Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One of These Things...

"One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song? "

"Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right! "



Remember that old Sesame Street Song???
I was reminded of that the other day as I let
the chickens out of their yard to free range!

Maddie loves the chickens, but what she loves even more
are the scraps of food that she might find inside their yard!
The chickens never seem to be bothered by her presence...
which I find absolutely amazing,
afterall, she looks like a bear....
well maybe not with her summer haircut!
(read comment #2 below)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They Call Me The Wanderer.....

"Well, I'm the type of guy who will never settle down.
Where pretty girls are, well, you know that I'm around.
I kiss'em and I love'em 'cause to me they're all the same.
I hug'em and I squeeze'em they don't even know my name.
They call me the wanderer - yeah -the wanderer.
I roam around around around around...."

Oh, surely you remember that old song by Dion!
Well, these days it's Bobby's theme song.
Bobby is our Maine Coon-esque barn kitty.
He is best friends to orange tiger TomTom,
and royal pain in the butt to Queen Ella Bella!

Lately, however, TomTom has been a bit lonely.
Bobby has been absent quite a lot.
The other afternoon, Becky came to tell me
that Bobby has been visiting her barn
and curling up for naps in her hayloft.
Which, has driven her barn kitty Lucy a bit crazy.
Lucy is a loner.
Bobby drives her nuts.

So, I headed up to Becky's barn to check on Bobby.
When he heard my voice, he came down the hayloft stairs
to see me....
I could tell by that look on his face that I had disturbed his nap!
But, he continued down the ladder
 and out onto the Gator
for his taxi service home.

Much to Lucy's chagrin, he has continued this practice
curling up in the dark recesses of Becky's hayloft
each day for a nap.

"Oh yeah, I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself fallin' for some girl
I hop right into that gator of mine and drive around the world
'Cause I'm a wanderer, yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around around around around
'Cause I'm a wanderer, yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around around around around around
'Cause I'm a wanderer, I'm a wanderer "

Monday, March 29, 2010

All Creatures, Great and Small

This weekend brought with it a little cold snap here on the farm.  With temperatures dipping down to 18 degrees Friday night, we had to cover the emerging plants in our garden.  The seedlings in the greenhouse were protected from the cold by a couple of heat lamps.  Despite the feel of the air, though, Spring is quite evident.  The trees are budding.  The forsythia has bloomed.  The daffodils' faces have emerged...looking skyward in search of warmth.
 
Saturday afternoon, while on my way to the barn, I spotted a blue heron circling in the sky above the pond.  He visits regularly, but I have never been able to capture him on film.  I backed the gator up to the house and ran inside to grab the good camera with the telephoto lens.  By the time I reached the pond, however he was gone...elusive bird.  Some day I will catch that fellow!

I poked around the edge of the pond....looking for anything of interest....especially signs of spring.  Happily I found a jack in the pulpit in the little spring that feeds the pond.
These are a sure sign that warm weather is just around the corner.  While standing there marveling at this sight I heard a tiny cry of "help!" from behind me.  I turned around to see this sight....tiny orange legs trying desperately to flag me down.
It seems that poor Mr. Turtle had gotten himself into quite a predicament!  Knowing that he would surely die without some assistance, I turned him back onto his belly.  Fear made him quickly pull all appendages into the safety of his shell.
After a moment his little head emerged from his shell...
and I could have sworn I saw a tiny smile cross his lips.  Yes, turtles have lips!  As I turned and headed back up to the barn I heard a faint "thanks!" from the water's edge.  I smiled and kept walking.  Another precious heart would continue to beat on the farm.  Knowing that was all the thanks I needed.  Life is so fragile....so precious.  It is my hope that each and every soul...no matter how small... feels safety in the shelter of Bee Haven Acres.

PS:  We had a "meet and greet" with Oakley yesterday.  Oakley is a lab mix(perhaps mixed with boxer) rescue dog that we saved from being killed in a shelter down south two weeks ago.  He finally made it to PA this weekend.  It has been a long two weeks for him....and he is settling in to his foster home.  We hope to adopt him ASAP...but he must prove himself farmworthy (ie: no risk of killing chicken, etc.)

