Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

The Bees Are Here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


The past week and weekend has been a whirlwind for me - I got an unexpected job offer for an excellent opportunity that I'm really excited about and I must have been so excited that I ended up sick with a temp that went as high as 103.8 degrees.  If it had gone any higher, I told J. he was going to have to drive me to the hospital.  Luckily, it came down within 24 hours.  So forgive me for the long silence since my last post.

On Thursday, I got a call from Joli at Heartland Honey that the bees were in and could be picked up either Friday or Saturday.  Since I was on vacation Friday and all of next week, I decided to make the drive down to pick them up on Friday. They come in a little box with screen sides, and I was deathly afraid they would get out and come after me on the 30 minutes drive home.  We buzzed along all the way home...

The whole kit and kaboodle!

The bee hive that I won came in pieces and had to be put together, but it wasn't too hard and it came with everything I needed except for the wood glue.  Just wood glue and screws.  Then two coats of good exterior latex paint.  Bees like light colors, so I used our leftover house paint that's called "Plantation White".  Zippide doo dah, zippidee-ay!  My, oh my, what a wonderful day!  (If you don't get that Chevy Chase reference, click here!)

Gluein' and screwin'.  Oh, and some clampin' too....

Having read that early evening was the best time to install the bee package, I tried to stay in bed as long as I could.  My temp was down to 102.9 when I suited up to take the hive out and put them in.  Yep, I felt terrible, but I would have felt worse if I didn't get them in there and they started to die off.

J. carried everything out for me and helped find a spot in the corner of the yard where they won't be bothered.  The first thing you do is remove the inner three or four frames.  Then spray the bees with syrup water (ratio of 1 water:1 sugar).  This calms them and gives them something to eat as they lick each other clean.

The top of the package has a can in it that contains more sugar water.  When you remove that can, the bees can get out, but you need to remove it to get the queen out.  She's suspended in a cage so that the other bees can't sting her before they accept her.  (These are not HER bees yet...)

You suspend her in between two of the frames and then shake about half a cup of the bees on top of her. Then the rest get shaken into where the frames were that you removed.  Replace the frames gently, add the inner and outer cover and....voila!  You now have bees.



Not all the bees will come out of the package when you shake it and that's OK.  The rest of the bees in the box will eventually follow their fellow bees' pheromones out and into the hive.  When I checked on them today, everyone had made their way out.

In a couple of days, I'll have to go in and release the queen from her cage.   The bees are feeding her through the cage and they need to get to know her before accepting her as queen of the hive.  All in all, this has been a pretty cool experience so far.  We'll see if I say the same thing when I get walloped with a stinger.  Hopefully that never happens!





I'm sharing this with post with this week's Homestead Barn Hop and the Backyard Farming Connection. Go check 'em out!

Another Busy Weekend

Sunday, April 06, 2014


Our to-do list got a little shorter this weekend.    It started off with a trip to the metal recyclers on Saturday  morning to get rid of all the metal that we found while we were cleaning out the garage and basement.  

Then, after picking up 18 bags of mulch that were on sale from Home Depot,  J. and I headed back out to the farm to do some more work on the trees.  With a really good rain earlier in the week, there was no need to haul water out to them, but we did need to add some more dirt to where they'd settled into the holes, rake out the leftover dirt, and then add mulch to keep the water around the trees.  It's supposed to rain next week also and, if it keeps up the rain steadily like that, we won't have to go up there until mowing time.

Let's see...what else did we do?  Today we rented a tiller and got the garden bed ready to go.  Since we're planting in the nice dirt from our old raised garden beds, it really didn't need alot of tilling and we just went over it with a little Mantis.  Took about 20 minutes, I'd say. I was able to get those crazy potatoes in the ground finally.  The local birds were happy:  the chickens were busy doing additional tilling for me in the garden while the robins fought over the newly-unearthed worms and the sparrow family took a dust bath in the driveway.  It seems everyone was busy today.

I've had zero time to get any plants started, so we'll be planting from seed this year.  Or, in the case of the tomato plants, buying them.  Home Depot had Cherokee Purples and Early Girls for $2.00 a plant this weekend.  It's still a little cool (43 degrees tonight!) so I'll be hardening them off and then wait to put them in the ground maybe a week from now after it warms up a little bit more.

What were you up to this weekend?


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