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Homestead Update 3/19/17

19 Mar

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Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, but this is what we had last week, maybe 2 inches of snow.

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I ordered these large bags of wild flower seeds but I need to wait another month before I plant them. I wanted to have some flowers for my bees to feed on. Speeking of bees, I split one of my hives today. I opened it up and every frame was crawling with bees and there was a LOT of brood, much of it capped and ready to hatch. I did a walk-away split on this hive last year and it worked perfectly, I hope it turns out that well again.

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I made 10 telescoping covers for my hives recently and I wanted to put metal on the covers like the ones I buy from Mann Lake. I bought this metal brake from Harbor Freight two years ago so I decided it was time to give it a try.

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I have to admit my first attempt was an abject failure! The cover on the bottom is my second attempt and it looks just fine. The cover on top is the one I had to re-bend and try a second attempt, that is why it is so wrinkled and ugly. After covering six of the tops, I realize I really didn’t need the metal brake because the aluminum flashing is so thin. The flashing might be twice as thick as a store-bought pie plate, but describing it like that is being generous. I could have made a metal brake using a couple of 2X4s and it would have worked just fine for this task, but I might need to bend something heavier in the future so I will hold on to it.

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I had a meeting with one of my clients at his office and I checked out his train set. This is not a child’s set, this is a big-boy set!

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I doubt if I will ever see a more elaborate set than this one!

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I was looking through my pictures for this post and I realized I haven’t posted a picture of Brandy lately. She weighs 9 pounds now and that should be her final, adult size. It is a real ball of laughs watching her play with her toys!

 

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I was in the restroom of Subway recently, and I saw this sign written in braille stating employees must wash hand before returning to work. Then I wondered to myself “how many blind people do they have making sandwiches at this Subway?” Just more unnecessary government regulations intruding on our lives. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 2/12/17

12 Feb

The temperatures have been unseasonably warm the past 3 weeks so we are having a false Spring. When this happens, we always get  another hard freeze after the fruit trees have bloomed out so we will have no locally grown fruit this year. The daffodils are starting to bloom, the trees are budding out and the forsythia is blooming. This is 2-3 weeks too early for here. It has been so warm my bees have been really flying! They are not just cleansing, they are foraging and bringing in pollen. I plan on adding some sugar water to the feeders next week so they don’t starve. I went into Winter with 5 hives, but now I am down to 4 hives.

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This is the dead hive. I was one frame short in the lower hive body so when I placed the medium super on top of it, the bees drew out the comb to fill in the space anyway. The comb just hung down from the frame above it.

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I set up 7 hives in anticipation of swarm season and I will add 3 more hives next week. I am tired of the grass growing up around the hives so I put down a layer of landscape cloth before I set the hives.

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I will come back soon and add some pine bark mulch on top of the fabric to hold down the grass.

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I took this picture of a tree outside of one of my farmer’s shop.

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That is what a 20 year old crepe myrtle looks like if it hasn’t been butchered back to keep it short. I really like the look of that trunk with the bark peeled off, that tree has a lot of character.

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I used my front end loader and pushed up a pile of old limbs and I discovered this really nice looking composted material on the bottom of the pile. I flipped it over with the old compost on top of the fresher limbs on the bottom. I think in a couple of more years, I can get some good usable compost from the bottom of the pile. I also uncovered a big brown snake under the pile. I’ll have to start watching out for them now since the weather is so warm.

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I put together this 12 inch bandsaw from Harbor Freight. And like anything from HF that has a lot of parts, following the instructions is a bit problematic because they are obviously written by some Chinese dude with only a rudimentary grasp of the English language. You really have to use your imagination and judgment to put this together. But after a little trial and error, I only had one small screw hole that had been drilled incorrectly, but I redrilled the hole myself so problem solved! I’ll have another post next week, until then keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 12/11/16

11 Dec

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Once again, I haven’t accomplished much around the homestead lately. I did cut up two small trees that died during the summer and I stacked the wood on the back porch in the stand Sweet Thing bought at Big Lots. The temperatures fell into the teens this past week. I know you Yanks probably consider that “light jacket” weather, but around here we consider that bitterly cold! I told Sweet Thing it was time to light a fire in the fireplace, but she said “No!”

