Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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8/18/2014

photo by Sgarton from www.morguefile.comLast night we heard chirping. Loud chirping we’ve never heard before in all our time living in the mountains. Loud enough to hear over the TV and over the fans as they worked toward cooling down the house. My husband muted the TV and turned off the fan. Sure enough, something was chirping out there. But what?

We’ve seen and heard all manner of critters while hunting, while at home, and on hikes. Deer and elk are commonplace. Pronghorn, no big deal. Snakes, toads, newts, salamanders, skinks, marmots, picas, squirrels, rabbit, prairie dogs, owls, birds of all kind, diurnal raptors, you name it. Bobcat, black bear, coyotes, lynx, fox (both red and gray), bobcat, moose, and mountain lions. I even swear I’ve heard wolves howl. I’ve owned wolf hybrids in the past. So, we’re not exactly new at this and we’ve had some interesting interactions when it comes to critters.

Mystery Chirps

This chirping bothered me. We went down the list of possible culprits. None seemed obvious. We thought about raptors like hawks and eagles, but it was way too late and the chirps didn’t match anything either of us knew.

It was late and time for me to milk. Something in the back of my mind told me to look up mountain lion. I did a search on “mountain lion vocalizations” and found an article from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Suddenly I had a bad feeling when it mentioned that mountain lions sound like a bird chirping.

For years I lived in the mountains and had to deal with mountain lions all the time. As a musher, I was constantly worried about my dogs because we had five mountain lions in our valley. These cats were so pressured with humans and each other that we always heard their territorial calls and their mating screams. Never chirps.

I searched again, this time for mountain lion chirps. I found a YouTube video and by golly, that’s what we heard. I told my husband I wasn’t going to milk in the dark with a cat prowling around. We’ve had encounters with them at our place before. We’ve actually been hissed at by one and even heard the territorial calls when they went to visit some of my neighbors.

Counted noses this morning and all were here. It’s dry now, so there’s no way to track a cat. I may have to switch to milking in the daytime. Mountain lions aren’t as reclusive as people like to think. They’re sneaky, yes, but they do come visit from time to time.  And they are dangerous so I'll have to keep an extra vigilant eye on my livestock.

Maggie Bonham is a multiple award-winning author of more than 30 books and the publisher of Sky Warrior Books. You can check out her blog Eating Wild Montana about her adventures with hunting, raising, and growing her own food in Montana.



8/18/2014

Ameraucana Chicken, 10 Weeks Old. Photo By Rachel ConlinI love chickens. They are a beautiful bird that not only provides us with endless amounts of eggs and easy to cook, delicious meat, but they are a joy to own. Just to stop what you are doing and watch them peck the ground, dust in the sand and interact with one another is not only relaxing, it is entertaining. And that is exactly why I asked for chickens for my Mother’s Day gift this year.

We have raised chickens, hatched eggs, sold the eggs, done our own meat birds and just plain enjoyed them at different times in our lives. But about 6 years ago a weasel invaded the coop and killed our last 33 chickens within three nights. It was not a pretty sight. It looked as if a ‘chicken vampire’ had evilly drifted through leaving dead chickens with holes in their necks in its wake. We had set traps for the callous weasel, but never caught it. My husband announced, no more chickens until we have the time. After leaving my ‘off farm job’ just over a year ago to pursue our farm business, I felt this was now the perfect time! And that is how my request for Mother’s Day chicks came about.

I was delighted to receive 18 + (1 extra day old chicks); 6 Barred Plymouth Rock, 6 Columbian Variety Of Chickens Including Ameraucana and Easter Eggers. Photo By Rachel Conlinand 7 Red X Sex Link. They would begin laying in mid-October. Almost immediately I had market customers asking me when the eggs would be ready. Not only wanting to provide for my customers, but also longing for some good home grown eggs myself, I went on a chicken hunt. I was not only on a hunt for more egg layers, but different egg layers. While running my farm market I have discovered that people like things that you just can’t buy at the local Wal-Mart. They want things that are local, real and perhaps a little unusual. That is where the Ameraucana Chicken comes onto the scene.

