Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm a Chicken Hawk...No I'm a Red Tail Hawk!

While hiking in the hills this weekend,  Deacon came upon an injured hawk.  No, Deacon wasn't the cause of the injury.  The hawk's wing was damaged and it could only hop a few feet at a time. I don't know how long it had been on the ground, but it was tired and dehydrated. It wouldn't make it past nightfall with all of the coyotes in the area. We knew we needed to try to help it, but weren't sure where to take it. Turns out, on a holiday weekend, no one is available. We called Fish & Game, County Agencies and numerous wildlife and raptor refuge facilities. Finally, we found one lady that answered the phone. She told us how to capture the hawk and the address of her facility. She prepared us for the worst (we wouldn't be able to capture it, it would die on the hour ride to her facility, etc.). When I relayed this news to the kids to prepare them, they told us we had to try. We agreed with them. So, Hubby and the girl hiked back to the property, corralled the dog, got gloves, long sleeve shirts, barn blankets, Deacon's crate and loaded up the Gator and headed back up the hill. While they were gone, the boy and I looked after the hawk and made sure the buzzards or any other animal didn't get to close. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only around a half hour, Hubby and the girl returned. Hiking is much faster when you have a four wheel drive vehicle :). We got suited up and ready. Hubby went above the hawk and the kids and I made a line below him with the blankets outstretched. Luckily for us, the poor thing was to tired to put up much of a fight. On our second try, the kids and I were able to distract him while Hubby dropped a blanket on him from above. After that, we were able to get him in the dog crate with a minimum of effort. We were all elated that he wasn't injured in the capture.

Success ! The hawk, the boy named him Aztec is in Deacon's dog crate and no one was injured! We just had to get him down the hill, to the truck for the hour ride to the wildlife rescue center.

Here is a picture of the poor hawk.  He is a large, well fed juvenile, no more than 2.

The boy with the hawk and the lady we brought Aztec to. She was getting ready to examine the hawk. Once she did her examination, she told us it looked like Aztec had a broken wing at the elbow. She was going to make him comfortable and have the vet she works with xray him on Tuesday. She called me Tuesday and let me know that Aztec has a dislocated elbow, the first one she and the vet have ever seen. The vet put the elbow back in place and wrapped it up. I guess they had to look up how to do it on online, as this is the first time they have had to do one. She is going to update me with Aztec's prognosis later in the week. If all goes well, she will keep him through the winter, to make it easier on him and do some physical therapy. When spring comes, she will let us know when he is to be released and bring him up to our property and allow us to help in the release.  

 The lady that rescues and rehabilitates the animals took us on a tour of her facility. This is a male Kestrel Hawk. She has a female Kestrel, a bunch of owls, hawks and other birds. She has a Great Horned Owl that is 29 years old. She has had it since it was a baby. The ones that can't be released back into the wild, she keeps and takes them to schools and other places to educate people about them. What an amazing woman! I am so glad there are people like her around. Her facility was so clean that the boy and I didn't sneeze once! We are both very allergic to birds. The kids can't wait until they are old enough to come back and volunteer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Perseid Meteor Shower

We were at the property this last week.  Our friends that have the vineyard across from us came up to camp out and see the meteor shower.  Hubby got out his telescopes and astronomy binoculars.  The neighbors set up chairs and had glow sticks for the passel of kids that were running around. Most of the girls weren't in this picture.  We brought over ice cream to get the kids nice and sugared up.  Everyone had a great time.  The meteors were great!

I think they were having a little to much fun.

The kids dancing around in the vineyard.  It looked like an underage rave!  

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Bees Knees

This post is for my nephew C in Oregon who wants to know all about our bees.

I ordered bees last January.  I received 4 pounds of bees and 2 queens in April.  Since its really hot  at our property  we needed to build a shelter for the bees by our pond. 

Hubby and his friend spent the weekend building this great shelter for the bees.

This is the container the bees and queen were shipped in.  We released them during the afternoon when it was warm and not breezy.

We put pollen patties in the hives to help the bees get nutrients.  The patties are a very sticky substance encased in wax paper.  They eat the paper and the nutrients inside.

The bees in their new home.  The hive on the left I named Aurora and the hive on the right is Borealis.  If we are successful and get another hive, it will start with the letter 'C'.  It is easier for me in my note taking to refer to them this way.

To ensure the hives had what they needed to survive as a new and small hive, we put hive top feeders on both hives.  We filled them with a 20 pound sugar mixture.  This way, while they are establishing themselves into a hive and starting to raise brood  they don't need to go far for resources. They have resources at the top of the hives.  The rail like structure is,actually a raft so the bees don't drown when they are getting the sugar water.  The white is beeswax they made.  We had to scrape it all off, otherwise it would stick to the feeder.  I put it in a container.   When I harvest enough I hope to make some beeswax candles.  That won't be for awhile. 


Since the hives are doing well and filled up all of the frames in their hives with honey and brood, we added a new box in June.  This will be a 10 framed honey super.  Once the frames in this box are full that will be the honey we can actually harvest. The rest of the honey we need to leave for the bees so they have food over the winter time. The grated plastic thing on top of the hive box is called a queen excluder. The holes allow bees to get through to put in pollen and honey but they are too small for the Queen to get herself through to lay eggs.

This is what the hives look like now.  The top box is the honey super.

