Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Road Trip, Bees and Babies

Last Saturday Papa Pea and I made a road trip (we left at 7 a.m. and returned home about 5 p.m.) to pick up a nuc of honey bees we purchased from a bee keeper over south and west of us.  

I don't know if I've mentioned it before but we had six bee hives last fall and lost all of them over winter.

We belong to a small bee keeping group in our county and although a few of the members made it through the winter with one or two hives surviving, most of them lost all their hives as we did.  It was a bad winter for bees.

Nucs (a colony of bees with a queen) are expensive, but we didn't want to be without any bees as they are important pollinators and help our gardens tremendously.  We're going to baby this nuc along this summer and do all we can to help it make it through the winter of 2018-19.

The family at the place where we got the bees also raises dairy goats and they had a whole yard full of mama and baby goats.  The breed they keep is Oberhasli, goats originally from Switzerland.

This breed has extremely calm, friendly natures and were eager to say hello.

Getting some good shots of the kids was difficult as they were cavorting around their pasture, only slowing down now and then to take a refreshing drink from their mamas.

This doe had to have an emergency C-Section this year.  (Note the shaved flank.)  But she recovered totally and looked healthy and happy.  The daughter in the family shows these goats and this particular one is a two time champion, but because of what the doe went through this kidding season, they won't take the chance breeding her again which is unfortunate because there won't be the opportunity to get more great offspring from her.

No, we didn't bring one (or two or four) of the goats home with us.  Sigh.  Would have been easy to do, but right now it doesn't fit into our plans.  Darn.

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Although this is the first of May, my first of the month picture of the raised garden beds will appear tomorrow.   (Yep, a day late and a dollar short again!)


wisps of words said...

So sorry about losing your bees. And that it was a bad winter for other bee keepers. We need all the bees we can have!!!!

Oh the goats must have been so cute.

Good for you, not bringing any home. You have enough to do, already!!! :-))))

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Oh, but I waaaaaahnt a couple of dairy goats! Or a cow. Neither choice is feasible right now. :o(

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the bees winter killed out here too. I wonder: is there a way of building a south facing, open-faced wind guard around an insulated hive? Could such a contraption mitigate the cruel windchills and capture solar heat while still allowing for cleansing flights and yet no moisture buildup? I'm sure this idea has been tried in one form or another. But then, I know so very, very little about bees.-M

Susan said...

It must have been a hard winter for bees everywhere, as many of our local beekeepers lost at least half of their hives. Poor bees. I am planning on putting in much more bee-friendly plants this year. I have lots of bumblebees and just love them. Oooh. It would have been darn near impossible for me to leave without a goat or two! The Oberhasli is such a nice goat, too. I am tucking the thought of a miniature Jersey cow into the back of my retirement bonnet....

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

I have thought about keeping bees now that we are almost country folk! :) But that is something I will need to really think on about, as I have no idea where to start! I look forward to hearing your bee adventures. I hope these ones make it through and live on for a good long while. I have also been thinking about getting a goat! But goats eat everything, so then I moved on to sheep. I may get a sheep. Just so it can eat grass and we won't have to mow it! :) Clever, farmyard thinking from this still city girl. :) We are cold and cloudy today - not nice for the 1st of May!

Rain said...

Oh I'm sorry that you lost your bees! What can you do to baby them so they make it through the next winter? Those goats...omgosh, I would have brought a few home! It's still a thought for the future, but after the S&P situation, I feel like any more pets, farm or home pets, will be too much of a challenge!

Vera said...

You must be disappointed about losing your bees, but well done you for deciding to carry on with them. As for goats, it is highly likely that we shall be selling on our cows and going back to having goats again. It is not a firm decision as yet, but it is becoming more probable as the days go by. But this time we shall get young goats which we can train up instead of older goats who were set in their ways. Hope your bees do well this year.

Michelle said...

What? You don't want to produce your own milk to go with the veggies and fruit??? A goat makes MUCH more sense than a cow; less infrastructure and feed, plenty of production for a family. I'd have a milk goat if the DH "let" me, and I love Oberhaslis!

Mama Pea said...

Anonymous (M) - The fella in our bee keeping group that had the best luck over-wintering his bees built a styrofoam shelter around the hives and put a light bulb within the enclosure for warmth. We've heard that some of the old-timers up in this area used to put their hives in their root cellars over winter. Don't know what they did about the bees' necessary cleansing flights though. Keeping bees is certainly another challenge we face up here close to the tundra!

Susan - Honey bees all over are dying off in depressing numbers. And no one can pinpoint the one reason why. We think they're being poisoned by the widespread use of toxic chemicals that are not only on their feed sources but in our water supplies. So sad.

We've been looking at minitature Jersey cows, too. We would/could keep two or more goats as company for each other. I wouldn't want to see one cow by itself, but my husband says cows aren't that upset by being alone as goats are.

MrsDM - You do need good fencing for goats, but if they are happy and well fed we've found them easy to contain. Both of us hate mowing the lawn so every now and then we talk about getting a couple of sheep as natural lawn mowers, but it doesn't go any farther than that!

Rain - Sorry, young lady, no goats in your near future. As soon as your "visiting" dogs leave, you and Alex need to take a good long time to relax, recover, and get back to your normal routine without any stress! (Doesn't that sound good at this point?)

Vera - The bees were a substantial financial loss, too. And so much time and effort had been put into them. Sigh.

I'm sorry to hear you are thinking of getting rid of your cows. I know how much you've become attached to them. Decisions such as that are hard, no matter how sensible. The first goats we ever had (way back when) were to older ones and I never became attached to them as to the ones we raised ourselves. Getting young ones is a good way to go. Thanks for the good wishes for our new hive. So far, so good!

Michelle - Well, you're no help at all in our attempt to simplify our lives! ;o) Personally, I prefer goats over a cow, also. Nubians have always been my favorite breed. I'm not familiar with the quality of milk from Oberhaslis, but know Nubian milk is high in butter fat. Mmmmm, cream and butter! Yum.

Goatldi said...

I myself have always been a Nubian and LaMancha girl. We have had a token Saanen , Toggenburgs my daughters 4H project.But for the Jersey's of the goat world Nubians and a close contender in butterfat production LaManchas.

Here is a bit of Obie info for your next trivia game. They were originally considered a variety of Alpines. Then they campaigned to become a breed with it's own breed standards to the American Dairy Goat Association. And after a time they were accepted as the last breed of dairy goats. Until recently the Nigerian Draft was finally accepted bringing the total of dairy goat breeds to 8.

Oberhashli's began their campaign to breed up to standard and over the years have achieved udder structure and milk production amounts that in general have given the dairy goat breeds a lovely animal with great structure overall and a very desirable udder that produces well. They are very personable also as you noted.

Sorry just couldn't help myself ;-)

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - I read your comment out loud to my husband 'cause the Obie information was so interesting. I thought their udders were great looking but he was concerned about the smaller size of the teats he saw. I reminded him of some of the bigger teats on goats we'd had and the fact that sometimes the kids had a harder time nursing from them. And also the bigger teats even got stepped on (ouch!) on occasion. So, the smaller teats looked okay to me, and the udders we saw had great attachment.

Never "stop yourself" in the future. You are a wealth of information!

Goatldi said...

Always happy to be of service. 😊🐐