Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Apple Trees in Bloom

Only about half of our Apples are blooming. I am hoping the other half bloom together as well otherwise I am going to have to find yet another variety to bridge the gap in bloom times.

My honey bees really seem to prefer Apple blooms over anything else it seems, they will stop working the Plum, Redbud and dandelions and focus almost exclusively on the Apples once they start. Hopefully that will insure more cross pollination as the years progress.

I never noticed even one bloom on the pear trees this year. Then again they are still young and I don't believe I saw any last year either. Perhaps they need to mature some more.

This evening out of all the various fruit tree bloom times is proving much harder than the various lists and expected bloom time lists I referenced suggested. Either a few of them were miss marked or someone had their expected bloom dates out of whack.

Got a little more garden work done today with a raised bed of onions put in and the first planting of the Pole Beans. It maybe a bit early yet but I have plenty for more planting if needs be.

What I really needed to do today was mow the yard but my garden tractor had a flat rear tire which I took in to get repaired and they still do not have it fixed. I couldn't even get the Ford out because I parked the lawn mower (with one tire missing) right in front of the Tractor.... Grrrrr... I should have known better and not done that at least I could have done some of the mowing with the brush hog.

They are forecasting at least an inch of rain for us tomorrow and if we get it you can bet I am gonna feel the lawn mowing squeeze before it dries out. Looks like I will be taking half cuts and twice the time when I can finally get back out there.

Still everything is ahead of schedule so no worries... YET. But it doesn't take much this time of year to get way behind on the grass.

Oh ya and we had two more lambs born this evening right about the time I was calling it a day. A little boy and a girl. I don't even know what we are up to now. All I know is there are lambs running everywhere inside the barn if they were any larger it would be like a giant mixing bowl of sheep swirl or something.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Redbud Trees in Bloom

I know I mentioned this a while back but the more I peak inside the hives and get my Spring inspections done the more I realize this Winter was a very near run thing. I may have only lost one real hive but almost all of them suffered some huge losses and all of them have a lot of open comb so far. I really should have removed a couple of brood chambers here and there but the girls have been back filling with uncapped honey so I don't want to hurt em. I hope at this point they manage to build up and the extra space doesn't attract pests but most of the queens have a lot of eggs to lay to make up for this Winter's losses.

The Redbud blooms finally opened up enough that the bees are working them pretty hard today. One thing I can say about this part of Missouri is there are a lot of Redbud trees. I think we have a good dozen just in and around the yard but the woods are full of em and my outter hives work them hard each Spring.

Work proceeds on the garden, new raised beds, grape run and seedlings although I haven't actually planted a seed outside yet. So far it's all been building frames, hauling dirt and nailing up the panels I saved from the fence line tear out. We got some more rain last night but the ground is remaining dry enough to work but there really isn't much hurry I usually only aim to get seeds in the ground the first week of May.

Really I have nothing to complain about this year at all now since the cold broke. It hasn't been too wet and it isn't too dry. The grass is of course growing faster than I would like but so far this Spring has been almost perfect and I have gotten a lot done. In fact I got so much done this weekend and then made a mowing run on the three yards I take care of I almost couldn't move this morning I was so stiff.

Why I felt like Harry this morning :)

I know this is going to leave many of you stunned but I just have nothing to complain about around the farm this Spring (so far). I really need to work on that and find something I guess.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Weekend in Pictures - Long Post

The tractor actually started off the weekend in blade mode. The son and I put the four foot blade on her early Saturday morning so I could blade out the loafing shed of ancient horse manure and then push it into a big pile. We also decided to attack an old sheet metal covered door that had been left to rot in our main hayfield.

I figure those two huge pieces of metal and rotting 2x6's prolly cost us about a round bale or more in hay each year. I don't know who put them out there or how long they been there but they were so stuck to the ground I had to use the blade to get em free and the old Ford groaned a bit at full throttle and granny low before they broke free. It then took the two of us the better part of an hour to remove the rotting boards from the sheet metal and haul the pieces out.

After that is when the tractor went into wagon mode.

