Top feeders on all beehives

Since the temperatures are warming up, yesterday we added top feeders to all of the beehives, and added some 1:1 sugar syrup to feed them.

Here’s a picture inside a top feeder (actually an older picture); the trough holds syup, and the bees can access it from inside the hive via the center area:

Top feeder

Now all five of our hives (which are all still alive, yay!) have top feeders — the white boxes at the top of each:

Beehives

Beehives

The boards leaning against the hive stands are the inner covers of the hives, which aren’t needed with top feeders. I’ll remove those once the bees have left them.

I’ll refill the feeders weekly, or as needed. It takes quite a lot of sugar — using two large pots, I heat up 30 cups of water and mix in 30 cups of sugar, and that is only enough to partially fill the feeders. But the feeders will help the bees survive until more things are blooming in spring. We’ll remove the feeders when we add the honey supers, since we don’t want sugar water in our honey.

Cat update for week ending January 25

This week, something different: all of the pictures!  No, don’t run away, it’s not that bad.  I had 129 pictures to choose from this week, with too many good ones… so I thought I’d create an animated GIF of all of them. Having done that, I was able to filter them down to 20 to post as pictures, skipping many that I would otherwise have wanted to include.

Check out the GIF below to see the others, but first, the static pictures.

Starting with a super graceful Pumpkin soaking up the rays; nobody can relax like him (and another position in the GIF):

Graceful Pumpkin

Bella in the breezeway cabin, visited by Porcini:

Breezeway

Porcini staring at something, Poppy on the back door step, and someone else eating inside:

Three cats

I rearranged Pansy’s nest in the back of the shop, and moved the cam over there so I could see her. She likes to hang out on the chairs:

Pansy in the back of the shop

And has a hollowed out cushion to sleep in:

Pansy in the back of the shop

There’s a heating pad on the old dog bed in the foreground, but I haven’t seen her use it. I might try putting it under her cushion. It doesn’t get quite as cold in the back of the shop, though, as the walls are somewhat insulated (but also has non-insulated portions), and there’s a wall heater that comes on when it’s really cold.

Bella has been using the new breezeway cabin pretty much every night:

Bella in the breezeway

Pumpkin peeking at me while I refill the bird feeders. He is there most mornings, and has stopped running away when I approach; he knows I’m not a threat:

Pumpkin

I moved the mobile cam a bit closer to the cat house, which gives a nice view of it and the area in front. Here’s Paladout approaching:

Paladout

And Pumpkin:

Pumpkin

Pumpkin again, watching me walking past from under the cedar:

Pumpkin

Three cats:

Three cats

Pumpkin arrived while two others (Poppy and Porcini, I believe) were eating. They each looked up at him, then kept on eating. Oh, it’s you:

Pumpkin and others

Poppy slept in the breezeway cabin for a couple of hours, too:

Poppy in the breezeway

Unfortunately, Pumpkin found the new cabin… and sprayed it to claim it as his. He just has to have all the shelters:

Pumpkin in the breezeway

Pumpkin and a twin facing off:

Pumpkin and a twin

Pumpkin slowly edged around to get to the feeder, then decided to wander off instead:

Pumpkin and a twin

Pumpkin didn’t put off the others from the breezeway, though.  Later, Poppy was in the cabin again, and Porcini was wanting to join her, when Jenn approached to get in the car, which is parked at the end of the breezeway. So they both ran away:

Run away!

Run away!

A cat on top of the house, another inside, as a third approaches:

Three cats

Two cats on the roof, one on the deck. The flat tops of the facade makes great perches for cats:

Three cats

It’s showtime! See more pictures related to the above ones, and others that I didn’t include, in this animated GIF of 129 captured cat pictures from this week (about a minute in duration at two frames per second; it might take a moment to load if you have a slow connection):

129 cat pics, animated

Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this; I could easily do it in the future, thanks to a Retrobatch workflow that takes a collection of photos, resizes them, and converts them to a GIF.

Flock Friday for January 24

This week, chickens in the veggie garden and coops, and ducks in the pond. You know, the usual. Except a bonus Rory sighting.

