Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Prepared Household Farm & Apiary

For some time now, we have been working on preparedness.  As part of that preparedness, we have been trying to become more self-reliant and resilient.  We grow fruits and vegetables.  We have had our own chickens and plan to acquire more this summer.  

Now, we are introducing something new to our farm - the honeybee.  For the past couple of months, we have been caring for a split that we received.  It is a very small and weak colony, without a queen, but they made their own queen from brood.

Our first hive.

Putting sugar water in the hives.
Since our colony is so small, we have been feeding them to help them.  We place a super on the box and place sugar water in upside down containers. 
We don't recommend the containers with pop off lids.
We learned a valuable lesson feeding in this manner.  Don't use containers with pop off lids.  The honeybees will seal the lids to the frames.  If there is sugar water in the container when you lift it up to check it, it will come open and spill everywhere.  Use only containers with screw on lids.

The Bee Whisperer petting a swarm.

A swarm.

My husband is very comfortable working with bees.  He has memories of his grandfather working his hives.  His grandfather didn't fear the bees.  He would work without any protective gear.  That isn't always the best idea, but I call my husband the bee whisperer because he can do the same.  He has no fear.

Recently, we started helping capture swarms.  The first time I saw this done, it was terrifying.  Watching how the bees swarm violently around.   
Brother and hubby capturing a swarm in a tree.

After helping a few times, we caught two ourselves and it wasn't bad.  I actually enjoyed it.  The first swarm we caught was very large.  Since it was our first to capture alone, it was a learning experience.  We tried knocking it off into a box.  Then we cut the limb and placed it in the box. Much more successful at getting more honeybees.
Placing the honeybee laden branch in the box.
We taped up the boxes and headed to their final destination...the backyard.  Where we placed them in the hive and hoped for the best.
This is a small portion of the colony on the limb.

Honeybees on the edge with their tails fanning out.
When we placed the bees in the hive, they really were upset and buzzing around.  They were not happy.  So hubby stuffed the entrance with grass.  Soon, bees began to gather on the side of the box and settle down.  When hubby opened the lid, the bees began to crawl up the box and inside.  Some of the bees stood on the side and fanned their tails.  This meant that the queen had accepted the hive as their new home and they were letting all the bees know to come on in. So, hubby removed the grass and put the frames in.
Home sweet home.

Spraying with vanilla water.
The next day, we were called back to the same home.  A small swarm was gathered in the same tree.  We caught them and after determining they were the remnants of the colony we had captured the day before and had no queen, we sprayed them with vanilla water and introduced them into our weak hive. 

The vanilla water seems to calm the bees and made them easier to catch, but it also helps introduce them into the hive.  They all start licking the vanilla water off each other and by the time the cleaning is done, everyone smells the same.  
The bee whisperer removing the branch from the box of bees.
The honeybees are an exciting addition to our Prepared Household.  They low buzzing is a happy sound and while I realize there will be stings, I think it will be worth it. 

Happy preparing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snowmageddon 2015...Kentucky Under the Gun

The snowfall began here on the homestead just after dawn.  It was an odd snow, more pellet-like than anything.  The snow continued throughout the day and night until we accumulated several inches.  As I write, the total accumulation is 6.5 inches here.  Nearby counties are reporting upwards of 13 inches and more.  According to predictions, this storm has the chance to be historical and set records.  We haven't seen the likes of this since the 1990s.  Temperatures are supposed to drop in the negatives.

Snowfall in Fayette County, KY.
Photo courtesy of Jayme G, Facebook.

While we are safe and cozy here in our home, there may be some who are not so lucky.  My heart goes out to them.  Temperatures are supposed to get as low as -14 degrees and I know there are those who are not prepared even in the best of circumstances, let alone should the power go out.  That is the reason I started this blog.  I want to give others the opportunity to be better prepared for situations before they arise.

Apple tree on the homestead

Long before this storm was forecast, we have been preparing.  We have built up a small food storage and made plans for what we would do in various scenarios.  Having recently been laid off my job, I am currently experiencing a personal disaster.  However, it is one that we have prepared for as best we could under the circumstances.  Little by little, we have purchased food ahead to last a while.  And, we garden, can, dehydrate and store.  Granted, our food supply isn't made up of luxury foods, it consists of canned vegetables, wheat, rice, etc. 

When we heard that the storm was a certainty, we discussed our options, developed a plan and put it in action.

We asked ourselves a few questions:

1.  Do we have sufficient food to carry us over for a week?  As I stated above, we have a small food storage, so we determined that we would have sufficient food, that would not have to be cooked, to last at least a week.

2.  What will we do if the power goes out?  We have oil lamps and extra oil.  We have emergency candles.  We also have a small generator that we pulled out and started it to make sure it was still running.  We took our gas jugs and stocked up on gasoline.  We had been out of town for the past year working, so gas was not available in our immediate storage.  This will be used to run a small heater to fend off the cold until power can be restored. 

Since temperatures are supposed to be in the negatives, we made sure every crack and crevice is sealed and has plastic or a blanket over it.  We needed to conserve as much heat as possible.  It is going to be cold.

3.  What happens in a illness?  We have some minor medical supplies and medications.  If something outside our control happens, we may well have to rely on emergency services to make it out.  
Roads here in Kentucky tonight.
Photo courtesy of Laurel Co. Ky Sheriff's Office.

If nothing extraordinary happens, we should be able to hunker down and stay warm.  Since I have been laid off, we don't have to be out on the roads for anything.  Most places are closing down right now anyway.  Local sheriff's office has requested we stay off the roads. As you can see by the photo to the left, that is sound advice.

The importance of being prepared for life's storms is becoming more and more obvious.  Lately, we have seen a lot of terrible storms that are overwhelming to local emergency services.  We have to learn to be more resilient and not be victims and add to the problem.  

Ambulance overturned due to slick roads in Hazard, Kentucky. 
Photo courtesy or Cindy C, Facebook.
When this week is over and we have dug out of the snow and hopefully, life goes back to normal.  I hope that we will learn that we need to be prepared for whatever storms come our way in life.  Whether they be personal storms, such being jobless or whether they are widespread, such as huge snowstorms or other natural disasters, we need to be prepared.  We can't rely on others to help us through all the time, we need to be self-sufficient.

Hopefully, we can take this journey together here and learn to navigate these storms.  Stay safe and warm. 

 ~ The Prepared Household.