Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dead Bees... In The Snow

Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's normal for the hive to contract in size through the winter. It will go from a peak of 60 - 80,000 bees in the Summer to about 10-15,000 bees in the dead of Winter.

I tried doing this a few weeks ago and my battery died on me. So here's some video of the hive in snow.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (a) from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

There's been a LOT of snow here this year. Or maybe I should rephrase that. We usually get some snow, but then within a day or two, it warms up enough that it turns back to rain and melts it all away. This year, it's been at freezing temps for about 2 weeks now with no end in sight.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (b) from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (c) from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (d) from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (e) from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

Snow Beehive Dec 23, 2008 (f) from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

See You Next Time~

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gerty the Dog in for ACL Surgery...

So our dog Gerty blew out her ACL in her back knee a few weeks ago. We've been trying to get her in for surgery for a while now, but this winter snow storm has put a damper on getting it done.

I spoke with Dr. Paul last night and we were all set to go this morning. Little did I know we were going to get about 8" of snow over night.

It took me and the Cowgirl about 45 minutes to dig me out of the driveway this morning, but I finally got on the road and on my way to the surgery.

GERT-SURGERY 01 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 02 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 06 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 04 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 05 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 07 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 08 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 09 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 10 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

GERT-SURGERY 11 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Now we've got several months of rehab,and the Gert should be back to her old self.
She's asleep next to me on the couch as I type this...

See You Next Time~

Sunday, December 21, 2008

90mph Winds? Not so much...

So all the weather guys here in Seattle including ME were saying there was a huge wind storm that was going to hit our area. The prediction was wind gusts up to 90mph.

I was not going to be unprepared. I got the generator all fueled and oiled up. I bought it last year but never had to crank it up. Obviously there are three different manuals you have to go through to get the thing running. Nice work Coleman. But I finally figured out how to put the oil in, and it started up on the 4th pull. I plugged in a light to check it out, and it worked just fine.

Lucky for us, the Cowgirl's dad is an electrician, and he installed a new electrical service panel with an outside generator input. So we are all set. It's interesting trying to figure out how many watts you need. We are prioritizing our water pump (1hp = 2500w) and the heater in the well house is 1500w. The water heater in the house is 4500w and the TV is 500w. So if you do a little math, we can't have everything on at once. The strategy is to heat the water at night, then turn the water heater off at the panel. Then turn on the pump, and after showers, you can turn on the tv and some lights.

Here's my prep work getting ready for the storm:

Forecast: 90mph Winds - Not So Much... from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

We were shocked that power did not go out. The winds were definitely howling, but the gusts on the news were more like 50mph with sustained winds of 30mph.

And here's the day after...

Forecast: 90mph Winds - Not So Much... II from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I guess it's ready to be prepared and not need it, than to need it and not be prepared!

It's really snowing now as I type this... good times.

White Christmas? from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

See you next time

Snow on the Beehive

If you live in Minnesota, this weather is not a big deal, but for Washington, it's COLD!

Last time I went to my local bee supply store, Trees 'N Bees, I was talking with the master bee keeper Loren. He told me a bit about hive maintenance in the winter.

First thing I did was to feed the bees about 6 weeks ago with a medicated batch of syrup. Here's an old post about how that works.

Next, I kept feeding to make up for the honey that I robbed from the hive. I fed the girls about 50 pounds of sugar over the next few weeks.

The next thing Loren told me to do was to make sure I cleaned out the hive entrance so it wouldn't get clogged with dead bees. The hive population goes from its peak of 60-80,000 in the summer to around 10-15,000 in the winter.

You can see a bunch of bees right there on the porch. My camera battery died, so I don't have any video. But all I did was take a coat hanger out there and just scrape out all the dead bees. If you don't clean it out ever few weeks, the entrance can become clogged. Then the rest of the bees won't be able to get outside to go to the bathroom. Loren told me they go about every 6 weeks when there's a mild day.

A few guard bees poked their head out when I was scraping around - so I'm confident they are doing OK in there. Keeping things at 95 degrees. I did not remove the ice on the top half of the entrance. I thought it was better to have just half of it open. That's what the bees have kept clear, so I didn't change it.

It's been really cold for the past few weeks here. I'll go out and check the hive again here in the next few days, and take some video.

See You Next Time

Winterize Da' Garden

I actually did this a few weeks ago, but I've been a bit busy with the holidays. We're snowed in today, so I'm catching up on the blog posts.

This was my first year of growing a garden, and it was pretty interesting. I didn't get the amount of food I though, but I also learned that I HATE weeding. For next year, I'm going to have to figure out a better system on controlling the weeds. I'm also planning on installing a drip watering system after seeing my brothers system.

