I finally found time to log on and post pictures of the extremely rad and decadent chicken coop Nathan recently finished building, with lots of holiday help from his brother. Family is good for much more than judgement and racist jokes!
Anyhoozle, this chicken castle easily houses our 8 birds. They have even started laying more eggs since moving in! How about that! The neighbors have been slowing down on the road to catch a glimpse of this bad boy when they think nobody is looking, but so far nobody has crashed into the creek.
The welded wire run up front has wire buried under ground so we don't have to hurry home every night to put the ladies to roost. Foxes and panthers ain't getting in there without some work!
The inside features a cozy yet spacious area for lots of birds to roost without a fight -- or so we thought. They all seem to prefer the one branch in the corner. At least nobody is left on the floor to get pooped on in the night.
All the wood panels are from the sawmill up-mountain, grown from backyard trees. It doesn't get more local than that, and I love all the colors in the wood grain. Nathan is debating painting the outside of the coop... internet thoughts, anybody?
We have three nest boxes, easily opened from the back for egg collection. So far, the girls have used two of them. Hopefully there won't be an egg laying nag fest every morning like there was in Asheville, when the hens all wanted to use the same nest box.
I can't wait to see how this coop will look in the spring, surrounded by plants and a mob of chickens. Nathan did a great job, and I'm so happy that our animal family is comfortable out here. Happy holidays everybody!
After 2 weeks without a hive inspection (the shame of it!) I had a beautiful day off to go up to see the ladies. The fall colors are outstanding right now, and there is nary a cloud in the sky. On my way up to the beeyard, I discovered three of the cows straight chillin in front of the gate through which I needed to four-wheel. Longhorn made a stand and gave me the stink-eye that said "YOU SHALL NOT PASS." Knowing basically nothing about interacting with cows, I decided to yell at them with "COME ON! GET OUTTA HERE" etc. until those nerds finally moved over. It took a good 5 minutes, which doesn't seem that long until you spend 5 minutes alone yelling at cows.
The hive looks OK, but two of the insulator clasp doodads on the electric fence snapped and part of the fence was shorting out on the ground for who knows how long. This is the second kind of electric fence insulator doodad that is a huge piece of crap disappointment. How hard is it to make a good insulator clasp doodad? Come on!
The bee yard looks beautiful! I just love it. The cover was tilted this way when I got up there, which indicates that I need a weight for it so the winter winds don't blow it off.
I got pretty nervous as I went through the hive... noticing that, even
though it looks like they're bringing in nectar and pollen, there are NO
EGGS OR LARVAE. I thought for sure I lost my queen somehow, but then I
found her in the bottom box! I was pretty gobsmacked, but also relieved. I've heard that Russian bees slow down
their brood rearing before winter, but there are currently no spawn of
any age in the entire hive, and I'm not sure if that's normal. I guess
it's time to start asking the professionals.
It was a doozie of a move, but we made it. True to form, Willis the Cat pooped herself during the car ride over (within the first 10 minutes as always), and got a cold shower when she arrived. Nate fixed the hot water since then and everything is great.
We finally made it up to the cow pasture with the camera. There are 9
total cows, one of which is brown, one of which is a white longhorn,
and three of which are calves. Two are pictured to the right, but you can
barely see one since it is feeding. Apparently Black Angus #13 is
a mama! Cool!
Don't tell Nate that I'm blogging instead of packing! It's a secret between you and me, internet, and you'll never tell.
Our new home in the backwoods boasts a fun wildlife population (I had to write that word 3 times because I kept writing "poopulation"). One of our new wild buddies is the ENORMOUS PRAYING MANTIS, pictured left. I'm looking forward to a home life of wigging out a lot.
It's really a crazy life twist and a huge blessing that we get to live in what is one of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen. 125 acres of mountain farm land, that includes 4 cow pastures and 9 cows, one of which is a Texas Longhorn. I had the distinct pleasure of feeding one of the Black Angus cows some apple the other day. The hot, thick, rough tongue slurping up that apple was weird and funny. I wonder if adulthood is when you stop describing things as weird/funny? If so, forget it!
"Minna, you accidentally posted pictures of the Versailles gardens instead of the farm you're moving to." Actually, no I didn't! I'm just the luckiest person in the world! Nate has done a doozie of a job getting a huge chunk of this land mowed enough for it to be easy to get around on the four-wheeler. I'm glad the four-wheeler is so loud that Nate can't hear me yell, "AAaaaAAUUGH while I'm driving it.
