Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring Ledger

It's finally Spring on the farm, my favorite time of the year.  It is also the time of year when we all look around and take stock and see what the winter has left behind.

The ice finally went off the pond on April 5th.  It had been frozen over since mid-October and I have been concerned about the fish I put in there last year - that is a long time to go without fresh air or sunshine.

I am happy to say though, that I have spotted all six carp and have not seen any sign of the catfish, which I am taking as a good thing.  No one came bobbing to the surface when the ice melted so I am going to assume that the catfish are still happily hanging out on the bottom of the pond.

The carp had some white patches on their backs, but a couple of days with sunshine and no ice and the patches have already disappeared.  I am assuming it was some kind of skin condition caused by lack of sun.  They have made it this far though, so am also assuming they are fine.  Which is just as well as I would have no clue how to help them if they weren't fine.

I finally saw the first turtle yesterday afternoon.  I was glad to see them as I was a bit worried that they might not get along with the carp.  I think they are just holding out for more sun though.


The beehives are not to bee.  The bees disappeared from one of them very suddenly last August.  They had lots of room, bees and food and then they were just gone.  The other hive, which was super strong in the fall, never made it to the new year.  I was going to write about it, but then Ben got sick and then Ramsey and etc, etc....

The hives are still out in the field, full of honey and I have not been sure what to do with them.  For now, I think I will continue to ignore them.  Wild bees will come and steal the honey, which is fine with me as it is un-salvageable at this point and will do them good.  Who knows, maybe a swarm will decide to move in.

But I am done.

I am going to sell off what equipment I can salvage and my beekeeping days are over for as long as I live on this hostile hill.  I have heard that most NY beekeepers suffered a lot of losses this winter, but this was one loss too many for me.  It's just not to bee.


Connor is doing well despite the fact that he had a vet appointment last week and tested positive for Lyme.  He is vaccinated and I have consistently used Vectra on him to guard against ticks, but it was not enough.  Nothing is enough.

I think it is going to be an especially bad year for ticks as we had a huge explosion in the mouse population last year and mice are the greatest carriers of ticks.  Every mouse routinely carries 60-80 ticks and there is no good way to get rid of mice.

And please don't tell me to get more cats.

I already have Kipper and there are several cats from the neighbor's that routinely hang out in my hay shed.  They leave me "presents" of dead mice in my tack room - dead mice, heavily infested with ticks who then go looking for the nearest warm body, which is always going to be me, Connor or one of equines.

I tried guinea hens, and they didn't last a single season.

I am finding 20-30 ticks per day on the donkeys no matter what nasty chemical I use to prevent them.  It is a hopeless battle and neither the cat or chickens (or guineas, chemicals, or mousetraps) seem to be helping much.


Speaking of....The four chickens are doing well.
The red hen was sick for a few days and I thought she would die, but she got over whatever it was and is doing better now.  I've always wondered if there is something a bit wrong with her though as her feathers always look moth-eaten and the other hens often shun her or pick on her.  I have found that chickens always know when one of the flock is not healthy and they ruthlessly go after any weakness.

I wonder if chickens get Lyme disease?


Tessa and the donkeys are all doing well now, although they are all losing the battle of the bulge.  I have already put them on their pasture track and taken away all the grass, which they are very annoyed with.  Now that the weather is warmer, I am also soaking their hay to leach some of the sugar out of it.

Soaking hay for a whole herd is a massive pain in the ass, but my asses are all getting alarmingly wide so it must be done.  Surprisingly, they don't seem to mind eating soggy hay, which is good since they are so mad at losing access to all the pasture.

As for me...I have not been feeling well for a while, but I have just made an adjustment to my thyroid medicine and, hopefully, that will help.  I might even be able to do more than stare stupidly at the computer when I sit down to write a blog post.  That would be nice.  At least it's Spring, which makes everything better.


  1. I'm glad that the fish survived but sad that the bees didn't. I've already taken two ticks off of me! Fortunately Guinness' fur is such that they are easy to spot (haven't found any). d'Arcy's is so thick it's hard to find them.

    I hate the ticks with a passion and I think we need to put some science resources into dealing with them. Ugh.

  2. I sympathize with the tick situation. I teach and train horses in CT near where Lyme disease got its name. Many of the horses have severe reactions to the topical tick preventative, so we are going to try something else. Will soak those bell boots that have the fleece tops in permethrin to prevent ticks crawling up the legs. Will also soak the breakaway nylon turnout halters. It's probably futile, but it's an idea...

  3. So glad to hear from you, so sad about all the ticks, Conner, Lyme, thyroid, etc. When it rains, it pours. I have always lived in the desert, so I don't know anything about ticks and fleas. Scorpions, yes. Rattlesnakes, yes. But one feral kitty has kept the mouse and Antelope squirrel population down. I do hope the thyroid medication level kicks in; you have way to much on your plate.

  4. Happy Easter, Chris... the last picture is wonderful. Praying for you! Hope you feel better, soon.

  5. You care so capably and fervently for so many living creatures, and there always seems to be another battle to fight. Here's wishing you a tickless summer, svelte donkeys, and the magical thyroid dose. My daughter has struggled with thyroid for several years--it's so difficult, and not that much support available. Your blog posts are welcome even when they're just photographs.

  6. Sorry about the the endless ticks. I didn't know mice were covered in them, yuck! New Guinea seem to be fair weathered. They have them at the ranch we stay at up north, and are always losing them for one reason or another. You would think there would be some tick defense that works in this day & age. Hope you feel better soon & get out to enjoy Spring!

  7. I'm all for feeding the honey back to the wild bees, but you should probably pull the frames out of the dark box and set them out in the sunlight to keep wax moths from ruining it. Assuming you have wax moths there...unless the ticks have killed them off ;-). Good grief!

  8. Sorry you have not been feeling well. Hopefully sunshine and warm weather will perk you up.

    Thank goodness we don't have that kind of tick problem.

    Have you tried liquid Seven. We use it on our pasture to kill the army worms.

  9. Yikes it seems you have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Winter, now spring with an onslaught of ticks and soon more bugs. Our pastures are not lush nor extremely nice and would be wondrous for goats. My neighbor is enjoying the benefits of goats now in her woods.
    I heard on the radio that 'possum eat tons of ticks. Not suggesting that you raise 'possum but there you are. They are nasty creatures but apparently dine on ticks!
    Hopefully you will start to feel better too.

  10. Feel better. I'm sorry that things have been troublesome lately. Sending you lots of tick-preventative thoughts.

  11. I hope you feel better soon. Thyroid ills can be a show stopper sometimes, I know this well.
    Wish the ticks would leave you and the animals be, but short of that I hope you find a way to pare their population down on you land.

  12. This is a great little documentary about the current state of bees -- not saying you're not d-o-n-e with bees -- but you might find it interesting.

  13. Poor Connor! The thought of all those ticks gives me the creepy crawlies. We had a very mild summer here and a whole extra batch hatched thing it was spring, so it has been bad here, but I am able to avoid most by staying away from the bush areas. Some friends who live closer to the bush and kangaroos haven't been so lucky!

  14. Ps. if you are still have thyroid issues/fatigue you might want to look up the site called stop the thyroid madness. It has a lot of good info on ways to manage it beyond good old T4, and reasons why yo might still feel bad. Also, however, consider lyme. I hate to even raise it but i used to think if I could just get my thyroid meds balanced I'd be all good. Then I found out I had lyme as well so not surprising I couldn't get better. xxx