Trident

This bull calf was born on Feb 1st, 2015. He’s currently en route to another farm where he will eventually have his own herd.

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In this picture, Trident was rubbing his head on Steve’s leg. I used to think the cows were scratching their heads, but not anymore. I think this behavior is more like a cat rubbing up against you.

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My husband, who did not grow up on a farm, much less a farm with cattle, is absolutely amazing. He can split out any number of calves or cows from our herd without any shock devices or shoots.

Almost there

As a weekend warrior, I sometimes have to split my time up between the farm work and my own interests. It’s good thing the weather has been cooperating.

The haircut…

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Just brutal work. The weeds were whipping at my neck, face and arms. But this is what happens when a garden bed is left alone for 3 years.

Sept 2015 016This bush will need to get lopped off and then dug out later. So many things were  planted in these beds. Hopefully, the lemon balm and asparagus will come back.

The breakup…

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We haven’t had rain in a while, so the ground is like a solid rock. it’s never a good thing when your garden tool sounds like you’re hitting granite. Having a tiller is a good thing because if I had to do this all by hand, it just wouldn’t get done.

Sept 2015 019I was impressed with the how nice the soil looked. It’s been 5 years since I’ve amended the soil, so it could use a good dose of peat moss and compost.

Sept 2015 018…and the garlic gets planted!! My only goal this whole weekend was to get the garlic in the ground. Check. There’s still more clean up and the garlic will eventually need to get covered in straw in the next few weeks.

I’m envisioning – sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, blueberries, and raspberries next spring. Growing anything is always a marathon and never a sprint.

A little bit at a time

A little bit at a time

I finally managed to find some time this past weekend to do some clean up, if only for a few hours.

My garden went from 9 raised beds to a full on veggie show, 15+ rows of tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zukes, cantaloupes, etc. Now, we have a high tunnel with a few raised beds and rows of strawberries.

The progressive changes on the vegetable growing side of the farm left the 9 raised beds unused for the most part. A lot of people would wonder why would I show this because doesn’t this represent failure? Of course this does.  Life isn’t perfect and my life is messy. Does that mean give up or worse don’t even try?? Heck no. Not for me. It simply means, “get busy girl, there’s work to do”. These raised beds are perfect for bulb and tuber plants.

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Somewhere in there are nine 24′ x 4′ beds. In it are several varieties of mint, strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, and blackberries. This was my first homesteading project. Now, it’s just one big hot mess. This season was really no help at all. Lots of rain, cool weather, and voila the best season for everything I don’t want growing…grr.

Sept 2015 004These trimmers are amazing and we can’t live without them on the farm. Talk about wear and tear. This is our 2nd trimmer.

Yes, there are paths between the beds…

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The weeds and grass were higher than my waist. It took a nice chunk of time out to get the paths cleared. I get mad, I get frustrated, and in the end it’ll get done.

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The challenge is time. I belong in the “weekend warrior” category. With the days getting shorter and fall wet weather closing in, time is against me.

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It feels amazing being able to work it and give it some love. You may not be able to envision it yet, but this garden will be beautiful again.

2014 – More, more, more

2014 – More, more, more

2013 was an amazing year. With our energy high, we planned out 2014. The plan called for expansion. Expansion of flower crops and market sales.

We added more flower beds, hoop houses and increased the variety of flowers grown, added another farmers market, and worked a couple of wedding shows. To win, you have to show up for the game.

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We sold bouquets – label/barcode to Whole Foods. It’s an amazing feeling to walk into the store expecting to see full containers of packaged and labeled of my bouquets and seeing empty containers.

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We even worked in a few weddings, some DIY brides and deliveries to florists.

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The workload was incredible. Each plant, each seed planted by hand. Weeding, all done by hand. Harvesting and bouquet making, each stem touched 2+ times.  Flowers here, flowers there, flowers everywhere!

With the closing of 2014, our energy depleted, we realized it’s time to make some changes for 2015.

 

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As I check on the hives each week, it seems I notice something new each time. One of the hives didn’t have much activity going on.

June2013 135The problem hive

That always concerns me, so in I went with a smoker. This first picture is the honey super. The bees were busy filling combs. Not bad, but with a good nectar flow going, I was expecting more.

June2013 073honey super

I moved down to the first brood box. I was checking for any signs of a queen such as, eggs, lavae, or capped brood. Something that tells me the queen is still around and still productive.

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 All I saw were lots of bees and a whole lot of honey. Unfortunately, no signs of a productive queen. I went into the lower brood box and found the same thing, lots of bees and honey. It’s not good. Either the queen died or the hive swarmed. The good news is there isn’t a laying worker.

I was able to pick up another queen that day. Being a new beekeeper, it’s always good to have a network of other beekeepers. I pulled the honey super off the hive and replaced more than half the frames with new foundation and few drawn comb.

It’s never a pretty sight when requeening. The bees are a bit aggressive and immediately started attacking the queen cage. My intentions were to leave the queen in her cage until they cease their attack. So…

Day 1 – mean angry bees

Day 2 – still attacking…

Day 3 – I started my morning with checking to see if they’ve made any progress in accepting here. I noticed there weren’t very many bees on the cage. I figured I would add a little sugar syrup and water to the screen to keep the queen fed while going through this process. But when I checked the cage, she wasn’t there. The cage didn’t have a cork!! The bees were able to eat through the candy and get to her. [add choice words here]

Only time will tell if they’ve accepted her or killed her. In the meantime, they are working hard on drawing out the new frames.