Sipping on a glass of mead made from our own bees' honey by Brendan and I helps with looking on the bright side regarding the challenges, and adds to celebrating the triumphs! Bad news first, last week one of the Buff Orphington hens, Sophie, got killed by most likely a hawk. I had been gone for most of the day and in the late afternoon one of the roosters was out cackling away while all the other fowl were in the house early. I got him in and didn't find Sophie till the next morning, in the orchard with a bloody head and not otherwise very damaged looking. I think the roosters may have not let the hawk stay and feast so that is good. And, the chickens seem more cautious since then, often staying near the sheep and goats. The chickens are able to roam most of the property as I have made little openings in the fences for them. I can close them as needed. The funny thing about the openings is, when I first made them Seegersong squeezed through the one into the chicken yard and in the meantime, all the chickens were hanging out in the barn! I reduced the openings after a couple more times of Seegersong being in there. I could hardly believe she could fit, never actually saw her do it, and just imagining how she must have gotten down on her belly and slithered through like a goat-snake makes me laugh.
The old bad news is about one of my bee colonies. There have been a lot, I mean piles, of dead bees hauled out of there, or having crawled out and died, right at the entrance. They look like young bees, as they are still fuzzy and have intact wings. This started a few weeks ago and actually seems not so extreme now. I talked to my mentor, Karessa of Nectar bee Supply, and did a quick inspection on a warmish day, and looks like my one treatment for mites was not enough to prevent the Parasitic Mite Syndrome. The mites carry viruses etc. and the bees get sick. Well, it is not a good time of year for treating more, so I am supporting them with feeding and they will either live or they will die.
Next thing the bees have done is, this morning, when I went to feed and clean at the chicken coop, there were bees all over the chicken feed in the feeder in the coop! I have crumble and they think it is a good protein source! Live and learn. Bees normally get their protein from pollen that they make into bee bread in their combs. When they need more they go for other sources. When they can get out on warmer days in winter they forage, here sometimes on Hazelnut blossoms and other winter blossoms. My hazelnut trees are still babies. I went and got protein from Nectar Bee Supply that I can put outside the hives in a bucket with holes in the sides. I will put it out tomorrow in hopes they will like it more than the chicken food, because the chickens seemed a little afraid of going in their coop in the pouring rain today, hanging out in the barn again instead!
One more scare was Orwen limping. On Sunday Tom saw it when we went to catch him to fix his coat which is still a little big on him (till his wool grows in a little more) and was lop-sided. He held Orwen while I washed and checked and put Hoof-and-heal on. Nothing obvious, no sign of Hoof rot. I did the same the next day, and the next, he was not limping anymore so disaster averted!
Here's the long awaited for good news: Bessie is pregnant! The ultrasound shows "at least twins" and the blood test confirmed the pregnancy! (It was a little early for the ultrasound to be for sure). Who wants an adorable mini nubian goat kid come spring? Irresistible!