Monday, March 27, 2017

MediOkra Pond

We are having a very wet spring. The last two years have been very dry, and this year is more normal, perhaps on the too wet side. The water table is very high! Our road is a spongy mud bog. The front yard is our lowest point  of the developed part of our property, and it's under a foot or more of water. I think it may be closer to two feet at the deeper parts, but I haven't taken a boat onto the pond to try sounding the depth.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Goat in labor?

While mucking out the goat barn, someone pointed out Natasha bagging up (her udder has taken shape, filling out). Suddenly, we had to not only muck out the barn, but adapt it for maternity care. We purchased a buck last fall, and it looks like it "took" sooner than we realized. You can see in the photo, the brown goat is very intently concentrating. Natasha is a Nubian Pygmy cross, hence her short stature.

During a long night napping on and off in the barn, Natasha delivered a healthy little doeling, Natalie.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stretching Wings

The bees are stretching their wings!

We have had bees since 2015. Our first goal was to be able to overwinter the hive(s). This is the first promising spring. I think the wet spring killed our bees the first year, so as soon as I could (sunny day, close to 50°F), I turned the top into a sugar feeder. I opened the hive, removed the inner cover, set a box on, and placed newspaper in it. The next step was to pour in sugar which should act as insulation and absorption, plus back up supplies, if needed. Covers back on, and let the bees warm up again!

Greenhouse from Chicken Tractor

About a dozen chickens overwintered in a chicken tractor. They were given a new bag of shavings every two to three weeks to keep them dry and act as the "brown" material for the compost which their droppings eventually become. Once the snow was low enough, we finished digging the tractor out, plus the space next to it. A second tractor was set up, but this time as a greenhouse, and the original, with resident chickens, moved next door. Ben turned over the manure pile. We'll add some from the goat house and let this heat up. It'll be topped with garden soil and I should be able to grow hothouse veggies, like tomatoes (I know they're a fruit!) and cucumbers. First, we'll also try greens.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bee-sy Day

The bees took their first cleansing flight! Did you know that bees do their best to never excrete waste in their home? All summer it's easy: fly out every day, unless it's rainy, and business is done. In the winter, though, they can't fly everyday. In fact, where I live they can't fly from about Thanksgiving until around St. Patrick's Day. Instead, they snuggle together and taking turns in the comb to compact the whole colony into the smallest ball of as many bees as they can get together. This cluster keeps the queen warm and safe inside it so they can wait through the cold months to begin to rebuild their colony (a colony is a group of bees, a hive is the structure in which they live).

Last year, it was unseasonably warm and they were out around Valentine's Day - most of the ground cover snow was gone by the end of February. This year, the snow is nearly gone finally, but it is a whole month later!

That's droppings from the north end of a south facing bee.

The snow around their hive gets spotted with it, too. It's rather chilly still for them to fly much, so sadly some of the bees don't make it back to the colony, and tiny bodies also litter the snow.

This little gal has picked a warm spot in the sunshine to clean herself after her first flight of the year.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Moose sighting

On MisterX's birthday, we dropped MisterE's boot out of the bus while loading up after dinner. It was discovered missing when we arrived home and the little guy had to be carried in. We had our cake and ice cream and forgot about it. I woke up in the night and recalled the boot, so I popped on my boots and drove into town. There was the boot, lying alone in the gutter under a light dusting of snow. Tucked safely in the bus, I picked up a few things at the 24-hour super store and drove on home.

I hopped out, opened the shop door, and saw the silhouette of the moose between me and the house. I parked the bus, closed the garage, and waited. I was getting colder, as I had only my coat and pajamas on, so I finally sweet talked her into leaving and made it safely into the house.

Woke up to find Mama Moose and her baby have moved in for sure for the late winter. This morning, they were munching the orchard, then bedded down in the back loop of the driveway.