Mommy Dearest

The new developments are happening furiously lately.  The fowl are producing in all

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Lily’s growing brood

directions!  A few weeks ago, Lily hatched out our first brood of Taquitos.  But we also had a Buff Orpington setting on a nest.  From Mother of the Year to Mommy Dearest… Lily is a mommy star, the buff not so much.  After losing several of her clutch eggs to a snake (maybe her fault, maybe not), she actually hatched out one super cute little black fuzzball.  And promptly tried to kill it.  Bad mama!  The lucky little chick fell or was pushed out of the cage the hen was setting in.  A fall that likely saved its life.  We discovered the shaky little peeper and tried to reunite it with mama.  But no go.  I even tried to see if Lily would accept it.  Nope.  Where to find a mama now?

Chickens are flock creatures.  They enjoy the comfort of other chickens, even if they don’t

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Find Peanut in the photo

like each other personally (which they usually don’t).  I frantically searched Craigslist and our usual sources for other day old comrades.  Nope.  So what to do with 1 chick?  I was back to being the broody mama.  And this little one was high maintenance.  Every afternoon it screamed until picked up.  I know it just wanted the comfort of mama but one cannot be productive with a chick in hand, or underfoot for Spaghetti.

Luckily, after several days of this, we located some similar aged chicks at Pittsboro Feed.  What a godsend!  Little Peanut was initially skeptical of the strange fuzzy things, but quickly turned joyful at their play.  Playgroup!  Now all are happily peeping along in the brooder, warmed by each other’s fuzz and doing all the usual endearing baby chick things.  One more Taquito and a few amigos to add to the fold.  Any girls in the group should start laying right around Christmas.  A gift to look forward to.

The Bees are Back

There was less swearing this time.  Moving beehives is always an adventure but this one went fairly smoothly.  Remember that the main nectar flow for the Triangle only lasts from March-May, which means the bees get bored, cranky, and/or hungry during summer.  Part of our management program is taking advantage of NC’s expanded season by moving some of our hives back to the mountain where the Buck Naked name arose.  These hives spent about a month in the High Country this summer soaking in the sourwood.  “You just leave them there??”  Yep.  The property owners kept watch and we visited about every 2 weeks to check in.  But bees prefer to be left alone with work at hand.  One hive swarmed (our donation to the feral population), one produced a new queen (mountain girl genetics!), and all put up a nice surplus of honey.

“Oooh!  You have sourwood honey!!”  Well, probably.  There wasn’t anything else blooming at the time.  But to ethically label “Sourwood Honey” (or any other variety), honey must contain at least 51% of pollen from that flower source.  This requires lab testing that we have not yet done.  Yet.   Maybe someday, but for now we label it as “Wildflower”.

IMG_0096Spaghetti and I were flying solo on this trip.  Things were going fine with the ratchet strapping & loading until we realized that we were 1 strap short.  (Mostly because Paul had secretly hidden all the straps in his own vehicle before gallivanting off to work.)  But also because I had split a hive weeks before, we were bringing home 1 more hive than we started with.  Doh!  We managed to get all the big colonies into the car (revisit our transport strategy) but the last little one had to ride on the hitch basket.  Normally not a problem.  But we have to haul these heavy ladies up and down a mountain.  Curvy-burvy roads.  Plus it was 10pm.  Spaghetti proposed a phone charging cord which I nixed because if it failed, I’d have no battery back up to call for the ensuing emergency.

 

We held our breath and crept up and back down the mountain at a snail’s pace with the hive unsecured.  The late hour gave us some cover from the crazy-person stares that usually follow.  Surely we could make it to Wilkesboro (closest town) carefully.  And we did.  But it should be noted that all farm and auto parts stores are closed after 10pm on Tuesdays in Wilkesboro- but not Walmart!!  Relieved, tired, and hungry (we missed dinner) we stumbled into Walmart still clad in bee suits.  Cue the crazy person stares.  But no!  Turns out that you can wear whatever you want to Walmart at 11pm on Tuesday and get no grief for it.  Joy!  We sauntered up to the checkout, giddy with having found the prized ratchet strap.  Checkout girl not amused.

