Monday, March 30, 2015
Harsh March isn't over Yet
Let's start off with today's good news. The Boxelder blooms were still juicy enough after two cold days of no flying that the girls were still working them today. I spent many hours out working under the constant buzz of thousands of working bees and even managed to use the zoom on the camera to get a pretty good picture of one girl going from bloom to bloom.
I also got the last of the old junk out of my pastures today although it hasn't been cut up and hauled off yet. SO I made a little progress on the fence project.
That's about it for the good news. Now for the bad.
I slept about 3 hours after checking the ram and the ewes at about 3 AM then got up to do it again. Lamar the ram was not looking so good. I did a head count on all the ewes and checked to see if there were any tell tale signs of lambing activity, fed em all and then went and watched Lamar for a while. He was once again not urinating and obviously in distress over it. We called the vet and they said the only procedure left (ok there were two) would require us to take him to the university vet hospital. We actually called and found out what it would cost and the survival rate along with the percentage chance of him still being a viable ram after it was done.
The statistics were not all that appealing let me tell you. Since Lamar wasn't in vocal pain as yet we decided to wait it out and see if maybe he would pass the crystals. I then got out the riding mower and my small trailer to take a trip to the back and pick up the dead out hive I had back there. My big trailer is down while I repack the u-joints on it and the pasture is still a bit too wet for the tractor anyway. The mower wouldn't leave any ruts and we all now how much I hate ruts.
I got down there and discovered that sometime in the last week I lost another hive. So that makes my Winter losses two hives now and both went down in March. Both had emergency sugar on their tops as well and both hives were active at the end of February during the warm snap. March is just a hard month on bees around here.
Oh I guess another good thing is my lawnmower worked fine. No repairs needed on it I guess that's always a good thing for the first running of Spring. We will see if it lasts two mowing though.
I then spent the rest of the day watching Lamar for hopes of improvement and going through my two dead out hives before pests could move in.
Each frame had to be removed from the six boxes and checked for dead bees in the cells that will rot and mold if not removed. Any frames not built up yet are added to the new frame boxes I have for adding to hives later while frames that are filled with comb but empty will be frozen and then used for swarms or in the traps. All the burr comb is removed for melting later in the Summer in my solar wax melter.
The entire bottom board of one hive is covered in about a half inch of dead bees and wax cappings from being robbed out after they died. I am not sure if these two hives starved or were maybe too small in numbers to weather the last cold snap we had. I saw no mites in the oil traps but who knows. One hive was three years old and the other two years old so they should have made it.
Oh well those are the breaks. Still only about a 18% loss rate for Winter.
By about 4 PM the vet was ready to either head back to the office or stop by and the decision was made. Lamar hadn't eaten or drank anything today and was still unable to urinate. He was barely able to stand up after about 2PM so we put him down. I am amazed whenever I witness the procedure as the animal goes out so fast. We paid our neighbor the backhoe guy to come over and dug the deepest hole I have seen in years to bury him in. The backhoe arm was all the way extended into the ground and never hit a rock nor more than one layer of hardpack.
At least I know we have some nice dirt here.
Anyway stuff happens. We noticed yesterday that the feed bag we are using now has a small printed warning not to feed it to male sheep. It's the same brand we been using for years and the feed store sold us as sheep feed when we started and I remember the owner showing us then it was for sheep and no warning label. We called and told him about it and he was as surprised as we were.
Needless to say we are changing the diets around here right now.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!