Homestead Happy Snaps

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead and sharing some of the love with y’all!

The dogs are off for a swim in the pond, their favorite time of day, right after breakfast and dinner.  The pastured pigs come up to greet the group, hoping we brought treats, no doubt.  They are looking much more slender now that they are only foraging.

16DCDD5B-0563-4859-874D-308A07340904

Papi’s back on track, thank heavens!  After a big scare, where we were planning for his death, a great resurrection now follows.  We took him back to the vet, they replenished him with fluids by IV, and coaxed out a football-sized hardened stool.  I know this issue was caused by the prescribed meds, so this time when he got home with a new set of pills, we threw them all in the trash.

He’s again his old sassy self and it really does seem like a miracle after how despondent he was—wouldn’t eat or drink, was vomiting and not pooping, would hardly move, wouldn’t even whine or bark, though he’s normally very expressive—we really thought he was checking out for good.  He’s back and still trying to lead the pack.

0358CC44-7CAA-4B88-8485-79DC3F717067

The garden is growing great, the green beans and melons are looking particularly impressive this year (so far that is, never count your melons before they hatch).  I’ve just harvested our first cucumbers, with tomatoes soon to follow.  The bees sound as pleased as me!

Speaking of bees, I can now confirm with a fair degree of confidence that my high-risk hive split last month was successful.  What made it high-risk, in conventional beekeeping protocol, was that there was no queen, I didn’t re-queen at all, rather I intended that the small split-off colony should raise their own queen themselves.  There was not even queen cells present in the brood I transferred, only capped brood and larvae.

My beekeeping goal is replicating genetics that suit our needs and desires here on the wee homestead: semi-feral colonies whose first purpose is pollination, second purpose is sustainability and study, third purpose those glorious products—honey, wax, propolis, pollen, etc.

For this goal I choose to split from our “ninja” hive, but don’t let their nickname fool you.  They are not ‘mean’ like the nickname might suggest, and two other hives here are FAR meaner.

Rather, they are natural warriors.  Maybe this is because during the ‘tornado’ last spring their home was turned upside down.  Or maybe because I experimented on them with a screen bottom board, which meant they had to fend off attackers constantly from multiple fronts all summer, the warm winter and early spring.  Or maybe because they are right next to our house, where there is constant traffic from critters, mowers and us.

All I know is, this team is tight, because they’re so busy with all their other tasks, they leave me in relative peace in order to meddle in their ranks.

And speaking of queen bees, at least in the canine kingdom, Buttercup is exercising her own maternal instincts, on our new chicks.  It seems she doesn’t trust her brother, Bubba.

4C18456E-6797-4168-A924-8348EC3DF74F
Buttercup: “Don’t worry Daddy, I got your back.”
B0B69692-51DA-4B78-9E20-44F3F7F8D51C
Bubba: “Mmmm . . . Snack size!”

Whereas once upon a time Buttercup crawled in submission from 20 paces, then rolled over immediately once within sniff-range of current Queen Tori, I expect there will soon be an active rivalry.

699FAD62-D924-4933-A31B-F875F57A7C4E

I wonder when someone will finally come to rival this old queen?  Someone once asked me when we first moved rural, “Why do you need so much land?”

Seriously?

F22604ED-6310-4260-B26D-17FF6C824E1D

Shooting Mockingbirds

He now knows I’m hunting him, no doubt.  I’ve shot twice and missed.  I’ve never been a good shot.  Now, he knows that.  He strategically positions himself like a bull’s eye in the small window of wires just above the transformer.  His predecessor did that too.  What are the odds?

His predecessor hit the grass thanks to Handy Hubby, a far better shot than I.  It’s not like we make a sport out of shooting birds.  We love the birds!  But please, don’t let their small stature, or innocent and cute demeanor cloud the fact that they are really loud, opportunistic, clever and occasionally infuriating.

Did you know mockingbirds will go on all night long?  So, when they’re right above the bedroom window, I’m sure you can imagine how exceptionally annoying it is.  That is, if you’ve ever heard the mockingbirds go on and on all night long.  They must be the most annoying-sounding birds ever, right after guinea hens.  It would take a real saint to suffer through it incessantly, I’m sure.

The mockingbirds are, as James True has made me deeply consider, gifts of Ba’al.  They force me to get up from my cushions, to feel the shame in my lack of skill, to suffer their shrill monotony, to become a better shot.

They make me understand that irritation is a very powerful motivator for me.  And my own limited threshold for verbal abuse, and my own cunning, and sensitivity, and impatience, and so on.  For better, but moreover, worse.

I got lucky this time, don’t know why, seem to be riding that wave lately, at last.  I heard him out, while weeding in the garden.  He went on and on, right over my head.  I was so tempted to get the gun.  But I thought, let me try my patience today.  A little self-test.  I didn’t notice he’d gone until a day or two afterward, remarking on the silence suddenly, while weeding once again in the garden.

How calm and quiet, what’s changed?

Low and behold, the mockingbird was gone, and no replacement has yet appeared.  But, the same morning I realized this, which was yesterday, I had to rush our old dog Papi to the vet, half his tongue is paralyzed, well into his throat and he can’t eat, is drooling badly, has a fever, and they’re keeping him for the weekend under sedation.

He’s old and sometimes as annoying as the mockingbirds.  He’s always been our ‘problem child’.  It’s been fairly constant for his now 12 years—in and out of the vet for snake bites and ear issues and inexplicable poisonings.  He’s fond of disappearing for days, one time he came home clearly overdosed on mushrooms.  He drives me into a regular frenzy by, in general, being a real hooligan.  I miss him already, a lot.

Not that these random instances might be related or anything, just noting the timing, just in case.

Get well quick old buddy, your annoying antics are missed already.