But we were delighted.  We assembled everything properly and felt gutsy enough to take the hives through a drive-through.  And order pie.  But the sugar high only lasted so long and the rural Hwy 421 route quickly lulled Spaghetti to sleep.  There were a few loose bees in the car (as usual) which kept things lively for me.  There was a tense moment around Jordan Lake when I thought a bee was perched by my right eye.  But after 30 minutes I realized it was only a piece of my hair fluttering in the a/c.  We finally rolled into town about 2am.

hives at farm

So the farm welcomes the big girls home.  They are reorienting, enjoying some goldenrod, and joining our other hives anticipating the imminent buckwheat bloom.  Ok, not really.  They are just collecting whatever they can find.  The trip did result in less swearing, which is good or bad depending on your outlook.  It has become my philosophy that when the swearing starts, the learning begins.  (Not vocabulary – life lessons).  Spaghetti and I agreed on several learnings for next year: truck w/ separate cab & lift gate , hive carrier, oodles of straps, & more pie.

 

Surgery for Scratch

Recently Spaghetti noticed one of our Welsummer hens limping on a swollen foot.  She had recently earned the nickname Weather Chicken for her accurate and vocal forecasting skills.  She walks about chanting “hot, hot, hot”.  (I’ll post video of this soon).  In addition to her vocal talents, she is one laying those fabulous speckled dark brown eggs.  Broadcast talent & egg laying = keeper.  The swelling in her foot was the result of a staph infection from some innocent scratch on the foot, called bumblefoot.  She likely scratched on a sharp stick or fluttered from the roost bar onto a rock.  Now her foot was swollen, warm to the touch, and clearly ouchy.   Aside from being painful, bumblefoot can ultimately be fatal if untreated.

Enter Drs. Howard.  Paul is the only one of us with any

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Mostly cooperative patient

street cred in veterinary medicine, having worked with a vet for a few years.  The whole family joined in the procedure which required careful incisions and a strong stomach for the result.  I was the chicken-holder-in-chief and paper towel manager while Paul did the dirty work. Sauce helped with the fancy bandaging and donated his snazzy duck tape to waterproof the bandage.  Fast forwarding past the gory details, I think we did just fine.

The Weather Chicken was pretty cooperative.  She seemed to know that we were trying to help.  Within minutes of the procedure she was pecking around and studying her bizarre looking feet.  She stayed in the recovery ward for a few days where we changed bandages and kept an eye on her.  But I’m glad to report that she is back in with the flock (still sporting a small bandage) and doing great.   Strangely, we noticed her counterpart (other Welsummer) seems to have the same problem.  So the OR will be open again soon.  And according to the Weather Chicken today was ‘hot’.  Nailed it.

 

Pittsboro Fits

Our farm is just south of Pittsboro, but we claim it as our own.  It is a folksy combination of Apex’s downtown, Chapel Hill’s art, Raleigh/Durham’s food, Hillsboro’s rural farms, Boone’s free spirit, & Asheville’s plain weird.  I love it.  And Buck Naked is proud to support it.  Last week we joined the Chatham County Beekeepers at the Pittsboro’s Farmer’s Market for the first time.  What a neat group of loan shoppers and unique vendors!  This weekday afternoon market was a treat despite the heat, as an added bonus I got to set up next to the entertainment.  An afternoon of talking bees, selling honey & listening to bluegrass. Bliss.  We plan to be at the market once a month and also appear at the fun & quirky Pittsboro First Sunday events.  Stop by to say hi!

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We are excited to also welcome Pittsboro Feed as a new retailer of our honey, jam & soap.  They are a fixture on 64 Business, offering everything for the serious or backyard farm.  They offer an amazing variety of seed, feed, wild bird supplies & CHICKS!  (Sauce purchased the Duckingham Palace residents here.)  They also pittsb feedoperate Pittsboro Pet Supply just across the street with anything you could ever need for man’s best friend.

As if you needed more raison to visit, the downtown Pittsboro shops are the cutest.  They offer the best clothing, books, toys, music, and baked goods anywhere.  Plus there’s restaurants, good o
nes too, fancy ones – down home ones – old fashioned ones.  Stop in if you are local or plan a road trip if you aren’t, Pittsboro is the small town we idealize.  And we at Buck Naked Farm are glad to claim it!