My gardening book said I needed to winterize the garden.

Winterize The Garden from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Winterize Part 2 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Winterize Garden 3 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Winterize Garden 4 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Next year I'm going to make the raised garden beds deeper. I think they were too shallow to really grow good veggies.

I also saw a write up on a new garden gadget that should help me figure out what to plant. It's called the EasyBloom. You put it in the area where you want to plant, leave it there for 24 hours, then plug it into your computer and it tells you what you should plant there. They're $60, and I'm putting my request in to Santa.

But for now, the garden is pretty much winterized.

Hopefully I'll have better results next year.

See You Next Time...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stall Mats - The Best Money I've Spent In A While...

As a new horse owner, I have to tell you that they are still very confusing creatures to me. We've got two horses - The Squid and June Bug. They have identical stalls in every way - same size, same fences, same gates, same buckets... everything. But for some reason, the ground in each stall looks incredibly different.

June Bug is tearing the ground up. Squid's stall looks pretty good. She poops in the same spot every day, doesn't walk around in it, and generally keeps things pretty orderly. June on the other hand poops all over the place, paws at the ground, walks grooves in to the ground, and generally creates a bunch of mud.

We really need some stall mats, and fast before we're in the heart of winter. One big problem: I'm cheap. I didn't want to spend $100 per mat, because we need about 12 of them. Luckily I got a lead on a Craigslist ad, and scored a bunch of stall mats for $200.

The videos pretty much tell the story...

Stall Mats 1 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 2 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 3 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 4 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 5 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 6 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 7 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 8 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Stall Mats 9 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I have to say, the stall mats have been working great so far. June's stall is level and much easier to clean.

The conveyor belt has helped some, but it's getting pretty muddy about now. I'd like to get some more and cover some more area and see if that helps...

See you next time

First Snow of '08

We just had a major cold snap here in the Puget Sound, and we had several things to deal with.

Snow Day - Dec 13, 2008 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

First: we just dug a trench in the ground to put water and power out to the horse stalls. It was much easier digging the trench than filling it back up with dirt. Sooooo, we let it sit for a month or so, and now that it was going to be freezing temps, we had to do the back fill a.s.a.p. I don't have it pictured because I went to Lowes at 8pm and bought 15 bags of dirt. Then we woke up at 7am and filled in the trench so it wouldn't freeze.

Then the hits just kept on coming.

Second: The ol' well house.
This one's on me. There's a space heater out in our well house, and I swear that it was on and ready to go. But I didn't check it to make sure. So we wrapped the pipes up in front of the house, and let the water drip at the faucets on the 9 degree night, but the heater wasn't on out in the well house. So when it came to shower/give the horses water time, the well house was frozen.

I went out and turned the heater on, and when things started to thaw out, a pipe burst to the well house spigot. Neighbor Bill came over and turned off the pump. Luckily, we had a valve that fed just that one pipe. So we could turn it and be back in business. We still decided to insulate the well house. [Soapbox time: why do people cut the stupidest corners when they build stuff? I mean, out of all the places to save money, why insulation in the one place where it needs to stay warm?]

Frozen well house from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

So we got that fixed, I went in and took a shower, and I kid you not, 20 minutes later I see flashing cop lights in the driveway followed by two horses. It was dark outside, so my initial thought was that our horses got out. The County Sheriff was out there by the time we got outside and we figured out they weren't our horses. There wasn't much we could do - it was 9 degrees - so we just herded them into our pasture and threw them some hay.

Lost and Found - Ponies from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Luckily, the owners came by the next day and picked them up. I don't know if I could have made it through our winter storm having to thaw out water buckets for 4 horses.

Third: Eve The Cat.
The Cowgirl and I have been trying to train Eve The Cat to be comfortable inside. Especially when it's below freezing. Now don't get me wrong, I do NOT want an inside cat, but when it's this cold, it just seems like the right thing to do.
But she is not having it. When I get her inside, and close the sliding door, Eve has the habit of running into the glass and making a lot of noise.

So for now, she's staying outside. I'm pretty sure she's built a lair under the house where it's pretty warm. Probably under the furnace or something.

Eve The Cat - Come In Out of The Cold... from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Eve The Cat - Come In Out of The Cold... from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Eve snow Friends from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

See You Next Time


If taking a plane to Denver can count as a road trip?

So the family isn't going to be able to get together for Christmas this year. I planned a trip with my Dad and brother to meet up in Denver for some pizza and a Denver Bronco game.

It was the most beautiful December weather in the Mile High City that I can remember.

Here's a video diary (the graphics are from my work...)

See you next time