Friday, 10 October 2014


Winter is drawing in and I feel it!
The evening are getting dark earlier and nights much colder. I have ordered the round bales of haylage for the winter and the animals will be moving in from the fields soon.

We have sold six of the seven piglets over the last few days. The remaining one will stay with the sow for company. They were very easy to sell which surprised me. I had imagined the market at this time of year would be poor compared to spring. Who wants additional livestock going into winter?

The cow will move into the cow yard in the next two weeks. She wouldn't see a field again until  May next year. The milking machine had broke down about two weeks ago and instead of forking out a few hundred to fix it , we have decided to buy a new portable machine in the spring when she freshens. At the moment I am hand-milking her every evening. She is giving about 5 litres on once a day milking. Once she moves indoor, we will dry her off. She is due her angus calf in early March.

The hens are doing well. We are getting about seven eggs a day from ten hens ( one pullet, two ducks and two roosters ). We expect to get (less) eggs right through winter as many of the hens are this years.

The bees are still foraging in the middle of the day. A great deal of pollen is brought back into the hives each day. I expect that the queens will slow down now and then cease laying sometime next month. The full hives should have plenty of stores as I took so little from them but I will continue to feed the two nuc's.

We have three horses. A pony for the children and two youngsters for me. The youngsters stayed at my sisters farm all summer, but the older of the two, a two yr old Mermus R gelding will move back here for the winter. I will collect him at the end of this month. I will be training him over the winter to lunge, long rein and then ride. I prefer to start them young and slow. I worked with him for a few weeks during the summer and he can already be tacked up in cross-ties and take my weight lying over his back. The children continue their riding lessons and will be riding their pony max over the winter. I plan to bring them to lead-rein show jumping leagues in Feb with him.

The range in the kitchen and open fire in the sitting-room is lit every day. The cottage is very cosy and snug! Thank God for turf :-)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Honey frames

The bee keeping year in winding down. The weather has become cooler, especially at night but the bees are still bringing in plenty of pollen mainly from ivy.
I took another three frames of capped honey out of the hives today. This will leave them plenty for the winter. I feel that it will be enough for for us to use over the winter and surplus for the bees larder. If the honey is still there in the spring, I might harvest it then.
I was looking forward to harvesting honey comb but all the frames I brought in happen to be built on wired foundation, which I will be phasing out over the next few years, in preference for foundation-less frames where the bees will draw their own comb.

I made up new batches of salve/balm for the house with the beeswax. I use this for minor cuts and irritated skin, and as udder balm for the cow. It is so simple, cheap and effective! It works so well for nappy rash  in young children and for outdoor winter cracked hands.
The recipe is so simple, just five parts olive oil to one part beeswax. 
I usually add a few drops of essential just because they smell so nice. Gently heat on the range until the beeswax melts into the olive oil. Using more beeswax will produce a firmer salve, which may be preferred during summer months.

We have four piglets going to new homes this evening and another one going to a neighbour in the morning. So this time tomorrow we will have two piglets instead of seven. I am delighted by this!
Piglets eat a lot, and seven eat an awful lot of food! 
It will take a lot of the pressure for milk production off the sow, as they have started to damage her teats with their fierce competition for udder space.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Honey Harvest

The weather has been especially warm, dry and pleasant for September. The bees are very busy everyday bringing in pollen from heather, ivy and late flowering plants.
They have stored so much honey in a few weeks that I have had to put back on supers and move a nuc into a full hive.
I am pleased because it means that we will not need to feed them over the winter but I will still give them a block of fondant in early spring, for my own piece of mind ;-)

We were able to take one super frame from one of the hives. We do not have an extractor so we gently scraped the honey into a bowl leaving the back wall of the foundation intact. I placed the sticky bowls and frame outside and the bees cleaned it up for me within a few hours.
This one frame produced one litre of honey and I managed to filter about 200g of bees wax. I will take another full box of supers off the hives this weekend yet leaving them with plenty.

When I did an inspection of one hive, I found capped queen cells, plenty of drones and an unmarked queen. This hive had a marked queen! This hive had a double brood box and I had added a super also. I assume that the cells are supercedure as there was brood and eggs of all ages, the time of year and that there was only 3-4 cells produced. I did not see the orginal queen but I did not do a full check into the bottom box.

I apolagise for my lack of blog postings. I am working and studying at the moment and time escapes me. I don't imagine that it will improve until after Christmas, so bear with me  ;-)