There are only 3 breeds of chickens that lay coloured eggs other than the typical white and various shades of browns. I say ‘breeds’ loosely, as only two are actually recognized breeds; the Ameraucana and the Araucana. The third, known as the Easter Egger Chicken, is not a recognized breed, but rather a cross between any other chicken and either an Ameraucana or an Araucana. True Ameraucana & Araucana chickens are in fact not that common. Many people believe they may have one of these breeds, but it is more likely that most people have the Easter Egger. Araucana’s originally come from Chile and were introduced to North America around 1921 and were standardized and accepted into American Poultry Association (APA) in 1976. They do not do well in cold climates and are quite rare. Araucana’s are rumples (no or little tail feathers) and have ear tufts; feathers protruding from the ear area. They lay blue eggs only. The Ameraucana is not very common either. It is America’s most newly recognized APA breed. There has been much discrepancy over the years regarding origins, standards and such for these two breeds. APA created a standard and recognized the Ameraucana breed in the 1984. The characteristics to meet the APA Standard for a true Ameraucana are as follows;

Must be a blue egg layer. The shade of blue can vary, but it must be blue.
Must have ‘pea’ combs; A small, plump red comb towards the front of head.
Must be bearded and muffed. They appear to have a beard of feathers.
Cannot have ear tufts.
Must have slate blue legs. Although the black variety sometimes have black legs.
Males must have red ear lobes.
There are 8 accepted feather colours; Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, White.
Cock weight; 6 ½ lbs. Hen weight; 5 ½ lbs.

Other characteristics include; curved beaks, large expressive eyes, absent or small wattles, full hackle, a well spread tail carried at an angle and 4 toes. These characteristics apply to both male and female. The breed also comes in a recognized Bantam variety. I found ameraucana.org to be an excellent reference for this information.

If your bird does not meet these specifications, then it is more than likely an Easter Egger. There are no recognized breeders in North America that I am aware of for Araucana chickens and few recognized breeders for the Ameraucana breed.Easter Egger, Rumpless and Yellow Shanks.  Photo By Rachel Conlin

I basically only knew that these chickens lay coloured eggs when I began my search. The first place I looked was on Kijiji, the Canadian equivalent to Craig’s List. In retrospect this was probably the most unlikely spot to find Ameraucana chickens, but the Chicken Gods must have been smiling on me because that is exactly where I found some advertised and only a few hours’ drive away. We purchased all 25, four week old pure Ameraucana’s and 10, ten week old Easter Eggers. Then my research began in earnest. I have found that a few of the ‘pure bred’ Ameraucana’s that we purchased are not fitting the standard. One is rumples and two have yellow shanks, but other than that they seem to be fitting the bill. All 35 happily moved into our large pioneer built chicken coop with the other 19 and I have since purchased 9 more brown egg layers that were already laying. I seem to have gone a little chicken crazy!

We are now eating our delicious brown eggs, selling the extras and soon will be blessed with many blue and other coloured eggs. Easter Eggers can lay blue, green, pink and brown eggs. The nutritional value is equal in all the eggs. Just the beautiful colours make them unique and of course all the beautiful chickens!

 

 



8/15/2014

If your loved ones were depending on you to start a fire for their warmth in a pouring rain, could you do it? Survival expert and author of Practical Outdoor Survival, et al, shows you how it's done.



8/13/2014

Hi everyone! This week was a lot of preparation for Polyface Farm’s last ever Field Day (It’s okay to boo. The people who attended Field Day were bummed when Joel made the last Field Day ever announcement.) and a good amount of working with machinery for me. It was a really fun week and I hope you enjoy reading about it! 

Monday, July 14th

My morning chore this week was moving the broiler shelters. Those of you who have read my posts before probably remember that my adventures moving broilers has been a recurring theme, but I am happy to report that my shelter moving this week was greatly improved from weeks prior. My hands have gotten more used to this type of work (ie. manual labor) and over the course of the week, my roommate Alicia only helped me with a few shelters. Even though it was a humbling lesson to have learned, I am glad to see the progression of my strength and my patience. After morning chores, I had the chance to work in the gardens to clean them up for our impending Field Day visitors.

