Hard Yakka = an Australian term for hard work.
This past week in a howling wind and cold temps, Jed & Mark shifted 110 blue bee domes from three old alfalfa fields to newly planted alfalfa crops. Doing this "hard yakka" job in the fall means one less task to get done in the busy weeks of spring seeding and because each hut is held down by four rebar spikes, it must happen before the ground freezes.
Our farming partner Jon Zdunich marked out the fields with his sprayer/GPS so we could follow the lines and make our rows of bee huts straight and even. Not only does this make the field look good, it also makes driving in the field and combining the crop much easier.
Each hut weighs around 150 lbs and is bulky to move around, especially in a Saskatchewan wind. Four spikes per hut = 440 pieces of rebar which were driven into the ground with a sledgehammer. An unsecured hut could become a dangerous missile if the wind caught hold and got it tumbling across a field.
These huts will typically stay in place for 4-5 years or as long as the alfalfa seed crop remains healthy and viable.
Needless to say, I was more than happy to drive the truck & trailer and keep our dog Milo company. Thanks guys for getting this job done.
As fieldwork comes to an end and winter approaches, I start to think about what changes need to be made on our website. New photos and updates to the Frequently Asked Questions are where I'll start.
Are there questions that you had this past season that could not be answered on our website? I know lots of folks wondered what to do with the bags of cocoons when they received them in the mail. How to store them, when to put them out, etc.
Let me know what information you think should be on our website. We appreciate your input and feedback!
As promised, we're running a small contest to celebrate Ag Month in Saskatchewan. Read on for details.....
How much leaf could a leafcutter cut, if a leafcutter could cut an entire leaf? My son found an enormous poplar leaf and it got me thinking (although leafcutter bees don't generally like a thick leaf such as poplar) about some of the leaves that I found in our yard this summer. All around the outside edge of the leaf were little circles missing from where our bees had cut pieces to make their cocoons.
So along that vein, IF a leafcutter bee were to like poplar leaves and IF it were to cut pieces from all the way around the edge of this enormous leaf, how many leafcutter cuts would there be??? This is the contest! I have actually drawn on the back of the leaf little pretend cuts and counted them, so I have a final # for an answer.
The prize for this contest is the book "What Bee Will you Be?" and a pair of bee socks.
Guess how many cuts a leafcutter bee could make if it went all the way around the giant poplar leaf, type your answer below.
Like & Share this post AND Like our page (if you haven't already).
Contest ends Sunday, October 18th at 5pm.
In case of several correct answers, I will draw one winner from those people with the correct #s.
"To make a Prairie, it takes an alfalfa plant and a bee....."
These are our baby alfalfa plants, aren't they cute? This crop was planted under a lentil field this spring and had excellent establishment. Jed is very pleased with this stand of alfalfa and says it's one of the best we've ever grown. This is also a salt tolerant type of alfalfa which is a new variety for us.
Alfalfa does not flower early enough in the establishment year to have bees placed in the field for pollination. Thus, planting a cover crop such as lentils alongside the alfalfa allows there to be an income from the field for that season. Timely rain is the critical factor for successful establishment of alfalfa.
The next job.....getting blue huts onto the field in preparation for next spring's leafcutter bees
October is Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. It is a time to "celebrate agriculture and share our stories about food and farming. It is proclaimed annually in Saskatchewan, providing the perfect opportunity to connect for those who grow food, and those who love to eat it."
Jed and I have been 18 years farming in this province and in the leafcutter bee/alfalfa seed industry. We have slowly expanded our alfalfa acres and are thankful to have an excellent partnership with Zdunich Farms at Kenaston, SK. There have been years with excellent seed yields & bee returns and seasons where either or both crops are dismal. Prices go up and down with supply & demand.
The production of alfalfa seed using leafcutter bees for pollination is not a well-known part of Saskatchewan agriculture. Since our leap into the hobby market with the start of the Backyard Pollinator business in 2018, we've tried our best to explain what we do on our farm and how the product that you purchase is produced. It seems like everyone enjoys learning something new and making the connection with the blue huts that you see along Hwy #11 or other places in the province, and the little bees that are known as "super pollinators".
Thanks for following along on our farming journey, we appreciate your interaction and encouragement.
PS. There's going to be a contest this week, make sure to check back to this page for details!!
Today we will finish harvesting our last 30 acres of wheat (did you hear my sigh of relief?!).
A heartfelt thanks goes out to our friend Graham @ Lake City Farms who rolled into the field yesterday with his grain cart and semi. The grain cart kept the combines rolling and his semi hauled our grain down the road to the P & H silos.
We also greatly appreciate our friend and neighbor Robin @ Vogt Transport for hauling loads for us late at night and early in the morning. Every load of grain that gets sold in October means one less that has to get loaded in January, and that pleases my Aussie hubby no end.
Grain sold = bills paid (and that keeps everybody happy).
Sometimes you just need a little help from your friends, and we've got really good friends!!
Photo: Mark Higgins
We had a courier delivery today from Globe Printers, Saskatoon. From now on, every online order will receive this FREE sticker with their purchase! Bright, colorful & eye-catching, I'm certainly pleased with how they turned out.
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