Monday, September 5, 2011

Autumn Begins

Goldenrod and Joe Pye weed are some of the last flowers to bloom. Our sheep don't care much for goldenrod, but they like the leaves of Joe Pye Weed. Hayfever sufferers often accuse goldenrod for their misery, but they malign this beautiful and innocent plant unjustly. Goldenrod is not wind pollinated; it does not disperse its pollen through the air like ragweed, and it does not cause hayfever. It is pollinated by bees, to which it pays good honey-making nectar for their services.

Our pumpkin patch. We had to wait until July before this piece of ground dried out and then I planted a row of pumpkin seeds as an experiment. If the frost holds off for another week or two I expect we will have a good harvest of pumpkins.

Trimming Gunnar's hooves. I think I'm going to get a "sheep chair" next summer to hold the sheep immobile. He wasn't the easiest customer to handle.

Jonathan had his first XC meet of the year and wound up with a blister on his heel from sand in his shoe.

Weighing sheep. Jonathan stood on the scale and Mik handed him the ewes. Sonja weighs 100# and Sigrid #70. We didn't try this with Gunnar as he probably outweighs Jonathan and is built like a 55 gallon drum.

A pair of eagles played over our house - likely a courtship flight. They are fully mature adults as you can see by the white heads and tails.

Our beanstalks climbed all over the teepees we set up and are now bearing beans.

Mik, Jeni and Jonathan checking out the young chickens in our moveable chicken pen. Hopefully these birds will be good sized by the end of October when we plan to harvest them. We got a real late start this year - the chicks didn't arrive until the third week of July.

This year we took two supers of honey from our hives - about 70#. Afterwards I returned the supers back in the beeyard so the bees can clean up the remaining honey out of the combs. When they are finished, even the stickiness will be gone.

Wax cappings from the frames. We use a hot knife to uncap the honey. The wax capping and honey fall into a bucket with a screen. About two gallons of honey drained off the cappings into the bucket. Once most of the honey has had a chance to drain off, I give the cappings back to the bees. I could probably have gotten another quart or so from them if I had heated it, but why bother? It's not going to waste.

Nothing like free honey to get a hive into action. According to many beekeeping books, putting wet frames out in the open can stimulate robbing, i.e. a more populous hive may invade another less robust hive and begin stealing their honey. Thus far I have not seen this happen. The safe way to return honey to bees would be to place the supers with their extracted frames on top of individual hives, underneath the hive covers, so that only the bees from one hive would get the honey.

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