The Death of a Hive

Okay, not the complete death of a hive. Just some. Trevor inspected Hive #2 the other night to assess how much they would need to be fed this winter. When he opened the hive it was obvious that the hive had swarmed and left because of a wax moth infestation. We killed all of the larvae and moths we could find.




This was the hive that was poorly insulated to begin with, so we aren’t entirely surprised that something snuck in. Hive #2 was actually due to be replaced this spring because of some encroaching mold, but we just didn’t get around to it before the move and before the bees started building comb for the year.





Hive #1 was moth free, however. So that’s the good news. Now we really have no choice but to buy or build a new hive. This time around we will be a little wiser and use a hive with thick walls and a fitting top and lid. Trevor wants to split Hive #1 in the spring and then purchase a new starter nuc with a queen to replace Hive #2. He was blabbering about some sort of Cornelian hybrid… Maybe he will leave a comment saying exactly what he is looking for.

Long story short, the farm is down to one hive to overwinter. Hopefully we will have it together enough to be up to three hives in the spring. Fingers crossed, breath held.

Random Thoughts On A Random September Day

This week I celebrated my 28th birthday. I am still (just barely) on the sunny side of thirty. I’d like to say that I have matured some over the years, but I think I may have maturity confused with cynicism and a slowly darkening sense of humor. In my ripe, old age I have come to a few conclusions:

- If you can wake up in the morning and no one is dead, you’re doin’ pretty well.

- Don’t farm in flip flops. Just don’t. You end up with smashed or a severe lack of toe nails which in turn, makes it much harder to wear cute nail polish, and thus, flip flops. Also, do not apply nail polish to your creepy toe to cover up the fact that you lost a toe nail… it hurts.

- When crap doesn’t go your way it is perfectly acceptable to sulk behind a good book and something chocolatey.

- When crap does go your way, it is perfectly normal to do an exaggerated Super Woman stance and/or give yourself a hearty high-five.

- Ain’t nobody knows nothin’. There is no such thing as an expert, there are no gurus, and no one really knows what’s going on. We all just have to figure out this crazy existance on our own no matter how much help or advice is offered.

- When in doubt, use your hillbilly voice.

- If still feeling doubtful, buy another goat.

- Animals such as rabbits, goats, and pigs, can be both adorable and delicious.

- Nothing replaces homegrown food, laughter with good people, or family.

Ugh, Mondays… I mean Thursdays.

One of my Speckled Sussex hens went missing last night. I suspect foul play… or is that fowl? Oh, I couldn’t help myself. We are pretty sure that the hawk we spotted a couple times in the last few weeks finally got her. Since that first attack by the red-tailed hawk, she has been “marked for death”. Have you ever heard that term in book or movies? Maybe I have just been reading too many murder mysteries lately. I always thought it was a little over-dramatic, but turns out it’s totally a real thing. If you don’t believe me, go find my chicken.

Joking aside, I really didn’t need to be down a chicken right now. Not that they are laying or anything useful at the moment– lazy, molting creatures. On the bright side: the hen to go missing was one from the breed that laid the smallest, least fantasticly colored eggs. So there’s that. I just can’t get my panties in a bunch over this one. The farm still has eight more hens, the rooster, and a dozen other animals to worry about. I’m just glad I didn’t have to dispose of a body. Although if did, I’m sure one of you would help me “dispose” of a “body”. Ah, again, sorry, I’ve been reading too many murder mysteries.

New Goaties On The Farm

Welcome our newest caprine friends, Luna and Bridgit. You may remember during the month of December I helped care for and milked these goats for their owner, my friend Traci. Well, Traci and her family have since decided to focus on full-size breeds instead of these Nigerian Dwarf goats and so they needed a new home.

Since my birthday is coming up soon I told my mother–who just happens to own a truck– that the only thing I want for my birthday is goat transportation. It also gave my parents an excuse to come out to visit, but honestly, I couldn’t have gotten them out here very comfortably in my little sedan. So my parents stopped by my friends house, loaded two very round goats into their truck bed, hooked them in, and very carefully drove an hour, and across the river, to our house.




When they arrived Trevor and I hopped into the back of the truck with leashes and walked the two new goats to the goat pen. I felt a little ridiculous walking this short, little, stubby thing to the goat pen on a leash. After spending so much time with the tall Freyja and graceful Heidrun, walking a Nigerian Dwarf to the pen felt how I would imagine walking a pig on a leash: leading a heavy, round, and perpetually hungry porker on not much more than a string.

My mom thought that the taller, super model goats might give the new girls an inferiority complex. But her dog Smokey, a dachshund, thought they looked beautiful just as they are.



All the humans stood outside a few moments to make sure the two pairs of goats, short and tall, met each other and tested the fence. When the new goats tried out the fence they busted out like mini bulls and I realized that their noses only reached the second wire, a cold wire. So we set that straight by switching all the low wires to be “hot” electric wires and made the grounding wire one of the higher wires. After adjusting the fence I touched the nose of both goats to the wire so they would learn the boundary and not plow right through the fence again. Success. Electric fences really do work as long as you have lots and lots of hot wires, have a high enough charge, and it is always on.

Luna (black and white) is the mother of Bridgit (tan and white). They both have been dried off for about a month and are ready to breed again. It will probably take a few weeks to let them adjust to their new home, the other two goats, and also to find a local with a Nigerian Dwarf stud to breed them with. Just like any other animal, you can breed the female with a smaller breed, but never a larger breed buck because the resulting offspring would cause complications due to sheer size. And since Nigerian Dwarves are about as small as it gets, I will need to specifically find a Nigerian Dwarf stud.

When I am ready to breed Freyja (Nubian) and Heidrun (Toggenburg/Nubian), I can technically breed them with any other breed since they are large-breeds themselves. I will do my best, however, to find a dairy-breed stud to breed them to.




Farming with the Tao :: acceptance

The Tao Te Ching is a philosophical and often spiritual text of meditative verses. The Tao Te Ching is a book of ancient Chinese wisdom written sometime around 500 B.C.E by the sage, Lao Tzu. The book has endured thousands of years because it has timeless understanding of life. Second only to the Bible, the Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the world.

In this series, we are going to approach the Tao Te Ching from a farmer’s point of view. Let all of us– backyard farmers, market farmers, chicken raisers, and “wannabe” farmers alike– take on these poetic truths together.

Farming with the Tao series

Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.

The Tao Te Ching thinks of everything, I tell ya. I set out this morning to find a verse that fit my current mood towards the farm. From a few of my past posts it is easy for one to see that I need a new lesson in patience, endurance, and faith. Once in awhile I just need to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. Once I read this particular verse there was just no way that I would find a more fitting or more relevant passage.

Despite my best efforts, even when the land is choked by drought, it is useless to complain. When light rain barely moistens the ground, we need to accept it. We need to learn to accept what comes.

We can plan for the future and have an utopian view of time and space that works within our schedule and knowledge, but the universe has a different sense of time; universal time bends and twists. We (more specifically, I) can cry and whine in frustration over rainfall, but those who accept the fate of the universe are, or work to become, prepared.

This is not to say that acceptance is fatalism. We should not stand by, inactive and let time pass by. Instead, we need to work within our circumstances.

This year we have experienced an exceptional drought so I should now be conserving water and setting up methods of saving future water. Because if there is one thing that the universe is always sure to do, it is balance itself out. I will do my best to take the remainder of this land and farm production drought without complaint, work with what I have, and prepare for the future when heavy rains, baby animals, and the milk and honey are sure to flow again.

*Tao Te Ching translations by Ming-Dao Deng. Unsightly opinions by Sarah.