We also ended up with four baby squirrels - we were able to release three, but one just didn't make it. With all of the animals that come and go around here, I'm amazed that the three were able to be successfully released and although it was sad to have him die, At least he died with a full tummy and knowing that he was safe and loved.
On a happier, more exciting note - things are really falling into place here at the "farm". As I've mentioned before, bees are coming to the farm...soon! This coming Spring, we are hoping to add both chickens and bees to Fresh Egg's Farm. We've been trying to answer the following questions...
How many hives should we start with?
Where should we put the hives on our property?
What if I'm terrified of bees?
Oh, you read that right! I'm so so scared of bees. I've been stung - by wasps, bumble bees and a yellow jacket - never a honey bee. However, I still put them all in the same category. I KNOW the importance of honey bees - because, well, wouldn't it be great to support the honey bee that has been so affected by humans and our use of pesticides (damn you CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder), AND isn't it awesome to have hives filled with pollinators right on our property, AND we get the benefit of sweet, warm, golden honey. So how do I get over my fear of these bees? Well, we attended a beekeeping meeting - they started the meeting IN THE BEE YARD! This yard contains 4 healthy hives - the hives are surrounded by screen panels, so people that feel comfortable with the bees can go behind the screens and be close up to the hives; however, for scaredy cats like me, we can stand behind the screen and try to find our mental happy place while they open the hive for the first time. But wait, it wasn't what I thought. The bees aren't swarming around, trying to sting everyone in sight. Out of the 20 or so people standing there, not one single sting happened...in fact, a bee even found its way up the pant leg of the meeting leader and didn't sting! They were too busy to worry about us. I learned that if we all stayed calm, so did the bees. The kids started the class with bee jackets on - but as they got more comfortable (and more hot) the jackets were stripped off and they were standing near the hives, just in plain clothes.
|Cora is in the front, looking for mites on that paper. Drake is standing to the left of her. Gage is toward the back/left, with the blue shirt.|
|Yup - still behind the screen.|
|Getting brave! I'm pretty close to the bees - look they're even coming out to say Hi!|
|Taking a frame out of the brooder box to make sure that the queen is doing what she is supposed to be doing. Laying, Laying, Laying.|
|Finally, I felt comfortable to come around the screen. You know what? It wasn't that scary. It was actually pretty freaking cool. The bees were busy doing their work and didn't really much care about what we were doing.|
Then - what a weekend we had. Saturday was the Wool Gathering, in Yellow Springs (Youngs Dairy) - we had a couple of goals for that event 1) find a contact for a shearer (preferably one that would shear all of animals...but at least the sheep and angoras) 2) to talk to people about Steve and see if they had ideas why we always have issues with his legs and 3) find a master spinner to help us learn to spin. But we found so so so much more!
- Shearer - the man that comes and does shearing demonstrations each year said that he travels around, down into Kentucky and up into Michigan. He said that he'd be willing to stop into our place and shear our animals for us. In the next couple weeks, we need him to shear just Itty and Frankie - but in the Spring, he'll need to shear all six fiber animals (Itty, Frankie, Steve, Jester, Blossom and Josie). He said his set up fee is $50 and I followed that up with "...and how much per head...and how much for mileage" - his response: NOTHING! The set up fee includes travel and the first 10 heads. He even said "I hate to charge you the full $50 for the angoras, but it's a minimum set up fee" - Um, sir, I would have paid you $50 each animal! So the fact that for $100 a year, I can have my angoras sheared twice a year and my alpacas and sheep done in the Spring - is amazing.
- Master Spinner - Done! My friend Maegan...duh, of course Maegan! She owns alpacas and spins beautiful stuff. But, until recently, she has lived pretty far away. Now, she lives in Oxford - like 20 minutes away. Master Spinner = Maegan = perfect.
- Steve - oh Steve, rumor has it, that you might just be a baby...a spoiled rotten little brat. While, I'm not going to give up just yet, but I'm thinking that extra, extra love and attention that you get from your legs being sore? We might be easing away from that. Time to grow some balls my friend. You are ok.
- Speaking of balls - that is another bonus we got from going to the Wool Gathering - one of Maegan's friends was there and she mentioned that she castrated her sheep using the banding method. They did it themselves and said it was pretty easy. I don't know if our ram boys are too old for this or too...Ahem...large...but it's worth a shot to talk to the new livestock vet at our vet's office and see if it's an option.
- Also, we might be adding a new animals to the farm - Drake seemed very fascinated by the angora rabbits - as we all are every year. But this year, he came home and made a plan to build a hutch and put together a list of items he'll need. I think he wants to take the earnings from his acorn and butternut squash sales (later this year) and put it toward an angora rabbit. That will give him some time to think about it and make sure it's what he really wants.
- Finally - I got my shepherdess crook! $15 and it's a beautiful wooden crook, with the perfect curve at the top. LOVE!
- ...and I got a Wool Gathering t-shirt - Awesome!
Then on Sunday - we went to our community Pork Festival. It's always a nice time - it's funny though, you would think the "petting zoo" filled with goats would lose it's luster, considering we have a petting zoo in our back yard...but it doesn't.
In other farm news - we found a local farm that would be be willing to let us borrow one of their bucks to knock up Mabel (and Flora?). They agreed to let us have the buck over here for a month or so and hang out with the ladies. The buck is an Oberhasli breed - which should make a nice cross with our alpines....did I mention that since we are newbie farmers - this farmer is going to let us borrow her buck for free...well for the cost of feeding their buck for a month??? Amazing. The kindness of strangers...is that what community is all about?
SO last thing...from time to time, we partake in scratch off lottery tickets and I got not one, but TWO entries in the Cash Explosion TV show - Now, they still need to pull one of my tickets out of the hat to see if I appear on the TV show...I'm definitely NOT counting on it - but if everyone can think happy fresh egg's farm thoughts on Saturday it would be MUCH appreciated. Imagine what winning could do for the farm!
I'll let you know!