Memorial Day 2015

25 May

 

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I would like to take a moment to thank all the veterans out there on this day, as we remember those who gave all in service to our country. We should all thank God we live in this country, even with all our problems the USA is still the best country in the world in my opinion. So if you are out and about just enjoying a day off, at least take a moment to think about those who serve so that we may enjoy our freedoms. Thank You, and God Bless You.

Homestead Update

23 May

We had another cool rainy week around here. It is finally dry enough for me to go to work, just in time for the weekend! The weatherman is predicting rain everyday next week, I really hope they are wrong. I did have an interesting experience with my bees yesterday. I have been opening up at least one of my hives everyday for the past two weeks, without my protective gear and without incident. I have been refilling the entrance feeder with sugar water in my swarm hive everyday without incident as well. Today when I pulled the feeder out, the bees came out after me! A half dozen of them flew around my face and one stung me on the cheek. I finally managed to get the feeder refilled after 3 tries, and then I sulked away with my feelings hurt. The sting was no problem so I guess I am not seriously allergic to the stings. That’s good to know. I guess I am going to get a lightweight jacket and veil for quick checking on my bees. The president of my bee club says a sting on the eye can cause blindness and I can’t risk that so I better take precautions.

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I did some cleaning up and reorganizing in my shop. I went from the picture above to the one below.

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I still need more organization, but I have space enough to have a 4X4 wooden work bench now. I made one this week and I will show it to you next week after I get the wheels on it.

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I also built a screened wall in my new addition where I am storing my dirt bikes. The cats decided the seats on my bikes make a good place to sharpen their claws so I had to screen them out. They have already ruined the chairs in my man-cave, but I don’t need ruined seats on my bikes!

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I put a new carburetor on my Champion Generator. I left it full of gas over the winter and the carb was varnished over. I cleaned it up and the generator ran, but I couldn’t get the gas to stop leaking out of the carb. I ordered a new one from Amazon for $20 and after installation it runs perfectly again. Lesson learned!

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I found my first small pieces of Native American artifacts today!

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I also encountered this huge skunk in a field today. I’m glad I didn’t get sprayed! He was digging up insects and grubs to eat.

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I saw this on the road at an intersection and it turned out to just be a lug off of a semi-truck.

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I also found this piece of plywood on the shoulder. It is big enough to make two tops for my hives so it pays to keep your eyes open even if sometimes you just stop for a useless lug nut. Keep prepping everyone.

The King Is Dead! Long Live The King!

19 May

Blues legend BB King passed away last week at the age of 89. I have featured BB on my blog several times and I will have him in the future. Although the man himself is no longer with us, his music lives on forever. Here is his most famous song from the early 1970s, a time I consider BB to be in his prime before his health issues started to take a toll on him. Enjoy!

Homestead Update

16 May

I had to work every day this week so I didn’t accomplish much in the homestead area. I will show you how my work went instead.

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I was driving down a back-country road and came upon an accident being cleared. As I was sitting and waiting, I looked over to the side and saw this;

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Goats! I took this picture and sent it to Sweet Thing and wondered if the owner had any goats to sell. She sent back “No! You can’t have any animals until you retire. You are too busy to take good care of them while you are working so you will just have to wait. No goats, chickens, rabbits, quail, pigeons, peacocks, cows or mules!” Well, we will just have to see about that won’t we? Just kidding

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I was riding my ATV through a field and I came across these resident Canadian Geese. Hey, Can I have some Ducks and Geese on the homestead?

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I picked up this nice deer shed on the edge of a field. This could have been a nice 10 pointer!

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The honeysuckle is blooming like crazy, and when I drive my ATV past a big mound of it the smell will just overwhelm me sometimes. I just have to stop and breathe it all in!

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A bee keeper finally put some of his hives on the border of one of the fields I check. These are some really old, ratty, worn out hives let me tell you. The tops are bowed and warped and don’t seal up and there are big cracks between the supers where the bees go in and out. As bad as they look I bet the owner will not be on top of his game and probably some of these hives will swarm this summer. I am definitely going to put a trap near these hives, maybe I can catch one of his cast off swarms.

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It rained here yesterday and again all this morning. When it stopped I checked my rain gauge and had 1.75 inches. As I was checking it I could hear bees buzzing from 100 yards away. I walked down to my hives and they were really flying during this break in the showers. I hope my bees don’t swarm and fly away! Keep prepping everyone.

Bees, Bees, and More Bees!

9 May

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These are the new shelves I built in my barn addition. You can see my new bee equipment on the shelves, mostly in those boxes. Last week, I noticed about 50 bees working around those shelves. I don’t know what they found so attractive, all of my equipment is new so it doesn’t have that “old bee smell.” Anyway, I had 3 of the cardboard swarm traps just sitting there so I thought “What the heck,” I’ll just bait one up and see what happens. Well, Sweet Thing called me Monday and said “you need to come home, you have a million honey bees flying around in your barn!” I told her she was lucky enough to see an actual swarm coming to a trap.

