The deed is done

We sent our first steer to the butcher this morning along with a boar hog.

It took me longer than expected to find someone to do this so Porterhouse was becoming too pet like. If he would have been around much longer I don’t know if we would have been able to butcher him. Well one of we. If everything goes well with this butcher it will be a regular occurrence. I have too many pigs right now and two more steers that are either going to be sold or sent to the freezer. I know one is next years freezer steer but the other may be sold.

 

Over two weekends I worked to straighten the comb in the hives. It was a mess. Instead of following the guides down each bar the bees built at a 45 degree angle across the bars. I caused so much disruption that I haven’t been back into the hives. I wanted to give them a chance to get all the comb reattached. I use hair clips and string to hang the comb in line with the bars and that means they have about an inch or more to fill in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find both queens had stayed with the hive and both were full of larva and hatching baby bees. I was watching the bees come and go this morning and about half looked like they were carrying white saddlebags.

 

The garden is doing very well this year with all the rain. So are the weeds.These pictures were taken right before the last series of rains. Now the beans have grown up and over the fence. It is a green wall.

Back in Bees

The bees I had ordered a few months ago finally arrived.

Jars of sugar water ready to go into the feeders.

In the homemade feeders.

Sitting in the hive waiting for the thirsty bees.

Cover off and ready to lift out the syrup can and queen cage.

The queen and her maids. I’ll release her in a few days.

Queen cage hanging in the hive with all the new bees.

All closed up for the night.

I was able to go back and shake a few more bees out of the box after I got the other hive taken care of.

I sure am glad to have my bees back.

May 1st 2017 and spring is in full swing on the farm.

A couple of weeks ago, April 18th to be exact, Rosie gave us another healthy little heifer.

Here she is at two days old enjoying the morning.

We have five turkey hens sharing a nest. They each have a few eggs under them so I guess they are just sharing the nest site. This brush pile is relatively close to the house so they should be safe from predators. They usually nest out on the fringe of the property and we loose a couple each spring. The dogs just can’t be everywhere.

I got the garden planted and set a box trap with chicken feed to catch a few chickens that are determined to fly over the fence. Not only did I catch several chickens and clip their wings I also caught several members of our squirrel population. Here are two. 

Friday the corn started to break through to the sun. Buy Sunday evening the crows had eaten every single one. Each of those little pock marks was once the home to a new corn plant.

Notice the bare patch in the back. Crows…

I replanted about 2/3 of that spot in corn and the rest in sweet potatoes. If something gets the corn again I’ll just plant something else. Maybe okra. I didn’t have room for it this time.

The little garden is only about 40 x 40. I am adding 12 to 16 feet along the back but it won’t be usable until next year and it won’t be good then. I have some work to do building up the soil back there.

I received notice that my bees have been shipped so I will be re-hiving them in the next day or so. I have two of the top-bar hives cleaned up and ready for them. I’m debating on if I need to buy another package or two to fill the remaining hives or just hope to catch a swarm. Decisions, decisions.

 

 

A little catching up to do.

We had a wonderful two weeks with out grandsons from Alaska. They were able to be here for Christmas and New Years. It was the first time in quite a while that they were able to see their cousins. Everyone had a good time.

While they were here Jacob learned how to drive the tractor. Here is a picture of him helping me give the cows a roll of hay.

Well we have a new year and a new President and administration. For better or worse Donald Trump is our President. I don’t think he will be as bad or good as some think. That’s all I’ll say about it here.

Olive finally gave us another little heifer on Jan 14th. The heifer will be available for sale in a few months. I’ll keep her as long as I can because it gives me the flexibility of milking once a day and not at all if something comes up.

I waited a week before I started milking her. It might have been a mistake. Milk from her front two quarters appears good but her right rear is pink indicating an infection. Probably mastitis. I’ve been stripping her out and started adding apple cider vinegar to her food. That worked well when Rosie had mastitis.

Spring time is just around the corner. The chickens have started laying eggs again. Went from a couple a day … maybe, to 8 to 10 a day.

Still too early to start seeds but it’s getting close. Start too soon and the plants have to be under the lights too long and they get tall and lanky.

The bee hives have been cleaned and stacked up. Waiting for spring and new packages that I still need to order. I hope I can catch a swarm or two this year. I didn’t catch any last year.

Right on schedule

I’ve been watching Marla wondering if she would have her calf near the same time as last year. Well she was one day early. This little heifer was born on Saturday the 26th and last years little bull was born on the 27th.

This was Saturday afternoon. She was still wet and I didn’t know if she was a bull or heifer yet.

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By Sunday afternoon Marla had brought her up to the barn and I was able to check her out. Marla wasn’t very happy with me handling the calf. She growls, kicks dirt and tries to get in the way but she doesn’t fight me.

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Now we wait to see if Olive follows last year as well. If so she will give us another calf close to Dec 5th.

