Monday, April 27, 2015

Tractor Time - Old Ford Fencing Team

We finished putting in all the posts needed to complete stage 1 of the fencing project today. Stage 2 shouldn't require any more post hole digging other than what we have done already. Stage 3 will be another post hole night mare however.

As you can see I used the 861D for the post hole digging and the 8N as the jump and fetch girl. In this pic she has the boom pole back on as we used it to pull the old copper grounding rod out of the ground and to chain up the corner posts which weighed in at a pretty hefty amount I must say. It was much easier to move them with the boom. The old girl also had the blade on her for pulling old posts, the hay spike which we used like a pole to move the rolled up wire and then unroll it and the carryall I built.

Here was the last three way corner we needed to put in the ground which will also act as a gate post that will open into the stage 2 area for even more sheep mowing.

With a little luck and some fast work I am now shooting for putting in the last 60 foot or so of woven wire tomorrow, finishing up the gates Wednesday and letting the sheep out into this first section by Thursday.

Sammich says she is ready to get off the stinkin dry lot already.

All that lush green out there just out of reach is maddening and I can't say I blame her either. That grass has to be better than dry old hay.

Once this stage is finished and I find out for sure if it is dog proof I am thinking it will also allow me to begin giving much more serious thought to some chickens around here. Will give em a nice little open range area and escape place if the neighbor dogs come calling.

I even talked my mom into running around on the riding mower this afternoon and had time to drive over and mow my dad's lawn as well so I am almost finished with this weeks mowing duties as well.

After this stage is complete I may just have time to focus more on the bees for a few days at this rate. I think my head is going to explode.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Reading - A New Hive is Born

I have really neglected my hives this Spring. Of course they are not the only thing that was neglected this year due to the pre-Spring dry period being so short, lambing season being so hectic and the grass getting an early kick off. Not to mention this huge fencing project.

I knew Henricopolis hive was getting crowded. They started bearding early during the few 80 degree days we had and when a hive starts bearding that early it's a good sign they are going to swarm as soon as possible. I just really thought I had at least another two weeks before swarms would be kicking into gear.

Boy was I wrong.

While I was hanging the gate for the garden this afternoon Henricopolis kicked out a very respectively sized swarm. I was extremely lucky in that A. I was standing less than 30 yards from it as the cloud of bees came out. And B. The swarm decided to settle on a this branch which was only about 8 foot or so off the ground and easily snipped off with my shears.

I set up a new hive in the old position Jamestown had been in. Gave em half a brood chamber full of frames already drawn out and half a surplus super of drawn frames as well. Then carried the branch over and knocked the ball of bees off into the hive. The swarm ball didn't even have time to send out any scouts and the few stragglers were already marching into the hive entrance within a minute or two. If they stay in there I will have to say it was one of the easiest swarm captures I have ever done.

I will watch em closely tomorrow and if they swarm back out of the hive I gave them I may need to transfer a frame of eggs from one of the other hives to keep em in place. Typically the queen and the nurse bees will not abandon eggs and larva but I am betting I won't have to go tot hat length.

One reason I don't stress over much about Winter dead outs anymore. The real cost in resources and time is in the comb, frames and wooden ware of the hive. By having the ability to put a new swarm into a hive that is almost completely drawn out and ready cuts down on the build up phase. It's also the main reason I shy away from all the top bar type hives too as they are more problematic to shuffle around than solid frames. Not to mention the loss when it comes time to harvest honey.

Henricopolis hive will need to be watched fairly closely now to be sure the new queen mated properly and begins to lay and I really need to open her up and check for any missed swarm cells. After swarms can really hurt a hive even if the primary one doesn't set it back too far to begin with.

Because of the swarm I didn't get any new posts sunk this afternoon but we did get the first section of fence strung and one gate hung. We actually used the 8N with the big bale spike on her to transport the roll of fence. I adjusted the top arm all the way down so when raised the main spike came up at about a 40 degree angle. This allowed us to transport the heavy roll of woven wire and then unroll it like a sheet in front of the posts. It actually turned out to be one the easiest fence stretching episodes I have ever done.

More posts are scheduled for going into the ground tomorrow before a new round of mowing starts tomorrow afternoon. This is one of the harder sections to do so I am looking forward to having this finished within the week if the rain cooperates.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Catch Up - Corner Posts and Carryall Tailgate

The last two days have not been especially cooperative with getting a lot done outside. It's been spitting rain until today when it actually rained hard a few times. Yesterday the wind was just cold enough and blowing hard enough to give me an earache but not quite cold enough to wear my fuzzy hat with the earmuffs.