If you go down this pasture pictured left, and drive a wooded path straight and then another one to the left, you will get to what will become my new bee yard! It is the most beautiful bee yard in the world, and it will soon boast the most beautiful and healthy honey bees. Nate and I worked on a level and sturdy hive stand yesterday, because the last thing I want is for my hives to topple over. We had to drag lumber and tools out in the four-wheeler trailer, and it made me appreciate the bee yard I'm leaving behind. I could just sashay-chantay right out to the yard with an iced tea in my hand, no big deal. I'm not looking back though; this new bee yard is surrounded by goldenrod in full bloom, and the ladies are going to poop their striped pants when they see it.
I wish some of these pictures of the cow pastures also featured some cows, but I guess they were out hoofing somewhere else that day. They get around. And below, an obligatory mountain shot! The glory! Stay tuned for pictures of the bee yard, the longhorn, and maybe some other weird and funny animals that stray out of the woods to say hi!
Fall arrived! The nights are cool and great (like me), and the days are more beautiful because you know the sun is about to take a major heat break. It's the final days for: bare chests, shorts, sandals, driving with the windows down, not taking a jacket to work, etc. I'm also from Florida. All my Finnish cold tolerance expired a long, long time ago. So I moved north to North Carolina! Great idea!
At right: Scoot along, Rebecca! She is our friendliest chicken, who didn't make it into the chicken coop one time last week because she stuck around the yard too long waiting for corn. Nate found her by the gate cowering. Chickens have really bad vision when it gets dark, so she probably just panicked and hid. But look at her go in the sunshine!
At left: Nate got more chicken time than he bargained for when he brought corn out to the yard! Those chickens would do just about anything for corn. They made a toddler cry by jumping up and grabbing corn out of his hand. They killed a guy who had corn.
Cute babies alert! Out of each batch of baby bunnies we always get a stout little explorer sweetie whom we like to call "Romperstomp." He is the first one with his eyes open, plummeting out of the nest box looking for the life-giving teat. We had a little tragedy with our newest Romperstomp, however, when he got his leg caught in the wire cage two days ago, flipped out, and broke it in the struggle. We put him back with the others to see how he would fare, and he seems to be scooting along with the others. Who knows, it may not be broken! Scooter might live a good life. We are keeping an eye on him though, and if he starts struggling then we will reevaluate.
But holy moley check out this egg that one of the girls laid! It was probably Nathan (the chicken), because she has a strong history of laying double-yolk eggs, and this was definitely one of those. Look at that thing, towering over all the other eggs like it's Dubai.
And the ducks got so big! Bunch of naggy biggies in the yard. Napoleon turned out to be the drake... his head got way bigger and his bill is a little bit yellower. Plus he's not as naggy. He's got a soft little submissive quack, and the ladies just waddle around telling him to get a job.
Being new to Western North Carolina, I don't really *get* the nectar flow dearth for honey bees. This is about a month around August when there are tons of flowers blooming, but the bees aren't bringing any nectar back to the hive. I don't know when this is ending, but I went in the bees today, and they're not drawing any comb or storing any nectar, so I guess it's still on. There is brood of all ages, so I'm queen-right, and probably at least 45lb of honey, so I hope they will survive the winter.
There's a picture of me pretending to know what I'm looking at in my discount beekeeper's outfit. Camouflage makes the bees less likely to see you, so you're less likely to get stung. Also, they're a lot like T-Rex (which is the same singular and plural, apparently) in that they can't see you if you don't move. #beelies
It's hot as farts out here, and hard to believe that winter is coming. True to form, Willis the cat doesn't give a crap:
Yesterday was a rainy day, but I got some nice shots of the yard in between drops. I will take you on a whirl-wind tour and introduce you to some of the fair and fowl (mostly fowl):
Here our proud yet suspicious rooster Percy eyes
my camera while the hens run amok by the compost pile. Percy's crow is
high-pitched, and it sounds a lot like the "ooo OOO" from Ludacris' hit
"Saturday," so there has been some talk about renaming the rooster Luda.
Two of our hens are already nick-named Nate Dogg and Warren G, and I'm
not sure if I'm comfortable with where it's all heading.
Our three Swedish Blue ducks: Napoleon, Agnes, and Dewea. They joined us just a few weeks ago, and they're already the crankiest, biggest nags in our yard. But weren't they cute the first time in the bath!
Our sunflowers are looking a bit like the Eyes of Sauron. At the farmer's market, I bought a beautiful bean I had never tried before called the October Bean. It has cute purple speckles all over, although the coloring diminishes when you cook them down. I thought about planting them in the yard to see if a stalk would grow, but I bought them from a nice young man, not a witch. And nice young men just don't play tricks like that!