That wagon was my very first homesteading project as a matter of fact. I pulled the frame out of some thick brush and the wood that was on it was rotted to pieces. I then stripped it down, wire brushed all the rust off it, two new tires and replaced all the wood. Back then I didn't even own a pickup truck so I knew if I was going to start cleaning this place up a wagon was my top priority. So far she has proven to be the most useful project to date. I haul so much stuff around the place with the tractor in wagon mode I don't know what I would do without that wagon. The little Ford in wagon mode can also go anywhere and leaves almost no ruts like the pickup or the large Massy tractor does.

After the old junk doors were removed from the hayfield we then started hauling the ancient horse manure all around the place topping off raised beds and even throwing some into the tilled garden for good measure.

I then put in this 30 foot grape run section. No I didn't switch the tractor into post hole mode either I dug those three posts in by hand mostly because my post hole attachment is trapped in the lamb maternity ward otherwise known as the main section of my barn. There was no where to put the lambs and ewes to get into the barn to hook the post holer up so I bit the bullet and used the hand operated model. Since they are only going to hold panels up for the grapes I am going to plant in there they didn't need to go in too far anyway. The posts were the drive in type with a pointed end and I whacked em pretty good with the sledge hammer after digging the post holes about two foot down.

As a side benefit all the materials for this project came from the fence line I took down and cleared out earlier this Spring. I also hauled em all out of the new Alfalfa field with the Wagon... Ain't it great when a plan comes together :)

What this grape run is ultimately for is providing a screen between the garden and the bee hives I keep at the house. When the girls are flying East they come out and cruise at just about head height across the garden and it has produced some stings from time to time when a returning forager flies into someone's head. When the grapes grow up to the full height it should make the bees have to climb some and be above head altitude when crossing the garden. It will also hide me from the hives and the guard bees when I am in the garden. I have noticed sometimes for a few days after I have been in the hives that they will see me out there and come to let me know how pissed they still are at me.

My Son got stung when a bee flew into his hair why we were building this grape run BTW... Ya I laughed at him as he jumped around cussing. While he was doing that one of the guard bees decided to buzz me and I had to put on my emergency veil.

You can also see one of my swarm traps hanging in the background of that picture.

We then moved the 66 tomato seedlings out to the hardening off area next to the filled rain barrels. This area on the North side of the house never gets direct sun so we start our plants off here and then move em out about a foot each day until they are in direct sun. Takes about 3 days and by that time they are acclimated and ready to go into the garden. The only danger is if some strong winds blow em over and they break a stem but I actually have spares this year.

This area works great for this as I water them each day right from the rain barrels. No muss no fuss....

The Wild Plums were in full bloom this weekend and made the entire area around the house and raised bed area smell sweet all weekend. I took a break long enough to capture a few pics of the girls working the flowers. I have a wall hedge of Wild Plum growing on the West boundary of the yard that I let go to block some dust from the gravel road and to allow the girls to work them. The Plum trees also attract some of the pests that would otherwise go for my Apples, Peaches and Pear trees. Sadly the Plum are also under a power line and every few years the trees guys come by and cut em all down. Oh well at least I get the wood chips out of them then.

We had five or six more baby lambs this weekend. Not sure as I was busy working while everyone else lounged around in the barn taking bets on which massively bloated Ewe was gonna pop next. I snapped this picture while the maternity crew (That would be everyone NOT me) were in a birthing stall helping with a problem delivery. These three little guys decided to chew on the waiting area chair for some reason while it was not occupied.

The maternity crew had to call in professional help as one Ewe had quadruplets for the first time in the five years we been breeding sheep. They got three of em out fine but the last one needed help and was beyond their experience level despite some damned good (and messy) trying. The vet was in the areas as all the cattle men here about have em busy anyway and he drove up and had that lamb out in about two minutes. Tipped his white hat to me as he drove off to his next emergency.

That'll be 200 bucks thank you very much....

Mom and half the baseball team she gave birth too are doing fine BTW.

I think we are up to 16 lambs now with six more Ewes ready to pop any day now. We may beat my expected total of 25 new lambs before this season is finished.

Finally as the sun was dipping towards the horizon this evening I re-tilled the first garden section and my Son helped me put out the bean and cucumber trellis for this year. I will begin planting tomorrow if it doesn't rain. Technically we could get a frost up until Mid May but the chance drops to only about 10% or so after April 20th around here. I will take those odds I guess as the long term forecast doesn't show anything to be worried about for over a week.