One last note. WE GOT RAIN!! It’s been 3 months since we have gotten any rain to speak of.  We are expecting more rain tonight. I have 5 sacks of grass seed that I’ve been waiting to spread.

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a very nice day yesterday visiting with family at two separate gatherings. My niece Ashley and her husband hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family. Then we went to Lisa’s moms house to visit with her side of the family. Good food and company all day.

It’s been a while so a little catching up is in order.

I don’t think that I mentioned the last hive swarmed late this summer. I don’t know what caused it but my guess is it was a combination of ants and the drought. So, I’ll buy some more bees and start over in the spring. Maybe I can catch another swarm or two. I didn’t get any last summer.

With the drought still in full swing and the unusually warm weather I never did plant a fall garden. I placed the last two sows and their oops piglets in the garden area for now. The plan is to castrate the males this weekend and move them all back with all the rest. Then I can plant my garlic and onions. The weatherman is saying that we have a good chance of some rain in about a week. We’ll see. A lot can happen in a week.

A couple of weeks ago my cousin, his girlfriend and her daughter came to visit the farm. The piglets were a hit but nothing like Ava. We have gotten used to Ava stealing the show.

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Everyone waiting for breakfast.

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Something you don’t expect to see at Tractor Supply. I stopped in for a few items and had to get a picture of what was in the trailer next to me. Lisa wouldn’t have believed me without proof. It might be a little hard to tell but there are two camels in the trailer. A large one on the left and a much smaller one on the right.

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Found this little guy in the basement when I was feeding the cats. He was small and cooperative so he lived and went for a ride to a new location away from houses. I was able to slide a pet carrier up to him and he went right in. He must have know what the alternative would be.

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Here we are torturing Ava with pecan pie. She wanted out badly. I missed getting a picture of her head upside down looking through the mesh. She is just too quick.

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Due to other commitments Lisa’s younger brother Greg and his family wouldn’t be able to attend Thanksgiving so they came down a day early. We had a nice visit and as usual the animals were a hit. Especially for little Cooper.

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The only remaining registered boar for sale may have gotten a stay of execution. If the weather would have stayed cool this week he would have made it into the freezer this weekend. I just got a call from someone who wants a pair of American Guinea Hogs. If he takes the offer he will be getting a deal. I’m over run with hogs and need to move them.

The aquariums in the basement are full of fish and I noticed tilapia fry in the outside tank. I will have to try and move them this weekend or they may not last if the temperature drops again. The heater will keep the water warm enough for adult fish but I don’t know about fry.

 

 

Look what I found!

I was cleaning out the canister filter on one of the tilapia aquariums this weekend and found these 3 little guys in the bottom. How they have lived in there for so long is a mystery. Yes they are alive. The largest is about 2 inches long. The line going into the filter is only about a half inch so he has been there for a while.

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I emptied the sump tank and cleaned it out yesterday and there were all these fingerlings in there. I knew they were there but didn’t know how many. There should be more in the main tank as well.

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Pigs, Pigs everywhere. If anyone is interested in KuneKune AGH cross pigs I’ll make you a deal. Shoot me an email.

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Some random shots of the cows and calves.

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I cleaned out the compost and scattered it on the garden. I don’t know how well you can see in these pictures but it was full, I mean full of red worms. The garden is going to love this.

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Got all the compost tilled into the garden and brought in 20 bales of straw. I’ve started breaking down and scattering the bales but I’m not finished yet. It’s almost time for the fall garden.

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Here is a picture of the new home of the pig we sold that now lives in NY. We are waiting for updated pictures of him. He is living in hog heaven for sure. Wish that was my pond. Maybe some day.

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And here is Billie Jo we sold earlier this year who now lives in Arkansas. She sure is a pretty heifer. I hear that she has a stubborn streak though. Personally I think they all do.

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We still have hens, turkey and chicken, that have gone broody. Here is the latest batch of chicks. The hen made her nest in an unused portion of the aquaponics system.

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Lastly, is Smokey. She more than any of the other cats loves new spaces. Boxes, bags or open cabinets. Leave something open and she will crawl in and make her self comfortable. We are using it for our bathroom cabinet but it is actually my Great Grandmothers bread making cabinet. Smokey is laying on top of the flour sifter. All original including the sliding glass doors and the sliding counter. It could use some work but would lose some of its charm.

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There’s always something

The animals have been keeping me both busy and up at night this last week. Jack has gotten a nasty eye infection again. It isn’t as bad as the one he had a couple of years ago thankfully. I’ve been spraying his eye and putting salve around it to keep the drainage from causing a skin infection like he had last time. The infection had just started to form but I caught it early enough and that part is almost completely gone. His eye is still red and irritated but it too is getting better.