Although he needs a little work on basic commands and manners, he is a real sweetheart.  He is eager to please, very loving....very, very needy.  He is a bit on the skinny side.  His teeth are nice and clean which leads us to believe he is fairly young.  I am guessing he is somewhere between a year and two years old....but only a feeling.  He focuses in on whoever he is with...so he should be very easy to train.
He is friendly to cats, dogs and horses....and of course us!
Hubbs and I have a really good feeling about this fellow and are quite eager to bring him home and make him part of our family.  But, all in due time.  He needs time to socialize and prove himself.  My heart says we did the right thing.....Oakley is a winner! (so far)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Berry Good For Everyone!

What are the Dwarf Nigerians so interested in?

Perhaps it is the fact that there are some visitors in their yard....
some really BIG visitors!

If you have read this blog for a while you may remember me talking about goats and parasites.  Basically, if you have goats, they probably have parasites.  We worm our goats and do stool checks routinely.  We move them from yard to yard always trying to stay ahead of the parasites.  Right now we are getting ready to move goats again, so we have called in reinforcements to help clean up the goat yards.

According to Dr. Becky, these parasites are species specific.  The best way to rid an area of the parasites is to move another species of animal in to graze the area.  Hence....horses in the goat yard.  These parasites will not infect the horses...in fact, the horses ingest them and the worms die.  Donnie and Moonbeam are more than happy to partake in this task.  Afterall, because of all the little fertilizing goat berries, the goat yards have the lushest green grass of the whole farm.

Even the "Littles" get in on the action.  Normally, the Nigerians have access to all three of these yards.  They are all in a row and connected by gates.  Today the gates are closed.  The "Bigs" have access to one of the yards and the "Littles" are occupying the other.  A couple of hours of grazing in the morning and again in the evening leaves the goat yards looking like they've been mowed.  Good job, boys!!
Donnie has a fascination for the "Littles".  It's love at first sight!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Whew!  Internet connection problems almost made it so that I would NOT BEE today!!  Sorry so late with the posting.  The bugs are all worked out.  Now on to the REAL bugs!.....Bees, that is

Yesterday's temperate weather gave Hubbs and I a chance to crack open the hives and take a good look.  We spent our time in our lower of two bee yards.  This yard houses last year's new hives.

 As I had written a couple of weeks ago, my suspicions that one of my hives had died was correct.  It seems that the one hive with no activity must have starved to death over the winter.  I had felt that each of the hives were well-filled with honey, but this hive must have depleted its supply before I began supplementing with sugar water.  I feel extremely sad about this.  I will order another nuc (nuclear colony) to restart this hive later this spring.

The other hives, happily, are vigorous and filled with lots of brood and lots of working bees

Yesterday we added more sugar water to these hives
and also added some pollen patties.

The bees will use the pollen patties to feed the brood now when there is very scant pollen out there.  And the sugar water will take the place of nectar until the trees are finally in full bloom.

Last summer I tried using queen excluders to keep the queen from entering the honey supers.  What I found out is that these bees do not like the excluder, and it kept the workers out of the supers also.  This kept them from building up large reserves of honey.  I had thought that they had enough in their lower boxes, but, unfortunately it seems that one hive was a bit short.  We harvested nothing from these hives last summer...and let them keep what they had made.  Hopefully, this summer they will get a jump start on honey production and make enough to share with us, also.

Beekeeping is definitely a learning experience and not an exact science.  It is always good to have others to compare ideas and experiences with.  But each beekeeper finds what works for him or her....I am still finding these things out for myself.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Garden Party

The really warm weather that we had last week may be gone for now, but signs of Spring still remain.  This past weekend Hubbs and I finished moving oak bark mulch into the vegetable garden.  (A big thanks to our adopted "son" Tim for moving many loads of mulch last week!)  This mulch covers weed barrier and provides soft and comfortable footing for the gardener (me).  Last summer was a constant battle between me and the weeds...unfortunately, the weeds won.

