Thursday, November 29, 2012

We only lost 1!

All the girls, except for the original downed hen, made it through the terrible ordeal.  More good news, the bees have regained their composure as well.  So we are all one big happy family again.  What a disaster!  I still feel so guilty about dropping the honey comb and starting the whole thing.

I kept the girls in the greenhouse for a couple of days to try and let the bee "attack" pheromones wear off. The bees would get all worked up if I even went near the hive.  This lasted for four days!!!  The girl's trashed the greenhouse but at least the compost got turned into the soil really well.  I wasn't sure if my sorrel plant would survive the decimation but it came back.  Just like Gaga and Franny bounced back!   

(Big exhale)  Everybody is at peace.  The girl's snack away at the chard that is still thriving in the greenhouse and I am very exited to report that we have built temporary cold frames out of straw bales and old glass doors that we saved from the dump.  The girl's and myself will hopefully have a bigger supply of fresh, LOCAL, greens this winter :)

The bees are mostly in.  However, we have had some exceptionally warm days this November and so they've been out and about.  The garden has been put to rest and covered with leaves which I picked up from the recycling center.  I still have carrots in the ground covered...we'll see how long they last.  We haven't had snow for a couple of weeks now and most days it looks and feels like September!  The hens are not complaining and they're funny scratching around in the leaves.

The girls have slowed their laying down for the winter and we've gotten only a couple of eggs this week but we don't mind.  Call me old fashioned, but I believe in giving the girl's a break during the fall and winter.  I've read that hanging a light for them to keep them laying shortens their lifespan and wears them out faster.  

Being a workaholic, I can relate! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicken Bee Fight

Umm... Never thought in a million years that this would happen.

I was working in one of our two hives, checking things out.  The bees had built comb all the way to the back of the hive.  I was hoping to add some spacers into the very back bars.  When I went to pull a bar (gently out) I noticed the comb was going the wrong way and it broke off from the bar.  GRRREAT.  I placed it back it's almost September they will reattach it and I will have to address it in the Spring.
I wanted to check on the brood levels and what was going on towards the front... I should have left them alone.

The comb broke off the bar, it didn't seem like an abnormally hot day, but it just broke off.  The bees freaked out and a normally super mellow hive went HOT on me faster than anything I had ever seen before EVER.  They went for me like flies on you know what.  I was ok I had a bee suit on.  But before I knew what was happening the hens were going crazy.  HOLY MOLY.  They were under full attack.

I went for the hose.  On mist, I tried to pacify the bees and get them away from the chickens.  Two minutes I was spraying trying to get some relief from the swarming pissed off bees.  The girls tried to take cover in their eglu coop.  I tried to close the door for them and kept spraying the air, the hive, myself, the girls...  I went to grab the girls out of the eglu to take refuge in the greenhouse but one of the twins was already down barely breathing.  I grabbed three of the girls and put them in the greenhouse, grabbed one hen that was running going crazy and then the next two.  

It was really bad.  

Bees were all over the girl's faces stinging away.  Burrowing into their feathers to sting them on their bodies.  It was AWFUL...  I was so powerless to do anything.  I had on my suit and leather gloves so I, the loving beekeeper, was going after my bees to get them off my chickens.  The bees were no longer my friends at that moment.  They were trying to get through the open windows and cracks in the doors.  I sealed everything up the best I could went to tend to my poor hens.  The one died in my arms immediately.  There were still bees buzzing around inside the greenhouse!!! AAAAAHHHHH!  It was horrible.  Gaga got it at least 20 times in the face.  Franny took a beating too.  I kept checking their bodies and pulling out stingers as quickly as I could.  The girls were not doing well.  Franny and Gaga that took the brunt of the stinging, were shaking and not moving around.  Just sitting there in the soil looking like they were going to fall over any minute.  I tried feeding them some banana to snap them out of it.  Then I forced them to drink some water by putting drops on their beak.  I was so distraught.  I got them hooked up with a heating pad... they were going into shock.  Moved in their water and some seriously wet feed/mash with more banana and I ran to the Internet.  