A couple of the oldest girls perched on the potato planters in the veggie garden:

Chickens in veggie garden

The ducks during some rain showers:

Ducks

Mealworm treats:

Ducks with treats

Water trailing off the bill:

Ducks

Bert:

Bert

Gert:

Gert

Rory out for her walk on afternoon rounds, watched by the chickens in the veggie garden:

Rory and chickens in veggie garden

Chickens in the new coop:

Chickens in new coop

And in the old coop:

Chickens in old coop

A couple freshly laid eggs in a nesting box:

Eggs in nesting box

Building greenhouse shelving: back shelves

Over the weekend I started a fairly small new construction project: building some custom wooden shelving for our greenhouse.

Here’s an older photo of the greenhouse, showing the potting bench and a couple of small wire racks:

Greenhouse

To increase the capacity of growing space, I designed and am building wooden shelving, sized to fit the greenhouse and the plant trays.  I considered various designs, but decided on an outer frame of vertical-oriented 1x2s, with horizontal cross-braces supporting slats, also 1x2s. That should make it more sturdy and tidy than other concepts I considered.

To start, the shelf edge and bracing (perhaps not the proper terms, but works for me):

Shelf edge and bracing

The shelf slats, with plenty of space for excess water drainage:

Shelf slats

After making one prototype shelf, I took it to the greenhouse to confirm the sizing. Perfect fit! The vertical 2×4 represents one of the shelf posts; the posts will be on the ends, resting on the wooden foundation, plus some extra in the middle:

Shelf in greenhouse

Here you can see the full width. The shelf is 69” wide by 22” deep:

Shelf in greenhouse

Having confirmed that, I then cloned that shelf three times, for a total of four shelves at the back of the greenhouse, each shelf taking a total of 10 8’ 1×2 boards:

Making more shelves

That done, I made a couple of sets of side posts and shelf supports out of 2x4s. It probably would have been plenty sturdy using 2x2s, but no harm making it stronger.  The shelves will rest on and be screwed into those supports. The bottom ones are treated 2x4s sticking half below the posts, as they will also be screwed into the wooden foundation, so the shelves can’t tip over:

Side posts and supports

Finally for now, I started on the back posts and supports. These are just to help prevent the shelves from sagging in the middle. This isn’t quite done, as it’ll have a 2×4 at the top to mount a power strip onto:

Back posts and supports

That’s all I had time for this past weekend. Next weekend (probably), I’ll install weed mat on the floor of the greenhouse, finish the posts, and install them.

After that (probably a subsequent weekend), I will also build a second set of shelves along the right-hand wall of the greenhouse; much the same as the back ones, and connected to them. So the final result will be about 95 square feet of L-shaped shelving. That’ll hold a lot of seedlings!

Later, once the ground unfreezes, I will add a couple of taps and irrigation emitters for all of the shelves to water the plants.

Stay tuned!

Recent dusting of snow

Now that the snow has all melted, and we’re probably not getting any more this season (though might), I thought I’d post some pictures of the light dusting of snow during the past week. The weather forecast was suggesting we might get several inches, but it was more like half an inch. A little disappointing, not enough to break out the snow shovel, but at least it didn’t outstay its welcome.

Here’s the brown gazebo, tree grove, and new chicken coop:

Brown gazebo and chicken coop

The mostly frozen pond, with duck paths through the thin ice:

Pond

Beyond the pond, with snowy trees down the bank:

Beyond the pond

Our back lawn, with the pond off to the left, and brown gazebo in the background:

Back lawn

From a little farther back, the path to the pond deck:

Path to pond

The stream (behind the shrubs, and currently off) and cat house:

Cat house

Fountain garden, with the white gazebo in the background:

Fountain garden

A bonus cat picture of Pumpkin drinking from the heated water dish:

Pumpkin

In front of the cat house, with Pumpkin by the dish:

By cat house

The fully frozen pond, with snow drifts on top of the ice:

Frozen pond

Our front steps and driveway circle, looking towards the veggie garden, hoop house, and beehives in the distance:

Driveway circle

The beehives; the melting in the center of the roof of each hive indicates that the bees are still alive, at least as of now; still got a few months before they’ll be able to resume operations:

Beehives

Cat update for week ending January 18

This week, the trials and successes of Bella, birds making poor life choices, and cold wet stuff.

