Hot and buzzy

With a side of humid.

Time for another hive inspection as we go into the second nectar flow of the year. It was a brilliant but hot day.

All the hives are still with us (yay!)

There’s nothing quite like a freshly-mowed piece of land.

Also, if you’re a beekeeper with more than one hive, you should keep notes about your inspections.

Especially if  you find the (unmarked) queen in a survivor hive from 2016 . This is the granddaughter of the original queen from in this hive . It’s also the hive I’ve been making splits from, as the bees are vigorous and the two queens since 2016 are just laying machines.

This queen’s genetics are jamming.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Look to the skies

Space nuts, unite! The Perseid meteor shower will peak on August 12. Get out and do some sky watching. If it’s mosquito season, as it is here, and you have lots of standing water from constant rains, as we do here, put on something to repel them. I was out taking some pictures of Mars this evening, and they were horrific.

Speaking of Mars….

Taken with the Canon.

Taken with the Nikon. Mars is just below and left of center. Hit the image to see the fuller version. This was taken with an extended shutter time, because of course it’s dark as hell out here at the ranch, and I wanted to capture more as we have a rare clear evening here in the summer tonight. It’s gorgeous and rather humbling to gaze up at the night sky.

Back here on the mothership, though, we still have things to do, people and animals to take care of, and on and on. I spent several hours at the NOC today, redoing a server for someone who wants a testing server in addition to their production server, and crawling around, tracing lines. It’s time for our location audit, and at least one part is done: the physical locations of every piece of gear. Tracing power cables and ethernet cables, though, is tedious, dirty, sweaty work (because you’re on the heat side of the row, with all those servers blowing hot air on you) and takes more than one trip (unless it’s a completely epic trip where you get to ignore everything else in your life for eight hours).

I had stepped outside last night to look off to the east where a storm was passing, to see it was viable to set up a camera to try to capture some lightning. It was not, but I did find this fat bumpy guy hanging out on the porch.

He didn’t budge, even when Einstein was sniffing him.

And because I have 21 chicks hanging out in my garage, here’s a pic of a bunch of them piled up in the corner after I had changed out the pads in the brooder. You’ll notice there’s already poop on the new pads. Apparently they cannot go more than two seconds without pooping. But, they are all still alive, happily peeping away when they’re not sleeping.

After the NOC work, I popped by Tractor Supply to get some pine shavings for their bedding. They’ve had enough time to understand what their food is and where, so they should not be trying to eat giant volumes of the bedding.  At first, they didn’t want to walk on it.  But as I spread it out all around them and then into the corner they all ran to, they got themselves together and went back to their pooping, cheeping ways.

The Cornish X bird – the yellow ones – are growing much more quickly than the layers. You can tell already. They are going to be good eating when their brief, but happy, lives comes to an end.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

 

 

Sleepytime

The alternate title for this post is: when wordpress is being A Idiot, as wonkette would say. As I’ve told people from time to time, sometimes I’m astonished any of this works at all.

At the moment, WP is not allowing me to upload from its own interface, which means I have to crank up filezilla and upload stuff manually. It isn’t difficult, but it surely is annoying.

I should probably warn everyone that there will be an abundance of chicken and bee related rambling and photos in this here blawg over the next few months. In a bit over a week, my brother – very handy with all sorts of tools and building stuff – will be up and will be helping to build a chickshaw for the mobile layers. Well, let’s be honest here: he’ll be building it, and I’ll be filming it, and “supervising”, trying to stay out of his way.

I’ve probably mentioned that the layers will be separated: one group in the existing coop, ranging in the chickenyard, and the other group in the chickshaw, which I’ll be moving around to areas that will benefit from their scratching and pecking and (of course) pooping. I must have put out of my mind the sheer amount of poop chickens – and chicks! – produce. I changed the pads in the brooder and cleaned out and refilled their water, and when I went to check on them for the last time today, there’s poop all over the place. Ah, well, this is what you get when you choose to get closer to your food.

My plan is to get the NOC stuff done early, hit up Tractor Supply for some bedding material for these girls, and get them some pine shavings in their brooder. That should both absorb more and knock the smell down a bit. What can you do? They’re no different than any babies, human or not: eat, drink, sleep, poop.