Backyard chickens had a stream which sent me to a blog and duh,  give the chickens Benedryl.  
Why had I not thought of that!  
Panic sometimes causes the brain to cease functioning at a normal levels. 

I took a capsule and dissolved it into 2 oz of water and with a head lamp, put drops of Benedryl water on their beaks trying to get them to drink it.  Franny at this point is in really bad shape, she can barely hold her head up.  Gaga, is on the heating pad, eyes swollen shut with labored breathing.  I just want to cry.

The girls took maybe 5-7 drops each of the Benedryl water.  I tried more banana and plain water.  No dice.  I went back inside the house.  10 mins later after the Benedryl, Franny seems the tiniest bit better and Gaga is still the same.  More drops of water and I moved Franny onto the heating pad.  Going to check on them in a minute.  The woman from the blog had good luck with her batam rooster so I've got my fingers crossed.  It just took so long to get the stingers out and trying to get the greenhouse sorted, I'm afraid the Benedryl was administered too late.  

I went on reading the BYC forum and they suggested Neosporin with pain reliever for the stings.  Ran to the medicine cabinet and went to it.  The girls fought me on this hard, especially Gaga, she wasn't having it.  It does look as if her shivering has let up though, I swear it looked like she was having small seizures.  Poor thing. 
Franny enjoyed the application of the ointment to her belly, neck and comb, that's where she took it the most.  She looks less like she is on death's door but I will check on them in a bit.  I don't want to get my hopes up and then be devastated tomorrow.

Lucky, Jack and the other twin seem to be ok.  They were eating the sorrel plant and gobbled up the banana no problem.  They were even scratching the newly placed compost in the beds of the greenhouse before it got dark and they went to roost.

Update: Not so good.
Gaga is standing but and is able to open one eye.  Franny is still on the heating pad, but her wings are drooping and she is panting with an open beak.  She seems more alert and is taking water and banana a little better than before but her breathing worries me.  Do I dare try to give her a few more drops of Benedryl?  I'm at a loss.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ducks To Come!!

Well, we've decided the Eglu will house ducklings! We are going to go with the Cayuga breed because they are least noisy. Unfortunately, we have lots of neighbors we have to cater to!

Taken from

"Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga Ducks characterized by a black bill and black plumage which is a spectacular iridescent green in the correct light. Their coloring makes the adults one of the most beautiful of all duck breeds.

Cayugas are recognized as one of the most adaptable of all domesticated ducks and are active foragers. Adults are fond of eating snails, slugs, and most other insects

They are the most popular exhibition breed in the medium weight class.

For those who wish to keep ducks, but live close to others that would make keeping the Pekin impractical because of the loud quack, The Cayuga duck is a recommended alternative as its quack is not as loud or frequent as the Pekin duck. These ducks exemplify a quiet, calm, docile temperament and they do not fly. Cayuga ducks tend to stay close to home, making them an excellent choice for a home flock or as yard pets."

This taken from

This breed gets its name from Lake Cayuga, just west of New York, America. They were bred from the wild Black Duck and Rouen. They arrived in the UK when they were shown at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851.

As this breed was developed in North America it is used to harsh conditions. The Cayuga is a hardy breed and both the drake and the hen have good temperament and are quiet. When they first start to lay, their eggs can be completely black and this is a good sign that the resulting duck with have a good colour. The ducks do not remain black for all their life and often produce white feathers as they get older, which tend to appear after each moult.

The standard variety is black with iridescent green feathers, although recently a solid Blue was developed in America."

We will place our order soon even though we will get a delayed delivery.