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Bobie Jo never gained any weight after calving this year and started to go down hill. She continued to lose weight even though I was feeding her more and more. Last Thursday she only ate about half of her grain and Friday she didn’t eat anything. Definitely not like her. I started reading on the Internet and placed a call into the Vet. From my reading is sounded like Ketosis and when the Vet called me back he confirmed that her symptoms fit. I bought a jug of Propylene Glycol and a drench kit on the way home. 25 ml every six hours starting Friday night. She didn’t eat her grain Friday or Saturday but by Sunday she was starting to get her appetite back. This morning (Monday) she was back to her old self eating like a horse. Now maybe I can get some sleep. She is still not out of the woods yet but now that she is eating again and the calf is off her she should start gaining weight. Thankfully she never stopped eating hay or drinking. We tried to tube her Saturday to make sure she was staying hydrated but that wasn’t a successful process. I got the tube in a couple of times but wasn’t confident enough that I wasn’t in the lungs so we stopped and decided to just watch her to see if she was indeed still drinking. Thankfully she went over to the trough and stuck her head in. She didn’t drink as much as I would have liked but it was enough to keep me from sticking that tube back down her throat.

Weekend before last we were able to finish laying the grass on one side of the yard. I still have a lot of prep work before we can do the other side. It’s looking good so far especially with the flowerbeds Lisa put in this summer.

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A Month? Really?

Has it really been a month. How time flies in the summer.

I think I ended up relocating four Rat Snakes in about a three week period. No more snakes but now I have a couple of rats in the chicken house. I guess I’m feeding the barn cats to well. A flashlight and pellet gun will get rid of the rats before they become a problem.

Timmy got a clean checkup on his last visit to the vet. No red gums or exposed bone. I sure am glad Dr Thomas decided to not do surgery and let the antibiotics and salt rinse have a chance.

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We spent a week “camping” (in a 5th wheel trailer) on West Point Lake. It was nice and relaxing even though we had to run home every day to feed all the animals and milk the cow. That took a chunk of time out of the day but we were operating on our time. No alarm clocks and no need to be anywhere at a certain time.

This year we had unusual camp guests. There were probably 30 to 40 juvenile vultures staying at the campground. They didn’t bother anything and were interesting to watch as they established pecking orders. They would be there first thing in the morning until about 8:00 then they would leave. We would see them off and on throughout the day but not in camp until the next morning.

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Lisa and Ava feeding some semi-wild ducks. They weren’t the first to feed them based on how quickly they came out of the water for a little bread. We also had a baby armadillo come through the camp a couple of times but those pictures were to blurry.

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Saturday we sold Rosies calf. Well actually she was spoken for shortly after she was born. She was picked up Saturday. I got a rope on her and she wasn’t happy at all. Lisa was opening the gate for us and the 200 lb heifer threw herself into the gate hitting Lisa in the face and knocking her to the ground. It almost knocked her out but thankfully a little ice and some anti-bruise cream prevented her from looking like she had been in a brawl.

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The strangest thing happened when our guests walked through the gate. Mike the bull completely lost his mind. He never charged anyone but he acted like he was going to. Everyone went back out and it took me a while to settle him down. By the afternoon he was back to normal. The two men were wearing bright colored shirts. We wondered if that might have been what riled him up or just four new people invading his area. All I know is he almost went into the freezer. I won’t have a mean bull around to hurt someone.

Fall garden prep is just around the corner. I opened the gate to the ducks and geese so they could clean up the garden spot. They are doing a good job. Not a quickly as the goats would have.

We are currently resodding the front yard. We put down one pallet last weekend and I have ordered two for this weekend. That should be enough to finish one side of the yard.

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A few weeks ago Lisa entered some of the animals in a local “Cute Pet Contest” and the results were released this week. Ava won! How could she not.

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Egg Eaters

Egg eating snakes have been a problem in the past week.

Last Wednesday I caught this 6 foot Grey Rat Snake in one of the nesting boxes. I took him to the back of the property and let him go. Last seen heading away from the property. Thought it might come back but I didn’t have time to take him farther and I don’t kill friendly snakes if I don’t have to.

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All was well and we were getting our normal 6 to 8 eggs a day until Monday morning. No eggs. I knew my friend must have returned. I was ready but had to find him. I found a snake behind the nesting boxes but it was much smaller. It was another rat snake, maybe 4 foot long and not nearly as thick. It also had some minor damage about 6 inches from its head. Nothing serious but it looked like it had gotten hung in some chicken wire at some point. I ran it out from behind the nesting boxes and put it in a feed sack and hauled it down the road on the way to work. That should be it. I usually get a couple of these nest raiders a year.

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Tuesday, No Eggs again! Looking around I find another rat snake behind the nesting boxes on the other side of the hen house. I tried to run it out but it just found a way to get deeper into the wall so I had to let it go for the time. When I got home from work I took a light out and sure enough it was still there but this time I was able to capture it. Hopped into the truck and took it for a ride. It was another small one. 3 snakes in a week is very unusual. Hope they don’t have any friends and I can get back to collecting eggs again instead of snakes.

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