The only danger I might run into now is getting so much rain I can't keep up with the weeding after I get the seeds going.

I need to get caught up on everyone's blogs now...

Keep Prepping Everyone.

Friday, April 18, 2014

BoxElders Still In Bloom

It was almost completely a bee day today. I got all my Spring inspections done at two of my bee yards and trimmed a bunch of brush that was over hanging the access road to the North Bee Yard.

I may have only lost one real hive (I am not counting that late September swarm it was doomed from the beginning) over the Winter but I suspect the other hives were scraping the bottom of the barrel so to speak. I inspected five hives today and each of them have more room inside then they need to say the least. Plymouth Colony, my oldest and largest hive last year had one complete Brood chamber drawn out with comb but almost completely empty so far.

I did not see one swarm cell being made yet so that tells me the girls have a long way to go to reach the proper numbers for a Spring build up yet. I still have five more hives to inspect so maybe they will show a bit more build up. We will see.

After the inspections I finished painting the last of this years new swarm traps and the first run of expansion bottoms and tops. I need to make at least another three or four tops with the modified openings but what I have done should get me through until June or so. Maybe longer if we have a slow swarm season and it is looking like the season is going to start later this year now.

When I got back from bee inspections I noticed one of the smaller BoxElder trees was blooming and had the characteristic (for around here) hum of bees in it. This time however I managed to get a few good shots of my Honey Bees working the Blooms.

Basically I pretty much just ambush the bees with the camera. I tried focusing in on them but the girls work the blooms so fast the camera can't focus in fast enough. So I focus in on a bloom and wait for a bee to come in then...snap...

The ChokeCherry, Crab Apple, Plum and Red Buds are all right there ready to bloom. In fact the Plum is blooming a bit here and there so the Spring flow should be going full tilt this weekend.

I probably won't do another post now until Sunday. I have a full day planned for tomorrow and then after it is over I am going to bump my computer up from the 32 Bit Windows 7 to a 64 bit version. I been meaning to do it for months now as I screwed up and grabbed the wrong version when I fixed this computer back in November I think it was. After I had it all set up I realized it was on the 32 Bit version...DOH.

Wish me luck...

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!

Cattle Ranchers get Raided, Goat Herders get Subsidized

What with all the anger and finger pointing I see coming from the left towards the Bundy stand off I couldn't help finding this article I saw linked from Dudge this morning ironic in a way.

New Americans turn to goats to address food demand

New Americans? My guess was the article would have little to do with any of the Americans I know of who are raising goats on their own. Of course I was right on that assumption but even that little tidbit wasn't enough to make this article all that interesting to me this morning. No, it wasn't until I got down to a few numbers that were given in the article that I had to question the thing as blatant pandering.

The project is a collaboration between the Vermont Land Trust, which is giving the farmers access to the farm property on the Winooski River, and the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, now called AALV. The idea is that the land will be transferred to a cooperative entity representing the new American population and that group will take over the costs of the land - such as the insurance and taxes, Freudenberger said.

So they are being given the land. Doesn't say how much land. I wonder if they are buying all their feed?

A grant of about $20,000 from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters helped to get Dhaurali started last year with electric fencing, feed and other supplies. Another Vermont Working Lands grant of more than $10,000 helped create the custom slaughter facility. The project subsidizes the farmer for the first year, but when they sell the goats in the fall, it allows them to finance future years.

Here they have been subsidized to the tune of 30K (not counting the land value whatever that was). Then comes the money sentence.

Last year the project sold about 100 goats to families from more than 15 nationalities. Often, whole families including grandparents visit the farm to pick out the goat. Goat buyers can slaughter the animals on site the way they are accustomed to.

These numbers tell me that in their first year they would have been lucky to have covered barely two thirds of the grant costs gross. That is assuming a pay out of around $200.00 per goat sale which I doubt but let's give em the benefit shall we.

The article says the customer is doing the slaughtering but we can assume there is some charge for the facilities maybe.

Earlier in the article it is mentioned that in their second year they are raising about 200 goats for this year. Using my $200.00 pay out that would give them a gross figure of around 40K per year assuming all 200 live but doesn't include feed costs, insurance, structure maintenance etc. It also assumes all of the 200 goats have been acquired free of charge and without keeping a herd of breeding Does or Bucks which would add to the overall yearly feeding costs obviously.

