Our sign in peace

Our sign in peace
Our sign in peace

Friday, August 18, 2017

Predator and Prey

You just cannot have farming without the constant threat of predators. That threat happened here yesterday with a hawk attack on ours as well as our neighbors chickens. Just as I heard the warning get calls from the roosters I quickly slipped on my shoes and spun around in time to see a red shoulder hawk come right down on this pretty girl above. As I was running our dog Autumn was right on the situation. The hawk had dragged her into a bunch of pricker bushes. Autumn couldn't get to it but I jumped in, the hawk released and flew off to our neighbors yard and grabbed one of their chickens! We quickly ran over and got the chicken away, she flew up into a tree and Autumn paced and barked. Our neighbor came out to the scene and quickly began hazing methods to get the hawk to fly off. Both chickens are fine but a little traumatized over their ordeal.

I just don't know what I would do without my side kick. She has prevented more attacks than I can count. A street dog we adopted a few years ago has become our greatest tool in the never ending predator and Prey struggle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Making the felted cut

When the soap doesn't quite make the cut, it's made into felted soap! Odd shaped bars are just perfect for this.

With some wonderfully soft merino, the soaps are wrapped I  many thick layers, plunged in hot water allowing the wool to shrink and tightened around the soaps.

From there they are left to dry and then embellished with design.

All packaged and ready for our November show!!! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

One last ditch effort...

Well hive 3 continues to struggle, did not raise a queen and if this doesn't get them jump started I just don't know what will. This frame shows a completely emerged bunch of bees with no food. The are healthy, calm and willing to work.

I gave them this frame from another hive. It is filled with eggs, larvae and capped brood. There is also honey stores to get them jumped started.  As you can see , I offered them this frame and they took to it quickly. This will be a last attempt to get this hive on track. It is getting late in the season for this hive to rebound in time for fall. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meet PJ!!!

Meet our little PJ! She is Peachy's daughter and is the most opposite of her mother that a bunny canot be. We call her Peachy Jr because she looks just like her mother. She is the sweetest, most relaxed bunny. Here I was brushing and plucking her out and she relaxed so much that her leg was hanging off the bench. Just an easy going little girl!

The ring of color in her wool is very nice too! Looking forward to what she has to offer as a wooler!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Getting another box...

Well the swarm that was caught on Memorial Day has done so well that it earned another hive body! I couldn't be more pleased with this swarm that was gifted to us. The queen is fantastic and has delivered in every way! Onto them continuing to grow! A true hive success!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The gaze of the broody hen

Oh the deep dark gaze of the broody hen as she sits on her eggs, day in and day out. I feel so bad for them as I collect their eggs leaving their fake egg behind. Nature is the only thing that will make her break the hypnotic state of a broody hen. Sadly we can't let them all sit, we just wait for that blank stare to show their spirit again.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happenings in the Apiary

Last week while poking around in the Apiary, I discovered that hive 2 finally has a queen! I found this beautiful lady along with some eggs and larve! I guickly grabbed her and marked her. So happy to finally see this struggling hive make a turn around.

Hive 1 had many queen cells of  just one frame so I too, that opportunity to attempt another split for hive 3, closed the girls in for a couple of days. If they are not successful this time we will call it and shut it down until next year.

Today I decided to take a quick peak and feed them. Good thing I went up completely suited up! They were by the book aggressive which is a sign they are raising a queen!! This is them rushing up between the feeder tl get at me, thankfully there was a screen between us. We will look in our  them next week for what I hope is positive signs!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going Live!!!

A long overdue project has been getting our bear fence installed! Clearing the area has been quite the chore. We had trees, shrubs and leaves to clear.

We ran the fence and realized it was a lot more than we needed but we made do. This gives us a bigger bee yard and a larger range in the event the bear returns. He will have a lot of problem solving that he is not ready for and hopefully will get enough of a jolt to go away. 12 volts can knock you on your behind.

The trick was making the fence more taunt so Tim added some poles with plastic poles around that. This was at the advice of another beekeeper friend who's yard I visited and this was his trick. 

We mounted the energizer which was at the advice of some other beekeepers who's yard I also visited. A lot of research went into installing this fence.

After a phone call to my beekeeper friend on how to get this thing going, we got it hooked up and of course Tim was right! He wanted to hook it up inside and I wanted it outside and I am quickly realizing he was right! After a few stings he got from the bees, I am going to have to eat some humble pie and move this thing! Those are live wires that go to the ground and the fence. It's all trial and error when we take on such a task. We are not electricians! However I have more piece of mind about my hives now.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A little "Pride" in our soaps

I made these soaps a few months back. They are finally cured and smell amazing! These are Milk and Honey scented. So I thought I would makeep some felted soaps.

I had some dyed merino wool which was perfect for the soaps.

Merino reacts well to hot water and agitation. This will encourage it to shrink around the soap and act like a washcloth so to speak.

You really have to repeat the process a few times especially to get the best results, hot water, agitation and adding more wool completes the process.

The finished process! These are our special "Pride" soaps, every color of the rainbow just like we all are, each unique and beautiful! Happy Pride month from  Coon Hollow Farm!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking ahead...

With a little down time after a very busy Spring of work around here, two of my three jobs on Summer break, I am able to get some things done. It's never too early to work towards the Fall shows! I have been dyeing some merino wool that I had bought sometime back.