bale pileThe afternoon (and better part of the evening) was spent stacking and moving square bales of hay at one of the properties Polyface manages with Daniel Salatin, Eric, our Apprentice Manager, Jonathan aka. Jak, one of our apprentices and Josh, one of my fellow interns. Doing this has been one of the highlights of my time here, as I got to drive one of our trucks and a gooseneck trailer full of huge bales of hay (I’ve included a picture so you can see what I’m talking about) from about 1pm until dark. Polyface subcontracts the making of these big bales to an operator with the proper machinery, as the baler we have only makes the small bales. After the bales are made and dropped onto the grass, it is our responsibility to gather the bales, stack them, salt them and cover them with tarps to protect them until winter. Since these bales are so large, we need the tractors to lift the bales, stack one on top of another, lift the two stacked bales and place them on the flatbed trailer. Said flatbed trailer driver (Me! And Josh. We had two trucks going.) drives a full load of bales to the massive stack (see photo) where another tractor is there to unload and stack the bales. Generally, it is the driver’s responsibility to get out, climb the stack and salt the bales, but Jonathan was doing that task the day I was there. We needed to bring these bales from one corner of the property to another, which included going through some fairly tricky turns through gates. Before we were unleashed, Daniel taught Josh and I how to make these turns and where I had never driven a trailer before and these turns included some backing up, I was a little nervous, but we ended up doing well. We were able to finish the hay that day, which I’m told is all the hay we will need for Polyface this year. !!!!!!!! After all the hay we’ve been doing, it seems odd that it’s done, but a relief nonetheless. All in all, it was a fun and exciting day, and was wrapped up with a double bacon cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys (a bit of a hay making tradition if you miss dinner because you had to work through it). Big thumbs up. hay bales

Tuesday, July 15th

Tuesday was a big cleaning and rearranging day here at Polyface. After moving broilers and eating breakfast, my roommate Greer and I set to cleaning out the freezers, washing windows and wiping down shelves in the sales building. This was a bit nostalgic for me, as I had done all that during my two day check out back in December. It’s pretty amazing to think about how much my life has changed since then.

After lunch, we worked on the fence line along the area we bushwhacked last week. On Monday, our Apprentice Manager and some of the other interns had installed posts so all that needed to be done was to install the insulators (plastic pieces that hold the electric wire) and tighten the wire. It was a long fence, so this took three interns and one Apprentice Manager a few hours. In the meantime, we also worked on shoring up some pig fencing that was currently there and I learned how to make a gate on an electric fence. After wrapping up at the pig pasture, I helped my roommate Shalana reinstall some metal roofing panels that had been power washed back on the Racken, the hoop house where the rabbits and some of the laying hens live. The panels were pretty high up and we were having a hard time maneuvering them with one of us on the ladder and one not but Daniel came by with the tractor and lifted us up in the bucket. Things got much easier from there. I’m learning to really really love machinery.

Wednesday, July 16th

Wednesday, as usual, was a processing day. After moving my broiler friends, we all went to the processing shed to set up. This involves filling the metal tubs with water and ice, cleaning the tables, setting out knives and moving the crates of birds to where they can be easily reached. We didn’t start processing until after breakfast and during the processing I worked on quality control, gutting and lunging. We were done with everything by lunch.

After lunch, along with chores, Greer and I were given the task of moving two of the manure spreaders from the shed to an area where machinery was to be parked for Field Day visitors to be able to easily check out the Polyface equipment. Daniel gave us this assignment because there was a spot of free time and he knew we needed to learn/practice driving the tractors and backing them up with attachments. My backing up attempt was going a little sideways (or potentially jack knifey) and Miriam, one of our Apprentices, came over and gave me a lesson. I did, with her very patient guidance, get the spreader where it was supposed to go and am grateful to her and Daniel for giving me the chance to learn this skill in an unhurried fashion.

Thursday, July 17th

Thursday was another processing day, as we needed chicken for our deliciously grass fed local Field Day lunch. I was on the lunging station, which I have been looking forward to getting. I enjoy lunging and wanted to see if I could do all of them myself. In an ideal processing line, there only needs to be one lunger and I wanted to make sure I could do that. Sheri Salatin, our legendary master chicken gutter (She’s just as good as Joel, which is saying something.), came down to teach us and help. She can gut six birds for every one we can, so I was pumped that I was able to keep up with her.

The rest of the day, my roommate Greer and I made signs for Field Day. We needed signs for the flavors of the drinks we were offering, signs for the rabbits, private residence signs, some directional signs and some signs asking visitors to stay off the hay that was stacked. We were pretty excited to be given this task (Crafts! Yay!), so we raised the scrap wood/roofing metal/extra paint/baling twine pile and spent the rest of the day working on signs.

