Archive for the ‘wasp’ Category

Oak Apple Gall, More Baby Chicks, And Other Stuff

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

For the past several years we’ve noticed these little ping pong shaped balls in the yard and woods.

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They start out more of a white with red speckles, and over time they get darker. I did a little googling on them and learned they are called “Oak Apple Galls” and they are actually contain a wasp larvae. I put it in a jar and hope to see it hatch.

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And, speaking of insects, I captured a nice picture of a Hummingbird Moth last month.

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It’s hard to believe it was once one of the huge Tomato Horn Worms I find munching on my vegetable plants!

This pretty girl stopped by this afternoon.

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And, earlier today, Bernie found this adorable little bunny laying in the yard.

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I brought the bunny inside and warmed him up, and then I laid him on a heating pad. I was sad when he died an hour or so later, but I hope I brought him a little comfort to see him out.

That made me sad. But finding itty bitty chicken eggs always makes me smile.

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And, speaking of eggs, last night I checked under my latest broody for any extra eggs that the other hens may have left for her.

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I found an extra egg under her, but I also found that one of hers was pipping.

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She hatched out three of them overnight.

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If the other two hatch, it will bring us to a total of 18 new peeps so far this year. We lost two to predators, and I know there are two little roos out there that we won’t be keeping. But I’m pleased to think we will go into the winter with more chickens than we started with.

And finally…….. Christmas Spoiler for anyone on my Christmas list………. I’ve been crocheting these neat water bottle cozies for the past week or so 🙂

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These are a super fast and easy way to use up that extra yarn stash laying around!

We’re still canning garden vegetables, but that is slowing down a little. Finishing the outside canning kitchen is on hold for a couple of weeks as we prepare for Bernie’s family to visit.

We have had a productive and busy summer so far. I hope yours has been a good one, too!

Random Stuff We’ve Been Up To

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

This blog and our website have been such great experiences for us. I started the website because when we first considered homesteading, I found lots of site about people who were homesteading, but very few that explained how they got started with it. I figured we were bumbling our way through it, and maybe someone could learn from the mistakes we make as we go and the stuff we do right. I never dreamed we would make so many new friends, and hook up with so many old friends we had lost touch with. It’s been great! Now if we could only get our families to look at it…… they’d rather call and ask “So what have you been up to? Anything new on your website?”

I think I told y’all that Senator Obenshain asked us to get a bunch of bikers together and ride in a parade for him the second weekend in October. Senator Obenshain has been a great friend to us, and we love riding, so we got a crew together and made him proud. Here’s a group shot at the end of it. If you’ve ever been around bikers you know that trying to get them in one place in one time is as easy as nailing jello to a tree, so this picture is missing a few. But it’s a nice picture anyway, so I’ll post it here:

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I also posted some additional pictures on the VFR website. Check them out!

We were having a lot of trouble with yellow jackets robbing honey in one of our hives. We ended up screening in the bottom entrance, so the girls would all use the top entrance and hopefully be able to ward off the predators a little better. Well, they were still struggling. So I put out some wasp traps that I hope will give the girls a little break. I talk about how to make the traps on The Bee Buzz if you are interested in reading it.

Tonight I made some coffee soap that is supposed to be great at getting rid of cooking smells (like onion, garlic, fish) off your hands. I have always wanted to make those pretty swirl soaps, but I never had much confidence that I could actually do it, so I didn’t try. Well, tonight I decided to give it a shot. I made the swirl color out of cocoa powder. The coffee soap is a dark tan, so I thought the deep cocoa color would be pretty in it. And it probably would. But I learned what I suspected all along. I am swirl challenged. So instead of swirled soap, I have blobbed soap. But it really smells nice. I’m hoping when I take it out of the mold tomorrow and cut it, it won’t look as bad as it does in the mold. But did I mention it smells really nice?

Bee Free,
Penny

The Count Down Until Full Time Homesteading

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Well, we left the homestead today knowing that we only have one more time to leave it! And while it’s difficult not to wish the next two weeks away, we have so much to do in that time and so much to enjoy that it will take focus to take it one day at a time.

We left the Paper Wasp nest to hang for another week before we remove it. My Dear John had an excellent suggestion and we’ll put it in the freezer for a week or so before dissecting it.

Our big project this weekend was putting a double barrel Weber carburetor on my trike. That may not seem much like homesteading to you, but let me tell you that I would be one mean homesteader without my trike. So anything we do to it should be considered absolutely related to homesteading. The happier my trike is, the happier I am. So you can see, it is all very much related.

