Monday, 28 April 2014

Bloody Cow

A few days ago, as I let Amber out to grass, I noticed this coming from her business end.
I took notice, as that amount of blood and clots is not usual for a cow in heat. I took some photos using my iPhone and text them to our vet.
He phoned back and asked us to collect some antibiotics for her. He thought that as she is three months fresh, she must have retained some of the birth product and started to develop an infection. The heat would then encourage the infection to surface.

 Amber has been receiving 20ml twice a day after milking into her neck by me. And I can honestly say that her love of me has turned to terror!
So much so that we have had problems bringing her in to be milked. Yesterday she went the entire day without being milked as we couldn't bring her in from the field. We tried everything!

I managed to bring her in this morning and milked 14 litres from a very tight udder. I think she was relieved to have been milked. I decided to keep her in until she is finished her injections and decides again that she like me! Her last injection is tonight thankfully, I hate giving them as much as she hates being my pincushion. 

The withdrawal period for this drug is ten days after the last injection, so again we are having to buy in milk for the house and the pigs are delighted with the arrangement.

The weather has been very warm and I am hoping to check the bees again in the next day or two to see if they are ready to be spilt. I need to see drone bees/cells and that there is spare frames of brood for me to steal. Fingers crossed!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Rendering beeswax

I had a bucket of brood foundation collected after cleaning out some old frames in my previous post. I decided to render it, as I use beeswax in salves and udder balms.

I emptied the bucket of comb into a large saucepan. I then added clean water and put it on to boil.
You need to boil it for about 30 mins and leave a lid on the saucepan to prevent wax spitting over the hob, as it is very difficult to clean up afterwards.

The wax should float on top of the water, leaving any residue in the water. Warning, your pot will never be the same again!

I strained the mixture and let it rest in a clean bowel. Once cooled I was able to pour off the water and add more clean water to the saucepan and reboil the wax again. It was very dirty because it was old brood comb.
I then let the wax cool again and removed it and pressed it into an oiled mould. Not the prettied, but it worked.

I found this link and I thought it give amazing photo's and directions on how to do it better!
Bernie's bee buzz blog

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The queen is marked!

Isn't she beautiful? A very long dark native queen. It took me a while to find her within the three brood boxes. After twenty minutes I finally did and I managed to mark her with green paint which represents 2014, although she is a 2013 queen and should be marked with red paint. 
This was a task I was dreading. Finding one bee among thousands can be a problem. Now that she is marked, it should make beekeeping for the rest of this season much easier, as I make nuclei  in the coming weeks. 

I was sorting through old frames and I cut out the old wax from them to use the frames again. I am moving towards foundation less frames this year. This means that I will no longer be adding frames with wax foundation to the hives. This will allow the bees to build their own comb using their own cell size. 
To ensure that they build the comb with in the frame, I checkerboard the foundation less frames between drawn frames. 

This is a bucket of bees wax that I harvested. I need to heat and filter it before storing it for use later. I use the beeswax for balms and salves. 

It was my first open hive inspection of this year. Both hives are doing well and I was hoping to take a nuc from one. I changed my mind as I realised that there wasn't any drone brood and the hives themselves were not strong enough yet in numbers for this. I will check again in two weeks. I am eager to establish nucs early in the season, the latest by the end of May. This will give them a reasonable chance of establishing for winter. 
I took out some empty drawn frames and put in foundation less. This will encourage drone brood in the first frame or two as there are no beekeepers in my area to rely on for drones.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A little of everything...

Amber the cow has developed mastitis in one quarter. Surely it is from something I did or didn't do!
Anyway, I give her a tube into the teat canal and I also sent in a milk samples for analysis. The results were due back today but were delayed. I should have them tomorrow and the vet will give me antibiotics specific to her infection.
I recognised that we had a problem when the milk started to filter slower and then later started to produce clots, similar to cottage cheese. She was very tender on the quarter and started to kick out when I would clean and attach the teat cup. The infection has already subsided by using the tube and she isn't in pain any more but her milk is still producing clots from that quarter. She should be fine in another few days and we will be back to drinking her milk in a week, allowing for the withdrawal period.