Separating and packaging them for felting kits and other things that I will be using the wool for. Merino is such a soft wool and felts incredible too!

So far, many small batts made in one dozen packs. Ready and packed away for Fall shows that you can never be too prepared for! Don't worry, there will be time for play! These were our best sellers in the Spring show so either way they will go fast!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The good with the bad

This morning was a quick inspection to see where the hives are at. There was some good news and not so good news! Hive 1 has probably one of the best hives I have ever seen. If you loo, at this frame, you can observe every stage of the baby bee from an egg to larvae to capped brood.
Hive 2 does not have a queen. They had two queen cells 2 weeks ago but nothing today.

The frame above was added to hive 2 in an attempt to get them jump started.
Hive 3 was gone. That was the hive that pushed the queen out for her breeding ground flight a couple of weeks go. I believe the Queens are not making it back. We have so many birds nesting that I think they are feeding and picking off the Queens. I closed this hive down and will hope for a swarm call again.
And then hive 4, my swarm I collected back on Memorial Day, they are just amazing! The queen is doing an amazing job, the hive is flourishing and I am pleased!
So we continue our journey and see where it takes us with the bees!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Talk about perfect timing in the Apiary!!!

This morning I fired up the smoker and got ready for a day of inspections of all the hives.

I gathered all my tools and put aside the whole morning to fully look into each hive to see what was going on. I began with Hive number 1 who has an over achieving queen. I was so happy with all the brood, the workers had begun drawing out the second hive body but I did notice some trouble making, a few queen cells that I set aside in the event I may need them for one of the other hives. Hive number 2 was unsuccessful with the new queen so they have 2 queen cells that are now capped so they should have a new queen soon.

I jumped over to Hive 4 to check the swarm that was caught almost two weeks ago. I had checked them a week ago and I could not find the queen or see any evidence of her laying eggs but today bingo!!! I not only found the most amazing, fat queen!!! I quickly caught her and marked her.

This is the queen from Hive 4 being consoled by the workers after I marked her.

And then the most amazing sighting that you often only read in the bee books, the workers escorting a virgin queen out of the hive for her breeding flight! I was growing a bit concerned about this queen, it has been 9 days since she was released from her queen cage from the beekeeper that gifted two to me a couple weeks ago. They moved her out of the hive, then onto the hive stand and would not let her go back in.

This went on for quite sometime. I sat patiently and watched the interaction which I found fascinating.

They continued to coax her, nudging her along until they got her onto this rock and then...she flew off!!! As you can see the task was left to just a few bees as the rest of them went back into the hive to get back to work. I am just hoping she has a successful mating flight. As I was watching this a drone from another hive landed as almost anxious about mating with her and ending his life!

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Apiary gets gifts!

It just amazes me, the beekeeping world. If you want to meet wonderful people, then become a beekeeper! Always the most wonderful and generous folks who are willing to not only offer to help but to be kind enough to give in a time of need. Just a couple weeks ago I put out an appeal on Facebook that I was looking for a small swarm for the Nature Center I work at because our observation  hive had died. Within minutes I got a response from a man named Garrett and a small swarm was given  to get us up and going again. Over the weekend a beekeeper put up that he had Queens available. I quickly answered and picked up 2 healthy beautiful Queens! One was put into a split and the other was used to requeen a very lazy hive! These came from a man named Nicholas and his wonderful family. One of his children was busy saving and feeding drones while I was there! 

Then this morning I was off to pick up this amazing and quite large swarm! A man named Michael had it in his back yard, a former beekeeper and he quite graciously gifted it to me.

I loaded them into my swarm tote that I love to carry bees in. It's lightweight and easy to walk with.

I wasn't exactly ready for another hive but who could pass up such an amazing opportunity?! I lifted the branch gently out of the box and set it into the hive. There was also two frames that they had migrated on to. They marched off the branch quickly telling me the queen was in there.

Once I got them in there, I placed a feeder on top, filled it with some sugar water and closed them in. I left the branch in front of the hive for any stragglers who may land back on the branch and can also march into the hive. So the apiary is full once again on this wonderful Memorial Day. I take a moment to pause and thank those that fought so I might have the freedom to live how I choose.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spinning Angora rabbit wool

There is just nothing like it, that feeling of Angora rabbit wool! It is by far one of the softest things on earth. I have managed to hoard countless bags of wool, even from rabbits I don't have any longer.

I love the way the little guard hairs refuse to be spun and hang off the yarn. Any items that you knit or crochet will be fluffy and soft. I am spinning these in 40 yard half skeins. I have a one yard knitty knotty so they are small and soft! Spinning Angora wool is a distress reliever!

Friday, May 19, 2017

When Alpacas attack!

Poor Tim got whacked by one of our Crazy Alpacas during shearing last week! His eye seems to have gotten worse before it's getting better!
Lesson learned here: never trust a Suri!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers Day from Coon Hollow Farm!

Wishing all moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day from all of us at Coon Hollow Farm!!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Shearing Day is done!!

The crew knew something was up this day. As we awaited the shearer to arrive, we harnessed each one up, wormed them and waited. They've been through this before so they wanted out! 

The girls did well as usual...

I was able to get this funny expression of Norman looking quite concerned about his friends who were getting sheared...
And then we had the screamer!!! Awan always has to close with a little drama!
Now to get the fleeces sorted and figure out what to make with them!