Cat update for week ending August 31

Just like clockwork, another Caturday rolls around. How about that.

Let’s start with an unusual vantage: a cat (looks like Spud) sitting on the path to the field, while we were having dinner on the deck. You can see a bird feeder on the left, and the cat house in the upper-right:

Cat on path

Porcini looking towards the camera:

Cat looking towards camera

So cute:

Cat looking towards camera

Four cats waiting for breakfast:

Four cats

A sleepy Poppy:

Sleepy cat

A cat profile:

Cat outside

Big yawn:


Sniffing noses:


Porcini bapping at a taunty spider:


Watching birds etc:

Three cats

We were out last night, so three cats had to wait for their dinner (there was some for earlier arrivals, but I remotely dispense more based on demand to avoid leaving some after dark, which attracts raccoons and possums):

Three cats

Four cats (one barely visible in the foreground):

Four cats

Flock Friday for August 30

Let’s check in with some of the homestead flock, shall we?

Duck butts:

Duck butts

Night swim:

Night swim

A sequence of three pictures of a duck flying from the bank into the pond:

Duck flying

Duck flying

Duck landing

Just like dogs and cats, ducks sometimes have zoomies, randomly flapping their wings and hydroplaning around the pond:

Duck zoomies

A raccoon waded through the edge of the pond, while the ducks watched from a safe distance:

Raccoon and ducks

Attempting an artistic shot of the ducks in the rain through a whirligig:

Ducks in rain through whirligig

The ducks in the pond during light rain:

Ducks in pond

Ducks in pond

Bert standing on one leg. I don’t recall seeing them on the bank in the northwest corner of the pond before:

Duck standing on one leg

Exploring the secret path on the west side of the pond:

Ducks exploring secret path

Ducks exploring secret path

Flapping wings:

Duck flapping wings

On to the chicks. Some of them are starting to cluck (instead of peep) now, so I think I’ll start calling them chickens instead of chicks. They aren’t quite fully grown yet, and won’t start laying for another month or two, but are getting there.

A bit of pecking order aggro:

Chicken aggro

Perhaps triggered by a wild bird in the coop; I hadn’t seen that before (must have come in the pop door):

Bird in coop

So far they prefer to roost above the nesting boxes at night (and above the window, not really an official roost). But I decided to put the poop tray back under the main roosts, in case they do switch to that someday:

Poop tray

Another coop invader: a cheeky squirrel:

Squirrel in coop

The squirrel came back a bit later, much to the confusion and concern of the chickens:

Squirrel in coop

I went out there and chased it out, and it hasn’t been back since (so far).

Chickens on the roosts:

Chickens on roosts


Moana looking at me:

Moana looking at me

Four on the floor:


Moana eating mealworms from my hand:

Moana eating mealworms from my hand

The chickens outside in their run. Still lots of weeds, which is fine; dual purpose of snacks and shade from the sun for them:

Chickens outside

No pictures of the old chickens this week. I’ll try to get some for next time!

Honey processing, top feeder, queen cage, nucs

On Saturday Jenn processed the honey harvested the previous weekend. She used a bucket with a filter screen and closable nozzle to filter out debris from the honey, and portion it into cute little hexagonal jars:

Filtering honey

She then labeled the jars:

Labeling jars

And stored them in plastic containers:

Labeled jars

Yesterday we did a quick inspection of the hives. Firstly I added 2:1 sugar syrup to the top feeder on the new hot pink hive:

Top feeder

Here’s a close up of the feeder; if you look closely, you can see cute little tongues on some of the bees:

Bees drinking

We then removed the queen cages from the requeened hives. Here you can see a cage after the frames were moved apart:

Queen cage

Jenn lifted the frame so I could grab the cage:

Queen cage

Here’s a queen cage after removing it, with a few bees still inside. The candy has been eaten, and the queen has exited:

Queen cage

We inspected a frame from each of the requeened hives, but didn’t immediately see the queens, and didn’t look further, not wanting to disturb the hives too much at this stage. We didn’t see anything untoward like queen cups, though, so we think they are doing fine. We’ll check again next time to try to find them:

Inspecting frame

Inspecting frame

The two nuc boxes with the old queens are still surviving:

Nuc box

We haven’t decided what to do with these yet; we could just leave them as-is, putting the cardboard boxes in the hoop house or other shelter, perhaps supplementing with some frames of honey, and see if they survive the winter. Or we could merge the two boxes into one, by buying wooden nuc boxes. Or we could merge them into the hot pink hive, to bolster that. We’ll continue to consider options.