Thursday night, we were joined by Darren Doherty, Lisa Heenan and their family  (www.heenandoherty.com) for a discussion on permaculture, their Regrarians movement, which is their effort to promote regenerative agriculture (you can find them on Facebook under Regrarians or on Twitter @Regrarians), and to learn more about the documentary, Polyfaces, they were hoping to wrap up filming on. Darren is a world renowned expert on permaculture (Joel refers to him as a genius when it comes to water) so having an opportunity to meet with him and his family was a treat. Also, if you haven’t seen the trailer for Polyfaces, you really need to check it out. Seriously. Google it now and watch it. Polyfaces. The documentary. I had seen it prior to coming here, but we had the chance to watch it again and now that I have spent time here and become bonded to those in the film, it was very moving. Those of us here really believe that the Polyface methods can, in a nut shell, save the world. Sometimes I get bogged down in the minutia of chores and day to day farm things and I tend to forget what motivated me to change my entire life and come here. Watching what Darren, Lisa and their children are putting together in the form of this documentary really inspired me and made me grateful to be here and to have chosen this life.

Friday, July 18th

Being the day before Field Day, Friday was a bit of a blur. After chores, Greer and I finished the remainder of our signs (They took longer than I was anticipating.), set up the food and drink lines, did some last minute checking on my broiler friend’s shelters and wrapped up the day helping Sheri Salatin prepping her website www.eagerfarmer.com , which launched on Field Day. I strongly suggest that, even if you have the slightest inkling that you may want some farm help or would like to work on a farm, you check out this website. There are already several opportunities available all over the world already listed on the site and lots of eager people looking for a position. It’s a great resource and it was inspiring to be a part of setting it up.

We had had several past interns and apprentices arrive today to help with Field Day and at the end of the day we were all able to get together for a barbeque to get to know each other. There were so many people, some apprentices dating back all the way to 1998, and I felt honored to be part of such a special group.

Saturday, July 19th Field Day

Field Day came and went in a giant blur. It was awesome. I started out at 5:45 am at the registration table, which I was psyched to get assigned to because I like to meet people. We had visitors come in from Canada, Costa Rica, across the country, as far as Hawaii, and the energy was so positive.

The day started where guests were welcome to watch chores being done, have some coffee and check out the farm. Come 8am, the rest of the morning was broken up into, essentially, two options. Your first option is to go on a farm tour with Joel, which lasts about 3.5 hours. The tour route encompasses the pastured broilers, the cows on pasture, the eggmobiles, the feathernet, the pastured turkeys, a visit to the hay shed and pigerator compost area and wraps up with the pastured pigs. This tour also happens after lunch, so many people decide to wait until the afternoon and instead will attend some of the other shorter and more specialized seminars such as a rabbit class with Daniel Salatin, a brooder and chick raising session with Miriam, one of our apprentices, and a forum of sorts on Polyface’s Apprenticeship/ Internship program. There was a break for lunch, where we served BBQ pork, chicken and beef, cucumbers, tomatoes and some of the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. The afternoon held another tour with Joel, if you had missed the morning one, along with some other specialized sessions. Some of the morning classes were repeated, but there were some new ones as well. Sheri Salatin had her marketing class, which I found very helpful, and there was a tour of our hoop houses with Jonathan, one of our interns, where he explained the season extension techniques Polyface uses in its garden production. The day was wrapped with a question and answer session with Joel that is always very popular.

In addition to the classes and tours, there were several vendors I got a chance to speak to and a book booth where I bought way more books than I’ll have time to read this summer. But knowledge is power, right?

On another note, it was fun to meet some of you on Field Day! Thank you to those of you who introduced yourselves. I really appreciated speaking with you all and am honored to be a part of this blogging community. I hope you all have a great week!



8/13/2014

Ameraucana With Muff, Beard and Pea CombI love chickens. They are a beautiful bird that not only provides us with an endless amount of eggs and easy to cook, delicious meat, but they are a joy to own. Just to stop what you are doing and watch them peck the ground, dust in the sand and interact with one another is not only relaxing, it is entertaining. And that is exactly why I asked for chickens for my Mother’s Day gift this year.

We have raised chickens, hatched eggs, sold the eggs, done our own meat birds and just plain enjoyed them at different times in our lives. But about 6 years ago a weasel invaded the coop and killed our last 33 chickens within three nights. It was not a pretty sight. It looked as if a ‘chicken vampire’ had evilly drifted through leaving dead chickens with holes in their necks in its wake. We had set traps for the callous weasel, but never caught it. My husband announced, no more chickens until we have the time. After leaving my ‘off farm job’ just over a year ago to pursue our farm business, I felt this was now the perfect time! And that is how my request for Mother’s Day chicks came about.Ameraucana Chicken, 10 weeks old

I was delighted to receive 18 + 1 extra, day old chicks; 6 Barred Plymouth Rock, 6 Columbian and 7 Red X Sex Link. They would begin laying in mid-October. Almost immediately I had market customers asking me when the eggs would be ready. Not only wanting to provide for my customers, but also longing for some good home grown eggs ourselves, I went on a chicken hunt. I was not only on a hunt for more egg layers, but different egg layers. While running my farm market I have discovered that people like things that you just can’t buy at the local Wal-Mart. They want things that are local, real and perhaps a little unusual. That is where the Ameraucana Chicken comes onto the scene.

