Bees and Butterflies

A week ago today, CountryBoy and I drove 2 1/2 hours one way to pick up my bees.

The place was busier than a beehive.  Seriously!  People were buying beekeeping supplies, picking up bees and basically buzzing around the store front like a bunch of busy bees!

Me?  I was taking it all in.  Not having a clue about what was going on or what I was about to get myself into. hahaha!

I watched the continuously looping video on how to install the bees into their new hive making mental notes and I bought a pair of extra small vented cowhide gloves that actually fit me, a beekeeping logbook and a t-shirt.

Then it was time to drive around the building to pick up my 3 lbs. of bees.

The lady checked my order, went and got my package of bees, checked the queen and then loaded them into the truck (behind CountryBoy’s seat!).

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That’s a LOT of bees!  I read that there are approximately 10,000 bees in a 3 lb. package of bees!

It was mid-afternoon by the time we got back home so I decided to wait until late in the evening to do the installation in hopes that they would be calm and ready for ‘bed’.

I donned my new gloves, gave CountryBoy the large gloves that came in the beginner’s beekeeping kit as well as the hat and veil (I did not want him to possibly have a bad experience right off the bat) and we went about the installation process.

In the following photo I’m opening it up to remove the box with the queen in it…

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You can see in the bottom left of the photo several of the frames that I had already removed to allow room to ‘pour’ the bees.

Here is the box with the queen in it (and several other bees that got in there somehow)…

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If you look closely towards the left of the box you’ll notice a bee with a yellow mark on it.  That’s the queen.

I removed the cork on one end of the box where there is a ‘candy’ like substance that the bees are supposed to eat through to free her.  I then poked the end of a paperclip in the other cork at the opposite end and it pushed into the box itself.  Oops!  I was going to use this cork to ‘hang’ the box on one of the frames until she was freed.  So, I ended up sticking the paperclip into the ‘candy’, hung it on a frame then started ‘pouring’ the bees into the hive and hoped this was going to be OK and that the queen could still get out.

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I was fairly calm and relaxed throughout the whole process but it was a little nerve-wracking hearing the loud hum of the bees and seeing them flying all over the place.

There were quite a few bees that didn’t ‘pour’ out so after several failed attempts to get them out I decided I would leave them be and started putting the frames back in so I could close up the hive.

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I left the package of remaining bees in front of the hive so they could come out at their leisure.

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Me and my bees!  Oh, and no stings!

CountryBoy took the historical photos and lent a helping hand here and there.  He actually enjoyed the process for which I am thankful!  I’m sure I will need his help pulling the frames filled with honey as they can be quite heavy.

Last Wednesday we were working on the never-ending porch project (smirk) when I noticed a vast amount of butterflies everywhere.  It was beautiful!

For some reason, several of them were ‘clumping’ in this one spot on the driveway.  I couldn’t see anything that would attract them but they stayed there for quite some time.  Long enough, even, for me to go back in the house, slip my shoes off, go up the stairs to grab my camera, slip my shoes back on and then back outside.

I could not choose a favorite so I will bombard you with several similar shots of the butterfly clump!

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Isn’t that cool?  Butterflies were coming and going while I was taking the photos.  So pretty!

There ya have it.  Lots of stuff happening at the farm this month, another being picking up sixteen chicks at the post office yesterday morning.  Stay tuned for some cuteness overload!

The Birds and the Bees

OK, so technically it’s the CHICKENS and the bees.

And maybe that’s not even correct.  It’s more like the chicken’s EGGS and the bees.

Nonetheless, we’ve been wanting to open up an ‘egg-stand’ so to speak here at the farm but, we’ve never had enough extra eggs left over after our regular customers have gotten theirs to do so.  Since the girls have been steadily laying throughout the winter months we now have an excess of farm fresh eggs.  So, what better time to do a bit of advertising and get the ‘egg-stand’ open!

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CountryBoy made the post and sign out of salvaged material then I painted them.