Portabella and Pumpkin continue to not get along; Pumpkin seems to feel he has to chase her off whenever he sees her:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

She came back, and again was chased off:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

In that encounter, Pumpkin kicked the decorative barrel off.  It was glued to the deck with the smaller ones; apart from helping the old west vibe, the barrels help hold the shelter’s maintenance door closed:

Barrel

A Steller’s Jay grabbing some cat food:

Steller's Jay

Two cats arriving, with Pumpkin in the house; he’s fine with the other cats, just not Bella:

Two cats arriving

Graupel:

Graupel

Pumpkin watching me from under the main deck:

Pumpkin

A bunch of small birds drinking from the heated water dish:

Birds

Pumpkin and Pommie hanging out on the cat deck:

Pumpkin and Pommie

A bird tried to have a drink when cats were nearby, and Pumpkin suggested that might not be wise:

Pumpkin and a bird

Pumpkin and Paladout seem to be getting used to each other; the latter saw Pumpkin peeking, but kept on eating instead of getting upset like in the past:

Pumpkin and Paladout

Pumpkin and Paladout

Pumpkin in the garden:

Pumpkin

Snowy cats:

Snowy cats

A Steller’s Jay arrives for more food:

Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay

This time, not so lucky: Pommie was in the cat house, and heard the bird:

Cat and Steller's Jay

Cat and Steller's Jay

Cat and Steller's Jay

Though I guess the bird was actually very lucky: it got the food, and narrowly escaped becoming food.

You may have seen that I added a new heated shelter in the breezeway next to our workshop. Subsequent to that, I modified it a little to make it more sheltered, by putting some old hanging baskets next to it:

Modified breezeway cabin

Bella found the cabin, and tried it out. She has spent most of the past two nights in there, which makes me very happy:

Bella in cabin

Pommie and Pumpkin:

Pommie and Pumpkin

A cat in the breezeway:

Cat in breezeway

Pommie has spent a fair bit of time in the cat house, too:

Pommie in cat house

Pommie in cat house

Bella in the breezeway again, from another angle (this camera is only there temporarily):

Bella in breezeway

Bella inside the breezeway cabin last night:

Bella in breezeway cabin

Bella having a stretch in the morning:

Bella by breezeway cabin

I’m glad that she has a comfy shelter away from Pumpkin’s usual haunts.

Flock Friday for January 17

This week, the ducks get to practice walking on the ice again, and more snow.

Let’s start with a couple pictures of most of the chickens in the new coop:

Chickens

Chickens

The ducks carefully walking on the frozen pond:

Ducks on frozen pond

On the ramp into the duck house:

Ducks on ramp by frozen pond

Inside:

Ducks in their house

Mealworm treats on the frozen pond:

Ducks on frozen pond

A bunch of crows in the field, making quite a racket; there were many more elsewhere on the field, too:

Crows in field

Crows in field

Ducks slogging through the thin ice on the frozen pond:

Ducks in frozen pond

Ducks in frozen pond

Chickens with some snow:

Chickens

Ducks in the partially frozen pond:

Ducks in partially frozen pond

Ducks in partially frozen pond

Ducks in partially frozen pond

An early morning shot of snow pooling in the middle of the frozen pond:

Pond

The snowy path to the duck house:

Ducks in partially frozen pond

Ducks in the slushy ice:

Ducks in frozen pond

Ducks in frozen pond

Ducks in frozen pond

Ducks in frozen pond

That’s probably going to be it for snow for this season, though it could snow again. It’s melting now, and will probably turn to rain over the coming week. Looks like the temperatures won’t be cold enough to freeze the pond either. It was fun while it lasted.

Breezeway cat cabin

Since we’re having freezing temperatures at present, and Pumpkin has been hogging the cat house and cabins, I thought I’d get another heated shelter for the other cats, and put it further away.

At first, I had the notion and wrote up a design to build a shelter on top of a new enclosure for our well, since the current one is kinda ugly and falling apart:

Well enclosure

Here’s inside; the well head, plus an electrical outlet that powers the chicken coops and an Eero to help spread the Wi-Fi mesh (amusingly named “Well Actually”):

Well head and Eero

But I had some misgivings with that concept, as it’d take a while to build, by which time the worst of the cold would be past, and I’m not sure they would use it there anyway, among other issues. So I decided to put aside that concept for now; I might revisit it in the future.

Anyway, I thought that a more immediate, cheaper, and easier option would be to just buy another prefab heated shelter like I have for the cabins. And that I could put it in the breezeway next to our workshop, where the cats often walk, which would also protect it from the elements:

Breezeway

Some of the cats walk through there every day, on their way to other haunts in the trees on the east side of our property.

