Bees -- Long Time No Posty

 Wow, have I been busy. What with work and spring, I've been running and running. 

My bees arrived on Friday in the mail. I promptly picked them up and dropped them into the top-bar hives I made. 

I've become obsessed with bees lately (as I do about things), and there is much to tell about the reading on bees I've been doing. 

I was worried at first because, while I have read quite a bit about bees and beekeeping, there is always a huge divide between knowledge and actual experience. I checked on the hives today -- just a cursory examination -- and they seem to be getting along well. However, the ants are back in one of the hives. I'm ordering some food-grade diatomaceous earth to sprinkle around, and that should take care of them.
Here is some video I shot of the installation. I actually forgot about the camera, which is probably a good thing when you're working with thousands of stinging insects. Nonetheless, I get a laugh out of it. 

In a few weeks I'll do a complete inspection of the hives to see how things are progressing. For now I have to let them be so they can get about their work making comb and honey.

Top Bar Bee Hives

I already posted these to f&*$book, so if you've seen them, feel free to ignore them.

I've been obsessed lately with honey bees (courtesy of mercurialgirl ), and decided to spend the afternoon yesterday building some top-bar hives. I wanted to make four, but ran out of time and built two. A top-bar hive is a relatively simpler and cheaper alternative to the traditional Langstroth hive, which are typically used by commercial beekeepers. The differences are complicated and somewhat esoteric, so I'll spare the details. Anyone who's truly interested can google top-bar hive v. Langstroth to see the difference. 

The design came from the Barefoot Beekeeper's site, which you can find here. He has a free book at you can download if you're interested in making one yourself.

I still have to decide whether I will make a gabled roof or do what many people do and put a piece of galvanized steel on top.

Now I have to figure out whether I will buy a colony or try to collect some wild bees myself. I'll be attending a meeting of local beekeepers on March 6. That may help me make a decision. 

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Busy Here

Wow. I'm surprised how busy I have become of late. I thought when A was off treatment, I'd have all of this free time. But I'm finding I'm busier than ever. Between work, family, the house and the animals, I haven't been out hunting deer at all this year. I went goose hunting once early on, but that's about it.

Now that winter has hit, I'm starting to feel like I should really be out there. I know some people on my Flist have been sidetracked by injuries, but, for me, it's just life moving quickly.

Pretty soon it's going to be Christmas. And then New Years.

Time needs to seriously slow down. I feel like every time I look at the calendar another month has gone by.

Vacation en Paris

We're sitting in the airport, waiting for our flight home from Paris. Very tired. Very bored. Free wifi, ma derriere. We posted lots of photos to our facebork pages. I will cross-post many here tomorrow after we get home. Our vacation was wonderful. Relaxing. Fun. Beautiful. It sounds cheezy as hell, but every corner you turn in Paris transports you to a magical place. I couldn't have beaten the company, either. It was our sixth anniversary. I'm actually sad to leave here. See everybody on the other side of ocean. 

Farm Journal -- Chicks & Turkeys Update

It's been a bit since I last posted, and not surprisingly quite a bit has happened. The little hen hatched out six of her remaining 10 eggs that she had been sitting on. I gave her a few extra days to make sure she wouldn't hatch any more before finally disposing of the dead eggs this morning.

To recap, she had originally managed to collect a clutch of some 14 eggs in tall grass behind the new coop I'm building. To keep her and her eggs from becoming a late night snack, acogswell and I moved her and the eggs to the greenhouse, where she dutifully sat for the next week or so. In that time, she had pushed out four of the eggs, leaving her with 10 underneath her to hatch. Now, six of those have finally hatched.

Sadly, one of the six did not make it. It died within the first 24 hours or so. I suspect it was underdeveloped and wouldn't have survived even if I had intervened. My neighbor grabbed the fifth chick, believing it was failing to thrive. I think it would have been fine, but, hey, she wanted it, and I certainly have enough chickens. So now it's lounging in her house in a shoebox under a heat lamp. The remaining four are doing well in the greenhouse with their mother. They're eating and drinking, and the mother hen is taking good care of them. I have them separated from the rest of the flock by some chicken wire, but the other hens and -- more importantly -- the main rooster can still see them and get close. I have found that this is the best way to introduce new birds to a flock by letting them get accustomed to each other through chicken wire. They can see each other; they just can beat on each other.

The turkeys are now a little over four months old. I can already see the largest male has taken on the role of the tom, while another smaller male is the jake. The tom has been courting one of the turkeys, which looks to be a hen. The tom is starting to strut and has even tried to get it on with the hen. They're still juveniles, though, and the hen doesn't appear to be interested in him in the slightest. I think there are two males and two hens, but I'm not sure. It's hard to tell at this stage, so I'll have to wait to see as they age.

I have video of the chicks and the turkeys, which I need to post. I should have a chance to get to it this weekend.

Farm Journal -- Wheat Planting

I planted the organic, non-GMO white winter wheat yesterday evening in the main field in front of the house. I ordered a couple pounds, but it only covered about half the field. Since I don't have a drill seeder, I had to broadcast spread it. I then disced it in with the tractor. Apparently, that's how wheat used to be planted before technology changed it all. 

I wanted to beat the rain we're supposed to get in the next couple days. It's also supposed to be warm, which will help germination, though as I understand it, winter wheat will germinate at temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. 

Depending on how it grows, I will eventually need to have a flail party. For anyone who might be interested, this is a decent article that explains how you flail wheat. I still have tons of sod that I haven't killed off yet, so I don't know how well the wheat will grow this winter. I'm news to this, too, so I will just have to wait and see how things evolve.

I also planted the organic, non-GMO chicken forage seeds, which I purchased from Peaceful Valley. This is actually for the turkeys, who are eating so much I'll have to make a special trip up to Pennsylvania to pick up more feed. I called McGeary on Monday, but since they make it all by hand on-demand, I have to wait until Friday before I can pick it up.

That's about all that is going on here. I have bad, bad poison ivy again. I think I got it when I was moving birds around. I love summer, but I like winter and fall better because I seem to get poison ivy less than. 


The Other Fair Season

 I'm calling it a half day and heading out to the Charles County Fair this afternoon with the family. We're going to eat fair food, get some cotton candy, watch livestock and ride some death-trap rides.

It's nothing fancy, just a real country fair with bad food and creepy people. Sounds like fun.

Hunting Journal -- Tractor Ride

I just got in from my 40-minute tractor ride back from the hunting property up the road. That's so much fun driving the tractor on the road, and I'm pissed I didn't bring my camera to document it. I'm sure I'll do it again, but driving past the cows, the horses and the farm fields on the tractor, doing about 10 miles an hour, was such a thrill.

Well, that was my lunchbreak. Now it's back to work.

Grimace. Gurmble. Mutter.