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When Spring Renewal Means Starting Over

Earlier today I ran into an acquaintance, who asked with great enthusiasm “How are all the little critters in your backyard?”  To which I dryly replied “Dead, they’re all dead.”  I only wish I was kidding.

Earlier this year we decided that this spring we would rotate our chicken flock, so those birds were given away and now grace a fellow backyard farmer’s freezer.  We planned to get new pullets this spring to rebuild our egg laying empire.  Enter wind storm with hurricane force winds that nearly leveled our backyard farm, and the chicken pen is now destroyed.

Destroyed to is the greenhouse, from the same storm.  We put out a call to our wonderful community and quickly rehomed our koi and shut down the aquaponics system until we could come up with a new plan.  The greenhouse (what’s left of it) stands empty in the backyard.

And finally, about a month ago I noticed an absence of bees on a warm day – very strange.  I began to suspect that something was wrong with the hive, and today Ben and I finally got in the hive to check.  All dead, and all dead under very strange circumstances.  The hive is packed full of honey (to which the dead bees are still attached), there’s no sign of mice, moths, foul brood, or CCD.  Just a large cluster of dead bees still attached to the frames of honey.  Honestly, we think they froze to death.

So that’s the bad news, but would you believe there’s good news to be had?  Let me explain…

I’ve been wanting to expand our super productive garden beds.  Cool – we’ll pull down what’s left of the greenhouse and put new raised beds in that location – we can nearly triple our backyard production by making that change.

Over the years I’ve become increasingly vexed with harvesting honey from a Langstroth hive, and I’ve been wanting to try a Warre hive.  Our untimely bee hive death has now afforded me that opportunity.

Having eaten more eggs than I would like to admit over the last several years, I’ve been looking forward to reducing the number of laying hens we have on the farm, and now with a clean slate I can do just that.

Add to that list that it looks as though all of our fruit producers have survived (with the possible exception of our peach tree that a black bear totaled last summer), the new watering system we’re putting in May, and some super cool landscaping changes.  Change and tragedy can open up new opportunity for growth and improvement – nature teaches us that lesson frequently.

While I am not pleased with the amount of work ahead of us to reset the farm, and I am not at all pleased about the damage, I am genuinely excited about the upcoming changes.  I guess when catastrophe strikes that’s our option – wallow and moan or adapt and overcome.  For Ben and I, it will be the latter.

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10 Responses to When Spring Renewal Means Starting Over

  1. Diana February 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    Gosh, you guys have had so many misfortunes since I’ve been on your mailing list. I don’t live that far from you so I can only conclude that you get alot more severe weather up there on the hill. Hopefully all your new construction will be more durable.

    • Christine March 6, 2017 at 6:09 pm #

      We do – our weather patterns up on the hill are far more severe than even other homesteads in Ivywild. Keeps us on our toes! 🙂

  2. Bev February 21, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    sorry about your wind damage, and it sounds like you’ll be making lemonade out of lemons. We didn’t get that horrid wind this time around, but had everything damaged in the summer’s severe hail storm on the east side of the city!
    Sure hope Mother Nature spares us all this year!

    • Christine March 6, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

      Mother Nature has been showing up in full force around our place the last few years – I’m hoping she finds some other place to hang out for a bit! 😉

  3. Brad February 21, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

    So excited for You… yeah it tough sorry bot the birds and the bees, but keep focused on the opportunities ahead… you will gain more from the struggle than you have loss… be expectant!

    • Christine March 6, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

      Agreed – there is always so much to look forward to. Some of these happenings are quite exciting! 🙂

  4. Fritz Berggren March 7, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    I’m the lucky backyard farmer that got your old birds. Butchered, froze, then ate them all. A little chewy, but wow! What flavor! Also, all ten of my other hens LIVED this winter. First timer with chickens so i didn’t set my sights too high. Seven eggs came in yesterday . . . family is big enough so we eath them all. I’m a big fan of Right to Thrive.

    • Christine March 20, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

      Ah, that sounds great! Glad those birds are feeding you and your family. 🙂

  5. Charles Osborne March 19, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    Hello Christine,
    Sorry to hear about your losses. I also lost two hives to the cold this year. I should have combined them two hives prior to winter. I still have one hive that is doing really well, it is from a swarm that I captured last season. It was a huge swarm that almost filled a five-gallon bucket. The Warre hive is very interesting, I will try them later on. I am planning on building a couple of Top Bar hives and see how that works.
    Yes, that same wind storm destroyed my chicken run, we are rebuilding and changing the design, to prevent access by predators.
    Wishing you the best with the re-build.

    • Christine March 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

      You as well Charles – rebuilding is an exercise in persistence. 😉

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