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I opened it up today after four days and this is what I saw. Lots and lots of bees! I transferred them over into a hive and I did smoke these bees although they really weren’t as aggressive as I thought they would be. They only really landed on me after I cut the comb loose and picked it up to put it into some empty frames. I didn’t get any pictures of that, it’s hard to work quickly and take pictures at the same time.

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After I put the comb frames in the hive, I dumped the rest of the swarm into the hive. The stragglers started coming to the hive immediately so I felt good that the queen was inside.

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I set the hive back on the shelf and the stragglers continued to come to the new hive.

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These bees are sitting on the front of the hive with their butts in the air, just fanning their wings. I read this is a signal to the rest of the bees “hey come on in, the queen is here, this is now our new home!” I’ll leave it here for two days then I will move it out to the bee yard. If this works out, it will be a free hive of bees for me. Yeah! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update; Bees, Bees, Bees!

8 May

The weather has finally taken a turn for the better, and the area farmers have done lots of work this week. Now we are wanting some rain!

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Some of my regular readers might remember I plant test plots of seeds from the major seed companies to test out their newest varieties in an ‘on-farm’ environment. One of the seed reps showed up to help plant the plots with this rig and it really sped things up. After the planter travels through the field and plants 12 rows of each variety, the remaining seeds have to be sucked out of the seed hoppers before the next variety can be poured in. He had two vacuums and a generator mounted on the back of his ATV so he could move it right down the turn-row to follow the planter. It sure made the job easier!

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I took off early one day to attend the local bee club meeting, and the person selling nucs of bees delivered them to the meeting. You can’t see the picture very well, but when he opened the back of his truck, he was surrounded by a cloud of bees! I told Sweet Thing “I’ll bet you’re glad we came in my truck instead of your SUV aren’t you?” She said “yeah, I wouldn’t want those loose bees inside with me.”

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I put my two nucs in the bed of my truck and you can see the stragglers trying to get into the box.

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The next morning, I opened the box and this is what I saw, hundreds of beautiful bees!

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I didn’t even use smoke on these bees they were so calm. I just lifted them up out of the cardboard nuc, and set them down inside my hive. I have a sugar water feeder on top of the brood super but they are not utilizing it hardly at all. I think I will take it off this weekend and put another brood chamber on top of that one. Since these are 8 frame hives, they will only have three new frames to work with in the lower chamber. I checked them today on the fourth day and they seem to be content.

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Shortly after a rain shower, you can see them still coming outside to go do some bee business. More to come tomorrow. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

1 May

The weather has taken a turn for the better and I have been going to work more often, but I still got a few things done.

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I got my bathroom in my shop hooked up to a septic system this week. Hey PP, my orange tractor digs a pretty nice hole doesn’t it? That hole is 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 6 feet long. That is where I buried the septic tank. I think 5 feet deep is about the limit of my backhoe attachment. I might go 1 foot deeper but it would take some careful positioning.

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I found this tool on the parking lot at Lowe’s. I think it is a pry bar that is designed to work on automobile brakes and rotors but I’ll find a good use for it!

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I have a good honeybee experience to relate this week. I had 2 frames of old black comb that I found last Spring, and I had them on my new shelves in my barn. I heard a loud buzzing sound and noticed several bees checking out the old comb. I got busy and finished my swarm traps and put a single old frame in each of two traps, but they were just sitting in my barn waiting for me to put them out.

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Thursday, I was in my office and looked out the window and saw bees flying around. I went out and saw about 100 bees flying around this hole in the wall where the AC lines run into the wall. I thought to myself those bees can’t go in there, the cavity is too small, but if I put my trap close-by, maybe they will go into it.

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I set my trap on the AC unit and as soon as I did, the bees started checking it out. By that time, I bet there were 200 bees flying around. I went back into the house and I could hear bees buzzing in the wall. OH No! Not good. If those bees take up residence there I will have to kill them so I hope they move. By 7:00 that evening, all the bees seemed to be in the trap and not in the wall. I checked them the next morning at 7:30 and I think all the bees were gone. RATS! I guess they didn’t like my trap after all. But by 8:30 I noticed bees flying around once again, so I ran to the barn and brought back a can of spray foam and filled in the hole in the wall before the bees went back into the wall. I moved the trap off of the AC unit to the porch about 15 feet away and I noticed scout bees checking it out all day so I hope they might settle in there after all.

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I also had one of these conical cardboard traps that I put out last week in a tree on the front of the homestead. I have noticed bees checking it out the past two days as well, maybe it will catch a swarm!

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We also made a trip to a nearby local plant nursery. They have this old VW bug near the road with a mannequin checking out the flowers growing under the bonnet. It sure makes the place easy to find. She had a lot of good garden vegetable plants, but I think I will take it easy on the gardening this summer, I have some other projects on my mind for the little bit of time off from work I will have. So until then, keep prepping everyone!

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