Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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A Tale of two Kitties

This past year has been a banner year for the rodent population.  Both in the small seed-starting (aka "flower house";) and around the Empire of the Happy Hens.  I corralled one into Hattie's pathway the other day and I give her credit for the "kill".....but I'm not always around to find them for her :-)

hattieandfreshkillwebSo, I put the word out that I was looking for a couple of cats, actually kittens, to help keep the rodents under control.  I know, I know, domestic cats are going to take over the world, but I'll let them start their war here on the farm.  My boyfriend came by one afternoon and asked me if I had seen that little kitten up at the mailbox.  I told him no, and as soon as he left I went up there and looked around--nothing.  My neighbor did pull up while I was walking around up at the road so I went over to visit with him for a little while since it had been a long time since we chatted.

I told him I was looking for a kitten and he said he'd bring it to me if he saw it later.  About 30 minutes after I got home he came carrying up two tiny kittens--one a smoky grey and the other one the proverbial black and grey striped cat, both females.

smokeyinhoneysucklewebbanditonhandrailwebWell, they played and pooped around (mostly on the porch uggh!) for about three weeks and one day I was backing my car out and, well, Smoky is gone.  Bandit was lonely.  I went to the flea market the next Saturday and one of the first things I saw was a cage with two gorgeous grey "Smoky" colored kittens with a sign that said "Free Kittens".  They were friendly, so I took one of them home.

smoky2web

First greetings with everyone didn't go so smoothly.  I decided to call her Smoky because Smoky and Bandit go together and she is the perfect color.  Anyway, when I put her down on the porch, Bandit and Smoky both said "Hhhhhhhhhi" to each other, in a gutteral sort of way, and Smoky hid under a pile of rhododendron on the back porch for about 2 weeks.  I had just gotten Bandit to go poop in the yard, and here we go again.  Smokey started pooping in the sawdust pile underneath the table saw in my makeshift wood working area on the back porch.  She has since started going out in the yard.

Ever so slowly she began to come out for longer periods of time.....until this morning I saw this out the front door.....

nursingkittieswebsizeOMG (that's oh my gosh)!  Lucy is letting BOTH kittens nurse--she's not had puppies in years!

Well, I guess the kitties are welcome in doggie world.

 

 

 

 
 

Where do you fit in?

Over the past several years I've fed my passion for self-sufficiency by reading lots and lots of how-to, gardening, self-sufficiency, organic, and permaculture books.  Supplementing the bookreading with great videos on YouTube, magazine subscriptions, and workshops when available.

A question came up recently and I'm sorry I don't remember exactly where I saw it, but the question still burns in my mind:  "Are you a part of the problem or the solution?"  I asked my oldest son that question and of course he said "what's the problem?"   I responded "When asked that sort of question, what would you think the problem is?"  He started thinking.....and he actually came up with the correct question.

I challenge you to ask yourself this question during your daily routine....when you throw away a perfectly recyclable aluminum can or glass bottle rather than recycling it, are you part of the problem or the solution?  When you run your clothes washer and/or dryer and/or dishwasher with just a few items in it are you part of the problem or the solution?

I know everyone has their opinions about global warming, but as a farmer I live right in the weather and work with the seasons and each year it becomes more challenging.  I call it "global weirding" and am really ashamed at the mess my generation and the generations before me are leaving this planet for our kids and grandkids.  I don't know for sure, but I'd say that sucking all the oil out of the earth is like disabling part of our cooling system, as well as paving the surface so it can't breathe--

One person can change the world, but only if they practice what they preach and teach others to do the same.  It's an overwhelming job, but lots of somebodies have got to do it.

So, are you part of the problem or the solution?

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Combining the hives

So, I started out this year with three hives.  I painstakingly woodburned the names "Virgo", "Taurus", and "Aquarius" on the fronts of the hives so the bees would know which one to go into--well, maybe not for them, but for me.

I'm a Virgo, my boyfriend is a Taurus, and I just like the name Aquarius.  I always start singing that song......

Back to the story.  I believe the last time I reported on the hives there was no queen in one of them and it's kind of late in the season to introduce a new queen, so I was advised by fellow beekeepers to combine the two hives.  To combine a hive you take the top and inner cover off the queenright hive, place a sheet of newspaper over the top box, then set the queenless hive on top.  The bees eat through the paper to get out and then they come back to the same hive.  It gives the bottom hive more workers to do bee things like collect pollen and nectar, drag out dead bees, and so forth.

They really do eat the paper, see?

papereatenbtnboxes

 

I'll have to watch for little black and white bee poops around the yard.

So, what's the name of this hive?  I'm calling it Virtaurius.

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The honeymoon is over

PENTAX Image

This has been a roller coaster year both for gardening AND beekeeping.  Of all the years I could have started beekeeping, I picked "the worst beekeeping year" (according to several fellow beekeepers) in a long time to begin.  By July we had just short of 9 inches of our average yearly rainfall.  This translates into rotting crops, washed out nectar and pollen, and wet bees.

The excitement began last summer, attending meetings, wondering what the heck everyone was talking about in "bee lingo", then last winter building the hives was fun, and waiting on the bees to arrive--like an expectant mother!

Three packages arrived, one absconded (that's one of those beekeeping terms that means "they got the h**** out of here";) on the third day of their residence.  Okay, I have two hives.  Sometime in July one of them swarmed.  Everything I read said that bees don't swarm their first year......I DIDN'T READ THE BOOK TO THE BEES---darn!

When I realized that one hive had swarmed I looked at the other hive and they had no queen, no brood, no eggs.  A couple of weeks later the hive that swarmed had eggs and brood and obviously a queen that I didn't see, but the other hive was still egg-brood-and queenless.

Advice from several veteran beekeepers was to combine the hives since it's so late in the year.  Take off the cover and inner lid of the queen-right colony, put a sheet of newspaper over the top (no bad news please) and place the queenless hive on top.  Supposedly the bees will eat their way through the newspaper, walk through the hive and fly out the front entrance and come back in the same way.

We'll see.  After feeding them all summer, getting stung about 20 or so times, and I haven't even added up how much money I've spent, I think I should have adopted a kid instead.

P.S.  Whatever a beekeeper wants to charge for his honey, don't complain :-)

 
 
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