Sunday, April 30, 2023

About The Bees

I started this post almost 10 days ago and that was a long, long time ago.  I'm not even sure I can remember everything so I can get caught back up.  Sigh...

* * * * *

Okay, so we had to move Stella's bees.  I had been told they needed to be moved, but my hope had been to wait and catch a spring swarm from the hive so I could keep some of her bees around here before I had to move the hive to a site at least three miles away.  

I've always been under the impression you could move a hive three feet...or more than three miles because of the way they map the area and locate to their hive.  You can move them to a closer location, like down here, but you'd have to move them away from the area...and then move them back.  No one really wants to do that, especially not the bees.

Turns out you can move them within that range - in this case around 300 yards - but you need to do some tricky work.  You wait until evening, when the bees have all returned to the hive, and move them to their new location, but face the hive in a different direction.  We reoriented them from facing east to facing south.  

The next morning, just before you open the "front door", you pile up a bunch of brush across the opening so that they have to crawl their way out, and this is their second clue that things have changed and they need to reorient themselves.

After everyone has headed off to work, you can remove some the branches and then the rest a bit later. You also need to put a catch hive back at the previous location so that any stragglers or lost bees have a place to go and then at the end of the first day you carry them all back down to the new location, give them a stern lecture and hope they figure things out...but you repeat the catch hive at least one more day.

I think I covered the move on Instagram either in pictures or videos.  The first night after the move I brought down a pretty significant amount of bees.  The second night there were about half as many, but things the third day were starting to quiet down and I'm hopeful we didn't lose too many field working bees. It was extremely stressful and I felt very bad for the bees.  

A week after the initial move, the hive swarmed.  This is normal spring behavior.  It would have been better if they'd have been able to swarm into their normal small tree at Stella's where it would have been easy to pick them up and start a second hive, but alas, they swarmed into the top of Salt's pine tree in the yard where there was no way to get them and they eventually moved off.  

I saw them leave and followed them back to a smaller tree at the big pond and had hopes of picking them up out there, but they didn't stay there long and I didn't see where they ended up. I'm hoping they are tucked safely into a nice old hollow tree nearby and will keep in touch.  In the meantime, the remaining bees are happily working along and have resumed their normal calm demeanor.  They may make one more split before spring is over.  I hope I'll be able to catch them if they do.

Click to biggify

One way to tell if they are happy and things are working properly is if you see bees flying in with pollen to feed baby bees.  The bees flying in with yellow and orange dots on their legs are carrying pollen.  Watching pollen enter the hive was one of Stella's favorite jobs.  I'm enjoying having them outside my door now...but it was more fun to get the reports from Stella.

What follows is a random dump of pictures and IG posts.  I doubt they are in any sort of order, but I need to get this posted and move on.  I have a list of things to try to catch up on the blog including some Lamb Camp pictures, a new puzzle and a Frankie report.  How does everything get so far away from me?!?

This is the "cluster" of the first lost bees pick up - see below...I think.

Wrapping and strapping.  This all went very smoothly.

The pick up to load into the back of the truck.

Oh, and since there are no longer two Too Busy Bees, we are going to call ourselves The B (Bee) Team.

Monday, April 24, 2023

My Favorite Sheep...Of The Week

This week's Sheep of the Week is Kaala.  Kaala actually has two names, but I never can remember the second part.  Hopefully Benita will chime in.  Actually Kaala has several names.  Tim calls her Klaatu, who I think is a character from a movie, and I call her Kaala Mary, pronounced kalamari ;-).

Kaala has been here for almost five years now, retiring here from a disbursing breeding flock in Indiana.  I'm guessing that makes her at least eight now.  She's a Clun Forest (always easy to spot because of their cute little upright ears) and interestingly she's not white.  She's actually a light gray, which is very rare.  You can see that where her wool parts. 

Note: in reference to Saturday's post about hair and wool, it's easy to see where Kaala's face hair (black) turns to wool (cream colored).

I love looking back at the history of these Sheep of the Week.  I'd forgotten about her and Lila being best friends.  Lila always did such a good job helping new sheep transition in.  Kaala sleeping on her hip is a good memory.  Nice to see old Buddy in there, too.

Kaala has a big personality.  She'd have been one of the popular cheer leader types if she was a person.  She is always popular with the boys and when the girls get into scuffles, she's almost always (probably always) right up in the mix.  When the boys get into scuffles, it's frequently something she started. She's very sassy ;-).

 "I am not sassy!"


Any requests for the next Sheep of the Week?

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...

What. An. Insane. Week.  So much so that as I was sitting here trying to remember what all happened this week and finally had to go back and check my own IG feed I realized there wasn't even much on there either besides the Great Bee Move.

