Thursday 28 May 2015

Birthdays and Milestones

So, the last week in May is always a celebratory week.
Both Jess and Eric have birthdays.
Eric just turned 52,
he seems younger today,
 than he did 15 years ago.
Jess turned 19, and she is spot on her age.
Age has nothing to do with the numbers,
it really is all about  how old you feel.

This week also marks another milestone,
one which we rarely celebrate.
Eric and I have now been living together/partners for 25 years.

I have lived longer with this man than I did with my parents,
and, of all the people in the world, 
only my sister has known me the longest.

25 years ago, we shacked up together,
neither ever feeling the need to get married, or commit to each other in any other way.
We have had and still have, our trials and tribulations,
there are moments when we both want to throw the proverbial "towel in the ring".

It has not been easy as we are so different in so many regards.
People talk about having their soul mate, or a kindred spirit,
but that is really not the case with us.
We have to work really hard to cross our cultural, emotional and the myriad of other differences.

Eric is not an easy man, he is tough on himself and tough on the people around him.

Here are some examples of our differences:
He is Dutch  and I am South African.
He celebrates Sinte Klaas,  and I like Santa.
He likes beer and I prefer milk.
He is good at math and I am good at not liking math.
He talks loudly and I am softer spoken.
He never swears and I can certainly use choice words.
I like to stop and smell the roses and he does not even see roses in a  rose garden.
He is direct and to the point whereas I will engage in pleasantries and ask about the weather.
On a road trip I will stop and pull over to take a photograph, he never stops.
He is easily irritated, I take a long time before I am mad.
He forgives quicker, I hold a grudge longer.
Eric is all serious, I like to smile and laugh at silly things.
He thinks he is always right, I know I am always right.
He is independent and I am strong willed.

So, despite all these and, many other differences,
I think  25 years together is certainly a milestone to celebrate.

As it is Thursday,
here are some  for Throwback Thursday

Monday 25 May 2015

A weekend of births and babies

The last week has been one filled with new births, babes and new beginnings.

So, I will start with a sort of,
not quite expected,
yet not totally unexpected birth.

 After the fire to our barn, our female Sarplaninac Lucy came into heat.
Having just lost most of the litter of pups we had at that time in the fire,
I was not really ready for another litter.
I debated and uhmmed and aah-ed and calculated days,
deciding if I should breed Lucy or not.
I eventually had placed her in with Vuk, and saw her bred,
however her heat was nearly over so was not sure if she had "caught".

As time progressed I could see that she started to fill out.
A few weeks back she suddenly filled up with milk, but it being way to soon to whelp.
All the milk stopped, she dried up and she stopped growing as such.
I assumed perhaps a false pregnancy.
She was still heavy, so on Friday last week, I  started thinking that perhaps something went wrong with the pregnancy, I decided to wait and see until after the weekend.
The female was not in distress and did not show any signs of an imminent birth.

Low and behold, on Saturday morning , she has whelped.
We  now have a lovely litter of 6 babies.
We have 4 boys and 2 girls.
Born almost exactly on the same day, as her first litter from Vuk last year.

If anyone is looking for a robust LGD,
or a home and family guardian, we have some pups available.

The next announcement on my births and babes
is to wish the first litter of pups from Vuk and Lucy,
a happy first birthday.

Here is birthday girl Shara,
looking lovely as always.

Our second lambing time is also in full swing, with new lambs popping out daily.
We are expecting about 25-30 to lamb now.

The lambs from March, are getting pretty big.

Calving is going (too) slow, all the calves are healthy and happy,
we still have a few to go before we are done.

As for new beginnings:
 the builders have been working on our barn now for one week,
here is what they have done:
pulled out the old posts,
hydrovac-ed the gravel out of the old holes,
placed the new posts,
strapped the sides,
placed the rafters
 and strapped the rafters.

Tomorrow, they start on the second half of the barn.

Finally, the last birth I want to mention is one from 19 years ago.
This day 19 years ago I became a mom to a fantastic daughter.

I think Eric and I out did ourselves!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

A good long weekend

The May long weekend in Canada is generally regarded as the kick off to the summer season with gardening, camping, campfires and all the good things in life.

We had a good long weekend, the things that contributed to this was:
 the weather was glorious,
the sun was shining,
Jess was home,
Roy is fun,
the garden was tilled,
Eric smiled,
some calves were born,
our second lambing group got started,
we could sleep in,
the kids worked on their 4-H animals,
the rebuilding of our barn started,
we sold our bull and have started looking for a new one,
the car got washed,
we had a fire,
we visited friends,
friends came over,
we had a beer or two,
we lit up the bbq,
we cleaned the house some what,
we did yard work,
we did chores together,
the kids watched a movie,
Eric snoozed on his lazy boy,
we rode the horses.

