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by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: farmette 1769

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Pics from November 10, 2018

It was a working weekend for me, and last Saturday evening’s activities revolved around the 17th wedding anniversary of my husband and I. I squeezed in a few photos and a last minute queen excluder topper project that day also. There was no time to edit pics or write a blog article.

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This is what was happening last Saturday around 2 pm at 55 degrees, sunny and crisp. One lone girl wandered out to greet my potential invasion. The rest of the honey bees had retreated back into the recesses of the hive.

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I popped the top off to check the added super box situation out around 6 pm, having discovered that the overnight temperature was going to drop below freezing. It was projected to be 28 degrees. I had forgotten all about insulating the empty space from the queen excluder, into the additional super, and up to the top cap.

So my poor husband had to wait for me to speed hack together a solution, before heading out for our celebratory dinner date.

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A used board and a new 1″ x 2″ pine strip was available in the garage.

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We have both a hobby sized table and miter saw. The board was chopped to size. The strip was cut for gap fill and a cup hook added for future removal. I was doing it on the fly – fast. I managed not to chop my fingers off.

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When I opened the top of the hive again, the honey bee workers decided to come storming up through the queen excluder.

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I put the make-shift excluder top on, took a photo, and placed two strips over those gaps. Then the bees came to get me, so there’s no pic of that step.

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But here’s one of my big, loose jacket. It’s the one I threw off as I ran away from the hive. A bee had gotten up the sleeve. I didn’t get stung. I’ve only gotten stung 4 or 5 times since starting the hive and never really wearing any gear.

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This pic is the only one from tonight, November 17th. It shows those stop gap wood strips. I’ll probably use the battery driven screwdriver to attach those to the main board with some type of braces. It does not now nor will it look pretty, but it’s doing its job. Our 55,000 honey bees are staying warm and toasty in their complex little world – all inside a bee box.

 

 

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After a few extra rough weeks here on Farmette 1769, I was thinking about the idea of stopping to smell the roses. I’ve done it in horrible life cycles before, but I thought of a way to really force it into my life to a higher degree.

I am a morning person that loves the still and quiet breaking of the dawn. It is not being welcomed by rooster crows right now. We had lost one during the early October onslaught of terrible events. Our remaining rooster, Hector, barely survived the second issue with the flock. I really don’t know how he survived. His comb had drooped and was not only pale pink, but also had a yellowish tinge to it.

But, Hector is running around full speed now, albeit lingering on the floor of the coop at night. I hope that he gets back to crowing soon. Either way, we’ll need to locate a second Swedish Flower rooster. It’s nice to have a back-up to help protect the flock. And, two crows are better than one.

But back to seizing the day, no matter what is going on in one’s own life; I started to take sunrise photographs. They are taken with just my iPhone. It’s quick-ish to do that. I can just edit with the light and color controls that come with my phone software. Then, posting right onto social media is easy.

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October 16, 2018
Noles Drive

Weekdays start with the morning drop-off. It’s nice to have some car talk time with our teenage son. He rides the bus home from school and could do so in the am. But, it gets us both rolling for the day.

I started this new project on 10/16/2018. It’s a Monday through Friday, one final photo per day, type of thing.

 

October 17, 2018
Noles Drive / Side Street, Mount Holly, NC

I couldn’t decide between these two pics, so I posted one personally and one publicly.

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October 18, 2018
Old NC 27 Hwy

This one was taken just across the way, in front of our neighbor’s horse field.

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October 19, 2018
Noles Drive

At some point, the people that own the house (down the driveway from where I have been stopping) may grow weary of my visits. But they don’t seem to be home on weekdays, so I may be able to get away with this for a while.

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October 22, 2018
Woods to the side of our house.

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October 23, 2018
Railroad Tracks – Downtown Mount Holly

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October 24, 2018
Noles Drive

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October 25, 2018
E. Central Ave. & S. Lee St.

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October 26, 2018
Catawba River, Mount Holly

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October 29, 2018
Catawba River, Mount Holly

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October 30, 2018
Willowside Drive

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Stockbridge Drive

I parked at the top of the drive at our son’s friends home. It had one of the best views on the street, and no one would think I was a stalker there. So, that is where I got out of my truck to take in the crisp, fall day aka Halloween.  It was my last October sunrise photograph for the year.

On the weekend following the last weekday of November, I plan to blog that whole month of pics in one fell swoop.

Next Saturday, I’ll stalk the honey bees.

 

 

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It’s 52 degrees Fahrenheit out tonight. I took these pics within an hour of when I started compiling this article – around 9 pm. The front entrance was very quiet, due to the weather cooling down into fall. No worker bee guards came to chase me off. I had to put my phone camera lens right up to the ledge; in order to get a shot back into where the bees were congregated.

There was not much activity, so I was going to use an alternate plan to make a boring blog post better. But, I’ll save that for a rainy day, since things got more interesting after I opened up the top/cap.

