Friday, December 9, 2011

Assorted Cold Cuts

We are in a cold spell. Our high temp was 11 degrees F today and it  is expected to  dip well below zero tonight. I had intended to wrap up my beehives before this, but it turned out we had used up all our scraps of insulation. The cold weather was incentive for me to  actually purchase a new 4 x 8 sheet of -inch foam insulation this afternoon and  tackle this little project.

I used Gorilla tape to secure the  panels to three sides of the hives; the salesman assured me Gorilla tape is much stronger than duct tape in cold weather.  It's not very pretty, but it was fast and easy and didn't upset the bees with hammers or screwdrivers.  I left the south-facing sides uncovered.  They need ventilation and it is better if the hive doesn't get too warm or the bees will be more active and use up their honey stores too fast.
Despite the cold, a few of the guard bees on the Langstroth hive came to the door to see what was going on. When I pressed my ear next to the wall I could hear a low humming in all three of the hives, indicating to me that so far the bees must be ok.
It was only  about 3:15 when I finished the beehives, but we are approaching the shortest day of the year and the sun was already quite low in the sky, so I decided to  do the chores a bit early.
First, the poultry. Every winter we have attempted to  persuade the ducks and guineas to move into the chicken coop, but they always chose to live in the barn.  This year  I didn't even try and they  decided on their own to move into the coop.  There are a lot of birds in there - about 35 hens, a few roosters,3 ducks, and 8 guineas. Oh,and a small flock of sparrows who are squatting in the rafters.  It is  really noisy at feeding time.
Fortunately, the coop is subdivided into three rooms with several levels so the birds can  claim their own space. The largest is the the room on the south with lots of windows and roosts on three walls. Most of the birds sleep here at night.
The middle room is small and enclosed - it is where I raise chicks and introduce new chickens. The door is removed now so the chickens can use it and have more space.
The third room is where the nesting buckets are (today I got 6 eggs- not bad, considering I am not extending daylight hours by using lights.)  I put chicken feed in all three rooms to avoid squabbling for food.  So far, everyone seems to be getting along well, despite the close winter quarters.
After the chickens, I feed the cows. They are creatures of routine and seemed surprised I was feeding them early.  Jitterbug was still nursing. You can see how big she is getting (but she is small compared to Lindyhop!)
The four cows are consuming more than 3 bales of hay a day, plus a bit of grain.  That's more than twice as much as last year when we only had the two pregnant cows, and it was much colder last winter.  But Lariat and LaFonda are both pregnant and still nursing their calves - I guess it it takes a lot to feed these growing calves.
It has been so cold, I am afraid our unheated high tunnel greenhouse may be done for the year.   Inside, the sun was glowing through thick frost on the stretched poly walls.
The  Tuscan kale was slumped over and wilty, as were the scallions, chard and beets. However, according to the thermometer it was 28 F under the row covers (it was 10F outside), Most of the crops in the high tunnel can take the 28F temperature,  so there is a slight chance they will recover if it doesn't get much colder tonight.  It is supposed to warm up a bit over the next few days -- it would be delightful to have garden greens for Christmas.
After our 5-inch snow a few days ago, I roof-raked the bottom edge of the solar panels. Even though it has been cold, most of the snow has now melted enough to slide off, so the panels are clear and generating electricity.
Now, back to the indoor projects.  I may be nuts, but I have decided to reupholster two side chairs and a sofa. Here is the first chair, as I started tearing off the upholstery yesterday.  I am hoping to get them done this weekend so I can clear away the mess and decorate for the holidays next week. I best get working on those chairs now...


gz said...

ever busy!

Marcia said...

And I thought this was going to be about lunch meats! Love reading your blog.

Susan said...

Just took inventory during breakfast feeding:
44 chickens + 8 guineas + 3 ducks living in coop;
13 chickens living in the barn
and 3 hardy chix in the loafing shed.