I had mentioned to Stacy the other day, after getting the chicks reset with clean everything, that I hate seeing people buy dyed chicks or rabbits for their kids for easter. A rabbit might be cuddly, but they are both livestock, and I wonder just what the heck those people do when that cute, fuzzy little chick grows up into something resembling its evolutionary ancestor. I have a suspicion that they just kill them and discard them, or just abandon them in a field or yard or something, because they’ve become too annoying to care for. Don’t do that, folks: if you know you don’t have what it takes to care for any livestock you get, whether it’s chicks and bunnies, or bees and goats, don’t get them, please. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to care for a chicken or rabbit, but don’t put yourself into the situation deliberately, knowing what you know about yourself.

Medium-sized rant over. I’m putting some kind of sleep thing down my tube at the moment, and we’ll see if this is the golden ticket to dreamland. And yes, the original version of Willy Wonka is much better than the remake, just as the version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim is the definitive version of that movie. Period.

We’ll end on that note today. Until next time (and until I can wrangle WP to do its jerb), peeps: be well.

 

 

Peepers

True story about the arrival of the chicks (ten layer chickens, plus an additional free layer thanks to the hatchery, and ten for meat, if you have forgotten or are new – and if you’re new, hi!).

It’s kind of the same story about the bees and UPS, really, except the USPS tracking updates really, really suck sometimes.

I ordered the birds on the 30th. They hatched that very day, and McMurray Hatchery (see them for all your baby chicken needs!) packed the chicks and sent them out via the USPS priority mail. They kindly sent a tracking number, and on the 31st, the tracking indicated the package of peepers was at St Paul (McMurray is in Iowa), and “pending acceptance”. I have no idea what the hell that means, USPS. So, I checked throughout the day on the 31st, waiting for some kind of change to the status – like they’d been sent on to the next fulfillment center, for instance. Nope, nothing beyond the package being in St Paul.

Now, chicks can survive for several days, as they absorb the yolk from the egg and that sustains them. But if they get lost in the byzantine maze of the USPS centers, they’ll probably die.

On the 1st, I got up, did the usual morning things, and at about 9 AM I checked the tracking again. The status said: out for delivery, with a time on that status of 8:34 AM.

Believe me, gentle reader, when I say such statuses are complete and utter bullshit.

If  you are getting livestock through the mail or via UPS, it’s highly likely that you will have to go to your local post office or the UPS facility to pick them up. It’s been true for the bees I’ve ordered over the years, and I was certain it would be true this time as well. I told several people I thought it was a lie.

At about 10:30 AM, we got a call from our tiny, rural post office, saying they had our chicks and please come get them. I hate to be the one who says “I told you so” but….

I made my way to the PO – which, by the way, closes for lunch for an hour at 11:30 AM most days – and got stuck at a train crossing as a freight train rumbled and clanked its way to wherever it was going. By the time I reached that point, it was a bit after 11 AM. As much as I love trains (I do love almost everything transportation-wise except cars) I was hoping it would get itself finished so I could get across the tracks to the main road to the PO – which is the second right after the tracks.

They got themselves moved along and I made it to the PO with time to spare. I checked in the box to make everyone was alive (they were), then secured them and headed back to the ranch. My sister and her kids had arrived at the ranch to do a little work before I made it back, so while it was not a surprise I was bringing back chicks, it was a surprise for my niece, who was not even born the last time we had chickens at the ranch. And this is how she reacted.

I don’t think there’s much in this world cuter than a kid meeting baby animals for the first time.

Also, for the record, the chick she put back in the box was just fine. It went into the brooder with the rest and they are all doing well.

Weeds everywhere

And cover crop arrival! 60 pounds of cover crop:

This cover crop consists of: bell beans, vetch, oats, and peas, and I ordered a separate back of buckwheat. This is going into the rows as we pull things out to add biomass/organic matter back to the rows.  If you need cover crop seed, or anything else ag-related, and want a good deal (and fast shipping!) hit up Hearne Seed. They’re terrific, and we’ve never had an issue in all the years we’ve been using them.

