Kids Milking

David let the big kids do the entire evening milking earlier this week and they loved it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWorking hard together to get the milking cart out to the parlor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet Melody wondering why we take a million pictures of her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAZoe opening the gate for Melody.  The goat’s name is Piper and Melody does a great job of not letting him get out when she does.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATommy doing a little hand milking to get the process started.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWorking together to get the claw in place.  It’s a fiddly thing to get right, even for a grownup.  Zoe held up the bottom of it and Tommy put each in place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChecking to make sure that milk is flowing out of all outlets.

Zoe and MelodyZoe giving Melody a good scratch with sunflowers reaching for the sky in the background.  Melody loves a good scratch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPost-dip to help prevent mastitis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinishing up and letting her out of the stanchion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABringing the milk back to the house.

There are several steps of milking I left out of the pictures above and I will spare you the cleaning pictures but they did all of that part too.  There might be something to this kids-growing-up thing.  :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd because I can’t resist adding a cute picture of little kids smelling of summer and straw.

Thanks to David for all the great pictures!

Posted in Cows, Farm | 7 Comments

Springing

Spring is in full swing at Right Field Farm.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuby the three-legged front-porch dog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen beans sprouting.  I love the way they look!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomebody better thin the sunflowers.  We planted two per spot and then they all germinated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have lots of thyme on our hands.  Hah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKids in hats in the sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the tiniest praying mantis I have ever seen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New Chicks

We added 54 new chicks this spring, more than we have ever done before.  The funny thing about ordering chicks is that you order and pay for 50, and then they throw in one “rare and exotic” chick for free, and then there are always a couple more.  So 54 it was! We lost one on the 3rd day, but all 53 others have stayed hale and hearty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis time around, the kids are old enough to help us and it has been great fun including them in the process.  (As a side note, we still have 5 hens and 1 rooster in our stationary coop, all at least two years old and a couple of the old ladies are now four years old.  They are quite happy – eating bugs, taking dust baths and they even lay an egg every couple of days.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAZoe and Tommy dipped each chick’s beak in the water to remind them what water is and how much they like it.  Chicks are shipped right after they hatch and they live on the yolk-stored energy for the first couple of days so getting them to eat and drink right away is important.  Fortunately, these little critters fell right to it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeveral weeks later, on a warm day, we put a couple of the chicks out on the grass and they went crazy looking for and eating bugs.  It is very heartening because that is one of the main tasks we want these little guys to perform for us.  They also just really like being in the grass and it’s great seeing chickens being chickens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe plan for all these chicks is to be out in the pasture, following behind the cow and the goats, eating bugs, spreading their fertilizer around (how’s that for a euphemism?) and helping to improve the pasture.  The half that are hens will start laying around the beginning of September and the other half will become food for us.  We’ve never successfully pulled off the meat chicken thing yet so we’ll see how it goes.  We tried last year with 25 chicks meant for the freezer and a weasel got them all in one night.  It was just sad all around! We’ve upped our game on the predator protection so these chicks are inside a small coop that is inside an electric fence.  Electricity seems to be the key to deterring anyone with a wet nose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is not the final coop, just what works for right now.  “What works for right now” could be the theme of our farm.

The hens are a mix of Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and White Rocks and the roosters are a hatchery-selected mix of “heavies”, so some of the same as the hens and some others mixed in.  It was less expensive not to pick the types of roosters and its also kind of fun to see the different kinds.  There are several Turkens for example, which have naked necks!  They are very, uh, distinctive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABearded man with a naked neck chicken

I actually find them both quite cute.  :)

Posted in Chickens | 7 Comments

Tee Day

If Saturday was Bee Day, yesterday was Tee Day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in, I made a tee-shirt for Danny AND he actually deigned to put it on AND it was warm enough outside for him to run around in it outside. I used the Classic Ringer Tee pattern from Go To Patterns and some orange cotton jersey I had from a different project that I dreamed of, but never actually made.  The neckband is made from a bit of blue cotton ribbing.  Mistakes were made so don’t look too closely, but nothing major and it serves as an excellent proof of concept.  This was a fast project and I am definitely making more.  The pattern is sized to make shirts for ages 3 months to 12 years old, so now I have no excuses!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides being a fast sew, the tee has the added advantage of making whoever wears it run faster.  Clearly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Bee Day

The bees are here!  The bees are here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve had bees in the past and the honey has been amazing, so we are glad to be back in the bee business.

Our friend JoDee is our partner in the bee ventures and she was out last weekend to help us get the hives in order.  We had them out in the sun before, but the heat in the summer here can get intense, so we have tucked them back into the treeline, but nice and close to our garden.

You all will be shocked to hear that we painted the hives blue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADavid picked up two 3-pound packages of honeybees first thing on Saturday morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bees come in these plywood and screen boxes and each has about 10,000 or so bees inside, including the queen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe queen is in her own little box plugged with a candy cork and accompanied by 3 or 4 of her own workers, protected from all the other bees because she is not “their” queen yet.  Keeping her in the box gets them used to her smell (or the bee equivalent) so that by the time she eats her way out of the little box, they are all acquainted and happy with each other.  If the workers don’t like her, or don’t think she is producing well, they will kill her, and since we are moving them into a new hive and they don’t have any queen brood ready, much less any more worker brood, that would kill the entire hive.  (Even more interesting, if the workers in a hive have decided to kill their queen, they change the shape of the honeycomb cells she is laying in that day, which makes her lay queen eggs, instead of worker eggs or drone eggs.  As with all rulers, the queen is not really in charge.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s crazy is the bees are in the big clump, hanging around the queen’s box.  These boxes make a very loud buzzing noise and it truly sounds like something to be avoided.  David sprays them with a sugar syrup mixture before this whole process begins and it really calms them down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis box has only half the frames in in preparation for the hive installation.  David hung the queen box, still plugged with the candy cork, in the frames and then put on his bee gear to get the rest of the hive in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe takes the box of bees…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…and then slams on it the other box to make all the bees fall to the bottom.  You know, because, that seems like a good idea.  :)

And then he pours them into the waiting hive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter they settle down, he replaces the missing frames and puts an empty super on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside the empty super box, he puts in the fondant for the bees.  This is a boiled mix of sugar and water that then cools into a mostly solid mass.  It will serve as a sure source of food for the bees while they get used to their new home and start venturing out to find flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen he puts the lid on the top, secures it with a brick to keep the racoons out and that chore is done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd now it is the hardest part where don’t go bothering or peeking into the hive for a week.  He and JoDee will do an inspection next weekend and fingers crossed, the queen will be there busily laying eggs into freshly drawn out honeycomb.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments