Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Reading - It's Soooo Hot....

Finally all the mechanical equipment is at least running and back ready for duty. Oh except the sickle bar mower that I still need to work on. Both garden tractors went down at the same time but they are fixed. I am now well over the 3K mark in mechanical repairs for the season and it looks like we got a long ways to go until things slow down.

The grass is actually growing so fast that not even the rams can keep it eaten down in their paddocks. I have never seen that before especially in July. Typically the rams are always jonesin for some fresh greens but not this year so far,

How hot is it? Well it's so hot that when I spread the wax cappings out on a plastic tub lid for the bees to clean the honey off of the cappings actually melted just sitting in the sun. No glass covered, insulated box needed.

I think a bead of sweat dripped on the camera lens in that pic but the bright yellow stuff you see is pure bees wax that actually melted out of the cappings while they were laying out. Wow that's some heat.

The poor sheep are convinced they are dying and some have even stopped venturing out of the barn for anything less than grain during day light. They are making short work of the round bales I am putting in the lot for them and munching it after dark but with the humidity so high I can't let them out into the pasture at night because that's when the Barberpole Worm nymphs or nematodes or whatever they are called come up into the grass.

After another armored nest clearing action the broody hen has finally given up. She moved to another nest after I cleaned out the old one but throwing her off it a couple times finally broke the cycle. Egg production did go up a bit when the heat died down some but is now once again down with the rising temps.

More rain and heat predicted for this week too. It's gonna be a long week let me tell ya.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Solar Wax Melter

Been running the wax melter since it's been so hot. Actually not as much as I would like to be since it's also rained on us so much. Speaking of which it rained out here again today obviously while I was at work. Luckily the clouds stayed around most of the day so it wasn't as oppressively hot as it could have been but when the sun did come out..... Well I went and took a nap it was so bad.

July and August are my big wax producing months around here. Typically I like to know it's going to be sunny and I melt down about a pound or so disc of wax every day. Unfortunately I am getting a lot more wax than I need these days and I have several pounds of it stashed away. It's really useful for making candles of course but I also use it for reloading lube, coating new plastic foundation and waterproofing the stitching on my boots. Honestly in a grid down situation the stuff would be worth it's weight in gold but in today's world not so much unless you have massive quantities to sell to a major company.

You can kinda see how I designed the thing and how it works here. I use a paper towel inside the strainer (that I broke the handle off of). In the bottom of the little crock I place about an inch or so of water and if the temperature and sun are just right I get some near perfect discs with it. If it gets cloudy or something I get the wax but it will come out in interesting shapes sometimes.

I used to wash the cappings and burr comb before melting it down but I stopped doing that as the added bits of honey kinda permeates the melted wax and makes it that much better for the uses I put it to. I especially love the smell of the candles when I burn them over the Winter months that have a little honey mixed in. That burnt honey smell is something only someone who harvest honey can appreciate.

Here she is all closed up and working. I could really do three or four discs a day easily but you have to move the box into the shade and let it cool for about an hour between each load. With work and all I am lucky to get the thing loaded and unloaded once a day right now.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Almost Time for Another Round of Haying

Looks like most of America is suffering from the same massive heat we are right now. Our humidity has dropped a very little bit but it is still like walking around in a constant hot shower whenever you are outside. I am doubly hampered by the heat since I spend the best part of the working day at my part time job and I get off just in time for the real heat to hit.

I got ahead of the Barber Pole worm issue it seems but that and catching up with the bees plus mowing constantly due to the rain and the heat has kept me well away from the fencing project. I have really dropped the ball on that and to top things off it is now time to get the next hay mowing in too.

All the neighbors got their cut today but truthfully I am usually a week or so behind them and I still need to get some work done on the old sickle mower to try it again.

The old boy down the road swears it just needs a little tightening and a few teeth replaced to be in tip top shape.

I guess that will now become my Sunday project.

Seems I never get caught up this time of year. I mostly blame mowing.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pokemon Go - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

I know this post has nothing to do with prepping or sustainable blogging. It might have something to do with surviving this crazy world we live in but maybe not. Honestly after spending hours yesterday afternoon and well into the night harvesting honey in the heat my brain was cooked so I been keeping as cool as possible today messing around with the game.

Tomorrow I hope to do a honey post but today you guys are stuck with Pokemon. I figure when I see the thing mentioned so much and even comments about it on the blog. It is something I should look into.

So since I have this new Smart Phone I thought I would give this game everyone is talking about a try.

