'Livestock' Update

This is a quick update on all the 'livestock' we have on the urban farm. I use that word as a joke, because all we really have are chickens and bees. And a dog. And a cat. And once in awhile, a stray coyote! (Actually, I just saw a report from a street one over from ours - the homeowners looked in their backyard and saw a cougar! And they actually got several pictures, it was magnificent. So it's possible that we have cougars visiting our yard from time to time.)

I continue to worry about the honeybees. I see very limited activity at the hive entrance, but then that can be chalked up to rainy and cold weather. Bees generally won't fly unless it's above 50 degrees, though they will fly if it's colder but sunny. Since I've seen so little activity, I opened the hive one day last week just to check (it was above 50, but barely, so I made it a very quick check). There are a lot of dead bees littering the bottom of the hive, but a cluster of live bees near the front, who were very aggressive when we opened up the bars where they were keeping warm. So we switched out some bars - moved the bars full of capped honey and nectar to the front of hive where the bees were, and took out some bars with empty comb and put those near the back. I have seen slightly more activity since then, but it's incremental. When the weather gets cold, the bees need to cluster together to keep warm, and traveling very far from that cluster to get food could result in death. So even if the bees have plenty of honey, if it's not in a place where they can access it, they can starve. Hopefully moving their food source closer to them will help them survive just another month or so until temps get warmer. 

Meanwhile, the manzanita has started blooming, so there is some forage for them, if they venture out.



The hummingbirds are all over this bush. Which makes me wonder about nectar: Do flowers renew their nectar supply each day? Many times a day? How can there be enough for everyone? These are mysteries that I must research sometime.

The chickens are doing very well. They seem to be experiencing a limited molt, or maybe I just don't know what a molt looks like. They've lost a few feathers but nothing drastic. And they are still laying well. We get 2-5 eggs every day. I've been buying greens for them (and us!) but I think the garden is finally at a place where it can provide their daily portion (and ours!). Also I've been shoveling up rotting leaves every weekend and dumping them in their coop. They seem to love them - they scratch around for hours - they must be finding little bugs or seeds.


Joe the dog is much better. You might recall he had a spinal injury that required painkillers and steroids. He's still on a very low dose of steroid, but he is MUCH better. We are still not walking him very far, but we are slowly working up to longer walks in the hills. This a great relief.


And Tasha the cat has become an indoor pet for the winter, which is surprising. She is a very independent animal (par for the course, with cats?) and usually prefers to be outside, doing whatever cats do. But this winter, in a total change of character, she has started spending every day indoors on our bed. This is how she looks, pretty much all day.


So all seems well with the livestock here at Poppy Corners.