Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Day in Paradise

Today started out innocent enough, like so many others but took an interesting turn by afternoon. I took the pickup to get a pallet of seed corn from Fred while Bruce was hauling the last load of corn to our ethanol plant. I brought the skid loader home to clean off the horse yard and then stir up my compost pile since it's getting that time when it needs to be spread on the gardens. I grilled a pair of outstanding Iowa pork chops for dinner and went to the farm to work on the bee hives, I just got word that the bees should be here next week. Rosanne and Sue are coming on Thursday to put them all together so I was anxious to finish the pieces. Bruce took the pickup and trailer to get another load of seed from Roger.

We had a new calf this morning and several cows are getting close so I went out to check for new babies first, and found one! #14 had a brand spanking new calf in the dirt yard and was cleaning her up. Our new baby bull, #9100 was very interested in what was going on. I decided to take a video, it was a beautiful day and I love the "MMMM, MMMM" that a cow makes when she has given birth.

Right in the middle of filming, #9100 turned his attention to me and next thing I knew, he was in my camera lens! The first time it startled me but I went back to filming, the second time he was in my back pocket, so to speak, and that was just a little too close for comfort and I ended my filming abruptly because he wouldn't leave.

He turned his attention back to the calf and started acting like he was going to bunt her. I went home to call Bruce and when I walked by the waterer, it was dry, no water! So I had great news for Bruce, "Get home to rescue a newborn calf from the little bull and there is no water at the farm!" I went back and hauled a gate out into the yard to put between the bull and calf. #9100 rubbed his head in the afterbirth, well that should make him attractive to the ladies. He didn't think much of the gate, we went back and forth to keep him away from the calf until he finally lost interest and went to lay down.

I hauled the gate back to the fence where I found it and ran to get the tractor with the hog crate on, that makes moving baby calves safe and easy. Bruce backs up to the calf and I drag it inside and there isn't a thing the mother can do but run along behind and protest. Bruce got home and we relocated #14 and her mother in the maternity pen with #41.

Two new calves today, 41 and then 14!

With the calf safely put away, I headed up to work on the hives and Bruce went to the well to see what was wrong with the water works. He tried but couldn't find the problem and assumed the pump was bad so called Marcus Lumber who said they would send someone as soon as they could line them up.

So Bruce came to the shop to help me and did I ever need it! I'm putting viewing windows in the hives so we can peep inside without ticking off the bees. Bruce has a very steady hand with the circular saw and made beautiful, straight cuts. Things were going great, two down and one to go when we saw the Marcus Lumber van go by and Bruce was off after them like a shot. 

I only had to cut one more side, that shouldn't be too hard, should it? It was, I do not have the steady hand, I got it done but I wouldn't want to enter it in a beauty contest. In the end, I had three sides with viewing windows in place, progress!!

We are making 3 full size hives and one swarm hive for Sue to put down in their garden to see if a swarm might take up residence. This is the first one I put the viewing window in and it shows. When I bought the plexi-glass I asked if there was a trick to using it. The guy told me to drill slow and don't work on it in cold weather or it can crack. You know what? He was right. But since this is the swarm hive, I decided they won't care about a small chip in the window.

I was in the middle of working on the hives when I heard a commotion in the barn and went to investigate. I found several of the fat cattle got the big door open on the back side of the barn and were having a high old time inside the barn where we had two new calves, YIKES! I ran them out in to the yard with the expectant cows and shut the mothers and babies in the barn to stay out of harms way. I wired the door shut and then had to separate the fat cattle, who were acting like college kids on spring break, from the pregnant cows so I could put them back where they belong.

Where are my herding dogs when I need them? Oh, yeah, they lack the fortitude to herd. I knew Bruce had enough to do down at the well so I kept at it until everyone was back where they belonged and I could go back to my woodworking.

I've been anxious to actually put one together to see if it really does work so I did the swarm hive and it REALLY DOES WORK!! The reason it's called a Top Bar is all the bars across the top. Each one has a little groove that we will fill with melted bees wax and the bees, in theory, will build a comb down. When it's time to harvest the honey, you carefully pull one of the bars up, shake the bees off without ticking them off, and cut off the comb into a 5 gallon bucket.

The swarm hive need entrance holes, a door to cover the entrance window and a flat roof across the bars but it's basically done. Progress!!

Meanwhile, down at the well, no progress was being made. The pump was pulled and it wasn't bad but Bruce decided to replace it anyway, it's old and out so what better time to replace it. They kept testing and there was power where they tested but anytime it was plugged in, a fuse blew. 5:00 PM, quitting time came and went and the three guys were scratching their collective heads. It was now overtime, Ye Gads! What to do? WHAT TO DO??

Finally Bruce said they should wire the pump direct and there they found the problem, a damaged spot in the wire, enough current could get through to test OK but not enough to run the pump.

So Bruce was all smiles when I stopped at the well to see how things were going, we thought we would be carrying water to cattle tonight. One good thing, everything and I mean EVERYTHING is new at the well, we shouldn't be bothered with that again. What ever it costs, and it will cost, after hours call, KaChing, KaChing! it was worth it to be able to have water for the cattle tonight. 

Life is never dull out here in God's country.


  1. I didn't know all this happened! Good thing you are farmers and not me, I'd give up and walk away from the problem. Love the video! Sister Rosanne