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Long over due update! We added livestock (and poultry)!

Non-gas operated lawn mowers!
It is hard to believe I am so far behind on my blog posts.  Spring is a busy time on the homestead, especially a first spring!  Two and a half inches of rain last night in about a two hour period has given me some time this morning to write as it is too wet to get much done!  So much has happened in the last two months, I will probably on touch on most of it in an attempt keep this post readable! 
First, we lost our bee hive from last year, the bees ate the stores in the middle of the hive, all the way to the top, but did not eat the outermost combs.  From the looks of it they ended up starving themselves out because they moved too far from the edges for them to reach them with the cold weather.  We were able to salvage about 15 lbs of honey and a pound or so of wax out of the dead hive. We also managed to harvest a couple containers of virgin honey comb.
This years honey harvest

In this picture you can really see the pollen in the honey!

Took me a while to property clean it but 17 ozs of wax!

 I left quite a bit of the empty comb in the hive in order to help this next batch of bees get started.  We did restock the hive along with a second hive and as of now both hives seem to be doing well 6 weeks after stocking them. 

A note on the honey, as it is raw and not extensively filtered, you can see a lot of the pollen, I think it looks pretty cool but as the honey settles the pollen drops to the bottom of the jar and it almost looks like you have two separate layers in the honey!  It does taste wonderful!  

Since our last post our Kinder heard has increased by two, on 24 May, about a week early, Pippa delivered twin kids, one boy (Primus) and one girl (North).  I was there for the birth and it was a pretty interesting experience and I think I was more nervous then the momma!  Before the birth Pippa was kind of nervous around me, except for feeding time, after the birth however it is like she is a different goat!  Now it is like I am one of her best buds and she is extremely friendly towards me. 
Six weeks later momma and babies are doing fine except that momma seems to be having a little trouble maintaining her condition and weight with producing milk for the babies, this week I am going to start to separate her and feed her some additional grain on her own.  Next week we plan on separating the babies from her at night and milk her in the morning (as she is getting her additional grain).  We will see how that goes

North on the left and Primus on the right a couple hours old.

Mom with the babies a couple weeks old

Out for a little stroll for fresh greens!

At the end of April, we also received our Galloway cattle, a Cow/Calf Pair named Candy and Evie and three heifers, named Storm, Ms Kitty and Charlotte.  Initially we put them in the old corral the previous owners had here for barrel racing as I continued to work on their pasture fencing (more on that later).  It was about the third week in May before we got them moved to their new pasture, by that time it was nice and lush with green grass, something they really appreciated after a winter of just hay!  In the time we had them in the corral, only Candy and Charlotte really warmed up to me, Storm and Evie would very timidly take treats from me but Ms Kitty would have nothing to do with me!  Not sure why, but after about three days in the new pasture, Ms Kitty warmed up to me considerably, to the point that she was the first one to come running when she saw me out there with treats!  She is now the friendliest with me, not sure what caused her to come around but I am happy she did.  Now all of the girls are pretty comfortable around me.
Is it time to eat yet?

Our pasture fencing project really got thrown for a loop with the late winter and heavy snow fall this year which buried a couple of our fence lines in snow which we had to wait to melt before we could get started.  On top of that when we had the property surveyed when we bought it we found out that our northern property line was 5 feet or so INSIDE our fence line, meaning that 600 feet or so of fence needed to be moved, including driving new corner posts and pulling out the old ones, that further pushed out  our  pasture time line.  Initially I was trying to keep two of the fence wires from the previous owner’s fence, a line of braided wire and one line of smooth wire he used for electric.  I realized that would not work a couple hours after moving the girls to the new pasture, as Terri was sitting down going over pictures with my step-dads new wife, Barbara, she looked out the winder to see three Cows in our side yard, outside the fence.   I will never understand why they left the pasture, which had by far the better grass!  It took us about an hour and a half to wrangle them back in to the pasture, after they had crossed the road into a neighbor’s field (which luckily was not cleared or planted yet!).  At that point, with some help from the family to include my sister, Sara and her boyfriend Tyler we quickly replaced the woven wire and electrified the fence, we have not had any escapes since then! Right now we have one, 1.5 acre pasture or so set up plus the .5 acer corral fenced off(which will be the home to two pigs next week).  I am in the process now of finishing the next 1 acre or so area which will be the goat’s main area.  What has surprised me so far is that the five cattle, really have not put much of a dent into the pasture grass yet, now what they have done is thinned out the brush in the tree line a bit!

This year we also added some additional poultry, in Mid-April we received 52 Austrolorp chickens, 8 Cayuga Ducks, 8 Swedish Grey Ducks and 12 assorted geese (from the looks of it, it ended up being 6 Brown Chinese Geese and 6 White Chinese Geese). So far, they have all survived, which is quite remarkable as you can generally figure on some losses from mail ordered day old chicks!  About 2-3 weeks ago we successfully moved the chickens into the main coop with very little issues from the Barred Rocks who already called the coop home and we moved the ducks and geese outside.   The coops is a little more crowed but that will this out in a couple months when we cull the excess roosters from the new group but it is not bad as the free range during the day.

Chicks and Ducks a couple days old

Geese and Ducks after first being moved outside (that is a puddle, not a pond!)
Ducks and geese about 8 weeks old

We are down to about 21 Chickens (including 2 Rosters) from the 50 from last year. We harvested about  23 Rosters, lost three within the first couple days of receiving then and lost 4 from predators (including three from our new guard dog, more on him later).  We are down to 4 (maybe 5) guinea hens from our original 15 from last year.  We lost 9 to predators, mostly a great horned owl, before they learned to come in to the Chicken coop at night!  We gave one to a friend, who needed a male (and looks like we may have ended up giving him a female!) and we have one who is currently MIA and thought to be sitting on a nest somewhere!  We currently also have two “broody” Chicken hens who are currently sitting on eggs now, one is sitting on a small batch of barred rocks eggs and the other is sitting on a sizable clutch of guinea eggs. We should know in the next week or so if they are successful.

The last addition to the farm this year is a 12-week-old livestock guard dog(LGD) puppy named Uncle Jesse (we have goats coming in named Beaux, Luke and Daisy Mae).  The issue with Jesse right now is he is a big puppy who likes to play and seems to have already developed a taste for chicken, he has killed three chickens so far (and severely injured one) including killing one yesterday when he got out of his pen, that was the first one we saw him eating in earnest, so that we know it was not just a too rough in playing situation.  We still have not decided for sure what to do with him.  LGDs typically can not be fully trusted with livestock until they are about two years old and are out of that puppy stage, my concern right now is that he has developed that taste for chicken, we will have to see how this ends up.  
Jesse right after we got him.

Well, that will end this weeks posting, I will leave you with what is probably the biggest lesson I have leaned so far about farming.  Only plan for half a day of work, the other half will be taken up reacting to emergencies, break downs or tasks that took much longer then you planned for it (and maybe a hour or two just to enjoy sitting with and being with the animals…)
This has got to be the fattest squirrel I have seen, think he raided my feed all winter, this was the start of spring!


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