Posts in Farm Tales
Merry Christmas
Dory and Snickers in their new Christmas Island.

Dory and Snickers in their new Christmas Island.

I hope that however you celebrate, your day is as warm and comfy as these two pugs in their new bed! Here’s to a safe, content, and book-filled holiday season! See you all in the New Year!

Farm TalesMichelle Dunbar
Invasion of the Honeybees Part 2

Our weather has been pretty unusual here lately and not all conducive to peeking inside the beehive.  We finally had a small window of time that wasn't too hot, too windy, and wasn't during the bees "busy time" of flying in and out of the hive.  According to Beekeeping for Dummies, we were supposed to check on the bees after a week and make sure the Queen was doing o.k.  If everything went well, we would be able to see newly laid eggs and the beginnings of the bee's honey stores.  The Hubs was very excited to get to put on his suit again and he got to use the smoker for the first time. 


Not going to lie, I was in yoga pants and a tank top and was just as close to the bees as he was and the bees could have cared less about turning me in to a pin cushion.  It really is true-if you are chill around the bees, they will be chill around you.  Not only did we find the Queen content and happy but she had been busy!  We found a whole section of new honeybee babies! 


We were also able to see new honey that was in the process of being capped by the bees for later use. 

So I left this one extra big so you can see my little friends making my future beer...

So I left this one extra big so you can see my little friends making my future beer...

Before closing them up, the bees got a fresh batch of food in the feeder.  Here in a few more weeks we'll peek inside again to make sure everyone is content and happy.

Invasion of the honeybees
The honeybees in their shipping box. 

The honeybees in their shipping box. 

It started as a 4-H project idea.  The Kid could make an awesome photo display, our fruit trees would get some amazing pollination, and I could make beer from all the amazing honey those little bees were going to make me.  

I didn't realize that my husband would turn this into a borderline obsession.  I bought Beekeeping for Dummies from Amazon, figured I'd get around to reading at some point and we'd figure out as we went.  Instead, the Hubs latched on to that book and he spent the next several weeks reading it out loud to me.  While I was trying to read my own book.  

After several weeks of anxiously awaiting for the bees to be delivered, which are delivered through the Postal Service, we finally got to meet our new Fat Farm residents.  Our mail carrier brought them straight to our house-she really didn't want to handle them anymore than necessary-and we got to work right away.  Translation-everything that could go wrong happened.  We couldn't find the Queen, there wasn't quite enough food, we found the Queen but accidentally dropped her little cage into the bottom of the hive, The Hubs got stung twice, and we missed a phone call by minutes from an experienced beekeeper on how to make the process easier.

I think he just wanted to wear the suit. 

I think he just wanted to wear the suit. 

But, we did it.  The bees are doing well and are we can see them all over the yard collecting pollen from every flower they can find.  We found out we can stand right next to the hive and watch them and the bees really don't care.  Even the dogs running around the hive doesn't seem to bother them.    

Now we wait for the bees to do their thing.  

Here's a few things that we found helpful:

Memorial Day

The Kid has been our best helper when we put out the flags at the graves of our local veterans.  It's fascinating to watch kids do this job.  He makes it a point to read their names, tell us what branch they served, and these days, how old they were when they died.  Our cemetery is very old and there are many graves for infants and young children which has also led to some "grown up" conversations.  After helping for at least the last 5 years, I'm pretty sure he could do this job without our map.  It's also something that I hope he continues to help us with for years to come. 

However you celebrate today, I hope you take a moment to reflect on those who served who are no longer with us.  

The Kid Flags
Plumcots make excellent jam.

Plumcots make excellent jam.

Our little orchard is in full bloom!  This time of year is both wonderful and stressful all at the same time.  All of the blooming trees really make the yard look lovely but we also have to worry about frost.  Last year, a late frost came through and destroyed all our blossoms.  No blossoms = no fruit.  

Fluffy Farm Pug added for cuteness.

Fluffy Farm Pug added for cuteness.

Fingers are crossed for consistently warm weather for the next few weeks.  I'd really like to see all the blossoms stay around, especially with the honeybees getting delivered this weekend.  Not only will the bees get a food source, but I'm hoping the extra pollination going on will improve our fruit yields for next year. 

Nearly all of our fruit gets made in to jelly and jam that we give as gifts during the holidays and the more we can grow the better.  Also, we believe strongly in edible landscaping.  There's isn't much better than being able to grab a snack off the trees while you're mowing.  The Kid has grown up wandering the yard and munching on strawberries, blackberries, and peaches and that makes all of us happy. 

And really, isn't that the point?

Baby April
Emily and April

The Fat Farm welcomed its newest member Wednesday afternoon!  Baby Goat April was born while everyone was at work so we were very lucky there weren’t any complications.  April will be the first baby we’ve had here in almost 5 years. Unfortunately, just like with humans, not all pregnancies end with happy healthy babies.  

Emily and April 2


Baby April was born to Emily, The Kid’s first 4-H show goat.  She has been such a good mother and it’s been fun having a new baby on the farm.  We've lucked out so far-it doesn't look like bottles are in our future.  Emily will be our only baby this year so I’m sure she’ll end pretty spoiled!

Different kind of Farm Baby...
I get excited about  all  babies! 

I get excited about all babies! 

It's not unusual to see slugs in our feed bins,  They especially like the chicken feed-no idea why.  When I find one nearly buried in chicken feed, I scoop him out and stick him out in the flowers.  Never before have I seen them eating the horse feed-or bring a buddy.  Especially a buddy this small.  They were going to town on that chunk of feed and it felt wrong to disturb their lunch so in the shed they stayed. 

Nose Peckers

Last week, 25 fluffy little chicks joined the farm.  Even though we've had chickens for years now, it's still exciting when the call comes to pick them up from the post office.  And every time we go to pick them up, another customer is shocked that you can send birds through the mail  And every time we have to show them that yes, the birds are fine and yes, they are real. 


The Kid is now old enough that we can hand over the noisy little box and he'll take care of the rest.  Dipping beaks in water, placing them under the heat lamp, making sure the feeder is full-all while the little fluff balls climb all over your feet and get in the way.  


Loki was introduced to his first baby chick.  It started off well.  Loki was calm, interested, gentle.  Then the chick pecked his nose.  Twice.  He moved far too quickly for a good photo, but Loki is really just nursing a sore nose and not licking his chops!  Both dogs check on the chicks during chore time but won't get this close again until the chicks are big enough to wander the yard.  

Blackberry oatmeal

My Fat Farm is a small operation.  I have two dozen chickens and a dozen or so ducks.  Since we are small, our feed is bought in 50lb bags that the nice young men at our local farm supply store try to put in my cart for me.  They don't then carry it to the car, load it, drive it home, unload it, and dump it in to my bins.  So no, they don't put it in my cart.  

More times than not, I forget to buy feed.  This is only stressful for me.  The critters don't mind at all.  My forgetfulness means they get a hot breakfast of blackberry oatmeal.  

Spoiled.  Maybe.