The sign is double-sided…

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Hello Dream Valley Farmstead!

I love how it turned out!  Although, I’m thinking about adding a second sign underneath that lists the price per dozen.  We’ll see if we get anyone stopping in or not then go from there.  We would love for this to be the only advertising we need to do and the rest be word of mouth.

Another exciting happening is the arrival of our bees!  OK, so maybe I’M the one that’s the most excited, heehee!

Next weekend we will drive a couple of hours one way to pick up 3 lbs. of bees and a queen.  I.can’t.wait!

I’ve got the brooder box we purchased from a beekeeping friend painted and set up for their arrival.

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I will ‘pour’ the bees into this brooder box that already has the honeycomb and a little bit of honey on the ten frames and leave them be (get it? ha!) for two weeks.  It is going to be hard for me to NOT check on them but during that time they will be busy ‘cleaning and tidying up’ their new house and the queen will then start laying some eggs.  Having frames with the honeycomb already on them will allow the colony to grow quicker and I should have some honey this first year.  Otherwise, if the bees had to start from scratch honey production would be low.  I am SO grateful for our beekeeping friend who was willing to part with one of his boxes with honeycomb-filled frames so that we could have this jump start!

After the two weeks I will add two medium supers to the top of the brooder box and the bees can start building the honeycomb and making delicious honey.  A dream coming true for me!

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The hive is nestled under the sour cherry trees in the small fenced in garden which, I hope, is a great spot.

I’ve added a water source for the bees on top of the hive but may move it later on after observing the bees for a bit.

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I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I had laid a tarp over the top part of the garden.

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My plan is to plant a bunch of lavender in this area as I think the bees will really enjoy it when it’s in bloom.  Lavender infused honey?  Yes, please!

Here you can see the proximity of the intended lavender ‘field’ and the beehive…

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I will eventually turn the lower part of the garden into an herb garden for both cooking and medical purposes.  I need to think it through and plan it out, though, so this section will be a work in progress for several years to come.

But, for now, the upper section will be all about the BEES!

We’re Still Here!

My apologies for being absent for so long.  I was politely scolded by my best friend for my lack of blog posts (she loves me!) and then CountryBoy jumped on the bandwagon and scolded me, too, telling me I’m going to lose all our followers.  sigh.  And, they’re right.  This year I am going to make more time for blogging to keep y’all abreast of what’s going on ’round here.  Sound good?  Okay.

In my mind I do have good reasons for not blogging… one of those being our efforts to gather wood to fill our wood shed for the winter months.  Many of y’all remember the year we moved here that we were without any good heat sources and it was very, very cold in the ‘ol farmhouse.  I mean, see your breath kinda cold.  Brrr!  (My previously mentioned best friend threatened to call the National Guard she was so worried about us, ha!  I told her she’d better not and that we were fine.  Cold, but fine. wink.)  Anyhoo, I am glad I took that time helping CountryBoy cut and split wood since we have had to use the fireplace quite a bit already and as I type this it is snowing outside.  Yay!

We love the snow!  It is so beautiful and the snowy days don’t seem quite as cold as non-snowy days.

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We are only expected to get a couple of inches this go ’round.  This ‘born in upstate New York but raised in Florida’ girl has loved experiencing all four seasons since moving to Kentucky! Each and every season is special in its own way.

One of the things I’ll be doing on this snowy afternoon (right after I finish blogging!) is getting back to assembling something new this year at the farm…

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Any guesses?  If you guessed frames for a beehive you guessed right!  (Can you tell by CountryBoy’s body language that he’s thinking ‘oh good grief’ and is not thrilled, heehee!)

Two big boxes arrived yesterday with all sorts of wood bundles in them and some bee paraphernalia.  I couldn’t wait to start putting them together so we sat on the floor yesterday afternoon and spent more time trying to decipher the poorly, or almost non-existent, instructions than it did for us to put ten frames together.  That is, once we figured out how to do it.

