Sunday, June 29, 2014
Sunday Reading - Extreme Spring
Ya I know I should have done this about a week ago but I had a few things to finish up and wanted to see how a few other things would develop. As I and several other bloggers have noticed this has been a very strange Spring. As the title says I think it should be called the Extreme Spring as it seems we just kept bouncing from one end of the extreme spectrum to the other.
This year I grew the garden back out to it's original size. If you remember last year I collapsed it down some and put the lower half in completely with Sunflowers. This year I doubled the Pole Beans, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Melon sections again. Why? I am really not sure just more produce to give away I guess, but it is also good to get used to the extra work once more. It also required me to mulch the entire garden this year which ate a good bit of time. I counted over 76 wheel barrow loads of barn mulch covering the garden this year.
We lost two lambs this year in total and grew the overall flock by twenty four however we will need to weed them out as they get weaned. Most of them are already weaned more or less as it is, the ewes are pretty good about doing that on their own in the Summer pasture. The wethers are of course either going to the sale barn or going to be fattened up for our own use but the ewes will need to be divided up into the "Who's Your Daddy and Grand Daddy" groups. Some of the ewes will now go into Frazier's Harem while the others will be sold or perhaps traded around to add some new stock for Lamar's Harem. Overall we know for a fact we added about six new ewes even before any trading occurs, which will bring the total flock growth up to 26 breeding ewes, 2 rams and 4 useless eaters. The useless eater numbers might change as well because Sandwich continues to grow a bit and might even be large enough to breed, maybe. Even if Sandwich does enter the breeding stock one of the older ewes is about ready for retirement and since all the older ewes belong to my mother there is no way they are not going to get a farm pension and easy retirement life just like the useless horse flesh hanging around in my pasture.
The Pumpkin experiment is so far growing. I estimate I put in about two acres of pumpkins and most of them came up although I did lose a few on the bottom side to a heavy rain. At this point we will see if we get enough rain to keep them alive and producing until harvest or if the local wildlife leave em alone. Could go either way but if this experiment is a failure I am only out the diesel fuel it took to plow, disc, and level the ground as all the seeds were from my smaller patch I grew last year. I estimate that I have well over 1000 pumpkin plants up about six inches so far. If I figured correctly they should hit the maximum production about the middle of September.
In the Bee area Winter losses took me down to eight hives coming into Spring. I lost two hives but with this last cold Winter I was happy that was all I lost. Since then I managed to collect three swarms, a trapout hive and one split into a nuc that appears ready to become a full hive on it's own bringing my current numbers up to 14 hives. This is disappointing as I was really hoping to get to 20 hives this Spring. It is still early enough too make a few more splits and order in some queens if I decide to. The Northern queens from Iowa and Nebraska usually are not ready until July to order anyway and I only buy Northern queens if I buy queens at all. My reasoning is that it is better to buy queens from stock that are known to over Winter.
After the massive losses over the 2012-13 Winter I now have five producing hives and the other three should be coming on line this Summer. Two of the new hives are getting close to needing a second brood chamber as well so production hives have actually increased well even if I fell short of new hives this Spring.
So overall the extreme weather has effected growth this Spring but we still managed to push through with some gains. Since it's still early Summer more gains will continue for a few more weeks and I still suspect swarm season isn't over with yet. I guess we will see times like these are just part of the overall challenge of sustainable homesteading.
My biggest worry going into Summer now however is trading the third generation ewes off for new breeding stock. This is by far the most dangerous proposition and will require a quarantine area to be set up. The last thing I want to do is introduce some nasty disease into our stock.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!