That in itself is probably worth at least two blog posts, but before I do that I'm going to revisit Burrnie's Sheep of the Week post to answer a great question.

You say that his wool is creamy white but his hair is yellow. What is the difference between wool and hair?

There are actually some breeds of sheep that only have hair.  They are commonly known as...wait for it..."hair sheep".  Some examples would be Barbados Black Belly, Katahdin, St. Croix and Dorper.  All sheep have at least some hair though.

Here is a closer picture of Burrnie's face.  All around his face (eyes, nose, mouth) is hair and it feels much like a short haired dog's coat.  Where things get fuzzy on his cheeks and forehead is the start of his wool and his wool covers all of the rest of his body except his legs, which turn back into hair.  

The hair on Burrnie's face and legs is the same yellow color.  While his wool looks nearly the same color here, it's actually a creamy white...when it's clean.  You can see that in the hat I made as a thank you gift from him to Robin.

Burrnie's wool is very soft and, as we talk about in regards to wool quality, very crimpy.  What that means is if you run your hand over it, it feels "fuzzy", not smooth like hair.  If you look at it under a microscope however, each fiber that looks fairly straight and just fuzzy is actually zig zaggy (special pro term ;-).

A fine wool sheep (like a Merino) can have up to 100 zig zags per inch.  A coarse wool sheep (like a Cotswold) might only have five per inch and their zig zags are more like loopy curls.  I've never counted Burrnie's zig zags or crimps per inch, but I'd guess it's...well, I should just go pull a lock out of his bag and do the math.

Here's a fun way to think about the difference between hair and wool.  You would stroke Burrnie's smooth face, but you would bury your hand into Burrnie's soft, fuzzy wool...when it grew back out ;-).

Keep the comments and questions coming!  

Monday, April 17, 2023

My Favorite Sheep...Of The Week

This week's Sheep of the Week is Burrnie :-D.  

Burrnie's story isn't anywhere near as harrowing as Renny's was, but it's not for the faint of heart either.  He came out of a horrible neglect situation and was rescued by Nistock Farm back in 2013.  He moved here in February of 2014 and has been a fun addition to the flock.

I teasingly call him a Sesame Street character because even though his wool is a creamy white, everything else about him, like his hair and skin is yellow.  Even his dark red "eye score" (a way to check for anemia from parasites - dark red is good) is tinged in yellow.  I'm sure he has some Tunis in his background.

Burrnie loves being here and loves sleeping in the the barn with all his friends.  He used to always sleep right in the middle of the stall in the middle of everyone, but I'm starting to find him sleeping on the "hill" between the inside and outside stalls lately.  I think he does that because he's starting to have some trouble getting up :-/.

If you scroll back through the blog and IG, there are quite a few pictures of Burrnie sound asleep at the night check.  He frequently doesn't even wake up as I walk through and tell everyone good night.  Even after all these years I still love to see him sleeping like that.  Everyone should feel that safe and secure.

This is as close to a baby picture as we have, taken while in quarantine at Nistock Farms.  You can see how he got his name.  It's hard to believe he was ever that small.

"I'm pretty big now and my eyes aren't nearly as bugged out. I've never gotten covered in burrs like that again, but I don't mind my name.  I'm proud of being tough enough to get through all that with the help of some nice people."

"Here is me getting carried out to the car when I moved to Kentucky.  I was much fatter by then, but Andy just scooped me up and carried me all the way up the stairs and out the door.  I don't think he could do that now haha."

There are a ton of good Burrnie stories if you scroll back through the blog.  I'd forgotten about his first cookie party and putting him out with some of the boys and Daniel causing so much trouble.  Or that he and Maisie used to be good friends.  There are a couple of references to that.  Maybe one of the best stories was Bill shearing him blindfolded.  Burrnie's always been a good sport.

Burrnie has a fairly short fleece, but it's on the finer side so a bit softer than the longwools.  I spun and knit a hat for Robin from what I could salvage from his first shear and I've used it for felting several times. Burrnie's main job here is just being a happy sheep :-).

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Spring Shine

Everything budded out early this year and right as the redbuds were getting ready to open...we got a hard freeze.  The redbud show is a highlight of spring and I was sick about probably missing it this year.  Not to worry.  The trees were smarter than me and had saved up buds to replace the damaged ones.

The bees have been enjoying them as well.  Bees of all shapes and sizes.  It seems like they all take turns finding their own "peak" time throughout the day.

Here are two favorite pictures from the last couple of days.  

And they are new puzzles :-).  


