8/18/10

Liquid Gold

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember last year my Dad brought us two new hives of bees and promised to teach us all he knew about beekeeping. I was so excited about learning from him, since he has kept bees since I was old enough to remember. Hubby was a little apprehensive at first about beekeeping, (don't tell him I told you that) but quickly fell in love with the process of working with them and watching them work as well.
Sadly, late last summer we realized something was terribly wrong in one of the hives.... only young bees were coming in and out of the hive and soon we found several piles of dead bees at the entrance. I was very upset but Dad assured me that it wasn't our fault and that any number of things could have happened. Then, after having a terrible winter this past year, we opened up our one surviving hive early in the spring only to find they had swarmed and were gone.
Needless to say, I was heartbroken.
However, after talking to several local beekeepers, we found out they had also lost several hives in the past couple of years without any warning, sometimes losing what they thought were healthy hives.  This gave me some consolation that it wasn't our fault, but I still miss my little bees....

On a much brighter note, the hive that Dad started for himself last year really took off and now it is thriving. So much so that he called a few weeks ago and told us he was ready to take off some honey. Dad brought the "supers" (the part of the hive with the honey) to the house and we got busy.


Dad isn't really moving as fast as this picture would lead you to believe- the lighting was just bad. *grin*




Oooops! A stowaway on the ceiling!





A frame waiting to be "uncapped".... the bees cap off the honeycomb with wax so the honey won't run inside the hive. (Aren't they smart little critters?)



 Dad's new toy, an electric capping knife. The inside of the knife has a thermostat-controlled element that heats up the knife and melts the wax as it uncaps- making quick work of what once was a painstaking job.



Hubby loads the uncapped frames of honey into the extractor and gives it a spin- slinging the honey out where it will eventually drain to the bottom.



The honey is drained from the extractor into a collection bucket with a strainer on top to filter out any remaining wax.
Then from the collection bucket, it's rendered out into jars.

 
Dad was very pleased with his little worker bees- they had made nearly 8 gallons of honey.


Now all that's left is.... *ugh*... the clean-up... any volunteers?


Since my job was uncapping the frames, I managed to stuff a pinch of honeycomb in my mouth once or twice.

Okay, I had honeycomb in my mouth the whole time. 
(I had to sample the product, you know.)

And yes, it is soooo good....




Oh, and speaking of honey- guess what I got on a trip to the feed store over the weekend?

4 little honey-colored fuzzies.... sigh*
I know...
Do you think I will ever get over my Chickie Love?
Nah, me neither...

8/11/10

The Woolie Gang moves in

 "What? You talkin' about us?"


As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we finally finished construction on our new sheep barn. It took a bit longer than we had planned.... Hubby was only halfway finished with it when hay cutting time rolled around in June, so he had to put the barn on hold until the hay was taken care of.
You might remember how excited I was to soon be moving them out of their little 8'x12' shelter- it was just barely big enough to give them shade during the daytime, but having to lock them up at night in it and seeing them so cramped made me feel pretty guilty. (We have to lock them up at night because of several recent coyote sightings around here...)



So, finally- here is their new home!




This is the upper side facing our house- as you can see, they have a large open "porch" to lay in and catch a good breeze on a windy day.




This is the view out into the pasture. There is a large gate that you can't see in this picture that closes this off at night to protect them from predators.




This is the unfinished "back room".... in a few months this will be sectioned off and fixed up for the cold winter nights with some warm straw bedding- but for now it looks like they're using it for a... uhhh... bathroom.




Inside is a nice big feed room (with a gate to keep nosy sheep out) with plenty of space to keep supplies handy like halters, trimmers, medicine, etc- not to mention plenty of room to stack bales of hay this winter! *Squeal*




I told Hubby I needed a special feed trough to help keep everything neat and clean, and this is what he came up with... isn't he wonderful?  ♥GUSH♥




The sheep are very happy about their new fan... however, it has been running non-stop this summer.
(I think I'll leave town when the electric bill comes due...)




 Best of all is when the sun sets in the evening, and the sheep come out to eat their evening meal.... Hubby and I can sit back and enjoy watching them and feel happy in our hearts that we've given them a comfortable new place to live.



Next post- this years' honey crop! Happy Wednesday, everybody!