My goal was to get the horizontal support boards cut and in place, pound in the metal T-posts and stretch out the first 60 some odd feet of woven wire today. I didn't quite make it. This section of the fence project is actually going to be the most labor intensive as it requires two corner posts and four gate sections. I have combined a couple of corner post supports in with the gate posts when I could and elected to go with what I call the H pattern of support posts. After everything is in place I will come back and lop the vertical posts off at uniform level.

Keep in mind I have not put in a corner or gate post in about 35 years either. I was a bit rusty ont he first few wedges I cut.

Ouch that one is a bit ugly. I can do better chainsaw work than that.

Ok a little better. I am sure I can get it even tighter with a little more practice.

Now that's a proper wedged in support beam, more or less. I still have a bit of a gap in the very back but I can live with that one.

When I get this section finished it will encompass the entire North and West sides of the barn and have gates that go out into the drive way, garden, West section of pasture and the hay field plus one walk in gate near my wood pile for curing. It also encompasses one of the Ram paddocks but when I start working on the East section of fence that paddock will be moved. The entire thing will cut my current mowing area down by about 1/3rd and by allowing me to just let the sheep out there when it needs mowing. This will be huge as mowing takes up so much of my time during the Spring and Summer months. It will also allow me to load and unload from the stock trailer in a relatively enclosed space in case some wayward sheep decide to make a run for freedom.

After getting all the support beams in place I was ready to begin stretching the woven wire when the real rains hit. Kinda put an end to my fencing work for the day which was alright as it was time to feed the bottle lambs. The rest of the afternoon ended up being wave after wave of rain with short periods of sun between them. Prime honey bee swarm weather actually but these kinds of storms are about two weeks too early. I am a bit concerned about that as it may mean we go into the dry period too early as well.

In between rain storms I worked on the tractor carry all a bit more and designed a satisfactory tail gate for it.

I had to bend some hinges I had and install them under and then used eye-hooks and a bungy cord to hold the gate in place. Simple and easy to repair if the cord wears out and it holds no matter how much bouncing around I do. All that's left now is a nice paint job and adding more tie down points to secure whatever I am hailing around the place. The entire project cost me about $35.00 and most of that is in the extra cat. 1 crossbar I had laying around. It's also given me an idea that I may make another one only custom sized to haul my electric motor cement mixer around with a small generator. Never know when that might come in handy.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Preparing for Just in Time Demographics

I hafta admit I get a chuckle when I see complaints about open borders, illegal immigration, amnesty etc. etc.

Not that I am all for allowing Hispanics, Africans or anyone else in by the millions to be sure but I can't help but be amazed at all the people out there who somehow sound shocked about it but cannot put two and two together and figure out that their very way of life depends on this final Hail Mary play by the politicians.

Personally I would love to see the anti-Amnesty/No Open Borders crowd win a huge victory and stop all this importing of the third world in it's tracks. Maybe even reverse it and send the illegals back. We can blame rampant immigration for most of today's police state issues, crime, a huge chunk of welfare and any number of other things we would be better off without.

Yet the facts are clear. Feminism and the bloated governments it brought with it from local cities and counties all the way up to the Federal juggernaut has sealed our fate. The politicians have no other option if they hope to keep the promises they made but invite in every possible tax payer they can, anyway they can.

New Minority Growth is Occurring Just in Time

Yet were it not for new minorities, the country’s labor force would decline by 8 percent.  Moreover, within the labor force, new minorities add needed youthfulness that brings with it innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. Projections of the labor force show that in 2030, 54 percent of new minorities will be under age 40, compared to well under half of the rest of the labor force population.

These same people who scream about this rampant immigration will turn around and vote for increased medicare, demand their social security or pension payments and expect communities like Detroit or Scranton or Chicago to "Honor their promises" as the citizens vacate and the tax base disappears.

Open borders and unrestrained immigration is the price we pay for the lifestyle we been living for the last five decades. It's the first few payments coming due for the outrageous promises and massive creation of government make work employees. The government is hoping that these people will pay the debt because there is no where else to turn.

Of course this plan will fail and fail hard. Immigration has already changed this country and made it unrecognizable from what it was even a few decades ago. This cure for American debt will still kill the patient and bleed it dry while doing so. Make no mistake preparing for the eventual end game of mass immigration is just as much a collapse scenario as a financial crisis, EMP attack or Solar flare event. In fact mass immigration is one of the leading symptoms of a financial collapse as it slowly overwhelms the system along with the other causes. However immigration is a problem more easily dealt with after the financial collapse than some other problems.

