Monday, May 30, 2011


Well, as it turns out there was a bit of an operator error on the chick hatching front. Our "low tech off the grid incubator" went for a walk and Buck and I did not communicate well, so she was let out at the wrong time, and another broody hen tried to take the nest. What happened while I was gone only the chickens know, but I came home late to find no one on the nest and everyone on the roost.

The next morning I had to throw all the eggs into the woods and start over. Eggs won't finish hatching if they get chilled. I wrote it off as a first time mom thing.

Then Everyone wanted to sit. Only four hens were laying eggs. Before all of this, I loved the Cuckoo Marans because they always laid in the same nest box- I didn't have to search all over the farm for the eggs. Well, this is where that trait is not so handy. They would squeeze into the nest box and lay an egg and the other hens would just stay put, growling and clucking.
One day I pulled five hens out of the box. Seriously, it was like a clown car act.
Honestly, it was driving me nuts. I have had chickens all my life

Friday, May 20, 2011

Swarmin' Bees, Ahoy!

Well, if you have been watching my Twitter feed, you may have noticed I heard a funny noise coming from my bee hive last Tuesday. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was loud and it was something I had never heard before. I quickly looked it up on the "internets" and found many YouTube videos of "queens piping".  Lo and behold the queens talk to each other. The Old Queen pipes to new unhatched Queens. What are they saying? I scoff at the multitude of people insisting it is

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thinking of Bees- Part two

I have spent more than a little time thinking about my next hive.

My first hive has been so fun and interesting that I just couldn't stop at one. Another reason I wanted a second hive is that there are several ways to use two hives to help each other. For instance, if you lose the queen in one hive, you can transfer a comb of brood from the healthy hive to the queenless hive and since the only difference between the formation of a worker or a queen is the specialized food the workers feed the larva, the workers will raise a new queen for themselves from the comb.

But more than anything I wanted to correct some of my mistakes I made with my first hive.

The main issue with hive #1 is that the bees began building their comb crooked, which makes it very difficult to check on the inner workings of the hive if the bars are glued together. To pull a bar up causes such major disruption it is not worth the damage. Only time will tell if hive #1 will be fine without my meddling. In theory they will, but Honey bees

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Homestead Memories

Hi, folks! It's June here.

I'm up here at the homestead for Mother's Day, keeping mom company and generally being a little angel of sunshine. (Or at least, not a pillar of sullenness like usual.)

It's always interesting coming back up here. I know it's the family farm, where grandpa and then my mom grew up, but it's also where I grew up. When I was a kid, I'd come up here and stay with my grandparents for days or even weeks at a time. I'd revert to some Mowgli-esque

Friday, May 6, 2011


I started baking bread at Christmas two years ago.  I was enduring a long stretch without work, as the economy did its thing. The kids were home for the holidays.  I think it was Phoebe who gave me the idea, and I ran with it.

I decided to try making artisan bread, by hand, with just the 4 ingredients mankind has been baking with for ages: flour, water, yeast and salt.

I found a great website, The Fresh Loaf, which has a vibrant baking community.  The guy who runs it has a really helpful post on making Your First Loaf.  I whipped up a loaf, and although it was not what I was looking for, it was a big hit and did not survive the night.
One of my first tries.