Sunday, May 30, 2010

Catch Up & Feats of Bravery

You've probably noticed I've been slacking with the blogging lately. Well believe me, it's not from lack of activity. LOTS has been happening the past nine weeks or so and unfortunately, I can't go into all the details here. Some of you guys know a little of what's been going on but for the rest of you, the gist is that Bryon is on unpaid leave for standing up for patient safety at his job and is now being retaliated against. The unpaid leave is indefinite. It started last Monday. So now we are officially down to two thirds of our income. Things are a changin' my friends.

The good news is that we have retained a lawyer and he's not going down (after 18 years of service) without a fight. THAT was the first Feat of Bravery.

Prayers and good wishes are welcome :)

Now... on to the farmy stuff...

BEES


I have bees... again.

Every time I fail with those dang bees I think, this is the last time! Out of the 6 years I've had bees I've only gotten honey three years. That's 50% success. That, my friend, is some EXPENSIVE honey!

Last year, when I realized the bees were gone; Dead I assumed but Bryon thinks they just swarmed away since we seem to have an ABUNDANCE of "wild" bees around, I stripped all the frames of comb, scraped the supers out clean, piled them against the wall of the barn and declared it over.

And then as we came to the last of our honey stores, and January approached, I began once again to have euphoric recall of keeping bees and ordered another package and queen.

Sucker.

They shipped a week ago Monday and should have been here within three days. It took seven. Mercifully they appeared healthy and robust and the queen seemed fine too. I hived them before leaving for Rolla for the day and today I went back out to make sure the queen was released. She was and they seemed intent and busy doing their little bee thing. They were drawing out the comb in center of the brood box and slurping up the sugar water I had made for them.

I'll be feeding them FOREVER since they came so late in the year and I most likely won't get any honey this year. THEN they have to make it through the winter in the HOPES of getting honey NEXT year. Jeez, bee keeping is just all about hope and optimism I guess.

I decided I wasn't going to use any chemicals on them at all and since I had stripped out all the old comb, I hope all the old residue went with it. I wasn't very consistent with the Api strips anyway. Probably that is part of the problem with my success ratio, but dang it, bees lived just fine for thousands, probably millions of years before man started KEEPING them. I think their only hope is to learn to live with us again. Survival of the fittest baby. Of course now the odds may be more stacked against them with all the pesticides, genetically modified crops and who knows WHAT else we are doing to them.

So these bees will live or die. And then I'm done with them. I did put a grease pattie on the top of their brood box which consists of Crisco, sugar and eucalyptus oil. It's suppose to help them with the tracheal mites and MAYBE the varroa mites. I've never seen a varroa mite myself, but I'm sure my bees probably had them in past. Tracheal mites are microscopic so you CAN'T see those. I also have a screened bottom board which is supposed to help them fall of the bee and out of the hive.

We'll see.

I sure hate to have to start buying honey again. Those three years of success have kept us supplied despite the relatively poor harvests. One bee hive is a tenuous thing.

My second Feat of Bravery (or possibly stupidity) was rearranging my beehive the other day in my shorts and flip flops because I didn't want to put my bee suit on. I didn't get stung, but really I was just very lucky. I'm not sure that actually counts for a Feat of Bravery.

CHICKS


I have the sweetest little baby Buckeye chicks in the universe in a brood tub in our garage. They shipped Monday and I got them Wednesday morning in a tiny, peeping box that I picked up from the post office.



The least I could order was 24 so a girl from work split the order with me and picked hers up on Thursday evening. Another girl from work is going to take my six layers when these babies are ready to go to the big house. It will be a while. I'd like to wait to give my layers away until the Buckeyes are close to laying, but I suspect we'll have a gap of a couple of months with no eggs :( Bummed about that but maybe I can score some from our neighbor.

We went in halves on an incubator with our neighbor so my plan is to keep six layers and a rooster (if I can ever figure out which one to keep!) and raise pure bred Buckeyes.

When I picked them up from the post office, my mailman asked if they were Buff Orphingtons and he was excited when I told him they were Buckeye's. He said he showed chickens and would like to see them when they are feathered out. I'm hoping he can help me decide which rooster to keep (assuming I have one!).

PIGS

We still have a sad, empty pig pen. We've been to the swap meet three times looking for a couple of little feeder pigs to no avail. I've been watching Craigslist and asking around, but we haven't come up with any yet. Who knew finding a couple of pigs would be so hard?

GARDEN




Our garden has been going nuts! Our potatoes are huge and we've been eating lettuce and salads from the garden like crazy. Our tomato plants all look great too so far. I can hardly wait!

Gary's garden has been very good so far and he's been the hero of his apartment complex with all his salad fare so far. He planted 16 cherry tomato plants and he's excited about enjoying them too.



BUDGET

Finally the last Feat of Bravery is for us to come up with a budget to try to get through this crazy time. We haven't had a BUDGET since we both started bringing in an income. We printed out all our last three months of bank statements when this all first started so we could try to reign in our spending and really looked at where our money was going.

We realized we averaged about $500 a month eating out. What the heck? We had NO idea we were spending that much. Of course I eat out almost every day out on the road, Bryon ate every day in the hospital cafeteria, Grace at every day at school (which I didn't even count) and we ate out as a family three or four times a weekend.

We also realized we were spending an average of $1500 a month at Summer Fresh, Walmart, Target on food and household misc. That is a LOT my friends.

We've cut out all our non essential items which is the latest Feat of Bravery: DirecTV, Sirrus radio, Movie rental membership are gone. We are trying to cut back on much more. We've almost cut our spending in half already. In Feb. we spent $7384, March $6280 and April was $4665 a month. That includes the mortgage and basic living stuff like utilities etc. Bryon and Grandpa have been keeping Grace and I've been taking my lunch every day.

We'll make it but I wish we had realized all this much sooner and taken advantage of our incomes to pay off our house. When things get back on track, that's what we'll do. Then we'll be free to live as we please and work for whomever we want.

Don't take your jobs for granted my friends. Spend your money wisely. We could have been doing much, much more with what we had. We are lucky that our only debt is our home and that we had a good strong savings to pull us through.

On a bright note, Bryon has gotten TONS of things done around the farm on his time off and he's gotten to spend much more time than he usually got to with Grace and his Dad. He's gotten fanatic about cleaning the floors (Thank you Jesus) and he's doing the laundry on a regular basis. I've come home several times to dinner already cooked (again big TY J man) and he's lost about 16 pounds. I, however, have gained eight. Obviously our stomachs work the opposite ways in times of stress!

All in all, life is still good in the Big Cedars, it's just a little more stressful these days.

Life sure is an adventure.

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