For one most of these immigrants have little or no loyalty to the country, Constitution or anyone outside their own ethnic groups. Somalis may in fact find Michigan liveable with massive welfare, heating assistance and automobiles but I seriously doubt they are going to find it comfortable once the first Winter hits after a collapse. The same can be said for about any racial group crammed together in North American cities actually. This mass immigration has not in fact ever been a colonization by historical rules, there has been no accumulation of land or sustainable communities by the immigrants, it has simply been a movement of the unwanted from one country to ours. There has been no Guatemalan farmers or Kenyan ranchers. Certainly immigrants have taken jobs but they have not infiltrated the areas of true survival a community and country needs to sustain itself.

As the money dwindles there will be a reversal of this migration. It has been fueled by government debt and it will only continue by government debt. Self sufficiency, being debt free yourself and able to feed yourself in a rural environment is the best option for dealing with this aspect of the coming collapse.

Staying out of the way of convenient migration paths back South might help as well.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Finishing up and My Deadout Hive

Today was the day to take care of a few things that I had been lagging on finishing up. I ran into to town and got the pressure treated boards I need to finish the corner and gate posts I placed. Then since they are forecasting rain starting tomorrow I brush hogged the East pasture.

There is something rather satisfying about brush hogging the horse pasture. Whenever I am out in their pasture the old nags always come up and get in my business but they hate it when I am on the loud iron horse and can take them on. They will run up and stand in my way like they dare me to hit them and then bolt at the last minute when they realize I sure as hell will hit them and enjoy it too as I drive over them cackling loudly.

Why if they let me hit em I might just paint kill silhouettes on the side of my tractors :) Too bad there are only four left which means I won't get to be an ace. Maybe the Donkey could count as the fifth?

So anyway the East pasture is now brush hogged. I am trying to keep the cockle-burr plants from getting seed heads on them this year. The horses won't eat them (of course because horses are useless) but once I get the new fence up the sheep will chomp em down to ground level. They love the cockle-burr plants. Leaves, stems, flowers but not the actual burrs, but if I keep the plants mowed down when I do let the sheep out they will finish em off for me.

Sheep are wonderful. I love sheep. But not in a Muslim kinda way you understand. I had to put that in before the Kimber troll jumped all over it. He's kinda like that.

After the brush hogging was done I put a few almost finishing touches on my wooden tractor carryall I been working on. It isn't completely finished yet as I need to add a back tail gate kinda thing, some eye hooks to tie stuff down on and a paint job but this was the test to see if my design was solid.

It worked wonderfully. At one point both my son and I were standing on it which should get us close to 400 pounds and the thing didn't even groan. It should work perfectly for shuttling bee hive equipment and swarm traps around when it's too wet to use my truck. It actually wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be either, I am able to hook it up easily by myself.

The last thing I needed to get done today was opening up Jamestown colony and seeing if it was truly a deadout and the neighbor bees were robbing it or what. The sad news is that it is indeed a deadout.

From the look of things I am pretty sure this was another unfortunate starvation loss. The robbers had opened up plenty of comb with honey in the lower box but the original bees had all died in the top box. My guess is that last cold snap we had back in late March caught the bees too far up and they starved. More than likely they had the queen up there laying for the Spring build up and just couldn't break the ball in the cold to go down and get the honey under them.

One of the biggest problems with bee keeping around here. Sudden cold snaps in March and April can catch the bees positioned poorly and with very widely spaced stores. If the cold snaps last too long the cold temp ball can find itself starving out within a day or two with food just out of reach and nothing they can do about it. I am partly to blame as I often leave the bees too much space over Winter in an attempt to give them extra honey in the Fall.

At least I know the answer now and got that hive picked up before the vermin and pests could get into it. All those drawn frames will give this years splits and swarms a good headstart to building up for Winter.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tractor Time - Little Asian Number

Noooo sorry gentlemen no pictures of Kubota's, Yanmars or whatever with sleek attachments today. I thought about it but really I didn't have time.

I finally sold that White Elephant tiller I been messing with for months. I had to have a PTO shaft custom made for it which wasn't really all that more expensive than what a new one costs to be honest. I also had to load it up and deliver it to the buyers house about 60 miles North of me. Then I had to learn how to operate his tractor and unload it myself.

Not really sure how that works that the old boy either couldn't or didn't know how to operate his own tractor but I got a crash course in operating some little Asian number today.

It looked a lot like the one above (At least it was Red and Boxy looking anyway) which I understand is something called a Jinma. It was a diesel and had an after market Koyker front end loader. There was no name brand or logo on the thing anywhere I could find other than the aftermarket front end loader that is. It also had a four speed PTO control so I am pretty sure this guy got a good tiller he can use.