I put the shelter on the lower shelf of the (largely unused) heavy-duty shelving in the breezeway, and (me being me) also got a camera to watch it:

Cat cabin and cam on shelf

So far, the camera has shown only a couple of cats (one of the twins, and Bella) investicating it, including going inside, but nobody has stayed for long:

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Time will tell if that is a successful location. If they don’t end up using it, I could try putting junk around it to make it less exposed, or move it elsewhere. We’ll see. At least now they have the option of another heated shelter if they want it.

Cat update for week ending January 11

This week: using the cat house a bit more, Paladout becoming accepted, Pumpkin and Bella not so much, a little snow, and more.

But first, a Steller’s Jay on the cat house deck:

Steller's Jay

Pommie (I think) and Bella:

Pommie and Bella

One of the twins inside the cat house; not sure if Pommie or Spud, though probably Pommie. They have spent several nights in the cat house, since Pumpkin has mostly vacated it in favor of the cabins:

Cat inside

Poppy entering the feeder via the back door:

Poppy going in feeder back door

Poppy and Bella:

Poppy and Bella

Porcini and Paladout seem to be getting quite comfortable with each other. Here Paladout approaches Porcini fairly closely:

Porcini and Paladout

When she turns around, he backs off a bit, but they seems happy enough; not even a warning hiss:

Porcini and Paladout

Pumpkin arrival:

Pumpkin arrival

Using the back door:

Pumpkin arrival and exit

The twins on the deck:

Twins

Pumpkin is still using the cat house a bit, typically just before breakfast, while waiting for it to dispense:

Pumpkin inside

Our dog Rory inside, watching Pumpkin by the gate (look closely… and a hummingbird visible too). She can react to seeing cats on the deck by jumping up on the window, which is strongly discouraged; we’re worried that one day she’ll break it:

Rory watching Pumpkin

The cabins with their typical occupants, Pommie and Pumpkin:

Cabins

A twin on top of the camera housing, watching Paladout:

Watching Paladout

The cat house façade and signs:

Cat house signs

A fun detail; a cactus ornament in the feeder cupboard window:

Cactus ornament in window

When I do my morning rounds, and refill the bird feeders, Pumpkin often retreats, but sometimes he stays in the cabin and watches me warily; here he was slowly blinking (cat smile) while I reassured him he was safe there:

Pumpkin in cabin

Bella and Pumpkin really don’t get along.  Here she is entering the feeder, and Pumpkin is way over by the bird feeders:

Bella by feeder, Pumpkin by birds

As soon as Pumpkin saw her, he came running up:

Pumpkin running up

And they had a bit of an encounter in the feeder:

Bella and Pumpkin

Followed by a rapid exit out the back door:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

A tail sticking out the back door:

Tail sticking out door

Two cats watching a bird:

Watching a bird

Paladout, with Porcini peeking around the corner:

Paladout and Porcini

Paladout eating, Porcini watching from the back door:

Paladout and Porcini

More Porcini peeking, this time on our main deck, watching me inside our house:

Porcini on deck

My first hint that it was snowing the other day was seeing some white flecks on a cat in the feeder:

Snowy cat

As mentioned, a twin has been spending the night in the cat house, but Pumpkin likes to turn up in the morning to wait for breakfast. That of course led to them having a face-off, with Pumpkin outside and the twin growling and hissing to defend the house:

Pumpkin and a twin

After a few minutes, Pumpkin decided to wait in the feeder instead:

Pumpkin and a twin

A sneak peek of snow:

Snow

Cat footprints in the snow on the bird box:

Snow

We’re expecting much more snow next week, so you can look forward to more snowy pictures if that eventuates.

Flock Friday for January 10

This week: some treats, some snow.

But first, pre-dawn ducks:

Pre-dawn ducks

Chickens enjoying rice, their second-favorite treat (after mealworms):

Chickens enjoying rice

Chickens enjoying rice

Ducks enjoying mealworm treats:

Ducks enjoying treats

Ducks enjoying treats

We got a sneak peek of snow this week.  Here’s the tree by the chicken runs, laden with snow:

Tree by chicken runs laden with snow

As usual when it snows, the chicken run roof netting collapsed under the weight. Someday I’ll get around to replacing it with welded wire:

Run roof netting collapse

Run roof netting collapse

Chickens with a little residue of snow:

Chickens with snow

Snow on the duck house roof:

Snow on duck house

Snowy pond bank:

Snowy pond bank

Me tossing treats to the ducks:

David giving treats

The ducks in the pond (which isn’t at all frozen), surrounded by snowy banks and trees:

Snowy

Snowy