Archive | May, 2016

Honey Bees!

30 May

I want to do a quick post about my bees.

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This is what my best hive looked like yesterday. I have just been dying to get in there and split that hive before they swarmed again, but I just have not had time until today. Not only did I split the hive, we kept 3 frames of honey for ourselves, which was our first! Oh, and as I was looking through the frames, I actually found the queen! That is the first time I had a positive ID on her! That made me really paranoid, I VERY carefully put that frame back into the super and carefully put the next one beside it so I would not smash her. That would have been tragic because she seems to be a super egg layer!

 

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I don’t have an extractor so I used the scrape and crush method.

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We scraped 3 frames and ended up with just over 3 liters of honey. It seems to be a bit foamy after we screened it through a screen colander and a nylon mesh paint strainer. I’ll look in the morning to see how it looks then. Of course we had to sample the goods while we were working, and it was the best tasting honey the world has ever known!

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I also ended up with 2 quarts of this honey/wax mix. I don’t know what it is good for so I will just freeze it for now. I managed to transfer two hives that I caught in my swarm traps, and I have 4 more swarms trapped that I am sure about. I need to get them this week if at all possible.

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This trap had a swarm for at least 2 weeks before I brought it in. The trap was so heavy, I had trouble lifting it. When I opened it, I found lots of bees and lots and lots of brood. I put them in a hive and immediately gave them another empty super to build in. I am going to keep a better check on this hive than I did my other hives last year.

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This is one of my traps that ended up on the ground because the limb holding it up broke. When I discovered it, I had my ATV in the back of my truck so I had nowhere to put it. I moved it to the side of the field and came back in two weeks to pick it up. Low and behold, it had a swarm of bees in it! It was sitting on the ground, the entrance hole about 4 inches off of the ground, facing North. I guess those bees didn’t read the bee manual! Keep prepping everyone!

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Homestead Update 5-28-16

28 May

I am back to working my usual 70 hour work week for this time of year so I didn’t have much time for chores around the homestead, but I did want to write a quick update. Not only am I working long hours, when I do have a little time off when it rains, I have still been going to Arkansas to get my parents house ready to move into and check on my sister after her snake bite. She is doing much better now, but she was in the hospital 7 days receiving intravenous antibiotics. I asked her if the bite hurt and she said yes, it burned like fire anytime the pain meds wore off the first few days!

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We needed to make a quick, one night, trip so we decided to take Brandy with us on a “shake down” cruise to see how she traveled. Low and behold, she was a perfect traveler! It is a five hour trip and she slept most of the way down, and when we came home she did the same thing so apparently riding makes her calm and sleepy. When we arrived at the new house, she ran and played and was not bothered in the least that she was in a strange, new place.

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Those are volunteer tomatoes that came up in a large pot right out of our back door. The upper picture was taken only a week prior to the picture below, the third picture was another week later, they are really growing. We always have these volunteer tomatoes come up. I have read instructions on saving tomato seeds where you wash the pulp and dry the seeds on top of a refrigerator. I’m sure that works fine, but we don’t go to that trouble. During the growing season, when we see a tomato we don’t intend to harvest for any reason, we leave it on the vine until it gets very overripe. We then pick the tomato and drop it into the soil in the pots. We had literally dozens of small plants emerge this Spring. We gave some away and I replanted the rest after I put new potting soil in the pots. That is good, Miracle Grow potting soil by the way, it is much better than cheap, Dollar Store potting soil. You could do the same thing in a garden, and if you wanted to rotate locations in the garden to help reduce disease pressure, you could simply drop the overripe tomatoes in the location you want them to grow the following year. Simple and easy, just the way I like it. More to come tomorrow. Keep Prepping everyone!

Snake Bite!

8 May

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My sister was cleaning up some old firewood on the patio and she was bitten by a Copperhead! You can see the fang marks in the center of the circle by her little toe. She said she knew she needed to be careful and watch for snakes and spiders but this one got her anyway. She said the doctors didn’t give her any anti-venom. They told her the anti-venom could be as bad or worse than the bite itself. They are giving her intravenous antibiotics and meds to control the pain. I sure feel bad for her, get well soon, Sis!

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Speaking of snakes, I was riding along a drainage canal when I looked over the edge and spotted this Moccasin curled up on a limb soaking up some sun.

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I picked up a clod of dirt and threw it at him. I partially dislodged him from his perch and needless to say he was not pleased! He is coiled up in striking position flicking his tongue like a whip!

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I have been going out in the fields checking on crops, and I found a new spot to look for Native American Artifacts. These are some bits and pieces of artifacts as well as some pottery shards, so I know I am searching in a good spot.

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I found this nice, round smooth stone as I was searching. I can’t be sure it is an artifact, but it sure fits my hand well and could be very useful to a Native so I am hanging on to it.

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I did find one decent piece so I am excited to come back and check this spot again. It is in a corn field so I will only have a few weeks before the corn becomes too big and hides the ground.

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I wondered what might have attracted the natives to this spot so I looked around and sure enough I spotted this naturally occurring small river at the head of this field. Of course, modern men have cleaned all the trees and brush out of the channel for faster drainage, but it still would have been here 500 or more years ago to provide many of the things a primitive man would have needed. The river would provide water for drinking, cooking, bathing, as well as providing fish, frogs, turtles and act as an attractant for game animals and birds.

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Just a quick update on Brandy. Here she is in her favorite spot, nestled up in the crook of my arm. She is making good progress on her biting control and house breaking. She might end up being a good dog after all. Keep prepping everyone! Get ready for Hillary 2016. Heaven help us all!

Homestead Update 5/1/2016

1 May

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Well, it looks like we are going to be keeping Brandy after all. You look at this picture and say “Ah, Isn’t she a sweety.” No, she is not! She is so bad! I know why she was dumped. She bites and chews on everything, including our fingers. I understand that is partly from being a puppy, and partly from being a Terrier. We are trying to break her of the habit, I hope we make progress soon, I can’t stand to loose much more blood. We are also working on house breaking her and we are probably 80% there. Hopefully we will be 100% very soon.

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I had to work on getting my parent’s house ready for them to move in, and we are almost there. This is the dining room after I added the beadboard and trim. I think it looks pretty good.

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I was looking at my deer browse area in the back of the property and saw a lot of bees working the blooms. As I was watching that clover I noticed lots of Bumble Bees feeding there.

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As I was out working, I saw this field, probably 80 acres, just covered in some sort of Winter crop which was blooming heavily. I sure wished this field was closer to my hives, they could do a lot of foraging there!

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I saw a recipe in a newspaper that looked interesting, so Sweet Thing fixed it for me. This is a mix of Jalapenos, red and orange bell peppers, with a clove of garlic all steeped in a mixture of vinegar and sugar. Man that stuff is good! I could eat this every day! Keep prepping everyone!