Our sign in peace

Our sign in peace
Our sign in peace

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Biding ado to 2013!

We said farewell to some of favorites here on the farm this year, Angus our llama, Royal, our first alpaca, Jesse and Charlie, half of our K-9 security team as well as Honey Bunny who had a short life but was so special for her short time.
 Our farm experienced our biggest and most successful honey harvest, marking a point in my beekeeping journey where I feel I finally got it!




The biggest point of our year was when our beautiful daughter got married in September to the love of her life.
 Tim lived his biggest dream, to give his daughter away at her wedding. He walked her down the aisle with the greatest of love and pride.
 We were able to get a great family photo that day, Tim, myself, our daughter Brynn and our son Timmy.

As they gave each other their vows it was everything I could do to hold it together. All in all, it was a much better year than last year. It was a year of discovery, of more inner peace and more of living in the moment. As we actually get to the end of this year we look back at all we have to be thankful for, health, happiness and family!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Lucet

 You are probably asking yourself, what is she talking about now! The picture to the left is called a Lucet, a weaving tool that goes back to the Viking times! Colonial soldiers would carry them and make cords for their uniforms in down times in the battlefields. So of course, with my love for history, I had to have one and I got one for Yule!
 It is actually very easy to use. You thread your yarn through the hole in the Lucet which I learned about in the Colonial home where I work...
 You begin the first loop by bringing it around to the left side and then back to the right side setting up the first loop that you will bring the yarn over...
 On the right side you bring the loop over and turn the Lucet to the left...
 Here you can see it better, the bottom loop comes over the top...
and here is the finished product! I used some handspun Alpaca for my first try at it. You can go really fast once you get the hang of it!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our newest member of Coon Hollow Farm!

Here she is! The newest member of our Coon Hollow Farm family! We have not named her yet, but will soon. She is a blue or chocolate English Angora. She is silly, sweet and made herself right at home!
In November, we sadly lost Honey Bunny, not sure why, one minute she was fine and within an hour she had passed. So her breeder gifted me with a new little girl and we move on from here. Looking forward to bunny hugs and bunny grunts again!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We said goodbye to "Royal", our first Alpaca this week. He was with us from the beginning. As mean and awnry as he was he will be truly missed. We found out from our friend that his mother died on the same day. We never could figure old "Royal" out, he just never seemed happy, ever and he was mean as mean could be. We will miss his attitude and his eminence! RIP old "Royal"!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sacrifical Drones!

 After a couple of good snow storms lately, I went up to the hives to check them and remove any snow from the entrances. What I found was a lot of dead drones in the snow. A post I made a few weeks ago had me wondering why the workers had not thrown out the drones yet. All the big bees in this picture are the drones (males).
You can see the difference in their size compared to the worker in the right hand corner. So it truly is winter, the drones have been sacrificed from the hives. The workers and the queen cannot afford the free loaders throughout the cold weather!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Pain of Moulting!

 Oh the pain of moulting can be painful in many ways. When I checked back on the blog, I realized that this began way over 8 weeks ago. Our rooster is finally getting his feathers back!
 We noticed blood where his feathers are breaking thru. Oh the pain! I was concerned until I saw another blogger post the same thing, she too has been under moult for over 8 weeks.
 He, as well as many of the hens are starting to get in new feathers. There is quill dust everywhere in the coop.
 Today we got a whole two eggs out of 25 hens. The pain of moulting is also hard on the farmer who depends on egg sales to pay for feed. Our chickens lay enough eggs that we sell to feed the entire farm.
These two girls are looking better than they have been. The one on the left still has a few missing neck feathers. We had an apron on her because she was so naked. So we are hoping this is coming to an end, it's been long and painful in many ways!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Peaceful Winter Wonderland!

