Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spoke Too Soon...

Well...after the wonderful day of spring, winter has reared it's cold, ugly head again...we have seen rain, ice and snow squalls over the past few days...there were a few sun sightings, but not enough to offset the damp, gray, drabness that is the first two weeks of April.

MB and I decided a while back to expand our farming experience to include meat chickens.  In anticipation of their arrival and building on the knowlege base we acquired putting together our first coop, we began construction of a meat bird B&B last weekend.  It's a smaller version of the large, fixed in place, structure that we built for the laying hens several years ago...a 10' x 10' hoop coop on wheels...an official chicken tractor.  We planned to complete it this weekend in time for the arrival of 25 cornish cross chicks.  An added bonus was the arrival of MB's niece...she's always willing to pitch in and help wherever needed.  Little did she know...in fact, neither did we...

Saturday morning we awoke to find one of the bee hives "tunckled" over and we quickly righted and restacked the hive bodies and looked for clues to who the culprit was.  Other than being gnerally in an upside down state, there wasn't too much mass destruction of frames and hive bodies and there was a nice trail of frames heading out towards the eastern woods...a few of the frames had the wax, pollen and honey licked off of them, but no real chewing marks.  Because of the minor manifestation of mayhem, we decided it must've been a raccoon and strapped the hives to the boards and blocks they were sitting on so that the coon couldn't tunckle things over again...

WRONG AND WRONG AGAIN!!!!!

We went back to working on the chicken tractor and after putting in a long day of that and other chores, we settled in for an evening of Downton Abbey reruns.  Two episodes into season one, I was ready for bed and left MB and niece finishing the second episode.  Emmett was outside being the guardian farm dog as he usually is in the evening and early morning and I heard him barking and growling in a way that said, "This ain't no deer!  Pay attention!"...then I heard the sound of a styrofoam beer cooler falling off of a table...

"Something's knocking over the beehives!!!!"

MB and niece ran out the backdoor with flashlights in hand as I grabbed the .22 and ran downstairs...when I got there, MB said that a bear was there standing next to the downed hives and when they came out it looked at them and ambled off, "like a black shadow in the night."...it didn't amble too far or too fast enough for us because Emmett was still keeping up his fuss...and frankly he's our only barometer...

Eventually, we decided it was safe enough to focus on the damages...Two hives upended and very high likelihood that ursa major would return.  What to do...?  We decided that since the hives had to be righted and restacked...yet again...that we would bring the truck around and put the hives into the back of the truck...besides, it would be good to have a truck between us and the bear...we could then park the truck with the hives in the garage safe from further predations.  In the morning the truck could be pulled out of the garage...before the bees started flying around...and we could reassess the situation...GOOD PLAN...the challenge...it's 10 pm, it's dark as a cavern, the hives are upside down and the bees are pissed...

To make the saga short...we did it!  And Emmett quit barking...



Now we have a hive trolley so that we can bring the hives into the garage at night and put them back out in the morning...until we finish building a hoop coop to put them in...



A bearricade of sorts...

;))

Officially...

Officially, Spring began about three weeks ago. Mid-week it finally decided to show up...All the snow was finally gone, even in the shady spots on the north side of the house, and the piles made by the plow. There was still ice in the rain barrels, but the hand pump should be able to go in it anytime now. No more schlepping it from the house to the coop through the snow...yahoo!

The beehives have made it through April 12th....once spring bear season slacks off and the nectar flow begins it will be safe to say they really made it. Until then it’s day to day.


Another true sign of spring is sprouting garlic. Such an easy plant to grow and care for...put the cloves in the ground in the fall...harvest the scapes in the spring...harvest the heads in July...



Happy Spring to all...the dogs are certainly enjoying it!




Monday, April 1, 2013

March Is Over! WAHOO!!!!

It's all half frozen mud and clouds that block both sun and stars....leaving you barely hanging onto the hope of Spring by the time all 31 days are gone....

But...it really makes you grateful when the sun hits you full in the face!