Whether giving midday walks for dogs, working on hive preparation for tens of thousands of bees, or caring for her two horses, two sheep, four dogs, and two cats, Kim Pease is never just sitting around enjoying the view from her sloping back fields on Tucker Mountain. Kim is a pet caregiver, beekeeper, and farmer. She runs both At Your Paws Pet Services and Tucker Mountain Farm.
When I met up with her recently, we climbed uphill over the high snow banks to the sheep pen and horse paddock. Because of their winter coats, the sheep were round as barrels. Kim showed me how to get lanolin for my skin from the sheep’s coats – their wool proved thick enough to bury my entire hand when I pet them. Her mini-horse and her draft looked on as we admired the sheep and chatted in the snow under the early-March sun. Next, Kim gave me a tour of her impressive collection of bee equipment. She will finish her Master Beekeeper degree from Cornell in September. In the meantime, she has beeswax candles and honey for sale.
Kim is an animal care specialist. Her pet care business, At Your Paws Pet Services, includes full-service animal care for both in-home pets and farm animals: dog walking, particularly for owners who can’t get home from work at midday to walk their pets; in-home vacation care, with check-ins morning, noon, and in the evening; and farm sitting. Kim has lots of experience caring for pigs, cows, goats, and chickens, in addition to dogs, cats, horses, and sheep.
While Kim is a “dyed-in-the-wool” animal lover, she is also passionate about beekeeping. When asked to name the biggest misconception about bees, she says, “Honeybees get a bad rap. They are gentle – docile even. They only want to protect their home and what’s inside it.” She also clarifies that honeybees are cavity dwellers (hence, the high stacks of bee boxes lining her barn wall, which she will put out when the snow melts); they are not wasps, yellow jackets, or hornets, and they do not live in the ground or form either those mud-dauber nests under your eaves or those papery nests in trees.
Kim and other beekeepers among us are providing an essential value to our lives. Without protecting honeybees, the human species cannot survive. Literally. Kim says that, currently, the biggest threat to the honeybee population is the invasive mite known as the varroa destructor, about which beekeepers nationwide are most concerned. These mites can increase the bee viruses within a colony. Add to that, threats from global warming and habitat loss, and honeybees are becoming an endangered species whose disappearance threatens our food sources.
What can you do for honeybees and other pollinators? Plant pollinator habitat and forage. As Kim says, just like people, bees need a diverse diet. Increased forage allows bees from different colonies to socially distance while gathering food. This lessens the transmission of varroa mites and viruses from bee to flower to bee. Remember to plant pollinator mixes in large areas – seeds that can thrive in our climate, and native seeds are even better.
For more information, please visit At Your Paws Pet Services at atyourpaws.com and Tucker Mountain Farm at tuckermountainfarm.com.