 Our first snow fall of the year was beautiful and called for a snow day for many! This is the front of our house...snow, snow, snow...
 the back of our house was so beautiful too! The chicken coop and the greenhouse were encased in snow, making the chickens think it was dark out!
 The "Fiber Gang" didn't seemed phased until our dog "Autumn" came in with her new faux sheep coat and they got a little freaked out! I think my animals are fiber snobs!
 She knew she was sporting her new coat in fashion! It's a bit big for her, I got it for a bargain at a tag sale so we have to tie it around her belly. She had some fun dipping her nose in the snow, biting it and running around. She loves snow!
 Our gold fish pond is ready for the cold. The red disk is a heater that keeps a spot open so it doesn't freeze allowing gases to escape so the fish don't die. We have had these fish for many years now.
 Our chickens refused to come out and get their feet in the snow. Even with grain and bread they refused to venture out. Our chickens are chicken!
 The snow piled up on top of our chicken run. There were so many leaves on top, so I got the rake out and cleared it. It was like a tunnel of darkness and this may have lead to the chickens not coming out!
When you looked up to the sky, you could see thousand of snow flakes spiralling down. It was so beautiful! I think we should always try to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sleep well girls...

 We have had some beautiful weather here in Connecticut, so I was able to get to the bees. I took the opportunity to prepare them for the upcoming winter and made Candy Boards out of sugar, water and pollen patties.
 When I opened the hives, some of the bees were out and about. I was very pleased to see the numbers as well as their honey reserves. Many healthy, happy bees in December!
 The weirdest thing I saw was still large numbers of drones. These are the male bees that are usually taken out of the hives at the onset of fall. The two big bees are drones seen in the picture.
 Hive number 1, which was our strongest hive this year still had a lot of honey reserves. It almost seemed like over kill to put Candy Boards (winter food) on their hives.
 The Candy Boards were inverted onto the top of each hive to provide food during the cold winter.
 The entrance reducers, which act as protection so mice and other undesirables don't get in were changed to...
 the smaller hole to keep drafts and to allow a minimal entrance for the bees.
 Once I changed to the smaller size there was grid lock as the bees were trying to get back into the hive.
A large rock was placed on the tops to prevent then from being blown off in the cold winter winds. Fingers crossed that they are prepared and make it thru the winter...sleep well girls...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bringing Miss Daisy home!

Our sweet Daisy came home today after being at Short and Sweet Farm to breed with the handsome "Hank". She is so happy to be home, she came in the gate, ran right to her mom, then ran up on the hill, kicked and showed she was really happy to be home! I guess even a sheep can have a Home Sweet Home!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's a baby hat knitting frenzy!

 So to improve my knitting skills, I got some baby hat patterns and had at it! Knitting in the round and the round and the round...It has been a great way to use up some of the smaller balls of my hand spun...
and now I can't stop! With the recent wedding of my daughter, maybe this is a natural process, to knit baby things! I may make 100's by the time that happens! So, they will be in our farm stand, tiny and cute! All are made from alpaca, merino and whatever else soft I may have...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Farewell...

I love Halloween but am always sad to see October end, it is by far my favorite month and time of the year! The change of the season, the cool weather, everything pumpkin and just a warm fuzzy feeling inside. We also have the chickens running around with their breast cancer aprons on. This October was so busy and it went by with the blink of an eye. So until next year, we'll see you again October!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

These girls work for me!

 After harvesting the honey the girls made for us, the frames still have a bit of honey on them so we let them pick it dry...
 which nets a lot of beeswax! They do an amazing job cleaning up every drop of honey. They have a lot of visitors besides their fellow honeybees. They work hand and hand with yellow jackets, hornets and even flies. It's all done in harmony and is amazing to watch!
We even put the extractor and buckets out there and they cleaned it nice and left a pile of beeswax. We will strain and filter it and get some nice beeswax to make some lip balms and salves!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bringing in the honey harvest!

 What a great harvest our bees blessed us with this year! We harvested over 350+ pounds. This frame was a drone frame that they had even drawn out.
 All the extracting equipment came out, the de-capping scraper, the seive strainers, the bottling bucket as well as the heated de-capper knife. Thiss help to open up the cells that have been capped by the bees and will allow the honey to be released.
 This is our extractor. She holds two frames of honey. It is a crank style but once you get it going, the honey flies off and hits the wall in strings of golden honey...
 at the base is the spout that allows the honey to drop down into a double drainer basket that catches any beeswax or pollen. It then drops into the bottling bucket.
 The jars are sterilized and ready for canning like little soldiers.
 With a funnel we fill the jars to exactly a half a pound or one pound honey. There are no plastic bear containers here!I have read numerous times it is very bad to store honey in plastic...
and voilĂ , the finished product brought to you by a miracle little insect, the honeybee! The golden sweet nectar of the gods, what an amazing miracle of nature!