Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Few More Flower Bouquets....

Sometimes my kids are so sweet it makes my heart melt......
Last night they brought me these to make a bouquet on the table!
I'm not sure what they are.....something that grows along our fence row. They smell WONDERFUL!

 I also brought in this charming little bouquet this week.....My first blooming iris.....
 I planted two bare root "Bowl of Beauty" Peonies last weekend....I can't wait for those bouquets!
 I plant one bare root "Karl Rosenfield" Peony as well.....gorgeous dark pink bloom...come to mama. 

When Caleb has the Camera...

When my camera comes up missing, I always find it interesting, and sometimes educational when I flip through the pictures that were taken in my absence. In this instance, I don't have to guess who the "camera thief" was he photographed himself....

 I'm not sure what Lance is measuring..his nose...his face...regardless Caleb thought is was photo-worthy.
 The next few photos might be way super-adorable...brace yourself......
 Look at that adorable face.....he's so stinkin' cute..LOVE YA Jasper!
 This little guy is all worn out! I can relate to ya buddy....
 This isn't a very focused picture, but I think it showcases that Caleb would rather take pictures than get in on the helping dad that going on here. (They are digging holes for the post for the picket fence.)
So that about sums it up for ......When Caleb has the camera.....Love that ornery boy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hive Update....

It was time to make another trip to the hive today. I needed to once again check on my "queen status" and replace their sugar water. Today it was Zach's turn to be my helper.

 This was only the second chance I've had to use my smoker....I think I need more practice. Each time it goes out on me before I get done with my first hive.
Here I am putting the smoker to use, well I'm trying to anyway, it's not really smoking well.
I took out the case that's holding the queen and Zach is holding her while I take out the old sugar water container. He likes checking her out. Neither of my queens were out yet....I cleaned out a little of that "candy" I told you about and she should be out by today I'm hoping.
Here we are taking out the old sugar water container (which was empty) and replacing it with a new one. The bees needed a little convincing from my brush to get off of it. Zach wanted to be right in on the action. I love that all the kids seem to be very interested in helping at the hive.
After replacing the sugar water, I went to put the queen holder back in and it dropped all the way to the bottom....opps! In order to get it out I had to remove two frames and then grab it. It actually worked out great because I got to admire all this beautiful white comb they have been busy making! (It's not the best shot but I was trying to juggle the camera, not smash any bees, and take picture while thinking about how to fish my queen out of the bottom of the hive.) You get the idea , right?
I will need to check once again tomorrow, just to be sure my queens are out, if not I help them out by removing all the "candy" that is left. I'm ready for her to be out in both hives and start growing the hives. ONE QUICK NOTE: I was so excited that I got to see one of the honeybees from the first hive I checked had came back to the hive with it's little pollen pocket full. Zach got to see him too!
What a thrill that was! I got to see it on a Documentary called "Tales of the Hive", but it was way more thrilling to see it in person! Great in detail documentary by the way..I would highly recommend it
it to a new beekeeper or to show to your kids for schooling purposes. I got a copy from my local library.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BEE Mama....