I never did find the throttle either I just used it at the low setting it was at.

It was a four speed transmission but had a separate gear shift for the speed and one for forward and reverse. SO I guess it had four speeds forward and four reverse. I never got it out of 1st gear either direction. When I finally got the tiller unloaded and set where he wanted it I couldn't even figure out how to shut the tractor off as it had that diesel thing going on where you can turn the key off and the engine keeps running. The left front tire was so low on air it actually started coming off the rim by the time I was finished but the guy didn't seem a bit concerned. All the writing on the controls was in Chinese or Korean or some stick letter alphabet.

Honestly the whole thing was just very strange but a learning experience and I did make a little bit of a profit off the transaction. Of course if you averaged out the money I made by the amount of time it took me to figure out what that tiler was and what it would run on and get it ready to sell,  I think I made about .25 cents an hour overall.

Oh well live and learn.

And if you stuck with this story this long you deserve a reward.....

There's a little Asian number for ya.

So I managed to unload that tiller and make a little bit of cash to put towards buying a tiller I can actually use. Not a bad day I guess.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One Hive is Doing Well and Little Peaches

This is one of my younger hives from last year. Henricopolis which was one of the few swarms I actually caught hanging on a branch right after it came out of the hive last year, I ended up missing most of my own swarms last season. It was a swarm from Jamestown on June 4th, 2014 and did well building up.

Last week when we got a few days where the temps climbed into the 80's I noticed it was already bearding a bit. That means it's full of bees and brood and will be the first one I check next time I have a good day for Spring inspections. I am sure it needs a new brood chamber added and I would lay money on the fact that it has swarm cells already capped which will be perfect for some early year splits.

I've currently got five hives in the garden apiary and that is about four too many but it has just been too wet to move them. I have two new spots already picked out and prepped for new hives but I can't get into them without risking getting stuck. The Garden apiary is reserved for new hives and problem hives that need close observation and if there are too many strong hives nearby they end up robbing the weaker ones.

Oh well at least I made some good progress on the fence project today. I hung the walk in gate and got two more gate posts dug and set and even managed to set the first five steel posts for the woven wire section and attached the entire thing to the side of the barn. As long as the rain cooperates it looks like I am right on schedule to get this finished by early next week which will be just in time to put our new Ram into the temporary paddock until I can switch to the East side of the barn and get the two new Ram paddocks finished. It will also be just about the right timing to let the ewes out with the new lambs to take care of mowing that area.

The Peach trees are positively loaded with little green Peaches, which makes sense cause they can't have little green Apples can they? This is the largest number of early baby Peaches I can remember seeing but we will see how many make it. Between the late freezes, hard rains, hail and high winds we usually lose most of them before June hits.

I really miss not having my big tilled garden sitting there looking at me this year but this fencing project takes priority right now.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

We Need More Room

The sheep were telling me they needed a bit more room today. There isn't even enough respectable places for a young lamb to sleep properly and they have been having to take turns snoozing in the various food pans.

Whenever I have the sheep so close together I tend to haphazardly leave feed pans all around as it makes feeding grain easier. I can toss scoopfuls here and there and kinda head a stampede off before it get's started if I am fast enough. I just don't understand how stupid these sheep get over grain they would trample their own children for a mouthful. The crew even managed to knock me down the other day which is the first time that has ever happened.

Anyway I moved the temporary inside fence back a bit to give the ewes and lambs a little more room. Another two weeks and the babies should be big enough I can start letting them out into the dry lot but until then they needed a bit more space.

The three remaining sheep, 2 yearlings and Sammich, were not happy to have their wide open indoor/outdoor play pen reduced however.

Sammich let me know she wasn't happy with the new space allocation. That little whether of my wife's actually head-butted me when my back was turned too again. The three of them (Sammich, 65 and 61 a ewe I kept) run around head -butting each other and playing all day, it's quite comical to watch but they sometimes try and get me involved in their sheep games hence the friendly head-butt. I dropped what I was doing and put little number 65 back on the ground into the shearing position and he left me alone for a while.

It's all cute and fun right now but as he fills out it can be a problem and apparently one I am going to have to address every few weeks it seems. Sammich never head-butts people but she has started pawing at me with her front hoof like a dog lately trying to get my attention to scratch her ears. She will stand there for hours having her ears and neck scratched.

The poor things really need to get off the dry lot and into some green pasture. They look at it longingly as it grows. Soon ladies... very soon.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!