Once again it's time for our Friday Roundup, where we all pitch in the things we did during the week -- big or small -- that contributed toward self-sufficiency.
I'll probably routinely start posting these Friday Roundups on Saturday morning since Fridays seem to be very busy days. Here's what we did this week:
• I cleaned the chicken coop in preparation of moving our Jersey Giant chicks out of the house (they're getting too cramped in their box).
We haven't gotten around to moving them yet, but that will be today's chore.
• We're just beginning to freeze strawberries. The berries are starting to peak, so the girls have been picking frequently; but up to this point we've all been eating them as we pick them. This time we had enough of a surplus that I froze six pounds. Hopefully we'll have ten times that amount in the freezer by the end of strawberry season.
• We moved the cattle from the wooded side of our property back to the pasture (no photos, sorry). We're beginning to develop contingency plans for the cattle. Things have been so dry that they're eating down the forage far faster than it can regenerate. Our contingencies so far are: we're putting three cow/calf pairs up for sale; we made arrangements with a neighbor to run the cattle on his adjacent twenty acres in a couple of weeks; and we may have located a source of inexpensive hay from a farmer who wants to get rid of last year's surplus before getting in this year's crop. Right now it looks as it we'll have to start feeding the cattle much, much earlier than we normally do.
• We trapped Victoria and hew new bull calf Jerky in the corral for a few days until the baby was old enough to castrate, which we did before releasing them with the rest of the herd (again no photos, sorry). Jerky is more meat-on-the-hoof in about two years.
• We checked on the bees. They're extremely active and doing fine. At the recommendation of an experienced beekeeper, we shuffled a couple frames around, putting some emptier frames closer in where most of the activity is taking place.
One of the hives had active comb-building on the underside of the roof.
Although it was fascinating to get a glimpse of the inside of the comb (you can see the pupa)...
...we're pretty sure comb-building on the roof is something we're not "supposed" to encourage. Suited up as we were with the hive open, it's not like we could call our beekeeeping mentor right then and there; so, in the absence of knowing what better to do, I scraped the combs off and removed them. I realize it's just a temporary measure and they'll probably rebuild. This hive still has frames that aren't full (meaning, it's too early to put on the supers), so I shuffled one of the emptier frames toward the front where most of the activity is.
I welcome thoughts from more experienced beekeepers to know if scraping that extra comb from the roof was the right thing to do.
• I finally -- finally! -- got the corn beds weeded and turned over with compost. We hauled out the drip irrigation stuff...
...and got hoses on all the tires.
I brought out a few of last year's dried cobs...
...and Don and I rubbed the seed off.
I planted 22 tires' worth of corn (which included a couple of extra tires where I had nothing else planted), then let the drip system give everything a good watering.
• Meanwhile, Don began the task of converting this little shed -- which was originally used as a greenhouse except we couldn't keep the mice out of it, who kept eating seeds and seedlings -- into a chicken coop. We plan to move the shed into the yard and use it as the base of an expanded coop.
Right now we just have garden-related stuff (mostly junk) in it, so we'll clean it out and move it into the yard.
Since no one had been inside the shed in quite some time, we weren't surprised by this little bonus:
Don zapped it with wasp spray.
Then he started removing the windows, but that's as far as we got. We're doing some rush orders for tankards and can't divert our attention too much from our income-producing work.
That's what we accomplished this week. What have you done?