Friday, August 16, 2013

Busy bees

A few weeks ago we did a check up on the bees.  They seemed quite active to me, maybe a little different than usual. It's hard to say how you can recognize bee behavior, especially when I don't stick my head in to see what they're up to all that often.
But somehow, things seemed a big different.  We had two boxes on at that point. I'm so bad with all this bee terminology, I don't even know what they're called (which I'm sure would be really helpful). In any case, there were two boxes, and a third on that top that had some bee food. That was to help them get through our super cool spring and the beginning of summer. 
Jeremy took that box off and then we started looking into the top box with frames. Holy cow. The bees had been REALLY busy! Each of the individual frames of honey/way/etc probably weighed 4-5 pounds a piece! It was intense!
Anyway, we swapped some things around and then put on a third box. This is good news for us and the bees. Last year our bees never got far enough along for a third box. Jeremy is going to check them again this weekend and see if it's time to put a super on. (I do know that word! Uh... not exactly sure what that means. I DID take a long class about all this and read a lot, but I've forgotten!)
A few days after adding the third box, the bees were doing this: 

I'm hoping they were just partying. A beekeeper friend says it's possible this was robber bees stealing our honey! But we're not sure yet if anything has gone wrong. They're not doing this anymore and there continues to be bees coming and going from the hive. So we'll see!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Remodel our house!? Finally finish the bathroom; the gaping hole in the floor!? Finally finish the front hall, the railing, repair the plaster? Do the big giant kitchen remodel!?!?


No, we are remodeling the chicken coop. You heard me. The chicken coop.  Our needs must wait, the chickens come first around here.

Well, I guess that's not entirely true, but a chicken coop remodel is much more affordable/manageable at this point in time. I've been pretty excited about this remodel for at least a year, maybe two. At least since our two dozen birds got big and their house wasn't big enough. The annex was meant to fix this, but it hasn't been convenient to use, so took on a temporary status. You know: 'permanent temporary.'

Just as a reminder, here is what we've got now:

(The annex to the right.)

Jeremy has been dreading this project for as long as I've been excited about it (of course).  But I finally talked him into breaking it down into small manageable steps that take no more than a couple hours each.  We're going to attack the coop one wall at a time, one piece at a time, and hopefully finish it by mid-September!

The first step was to replace the old Dutch door. Having your human door swing into the coop is bad. A big no-no. Take it from us: don't do it!  We never would have done it that way, but the whole coop was designed for a completely different location where the door couldn't swing out. Of course then we moved to a new house and it didn't matter - but the coop was already done! So we've been dealing with this stupid door ever since. One problem is that the chickens kick piles of straw and stuff up around the door until you can't open it anymore. Luckily the top opens independently so you can open that and use a shovel to try to dig out the door. Another problem is that when you go in you have to open the door wide enough to get in and get past the door, which often leads to sneaky little chickens escaping! Also, when you're trying to remove anything from the coop - the food bin, a bucket of poopy straw for the compost, a sick chicken - it's hard to hold onto that thing and get the door open at the same time, without letting half a dozen chickens escape at the same time!

We dug a regular house door out of the garage and cut it down. The glass was broken out at some point so we screwed on an old storm window. A couple coats of paint was all this baby needed.

So - door now opens out. And isn't it a fabulous door!?

Next up: the east wall.