I went out and started down one side of a row I weeded last week. While doing that, and looking at the walking aisles, I realized something.

We’re going to have to pull out all that mulch and just go with the commercial grade weedblock. In the picture there is chamberbitter, AKA mimosa weed. It is everywhere – in the aisles, in the beds – and it’s damn hard to get it pulled good to the root in the mulch, Under the mulch is actually some not-commercial landscape weedblock, and these things do not care at all. As I was pulling them, listening to the satisfying rrrrrip  (after I pulled a second time because the first time  the top portion of the stem snapped, grrrr), I realized they had grown their roots right through that not-commercial weedblock, which was part of the issue with the tops snapping off when I pulled.

I saw a homesteader video where some folks put down exactly the commercial stuff I have, and it seems to work really well for them. I was concerned that it might get very hot – it is black, after all – but the woman in the video said she goes out in bare feet on it all the time. They are not in Florida, but this mulch gets really hot anyway, so if it does get really warm, we’ll already be used to it.

I also decided on another major change: taking out the frame on each row and just having a regular raised bed. I decided this for a few reasons, but the main one is: the edges of the metal sides are sharp. I’ve cut myself numerous times, and we can’t let the kidlets in the garden unsupervised while the frames are in there. I think the dirt will all stay where it is – there’s a smaller version of these larger ones behind the asparagus bed, and it’s still there after ten years – mainly because I haven’t shoveled it out of there, since there were still asparagus plants in it. I get the plants out (except one) and into the main asparagus bed, so moving that dirt out is on the fall list of chores.

Speaking of asparagus: it’s in desperate need of weeding (the strawberries, too – they’re just buried in mimosa weed, poor things). I’m the only one who weeds the asparagus, as it’s far too easy to pull an asparagus plant while pulling the weeds.

You can see at the upper center and the left there are asparagus plants completely enveloped by weeds. It takes patience and a sure hand to remove the weeds without uprooting the asparagus. The one at center right is a baby I rescued from the invaders.

This is the asparagus on the left in the previous picture – one of them, I should say. There are several coming up from this little circle.

My sister and I have a deal, and we’ve had it for years: I will pull weeds, because she hates weeding (as any normal person would), and she will bag them up for the yard waste pickup when she’s over at the ranch. I try to make sure she has plenty to do.

There are more piles like this in the north garden. The only problem is that it keeps raining, putting a damper on bagging. We’ll get there, though. Sometimes it all looks so impossible, so disheartening, and I curse getting sick at the most important time of the season. But then I tell myself I couldn’t control that, not really, and now it’s just one step after another after another after another: get it done. And so we will.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Off my feed

Ever wonder where that phrase came from?

Anyone raised on, near, or around a farm would know immediately.

I was up until after 5:30 this morning transferring mail from one server to another. While one rather large batch was transferring, I took the opportunity to grab a quick nap. I got back up, set off another item, went back to bed for about 40 minutes, then got back up again, unpacked something, updated a ticket, and hauled myself out for some physical therapy related to laryngospasms, which are unpleasant and make you feel like you’re going to die because you can’t breathe. I then waited at the rehab place for 45 minutes before actually getting into it. If I had not been short on both sleep and food, I probably would have been more charitable in my mind about waiting – again – for some medical-related bullshit. To make things even more exciting, I have an appointment with an ortho tomorrow, then on the 3rd, 7th, and 9th, with different doctors, with a followup at the rehab place on the 14th. Thrilling. Also, fuck cancer. If you’re offended by the f word….this probably is not the place for you.

The chicks have shipped, according to an email from the hatchery. I’m hoping they arrive tomorrow, but they can survive up to three days in transit – shorter times are better, of course, but such is the wonder of being able to order just about anything through the mail.

I had planned on mowing late this afternoon, but it has been so humid here today that nothing dried out. Such if the wonder of Florida.

The even weirder than normal sleep thing and food thing have me off my feed in the “I feel odd” way. I’m hoping that will pass if this little tech world of mine cools it a bit. I’m hoping that getting this done and getting some writing done will help, too. Killing off someone – literarily speaking, of course – does wonders for one’s mood.

