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Indian Creek Halloween Walk 2012

Each year, a local campground holds a Halloween Walk and, each year, we miss it.  Until this year!  Indian Creek Campground at Mark Twain Lake is just a few miles from our house so we were thrilled to make it this year.  They really go all out with light shows and decorations!  If you’re local and haven’t been, you really should!  All I had was my iPhone camera and I’m not exactly the best nighttime photographer anyway.  Okay, so I’m not the best daytime photographer, either.  Shush.

They had tons and tons of displays and each camping spot was decorated.  Way cool!

 

*Editing to add:  Duke went as a Colorful Guy in a Hat.  I took his pic, too, but it got goobered up sending from my phone to the computer and, of course, I’d already deleted it from my phone before I discovered the goobering.  *sigh*

Nellie went as an artist and Josie went as a ‘flying princess”.   No, not a fairy.  A flying princess.  Apparently, there’s a big difference between the two, according to Josie.

 

Charlie went as a pathetic-faced injured person.  He soon learned that crutches are not as fun as they look.  (I recently found those crutches at the thrift store for $3 so, next time I bugger up my ankle, I won’t have to beg crutches from friends.)

 

Isaac went as Slenderman.  Yeah, I don’t know who that is, either, but he got recognized a lot.  He even had one woman asked to get her picture taken with him — kissing him.  Heh.

(Excuse the blurry blob.  I’m told Slenderman cannot be photographed without blurry blobs.)  We ordered him a real mask but it arrived a day late so we rigged one out of some t-shirt knit fabric I had in my stash.  On Halloween, he’ll finally get to wear the real mask and those lumps on the side of his head will be gone.

Congrats, Charlie! (And beware, Bambi…)

Charlie completed his hunter’s education course and passed the test with flying colors.  Yay, Charlie!  Youth season opens in a couple of weeks so Bambi had better watch out!

 

Then again, this is the kid who gets caught in our own animal traps.  Maybe Bambi has a fighting chance…

Adventures in Honey Extraction

Oy.  What a day…

Remember our recent attempt at harvesting the honey supers from the hives?  I think I forgot to mention that a certain someone *cough*Steve*cough* had, um, misplaced the bee brush and hive tool the time before that.  So, even if the honey had been capped, we’d have had a rather difficult time getting the frames out.  We did try, with a butter knife and a goose (or turkey?) feather.  The feather wasn’t so bad but the butter knife just wasn’t doing the trick.

And did I tell you that, at the last MVBA meeting, the club bought an extractor to loan out to those of us without one?  And that I got to bring it home with me that night?

This week, I was reading Chris’ blog, Show Me The Honey, and he mentioned that the bees don’t always cap the honey in the fall.  Hrm.  So I was determined to get back out there today and just pull those suckers while we had one or two last good days before fall turns too cold.

Um, wait.  What about the still-missing hive tool and bee brush?

Off we went to Dadant — Josie, Charlie, and me.  (And so much for much in the way of school done today…)

$46 later (plus $30 in gas)…

I bought two each of the hive tools and brushes — and hid one set for the next time someone *cough*Steve*cough* loses them.  I also bought a couple of filters while I was at it — a 600 and 400, per the bee dude’s advice.  Those white things just sit on top of a five-gallon bucket and do their thing, easy peasy.

Once we got home, Charlie and I suited up and headed to the hives.  (Okay, so maybe we spent a half hour trying to get the @#*&^#% smoker going first but we’re not going to talk about that.)  We’d decided that, unless we saw some massive improvement in the Hans Hubermann hive, we’d combine it with one of the other two.  Sure enough, it was still just… so-so.  A beautifully perfect bottom brood box but the second one was next to nothing.