Yep, it was a good long weekend.

And, so new beginnings,
and a summer ahead of us.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Wednesday movies

There is definitely a move towards more
co-existence and sharing of the land between humans and wildlife.
It is noticeable when talking to people of all walks of life.
The time has come to change our management practices,
and become better stewards of the land.

A number of short movies have been, and are going to be released covering this topic.

Here are two really short ones:

The first one is called
produced by the Alberta based, Waterton Biosphere Reserve.

A short 15 min film about ranchers sharing the land primarily with Grizzly Bears

You can view the movie here:

For more info you can visit the website:

The second film,  is called
this film will be released on Pivot TV tonight.

Here is the trailer to this one:

For more information you can go to their website:

Happy movie time!

Sunday 10 May 2015

Dead bears and honey bees

We have a fairly large scale honey industry in our region,
and, we have bears.
This combination is often the cause for conflict between humans and wildlife,
 mostly resulting in raided hives and dead bears.

We have a set of hives about 1km down our road, this hive is located about 50 m from a bear den that has been in use for quite a few years.

Last year a young male bear was regularly seen in the area,
 eating oats after harvesting.

He must have denned in the area.
This spring he went by the hives looking for much needed calories after the hibernation.
Unfortunately, this resulted in him being shot.

I do understand  that the apiaries need to protect their livelihoods,
however I can't help but feel really sad.
Is there perhaps more that could be done to prevent the bear damage,
and the resulting killing of this young bear.

Conflict prevention benefits both the owner of the hives and the bear.
Bears normally get shot only after they have raided the hives,
so the owner has already sustained loss and damage,
before the bear gets shot.

So, what more could have been done to prevent both the loss of the hives and,
 the loss of a bear life?

The hives are situated in a wooded area in very close proximity of a known bear den.
It borders an oat field, an attractant for bears in the fall.
Perhaps, not the most ideal spot to have hives.

These hives were only protected by 3 strands of electric wire.
Electric fencing has been shown to be highly effective in keeping bears from hives,
however they need to be correctly built to be effective.

Bears have thick fur, so crawling under a poorly built E-fence will have little to no effect in deterring the bear.

 For a Electric fence to be effective it really requires more  than 3 widely spaced strands.
It will need at least 6 stands correctly spaced ( 6 inches max between strands).
Correct height.
High Voltage ( at least 6000V)
and excellent grounding ( minimum of three ground rods).

A cheap and easy option would be to use a portable mesh type E-fence (also called sheep electric fence).
This would prevent the bear from simply slipping under/between the strands.

Another, possibility to explore in addition to the E- fence,
would be to rig up a "trip" wire,
that when tripped,
 a radio/air horn would blast on, creating a sound deterrent.
The sound could be of gunshots, crackers, fireworks or human voices.
Something, that would scare the bejeebers out of a bear foraging for food close to the hives.

Combining more than one bear deterrent,
would result in the best possible protection of the hives.

Other possibilities could include using a raised bear proof platform,

  Hammering a bunch of nails through a plank of plywood  placing around the hives, with the nail points sticking up.
Like a bed of nails.
They do this to protect some cabins in Alaska, from being raided by bears.
I have seen boards laid down all around the cabins to prevent bears getting even close to the doors and windows.

bear deterrent Alaska (

This bear board was placed to stop a dumpster diving bear outside a restaurant.

Bear Smart recommends the following additional methods to prevent conflict:
 " Beehives should be located as far as possible from timber and brush providing bears with cover and travel routes. Honey crops should be harvested as soon as possible after the spring, summer and fall nectar flows to reduce the attractiveness of hives to foraging bears, and prevent the loss of the new honey crop in the event of depredation. When possible, apiaries should be moved to new locations if bear activity is detected nearby."

I have also heard anecdotal info, that people who have livestock and bees,
have found their livestock guardian dogs also provide some protection for the hives.

Conflict prevention is really all about keeping:
 attractants for wildlife away or to a minimum,
being thoughtful in placement/location of hives,
adding  exclusion barriers such as Electric fencing, nail boards or raised platforms
  adding some aversion devices in the form of human activity, sounds, LGD
 and  management; removal of honey on time.

So, all in all, there are a number of ways to prevent hives from been raided by bears.
A little more focus perhaps on prevention,
 will ultimately, always be better for the apiary owner and,
 better for the bear.

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