Monday, April 18, 2011

Looks like winter- feels and smells like spring

I've been trying to figure out where the smell of dead animal is coming from. At first I was sure it really was a dead chicken or duck that died over the winter that I'd forgotten about. I keep sniffing around the pile of chicken bedding - recently removed from the coop, but I don't think that's it.  The cold weather has it's advantages: our place only smells half the year.

I've been thinking of notes to self lately as I do chores. The top note to self is to keep my mouth shut more often. I don't think I spend much time walking around with my mouth hanging open. I think I must sub consciously breathe through my mouth when things are stinky and that is how I end up catching nasties.  I can't remind myself enough to:
  1. Keep mouth shut when pitchforking and cleaning out the chicken coop, goat stalls and manure bedding in general.
  2. Keep mouth shut when trimming goat feet. Poopy chunks of goat trimmings fly in all directions.
  3. Indoors- keep mouth shut when scrubbing the toilet.
This week while driving to town Avery kept saying "whats that?" I was like what? that house? the trees? the other cars? and finally she said, "No, that icky brown stuff." I replied, "that is dirt". Then we had a whole discussion about how the dirt was really there all along just covered up and hidden by the snow, which she was skeptical about. We still have snow pretty much everywhere on our property. Today there was some dirt exposed up against the goat barn and the kids found it. Noah said something like, "ooh dirt, look there is dirt here" and he began running his hands through it, grabbing, squishing and digging in it. Then of course there wasn't enough dirt there to go around and he told his sister she had to go find her own dirt. Avery found a muddy puddle and said, "ooh mud, mom can I splash in the mud with my bare feet?"  And I was like, lets keep our rain boots on for now, it is too cold still, but soon!

We are all ready. Ready for mud. Excited to see dirt. I think it is going to be a few weeks before the snow has mostly disappeared. It is going to be a late spring.

I've gone to two bee classes now. I'm learning lot's. Yesterday we watched a hiving demonstration and checked on a recently hived hive. The bees were much more mellow than I expected. No one got stung. The bee guy did everything without gear, veil or gloves, using his bare hands to brush bees back into the hive etc. It was kinda like magic. I've been very inspired by the class and I'm thinking I'm actually going to enjoy bee keeping itself, in addition to having our own honey.

The start up cost is pretty intimidating. I'm not sure it is really worth it when I think about how much money we are investing in bees, hive and equipment and how much honey we are going to get. The bees start at $125 for a three pound package, $25 for an extra queen. So I decided to step it up and buy a Nuc, which is a small colony already started and going with a proven queen for $175. The start up recommendation for here is two deep brood supers and two medium honey supers, with a queen extruder the cost is 350 unassembled, 400 assembled - and just needs paint. Smoker, veil and gloves... It is getting expensive. Stumbling across some used unwanted equipment would be great, but I don't see that happening in the next couple weeks.

Our first batch of ducks and Ameraucanas is due to hatch at the end of next week. We've got a few geese and ducks arriving the same week. Time to dig out some heat lamps and brooder tubs for the hallway. I like to keep them close in the house at first. The goats are all doing great. We have one more goat due for sure. Xoe is due the first week of May. I'm going to enjoy sleeping through the night for at least another week. It is getting busy and exciting like spring around here. It just looks like winter.


    Buttons said...

    Emily Bee keeping sounds exciting good luck. Mud is nice I am liking it much better than snow. Ducks in the house oh yes I remember keeping chickens in the house, farming is in and out of the barn is it not?
    Good luck on all your projects it is getting busy for all of us finally emerging out of the snow. B

    Jewel said...

    I remember well the first couple years of beekeeping and the start up cost was high, I'd buy new hives, so you start fresh. I bought 2 unassembled hives and assembled and painted them, and bought 2, 4lbs of bees. It was so exciting getting them all set up.

    Since you have farm animals and are in tune with feeding. You just treat bees like miniature livestock, make sure their needs are met and you may have bees that survive from one year to the next. I fuss over my 2 hives, and have been feeding them sugar syrup since mid Feb.
    It's always fun to hear what you're up to, and what's happening that far North.

    Michaele said...

    I keep saying I will get bees someday. Glad to hear a little about start up cost. I have trained myself to breath through my nose when cleaning anything with manure or bedding. It easily becomes habit, but you have to work slower, as to not need the extra air that mouth breathing offers. I also wear a face mask if it is airborne and even purchased a respirator for cleaning out an old barn with ancient manure. I have a degree in Biochemistry and sometimes I wish I didn't know what I know. ha

    Emily said...

    Michaele, the start up costs for bees have got to be a good bit higher up here due to shipping. If I was more patient, I'd wait to find some used equipment. I don't see myself getting very good at breathing through my nose while shoveling manure any time soon. I'll be more aware now maybe...

    Anonymous said...

    Hey Emily its April only had a quick moment, but wanted to pass this along off craigslist, its a bee hive used for $150.

    Anonymous said...

    Sounds like our place! Bees are totally worth it! From what I hear AK is awesome for fireweed honey!! Overwintering is an issue, but then next spring (worst case) you would only need to fork over the $125 for a package. If it's any consolation, our bees have totally paid their own way, at $5 per lb. I have made way more than I have spent on equipment. Keep your eye on craigs list in the spring too. Seems like early in the year is when folks decide they would rather have the storage space than either deal with bees, or the pile of gear they take. That's how I scored. My packages should be here Thursday.... WOot!!