Cat update for week ending August 24

It’s another Caturday!

Cats sniffing noses inside the cat house shelter:

Cats sniffing noses

Three cats at breakfast time:

Three cats

The alien orange cat (Pumpkin) arrives; the two in the feeder scattered:

Orange cat arrives

A big yawn:

Big yawn

A couple of cats watching (probably Rory on the deck):

Cats watching

The alien gray cat (Paladout):

Alien gray cat

(Also seen in yesterday’s Flock Friday post, bothering the ducks.)

Relaxing on the deck:

Relaxing on the deck



Two cats; pretty sure that’s Poppy and Spud:

Two cats



One of the twins (probably Pommie) feeling playful; Poppy and Porcini aren’t impressed:

Feeling playful

Feeling playful

Bella’s big yawn:

Big yawn

Four cats:

Four cats

Bella chasing a bug:

Chasing a bug

Looking at the camera:

Looking at the camera

Three cats at breakfast:

Three cats at breakfast

Flock Friday for August 23

For Flock Friday, let’s check in with the ducks first, as usual.

The ducks enjoy resting in various spots on the edge of the pond; this is one of their favorites (some fish visible, too):

Ducks on bank, fish in pond

Ducks and fish eating treats:

Ducks and fish in pond

Next to their house, watching a landscaper trimming a tree:

Ducks next to their house

Ducks in the pond:

Ducks in pond

Early this morning, the alien gray cat (“Paladout”) visited the duck house, when they were on the bank on the other side of it:

Alien gray cat

The cat approached the duck house, and the ducks slowly swam into the safety of the pond:

Alien gray cat and ducks

Speaking of unwelcome visitors, I saw a pair of raccoons in the chicken run in the pre-dawn morning (when the chicks were all safely closed in the coop):

Raccoons in chicken run

Here one is peeking at the camera, before climbing the fence:

Raccoon in chicken run

The new run does have a bird-netting roof, but there are big gaps due to snow damage. One thing on my long list of homestead projects is to replace that with welded wire; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

One more visitor, a cheeky squirrel in the coop:

Squirrel in chicken coop

Chicks on the roosts in their run:

Chicks on run roosts

Flowers self-seeded from the old hanging baskets above:

Self-seeded flowers

Some more pictures of the chicks in their run:







They’re getting quite big, but still not fully grown, and still peeping instead of clucking. Here you can see the new and old chickens in their adjacent runs:

Chicks and chickens

They’ll be kept apart until after the new ones are fully grown and start laying. In the meantime, they can get used to each other through the fence, which will make integration later a little easier.

Project of summarizing projects

I’ve done a number of building projects over the years, and while I have a building category on the homestead blog, if I wanted to point people to the construction steps of a specific project, there wasn’t a very good summary of that; it was very difficult to hunt down the individual blog posts that cover that project. I also have tags, like “chicken coop” or “duck house”, but they get “polluted” with posts on their usage, as opposed to construction. Perhaps bad planning on my part.

So I recently started a new project, of a different sort: I added some new posts to the blog to summarize my various building projects. They are a custom post type, which keeps them separate from the regular posts, and able to be skimmed without the other topics.

Each post covers one project, and includes links to all of the individual blog posts discussing work on it, along with one photo from each post as a visual indication of progress.

Initially I have added posts on two projects.

A very small project, building some potato planters for the veggie garden:

A very large project, building a new chicken coop:

Click those links to read those summary posts, and click through to the individual blog posts to read more details and see more photos.