I mentioned to CountryBoy that I probably should’ve spent the extra money to buy it already assembled but a) where is the fun in that? ha! and b) I’m cheap frugal.  I figure that extra money will go towards something else we’ll end up needing to get the hives up and running.  Oh yea, he said he would’ve spent the extra money, haha, but again, where is the fun in that?!

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We have thirty more frames to put together.  It’s pretty simple now that we figured it out (thank goodness for the beekeeping books we have and their good diagrams!) but it is time consuming.    There are specific places where they are to be nailed which is tedious.  Once we get those done we’ll start putting the boxes together.  We picked up some resin glue (see, I KNEW we would need to get something else before it was all said and done (wink)) while in town this morning.  They recommend gluing the boxes at the dove tails even though they are nailed together for extra support since they will be handled often.

We are buying a deep box and frames with a honey start on them from a beekeeper friend in New York.  This will give the bees a head start and will allow us to have a bit of honey this first year.  Yay!

Along with the hive kit I had to buy a beginners beekeeping kit…

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hat with veil, smoker, hive tool, feeding caps, goatskin gloves and book on raising bees and selling honey.

Speaking of honey, the store owner where we bought the glue heard me mention what the glue was for and he seriously wants to buy a quart of honey already!  As he said, local honey is hard to come by as I know all too well.  We just may have a market here.  I see more hives in our future!

For now, the one hive will have to do.  As with any new venture it’s a huge investment to get started.  Down the line we’ll purchase another deep box, bottom board and top, split the medium boxes we already have and hopefully be able to split the bees and then we’ll have another hive.  Bit by bit!

And, speaking of bees, I ordered the bees and queen along with the boxes.  It’s a first come first serve basis when it comes to bees so I wanted to make sure I was nearer to the top of the list rather than the bottom.  On April 15th, we will drive two hours one way to pick up 3 lbs. of Italian bees and a marked queen and we will be official beekeepers!

This is all so very exciting!  It’s another dream come true for me.  CountryBoy is helping me get set up and reading up on the bees but this is my baby.  I will be the one going in and out of the beehive – he’ll be the one with the smoker and stepping aside.  Teamwork!

Another new venture for the farm and one that has consumed a bit of time will be the opening up of a new Etsy shop.  I had an Etsy shop years ago with a few things I’ve made here and there but things have changed so it’s time for a new shop with a new name and a new focus.  I am still working on the farm logo; coming up with items to make and sell; then there’s the actual job of creating the new Etsy shop; making products; photographing products; editing the photos; pricing the products; listing the products; advertising; etc. etc.  It’s no wonder I have no idea where the time goes each day!

Here’s a few of the products I have in mind so far…

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homemade balms & serums using therapeutic grade essential oils, upcycled tinted jars for decorative purposes, handmade afghans & quilts and who knows what else!  We would love to have a physical shop here at the farm one day where we could sell all the above plus some extra home-canned goodies but, for now, an online shop will have to do until we can afford the shop building.  Bit by bit!

And, speaking of essential oils, that has been another thing that has consumed some of my time.  I am purposefully focusing on growing my Young Living business this year.  I love their products and they have done wonders for boosting our health and wellness over the past several months so I want to share that with others who are interested.

There is at least one more venture currently planned for the farm that I will share with you after things are firmed up.  You know, cuz I love to keep y’all wondering (wink!)!

So that’s what’s been going on ’round here and what’s about to go on.

Thank you for bearing with me and for still being here.  Y’all are the best!

Till next time our farm friends!

Projects Galore

OK, maybe not galore but we did manage to get quite a few projects done in the past two weeks.

But first, I want to share with you this morning’s foggy sunrise over the mountain…

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It was magical!

I can’t believe today is the last day of September.  This year has really flown by.  Soon, we will be buried under quilts, stoking the fire, eating the fruits of our labor and relaxing.  I, myself, am also looking forward to doing some sewing and quilting.  My sweet LizzieBelle is already buried under her blanket…

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So cute!