Without all the bees coming to get me, I realized that I could, with my bare hands, place my lens anywhere I chose, without getting stung. This clip looks down the back width between the farthest comb and the back wall of the wooden hive.

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Then I re-positioned the lens, and got a view eyeballed down through the queen excluder mesh.

My big flood flashlight is being used to avoid blown out detail from the phone flash.

Then I took another video from that angle. All three clips caught busy bee sounds. And, I did not get attacked the whole time.

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The two photographs are still shots from my excursion out to the hive.

It was a short trip out to the right hand sugar maple tree. It shades our honey bee hive and gives it a little bit of wind break. Albeit right out the front door and across the yard, it was akin to Gulliver’s Travels.

It was a wondrous adventure into the world of tiny creatures living a massive hidden city.

 

 

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Honey Bee Hive Front Entrance

It’s 56 Degrees Fahrenheit @ 10 PM. Sunday night into Monday morning, we will get our first freezing temperature of the season. That is when I plan to start feeding the masses sugar water syrup again.

As you can see, even at this temperature, our honey bees are no longer overflowing the front of their hive. They are hanging inside, keeping themselves and their queen toasty and warm.

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As anticipated I was able to get some close-up photos this Saturday.

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I popped the top off the hive and looked down onto the queen excluder mesh. This worker girl showed me her holster, ready to sting me at a moments notice.

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The extra super above this mesh, about a half of a regular hive high, is empty. I have not decided how to address this issue yet. I may build a drop-in top lid to keep the hive warm for winter, since the super is now glued edge to edge with the main hive; meaning that I can’t really take it off.

It is glued with whatever that orange-red substance is that the bees filled gaps with. I think it is nectar. Whatever it is, it sure acts like cement.

Short Clip – Inside Top View

That’s all until next Saturday! Have a great upcoming week!

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The crisp fall weather has arrived here in the Charlotte, NC region, and our honey bees are tucked into their hive; with a few guards wandering out to the ledge of the hive entrance.

The following photos are not breathtaking by any means. I am saving up for a Digital SLR Camera (My SLR is a late 1980’s Pentax Film Camera). These are taken with just an iPhone. And, my menace of a big, young dog (Barry) was pulling on his leash while I was trying to get a good shot.

But here is what I was able to manage within those parameters.

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Maybe next week Barry will be sleeping and I can get an even closer close-up pic of a honey bee or two. I should probably pull out my old reliable Pentax, use that “through the lens” viewpoint and have some old school film developing done. I think I have some good Fuji 35mm spools around here somewhere…

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About a third of our flock is now sneezing and/or coughing a bit. That makes it the 4th pet/livestock issue in a week. All four separate problems. And, there is another tropical storm coming (from the South West not the South East this time).

That tub has Poultry Cell Rooster Booster in it. It has vitamins, minerals and more. The current issue was starting up yesterday (or the day before – it’s all a blur), so they all had access to a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt. You shouldn’t give them this too often, so yesterday they got a bowl of coconut oil to help boost their immune response. It also adds calories to birds that may be losing weight from illness. Now that I am writing this I realize that it must have been Monday that this problem began.

See those hanging soda bottle drinkers? One has poultry cell solution and one has organic apple cider vinegar in it. I’ll probably put out a bowl of coconut oil again today, since it is not too soon to give them that again.

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In the meantime, our beloved old dog Deirdre can now stay on her feet for 10-15 minutes at a time post-surgery. She is drinking and eating and trying to spit out pain pills. But she likes the peanut butter I smear on her lips before popping the pills into the back of her mouth.

I keep chants ready in the back of my mind for challenging situations. Sometimes it is “It’s not about me”, sometimes it is ” I don’t give a f@@k”, sometimes it is “Relax your body starting with your toes, then your ankles and all the way up to your head”, sometimes it is “Keep practicing kindness not matter how horrible someone is acting towards you”…

The one in my brain now, as I am making my morning rounds filling water & food containers and checking in on everybody is: “Thank you for not being dead”.

 

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There is a full feature film of this from 1982. The title is a Hopi Native American word meaning “life out of balance”. I have not thought of it in a while, but it possibly describes what our life is really like. I write these blogs about our lifestyle here on the farmette, but they are merely glimpses into our lives. There are so many days when I feel the world is coming after us full force.

This time last fall, the medical issues of my husband started picking up speed. Early the next year, January 2018 (I think – it’s all a blur), it was confirmed that he had Lynch Syndrome. The tests and procedures continued until a major surgery this summer 2018.

It was brutal. The range of reactions, emotions, house prepping, financial insecurity, disability planning and so on, wore us down beyond belief. And that was before the big day. Jamie could have died on the operating table. He could have come out of this with chronic medical problems. With all that, we would also lose the farmette, in addition to living the nightmare of my lovely husband/devoted father’s suffering.

