October 24, 2012
Over the last while, our farm has received well approximately four inches of rain. It has been so dry for so long that these rains are very welcome. It has eliminated the wild fire threat and it has provided the soil with moisture that we will be seeding into next spring. These rain are exactly what we had been waiting for. All of the farm work has pretty much come to a halt until the yards dry out and we can travel again.
I have the winter shed ready to go again and I plan on starting to move hives in this weekend. The weather is cold and windy and the extended forecast looks like we are about to slip into winter. I want to get these hives inside before we get any amount of snow. All my pails are off now and I just have to spend a day filling in empty spots. Once I get started things will go quick as I can bring back 80 double hives, 120 singles back per load. Some of the yards are very wet and these yards are going to be hard to access so I will have to walk on frost to get them. Others are very accessible so I can leave these yards for later in the day. My truck has 4*4 so I can handle quite a bit of mud.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 07:06 PM | Permalink
October 20, 2012
I have been watching the long range forecast from three different weather forecasters and they all have the same long range theme, cooling and snowy. Some models were showing extreme cold over the last week of October but now they all show pretty much the same forecast with day time highs of 2 to 4 and over night lows of -5 to -8. And they all have snow in the forecast! It has gotten me thinking that I might be moving my hives in early this year. The last time I moved hives into storage in October was in 2003. I am not ready to move the hives yet, I need to clean the winter shed, pick feeder pails, and fill in empty spots. This work will take me most of next week to finish along with a bunch of other stuff I need to get done around the farm. But if old man winter is calling, I have to get going. I do not like moving bees in the snow because its harder to move hives as they slip around much easier. It seems early to bring them inside but they might as well be inside sitting rather than outside in this cold wind! Long range forecasts are hardly accurate, so I will be making my decision to move later next week but I will be ready either way.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 06:32 AM | Permalink
October 17, 2012
We have just finished preparing the manure piles for the custom spreaders, which arrived here today. It will be nice to get our manure spreading done so that we can finish our land work for the season and be able to move prepare the penning for winter. These guys use large vertical beater spreaders mounted 6 wheel drive trucks and we are loading with a high hoe. Alot manure gets moved with this kind of operation. Our whole years manure pile will be spread within 15 hours. Next job to do is bring in shale to fill in the feedlot holes and bring the yard back up to level. Cattle tend to punch holes in the feed lot penning during the spring.
Since the last inch of rain, the land has been working quite nicely and we are glad we waited for moisture before tilling the fields. Grain hauling is going well and we plan to continue taking advantage of the good hauling weather.
I have been shifting pails around to use up the last of the syrup. Almost all of it has been consumed and very little syrup is coming back to the yard. The bees continue to look good, and the common theme is full boxes of bees. I’m starting to see 1% or 2% of the hives falling off. Which is evident of queen problems that I have missed earlier. I still have not seen any evidence of Deformed Wing Virus. This is about the time I start seeing it if its present.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 08:15 AM | Permalink
October 13, 2012
The farm has fallen into its typical fall time work route-en. The harvest pressure is off, all the hives are ready for winter and all our livestock feed is in the yard. There is still a lot of work around the farm but what I mean is our work load has slipped into a more casual mode with our summers production stored away. In farming one of the biggest pressures and stresses we encounter is weather. We operate our business at the mercy of Mother Nature and weather is a very hard factor to manage. Basically, our only way to manage weather is with work load and how we manage the workload. When the production is ready to reap, we take it and we work as hard as we can to ensure we get it. So now the production is stored away and we chip away at the jobs on the farm in a more casual work route-en.