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

My Favorite Sheep...Of The Week

I started this post at a not unreasonable time yesterday evening and then got so caught up in reading through all her old baby posts that it got so late I finally had to turn the computer off and go to bed.  If you'd like to stroll back through, follow the monthly archives (on the right side of the blog) from the spring of 2015.

Liddy was one of my most fun bottle lambs.  They are all characters, but she was especially fun and super snuggly and we spent many hours during her early days taking the best lamb naps ever.  She even slept in the bed.  

I'd forgotten how hard it was to get her moved out of the house and that she didn't like to eat normal sheep food.  How much she loved to ride in the car and truck.  I will never forget her sitting out with my friend Lisa or how she walked out of the barn, across the driveway and around to the far side of the car to visit with an ailing neighbor.

"Just doing my job, ma'am."

I tried to get a prettier "portrait", but mostly Liddy was annoyed I was disturbing her nap.

I'm sure no one will be surprised to see this is not the first time Liddy's been caught yawning on the blog ;-).

Tuesday, April 4, 2023


We've had some weird potential predator sightings lately, one right up by the closed chicken coop door (!).  I picked up a cheap game camera yesterday to see if it could be of any use.  I've long loved following Colorado Farm Life's captures of not only the wildlife around them, but also their daily comings and goings, so I was pretty excited to see what I'd find here.

I need to do some thinking on how best to focus on the chicken coop area without the horses messing with it, so for last night I set it up looking out towards the back of the farm, just up from the creek.  I'd seen a coyote further out from there and figured if it was going to trek to the barn, it would likely cross this path.

I knew something has been coming around at night because Bea has been on high alert and doing a good job sounding the alarm.  Interestingly though, I've not heard any coyotes calling except way back on a neighboring farm.  I'm not sure if this is what she hears in the evenings as the time stamp was from early morning, but look!

Just strolling through, using the bridge.  I've never seen a deer here.  I've never even knowingly seen any signs of deer when I've been out walking, but of course their tracks and droppings look very much like sheep...  No coyote or fox sightings.

I'm only going to run it at night to try to save on battery usage, but for fun I left it on this morning until all the sheep had gone out.

Murphy, leading the way.

Baby B

Burrnie:  "I feel like someone is watching me."

Liddy is never up with the early risers ;-).

 Bullwinkle and Biscuit bringing up the rear.

I haven't decided where I'm going to set it tonight.  I think I can rig it up near the coop, but I'm also toying with watching the creek.  I'd like to set it up back at the ponds, too, but need to let it do it's main job for a few night first.

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 3, 2023

My Favorite Sheep...Of The Week

"I'm the what?"

You're the Sheep of the Week this week...or last week.

"Oh, okay."

Working down the list of special requests, this/last week's sheep of the week is Krista. I've always loved this sweet old ewe.  She retired over here from the ewe flock at Final Frontier Farm almost two years ago and what I've learned about her since she moved here only solidifies my love and respect.

I snapped this picture a couple of days ago.  Those two lambs of hers, Maggie and Christopher, will be two years old next month.  They are still a solid family unit.  That's Ellie back by the gate, running to catch up.  She's an adopted daughter.

When all the lambs got to be weaning age that summer, I decided to just let the ewes handle things.  Short Round kicked Ellie out of the house pretty quickly.  Krista continued to call her lambs over to nurse for a few seconds a couple times a day, long into the winter (!).

She'd probably still be letting them nurse if Pinto hadn't have shown up.  As soon as she realized an eligible bachelor had moved in, she sent those kids packing ;-D.  Well, she at least stopped letting them nurse. I don't think she'll ever actually send them packing.  

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a family.  That Krista is a mom who loves her kids and always will, given a chance.  When they got separated during shearing last month, she called to them and they answered until they were all back together.  Four legged animals are no different than twos.

Here are the oldest pictures I have of Krista. Those lambs were by one of the Nistock rams and they were super cute babies.  I've often wished Maggie and Christopher had come from one of the wool rams, but then Maggie might not have become who she is and I'd not trade her for anything.  Christopher is a good sheep, too, but I'm not sure he's destined to become a Super Hero like his sister ;-).

Remember you can always look back and find more pictures and stories from any of the sheep or other family by following their label on the right hand side of the blog.  You may have to scroll down a bit to find the labels list.

Okay, who's next?

Saturday, April 1, 2023


I took out as many pictures as I could and it's still a long one.  I left a bunch of weaving pictures in because there were so many steps for that project that I wanted to remember.  There are a lot of Archie and Possum pictures, too.  And Maisie in her puffy coat.  We can never have too any pictures of that :-).  


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