Hubby in his beekeeping suit.  He is holding a smoker.  We lightly smoke the bees when we open the hive.  The smoke makes them docile. When we open the hive we are checking for parasites,  especially verroa mites, the health and size of the colony and the brood pattern and for honey.

Opening the Aurora hive. 

Separating the hive frames.  The frames are where the bees deposit pollen, cap honey and the queen lays eggs (brood). 

If you look closely you can see the pollen on the back of the bees knees.  The pollen comes in many colors.  The bees will fly miles if needed to gather pollen.  I hope our bees don't have to fly that far.  Besides our little fruit orchard there are wild flowers and a lot of hills with oak trees on our side of the valley for them to gather pollen.

A good sign.  The dark lower part of the frame is brood, the rest is capped honey and pollen. These frames weigh a lot when filled on both sides like this.  

Hopefully the honey supers we put on will be filled with honey (and no brood) like this by the end of summer.

If you look closely you can see Deacon sleeping in the background.   He and the bees leave each other alone. 

In the interest of full disclosure both hubby and I have been stung once.  Both times were our fault.  We checked the hives in flip flops and shorts, without any protective gear. We also ignored their "pinging" of us with their bodies as a warning we were disturbing them. Normally, we like to take a look at their activity level without opening the hive and disturbing them. Opening the hive and disturbing them is stressful to the colony.  When we do that we don't suit up or use a smoker.  They are incredibly docile and sting only as a final defense mechanism.  They are fascinating creatures. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Happy Birthday....Baby Boy

Today is the boy's 10th birthday. How did that happen so fast? We had a fun day with cousins at a local amusement park. Grandma got both kids a pass for their birthdays, so we can enjoy the rides all summer. I wasn't able to get a lot of pics, but the boy went on every ride. It was fun having a roller coaster buddy. The girl doesn't like to go on coasters. The boy and cousin's M and A went on all of the coasters. The girl and cousin S decided not to go on those rides. All the kids went on the boat ride.

Happy birthday to the sweetest, funniest, adventurous young man we know. We love you very much!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Scenic Flight

My buddy from work came up and flew his remotely piloted quadcopter around. Check out his youtube channel for great scenic tours and exploration - and ethical remote piloting that doesn't risk anyone else (since it seems some knuckleheads are making the news recently for doing the wrong things). We had plans to fly further with a longer range plane, but an errant wind gust and a barbed wire fence put that plan on hold.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Pond

I'm not sure if anyone is still checking this blog, since it has been so long since we have posted. It has been a busy year. We are going to attempt to start blogging more regularly. In September of last year we put a pond onto the property in the foothills. We still haven't decided on a name for it. So, we just refer to it as "the property". I know, we are a creative bunch.

The boy in front of the excavator bulldozer that was used to make the pond.

The dig site for the pond.

The excavation.

The start of the pond.
Since we are in the midst of a drought, we didn't know if the pond would fill in this year. We had them dig on a natural spring on the property and it ended up almost filling it in it added some water, but the winter rains that run off from about eight acres of field above it filled the pond. The pond is 2/3 an acre. It is teardrop shaped with a shallow area that gradually gets deeper until the deepest point at 13" 11" (the top of the dam is 13 feet). It isn't a large pond, but since our place would make a great giant rock farm, it's as large and deep as our spring and wallet would allow.

Last weekend we went to a fish hatchery that is open to the public once a month. 

We purchased 500 mosquito fish, 15 bass and 35 blue gill.

The boy got to feed the fish.  The girl was busy reading a book.  

They give you the fish in large, plastic bag they fill with oxygen and seal.  We put them in coolers for the trip to the pond.

On the way back from the hatchery, we stopped at our favorite nursery and picked up some water hyacinth.  They will help create 
a habitat for the fish.  After the fish were put in the pond the kids went around placing the plants along the shore.

Nothing better than cooling off in a cool pond after a busy day.  Deacon loves the water, as long as the kids are in it.  
At this point after looking at the pictures, you may be saying to yourself, "I thought they had two children"? Did they lose one along the way? Or, are they clearly showing favoritism to the boy? The answer to your questions, thoughtful blog reader is 'no" and "no". We in fact are currently in possession of a "tween" daughter that has decided she no longer likes to have her picture taken...unless it is her idea. Don't worry, I will post some pics of the girl I managed to sneak by.

A pic with the girl in it!
Edits for facts made by the actual fat dad

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Three Hour Tour

Uncle D is in our neck of the woods fighting a forest fire. Last weekend, we were lucky enough to go visit him. He pilots this DC 10.

He gave us the full tour. It was amazing! It's really incredible and dangerous how low he flies the plane over fires to dump retardant on them.

It was a great day....thank you Uncle D.

The inside of the plane. It was fun to explore.

The boy asking Uncle D his numerous questions. Uncle D was very patient and answered them all.

On a wing and a prayer.

The full tour of the plane. The had so much fun.

Future pilots!

The kids goofing off.

When the boy saw this helicopter on the runway he said "I made a Lego model of this helicopter."
Uncle D had arranged for the pilot of this Erickson helicopter to give the kids a tour of it. He told the kids to get in it. Only the boy took him up on it. There are only 21 of this type of helicopters in the works. When he is finished here, the pilot and helicopter go to Australia for their fire season.

The pilot told us that some people from Disney came and took measurements and pictures of the helicopter. It was the model Windlifter in the movie Planes and Rescue.