Spring is definitely here. We have ducks, geese, a guinea, and chickens all broody. I think we should have a hatch-a-thon within the next week or so. It has been exciting around here lately with all the new additions. We recently acquired 3 tiny call ducks whom Katy named Donald, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon, a set of twin Nigerian Dwarf kids named Chip and Dale, a beautiful new Black Copper Maran rooster named Cooper, a new farm kitty named Smokey, and of course the bees. If Katy had her way, I think every bee would have a name as well. She insists that every single critter we have needs a name. 

Katy has tilled up our garden all by herself, and it is starting to be planted, slowly but surely. We have been busy planting some additional flowers to feed the bees too. We have one apple tree, and a fig tree in our orchard so far, and if all goes well, they will have some additional companion trees added this weekend.

The bees are doing wonderfully. They have been hard at work building some beautiful pure white comb. One of my highlights every day after work is to go sit by the hive and just watch the bees coming and going. Then I peek in the window of the hive to watch them working on the inside. Katy and I are totally in awe of this newest endeavor. We both love going to the beekeeping meetings to learn about the bees and meet new people. We are both making some wonderful new friends in the process.

With upwards of 80 critters (not including the bees) running around the farm, the work is never ending, but I would rather stay home to do this any day if I could, than to have to go to work each day in Charlotte.
Bud picked up the bees today. Katy and I installed the package into the hive. Considering we didn't know what we were doing, it went fairly well. The only mishap, other than a few squished bees, was the fact that I accidentally dropped the queen cage into the box. I didn't realize I was supposed to take the feeder out before I pulled on the tab holding the queen cage in. At least I know now for future reference what the tab was for.  I have to say this was probably the coolest thing I have ever done in my life though. Katy said it was "absolutely fantastic." We are both completely hooked. You could feel the vibration of the bees through the gloves as they were buzzing. There was a humming in the air. When they say you can pour the bees right into the hive, they aren't kidding. It is hard to direct 12,000 bees into the areas you would like them to go though. I wish it wouldn't have gotten dark, because it was just fascinating to watch them. They were covering our hands, tools, and of course, the hive. I was nervous at first because I didn't know what to expect. It was just so cool to have them crawling on us and my nervousness went away very quickly once I realized how calm they were. We spent about 45 minutes with them, and neither of us got stung. Poor Bud got stung on the top of his ear, and on his head when he went to pick the bees up from the farm that we got them from though. The poor guy. He decided to watch from a distance while Katy and I worked. He said there was no way he was going to get stung again. I will post some pictures under the bee tab within a couple of days so everyone can see our little adventure from today.
Well, after talking to the neighbor that we buy our hay from, I have decided to try round bales this year. He has some weedy second cutting hay that didn't turn out very well this year, so I told him I would see how the goats like it. That means I get to play with some tools this weekend to build a "hay port." It will be like a car port, except it will be housing a round bale of hay and have enough of an overhang that the goats can eat without getting wet when it rains. I have already designed it up in my head, and then transferred my idea to paper. I will be cleaning the coops in the morning, and then heading to Lowe's to go lumber shopping, and Tractor Supply for the cattle panels for my idea to keep the bale in a ball. The last thing I need those little buggers to do is spread the bale throughout their whole pasture within the first day or two. We already have enough steel roofing material to cover the roof. It should be alot of fun with all the "help" I am going to get from the goats. When we built their play cottage, Oreo kept stealing the screws, then they chewed the strap off the tape measure and chewed on the impact driver. It is always an adventure trying to build with their help. Something that normally should take only a few minutes can take a half hour with their help. If you bend over to pick something up, you may end up wearing a goat on your back as well. Ask me how I know. LOL I will post pictures of my helpers and my progress. I might just have to turn them loose into the woods tomorrow to let them browse and keep them out of my hair. (Yes, they like chewing on hair too, silly goats.)
One of the guys I work with, John, brought a puppy to work on Friday that his wife was fostering. I fell in love instantly, but didn't want to get attached because my coworker has been wanting a second dog. Besides that, I thought for sure Bud would say no to another dog. I brought the subject up, but didn't push by asking if we could adopt him. Over the weekend, my coworker's husband said no to getting another dog. He brought the puppy to work again on Monday because our branch manager wanted to see it. The puppy was in the lab with us all afternoon, and again, I tried not to fall in love with him. He kept coming up and laying his head on my leg and I was trying hard not to give in to the temptation of giving him some loving. I took a picture of the puppy sleeping and texted it to Bud. Well, later on, someone asked how old he was. I looked in his mouth to see his teeth, then I picked him up. It was all over then, I was hooked. John insisted that he bring the puppy to my house that night so Bud could see him. I told him that Bud would probably say no. John said that he wanted the puppy to go to a good home, and he knew that we would take wonderful care of it. I had heated leftovers and everytime I would go into the living room to give something to Bud, he was looking at the puppy picture I texted him. John got here, and we all went outside. I had suggested the name that I thought of on the way home from work, and Bud said, "No, I like Tucker." I knew it was all over then, he was hooked.  The puppy and Maggie played together, we introduced him to the goats, and then we let them run around. He really seemed to have a blast making new friends with the other animals and running around. I filled out the application and submitted it today. Now the interminable wait is on. The suspense is already killing me. We are hoping for good news. Please cross your fingers for us. We all have ours crossed. I think Maggie has her paws crossed too.
It has been way too long since I updated our progress. I went to the Lancaster County Beekeepers Association meeting tonight. I learned some more about bees and met some very nice people. I can't wait until the October meeting because they are discussing Top Bar hives. That is the type we are going to be using, and I am excited to finally get to learn some information in person instead of reading everything on paper or on the internet.