A few weeks ago, we were clearing the whole property of objects that could become weapons in a hurricane. Tropical Storm Florence did make it all the way from the coast, straight through our farmette, which falls within the Greater Charlotte, NC Area. Even though the winds and rain were not as bad as expected, it was a deadly storm in our county, Gaston. In Dallas, NC, a few towns over, a tree fell on a mobile home and killed an infant.

 

This Week.

On Sunday, our young dog, Mr. Barry White, ate a mystery something on his walk. He lunged for it, so I know it was something smelly and likely meat-based. On Monday, he got really sick. He had severe diarrhea and threw up a lot. I’m pretty positive that some of our chickens then ate the throw-up, because that mess miraculously disappeared. Wednesday or Thursday morning (It’s a blur), our dying rooster, Agador (The most spectacular rooster that we have ever had) was hunched over a dead hen. He did not last long after that, maybe an hour or two.

Barry stayed sick for a few days. I gave him a bit of plain Greek yogurt and then eventually some chicken and rice. He’s a healthy boy, so we managed his illness ourselves. He’s fine now.

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That ran into the next disaster.

On Wednesday evening, Deirdre, our eighty-five pound, twelve and a half year old Collie/Golden Retriever hybrid (Gollie), was laying on the floor, refusing to get up. Within a few hours, she was prone on the floor and would not lift her head or even a foot. If you whispered in her ear enough, she would wag her tail a little.

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The family gathered around her, crying and saying goodbye. In the wee hours, we eventually went to sleep, and woke up to Deirdre sitting up a bit.

On Friday, she made it up onto her feet. By mid-day she did not look good again, so I called the vet. I got off the phone and pondered the situation a bit. Then I called back and scheduled a fit-in appointment for 5pm.

X-rays were taken, and surgery was discussed. At that time I did not want to put an old dog through that. I called my husband at work. He did not want to put her through that. I took her home, after making plans to meet the vet at 7:30 am, Saturday morning, to put her to sleep.

Deirdre and I got home. Within a minute or two, she was bleeding from her back side – a lot. I walked out of that room and into the main living area. It was at that point that I saw Vincent.

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Vincent – the 19 month old, gorgeous, extremely smart, black cat.

I had taken him to the vet three weeks ago. He seemed to have lost weight. It was confirmed that he had. He had gone from 9.8 pounds down to 8.6.

Vincent had previously tested negative for feline leukemia at Tri-County Animal Rescue. The vet did not think he had a major illness like diabetes or a thyroid imbalance. We decided to monitor him and hold off on any testing.

Approximately 7 pm Friday night (It’s a blur).

The look of Vincent was bad. He was unbalanced. His eyes were somewhat glassy. However, when I picked him up, limp in my hands, he was purring. His symptoms worsened. By then, it was late at night and we had early plans with our dog. So, I caught a quick three hours of sleep.

At 4am, he was still alive – and purring. At 5am he was still alive, and quiet. At 6am, he started a painful cry.

I took Deirdre outside to the grass in the front yard. She wet. I did not have her on a leash. She took off trotting down the sidewalk and up the front stoop steps. Apparently that blood loss had also relieved pressure. She was acting like herself, full on.

At 6:45 am, Vincent was loaded into the van. Then my husband and I loaded his big, uncooperative dog into the back. At that time, the plan was to have the vet look at Deirdre second, and then, ATT, figure out what to do next with her, but try to save Vincent first.

At 7 am, Vincent was deceased, before we even left the driveway. That was when we really began to unravel, me more than my husband. My husband describes my behavior upon arrival at the vet’s office as unhinged. I wholeheartedly agree.

According to our description of what happened to Vincent, and especially his sudden distended abdomen, the vet is almost positive he had something that has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate. There is no effective vaccination or treatment for this virus. Albeit a contagious, yet uncommon, disease, it mysteriously affects indoor cats with no outdoor cat contact. Other cats in the household don’t normally fall ill after the fact. It hits kittens and young cats 0-2 years old.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

We were at the vet with Deirdre. She was her happy self, but still bleeding a bit. Since xrays had been taken the night before, only a blood test was necessary at this point. Between all of those results and her heart rate, etc. she was good to go for surgery.

Deirdre was really tired and not upset by being there, so we left her with them for a projected afternoon surgery. We drove home.

My husband dug a hole out back. I wrapped Vincent up in a blanket and bag. And, we buried him.

Deirdre went into surgery as Jamie was driving into work for a partial shift.

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I drove back to Richard L. Hovis, DVM at Dickson Animal Clinic in Gastonia, NC. It’s worth the 25+ minute drive – they are reasonably priced and are as caring, professional and knowledgeable as a veterinary office could be. They let me sit with her while she came out of anesthesia.

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Our Deirdre is now home resting and recovering as well as can be expected for an old dog.

Vincent. Beautiful Vincent.

I had, a little, time, to take things in, and cry, a little, this morning. My husband did not. He’s on his way back out to work right now.

KOYAANISQATSI

 

 

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