But, back to the past two weeks…  after discovering that our chickens were still not safe even in the fenced in paddock we decided to close off a portion of the paddock and make a chicken run directly off the barn.

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We purchase 150 feet of chicken wire, re-used some metal fence posts from around the farm and got to work.

After a long days’ work we had two sides done.

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Still to do was add the chicken wire to the outside of the fence by the driveway but, at least, they were safe from predators stalking them from the mountain side of the paddock.

While we were purchasing the chicken wire I, of course, had to check out the clearance aisle where I found some lovely perennials marked down to $3.  Score!  So, we took a break from the chicken run to work on some curb appeal.

Our driveway actually ends at the side of the house.  There were a few Hostas and some wild Lemon Balm along the front of the porch and nothing along the back of the house where we and everyone else enters the house.

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I decided to move two of the Hostas, divide them and plant them along the back of the house from the corner of the porch to the door.

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Hopefully, they will fill out again but we’re liking where they are now.

CountryBoy tilled the ground at the far corner of the porch and then I planted my clearance plants.  He added some stones for me to help keep the weeds down.

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It’s easy to mow around and helps show off the flowers.

All of my lovely clearance plants!

Once that project was over we got back to work on finishing up the chicken run.  The girls, and Fuzzy Foot the rooster, are happy and we feel good again about their safety.

The next project was installing a temporary wall to close off the bathroom from the laundry nook and pantry.

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I say temporary because, one day, we have plans to renovate the bathroom after we get a half bath put in upstairs.  We’re not sure when that will happen so in the meantime we decided that we needed to go ahead and close off and separate the bathroom from the pantry.

Continuing the reclaimed fence boards we used in the pantry CountryBoy got to work on sanding the remaining boards down, putting up 2×4’s and cutting the boards to size to create the wall.

He also relocated the door into the pantry/laundry nook/bathroom and used it as the bathroom door.

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SO much better!

Since the wall is temporary I simply tucked the metal rack we’ve been using for towel storage in the wall alcove but removed several shelves to accommodate the wall mounted gas heater.  CountryBoy added some small shelves by the tub/shower for a little bit of extra storage space.

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I can’t tell you how nice it is to NOT see the bathroom when I walk into the pantry for something or when I’m doing laundry.  It’s the little things, haha!

Yesterday, while CountryBoy was re-working our winter dining table (it sits directly across from the wood burning stove!) I got to work on the cover for the crib-bench in the living room.

After mustering up the courage to cut the fabric, I washed it and finished cutting out the pieces that I needed.  If there’s one thing that will make me procrastinate on starting a sewing project is the cutting of the fabric.  You know, that whole fear of messing it up and then what do I do?!  Once that’s done, it’s a piece of cake!

I didn’t quite think the whole thing through when I started but it went together fairly easy and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

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I made it like a pillowcase with snaps on the one end so that it can be removed if it needs to be washed.

Once CountryBoy was finished stiffening up and sanding down the winter dining table I did a final sand and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on it.

I love how the polyurethane brings out the grain of the wood.

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CountryBoy made this table last year out of boards that were salvaged from right here on the farm.

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So pretty and ready for winter!

I’ve also been removing Lavender seeds and flowers from a box of Lavender that we were gifted with as well as working on the ever-present need to get organized and find permanent homes for everything.  Happily, I am finding those permanent homes and feeling a bit more settled in.

I’m sure I’ve missed something else that we’ve done over the past two weeks but those projects were the bigger ones.  Which one was your favorite?

A Mini Makeover For The Living Room

Our living room is small.  And, although there are two windows it is also dark because of the surrounding porch roof.

The previous owner used this space as a dining room so the darkness probably didn’t matter much but we chose to use it as our living room because, well, it had a heat source.  Or, at least the space for a sufficient heat source.  And, it had the potential of being cozy.  What was previously used as a living room (and is now our dining room) is larger but there was no heat source in there  and meant we would’ve had to add one somewhere because, let me tell ya, it gets mighty cold in there during the winter.  brrr!