The second generation Silk Tops have hatched and are growing up way too fast. They are fun to watch running around because they look like little cotton balls. Doc is a really good Daddy and was right in their with the Momma teaching the babies how to eat. He actually sits on them at night to keep them warm while Momma goes up on the perch.

We also had two Blue Light Brown Dutch Bantams hatch out babies on the same day last week. They are sooo tiny. Check out the for sale page if you want any babies. LOL

I have been noticing a hint of color on a few trees over the last week or so, fall is around the corner. I won't miss the hot weather, but I am also not looking forward to the frozen waterers when winter comes. I am looking forward to the cooler temperatures though so I can finish fencing in the back pasture. I would love to be able to rotate the goats to the back pasture on the weekends so they can munch on all the browse in the woods. They will be in heaven when I get that project finished. That is the last project that I have planned, I just hope the deer will still be able to get into the pasture at night once I replace the barbed wire with field fencing. We enjoy watching them eat and frolic under the light that is back there.
Well, the mosquitos have been out with a vengeance the last couple of days.  Last night I picked a heaping ice cream pail of cherry and grape tomatoes. I think that for ever tomato I picked, I ended up with 2 mosquito bites. They were literally swarming and running right into me. I have bites all over my arms, neck, and back. Since I avoid chemicals as much as possible, especially around food, I just had to grin and bear it. I at least did my good deed for the night and donated blood. Too bad it wasn't for a more purposeful reason. This morning they were equally bad, and apparently they were attached to my shirt when I came in from my animal chores. I got bit twice while brushing my teeth. Needless to say, they are both now feeding the septic system.  I hope that they will go back into hiding again with this heat wave that is building. I may not mind the heat as much if it means less mosquitos. Well, time to relax for the evening. Good Night!
    Well, this morning I was doing a thorough cleaning of the goat house with LOTS of help. I had just finished bringing the last wheelbarrow load out, when a car slowed down on the road. I didn't recognize the man, so I figured he was just turning around in our driveway since that happens alot. He proceeded to park and came up to the gate. He was very well dressed in his Sunday best. He asked if I was missing any goats. I looked behind me since the goats had been running around the yard following me and weren't in their pen. I saw all four of them, so I said no. He said he was the trustee for his church and that he had gotten a call from a church member saying there were some goats running around in the cemetary next to the church. He asked if I could come catch them. I said I would try, since Bud knows a guy that lives a few doors down from the church. I figured they might be his goats. I stuck my large dog crate, a collar, and a bunch of horse treats in the truck. I told Katy to get in, and went to the church a couple of miles away. 

     When we got there, he motioned for us to pull my truck down behind the church. We saw the goats right away, and they ran into the woods as soon as they saw my truck. There were five of them. Katy and I proceeded into the woods to follow the goats. How they could run through the green briar so fast was beyond me. I have several deep scratches to prove how nasty the stuff is. We followed them into someone's yard and they were all standing next to a gate. It was quite apparent that they lived there. I went up to the front door to ask if they had goats. Finally a lady answered the door holding her baby. She said they did have goats, and that she would send her son out to round them up. I said that we could help him. Katy and I tried to approach them, but they were not very tame. They jumped up on a car and jumped right over the fence, of course not into the pasture that I think they were supposed to be in. We waited and waited, but the son never came out. We decided to go back through the woods to the church. The man had come back out as soon as he saw us getting into my truck. I told him that we weren't successful rounding up the goats, but that they belonged to the people that lived through the woods behind the church. Since we went through the woods, I don't know which road the people lived on. It was one of two roads. He was going to try find that house after church and talk to the people about keeping their goats penned up. He wasn't so amused that they were eating the flowers and plants at the graves in the cemetary. He thanked us for trying, and we went on our way. 

    That is the second time someone has come over and asked about stray goats within the last couple of months. I guess we are going to be known as the goat rescuers around here. When it comes to animals, I will do as much as I can to help out. They are just an important part of my life.
I have had many friends that have been commenting that I needed to keep a diary or write a blog of all of our happenings on our little farm. I have decided that with today being a rainy day that it would be as good a time as any to start. Please bear with me on this since I have never done something like this before. There is a lot to learn, but it should be a fun way to share all the happy, sad, fun, scary, and crazy experiences that we encounter. Please feel free to check back often as I figure out how to post pictures and change things around on here. Welcome to a glimpse into our fun little world.