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She already had the fireplace decorated for Christmas and she refused to take it down unless the power goes out and we absolutely had to have the heat. I guess I’ll have to wait until after New Years to have a warm, cozy fire.

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My niece bought a house recently and the previous owner subscribed to a garbage service which she wasn’t going to use. She called the company and told them to come get this big, green, heavy duty, rolling garbage can. They told her to just keep it because it would cost them more to send a man out to pick it up than it would to just write it off. She asked if I wanted it and I said “of course I do”!

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One of the young men that works for me recently bought a house and he wanted to dump into my back gully some old carpet that he tore out while he was remodeling. He also dumped this wood and fortunately I discovered it before it rained tonight! There was a good 2×4, 1×4, 2×8, 2/3 of a sheet of interior paneling, 1/2 a sheet of particle board, several smaller pieces, a roll of hardware cloth, a package of gutter leaf guards as well as this solid wood door. I asked him why he threw this away and he said he thought I didn’t like particle board. I said I don’t really like it, “UNLESS IT IS FREE’! Then I will take all I can get. This heavy wooden door is way better than the back door I have in my shop right now so I will replace it with this one soon. I told him not to throw away any more wood without checking with me first. I have several projects I can use that wood on. I will keep you updated on my projects, until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 8/20/16

20 Aug

I am happy to report my psoriasis is getting better every day! I decided to go outside today since it was overcast and cooler. It has been raining here off and on for ten days straight. That is bad news for our crops. The bolls are rotting on the cotton, the pods are shedding off of the soybeans, and the corn ears are sprouting on the stalk. In fact, I went outside while it was raining. I think it rained over an inch in 30 minutes, it just poured down. There was no lightening so I felt it was safe to be outside. I wanted to look at my culverts while it was raining; now I know why they washed out. The water was running so deep in the side ditch where I have the two small culverts, the water was overflowing the crossings. The water has never been that swift and deep in that ditch previously, so I think someone must have changed something upstream. There must be a new ditch or terrace dumping water into my ditch that wasn’t there before. This winter, I will walk upstream and see if I can see what is going on.

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After the rain let up, I brought out my 45 Colt for a little target practice. I am so sick of being cooped up inside, I really needed to hear something go BOOM! I had my pistol in this nice leather bag I bought at the Goodwill for $2. I don’t know who Chuck is, but I am glad he donated his bag. I need to keep my shooting skills sharp because no matter who wins the election this Fall, things are going to be bad. It will just be a matter of whether things get bad fast or get bad slow! It is really hard to believe these two &^%$# are the only choices we have now. Keep prepping everyone, and keep practicing your shooting skills, the Zombies are coming!

trump

Homestead Update 4/10/2016

10 Apr

I didn’t get a lot accomplished around the homestead this week. I worked at my job two days then spent 3 days working on my parent’s house so that didn’t leave much time for anything else. I did manage to put out 3 more swarm traps, giving me a total of 20. I put together enough frames to fill the remaining 4 swarm traps I have made that are now ready to go. I looked in my hives and they seem to be doing really well. I hope I can get 10 more hives before this Spring is over. One of my employees was working in Missouri on a day when the wind was blowing 30 MPH. When that happens, sand and dust will blow in your face and get in your eyes, ears and nose. I told him he needed a Shemagh. He asked what is that? I sent him this picture and said it is a Shemagh worn Special Forces style.

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He texted me back “Looks more like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to him, HaHA!” That’s not showing much respect for your elders is it? Oh well, Keep prepping everyone!

Rain And Flooding

27 Mar

Two weeks ago we had 8-10 inches of rain in this area. Further South, where my parents live, they had 18-20 inches of rain in two days. That was not good.

