Bees, Birds, Bovines, Bunnies, and Badgers (Actually Marmots)
5 June 2017 – Highs in the low 80’s (30% Humidity)
It has been a fun week here on the Holler aka Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I opened the beehive this week to check on the girls and see if everything was progressing as expected. The bees have completely loaded out the four original frames with brood and began expanding to the two frames next to them. While I did not see the queen, I did see signs of her and from everything I’ve been reading the brood looked healthy and the bees seem on track. I will check the hive again in about 3 weeks to see if they need another box as they continue to grow their colony. Dave has been monitoring them with the Go-Pro.
The highlight of the weekend was the arrival of our chickens. A friend of ours raised 40 leghorn chicks that were born in April. We did not want to deal with baby chickies, a brooder, and all the work that comes with that. We just wanted some hens that will lay fresh farm eggs. We settled on 3 of these girls for now, hoping to add to the flock in the near future.
Leghorns only lay white eggs and we are hoping to find a hen that lays brown eggs (Buff Orpington or Barred Rock) or even blue eggs (Americana). It turns out purchasing hens is harder than expected. Most of the farm/feed stores sell baby chicks for about 2 weeks in the spring, but older pullets or laying hens are hard to find. You can order them on line but they charge you $100 to ship them. That makes for some expensive breakfast! We will keep looking locally for some chickens of color; we want a diverse and inclusive coop.
Meanwhile, we are trying to make the chicks feel at home. We were going to name them Biscuit, Nugget, and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, but after meeting them I loved them too much to call them by those names. Instead we named them Ginger, MaryAnn, and Mrs. Howell (aka Lovey). They probably do feel like castaways after being separated from their 37 brothers and sisters! They should start laying eggs sometime in August. Until then, they are just pets.
Although hens are hard to find, there is no shortage of other birds around here. A bluebird family has built a nest in the underside of the tractor. They must think Babe is their Mother Ship. The mother and father birds work as a team to feed and protect the nest. Dave and I went to look and we saw two baby chicks in there. Then the bright blue daddy-bird came over and flapped at us to scare us away. I’m not going to disturb them again to get a picture because I don’t want to harm them. I read that if frightened, the fledglings will try to fly off before they are capable and accidentally kill themselves. Birdbrains! They are only supposed to live at home in the nest for about 21 days so we are hoping they will fly away soon. Hopefully they aren’t millennial birds.
We also have a robin’s nest on one of the beams on the front porch. We’re not sure if there are babies in there or just eggs. The Mom is very skittish and we don’t want to disturb her.
Here are some pictures of Cowboy Dave’s calves that were all born in May. They are too cute to not include in this post. Plus, they were more photo-friendly than the birds!
I have befriended three baby bunnies. Two live behind the garage in the woodpile, and one lives under the back porch. Their mother’s either abandoned them or died and I decided I would start giving them some carrots in the morning and evening. One of the bunnies behind the garage will eat from my hand, and he has become pretty demanding. Any time I walk by the garage he comes running up to me and looks at me as if saying, “Where’s my snack?” This morning I went into the garage to grab some chicken feed and as I turned to leave he was sitting in the center of the doorway looking at me. I said I didn’t have a carrot on me, so he followed me back to the house and I went in and got him his snack. He has me trained pretty well.
BADGERS (actually marmots):
Dave and I came home from some errands the other day and were quite surprised to find a huge marmot sunning himself on our back porch. He looked like a tourist poolside at some resort. I think he was expecting us to bring him a margarita or something. He did not want to leave, but Dave eventually got him to scoot off. Of course I did not get a picture but here’s what the look like.
Normally these marmots are pretty elusive, but I guess the house is still new enough that all the wildlife think it is just a new resort in the woods. It’s fine with us, we like living in Animal Planet HDTV. Also, Dave continues to fire up the Dragon (his ceramic grill) whenever he can. He cooked us some pretty tasty beef ribs. Beef….it’s what’s for dinner!