The Birds and the Bees

Our bees arrived!  Robert has been an apiary enthusiast since seventh grade so he is beyond thrilled to finally have a hive going.  We checked on them yesterday and it’s amazing how much work they’ve been able to do in a span of a few short days.  We had to tear out their honeycomb because they were building it perpendicular to the frames — we hoped they would free build their honeycomb (to make for easier harvesting) but they might need a little direction from us with regards to how they hang their sweets.  Hosting them here on our little farm is a dream come true.  And since some of you demanded baby critter photographs, here are a few of those, to boot!  Though, as you can see, everything is growing up pretty quickly around here.

I thought I would include a picture of Tater Tot with the turkey-lurkeys for you.  This is the first time I let them out in the yard to free range and so it was Tater’s first encounter with them.  Some of you have asked about how we deal with bird dogs who come from really strong hunting bloodlines (which is to say they have an immense predator prey drive) and free ranging birds in the yard.  I do have a couple of thoughts to share on the topic.

Tater Tot is now 5 years old. If I didn’t have complete control of him in situations like this it would be a total failure on my part with regards to basic obedience training and establishing general pack order with my dogs.  If you don’t want your dogs to kill your yard birds, if you want them to come when you call, if you want them to abide by the rules you have set for them, you need to have some basic obedience training in place, but to be honest, the more obedience work you are able to do on a regular basis, the better.  Dogs come from wolves!  They thrive on a sense of place within their pack.  Obedience training is one of the best ways to build bonds with your pup as well as give them that sense of place that will help them to feel and behave like secure individuals.

I always say, if you have a dog that is acting up you can almost always solve the issues by exercising it more (go beyond the off-leash, downtown dog park) and working with it more (obedience training).  These things benefit you, too.  My dogs get me outside every single day and engaging with them, asking them to work for me and along side me has made our relationships rich and sacred.

As I said, we’ve had Tater Tot for 5 years but I do yard training with him on a regular basis because he needs it.  He has a very strong and stubborn personality paired with completely insane hunting drive.  He needs a tune up every single day.  To give him a tune up I simply dedicate time every day wherein we get to focus on each other.  If I am running, I heel him while I run (though we run on single track or two track on public lands where he can run free and wild).  While we travel together like that, I practice casting him off, recalling him, woahing him and running past him a full 1/4 mile before releasing him from his woah command, etc.  If he is being rotten to the cats or to the other dogs, instead of trying to reason with him like some folks do with their dogs (???), I take him straight outside and I challenge his mind with some obedience training.  I can turn his attitude around in a couple of minutes by simply refreshing his sense of pack order and pushing his mind a little.

I can’t yet trust him with the turkeys, but soon he’ll ignore them when he’s sharing the yard with them.  In the meanwhile, I sit with him while the turkeys range within his reach, I speak to him and let him know I am watching him.  I request a little self-control from him and he does a great job.  He completely ignores the ducks unless he is with me while I am herding them into their pen in the evening.  Then he’ll actually help me herd them a little bit, with the aid of voice commands from me.  He’s such a smart little pup.

Farley ignores all the new critters while Penelope is curious about them and wants to give them all the flea nibbles…which looks a little like she is tasting them so I have to tell her to be gentle.

As you can see, the duckos have grown amazingly quickly.  They have many of their adult feathers and they discovered the trout pond yesterday and to say they are thrilled with their swimming space would be a total understatement.  They add so much to the immediate yard here.  I am glad for their company.

This week, I’ll be busting my own chops trying to get the gardens in.  Wish me luck!  I’d like to have all my seeds in the ground by the weekend and since it’s still very cool at night, tomatoes, et al, can wait another week…and they have to wait another week, anyway, as I’ll be off on another shoot shortly!  I’m doing my best to roll out of bed at 6AM here, every morning, there’s so much to do.  And when I lay down to sleep at night, I sleep like a rock.  It’s delicious.  And simple.  And I like it.



  1. This is a lovely post. Would you have any book suggestions on dog training? We lost our pup of 14 years two years ago and feel we would be ready for a puppy this summer. Our last dog was trained when we got her, so I would love to train this next pup well. I always love to read your blog, it is full of beauty and soul.

    • I don’t have any book suggestions! I think Robert read a couple hunting specific training books when we started Farley…but we just try to be logical about our training approaches. And we do our best to treat our dogs like dogs. Good luck! It’s always the right time for a new pup!

  2. Beautiful farm you’ve got there. I enjoy watching it grow.

  3. Chris Moore says:

    Thank you! Kittens??? Please???

  4. Allyson says:

    Do you duck hunt Tater. We do our GSP. He very cooperative but also has high prey drive. I’d love to have ducks but wonder if he can understand we don’t hunt the pet ducks. Only the wild ones 😊

  5. nathalie says:

    Real farm life, you sound so happy and you probably are the both of you. Love al the pictures texts, look of Tater….it says a lot on what is going on in his head…..ahahahahaha Very nice post, lovey life, lovely people.

    • Tater Tot would love to dispatch a little turkey, duckling or chick. I know exactly what’s going on behind those beady little eyes of his. He’s a good boy to mind me.

  6. Lovely post, Jillian! That photo of Tater Tot is priceless … you’ll have to turn that one into a postcard! How exciting for Rob and his bees! I hope to get there one day too. Love watching your farm take shape .. thanks so much for sharing, beautiful! XX

  7. Have you ever heard of this? You don’t need to remove the slides from inside the hives; you turn a knob and it opens the cavities and the honey just pours into a jar!

    • I have heard of the honey tap!!! Seems like cheating. Purist bee keepers are in an uproar about it…they say it prevents a bee keeper from having a relationship with the bees…

  8. It would seem to me that not bothering the bees would be more in their best interest, but what do I know, I don’t have room for bees – good luck!

    • Leaving them to build their honeycomb perpendicular to the hive frames would be fine if we didn’t ever plan on harvesting honey or if we didn’t care about caring for the bees at all — it would prevent us from splitting and creating new hives which is something that must be done. If we leave the situation as is, when we go to harvest the honey in the future, as soon as we go to pull the frames from the hive it will shatter all the honeycomb making the honey impossible to harvest. It will be a total mess. They need to be building their comb parallel with the frames so the frames can slide freely so we can access the hive.

      If these were just bees living in a tree it wouldn’t matter. But they’re not.

      Thanks for the luck!

  9. Our dogs never had a problem learning that “our animals” were part of the pack. So OUR flock etc. were safe. But the dogs needed reminding if they were around someone else’s chickens/critters. They didn’t think particular types of animal specifically were off limits… Only OUR critters. They knew each and every creature on our place. Turkeys! In my experience, they are the most affectionate of birds. Mine use to follow me, hang out, and straight up ask for cuddles. When I would sit in the yard they would take up position very close and drift off to sleep whilst making peaceful turkey sounds.

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