadness that we say goodbye to an old friend. Mr. Boo passed away this week. If you have read this entire blog, you will know that Mr. Boo lived on Bee Haven Acres Farm with Becky and Mike, my husband's sister and brother-in-law.
Mr. Boo was a deaf, white and black border collie who understood sign language. In his prime, he loved to play frisbee and would patiently "wait his turn" while his sister took her turn to catch the frisbee. So many games of catch during the years had worn Mr. Boo's teeth down to little stumps. Mr. Boo "worked" every single day of his adult life...afterall, somebody had to keep everyone in line! Even up to the very end, he would hobble over to our Maddie (twice his size), bear his teeth and stand there forcing Maddie to show her respect (which she always did...she always bowed her head to him and stood very still...allowing him to be "top dog"). If you had the chance to witness this scene, you would understand that although Mr. Boo meant business, his demeanor was gentle and it almost seemed that in bearing his teeth he was actually smiling. He would stand perfectly still and "smile" as if to say "I've got it all under control, here."

Mr. Boo rests now beneath the branches of a Japanese maple tree...a fitting headstone for a wise soul. We will forever remember your smile, Mr. Boo, as we watch that tree grow through the years. We pray that wherever you are now, there are lots of frisbees!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stopping for Directions.....

Another busy weekend at the farm has yielded the completion of a few more projects. My sign is finally finished! I got the idea from "Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook" and, last week, spent several days sawing, sanding and painting. Finally on Friday I assembled it and stuck it in the ground.....voila!
It has been such a busy Spring at Bee Haven Acres. This week we pruned our 100 baby blueberry bushes (removing flower buds to encourage vegetative growth this year). We bought more trees to plant around our goat pastures. We also bought trees to plant for the chickens and for the horses. All of our newer pastures are on land that was once farmed...so there is an obvious lack of shade in those areas. We installed stall mats in the front of our barn...that's the area that the horses hang out on hot days because it is shaded and has fans blowing. Needless to say, they wore the earth down, so the stall mats will prevent more erosion. The garden is bursting forth...the asparagus is finally up (newly planted). We have onions, spinach, lettuce, and radishes growing and so much more to plant. We still have an occasional frost, so I think next week will be our major planting week. Our strawberry patch made it through the winter and has reproduced amazingly. We split off about 75 more plants and added several more rows to the patch. Putting up strawberry jam is on the list of summer chores. The orchard is in full bloom....can't wait for homemade apple pies, dumplings, applesauce.....and the list goes on and on.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Why do chickens take dust baths?....and other mysteries of life.....

I spent a few hours the other day painting one of our run-in barns which happens to be located directly behind the chicken house. I probably could have finished the painting much quicker than I did, but our crazy chickens put on such a show, I just had to sit and watch. "Edna", as we call our black chickens had all of her feathers shaking and dust and dirt were flying in all directions. I started to wonder.....why do chickens take dust baths? Now, I have read that the reason is to keep the mites off of them, but honestly, how would anyone really know. I don't know about you, but I talk to my chickens all the time and none of them have actually had anything intelligible to say in return. So I have concluded that this behavior will remain under the heading of one of life's mysteries. I have also come to the conclusion that it is impossible to be in a bad mood when you watch chickens. They are perhaps one of the most comical animals on the farm. If you ever have a chance to watch them run.....seize the opportunity. I guarantee it will have you in stitches!


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