The sun is starting to warm, and again the forecast is looking like we will see some nice weather within the next week. Then a more of a cooling pattern seems to fall in again. With this forecast I have decided to give my hives one more week to use any syrup left in their pails and then I’m going to start preparing the hives for winter storage. I cracked open a couple of hives the other day and they look fantastic. Full of bees and full of food. All I have to do with the hives right now is to fill in a few empty spots on my pallets. I’m going to have the winter shed cleaned up and running this next week. I am also going to send the skid steer and bee truck through the farms service to make sure everything is ready for the final move in. Im looking forward to moving the bees in mostly because after completing this job I can put the year behind me. I would say this year was one of my hardest bee years to date. The work load was tremendous and hives acted in a more unpredictable manner season long. Right now the hives are in great shape and when looking back at the total average hive honey production Id say it was good considering the weather. I’m going to reflect on the year in future posts as soon as I get the bees tucked away for winter.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:20 AM | Permalink
October 08, 2012
It has been cold these last few days, and it feels like it has been cold for a lifetime already. Funny how that is. Looked in at one of my nuc yards today and looked under the remaining pails of syrup, not a thing happening underneath but it didnt take too long before I had some company at their doorway. I am hoping for some nice weather this coming week to allow the bees time to finish off the bit of syrup left in the pails otherwise I will have to haul that syrup back to the yard for next years use. Much nicer to move empty pails. Long range forecast is warming as far out as 14 days. Im pretty much done feeding other than whats left on them. Would be nice if they would use up the extra bit of feed and stored it away, Im thinking they might need it later this winter.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:10 PM | Permalink
October 05, 2012
It feels like November with the wind and the rain and waking up to snow on the ground. The kids were up @ 5:30 and celebrating as if it were Christmas insisting Sandy and I wake up and help them get ready to go make snow men. Ahhhhhh. The wet weather is welcome even if some of it came in the form of snow. Not near enough to make too much difference with the soil water reserves. At least it has relieved the grass wild fire situation.
All my feeding for the year is now done, the last of the syrup went on Wednesday. They definitely will not be taking any syrup down during this cold weather but the long range and extended forecast is calling for temps to rise again into the mid teens next week and as far out as they dare to predict. That should give the hives enough time to finish the last bit of work I gave them. While working the last feed round I couldnt help but notice the hives are looking in great shape. All the hives are full of bees, most all are taking the syrup down and putting it somewhere, and I still have not seen a single case of Deformed Wing Virus yet. All these observations are giving me a very optimistic feeling about their condition and the winter ahead.
We have just gotten internet here on my farm yard, high speed to boot! I have been contributing to this web site on my brothers computer, thanks to him but very inconvenient. With having my own computer at home now Im probably going to be blogging a bit more than I usually do. I find this very useful to what Im doing plus I love all the feedback Im getting in response to my comments and thoughts. I will be moving this site to one of its own, still linked to the farm site and hoping it will allow me to easily post pictures along side my entries. It might make my ramblings a bit more interesting and it will also help create better picture of my work. My brother is keen and will probably have the new site up and running within the next month or two, and it will probably take me another month or two to figure out how to use it! HA
Posted by Ian Steppler at 07:32 AM | Permalink
October 03, 2012
Today I will run into Winnipeg to buy a couple hundred more liters of syrup which will finish off the feeding for the year. To date I have fed 55000 lbs of syrup. All my double hives are fed up along with most of my singles but I have decided to feed another half pail to my single yards to top them off. The hives are very large and Im thinking they will probably use it later in their winter sleep. The weather forecast is for cold and flurries but I expect this weather to be short lived and Im hoping for some warmer feeding weather to resume over the next three weeks of October.
Our Kazakhstan friends made another visit to our farm last week. They are once again interested in buying a large grouping of breeding stock from our farm. The order has not been placed as of yet but we are expecting movement this month. Andre show cased the farm and from what I can gather they were very impressed with how we manage our operations.
All the bales have been hauled in now and happy this job is done before snow fall. Our silage is done and now sits in two piles. We had a bumper silage crop this year with it yielding 18-20 tonnes per acre totaling 4000 tonnes and of very high quality. Next year we are considering also growing some seed corn along side the silage.
Still we have not done any fall land work other than harrowing. The land is extremely dry and we are starting to get concerned about next years land water reserves. Its now that we need the moisture to soak in and keep for next springs crop. Snow usually does us little in terms for moisture reserves as most of it runs off, so we are hoping for some good soakers this fall. We have not moved any grain yet, but the buyers are on our door step. We are close to making some movement on the markets. Its nice having the luxury of marketing crop in a strong market place.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 06:38 AM | Permalink