We pulled a half dozen decent frames off of the yard-swarm hive but there wasn’t much in the Fred McMurray hive super.  Phhbbt.  We managed to get few odds & ends of wax & bits of honey to add to the pile, at least.  Then we took five frames, bees & all, out of the Hans Hubermann brood box and added it to the top of Fred McMurray and did the same with the remaining five frames, adding them to the top of the yard-swarm hive.  (We layered some newspaper, poked a couple of slits, and sprayed with sugar water, between the two sets of bees.  They’ll gradually eat through the newspaper and, by that time, will be used to each other and combine nicely into one.  Or so the people who know these things say.)

Of course, halfway through this process, the @^%!(# smoker went out.  All was peachy keen until I started moving the frames from Hans Hubermann.  Man, were they ever cheesed off.  Charlie and I had to walk away to catch our breath.  Whew.  Charlie only got stung once, lightly on the ankle.  I got hit four times on the hands.  Stupid smoker.  I’m sure the cheesed off bees had nothing to do with the fact that, by then, my gloves were coated in honey and propolis, making me stick to everything in Creation, and killing bees left & right like some big, clumsy buffoon.  We’ll just blame the smoker because it’s an easy scapegoat.  And I hate it.

But looky!  We got some honey to extract and some extra wax!  Definitely not a record breaker but, hey, we’ll take what we can get.

We took apart the extractor to wash it out and Steve did a little Mr. Fix It (it was a scratch & dent clearance buy), and…  Boy, what a pain in the butt that thing is to get put together.  There’s a little doohickey on the inside that has to seat just right for the inner part.  I had to go call Steve in to help because, by then, he was back outside getting ready to butcher some ducks.  He got nearly as cheesed off as the bees before he finally got it seated correctly.

Nah, he didn’t really beat it with a hammer.  He just really, really wanted to.

The kids and I managed to get the frames extracted, after “forking” the cappings off.  Oh what a mess.  I was getting so tired, I FUBARed the frames and ended up with  a pile of wax chunks to crush & strain tomorrow.  One had foundation but the others were all foundationless.  I had planned on saving them back so the bees would have pre-built come for next year but I’m sure they’ll live without it.  Besides, that means more wax for me, right?  ;-)

I’ve got the extracted filtering into a bucket overnight and will deal with the other sticky comb mess chunks tomorrow.  I’m pooped for today.

The poor, neglected orchard. (Neo-Hippies, unite!)

Waaaay back in later winter, I began desodding around the fruit trees, following up with a nice, thick layer of wood chips for mulch.  Then I busted my ankle and the farmer’s market came along and that was the end of my shoveling career for the spring & summer.  And the drought.  Oh, the drought.  Those poor trees had to compete with all of that grass for nonexistent water.

Finally, over the past few days, Cody & I have begun the desodding & mulching again.

After completely desodding to a 5-6′ radius, we put on a thick layer of fresh wood chips, courtesy of our electric company.

These wood chips are perfect for I’m doing, ala The Holistic Orchard.  Everyone has always told me that you cannot grow fruit without at least some spraying of chemical soup.  I’ve never done it but I did break down this spring and buy a bottle of spray… but could not bring myself to use it.  Then I found The Holistic Orchard (see short video from the author here) and got confirmation in what I’d already been working towards.  Ha ha!  Take that, bottle of chemical goo!

Finally, as we clean out the goat shed now & then. we dump a wheelbarrow full of soiled bedding to one side of the tree.  That side will being to break down into one that that favors certain soil critters while the plain chipped side will favor others.  As we work our way around the orchard, we’ll eventually get to dumping fresh soiled bedding on the opposite sides of the previously strawed trees.  By then, the already-strawed sides will have broken down somewhat and be favoring yet other critters while the fresh bedding  starts its thing again.  And so on, with a few other random things thrown in now & then.

The above tree was one I had started desodding early this year, pre-ankle bust, so it’s a smaller circle.  We’ll get around to enlarging the few smaller desods after we finish the completely neglected ones.