Putting on this carburetor involved everything from a simple wrench to a rubber mallet to a sawsall. That motor area is unbelievably tight. Like by buddy Tex explains, it’s a jigsaw puzzle. But we got it all disassembled and then put the new carburetor on, only to learn we screwed up on putting the alternator back together. Yes, putting on the carburetor involved removing the alternator. It is indeed a freaking puzzle – so much so that the instructions recommended removing the motor. It probably would have been easier had we done so, but Bernie and I are not known for taking the easy way out, so we just kind of winged it. But while we were winging it with the alternator, we didn’t realize it didn’t go back together quite right. So we had to mess with that a while. Once that was finished, the Grape Ape fired right up! I did a little jig. Bernie tried to look all “Yea, I knew it would start” but he was grinning like a fool. Very nice! The bad news is that I screwed up the throttle connection to the hand grip when we were testing the pull to the carburetor. Expensive lesson, but I’ll buy a new hand grip this week.

Other than that, we just really tried to enjoy our time on the homestead. The bees are doing great and you can read about them on The Bee Buzz. I began rendering beeswax this weekend, and once I am finished I intend to put up a webpage on the process on The Bee Buzz website. I have searched high and low on the internet for step by step instructions, and have yet to find them. Maybe this will help out some other searching soul. I hope to have it up within the next two weeks – complete with pictures.

Bee Free,
Penny

Sneaky Little Things on the Homestead

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Earlier this summer we were sitting at the picnic bench at the homestead on a fine, summer day with Tex and Charlotte when we became aware of an odd, rather annoying noise. “Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.” We all looked around. What in the world was making that never ending sound? Finally Charlotte spotted it. It was a Paper Wasp and it had found a piece of cardboard left by the electrician with a schematic drawn on it – it was hanging next to the electric box outside, which was very close to where we were sitting. We watched the wasp work for a while ,and then fly off, only to be replaced by another wasp very quickly. Bobo jumped up to eat it, but we yelled at him and as he opened his mouth, the wasp flew off to safety. We laughed about that a while and then removed the cardboard and allowed Bobo to tear it to shreds. Bobo likes to tear up cardboard.

So fast forward a few months to…. well …. today. Bernie and I spent a couple hours mowing today, and then spent the rest of it working on my trike. We added a two barrel carburetor. She ought to like that pretty well! We’ll finish it up in the morning, but we finally reached the point where we could go no further until we visit an auto parts store. So around 4:30PM, we called it quits and came inside to relax a little before cleaning up and eating supper.

Bernie can not relax without turning on a TV, so he did that about the second we walked in the door. I was in the kitchen stirring the spaghetti when I heard him ask “Did we pay the cable bill this month?” By “we”, he meant “me”. I pay the bills. “Well, of course we paid the cable bill this month. Why?”

He didn’t look convinced when he said “Well, we have no cable. The message on the screen says a bunch of stuff that I think means maybe we didn’t pay a bill.”

“We paid the bill. Maybe that tree foliage got too big. Maybe the dish got out of alignment.” I was pretty sure I was not to blame here.

“I’ll go outside and look.” And Bernie took off outside. I shut off the TV and the dish box and then started them up again. I saw Bernie walking by the window. I opened the window and said “Well, what do you think?” He said “I think you need to come out here. And I think you need to bring your camera.” What????? I didn’t question him. I grabbed my camera, threw on my sandals and took off outside. I anxiously asked “What is it?” He pointed at the corner of the house, up on the eave and said “Look up there”. I expected to see the spot where a meteor had struck our roof and destroyed our satellite dish. Instead, I saw this:

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Paper Wasps! Darn things. And I knew where they had gotten most of that paper from.

Still, we couldn’t help but admire the hard work of these creatures. It really is impressive what they can come up with using something as simple as a piece of cardboard:

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And they build those little over-hangs as the entrances/exits. Very impressive indeed. But really not cool to have hanging directly overhead of an area we mow, weed eat, and walk in. So we sprayed them with poison that we hate using. Next weekend we’ll remove the nest and dissect it. As much as I am terrified of wasps and hornets, I do admire them. And I’m interested in how they build their abode – although I would highly recommend they do that in one of the thousands of trees we have on our homestead rather than right on our home.

By the way, the cable was fine. When we came inside the satellite had restarted and a nice picture was playing on our TV. I told him I payed that bill.

Bee Free,
Penny