With the days getting increasingly shorter I decided it was time to try and lighten up the living room a bit and make it a bit more warm and inviting since we’ll spending more time in there during the winter.

Here is the before…

Dark walls, dark ceiling, dark floor, dark window trim and neutral furniture not arranged very well.

My first project was painting the window trim and the trim around the shelves.  I had to use three coats of Kilz to cover up the hunter green.

Then, I rearranged the furniture pieces, moved the existing picture, hung another one up, relocated the wooden ‘ladder’ from our bedroom down to the living room and hung an off-white quilt on it, relocated the milk can and brought in a crib that was left here to use as extra seating.  I also moved the curio cabinet that holds my antique glass ‘hens on a nest’ pieces and my Lilliput Lane houses I started collecting every time I went to England (many years ago!).

Here’s what the living room looks like now…

The crib bottom was in pretty rough shape.

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CountryBoy took the grinder to it then I primed it with Rustoleum metal primer then spray painted it.

It was also missing the back and front pieces so CountryBoy made a back for me out of some scrap wood.

We did have to buy a mattress and a few throw pillows for it but I really like how it turned out and it will provide extra seating and a place for any young’ns to sleep should we ever get some young visitors!

I still need to make a slipcover for the mattress but I have plenty of this striped fabric from when I recovered my patio furniture in Florida.

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Also, still left to do is remove the border on this wall and choose a paint color.  But, I’m in no hurry to tackle those right now as I really don’t have any idea what color I want to use.

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For now, I am enjoying the coziness and the few warm touches.  When a paint color hits me then I’ll get to removing the border and painting!

Here  are the before’s and after’s again…

It’s nothing fancy and still dark but the white window trim, light pillows and quilt help give the space the appearance of being brighter.

Several people suggested painting the wood walls.  Gasp, I just don’t think I could do it.  These are rough cut boards with the gorgeous saw marks on them and I just don’t want to cover those up.  We also like the ‘cabin-look’ they have. One thought we had was to paint the ceiling in between the rafters.  That’s quite an undertaking and the jury is still out on that idea.  I’ll let you know if that happens!

 

An Apron Wearing Day

After struggling with allergies all last week from the dreaded ragweed infestation we have on the farm I was feeling better today with a bit more energy so I decided it was time to tackle some of the apples we were given a couple weeks ago.  I mean, after all, they don’t know I’m not up to dealing with them and, therefore, will keep from rotting until I feel better (wink).

So, this morning, I donned my apron and got to work at washing the first bag of apples.  Thankfully, when CountryBoy finished up his project outside he came in and asked if I needed any help.  Well, yea!  He ended up peeling while I quartered and cored the apples.

Two bags later, we had 12 pounds of apples ready to be cooked and softened to be made into applesauce.

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Much like painting, the most tedious part of canning is the prep-work.

Once these softened I worked in small batches pureeing them in the food processor.  Once they were all pulverized and back in the pan I added sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.   MMMmmm!  Then processed them for 20 minutes in a water bath.

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Yum!  With the sugar and cinnamon added it’s like dessert in a jar!

We peeled a few too many apples so CountryBoy chopped them up for me so I could make my Apple Crisp.

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I left them sit in some water with lemon juice until I could get to them.

Meanwhile, while I was waiting for the first batch of applesauce to process I started working on a bag of hot banana peppers that we were given last week.

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I decided to chop them and freeze them for later use.

I got the ends all cut off and cut in half and maybe about 1/4 of them de-seeded when CountryBoy came back from a quick trip to town.  Again, he asked if I needed any help.  Well, yea!  So, he finished de-seeding them and chopped them up.  (And, no, he didn’t wear gloves either!)  We ended up with almost 3 quart size freezer baggies full.

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I will add these to some of the Mexican-style dishes we love to eat and anything else I think they might go well in.

After the last batch of applesauce was in the canner I got started on the Apple Crisp.