The mulching method I’m using is only part of the equation — it’s just the portion I’m working on right now.  I’m sure many will snicker at my attempt to keep everything spray-free but I truly believe it can be done.  Just as many snickered at my open-air poultry house but we went ahead with it.  It’s worked out beautifully. And my garden with the lack of synthetic mulch, fertilizers, and various ‘cides.  Once I get the soil back to health, the plants will be healthy, happy things, able to fully defend themselves against nature’s challenges.  And bluebirds & various forest critters will sing in beautiful three-part harmony.  And unicorns will glide over rainbows.  Groovy.

So keep the faith fellow neo-hippies!  Our nutty ways may one day rule the world.  ;-)

Hay shortage, chick penthouse, and the funky chicken.

Due to the drought, we had to scramble to find hay to find hay for the goats’ winter stash.  Big, round bales would have been easier to find but the small square bales are just so much easier for us to deal with.  Luckily, a friend knew someone with some small-bale alfalfa left so we jumped on it.  Now our back room addition has become our hay barn for 20 bales of alfalfa.

Then a fella who lives down the road from us offered to hay our field, the couple of acres on the other side of the treeline.  It was cornfield for years and we’ve just let it do its own thing since we bought the place so it was all weeds.  Still, it’ll be handy for extra roughage (“weeds” have all sorts of minerals and other goodies in them) as well as free bedding.  71 bales later….  The back room addition is now full as can be and we’ve stacked the rest in the goat shed, figuring we’ll call it “insulation”.  ;-)

After our massive poultry losses this summer and me sick to death of chick cages on my dining room table, Steve built an amazing double-roomed chick penthouse — in the chicken house.  Woot!  We hatched batch after batch of the suckers this summer.  They’d spend their first few days in a huge aquarium — the Chiquarium — and then move out to one side of the penthouse.  Once they’re big enough, the move down to the ground floor of the chicken house and a new batch of chicks moves into the empty side of the Penthouse.  Very nice system!

This year’s hatches gave us some funky looking chickens!  Most of them are pretty good looking.  This one following looks like an owl in person.  We have another that looks sort of like an eagle.  This has been the year of the funky chicken.

Great River Honor Flight, October 2, 2012

We did another Great River Honor Flight last night and, this time, our entire Boy Scout troop joined in.  Very cool!

A few of us piled in my van and headed down to meet the Patriot Guard for the escort from Bowling Green to Hannibal.  Here’s that part of our group with Vern & Hollie.

Vern & Hollie are the folks who organize the Patriot Guard escorts for the Great River Honor Flights.  As I posted on Facebook this morning, they’re not only rock stars, they’re also cheap!

The other part of the troop was waiting in Hannibal for the arrival, helping to pass out American flags to the audience. And, apparently, be a backdrop for the local news station’s report.

 

WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

See the video and news article here if it’s not loading right here on the blog. 

Once the veterans arrived, the troop was reunited and lined up to welcome and honor them.

A moment to allow Holie & me to take a nice photo in front of the bus…

and then time to help put away the flags.  (This photo kind of reminds me of the Iwo Jima flag raising photo.  Heh.)

A little downtime afterwards and we all headed home.  (Duke’s not yet old enough to be a Boy Scout so, for that night, he was an honorary one.  ;-)  He’ll meet the age requirement this coming summer.)

(FYI: I can’t seem to get any photos of the vets because of the crowds. I don’t want to cut in front of their awaiting families just to take pictures. Just wanted to explain that so you don’t think I’m ignoring the whole reason for the Honor Flights!)

The newest goat + honey harvesting… almost.

Have you met our newest goat yet?

She’s a year-and-a-half full Saanen named Cotton.  She is the sweetest goat ever!  A week or so before we bought her, her previous owner had discovered an abcess and drained it.  It appeared to be healing and we brought her home.  A day or so later, boom!  Mastitis in a nasty way.  Since then, we’ve been giving her penicillin injections twice daily, along with various supporting herbs and massages with a healing salve.  I’ve made sure she has all of the supplements she needs, such as vitamin C, lime, minerals, et,c free choice.  She really tore into those minerals when she first saw them!  I’ve also just received an order of COWP (copper oxide wire particles) that we’ll get into all of the goats this week.