In the meantime, the pigs are enjoying 14 litres a day of yummy milk and are putting on great weight. Ms.Piggy, the sow, showed signs of heat a few days ago and I was disappointed as I had assumed that she was pregnant, maybe she is! This is all new to me! I cleaned out their sty this evening, always a quick and easy job, using just the yard brush.

Hubby has completed the new hen house. It is my job to paint it when I get a chance over the next few weeks. He will mesh the fencing in the orchard this weekend before moving the hens permanently, fingers crossed. I guess we will have to lock them into the house for a few days until they beside it is their new home. I am collecting 8-9 eggs a day at the moment but I am unsure of how many they are laying as the dogs are professional egg thieves.
Planting of the veg garden is on hold until the hens are contained. They have already scratched out the bed I planted.

The bees are flying everyday and can be seen bringing back plenty of pollen. Each day the hives gets stronger as new brood emerges. I need to open up one hive to mark the queen. This is a difficult job, as finding one bee amongst thousands is a challenge. I haven't had a chance to do it yet, either due to the weather or children. But I know that the challenge grows with each passing day. I need her marked as I want to make splits later this month.

There is talk here of me getting another horse. Exciting! A young horse to work on over the winter and replace my current horse for next season.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April's Fool News

Winter is well behind us now. The bees are very busy foraging these days. I have seen them out flying as early as 9am these past few days, which is usual for this time of year. Their new site is more sheltered and faces east into the morning sun, it is warming up the hive earlier than the previous site and therefore they can fly earlier in the day.
I need to do my first open hive inspection of the year this week. I might do it tomorrow if the weather stays good. I have one queen to mark and I need to add on another brood box to the other hive. I will also add some frames with no foundation so as to allow the bees to draw their own comb. I have a bee meeting to attend tonight, the meeting will focus on making splits and establishing nucs.
I am eager for Hubby to start on a perone inspired hive design. I would like to experiment that different hive types and get more into natural beekeeping. 

Most of the over wintered veg is starting to bolt to seed. That includes turnips, winter salads, kale, cabbages, leeks, beetroot, carrots etc. I need to start using them up now before they get too tough and stringy. Although the pigs would only be too happy to help!

Our pigs are doing great. They have put on a lot of weight since the arrival of amber, the cow. The milk is doing them well and they are thriving. The male unnamed pig will go to the freezer this month. His female friend is pregnant, hopefully, and so we will expect a litter of piglets during the summer. Hubby is very fond of her and wishes to keep her as his breeding sow.

Hubby started work on the new hen 'apartment' last weekend. He hopes to finish it by this weekend. We are both sick of hen poo on the doorstep each and every morning!
The plan is to move them from the stable and free ranging, to the  new hen house in the orchard. Hubby will mesh the fencing and clip their feathers to hopefully keep them restricted to the quarter acre that is the orchard. They will still have plenty of space but wont be able to get into the yard to poop on everything and lay eggs in random places that only the dogs seem to know about.
On the downside, they make a good living by cleaning up after the pigs, pony and cow. They also spend a lot of their time scratching out worms in the dung heap. They barely cost us anything to feed at the moment, so we will have to feed them more!
The design of the hen house is as follows. There are four nesting boxes on the side that can be accessed from the fence. This should make collecting eggs a very easy job, sorry dogs! The main body has various branches for perching and the floor is slatted, there are 1-2 inch spacing between the floor boards to allow for easy cleaning. Most of the poo should fall through, but I imagine I will need to sweep it out once or twice a month. Either way it should be easy to manage.
They will have a ladder up to access the door. I hope that this will make it fox/dog proof. We don't intend to lock them in at night. We will just do as we are currently doing, allowing them to fly over the stable door when it gets dark, knowing that the stable is fox proof. 
We will use the rain water from the roof to fill a shallow paddle pond that Hubby has yet to install, that will be the water sorted. I hope that I or the children will only need to collect eggs and feed the hens, from the fence once a day. Although I am sure that there will be regular escapes.