To be honest I would try this app out even if it wasn't so popular. My son grew up on Pokemon and together we spent a lot of time playing the game when he was a kid. I had to buy us each a Gameboy so I could catch pokemon on the road and then on the weekends when I was home we would hook em up to the N64 and battle in the arena. This Pokemon Go is a bit different but we have had a few laughs with it so far.

The Good - Well it has gotten my grown son and I out of the house and wandering around a bit remembering some old times. We took over an arena together, have captured some old favorites and explored some areas we hadn't ever thought about before. Laughed a lot and generally had a good time. It gets my son outside more too.

This game is getting many kids and older people out of the house and out  moving around.

The first few experiences with the little game are really fun. I started it up and after catching my starter Pokemon I then caught one on Mrs. PP's head (it was Pidgey I believe). I caught a Pokemon on a co-worker's desk too. Then I figured out you could turn off the "Altered Reality" setting for easier and faster gameplay. The first few levels are ridiculously fun and Poke-stops are a treat.

The Bad - As you get higher level you quickly figure out that the low level Poke-Balls are almost useless. As with most leveling games it starts getting harder and harder to make any headway and the need for more and more experience or whatever you need to level quickly out weighs the games ability to keep up.

As with most new games that become a hit quickly the company cannot seem to keep their servers on line and deal with the numbers of users. Server outages are frequent and at the most inopportune times of course.  Also there appears to be one specific course to the most powerful Pokemon and within a few days almost everyone with all kinds of time on their hands have now locked up the gyms with that particular pokemon. So far it is the water version of the Evee Pokemon evolved to the maximum.

The Ugly - About Level 10 you realize you are more than likely going to have to drop some money into the game to continue to level. The Game has set up Poke-stops at monuments, churches, parks etc. and when you are near them you can spin the screen icon (which has some history on it about the place) and get Poke-balls to catch more Pokemon, potions, and other good stuff. The problem is these Poke-Stops reset and can be used every five minutes or so giving you 50Exp each spin.

I was talking to a delivery driver for a local Sub-Shop that also happens to be a Poke-Stop. He made it to level 15 in one day spinning the Poke-Stop every five minutes....

So another words if you are one of the lucky ones that happen to live, work or whatever in or near a Pokestop... well.... You win!!!! If you don't? You suck.

This little game is designed for Urban area players only. There is no way some one stuck out in the Burbs or a rural area can ever hope to compete against free stuff and exp every five minutes. Another guy I talked with lives in an apartment next to a Post Office that is a Poke-Stop. He said he stopped playing two days ago after maxing out everything he had.

I mentioned the server issues but they are pretty bad too. Everytime you turn around the game is locked up or won't let you log in because the servers are down.

All in all it's a fun little game at first but reality quickly comes crashing in on you and I think it will weed out the kids and those with real lives in areas other than urban centers very quickly. What they should have done was spread out Poke-Stops more evenly and made them once a day visits only.

Anyway just thought I would give my readers, who I know could care less about some little game a heads up on what all the brew-ha-ha is all about. I predict it will blow over quickly so don't go investing in the company right now.

It was also a good excuse to stay inside in the AC :)

Keep Prepping Everyone...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ahhhmm.... OOPS.

So two kinda significant things have happened to me in the last day or so. The first one being that I actually entered the 21st century in the form of my personal mobile communication devices and actually bit the bullet, gave up my 10 year old flip phone and got a real honest to god smart phone.  It's been interesting trying to figure the thing out let me tell you.

As a side note I got really excited when the guy at the phone store showed me the drones I could hook up and run with the thing. Man have I got some ideas :)

Anyway I did put the thing down long enough to pull my honey frames and since that job is done... Yes I still have to spin all the honey out which I am hoping to do tomorrow but more on that later. Now that it's mid-July it's time to bring the swarm traps in.

I rarely if ever get a swarm after mid-to-late June but I traditionally pull all the traps in on July 4th weekend. As you can see I was a bit late this year but since I am being a lazy bum hiding from this heat and humidity as much as possible I also haven't checked the traps in about 2 weeks or so.

My furthest trap is nestled in a little wooded area on the bluffs that overlook the Missouri River. I have thought many times about not placing a trap there every year because it is kinda a drive for me to get to but I get some amazing swarms from there every year. Or did until this year. So far this year I got zip from there. I keep that trap set more for sentimental reasons regarding the land it's on than anything else even with the amazing swarms because the cost in gas to go check it is rather prohibitive.