There are only 3 breeds of chickens that lay coloured eggs other than the typical white and various shades of browns. I say ‘breeds’ loosely, as only two are actually recognized breeds; the Ameraucana and the Araucana. The third, known as the Easter Egger Chicken, is not a recognized breed, but rather a cross between any other chicken and either an Ameraucana or an Araucana. True Ameraucana & Araucana chickens are in fact not that common. Many people believe they may have one of these breeds, but it is more likely that most have the Easter Egger. Araucana’s originally come from Chile and were introduced to North America around 1921 and were standardized and accepted into American Poultry Association (APA) in 1976. They do not do well in cold climates and are quite rare. Araucana’s are rumples (no or little tail feathers) and have ear tufts; feathers protruding from the ear area. They lay blue eggs only. The Ameraucana is not very common either. It is America’s most newly recognized APA breed. There has been much discrepancy over the years regarding origins, standards and such for these two breeds. APA created a standard and recognized the Ameraucana breed in 1984. The characteristics to meet the APA Standard for a true Ameraucana are as follows:

Must be a blue egg layer. The shade of blue can vary, but it must be blue.
Must have ‘pea’ combs; A small, plump red comb towards the front of head.
Must be bearded and muffed. They appear to have a beard of feathers.
Cannot have ear tufts.
Must have slate blue legs. Although the black variety sometimes have black legs.
Males must have red ear lobes, female pale
There are 8 accepted feather colours; Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, White.
Cock weight; 6 ½ lbs. Hen weight; 5 ½ lbs.

Variety Of Chickens Including Ameraucana and Easter EggersOther characteristics include; curved beaks, large expressive eyes, absent or small wattles, full hackle, a well spread tail carried at an angle and 4 toes. These characteristics apply to both male and female. The breed also comes in a recognized Bantam variety. I found Ameraucana.org to be an excellent reference for this information.Ameraucana Hen, 14 Weeks Old

If your bird does not meet these specifications, then it is more than likely an Easter Egger. There are no recognized breeders in North America that I am aware of for Araucana chickens and few recognized breeders for the Ameraucana.

I basically only knew that these chickens lay coloured eggs when I began my search. The first place I looked was on Kijiji, the Canadian equivalent to Craig’s List. In retrospect this was probably the most unlikely spot to find Ameraucana chickens, but the Chicken Gods must have been smiling on me because that is exactly where I found some and only a few hours’ drive away. We purchased all 25, four week old Ameraucana’s and 10, ten week old Easter Eggers. Then my research began in earnest. I have found that a few of the ‘pure bred’ Ameraucana’s that we purchased are not fitting the standard. One is rumples and two have yellow shanks, but other than that they seem to be fitting the bill. All 35 happily moved into our large pioneer built chicken coop with the other 19. I have since purchased 9 more brown egg layers that were already laying. I seem to have gone a little chicken crazy!

We are now eating our delicious brown eggs, selling the extras and soon will be blessed with many blue and other coloured eggs. Easter Eggers lay blue, green, pink and brown eggs. The nutritional value is equal in all the eggs. Just the beautiful colours make them unique and of course all chickens are beautiful!Variety Of Coloured Eggs

 

 



8/12/2014

The last couple of weeks have been stuffed to the brim with obligations away from our homestead.  Long days of work away from home, friends’ weddings, family get-togethers, board meetings and committee work: mornings have started early and evenings have ended late.  Weekends and weekdays have blurred together in a haze of Things-That-Must-Be-Done.

Echinacea and asparagusConsequently, my time in our garden has been pinched.  A hurried jaunt through the beds and between the rows fills our plates for each meal; a few hours are found once a week to preserve the bounty of produce we can’t keep up with such as string beans, peas, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cucumbers, and kale.  The early turnips and cabbage are poised to overtake us as well, not to mention the blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, and blackberries.  Herbs such as mint, lemon  balm, catmint, lavender, and calendula, too, are hung to dry in spare moments, alongside lupine seed being dried high on our shelves.  Echinacea, cleome, nasturtium, chamomile, and monarda are putting out new blooms by the day, while an assortment of sunflowers and gladiolas are readying themselves to open to the sunlight that has been nurturing them all season.