It’s been about a week now and she’s doing so much better.  Her swelling and sensitivity has gone to near nothing, although her bag is still knotty and the drainage wound to her abcess has yet to heal completely.  She’s back to eating like a pig, her eyes are bright, and her coat has improved — dramatically.  In only a week.  Very cool stuff.  We’ll let her finish drying up (she was being milked up until a week or so before we bought her) so she has time to fully heal & recover, fatten up a bit, and build back her reserves for kidding.  She’s pregnant and due in late January.  Yay!  She was bred to a French Alpine buck so should throw some nice babies.

All of the goats, in addition to the normal feed, hay, browse, and free-choice supplements, are now getting wormed weekly with an herbal formula from Molly’s Herbals/FiasCo Farms.  Of course, you all know I like to do things myself so I’ve been doing a buttload of reading on the subject, trying to figure out a recipe of my own.  I’ve got some good ideas and will tweak as I go along.  I’m always open to learning more so please give me a holler if you have any experience and/or ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Random sparkly velveteen holiday dressed butt in a bucket interlude:

The bees.  Oy.  Out of the four hives we had left, one more died.  It was from that huge cutout we did this spring.  The other three hives are still alive & kicking.  Hans Huberman, the only one that stayed from this spring’s purchased packages, is doing okay but still working on filling the second hive body.  We’ll see if they make it through the winter.  We may end up combining them with one of the other two hives but I dunno…  The swarm capture Charlie & I got from our own yard this spring is still dong well.  Very well — the best out of all of our hives.  We’ll be able to harvest a full-ish super really soon.  (A super full of honey is usually about 60 pounds.)  Not all of the honey was capped so we’re going to leave it for another couple of weeks.  (Bees will “cap” the cells filled with honey when it gets to the proper moisture content for storage.)  Fred McMurray, the remaining hive from our first year in bees, has two nice hive bodies but the super is… meh.  We’ll get some honey out of it but not a bunch.

We didn’t get to check the hives as well as we wanted.  Charlie & I headed out earlier today, thinking we’d be harvesting honey.  Ha.  Dang bees need to hurry that capping up.  But, even so, we didn’t get to do much thorough digging.  Last check of the hives was Steve and he didn’t return the bee brush & hive tool where they go.  They’re now officially lost.  Hrmph.  We tried using a butter knife and a big feather.  It kind of worked.  A little.  FYI: Cheap butter knives aren’t a match for propolised (propolized?) hives.  Ouch, said the butter knife.

I’m an artist.

Happy birthday to Isaac and Charlie! (And how they spent 9/11.)

Today, Isaac turns 16 and Charlie turns 12.  Can you believe it??  Good grief.  Isaac is already taller than me and Charlie’s not far behind — but don’t tell them that I admitted that.  We’ll be having a low-key kind of day today but, tomorrow, Grandma Kaye will arrive with birthday “cakes” for them both.  We’ll do up some festivities then.

Honor Flight.  Have you heard of this?  How about the Patriot Guard?  Well, Hollie & Vern, friends of mine, are both very involved and invited the boys to don their Boy Scout uniforms and join them for the next Great River Honor Flight on 9/11.  We met at the “staging area” in New London, Missouri at 8:30 pm and, wow, what a sight!  The Patriot Guard was there — 200 motorcycles all gathered, a sea of leather and chrome!  I wish I’d gotten some good photos but I forgot my camera.  Oh, the shame!  I’ll definitely remember to grab it next time.

Charlie and Isaac got to meet the Perry Fire Department and climb on their truck.  Those guys were very cool!  They took the boys on the truck and hooked them up to Inspector Gadget-like seat/oxygen mask contraptions.  (Absolutely horrible attempt at a nighttime iPhone photo below.)

