Farm Happenings

Gus

Gus relaxing.

Gus relaxing.

I’m about to type words I never thought to utter forget put in print! John got a cat. Yes, my friends, my husband the life-long cat hater got a cat. Our youngest brought home a cat dumped at his friends house. We put out on line that he was ‘found’ if his owners wanted him. We had a lot of responses for him if his owners didn’t come forward. I liked that; I get to play with a kitten for a few weeks then he goes to his forever home. Well…my daughter came home from college and started calling him ninja shadow. Once you name something it tends to hang around. (The #1 reason we don’t name pigs!) My husband didn’t like the name so he started calling him Gus. I knew I was in trouble! Then he wouldn’t let me post him up as available. He says it’s for me because I always wanted a black cat. (I can’t remember what I ate yesterday much less something from when I was 18!) It’s not me calling him Gussy-Wussy, just saying.

01 Feb 2014

R.I.P. Bill

Bill in his younger days.

Bill in his younger days.

Well, it was a sad day yesterday. A coyote got Bill. Our Buckeye rooster gave his all for the girls yesterday. Not the way he had hoped, I’m sure, but very appreciated. My youngest son was home and took a few shots at Wiley E. but we don’t know if he got hit. This is the third coyote in about 6wks. I don’t mind sharing but this is getting out of hand. We got Bill as a chick from Willowood Farm in Coupeville. I loved having the genetic diversity to my flock. His first year with us was a bit rough on him. We got him as a single chick and the hens beat him mercilessly. He came into his own the next year and has ruled the roost ever since. He was the best crower we had. He will be missed.

30 Jan 2014

Getting Ready

Lettuce, spinach and endive are in the raised rows. We are trying several new radishes behind that.

Lettuce, spinach and endive are in the raised rows. We are trying several new radishes behind that.

Another great weather day on the island. We got another third of the hoop house weeded and planted two kinds lettuce, endive. spinach and 6 different types of radishes. We are trying to get this all done before we head to the Flower and Garden Show in Seattle the second week in February. It would be great to have some beds ready when I get over zealous buying stuff at the show. (I always say I won’t but I buy a ton of stuff anyhow.) We followed the bees a bit down the valley today and found some alders and hazelnuts the bees were frequently. It almost feels like spring.

27 Jan 2014

Warm January Day


It was pretty warm for our part of the country today. It was in the low 50’s so we got out to pull some weeds in the hoop house. We weren’t the only ones to get out. The bees were busy pulling in pollen. They need the protein to get started building up their brood. All six hives had a lot of activity at their entrances with two different colors of pollen coming in. In the afternoon only the yellow pollen was coming in while I snapped photos.  I know the maples, alders and several other trees are the first to put out pollen in our area. When you keep bees there’s a lot to learn about the local plants. The weather not only keeps your bees in their hives but effects what’s available to eat so beekeepers have a lot to learn besides bees.

26 Jan 2014

Melting Wax: part 2

new wax
So, I was cruising along with the wax melting and thinking I was pretty smart for figuring out a way to do this on the cheap and then…..I hit the snag. Yep, I forgot to turn the oven down to 170 degrees. Turns out that the plastic frame melts at 350 degrees. (By the way, it smells really bad when it melts.) I hit the kitchen store at the outlet place and got a nice, all metal, colander. (See photo)  Need to get that last bit of wax processed so I can use it on my Muth bottles for the 3 sisters honey order. The stuff left in the colander is too dirty to use. I put it in the recycled egg cartons and tear them off to use as fire starters. It’s a good way to use everything up.

 

23 Jan 2014

Computer Sites and Melting Wax

Spent the weekend getting this site ready to launch.  I’m just glad the football games are on so I’ve had uncontested access to the computer all weekend! In the middle of that I’ve been melting some cappings – bees wax.  Its been quite the learning curve in melting the wax without having it burst into flames and still getting out all the impurities. I tried several different methods (boiling water, dehydrator, etc) and at this point I am settled on the oven method. I’ve heard that melting it in a large coffee urn works great too. I will have to keep an eye out for one at the thrift stores. The darker colored bees wax will be cheaper and more for use in polishes and such. The cleaner, lighter wax is perfect for balms, lotions and things of that nature.

Melting wax in oven
The wax on the left has more impurities than the one on the right.
Bees wax disks about .5oz each

 

12 Jan 2014

Bee Meeting

I had a bee meeting in Mt Vernon Thursday night. The plan was to get home early, put the chickens away and head over for dinner with some bee friends and then off to the meeting. Jumped into the car and it didn’t start. Can you believe that?! So, hung out at work until my husband came to check it out. The car started for him first time out. Can you believe that?! I was so mad at him. (Poor guy.) Got home too late to make the dinner and decided to carpool with another person just in case I couldn’t get it running again. We made the last 15 minutes of the dinner and then hit the meeting. It was good to hook up with other beekeepers and see what they were up to. A little camaraderie goes a long way.  The night’s meeting was information packed. I enjoyed beginning the new year with such a large enthusiastic crowd. It was almost standing room only. Seth introduced himself as the new President of the club. Joe gave a very detailed account of over wintering hives. A lot of questions were asked and everyone got to put in their two cents. Nice job. Brad gave us a recipe for fondant (not to be confused with the icing) to feed to the bees in the winter. He talked about how to make it, use it and why he added vinegar. Very informative. A lot of other information came to light in the side conversations as the main meeting broke up. It was great to see so many new faces. I am excited to see where we all go this year. Got home nice and late for a little glass of wine and all is well. (The photo is not my from my farm (Thank goodness!) but is from Joe’s yard in Darrington.)

joes yard

11 Jan 2014