Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

Explore the blog, Then Check out our website
Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bee Hive Spring Preparation


Here at Chicken Scratch Poultry we're fairly new to the world of bees and all they have to offer.  I will never claim to know what I'm doing when it comes to bees because I'm learning as I go along.  I welcome any and all information for you more experienced bee keepers at anytime.
We are quickly coming up on our third spring with our hives.  If you have been fallowing along on the blog you might remember last spring I had two hives and they both swarmed, I was able to catch both swarms and now have four hives.  My goal this spring is to keep my four hives from swarming.  In preparation for that we are opening our boxes early to take a look around and make sure the bees have plenty of room for expansion.  I recently talked with a very knowledgeable bee keeper
named Mary Celley, she has a business called the Bee Charmer, she gave me some very good advice on keeping the bees from swarming.  What we're doing today in all reality probably needed to be done last fall.  
We are experiencing a warmer than usual February in our area.  Last week we had temps in the 60's and knew that it was a good time to open the boxes and take a look around.  It needs to be at least 40 degrees to open your boxes.
What we immediately seen in our bottom brood box is that the bees had about four empty frames that they have never used.  There was no comb on any of those four frames.  So we took those empty frames and moved those up into the next super and moved some full honey frames down. We staggered the brood frames with honey
frames and just mixed them up a bit.
All four hives looked the same in the brood box with about three to four frames never being touched.  In the box to your left we moved the untouched frames to the middle and brood frames to the outside.
Since we've had such a mild winter the bees have used very little of their food storage but we still have  February to make it through also.  They look in good shape.





The next really important move that we made was to take the bottom brood box off of the stand, put the full honey super box on the stand as the bottom box and stacked the bottom brood box on top.  So we swapped the boxes around.  Hope that makes since.  It's important to never keep a full box of honey on top of your bees.  It tells them they are out of space.  This has finally made since to me this year and I'll try to explain what I'm talking about.  This has been very confusing to me all along and I think I've finally got it!

I was always of the assumption that once the bees filled a box with honey you would just stack another box on top of that and they would move on up, past the full box into the empty one and fill it up.  WRONG!  Once the box is full of honey the bees say we are out of space lets move and so they swarm.
So, once the bees have a box full of honey capped, take that box, put another empty box on, if you aren't ready to process that honey you can stack it on top of the empty box.  It's a good idea to go ahead and take off the full box, you can even freeze it at that time if your not ready to work it.
Thank you Mary for your good advise, I sure wish I would have known this last fall so I could have made the box swap at that time.  Hopefully I've done them some good.  There is a good chance that since they had the full box of honey on top of them last fall and all winter, they might have all ready made the decision to swarm and nothing at this point can change their little minds.
Well That's the Buzzzz on Bees.
Hope this is helpful!
Angie

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Farm Photos

Here's some of this weeks photos, hope you enjoy!


















Have a Great Day!
Angie

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Farm Happenings - Trading Chickens For Pigs


About three weeks ago a very nice lady named Angie came to pick up her chickens that she had purchased. While she was here she told us how she would be picking up to young piglets on here way home.  We expressed to her how we would also like to get a couple of pigs to raise up and butcher.  We asked if she would check and see if the people would have a couple more pigs and to let us know.  She got back with me later that evening, she said she picked up the pigs and when she brought them home decided she really didn't need anymore pigs, she already had a couple of pigs and was really not going to have the freezer space for that many.  She asked us if we would like to purchase the pigs.  We said sure, would you like us to pay in cash or chickens?  She said it would be nice to be paid in chickens, so the next day we picked up the pigs and gave three hens for two pigs, what a deal!


The little pigs weigh about 40 pounds each, they had been wormed, tails docked, teeth clipped and castrated so we didn't have that to deal with, thank goodness!
We brought them home in a medium sized dog crate.  They spent the night in a nice sized wooden box in the Morton building until we could get them situated in their own pen the following day.



We've had pigs a couple of times in the past and still had an old pen set up where we raised them. The pen is a bit grown up with weeds and brush but the pigs will have that cleaned up and knocked down in no time.
They took a short 4 wheeler ride out to the pen, I'm sure they are wondering what the heck is happening!



Larry got them into the pen and they quickly went to excavating dirt.  Pigs make good rototillers and garbage disposals.
We produce a lot of eggs here at the poultry farm.  There are times when some eggs are to muddy, or poop covered to hatch or eat ourselves and this will be great for the pigs.  Next month we will crank up the incubators and start hatching again.  We hatch chicks every Monday night and we always have some eggs that don't form and we throw away in the trash, this will be great for the pigs to clean up instead of it going into the landfill.


We no longer had a pig shelter so Larry quickly put together a pig palace.  Threw them a half bail of straw and they made themselves a bed.  It was fun to watch them pitch the straw around.











 Snug as two pigs in a blanket.








They are growing so fast!  When they reach about 250 to 300 pounds we're planning to butcher them ourselves.  I think they'll be ready to process at our most busy time of year and it sounds like a really big job, so we might need to take them off and have them processed.  If we do it ourselves I plan to blog about the process, I know some people won't like that but this is a farm and that is how pork makes it to the table.  We like to know where our food comes from, what it was fed and the manner in which it was raised.  These little pigs will be raised humanly and well fed. We're very compassionate towards all animals and would never allow one to suffer for any reason.
This is just another day on the farm.
Angie


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chicks And Pullets For Sale - Time To Place Spring Orders

It's never too early to start dreaming about spring!

Come on, make your wish list, give us a call or drop me an email.


Maybe you should start with, a cup of lavender...


A Couple of Chocolate morsels...


Maybe a half dozen Olives...


How about a boxed assortment...


Maybe you like yours laced in blue...

Head over to Chicken Scratch Poultry, I know we'll have something you'll love!
We sell day old chicks, pullets and hatching eggs.
Your also welcome to place your order over the phone.
618-643-5602

We look forward to hearing form you!
Angie & Larry



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Farm Photos


Thought I would take a minute and share some farm photos.   I love seeing photos from other farms.  
We're now on Instagram, if you've not yet joined I highly recommend doing that.  If you like Facebook you'll love Instagram!  Here's a link, we hope you'll follow us.  /https://www.instagram.com/chickenscratchpoultry/




















Have a blessed day!
Angie