Our new orders are in at the dairy and we are now checking heats for breeding season. We check twice a day, in the morning at 8:00 am and in the afternoon at 4:30 pm. The cows that are in heat in the morning get bred that morning and the cows in heat during the afternoon get bred the next morning if they are still in heat. This is the most critical step in the breeding process and the simplest part to pick up as an amateur. The cows that we are checking are 12-15 months old so this is their first time being bred. The second breeding season after the cows are born is when they start breeding the dairy cows to begin milk production. Last Saturday I was able to watch one of the dairy unit managers go through the entire process of artificially inseminating a cow. It was so remarkable to watch how a life is started and then to see the result 9 months later. Working continuously with the dairy has been an unexpected delight during my apprenticeship with CEFS.
Over the past month we have been putting up a high tunnel and while I am having a blast doing it, it has come with its own set of challenges. There is a bit of waiting on enough people and the right equipment to maneuver/ build such a large structure. This project has been so very enlightening and a much needed learning opportunity for me. This is going to be the 5th high tunnel we have on the small farm and it will be used for different research projects here in the future.
Three weeks ago Caroline and I started bee school at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension. I am extremely interested in keeping bees even though it may take a couple of years until I am in the position to have some of my own. This class is put on but the Bee Keepers of the Neuse and the members of this club could not be more welcoming and accepting of new people that are interested in keeping bees. By completing this course each student will be provided with the basics of maintaining their own hives and a list of resources for ordering their own supplies. There are also some great mentors that are thrilled to teach anyone what they know. Each week we discuss one or two topics. Below is a comprehensive list of the topics covered in the class:
- History of bees and beekeeping
- Honey Bee biology & anatomy
- Honey Bee culture and society
- Economics of beekeeping
- Honey bee management
- Honey bee hive products
- Pollination and honey plants
- Diseases & Pests
Last weekend Marisa, myself, and a few others went over to our bee mentors workshop and built 5 top bar hives. Like almost everyone in the states, we have been having quite the cold weather lately. However, we did not let that stop us from building our top bar hives. We just fired up the hot water to make coffee and did some building. I was with a team of people assembling the wax on each of the top bars and then I assembled my hive once all of the pieces were cut. I realize I work with my hands everyday but this was especially fun to build!
We even found some time to tidy up the small farm. Caroline, Marisa, and I dejunked all of our storage containers, organized all or our belongings, and labeled where each item is to help out our future selves. All in all it has been a very satisfying cleanse for the small farm unit and it is now ready to shine for future visitors.