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The lake is so high, this is the dock and little fishing house mostly submerged. I know it has never been nearly this high in the 20 years they have lived there.

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This is a cemetery near their house. Yes, those are headstones peeking up out of the flood waters. That is not what you want to see. But worst of all, we were preparing to move my parents into town and the house we just bought flooded 10 days after we closed the deal!

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There were over 200 homes flooded in this town, and some houses had it much worse than we did. Some houses had 2 feet of water inside them. We only had 1 inch in ours, but that was enough to ruin all of the carpets. The 2X4 base plates for the walls were saturated so I had to remove the baseboards and cut off 3 inches of the drywall so the base plates could dry before mold set in. I bought a high velocity fan for each room, and someone has been going in twice a day and moving the fans around to keep the drying out progressing. Since the flooring has been removed, and there is no furniture in the house, I figured now would be a perfect time to repaint the walls. This is the room I chose to stay in when I go to visit, and I decided that “Princess Pink” just wouldn’t do! I had those walls painted a nice, neutral beige color. I still have a lot of work to do before the house is move in ready. Just another thing on the long, endless list of things I have to do. I did manage to put out 4 more swarm traps yesterday. Every time I was putting out a trap, I heard bees buzzing around foraging on wild flowers so I know there are some in the area. I will try to put out of the rest of them this week. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Swarm Traps!

20 Mar

I would like to welcome my newest follower, Jon. Jon has his own blog detailing his Journey To Homesteading, and his interest in honey bees. Go check him out at The Sweet Beeness. Jon asked for some details on my swarm traps so I will answer him here.

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I make my traps out of 8 frame deep supers. That seems to be the proper volume to attract bees. I started out just nailing a piece of plywood on to the bottom of the super, but I came up with an idea. Normally, when you transfer a captured swarm to a hive, you take the top off of the trap. Then you pull the frames out and transfer them to the hive, all the while, bees are swirling all around in the air. After the frames have been transferred, you will still have a bunch of bees in the bottom of the trap which you will have to try to shake out into the hive. I thought there might be a better way. I thought if I had an easily removable bottom on the trap, I could just remove the bottom and set the whole trap onto a bottom board and they would be transferred in a matter of seconds without even opening the top. But how to do this?

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I thought I might make a similar bottom like I use for the top. But no, that wouldn’t work well. Anytime it rained, the water would run down the sides and collect in the bottom of the hive.

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Then I thought, what if I made the frame for the bottom fit inside the trap instead of the outside? It would be almost rain proof and I could just take out two screws to remove the bottom. I made five of the traps like this so I will see how it works out.

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Oh, I made these 5 traps out of 1X12s that I did not rip down to the proper size to be a deep super. My box is an inch and a half deeper than a super. I needed the extra space so my deep frames will fit inside with the bottom attached. The only real negative I can think of is the bees might not like that extra space after I set the trap onto a bottom board. The old Beeks in my bee club are interested in my idea and they think the bees will just draw out a little bit of comb hanging from the bottom of the frames. That shouldn’t be a problem since these frames will be brood frames and won’t go into an extractor.

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This is a picture of one of my traps hanging in a tree about 15 feet high. I put out four traps today while the temperature was 40 degrees with a 20 MPH wind. I even saw a few flakes of snow flitting by! That sure doesn’t seem like swarm weather does it? Well, last week we had temps in the 80s! I have 15 traps to put out, so I need to get started because it will take a couple of days to get it done. Oh yeah, my two surviving hives are doing really well. Last week I went through them frame by frame. As a matter of fact, one of the hives was so strong I did a walk-away split. I don’t know how it will work out but I thought if it will ever work it should be now because that hive was so strong.

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I made this 5 gallon pail feeder last week and it is working really well. I drilled holes all around the bucket so that the little indentions around the top will hold the sugar water when you invert the bucket. The capillary pressure keeps it from spilling out just as it does with a jar feeder with holes punched in the lid. I have some other topics to discuss but I will save that for later. Keep prepping everyone!