Then the fellas got introduced to the New London Fire Department.  (Fortunately for me, Hollie is much smarter than I am and actually remembered her camera.  Thanks for taking some pics for me, Hollie!)

And then they got roped into working.  The boys were supposed to help out with selling sandwiches, drinks, etc with the NLFD but they’re so stinking shy that they ended up just standing there oh-so-politely.  Maybe they were taking a cue from me and “supervising”.  Yeah, that’s it.  They looked good, though!  :-)

‘Round about 9:30 p.m., Vern climbed up on a table and gave an overview of the game plan.  Several area veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials, at no expense to the vets, and were on their way back.  A bus picks them up from the airport in St. Louis and drives them through New London, Hannibal, and finally Quincy where they are greeted home by family & friends.  And 200 crazy wonderful bikers.  And two Boy Scouts.

Anyway, about 10:00 p.m., Vern gives the “Saddle up!” and the sea of leather & chrome begin feeding into a river of leather & chrome making it’s way to the highway.  As the bus passes, Vern vrooms out in front of it to slow its speed so that all of the bikes & a few of us in cars can pass the bus and lead the procession.  Cop cars, front & rear, clear intersections and make a safe passage for us to blow through every stoplight on the way.  I felt like such a criminal!  60 mph was to the be speed at which we’d travel, Vern said.  I think someone lied to Vern because I was going 70 and having trouble keeping up at times.  Needless to say, the trip to Quincy didn’t take terribly long.

We pulled into the college where the vets’ families awaited, passed through the parking lot and crowd, and found a parking spot.  We found Hollie who ushered the boys to the front of the crowd to wait near the red carpet and help greet the vets.  As each vet disembarked the bus, they were introduced:  name, branch of service, and war.  Lots of Army, Navy, and Air Force but no Marines that I heard.  All WWII and Korea.  A beautiful round of applause and occasional hoot & holler for each vet and they were released to their families.  And gobs of huge smiles!

Go to this link to read a short article and see a news video of this Honor Flight.  (If you look closely, you can see the boys as the camera pans the crowd.)  Good stuff.

It was amazing to witness and an honor to be even a tiny part of it.  Both boys understood the significance of the event and want to return to do more.  I think that’s pretty darned cool.

Thank you so much, Vern & Hollie and all of the Patriot Guard, for having us!!!

The Goat Crew, Fall 2012

We picked up three more does a week or two back to complete our (re-)starter herd.  Here’s the as-yet unbred herd as we head into fall.  All will be bred later this fall.

This is Susie, one of the new does.  She’s definitely not a snuggler but she’s trained to the milk stand and a proven milker & mother a couple of times already.

This is one of Susie’s daughters, Maisy, born in December of 2010.  She has kidded once so far and is also trained to the milk stand.  She’s also a bossy hog so I’m trying to teach her some patience.

This is Missy, another daughter of Susie’s, born in December 2011.  She’ll be a first freshener come spring.

And we have the younger three you’ve already seen, Gidget (born April 2012) and ShowTime (born March 2012), both doelings.

And Patrick, the human-crazy wether, born March 2012.

This weekend, we set up individual feeding stations.  It’s going to take some time (and patience!) to train them to the system.

Once everyone grows accustomed to the routine, it will not only ensure that the younger goats get their fair share of feed, it will also allow us to observe & interact with them individually even when not on the milk stand daily and dole out individual doses of things, such as herbal wormers, etc.  (Best laid plans, right?)

So that’s the line up for this fall. Only ShowTime, Gidget, and Patrick are registered, although all are Kinders.  The papered gals will be the basis of our herd through the years while the unpapered gals will just serve as backyard milkers.  We’ll be taking the five gals on a ride for hot dates probably in October or November and, with any luck, they’ll kid in the spring.  I can’t wait for baby goats again!  And fresh milk!

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