This summer I am well armed.  My battles will be on small fronts....much more manageable.  We have constructed garden boxes of cedar.  Cedar holds up in moist conditions.  Although treated pine is less costly, treated wood leaches nasty chemicals into the soil...and into the food.  In our quest for organic farming, we decided upon using cedar.   Most of my vegetables, except corn and tomatoes and asparagus, will be planted in elevated beds within these boxes.  Weed pulling is now ergonomic.

Last week I planted spring onions, yellow onions, and white onions in the onion box.  Another box was planted with sugar peas and radishes.  Soon I will put in beets and spinach.  Then comes lettuce, carrots, and plants started from seeds.
 The onions have already emerged.

As well as a couple of tiny weeds....weedlings.....

In the greenhouse, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers are started.  
Each tray has a warming mat beneath it to keep the soil warm.
This hastens germination.
These veggies take the longest to grow...so they are started early.  In a couple of weeks, I will sow seeds in pots for flowers, herbs, cucumbers, gourds, squashes, and cabbage.  All of these will be transplanted into the garden boxes when the threat of frost is over.  I do, however, have the option of planting them into the boxes earlier and tenting with plastic sheeting...like tiny greenhouses.

The broccoli has germinated...in only 2 days time!
I am so excited for this garden to make its transition into summer.  I will share lots of pictures when everything is green and growing.  Perhaps we'll have a garden party!  Oh, won't you join us?


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Retirement, Makeovers, and Barn Kitties



Retirement
Yesterday I had the opportunity to look after Becky's animals.  Becky is Hubbs' sister..."Dr. Becky" as we call her.  She is also our vet and shares the land of our farm.  Yesterday Dr. Becky was out of town and needed her animals tended during the day.  This gave me the chance to catch a few photos of her horses and dogs.  I especially wanted to share with you one of her 3 horses.... Duffy.  

He is an old man, now... retired from giving lessons and jumping fences.  
Becky tells how, in his prime, he could jump with even the most novice of riders
on his back and not lose his rider.  
He would adjust his body beneath his rider to
keep them in their saddle.
His only job these days is that of companionship for her other horses, 

Fagner 

and Ava.

His temples are grey,

his athletic stature is long gone.
But he is full of love and kindness.... and still rules the barnyard.

Here are Dr. Becky's canine pals...

(from left to right...Monty...ignoring, Rosie...smiling, and Indy...staring)

Makeover
Maddie before.....

Maddie after......
Ahh, so much cooler for warmer weather!
Look how much smaller she looks without her hair.

Barn Kitties
Here are my two fearless barn kitty boys, along with me to feed the 
Dwarf Nigerian Goats.

Bobby, the fearless, was not at all afraid of the goats...

not even after he was butted by Star (he got just a little too close to her food.)

Personally, I'd be a little intimidated by all those horns!
That's Bobby the Fearless....afraid of nothing and no one!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Babs, Continued

I am sure that by now you know how much I love my chickens.  You have to have figured out by now that my favorite is Babs.  She just amazes me....she is so non-chicken-like.  Lately when her henhouse pals are out free ranging in the woods, Babs is usually hanging out close to or inside the henhouse.  She is definitely a loner.  Perhaps she doesn't see herself as a chicken.

This weekend Hubbs was putting new poles up for a clothesline and of course Babs was there to supervise.  She spent her time pecking around, eating grass and communing with Maddie and Sadie.  You may not believe me when I say that the dogs and chickens mingle without incident...so I took pictures as proof.
Maddie and Babs are buddies.
If Maddie were to turn around and walk away,  Babs would follow.
She never minds being picked up....
She just nestles in and enjoys the ride.
No fear when nose to nose with Maddie.....
Special friends!

By the way....Spring has sprung on Bee Haven Acres!!!

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