Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm

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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Incubating baby chicks, one week and counting!

    Two weeks ago, after a failed attempt, I loaded 25 Rhode Island eggs into the incubator. I now have the proper liner, two thermometers and a humidity gauge. My first failed attempt was the lack of participating people putting water into the incubator and "cooking" the eggs. My mom bought the incubator...
and I bought this rocker which gently turns the eggs 4 times a day. At the 18 day mark I will take out the rocker and place the eggs on the "O", marked on each egg. They have to be in the incubator for 21 days. The chicks should hatch in 7 more days. The eggs have the date, the number of the egg (up to 25) and an "X" on the other side to help me track them. I will also "candle" the eggs to see which ones have chicks growing in them. Our egg business is doing so well we need more chickens! We can't keep up with the demand and I have also promised some of the chicks to a friend. I will update in a week what our success was!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Greenhouse Planted and ready to go!

   Happy official beginning of the summer and Memorial Day weekend as we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy our freedom. It also kicks off the official planting season! Our greenhouse is planted and did rather well with everything growing nice and healthy. It is bursting at the seams with everything from vegetables to flowers and herbs.
   So today I began the task of locating things where they will be planted in our new raised beds made of re-purposed lumber. We took a trip to the dump today and got more lumber for more raised beds. It always amazes me what people throw away!
   Happy Birthday to Tim who is outside swearing at the new grill we bought him as he is putting it together!  So enjoy this holiday weekend and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Here we re-purpose again!!!

A few weeks ago a friend called and had some wood he was getting rid of. He took down a deck so Tim went to see what he had. He had plywood as well as some larger pieces too. We have been in need to build a new hay storage...
also available was some other wood elsewhere, so I brought it home and we went to work building small raised beds for our garden...

We made 35" x 35" small boxes, filled them with
some compost soil and alpaca manure...the boxes will be used to contain strawberries, mints, horseradish and other various invasives...

and another shot of our new hay area which will hold over 100 bales of hay! I just love knowing that we re-purposed and did our part to recycle and help the earth!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Making Milk Baths

   Now that all the lambs have been born, it's time to get busy around here and prepare to open the farm stand for the summer. Last night I prepared a big bowl of my famous Milk Bath. Complete with dry milk, dry buttermilk and my secret fragrance.
   I use recycled bottles (seen in the picture) as well as package some of them up in zip bags. These are a great way to take a bath as well as great on the skin! So I am off to work, creating, cleaning, and planting...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The end of lambing season!

   The end of lambing season has finally come! So many trips to the barn to "check on the girls", watching the lamb cam and the stress, oh the stress! It has been an interesting lambing season at best, first with "Belle" having mastitis, then having to bottle feed her baby, then her baby getting trampled and having to go to the Vet and on and on.
  
Rose gave birth this morning to this healthy handsome ram lamb. If I were a betting person I would have bet the farm she had twins in there, but she had this big healthy little man. She labored straight into the night, pacing, scratching and I got worried, but all is well and we can now get some rest!
   So we have 2 ewes and 2 rams...all are healthy and well!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Mother's Day miracle!

 Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there! My Mother's Day started out awesome. Tim and I woke up at 5:15 a.m. this morning, we had a very busy day ahead so we got started early.
 When we went down to feed the animals and give "Baby Baaaa" his bottle we discovered this beautiful little white ewe, our first ever born on the farm!
Here she is about a half an hour old, so tiny and precious. We need a name for her, a white flower name, I am thinking "Daisy" but am open for suggestions!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Catching a Honeybee Swarm!

On Friday one of my hives decided to swarm. I acted quickly and set up a quick honeybee swarm trap. I first started off by putting a frame with some "swarm wipes", a special scented wipe that attracts them.
I found the swarm forming on the front lawn and took two potting containers together and placed the frame and lurer inside. The swarm quickly started to swarm around it but by the morning it was gone.

A close up of the bees starting to form on the frame which had me very encoraged but to no avail until...

I woke up this morning, opened the front door and noticed the swarm had returned to the garden bench,


and if you look very close, in the center where the bees are in a circle, there she is, The Queen! I was so excited!


(sorry for the quality of this frame, my camera went a bit nuts!), I ran up and got the frame that I was trying to attract the swarm with. I placed the queen into a queen cage, marked her and took the bees up to my nuc hive who have not been able to raise a queen, for whatever reason, whether she died while out mating, I am not really sure. I laid newspaper on top of them, added another hive body, placed some frames and the bees in, closed them up and hopefully once they eat thru the layer of newspaper, they will accept her as their new queen! Fingers crossed this works!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hiving a Honeybee Package

 At 6:30 a.m. this morning the phone rang and it was the post office notifying us that our bee package was in, so off Tim went to pick it up.
I found this sign on the bees a little funny...aaahhh yeah! I had a hive ready and waiting for their arrival so after work today I fired up the smoker, geared up and went to work getting them out of their cramped box.
I am spraying them in this picture, weighing them down heavily with sugar water.They are too busy licking it off of each other and too heavy to worry about defending their hive...

 The can in this picture is filled with sugar water as well as holes punched into the bottom for their trip. It lifts out of the box of bees and releases them. The white tape like string is anchored to the queen cage.
 The queen cage contains a live queen and a few other bees who tend to her during the journey. A cork has to be removed and it exposes a sugar plug. I take a nail and punched a hole thru giving them an easier way to eat her out of the cage. If you look close or even blow this picture up you can see her at the top inside...
 next step is shaking the bees into the hive. It takes a little patience and time to get everyone in the hive safely...
I then add another hive body and fill it with newspaper. This is for a couple of reasons, 1) to prevent them from building burr comb, it confuses them and 2) I can leave the queen on top along with the sugar water can. I will remove this in about a week.

I then close the hive up and in a couple of days I will check to see if they have released the queen. I am so relieved they are home safely!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Preparing for the Honeybees to arrive!

Over the past couple of days we have been giving the bee yard a makeover with new paint and some new parts. I would love to paint some designs on the hives one day if I get some free time and creative inspiration.
We are awaiting just one package of bees this year. With my over wintered hive and my split hive the bees are doing great this year (knocks on wood). Now to sit by the phone and wait for the terrified phone call from the post office to come pick up my bees!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reflecting...

This post marks our 200th blog post and has me reflecting on the past five years and our journey. I write this post on May Day Eve awaiting the birth of some lambs, and after a moon light move of the little nuc hive of bees from the front yard up to the bee yard and it is 11:00 p.m.
We began this journey 19 years ago when we bought this house with some goats, chickens and ducks. I then got the call to do wildlife work and became a rehabilitator specializing in raccoon, fox and skunks, but after 10 years I became very burned out and longed for my little farm again. So in December of 2006 I purchased 2 Alpacas to move in with our original goats from previous years and the farm has grown and grown. We then added 5 more Alpacas, rescued 2 Llamas, was lucky enough to obtain 4 Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep which began my foundation herd. We then added chickens and my passion for honeybees was born and what a journey it has been.
I would like to thank all of you who read my blog and maybe learn something along the way, those who have either taught me or will teach me in the future. My goal is to learn everything I can in life.
We work very hard at it but it is such a fulfilling way of life that I would never trade. We are living a dream here and as I reflect on something I heard recently, "if you have a dream work hard to fulfill it..." I smile a little more knowing that we have done just that.