Thursday, April 17, 2014

Learning about Bees

A Warre Hive that Chris Built.

One of the many facets of our homestead will be bees. We love bees. They help pollinate plants, and honey bees provide you with another harvest: Honey! Not to mention we have heard that they are a very rewarding hobby. We have been studying bees and beekeeping on the internet, and it was a natural segue for me to take the certification course through our local beekeeping association when the opportunity arose.

I really enjoyed the course from the Lewis County Beekeeper's Association. They are a very knowledgeable group and they tend to have a very open mind when it comes to doing things naturally. I really appreciated that! I am a certified Apprentice Level Beekeeper now.

That being said, I am still on a journey to finding my own best practices for beekeeping, and I may end up doing things differently than they taught. I also listened to a podcast from Paul Wheaton at titled "Reverence for Bees" with Jacqueline Freeman. She lives here in Western Washington and she has her own ideas about keeping bees! I really enjoyed her style, but I haven't learned enough to share yet, so I'll post more later. For now, I will say that she says to leave the bees alone, horde your own honey incase you need it to feed your bees, and she likes Warre Hives (which we like too!). This seems to me, to be a very natural and healthy way to raise bees. Hmmm.... I'm still learning!

An Answer To One Of Life's Greatest Questions

The Question:

The answer:

One bite at a time!

Roxy the Rex had Babies!

Even though I haven't mentioned the rabbits much, they are a part of the daily routine here on the homestead. Not only are they routine, they are also an integral part of "The Plan." When I say plan I mean the overarching plan for what we want  to accomplish here on Haven Homestead.

Something that we have learned from Geoff Lawton's Online PDC is "Each element performs more than one function, and each function is provided by more than one element." This is how diversity breeds stability. (SOOO COOL!) 
You can see the nest of hair in the corner in front of the nest box.

So our rabbits fit into the master plan by providing us with compost/fertilizer and meat, not to mention they are really nice to hold! Now, they are not the only elements providing us with meat or compost or entertainment (see the post on my artsy blog about chicken's deflating...), but those are the functions that they provide. 

So in the order of providing meat, we had Barnaby (a Silver Fox) mate with Roxy (a Rex). Chris knows more about why we have those kinds of rabbits, so I'll ask him and report back, but that's another post for another day.

Little Benny-Angelina Abby Hodge. That is what Emma says his full name is.
Friday of last week, Roxy had her first litter! It was quite unexpected because we have been trying for a litter for a while. She didn't pull the fur out of her tummy to make a nest until that night (we were expecting her to give birth a few days before, and Chris thought she'd pull her fur a few days before giving birth) Then we woke up and went to check on the animals on Saturday morning and she had little babies lying in a nest of fur ON THE FLOOR OF THE CAGE! We had given her a nesting box but we think it was too small. We read that you are supposed to leave the rabbits alone for the first 24 hours after birth so we check on them on Sunday and we were sad to find that of the litter of 6, only one little kit survived, and he was hungry.
Nursing the baby on Roxy was really stressful for all parties involved, but we felt it was necessary for the first few feedings. 

We did our best to try to save him. We held Roxy still and let him nurse off of her for the first two feedings, but that was a two person job and Chris wasn't going to be able to help during the week. We read that kitten milk replacer was the best option, (DON'T use cow's milk) so we went to the feed store and bought some. We fed him 2x a day, stroked his tummy so he could defecate, and we left him alone the rest of the day. That's what the momma rabbit would do, so we did our best to replicate nature.

Unfortunately, little Benny-Angelina (Emma named it) died on Tuesday Morning in spite of our best efforts.
Emma and Benny-Angelina

It was exciting to have the litter, dissapointing when we discovered the faulty nest box, exciting to try to take care of a kit, and sad when he passed on.

We will be trying for more litters, and now we know better. Here's to better results from our next litter.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Swing of Spring: News and Updates on the Homestead

Where do I start! I have so much to catch up on, and so much to keep up with that I don't know where to begin... Here's a list and some photos:

-We Got the deed for our property (We got the deed in the mail the day that my parents came in for their visit, and I was so excited that I had them take a picture of me with it!)
-My parents and youngest brother came out for a visit over spring break (so much fun!)
-Our old flock of  hens started laying again! (another post..)
-Our bunny, Roxy the Rex had a litter on Friday night (I'll be posting more in a bit)
-We got our next flock of chickens on Saturday (we bought 15 chicks from the local feed store)
-Our garden is planted (mostly... more in another post)
-Emma started preschool (posts on this later..)
-Thanks to our little helpers, the pump house has walls, a window, a roof, a door and a floor! We just have to finish the outside and then begin working on the interior! (also another post)
-I'm officially an apprentice level beekeeper!
-Chris and I started our first Permaculture Design Course (Also a whole 'nother post... maybe a series of posts!)
-We have a nearly complete gravel driveway... just needs some more tractor work... Did I mention we have a tractor? I'm sure we did...
-Plus, Chris is still working, I am still writing children's stories and articles for my local newspaper.

I'm sure there is more but I can't think of anything else right now, so here's just a pretty photo of some of my favorite wild flowers here on the homestead. Does anyone know what they are?