Well sometime in the last few weeks a swarm moved in. No telling just how long it's been living in there so the entire trap maybe just about full of loose hanging comb by now. I had the trap baited with one drawn out frame but a new swarm will begin building off the top across the entire box. Basically it's going to be like doing a mini-cut out when I get that trap in now. Not to mention I am goign to have to make the drive after dark here soon and get it.

It's not going to be tonight though because this evening I need to get the shop set up for honey extraction tomorrow. Suppose to be about 100 degrees tomorrow too. Oh joy.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sorry SO Quiet

Was running hard all day Saturday and today and did not get a chance to make a post. Got the hives done and honey pulled from them and that was about it besides.... you guess it... More mowing.

Anyway I will catch up tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bees and Chicken Drama

They were predicting a milder day today with a high in the lower 80's and a humidity level around 50 or 60%.  Considering that's about 10 degrees cooler and 40% or so below what it has been I decided to start getting the bee hives back into shape.

I made it about halfway through the total hives. Got the three down at the orchard and the four at the garden apiary but didn't touch the other eight in the back of the hay field. Wait that's only 15 hives I am missing one. Maybe there are nine down in the hay field? I really have lost count this year to be honest since I sold a couple but then caught a few more swarms.

Anyway I only took about half the honey I could see on the producing hives which amounted to four out of the seven. The other three were last years swarms or splits that need to build up a bit more. I ended up with two full supers full of capped frames so far. We will see what I get from the others on Sunday since I won't be able to do anything tomorrow.

While I was putting the bee stuff away it occurred to me that we had decided someone needed to move that broody hen off the nest. She has been sitting there longer than she is suppose to for incubation and I suspected either the eggs she had were not fertilized or there was some other problem.

The truth is I should have moved her when I was first told she was broody but that was in the middle of the crazy, lying, back hurt co-worker overtime work schedule I got hit with unexpectedly. I also wasn't told about it until she had been on the nest about a week already, so I kinda hoped my mother would deal with it. I should have known better actually she is pretty good about keeping the water tanks full and birthing lambs but that's about it.

So since I had my bee suit on and gloves I decided now was the time.

Man was that hen pissed. She actually had hatched a chick but it had died. Apparently I was just in time to catch it before the poor thing started decaying. Not sure about the other four eggs under her and I am not sure I want to know. Chalk this whole experience up to lax chicken care and amateur hour I guess. Not that we are geared up for baby chick raising anyway so the end result would have been the same regardless I imagine.

Anyway the hen was pecking me like crazy and screaming bloody murder. I got her out of the coop and closed the door which will keep her from getting back on that nest for a few hours anyway and give me time to clean the dead chick and eggs out. She has been broody now for almost a month and it's got to be causing her some serious physical stress so hopefully this will break her out of it and life can go on.

Maybe next time she goes broody I will be more prepared for it. I have plans to build a brooding cage and pen but I just haven't gotten to it yet.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Maybe the Worst is Over?

We are still getting almost daily rains. It's a far cry from the drought I feared we were going into about a month ago and of course the weeds and grass are growing so fast I can't even keep up.

Normally the heat doesn't really slow me down that much but this year adding in the constant 90+ humidity levels has really zapped my motivation levels. Coupled with the fact I am working at my part time job during the cooler, early part of the day it's about all I can do to make myself go out in the afternoons and get the mandatory chores done.

My new strategy for dealing with the Barber Pole worm issue seems to be working really well though. I am keeping the flock locked into the barn lot until the sun has come out long enough to burn the dew or new rain off the pasture grass. Haven't had to drench a ewe since. Not one sign of sickness or the telltale bag under the chin.

The noise level from the barn however has risen quite high as the ewes especially are not happy about being kept in the dry lot. I can't say I blame them as the so called dry lot ain't very dry with all this rain and the only shade is in the barn where there is not enough breeze even when I keep all the doors open.

Did I mention the smell? The entire world outside smells like a stinkin swamp, or worse. A partially overflowing septic tank might be more accurate and the flies are breeding like crazy.

Seems like every spare minute I can find when the temperature and humidity are within acceptable levels is spent mowing, mowing or even more mowing. The weeds really love this type of weather.

On the bright side the long term forecast shows a bit cooler tomorrow and perhaps a good week or more of it drying out once again. Also all this rain has managed to firm up all the fence posts I had put in back when it was so dry and the front hay field is about ready to bale once again.

Also I was examining the dead Paw Paw tree this afternoon and it looks like there maybe some new shoots coming back. Perhaps it is not totally dead and may recover.

One can always hope.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!