I am definitely a country girl that loves to garden, quilt, preserve, hunt, and read. I love my family more than anything in the world. I live with my husband of fifty years. We have a son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. We live on a 500+ acre farm in Virginia with about 75 cows & bulls, thirty chickens, and three dogs.
Two weeks ago, the lighter one disappeared and later that day Eddie found her on the bank of the branch that flows behind our pond. The ducks loved playing and eating in that waterway. Something had caught her and just eaten all the meat on her neck!! It was such a horrific death and loss to me. We were thinking it must have been an owl or weasel since it happened in the middle of the night. We’ve always been so careful about putting them in their duck house at night because of predators. This death happened in the middle of the day in broad daylight.
Three nights ago, a vicious killer got in the duck house and tortured the other two ducks where they could not get away. It ate the head off of one duck and the neck meat only on the other one. We have since found out that this vulgar creature is a mink!!!
Eddie has set traps for it in several locations all over the farm and in the duck house. It returned last night for the ducks and threw the trap, but Eddie is determined to catch it and maybe a mate. Our chickens will be next!!!
NO, it’s not cute!!! They are wasteful and vicious animals, and you must beware of the safety of your chickens, ducks, rabbits and any small animal on your property!!!
We had three weeks of unusually cold temperatures and then three weeks of unusually warm temperatures. These spurts of strange weather are very hard on honeybees. They’ve been out swarming the maple trees because they too like this warm weather and really swarming my birdfeeders. The last three or four years we have lost our honeybees due to this very weather oddity or so we think.
Apparently when the weather warms like it did last week, in the 60’s, the bees think spring is here and they eat up their winter stores and start raising young bees. Then the cold returns and they don’t have enough food to stay alive, much less raise young. They all die.
We don’t like to mess with Mother Nature and try not to interfere with any animals’ normal lifetime. Some people feed their bees honey and it is the best fuel for them. Depending on how long the winter is, a beehive will need about 30 pounds of honey to make it to spring. When we take honey for ourselves. usually in June to mid-July, we try to make sure there is still plenty of pollen plants in the area for them to refill their hive. We leave another hive on top of the main hive full of frames for them to fill for winter stores. You can’t take all the honey from your bees because they need food to survive cold winter months when they’re confined inside their beehive. We place “supers” on top of the two main hives, which are shorter in height than the main hive. The honeys made in these boxes is what we take for ourselves and leave a few frames in them just in case the bees need them in the winter/spring.
Honeybees do not hibernate during winter. They remain active and shelter inside their hive, huddling together to keep warm and protect the queen. As winter begins, brood rearing ceases and the queen stops laying eggs. The hive depends on the overwintering of the queen.
Honeybees don’t just collect nectar and pollen. They also gather resin and sap from trees and plants which bees turn into bee glue, this sticky stuff is made by combining plant resin with saliva and beeswax. Bees use this bee glue in particular for sealing up any unwanted gaps in a hive and in preparation for winter honeybees will close up any cracks to prevent any cold draughts. We try to locate our hive in a location where the low winter sun will be able to warm the front of the hive during the day, we have a bee house that protects them from the north and west winds of winter. It’s at least 20 inches off the ground which helps protect them from predators such as skunks and coons that will raid and destroy the bees.
Some people make/buy feed for their bees to make sure they make it during the winter months. The one we hear about more than any other is a syrup of 2:1 sugar water. Our son uses winter patties and candy boards, I believe. Shawn is following in his granddad’s footsteps and his dad’s, who are/were beekeepers.
This is never an easy job and it’s another reason most of the cattle that we cull are 20 – 30 years old. Lots of farms cull at 10-15 years but we know our cattle and keep them in good shape. They are usually still fertile and raise good calves but in the times we deal with now you have to think of the money that you would not get if they died on the farm.
The other reason we might cull (sell to the nearest livestock market) a cow is curled hooves (crippling disease that is genetic), loss of calves before born in more than one year, deformities of their calves in more than one year, infertility, rogues (tear down fences), and cows that never milk well enough to keep their babes alive.
Because we only get the cattle in holding pens is to vaccinate babes, check for lice or worms and other health problems. The less you have to do this the better, the cows will stay calmer and easier to work with.
One of the cows we just sent to mark was famous number “18”. She was a beautiful cow and raised beautiful calves. But when she had a calf and you got anywhere near her, she would run you down. She didn’t want anyone or anything near her babe. She was very protective and gave us more than 20 calves over the last 18 years. She was raised on the farm and knew when the cows were called to the loading/working pens she would not come. The only other one that we had this issue with was another Angus girl “29”.
So, to deal with this problem the cows were brought in around the barn lot a week ahead of time and fed grain along with their daily ration of high-quality hay and lots of green grass to graze for a couple days. The only person allowed near them at that time was hubby. He was a real cow whisperer!! Our daughter learned pretty quickly when helping her dad to stay away from these two mommies!
I truly love hunting with my bow and didn’t have a lot of luck this year like I did last year. I needed one more deer to make Sadie’s jerky. It’s not a seasoned meat at all, it just small strips of deer meat dried to perfection and given to her almost every day as a treat.
Today I plan to start the dehydrator and get this last meat dried and stored in the freezer in quart bags just for her. I have two tenderloins, two hams and one shoulder and a few minor scraps that I will put away for her. It’s very healthy with no spices or additives. this is why I freeze it; with no additives it would mold pretty quick, and I know this for a fact!!! I’ve heard that some dog treats that come from another country can make our dogs very sick. I take every precaution when it comes to my fur baby!
Sadie is my Norwegian Elkhound and family dog. She loves to hunt squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, mice and any other creature she can play with first and then it dies. She hates snakes and so do I!!!
I never know what she’s going to bring to the front porch anytime day or night. One-night last night she brought me an opossum and the porch was covered with blood (sorry for the graphic story).
Yesterday though, she really surprised us. Keep in mind it is JANUARY!! Eddie heard her barking below the garage where he was working and didn’t go to her figuring it was a mouse or swamp rat and then he saw her give something a whiplash shake!!! She only does that to one thing!!!
Yes, it’s a gray water snake that was in the wet weather spring below the garage! Yes, it’s January and snakes aren’t supposed to be out!
Well, I guess that’s one less we’ll have scare me to death next summer when I’m going to the cellar!! Sadie amazes me at how quick she catches and kills them then walks away. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t want on the front porch one morning!!