For extra meta fun, I also added a post that summarizes the summaries. That will be a useful one to visit to quickly jump to project summaries you’re interested in reading.

You can also visit the main projects page, which includes an infinitely scrolling list of all project posts.

These last two are also listed in the site menu on every page, hidden behind the “hamburger” icon in the top-left corner.

I will add more summaries of past projects over time, till caught up. Next will probably be building the chicken run. Look for subsequent posts on building the cat house, the berry cage, the duck house, the pool deck extension, and lots more. I’m not sure yet if I’ll include assembling pre-made things, like the greenhouse and deck gazebo. Or things like garden plumbing. Let me know if you think those should be included.

I hope you’ll find this resource useful. I know I will.

Beehive inspection, harvest, treatment, requeening

Over the weekend we had an epic three-hour beehive session, plus a quick half-hour one the following day. A lot went on: we inspected all five of the hives, harvested 9 quarts of honey from the Flow hive, removed one box full of honey frames, put a bee escape on another hive to take a box from them (15 medium frames total), did mite counts and treatments, added a new feeder box, found and removed queens from two hives, and replaced the queens (the next day). Read on for details.

Firstly, we started the Flow harvest:

Flow harvest

While that was underway, we checked the new “hot pink” hive; it seems to be doing well, though we have concerns on whether or not it has enough honey stored to survive the winter; we might provide extra frames of honey to help them along:

Hot pink hive

We did the sugar shake mite test on each of the hives. Here’s a jar of sugary bees:

Jar of sugary bees

Jenn doing the mite test:

Sugar shake mite test

A frame of honey from the yellow hive; this is from a box that we will harvest, cutting the foundationless frames into comb honey, and extracting from the foundation ones:

Nice frame of honey

We wanted to replace the aging queens on the yellow and Flow hives, so the trick was to find them. Here’s the queen on the yellow hive — look for the one with minimal stripes towards the bottom, right of center:

Queen bee

We put that frame and one other in a nuc box, along with some empty frames, as a backup in case the new queens don’t “take”:

Nuc box

A close-up of bees on top of frames:

Close-up of bees

We also added a bee escape board between the brood boxes (the bottom two) and the honey supers (the top two). This is a special board that includes a triangular route that bees can go out but apparently can’t find their way back in (see a picture of it later). This is an easy way to get the bees out of the honey boxes, so we can remove them:

Escape added

An essential tool, the smoker:


Checking in on the Flow harvest:

Flow harvest

We covered the jars to prevent lazy bees from trying to collect the honey, and ending up drowning in the jars:

Jars covered

A very nice full frame of honey from the purple hive, from another box that we’ll harvest:

Full frame of honey

Jenn brushed off the bees, since there weren’t all that many (and we don’t have a second bee escape), so we could take the box away immediately:

Brushing off bees

The orange hive is rather engineering challenged; they have a lot of cross-combing, which gets torn apart when removing the frames:

Orange hive is engineering challenged

They were rather cranky at our critique of their engineering talents; we had to take long walks to get them to stop trying to kill us:

Cranky hive

We also found and removed the old queen from the Flow hive; here’s her nuc box, again with two frames from the hive, plus empty ones:

Nuc for Flow hive's queen

After finishing harvesting, we removed the Flow box, and left it on the ground for them to clear out of it:

Removed Flow box

We received the two new queens, enclosed in queen cages along with some attendants, and a block of candy for the bees in the hive to slowly eat through, while getting used to their new queen:

New queens

The next day, preparing a queen cage for installation in the hive:

Preparing queen cage

I didn’t get any pictures of the queen cage in place, since I had to help position it; it’s basically jammed between two frames.