Also of note was the paragraph where they complained that the "refugee" buyer couldn't communicate with the Farmer to buy their goats yet these two subsidized goat farmer families can communicate just fine with 16 different nationalities of origin?

Unless there are a number of not mentioned financial inflows I don't see how this endeavor would last more than another year myself, perhaps two if they completely write off ground and building maintenance. My guess is that the people running the farm are getting some type of  income assistance on top of what we are reading but that's simply a guess.

My final question is how many Old American's out there get free land and 30K in grants to raise say chickens and Pigs?

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lack of Militia to Blame for the Rising Police State

The argument makes sense if you think about it. It should be common knowledge that the Militia is an instrument of the people, by the people and for the people only unless called up and placed under paid Federal service by Congress at which point it becomes a part of the regular army. At all other times the Militia can be used for pretty much any endeavor within the area it is called up from and dependent on who does the calling. At some points in history it has been called up by various elected officials from townships, counties and States. At other times it has formed up almost at the behest of a general cry of need.

All the above being said the rules and regulations for the so called unorganized militia have been tinkered with and changed so many times someone against an actual militia can always deny it exists or is legal at all.

Of course who gives a rat's a$$ about those types anyway?

No Militia Means more intrusive Law Enforcement

In the time of the Framers, the militia was an armed body consisting of essentially the entire military-age male citizenry. Professional police not having been invented, the militia was the primary tool for enforcing the law in circumstances that went beyond the reach of the town constable, and it was also the primary source of defense against invasions and insurrection.

So the writer of the above linked article sees the problem.

Like any right when it is not exercised it eventually goes away and is forgotten much like the militia is completely forgotten about by most of the general population today. Instead of using the militia for matters of large scale crime or situations the various government bodies would rather hire more and more "professionals" which in turn become little standing armies of their own much like the evil the Founders wished to avoid.

Food for thought....

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Newest Swarm Trap Design

After yet another emergency assent up on to the barn roof during 40+ MPH winds this morning I decided I was done with working outside today. Oh there was plenty that needed doing and I had planned on splitting a load of firewood for stacking and then moving some more wood chips but I just couldn't take the constant buffeting today. It wasn't especially cold but this year the wind is just really annoying me and I just don't want to be out in it much.

So it was back into the shop once again.

I finished cleaning up and putting everything back where it belongs. Why I even swept the floor for the first time in I don't know how long. Then the supervisor told me I needed to do something productive if I was going to hide inside all day. She then went and took a nap.

I decided to build another swarm trap.

Last year I banged together a couple of these stands that fit over the top end of a standard metal fence post and I had pretty good luck with them. If you use the seven foot posts you can get the traps a good distance up there and don't have to worry about cutting a tree branch. You can also use standard Nuc boxes as traps. Not to mention the entire thing stacks better than the tree style traps since you don't have all those hanger brackets sticking off them or the need for a tie down screw on the front.

Here's a close up of the base. It's just a PVC pipe wedged between two end pieces of a 2x6" bolted together and then a scrap piece of plywood placed over the top. I then attach a hook on either side for a bungy cord to hold the trap box onto the base. The PVC pipe is just the right size that it doesn't spin around on the fence post but if you used a larger diameter pipe you could always drill a hole and put a bolt in it to clamp it to the post as well.

The really cool thing about this trap is that I only have to smear the ant repellant stuff on the post to keep them out of the trap not all over the tree limb and I don't have to worry about limbs growing up and touching the trap allowing the ants another avenue of invasion. I could also just place an entire hive up there with one single box if I wanted to and just move the hive to the new location and put a new one up for each swarm, however I been using specially made boxes with smaller round holes so anyone looking will think it is an extra big bird house.

I caught two swarms using one of these stands last year so this year I built two more stands to see if they continue to work. No more trying to find just the right tree with just the right sized limb facing the right direction. Since there is no hanging pressure supporting the traps own weight I can also make the entire trap out of plywood which is much cheaper overall.

I do have to keep buying bungy cords though :(

If the wind is still blowing tomorrow I guess I will have to find something else to build. I could always use some more brood supers put together I guess.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!