On Sunday, I became a BEE Mama....yep that's right my bees finally arrived for me to take home! As soon as we got home I got all suited up (with my helper) and went to work installing my bees
Here is a little play by play (photos taken by Justin)
 Me and Lance my hive helper
 The first things I did was remove the top wood panel and take out the sugar water can.
 I tried to get the queen package out right away but there were just to many bees, so I shook some of the bees out first. Sounds easier than it was...
 Now I remove the Queen package from the box and remove the plug that is over the "sweet candy". Now the workers bees will eat through that candy to let the Queen out. This can take 3-5 days. During that time the bees will get used to the Queen and realize she is their leader. If you introduce the Queen right away they would kill her immediately.
 In this picture, I am inserting the Queen between two frames. The queen package needs to face up so she can crawl out once the bees eat through the candy.
 I put in their sugar water feeder, then I'm done with the first hive.
 Now it's 4 days later (today)....and it's time to check the hive once again.
 #1: To see if the Queen has been released. #2 To check their sugar water supply
I took yet another willing helper to the hive with me...Caleb wanted to go this time.
 This is what we found out.
 #1 The queen was still inside the holder in both hives.
#2 They have enough sugar water to last them another 2 days in both hives
The little white tube looking thing is where the Queen. They all gather around her, they are attracted by her scent, and feed her while she is in there.
 Here is the sugar water feeder, which is their main food source right now. It is an equal mix of sugar to water.  The young bees won't leave the hive much until the temps reach 70 degrees. Also there are not many sources of pollen for them to eat right now. They do enjoy dandelions....which is why we didn't spray our yard this year kill them. The pesticide would also kill my bees. (Which I never realized till bee school). It is something to consider if you have honey hives near you before you spray any kind of pesticide at all.
 Both hives seems to be very active and healthy at this point. I even saw that each hive is building their comb already!! Yahoo that's what we want!
 There isn't a ton of action at the entrance of the hive at this point. We did see a few bees coming back to the hive, and a few guard bees patrolling the area. I hope within the next couple weeks as it warm up more we will see some traffic jams at the entrances because everyone will "bee" working hard!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Animal Population is GROWING...

It's that exciting time of year when we start filling up the barn with 4-H projects! Lance & Caleb will be in 4-H this year so it's been double the fun. Let me introduce you.....
Remember Jake? He was the little gut we started bottle feeding mid-January.
 He's back with us yet again, but this time he brought a friend with him....
 Her name is Rachael...She still has all her wool (Jake got a hair cut), and she is so soft!
Caleb will be showing both of these at the fair. He is over the top excited to start learning all he can.
 Meet Webster & Wibley (I have no idea how they come up with these names)....Caleb's pigs.
 Lance's pigs are Warrior and Tiger.
 This is our barn cat Happy....On occasion she gets to come in a cuddle up with the kids on the rug right inside the door. She very lovable, but is still unsure what to think about Jasper (the new puppy).
 This week we brought home 25 (now 24) Meat Chickens. We like doing an early batch, then getting another group of them later in the summer. They take about 10-12 weeks to reach maturity.Last year we could butcher an entire batch in 2-3 hours, even faster if we bag them as whole chickens. 
They are so easy to raise (yummy too).
 So cute as babies....Not cute as adults!
 Everyone loves holding the little chicks, especially Julia. The kids know why we have them, and it is not traumatizing on butcher day. Everyone enjoys adding the meat to our freezer.
Lance is also taking a couple ducks for 4-H....Speedy & Junior. Sorry they were no available for a photo op at the time of this post.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prepping the Garden For Planting....

After testing our soil we realized the PH was too high (7.0-7.5) and the soil was depleted of Nitrogen. So after a little research we added Sulfur to bring the PH down, and then added a fertilizer that was high in Nitrogen to help bring the level up. So Justin hooked up the spreader to the back of the tractor and made quick work of it.
 Here is part of my ROCK PATROL...also be part of my weed pulling TEAM!
 Jasper is taking notes and making sure everyone is doing their part. Don't you like his new tag?
 Well here's better look at it....
 After adding the needed nutrients, we tilled them in. Justin, Grandpa Gaerte, and Lance got er' done.
 Grandpa is a great supervisor...plus I think he kinda likes all this homesteading it reminds him of when he was a kid I think....LOVE all this HELP!
 I adore this shot I took....it's all about making some great memories.
 This unit was once used behind horses. George used to sit on this staring at the rear end of horses listening to his little radio for hours. He's not really sure if the view has improved much....
 Once the rows were made it was time for the potatoes. 
We planted 6 lbs. of Yukon Gold (early), 10 lbs. of Red Pontiac (mid), and 20 lbs of Kennebec (late)
 Here we are laying them all in line....
 Here they are!
Now it was time to throw the dirt back on top of them...Here we go again!
 Lance was loving all the action and he took up the job of video camera man with Justin's phone.
 Before we quit for the day I also planted 26 onions starts.
Now we wait and see if they will grow!

Just in case you want to check out Lance's up close video skills GO HERE!

Design by Amanda @ BloggerBuster