A Mite Away Quick Strips treatment on a couple of hives that needed it, without new queens:

Mite Away Quick Strips treatment

We went back at night to collect the Flow box, but there was an unusual amount of activity, and bees still active inside the Flow box:

Night activity

So I added the escape board to the Flow box, so they can clear out. You can also see the five hives reduced to their winter configurations of just brood boxes. All the honey the bees collect for the rest of the year is for them to store to eat during winter. Oh, and the white box on the hot pink hive is a feeder tray, with big troughs for sugar syrup, that the bees can access from inside the hive. A higher capacity than the old feeder jars, and less prone to robbing by bees from other hives:

Escape on Flow box

Here’s a closer look at the bee escape board, with some bees heading out:

Bee escape board

Finally, bearding bees on a hive with the mite treatment; an expected behavior:

Bearding bees

Cat update for week ending August 17

Saturday means Caturday, checking in with the feral cats we care for.

Two cats sleeping inside the cat house shelter:

Two cats inside

Reaching for a bug on the wall below the feeder camera:

Reaching for a bug

Up close:

Up close

The alien gray cat and Poppy; she just wandered off, and let the gray cat finish eating:

Gray cat and feral

Three cats looking at something (probably Rory on the deck):

Three cats

Sleepy cats:

Sleepy cats

Chasing a moth:

Chasing a moth

Three cats inside the shelter, when the gray cat visits after midnight:

Four cats

Three snuggly cats:

Three cats

Still three upstairs, when one more arrives:

Four cats

Spud staring at a bug:

Staring at a bug

Four cats inside; I also saw Spud in the feeder again at this time. It’s rare to see all five cats, but I’m glad when I do; it’s nice to confirm that they’re all still alive:

Four cats

Those aren’t cats: two raccoons inside:

Two raccoons

The alien gray cat arrives, followed by the alien orange cat:

Orange and gray cats

Both are probably pet cats of neighbors. We’ve named the orange cat Pumpkin, but haven’t named the gray cat (which has a collar, so is definitely a pet). Since he looks like an outdoor edition of our cat Paladin, maybe we should call him Paladout? 😉

Orange and gray cats:

Orange and gray cats

Two cats, doing the feral startled stare:

Two cats

The gray cat arrives when one of our ferals is sitting next to the deck; they seem to be somewhat getting used to each other:

Gray and feral cats

Two cats sniffing noses in greeting:

Two cats

Poppy has been spending several hours each night sleeping in the shelter, which makes me happy; she was a very good mother to her kittens, and deserves a comfortable retirement:

Sleepy poppy

Flock Friday for August 16

Welcome to another Flock Friday, my weekly update on our ducks and chickens.

Let’s start with the ducks. Here they are on our pond, with Bert, the male Buff, flapping his wings:

Duck flapping wings

You can see the green sheen on Gill’s black feathers:


A little closer:


By the duck house ramp:

Ducks by ramp

On the ramp (with the duck house sign visible):

Ducks on ramp

Inside the duck house, eating:

Ducks eating

A rapid egress due to a random freak out:

Rapid egress

Ducks resting on the pond bank:

Ducks on bank


Ducks on bank

Ducks and fish in the pond, shortly before sunset; those ripples aren’t rain, but fish going for food:

Ducks and fish in pond

Ducks at dusk:

Ducks in pond

On to the chicks; they are getting so big, but still not fully grown, and still peeping instead of clucking:





And the older chickens, enjoying treats:




Finally, some fluffy butts:


Cat update for week ending August 10

Firstly, while the Caturday posts are typically about our feral cats, I wanted to start by wishing a happy 12th birthday to one of our pet cats, Pippin:


Not-a-cat: a dog checks out the cat house during our summer party:


Three cats waiting for breakfast:

Three cats waiting for breakfast

Four cats at breakfast:

Four cats at breakfast

Pansy reaching for food:

Pansy reaching for food

Scratching a tree:

Stretching on tree

A GIF variation:

GIF of scratching tree

Three cats:

Three cats

Four cats:

Four cats

Contentedly waiting:

Three cats

Sleepy cat:

Sleepy cat

Four cats:

Four cats

A couple of cats playing by the tree, while a couple more wait for food:

Four cats