What is so great about, is we can order just a few ducks, geese, chickens or guinea hens. Unlike other websites, where you have to order 25, efowl, for an extra charge, allows you to get what you want (breeds, females or drakes) & exactly how many you want. For us, this is so much easier than trying to find homes for 19 extras!!! Not to mention the mess of raising them all.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hard to report.

Well last spring was a tough one. We had a bear attack, more like a massacre. We lost all of our chickens except one, which we renamed "Lucky," a salmon faverolle. It was horrible. We unfortunately, or fortunately were not home at the time. We had a pet sitter who did all they could but it was just too late. Living in the high country of Colorado, it is one of those things that we live with. We have black bears here and they can be quite destructive. All I can say is, we were devastated. RIP: Wee-Man (Seen here in the photos), Victoria, Luna, Fav 1 and Fav 2. It has taken this long to be able to write about it. The worst part is not a week before Wee-Man was skateboarding, yes skateboarding! In attempts to curb as much child trauma in the situation we went with what we know best, distraction.

We got chicks soon after at Murdoch's in Grand Junction. It was Spring time and we were lucky to get there when we did; as they were running out of chicks. We bought 6 chicks (2 which turned out to be males), no idea what they were, and guarded Lucky with an electric fence, provided by the DOW. The chicks were reared in my daughter's bedroom in an aquarium under a heat lamp until it was warm enough to be released into the reinforced, slightly damaged coop. Lucky was still too large to be consolidated into the new flock. It was a warm Spring so we were grateful that the girls settled in quickly. Given that this was our second go around it was easy to spot the two roosters. Before any real neighbor disturbing crowing set in, we gave them to Sustainable Settings in C-dale. I think there may have been one 4:30 am crowing and that was it. I had many nights waking up thinking there was a bear, but thank god no return, knock on wood!

After awhile we introduced Lucky to the new girls: Jack (after Jack Sparrow, since she was/is attracted to my rings), Frannie who is a bit darker golden than Jack and the twins, Sara and Melissa, named after a set of twins I grew up with. Lucky immediately established herself as top of the pecking order going after the new girls and they did the flapping, jumping, pecking clawing at each other dance. The girls avoided her at all costs, we put them together in the coop and for a few weeks it was tenuous then things seem to settle down and now six months later, they're all one big happy family.

Mid June we inherited a Polish from Susti. She had been a special order someone had not picked up, and she was being picked on /abused by the flock to the point that her crown was almost bare. Poor thing. We brought her home and released her into the coop. Lucky wasn't having it for what seemed like forever and I was heart broken but then they all seemed to work it out with out any intervention. So Lady Gaga joined the flock. (She is quite the looker! Black and White and her crown is back and beautiful!!!) So we were back up to six girls.

We had a long exhale when Fall finally took over and the bears went into hibernation.

My husband and I are currently working on a new coop design complete with electric fencing... we will start work soon even though it's January I want to get a head start on the bears!

We are also looking at converting our Eglu into a duck run. I'm not sure about Colorado, but the duck eggs in France were amazing!!! Especially in custards... We found a website that allows you to order less than 25 chicks at a time!!! For a fee of course but this is so much more manageable! I think we will get ducks from these guys check it out:

Click & Drag it the link won't post for some reason...

It has been a bit of a mild winter this year and we were so glad to get the snow this weekend! I was fearing a drought was coming this Summer, we still have our fingers crossed about that.

The girls have been munching away daily on veggie/salad scraps from the restaurant. Thanks Romi, Alex, Toby & Scott! The girls are too funny and run towards the bottom of the coop for the fresh snacks. Garden planning has begun and seed catalogues are being rifled through now that the holiday season is finally over and the restaurants have calmed down a bit. Looking forward to finally replacing our bees this Spring! So we are a busy family, working, filtering waste vegetable oil for our car, composting in our new worm bin (more on that later), raising chicks (again), bees (hopefully this Spring), garden planning, washing stinky winter dogs, brushing a spoiled cat, rearing kids, and maybe soon raising a couple ducks!!!