Last night I moved out a couple loads of hive into my spring holding yards. Five more loads are scheduled to be moved out tonight and tomorrow night. The yards are in great shape except the frost is disappearing and my access roads are loosing its base. This afternoon we are going to set feed out and emergency feed anything that lifts a bit light!
I am not having too much trouble with mud but with the frost coming out some places are loosing its base. We made a quick round today hefting to find the light hives. Out of the two loads that were set out last night, 25% of them were in need of feed. We also put out some open feeders with soy flour and syrup which the hives found immediately.
I noticed a rather odd observation today while we worked through the yards…typically in the spring during the first few days of flight we can hardly work the yard from all the bee poop flying. Today was 14 degrees and it seemed like there were a million bees in the air, but not much poop flying…? After making the round we returned to the first yard we had worked through to see if there was poop covering the brand new white feeder pails… nothing. With my quick assessment I am counting 5% looses including my dink hives. The rest of the hives are full of bees. Typically the air is laced with bee poop first bee flight day in the spring…not this year../?
Today with the cooler on the shed and 240 out of it, the remaining 700 hives were telling me to hurry the hell up and get them outside. I could not keep the shed below 11 degreesC! That is the warmest it has been in there all winter! There was bearding but not running, my bee drop ended up being zero, but I had the pressure washer on the shed at least four times through out the day.
Who would of thought fifteen days ago I would still have ALL my hives inside… a false start to spring indeed. Other than the few good flight day my hives missed, I did not see any benefit from having them out in the last two weeks of cold weather. Short term the weather shifts milder but also mixed with variability and cold later in the week. That elusive ‘nice’ week is still a week away. Today I was busy with other things and found the shed holding at 9 degreesC later in the day. The hives were bearded and with the light from my headlamp I started to see some runny hives. They quit running immediately as I misted down the shed. I plan on using these next few warm days to get the hives out and flying and get some emergency feeding done before the next forecast of cool weather slips in. Today I plan on making a round to scout for yards able to take hives. Snow will not be the issue this spring, but rather mud. I am looking forward to getting these hives out to start the year again!
Last night I loaded the truck full of hives and backed it into the winter shed. I am loaded and ready to go on a moments notice! This weekend possibly looks promising… I think I’ll use tomorrow to melt my yards clean and then see what is to come on Sunday. The shed is pretty quiet still, with normal bee drop. I lost track of my dead bee sweepings but like most years, end of March plagues us with continual hive attrition. Loading the truck stirred them up a bit, it’s too early to tell what the hives condition are like yet, but there was not a single hive in the 120 I loaded that wasn’t active. I have held them this long, I think it is important to set them out in good weather to start the year. No use setting them out into March’s cranky mood swings. Lately these forecasters have been adjusting their predictions so frequently that looking further than two days is pretty much useless. Like what my Dad always says; “well, lets see what tomorrow brings…”
The farm achieved another milestone at the bull sale yesterday. DSY 61B, Lot 15 sold to Wrangler Charolais, AB for $40,000! This bull commanded attention and that fact was obvious as five or six purebred buyers fought over this bull. The boys liked what they had seen as the next four bulls that hit the ring fetched $53,000 total. The sale barn was busting with not a seat in the house. We served 185 plates through lunch, and attracted a crowd of well over 225 guests. Our internet traffic caught us pleasantly off guard with over 160 visitors online, 60 of them registered active bidders.
The day did not go without it’s hitches… the weather was truly the sour point of the day. We woke to the landscape covered in a sheet of ice, worked all morning prepping for the sale in a thick thick fog, only to have the day switch to a cold soaking rain, then wind. Tis the season of March!! The bulls entered the ring wet, but presented very well. By the end of the day our work staff (including myself) were soaked and chilled to the bone… thankfully that morning we rented the largest diesel heater and cranked the heat to the cattle barn to keep our patrons comfortable inside. To add to our frustration with the weather two thirds through the sale our internet service died !! …. and shut out a strong bidding source from the sale. Because of our fast paced sale we were unable to renew the internet feed until the end. Weather and local power outages in the area were found to be the route cause of this issue. We apologize to all the bidders left lurking on line as their bulls sold. We have a master copy of all the bidders on line, if anyone was left without a bull contact Andre.
In the end we are dancing as our sale grossed 20% more than last year. Our sales results are available to the public and can be found on the ‘Steppler Charolais’ section of this webpage. We thank you all for coming out to support our sale. If you have any comments or questions about our sale or breeding program do not hesitate to contact Andre of Dan anytime and we can help you out!
Andre; “Now is the time to invest in your cowherd. The Cattle industry is our business”. I truly believe that investing in sound genetics will make your cattle operation profitable. You get what you put into it. Don’t sell your cows short by breeding them to the lowest birth weight bull you can find. Breed them to enhance their genetic potential. Remember, by today’s market, every pound at weaning time is multiplied by $2.50. Our farm operation truly is our way of life and one that we love. But rest assured we are also in the business of farming; every hour we work is an hour invested into Steppler Farms to increase the bottom line.”
We drove into town on Saturday morning to see no snow anywhere but the ski hill! It was a chilly but fantastic day skiing with the club. Hope to get next Saturday on the hill before that spring sun calls it quits!
Our guys were busting their butts this week and not only kept up with our daily chores, but also tore down the calving barn, totally completed the sale barn set up, installed the in chutes and viewing penning. With a coat of paint over the sales ring we are ready for the sale! Be sure to view the ‘Steppler Charolais’ webpage to read Andre’s pre-sale comments.
I have been chipping away at a few equipment projects in the honey house. I completed my drum puller and it works perfectly. I simply insert my drum clamp, hitch the cable onto the drum clamp and crank it up and out. It takes me a matter of seconds to remove the drum and will make clean out effortless.
Another project on the go is a mixing paddle in my honey wax collection unit. I re-worked an old Stainless Steel milk tank mixing paddle to suit the dimensions of the collection tub. I have it offset by a couple of inches beside the float switch and so the paddle sprocket lines up properly with the drive sprocket. I have it geared down to one paddle turn to every three auger turns. A flaw in this unit is inadequate honey wax mixing which I believe was the problem with my honey heat exchanger plugging up all the time. I am hoping that with a better mixed slurry, the problem of plugging is eliminated.
Over this past winter I have been working on implementing a beef on-farm food safety program; Verified Beef Production. It’s based on the principles of an international quality control program used widely in many industries, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which has been specifically adapted for VBP. Funding is available to registered producers to aid in implementing and building on the program.
Yesterday our farm went through the on farm audit and easily passed inspection to become fully registered as a Verified Beef Producer. As we follow all the appropriate production practices anyway, all I had to do was bring the program around what we already do to create a formalized document.
Tear down of the calving barn continues and set up is going well. The farm is quite the buzz with activity, as usual we are working in five or six directions all at the same time! Calving is pretty much complete now, so ONE job is taken off our plate.