Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm

Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My how they have grown...

I just can't believe how fast 8 weeks have gone by. Just look at the size of them! The big one is one of Belle's boys, he's huge. Belle will retire from breeding this year and enjoy her retirement. She has started a beautiful line that will forever have our farm linked to her line.
 Today was the lambs big day, they got their last CD & T shots, were wormed and then it was time for them to get ready to go off to their new homes. We are keeping one of Rose's ewes, but deciding was so hard. We settled on the smaller one, she's always had my eye since she was born.
They were fitted with harnesses and loaded into the back of "Grandma Liz's" SUV for their trip up to her house to spend the night and then off to their new homes in the morning...
and yes it breaks my heart to see them go, I would keep them all, but we breed them to help put our mark on bringing back this rare and once endangered breed, the Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free fencing, you can't beat that!

Once again, you seek and you shall find. We have
been having quite the time with our chickens getting into our gardens. They managed to root up our garlic, onions, strawberries as well as the rhubarb. Our friend Kenny was over last week and we mentioned that we had to get fencing to fence the garden. He stated that he had some laying around he was getting rid of and brought it by. The next thing we needed was some stakes, our friend Pat was no longer in need of a bunch he had so he gave us about 20 of them, instant fence!
There is no telling what people have laying around
and this helped us out quite a bit!
So Tim and I set out to put the fencing up today and did so with very little problems. We put up about 60 feet all the way around. If you look close at the first picture top left, there is a chicken on the other side of the fence saving our vegetable garden. In picture bottom left, we moved the cold frame, and put the strawberries in there. Tim still has to build a gate as well as another raised bed but for now I can just pull this little bit of
fencing closed to keep the chickens out. So there you go sustainability with a little help from our friends, Thanks guys!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shearing Day, finally!

On this cloudy dreary day we finally had our farm animals sheared! Tim and I set the easy up up last night, locked the sheep up and hoped they'd be dry in the morning.
 The alpacas instantly knew we were up to something when we caught them all and put their harnesses on. There is nothing like a stressed and suspicious alpaca, they hum and pace as they plot an exit.
Finally our shearers, Jeremiah (standing) and Rick arrived and after a brief set up went right to work. We started with "Royal" because he is just plain evil, if we did not do him first and put him away he will attack to protect his flock.
 They tether each animal and stretch them out. This is safe for the animal as well as the shearers. It keeps the animal still and stops thrashing and injury. It's the only way to do it in my opinion. They are done in just a few short minutes this way.



                                                     
 another shot of Jeremiah shearing "Awan". In the foreground are the bags of fiber. Because it was a somewhat rainy day the fleeces are all over the house drying right now.
 and here is a shot of the gang naked! Check out those skinny necks, you have to see them in person it is really funny. They will be so cool come the hot weather...
Here's "Royal" the evil one, naked as a jay bird! He has no idea that we only have his best interest in mind. Tim and I have to sleep with one eye open, he is probably plotting our deaths!
 One thing I find most funny on shearing day is after the ewes are shorn the lambs don't recognize their moms for a short time. They run around and scream out because they don't know these strangers that are in with them! Where's my mom they scream (if they could)...




and here are "Rose" and "Belle" looking clean and cool. No more panting for them. So until next year shearing is behind us, no what to do with all this fiber and fleece!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Suspicious Alpacas!

Well it's not always  easy to hide something from an Alpaca. They knew we were up to something when we locked them in the bottom area...and they were right, it was shot day! They were getting their Ivermectin shots along with their CD & T vaccines and they were none too happy about it. However the real fun comes tomorrow when it's shearing day, ssssshhhhhhh don't tell them!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Bees have arrived!

Our bees for 2011 have arrived after a devastating loss this winter with new hope for the bees. We got the call this morning so Tim rushed to the Post Office to pick them up, ironically exactly one year to the day we got our bees last year...
 I rushed home from work today to empty the packages into the hives. In the picture to the right, you have to pry off the small piece of wood that holds everything into place with the trusty "hive tool". No beekeeper would be caught without one. This comes after smoking and spraying them with a little sugar water so they are not too mad.
Once the wood is off, you will find the sugar water can (the larger one) and the queen cage (the smaller one). The Queen cage is lifted and put into the hive. You have to removed the cork and the bees will eat thru to the sugar candy to get her out...
and this is how it looks when you are done, a successful hived package!
However as I opened the next one, I found there was many more dead bees and then when I lifted out the queen cage, I found that she had died with a couple of other bees in her cage. Thinking fast I combined the packages in hopes of saving all the bees. Without a queen or any eggs they could not have successfully survived. I have contacted the bee supplier and am awaiting their respones as to where I go from here...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bee news-Good and Bad...

I have not even wanted to talk about our bee losses this year. We lost every hive due to the brutal winter we had, all three hives gone. This winter was one of the harshes ones we have had in a  long time.
 The sadess part is that as I pulled the frames out, they had frames filled with honey. As I inspected each frame, it was obvious that they froze to death. Their little bodies were head first in the cells as they exhausted the food source and then froze. We had very high losses throughout Connecticut for bee keepers.
However, all was not lost for me! I also manage a three frame observation hive at the Nature Center where I work and they survived this brutal winter, mainly because they were inside. A couple of weeks ago I was down there and it was clear that they were getting ready to swarm so I took the trouble makers out and...
placed them in my nuc hive, and brought them home. They were attempting to raise three queens. Yesterday I opened it up and found no queen, but healthy bees and a few drones. That however, can mean a few things, 1) they all fought to the death, 2) the surviving queen is out mating or 3) she may have been eaten by a bird in her mating flight. I will check back in a couple of days. In the meantime, I recieved an email that my bees were shipped today so I will have more bees to work with in just a few days! Bee Keeping can be discouraging with the losses but you have to get back and not give up! The bees need us and the plants need the bees! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Blessed May Day to one and all!

 What a beautiful May Day we had today! The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, a gentle breeze and so much to be done. After dinner I took a walk around and noticed all the great stuff coming up. These bleeding hearts just bloomed...
my most favorite herb in the whole wide world, Bee Balm. The fragrance just standing in the garden is so beautiful. In early July their blooms remind me of fireworks.
 In the herb garden, all the perennial herbs are coming up, especially the oregano. I love this time of year because everything is so fresh and new...
The Lily of the Valley is everywhere. It is so envasive but beautiful too, and the smell, it takes me back to so many memories.
 The May pinks are blooming everywhere, in every different color. Such a sign of spring...
I found this tiny baby fern growing in the field stone steps leading up to the house...
and Daffidols, beautiful in so many colors...but as I look around the farm, I am seeing so many invasive plants as well as non-native species that have to go. I am taking the non-native pledge and am going to begin ridding our property of anything (within reason) that is not a native plant to Connecticut. My friend and I are planning a trip to a nursery in Woodbury that specializes in this. I will post our trip and what we learn. So enjoy the May flowers that April has brought, Happy May Day to all.