I was looking to the skies the other night – the moon and Mars are very close to one another in the early evening sky, and got this shot of the moon.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

 

 

Police yourself

Or at least your email.

Company-wise, we have a policy of three year retention of mail; indefinite for certain special items. Personally, I try to keep things trimmed to the last year at most. I wish more people would set themselves some kind of purge schedule for mail. I’m trying to move someone with 140 gigs – that GIGS – of mail spread throughout their corporate mail. Do you really, really need a copy of  that mail you sent six years ago? Or some piece of mail you received four years ago that references something that no longer even exists?

Figure out some kind of policy for your mail and make it as common a chore as vacuuming your floors or changing your bedsheets. Your mailbox (and your mail administrator) will thank you.

Don’t count your eggs

Before they’ve been popped out by a hen.

No, that isn’t the way that saying goes.

Chick prep day whatever: today I braved Tractor Supply to lay in some stores for the chicks, due to arrive (probably) Tuesday. I’m sure the USPS will be much happier with a box of peeping chicks than packages of humming bees.

Anyhow, the local place was hopping today: I counted over a dozen other people there, including the stereotypical grizzled old cowboy, boots, hat, and a belt buckle that was rather impressive. He had a head full of white that nicely set off his deep tan – what could be seen of it, since he was also decked out in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. People may wonder about working outdoors, in Florida, in summer, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, but if you’re doing certain types of work (especially during mosquito season) it’s better to have more cover than less. He was not, alas, there to buy a new hay corral or have Big Jim (in my mind, there is always a “Big Jim” at a feed store or Tractor Supply) load up some heavy ass posts and giant rolls of cattle fencing because he was finally closing in that big piece of pasture, you know the one, on down past that new pond, right?

Nope.

Just a single item, maybe two, that I couldn’t even see from where I was in the line with my 50 pound bag of chick starter feed, some chick grit, and a new trough at the other register they finally opened to relieve Elaine (that was her name, actually), who originally had us about ten deep waiting to check out.

I also had to hit up Target today, looking for a couple of adapters. It wasn’t a horrible experience, completely, but that is one soulless, non-interactive place to be. I imagine it’s only a half step up from Wal-Mart, which I have not visited in well over 15 years at this point, thankfully. Not a single person talked to me – which is fine, I don’t exactly crave human contact – and as I went toward the checkout, the air smelled curdled somehow, as if someone had dropped a jug of milk that splattered everywhere but didn’t it get cleaned up all the way. Five days ago. Or it could have been the guy in line in front of me. Either way.

To top off my day, I had to go to Best Buy, which is now a riot of sound and gigantic active tv screens. They really, really, would like you to buy various appliances. At least the people are friendly enough, but the checkout takes forever because they want to see if you are in their system already. Whatever happened to the days of just buying the crap you need and getting out?

Also, I have to say that moving all the electronic detritus you’ve accumulated from one machine to another has to rank up there with the most tedious, annoying things you have to do. Even more annoying is when you realize you copied some of the outlook-related files, but not the actual PST file that you need to go on the new system. Argh.

Funny stuff from the folks who made the hanging waterers I bought (instead of making them myself because my time is money and I’ve got enough capital tied up in other things at this moment): they would like you to know they also sell nesting boxes – for the non-chicken initiated, these are where the chickens will lay their eggs, typically, although they will also lay them on the floor or, even more fun, under bushes/plants, where you won’t find them until much, much later, and one wrong move translates into a very big mistake involving the sulfuric aroma of rotten eggs. Anyhow, their illustrations just made me laugh, and perhaps you’ll get a chuckle, too.

It is true that chickens, once they start eating their own eggs, will often continue to do so unless they are physically prevented from doing it. There are solutions for that, but the best thing is to prevent them from doing it in the first place. Giving them good nesting boxes and collecting the eggs on a regular basis tends to do the trick. More importantly: no poop on the eggs! (In reality, with good nesting boxes of any sort, the eggs will generally be poop-free.)

Until next time peeps: be well.

 

Reflections on gardening, cooking, and life