Recently I had a visit from Flat Aggie as she was passing through Southwest Missouri. She decided to swing into the area to see what was new on our Agriculture front.
Have you met Flat Aggie? No? Well let me introduce you. Sarah who blogs over at The House that Ag Built is a 1st Grade Teacher who is trying to teach her students about agriculture all around the state of California and the country. They read a book called Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown and based off that is how Flat Aggie came about. Flat Aggie travels from farm to farm around the country learning about and experiencing Agriculture.
Now I keep saying “she” but if you look, mine looks more like a boy. The original Flat Aggie was a female but she got lost in the mail somewhere so Sarah’s class made a Flat Aggie troop. The troop included 2 boys and I got one of them, however before I clarified this I sent it back to her with she’s/her’s etc so don’t judge me too much 🙂
Flat Aggie came just in time to help us around here. The first thing she got to do was help brushog the field.
The tractor was acting up. So she got to help clean out the engine to see if they could find out the problem. She learned a very valuable lesson, if you are going to stick your hands in the engine of the tractor, make sure the tractor is turned off so you don’t lose any fingers.
Next she helped check to make sure the tractor had diesel fuel.
Once they got the tractor back up and running it was off to the field to brush hog the cedar trees down. This is a new field we’re getting ready to start putting into hay production and cedar trees can grow in the poorest of conditions and take over an entire field so they need to be taken down.
Once the cedar trees were knocked down, it was time to load the dogs up and head for the house.
The next day Flat Aggie got to help us put bees into our beehive.
First things first, you have to suit up so the bees don’t sting you. You have a helmet with a net. The net zips into your suit. The suit covers you from wrist to neck to ankles. Then you have large gloves to protect your hands. Make sure you wear tall boots so the elastic on the bottom of the suit has something to be snug against so your ankles don’t get stung either.
Two very handy tools are a Bee Brush which allows you to move bees out of your way without crushing them and a hive tool which helps pry the boxes apart and pull the frames out. The frames contain the honeycomb.
When you approach the Beehive, stay toward the side or back away from the entrance.
In the spring, especially when you are starting out with a new set of bees you want to start with a smaller hive. Let them claim the hive as their home before you start adding more rooms to it.
To enter the hive, you use a smoker to gently “chase” the bees away so you can get inside without them being upset. For the most part bees are gentle as long as you move slowly and don’t swat at them. They just don’t want to feel you are a danger to them.
This top layer is the bee feeder. You mix water to sugar in a 1 to 1 ratio. As the bees are getting used to their surroundings, it is good to supplement their feed with this sugar water.
The next level down is where the frames are located. These bees have been in their hive for about a day, so we were looking for the queen to make sure she was there. If a hive doesn’t have a queen, they will swarm and leave.
We found the queen, so we put the frames back in the box, stacked the boxes back up and placed the lid on top. In a couple of days we’ll have to feed them the water/sugar mixture again.
We got a phone call from some friends and they had three baby piglets that needed to be fed with a baby bottle so they had us come over to help feed them.
The piglets are so tiny that they are kept in a small box in the house under a heat lamp for now. Currently they are being fed with a syringe full of milk until they get a bit bigger and can nurse on a bottle.
We hope Flat Aggie enjoyed her visit to our farm. For us it is still a little early for most of what we do on the farm. For now, I hope she had fun, learned a little and is definitely welcome back anytime she’d like to learn more.