Squash flowerAnd yet, that’s about as much as I can say.  The nuances of carrot growth, or why the first row of onion tops are falling over, or how far the winter squash meanders each day in it’s goal to overtake the compost pile, or what time the bees arrive on the thyme flowers...these are details I’ve missed seeing over these hectic days.  And it’s something else: the peace of mind that comes with time to share a meal, listen to the river, and converse as the sun sets low.  

Ryan and I - no doubt like so many of you reading this - are continually striving for the balance between home and away-from-home.  Sometimes we get it right, sometimes things happen, and sometimes everything happens at once.  

And in homesteading as we do, there’s a few extra difficulties thrown in.  We can’t drink if we haven’t hauled the water, we can’t cook if we haven’t gathered wood (dry wood), we can’t get “clean” if there’s no time for a walk to the swim hole, and we can’t communicate with friends, clients, and organization unless we’ve been elsewhere to use a computer or phone.  These facts are blessings, and choices we reaffirm each day, but also challenges.  We are trying to cultivate not just food and fuel, but a life based on and in our home and homescape.  And so we breathe a deep breath when we arrive home to our clearing in the woods, renew our commitment to a sane pace and purpose, and work towards keeping ourselves laboring at home: for ourselves, our projects, and our dreams, as much as the rest of life’s needs can allow. We love it here. 

Garden work is my specialty!  Weeding, planting, mulching and pruning services available, plus edible landscapes and garden designs.  Contact Beth via b.a.weick@gmail.com for your annual, perennial, herbal, or ornamental garden needs (see Business Directory listing under ‘Garden Design & Services’).


8/11/2014

When we started keeping bees, questions came in two forms. "Do you sell honey?" and "Do you want my old equipment?" The first question was much easier to answer. "Yes, when we have surplus, we will sell." The second requires more consideration.

When people decide to stop keeping bees, they don't know what to do with all of their supplies. Since beekeeping can have some expense involved, it is natural to want to share the resources.

It can be a good thing to get used equipment from beekeepers who are ending their operation. However there are also some things to keep in mind.

What do you know about the type of beekeeper they have been. Is this compatible with your apiary?

Did they use chemical pest treatments?

Did they monitor regularly for Varroa mites and wax moths?

Did they have an infestation of hive beetles?

Did they have foul brood?

Some of these diseases, pests and viruses can live in an empty hive long past the active colony. You do not want to bring problems into your operation. Any equipment where a colony has been infested with foul brood is required to be destroyed.

In addition you need to know the rules in your locale. Notification is required in Illinois to move used equipment and bees from county to county. An inspection may be required. Check with your state's Department of Agriculture for the rules that apply.

You do have some options for used equipment, so don't automatically turn down the offer. Smokers, protective clothing and hive tools are easily cleaned and reused. But what about the rest of it?

Think Outside the Hive Box

After a thorough cleaning, sanding and refinishing, old hive boxes make spectacular decor. This CD rack is fashioned from shallow comb super boxes.CD rack

A combination of brood boxes and Illinois deep supers come together in a rustic bookcase.

Bookcase

If the boxes are not sturdy enough for bookcases, consider breaking down the boxes and fashioning other objects. These decorative wine bars were created from wood salvaged out of old supers.

Wine Bars

Note that reusing your own equipment does not carry the same concerns listed above. In fact, using pulled comb from your own hives is a method of recycling that is a perfectly acceptable part of routine management of honeybee colonies. Bees will clean up and reuse the drawn comb. As long as you have not had significant pest infestations you can reuse frames of drawn comb for a few years. Do freeze the frames and boxes in between uses for at least 24 hours. This will kill any hive beetles or wax moths that may have taken up residence. .Replace when the comb turns dark.

The advantage to using drawn comb in hives is the bees do not have to spend time and energy maxing wax. In the honey supers they can focus on storing nectar and making honey. In the brood boxes energy is spent on foraging and raising brood.

Consider all of your options when someone offers you used beekeeping supplies. What other creative uses can you think of?

Be sure and check out our website www.fivefelinefarm.com and Facebook page for more about Five Feline Farm. There is always something new and interesting at the Farm.









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