Crack in the fishtank!

I thought I had a small leak in the aquaponics fish tank. I was topping off the tank twice a day for almost a week until I had time to repair it.

After draining most of the water out I found I had about a four inch crack.  I have no idea how it could have happened but it was there.

One good thing about draining the tank is it gave me a chance to look at the fish. I have a couple that are ready to fillet and put on the grill.

I also found that several made their way into the sump tank.

Tank patched and refilling.

I have found that Tilapia love sweet potato and morning glory vines. Here are some morning glory vines in the tank. By the next morning all the leaves will be gone and only the vines will be left.

July in Alabama

Typical late July with temperatures near 100 and high humidity. Almost too hot and muggy to get anything done. The afternoon showers cool things off but after they pass the sun returns and you almost need gills to get a breath of air.

The calves are growing and two of them need new homes. We have guests coming this weekend to look at pigs. Hope they buy a bunch. One or two at least.

The garden is almost done for the first round. Purple hull peas are done. Green beans are almost finished. The butter beans came on late so I should get more from those vines. As soon as I can get the sweet potatoes out I will replant some white and red potatoes, onions and garlic. I should get a second crop of potatoes if we don’t have early cold weather. I dug up about 30 lbs of potatoes earlier this week.

I picked up the meat from the steer and hog I had butchered. The hog weighed 190 lbs and the steer was 500 lbs +/-. The meat filled up our large upright freezer and two shelves of our small 10 cu ft upright. We shouldn’t be buying beef or pork for a while. If I time it right we shouldn’t be buying it ever again. I just need to make sure I send something to the butcher before running out.

Bee Struggles

Well the bees have gone again. All started out well but the last couple of weeks I have been struggling to control small hive beetles. The bees finally had enough and both hives left for better surroundings. I had moved the hives closer to the house so I could keep a better eye on them. The problem might have been that the location had more shade than I realized. I’ll just move the hives again and see if I can catch a late swarm or two. If not I’ll buy more next year and start over again.

On a better note, when I checked on Bobby Jo after work Friday she had a brand new heifer calf. The last four calves have been heifers. Lets hope that continues.

Even with all the rain and the weeds trying to take over the garden it is producing well. At least the green beans are producing. Squash, not so much and the peas are just starting to come in. I dug a few potatoes. Most are small but they will be good in soups and stews. It’s still too early for the sweet potatoes.

 

And then there are the egg eaters. I usually catch two to four of these a year. Caught this one last week and it was the first for this year. Lisa called me today to let me know there was another one on the porch that needed to be rehomed If it was still there when I got home. It will probably be gone because she said the cats were keeping a close eye on it.

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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