News Letter: Spring 2005
Lambs, Bees, & the Yellow Fog ...

lambs & dogs

This spring we had 29 lambs and of those 20 were ram lambs! The lambs this year seemed to have especially pretty faces, perhaps because so many of them are now Bonds or nearly Bond. Many of them are moorit lambs, even among the 3/4 Bond lambs. This photo was taken just after lambing ended the first part of April and all of the flock had come in for the night. Jack and Cracker try their best to watch over the lambs.

Bees on the Rock

Later on this spring we experienced a first ... a swarm of bees! A bee's life goes sorta like this: there is a queen, and many worker bees and in the spring a young queen and about half of the hive will gorge on honey and leave the hive. They are going off to start a new hive. The workers are so full of honey (needed to start/build the new hive) that they can't bend or arch to sting. All are very mellow and not in any hurry ... sort of like being on a bee vacation.
They swarmed in the hollow of this granite rock not far from the house. It was a shady, cooler place to rest.

Bees in a Box

We called a local bee keeper: Beth the Beekeeper who came equipped with a new hive for them. Using a soft brush, she brushed them off of the rock into a cardboard box, then into the new hive. After making several trips doing this she was able to locate the queen bee and be sure that the queen was in the new hive.

Bees in a Hive

Like chickens, bees go in at dusk and so the hive box had to be left overnight until the next evening to make sure all of the bees had found the new hive. During that night the local bear came to try to get at the hive a number of times. The dogs would drive him off and he kept coming back until the dogs stayed out on the hill and just barked the rest of the night.
The idea of keeping bees was enticing for about 5 minutes.
So the bees were taken to their new home where there are more hives somewhere outside of Berthoud.

Yellow Fog

We have had a fairly dry winter, then heavy rains in May and the first part of June. The pine trees have done something we have never seen before ... "extreme pollination". For about two weeks every time there was a stiff wind the valley and canyons would fill with "yellow fog". So much that every surface has been coated with yellow dust and the water tanks have a yellow film on them. It may be the trees making up for lost time during the six years of drought?

In spite of the four dogs, we have lost another lamb to the cougar. This was on June 15 th about 5:00 pm in the afternoon. The ewe flock and lambs were out with Cracker and Jack in the rocky, bushy parts of the farm. There were 82 ewes and lambs spread out in a large area and the cougar just waited and took a lamb when nobody was looking. The dogs can't smell the cougar. Unlike the bear and coyotes which have unmistakable smells, the cougar has no smell at all ... especially when the air and ground have dried out. Because of the way he moves, the dogs are also unable to see him moving and simply don't know when the cougar is close by. Its very discouraging to find that no mater what we do we can't prevent predator loses to the cougar.

This is the same one that was killing dogs, cats, and one of our lambs in the fall of 2003. He isn't a normal cougar as he has no fear of anything ... not dogs, people, vehicles or anything we can come up with. The week before he killed the lamb, he had killed the neighbor's cattle dog. He had also killed a large doe just 150 yards form the house and barn the first week of April. This was one week after the cougar hunting season had ended on March 31 st. They say that cougars live for 12 - 14 years. I won't be sorry when this one's time is up.

If you have the time, come by for a visit in the fall when its not so hot!
Joanna & Keith [an error occurred while processing this directive]