Thursday, August 3, 2017
No I am Not Dead...
Yes I am still among the living. No I have not given up on the Small-Hold. No I am not out playing PokemonGo. In fact I haven't even so much as opened that app since like Christmas and I only did it then to catch a pikachu if I remember right.
The truth is the monumental task of keeping everything maintained, chores done, etc. kinda just seemed to explode. Not sure how but I had no time whatsoever to make any progress as I was spending almost everything I had just keeping things where they were. I needed to step away from the internet almost entirely to have any time to get even a few small things done. That included the blog because once I would sit down to make a post my time in front of the computer would just keep growing as I found one thing and then another to peak my interest.
Sorry if I worried anyone. I truly did not mean to do that. Stepping away from email was the easiest actually as I absolutely hate routine email maintenance. I had like over 10K emails waiting for me to clean em out.
To top everything else off if you remember the business I work for was bought by a much larger company over a year ago. The corporate types had bigger fish to fry than us until the new year however but the evil eye of Sauron did turn our way in January and few of my co-workers survived the great purge. In fact my department is sitting at 90% turnover in the last 6 months. I happen to be 50% of the employees that survived.....
So guess who got to pick up all the slack while all this chaos went on?
To sum up. I have done little to nothing with bee keeping this year. I have managed to maintain the hives I had that survived Winter but I attempted no splits nor did I place traps out this season.
The entire family revolted against my benevolent hay tyranny and declared that if I wanted to square bale the big hay field I was on my own as far as getting the "idiot cubes" (their phrase not mine) into the loft. Even my pleas about how I had bought them a used hay elevator and repaired it so it worked fell on deaf ears. I did attempt it solo on the first cutting of the small field but I just never could manage to put the bail on the elevator and then beat it to the hay loft...
I am getting old.
So we compromised.... or rather I surrendered to the ungrateful terrorist and hired my neighbor to round bale the big field. The compromise came in that I had him set the bale size down enough to where I could easily handle them with my old Ford diesel tractor. Therefore I collected them off the field, lined em up and tarped em and I can then move them to feed when needed. No need to rely on someone with a tractor the size of our house to move em and no more pushing the things around with a blade with my little tractor because they didn't show up with the big one.
Actually I must admit I think the terrorist were right on this one. Moving the bales around with the tractor was much easier and faster than square baling it all. I should get enough square bales off the small field to fill our needs and since the large field was mostly Summer grass I rarely got more than one cutting off it anyway.
We now have more chickens than I can count. We had at least one clutch of nuggets born already, another hen is broody right now and I am pretty sure there was a second clutch born right after the first. All I know is I had to put a milk crate over a couple of hens and catch the little nuggets as they ran out the holes so I could move mama's and babies into a safe pen. I am pretty sure both hens were mothers but it was, well, a little confusing at times. I also had no idea there were any broody hens until these two walked up with all these little chicks following them. The barn cats who normally do not even look at the chickens were very interested in getting to know the little nuggets. Eventually things settled down and now we have a buttload of half grown chickens running around and I am betting they are all roosters.
When my neighbor planted his bean field which is about 100 yards away from our barn, he had about 2 dozen chickens following along behind him gobbling up the seeds. I went over and apologized and offered him free eggs for life to make up for it but he just laughed and said they weren't eating any more than the other birds and "He liked watching them in his field". I suspect a fair number of the chickens go visit his place daily.
Recently though we have had our first predator problem. I have dispatched a number of Possums stealing eggs but not two days ago I found one of my favorite hens dead with her head and neck eaten. The craw remained but all the flesh around it was gone. Of course we have so many chickens running around now we have outgrown the coop and several of the birds refuse to go in there anyway but head up to the top rafters of the barn were they know I can't get to them. So looks like it maybe a predator utopia until all the stupid/stubborn birds have been eaten.
I tried counting the chickens the other evening when they started roosting. I lost count at 58 or so and just gave up. I suspect my mother has taken in some old birds that someone she knows wanted to get rid of because the black hen numbers seemed to double one day but she completely denies such activity. Believe it or not we still have some of those old ex-poultry barn Redsexlinks around too. Most of them did not last too long but there is still one who has rebelled against all things chicken and now claims she is a dog. She even sleeps with the dogs under the porch during the day and has her own kennel for night time. During the Winter months she insists her kennel is brought inside at night too. She even started laying eggs again. Only about every three days or so she will lay one but she went months without any eggs that we could tell.
Lastly we had 42 baby lambs this year. We even got a champagne colored ram with white highlights that all the hand spinner women fell in love with. So now guess who is going to build another ram paddock before breeding season? Yep.... Me.
The barberpole worm problem is still here. Been fighting them since June and I thought we had it beat but the temps turned a bit cooler and they came back this week again. As usual only the nursing ewes are getting them but this year I was super prepared for it and haven't lost any ewes at all. A couple of them are not too happy about me catching them every night for the wormer rotation but it has kept them alive.
The lambs are now so numerous that like the chickens I find it impossible to actually do a head count every evening. On paper as I said we have 42 but honestly except for a few that stand out I doubt I would notice if a few went missing. The other night I closed the flock up in the barn lot and there were a couple of stragglers (Ok more like 5) that were hidden on the field edge. I didn't even notice they were missing until morning when they were up at the gate bellowing for their moms..... I didn't feel too bad though because the moms were napping and didn't even seem to care. In fact I think about 75% of the moms have already reached the point they don't care any longer and most of the lambs follow three or four of the ewes that I call super Moms because they try and steal all the lambs for themselves anyway.
Lastly I am still working on fencing. I have made little progress so far to be honest but all the posts are finally in for the third pasture with the supports in place. They should be settled enough to string up the wire this weekend then I can start clearing out the other side and putting the posts in and 99% of the entire fence project will be finished. Once that is done I will have more time to devote to yet more stuff....
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!