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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bees

You would think that with all the things going on around here, that I would get some things finished before I tackle something new. I guess that's not to be this year. The farm has been expanding by leaps and bounds this year. We've put pigs on the property for breeding and meat, expanded our chicken business, expanded gardens, and added a greenhouse. I still have land to clear, fences to build, pens and additional pens and coops to fill.

And now we have a functioning bee hive.

I bought a package of about 10,000 honey bees from Rossman Apiaries in Georgia, and they arrived this past Monday.

Did you ever wonder what 10,000 bees looks like? I was surprised how many bees they can fit into a little crate.







The installation of the bees into the hive actually went without a hitch. I'll admit that I was pretty nervous right up to the point when I opened the shipping crate. Then it all smoothed out for me.

I've visited the hive daily since Monday, and have been happy to see bees buzzing in and out of the hive from the fields and gardens.

Today was the day to open the hive and inspect their progress. And it looks good. The queen has been freed from her shipping crate, and the bees have filled almost half of the bottom brood box with comb. It looked like the queen has been busy doing her duties too, so we have a growing hive.

Bees sure are fascinating to watch and interact with. I never thought I would get so much enjoyment out of a honey bee.

As the spring and summer progress, I will be visiting the hive and will update you with the progress we are making as new beekeepers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Date Night - Farmer Style

We've been losing chickens to an unknown predator recently. One morning, we found a carcass in the barnyard. On Mother's Day, we found three. It would've been bad enough had it been some of our adult, egg-laying hens, but these were young chickens we've bought especially to sell for meat. Having local wildlife get an occasional snack is a farmer's occupational hazard but this is a threat on our livelihood and completely unacceptable to my hard-working husband. So he decided to sit up on a stakeout.

Now, my husband is a very experienced hunter, and an expert marksman, but his original idea of sitting out all night on top of a ladder propped up against a tree with a spotlight in one hand and a shotgun in the other wasn't sounding like one of his better plans, so I made a suggestion. Why not put the pick-up truck in an ideal location and sit in the bed of it? What's more, why not let me handle the spotlight?

You gotta love when a plan comes together.

So, there we were...sitting in the dark in the bed of the truck, parked on top of a pile of turkey manure to mask our scent, trying to hold still and keep quiet while getting buzz-bombed by insects, and straining our ears to distinguish the difference between normal night sounds and the approach of a hungry animal when I realized that this was the first time since I don't know when that we've been out of the house after sundown without children and that apparently this is the best I can hope for in terms of getting a date night with my husband.

Not really the kind of romantic evening I'd hope for, but in my life I've learned to take what I can get.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Early morning on the farm

I love early mornings on the farm. You walk out of the quiet house where the children are all still nestled in their beds, to the sun peaking over the hill, spreading it's warm glow on the fields.

The roosters are crowing as they greet a new day, while the hens are clucking their desire to leave the coop to find something to get into. The chicks are chattering as only little ones can do, wanting to get out and play. And the pigs are telling you good morning as only a pig can.

It's the morning feeding time here on the farm. Time to spend a little while with all my barnyard friends. There aren't too many things more satisfying that having your pigs greet you; to get down, and rub their bellies, and scratch their ears. Or the chickens surrounding you, looking for breakfast. When you reach down and let them  eat out of your hand.

Off in the woods you hear the wild turkeys gobbling away, as a light breeze stirs the air, and the rest of the world around you begins to wake.

The sights, the sounds, and the smells..They all make a farmer's early morning chores a satisfying start to the day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farm Update for May 2011

Here's a quick update on where we are at and what we are working on.

We are currently running 11 growing beds and have 33 different vegetables or herbs growing nicely.
The vegetable and herbs that we now have growing are:
Tomatoes - 3 heritage varieties,
Cucumbers
Corn - 2 varieties
Yellow squash
Pole beans
Garlic
Bush beans
Onion
Radish
Red potatoes
Lettuce
Zucchini squash
Peas
Turnips
Rosemary
Thai Basil
English Thyme
Boxwood Basil
Sage
Sweet Marjoram
Texas Tarragon
Cilantro
Sweet Basil
Lemon Balm
Lemon Thyme
Bee Balm
Greek Oregano
Parsley
Lavender
Dill
Okra
Wheat (I know it's not a veggie)
Cabbage,
and Watermelons.

We also have many of these herbs growing in pots for re-sale, with more to come.

We currently have 8 different cut flower varieties, and broom corn that will be used for cut flower sales at the farmer's market.

We also have new crops coming along as seed starts to be added to the fields yet.
Pie pumpkin
Lemon grass
Louffa
Hubbard squash
Butternut squash

Coming this fall will be carving pumpkins and buckwheat.
Our goal here on the farm is to have the things that we love to eat and also to supply good flavorful heritage food to our customers who come to the farmer's markets and visit us here on the farm.

Is there anything I haven't thought of, or you would like to see us grow?