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I added pecans this time, put the topping on and popped it in the oven.

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Mmm!

While the Apple Crisp was cooling I started on my last kitchen project of the day… DIY VapoRub.

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We’ve both been under the weather, CountryBoy with a cold and me with my allergies, so I thought some VapoRub would be nice for night time.

It’s pretty easy to make.  Melt your oils and beeswax, let it cool a bit then add your essential oils.

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I added Young Living’s Peppermint, Lemon, Eucalyptus Globulus and RC (Respiratory Comfort) blend essential oils.

It has a little softer consistency then I thought it would have but it turned out OK.  I did go back and add more drops of each essential oil because my coconut oil was overpowering everything.  The added drops helped tremendously.

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Ah, nice!  I love being able to make my own remedies at home.  It’s actually quite fun too!

I didn’t have to think about making anything for lunch/supper because we brought home some delicious leftovers from our church’s Homecoming celebration yesterday.  Is there such a thing as a lunch/supper combo?  You know, like brunch, only you eat mid-afternoon?  We do that a lot ’round here since we usually have brunch then we’re hungry again mid-afternoon.  Maybe we should come up with a name for it.  Any ideas?

Anyhoo, all the stuff that I was able to make today was only possible because my awesome Hubby offered to help.  Otherwise, I’d probably still be peeling apples!

So, after a day spent in my apron and in the kitchen this was our reward…

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A bowl of yummy Apple Crisp!

I Should Be In The Kitchen

We are still harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos and okra.

The lima beans seem to have halted their growth at the moment.

And, still in the ground are the other half of the gold potatoes and all the sweet potatoes.

We were gifted with a BUNCH more apples and a bag full of hot and sweet banana peppers.

Today, my intentions were to make and put up some salsa using up some of the tomatoes, the jalapenos and some of the hot banana peppers.  That is, until I discovered that I didn’t have enough garlic on hand to make the salsa.  And, probably not quite enough lemon juice either. sigh.

Then I thought, I oughta make and put up some applesauce or apple pie filling.  But, I just wasn’t in the mood to peel apples all morning.

I went outside to hang up a load of laundry and saw the trunk project I am working on.  Of course, I meandered over there to check it out and, well, the morning was history (wink!).

So far, a lot of time has been spent gently scraping the canvas off the outside of the trunk.  I even had to pull out the paint stripper to remove the black paint that was on three sides and the top of the trunk.

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It’s coming along slowly but I can already envision what this ‘ol trunk is going to look like when I’m finished!

I stopped working on it today when the sweat started running down my legs.  Here’s where I’m at on the top of the trunk…

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I still have a long way to go on the whole thing but I’m making progress.

When my hands needed a break from all the scraping I decided to pot my two $1 plants I got the other day from the clearance rack at Lowe’s.  They were already marked down to $3 then they were marked down to $1.  Score!

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There was no tag in the containers but I believe these are trailing Verbena.  Don’t quote me on that though!

I am slowly working on some curb appeal so I put these in my plastic, half barrel-looking pot and put them in front of the ‘ol wagon wheel leaning on the front (actually side) porch rail.

Can you add curb appeal even though you don’t have a curb?  Ha!

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This is the side of the porch that is seen when you come up the drive.  It is looking a little better and more inviting.

See all the chippy paint on the porch railing and the floor?  Our porch definitely needs some TLC.  In time.

Tomorrow, I will get in the kitchen.  That is, after a quick trip to town to get more jars, lemon juice and garlic.  Then, I will be psyched and ready to spend the day putting up food for winter!

Barnyard Chickens

After losing our third chicken in a two and a half to three month time period to a predator during daylight hours we knew we had a major decision on our hands.  Somehow we had to restrict the girls free ranging to a limited area.  The predator was consistent in its attacks –  coming up from the ditch/creek in the same general area, grabbing a chicken and taking it back down the same way it came up.  How did we know this without ever witnessing it?  A trail of feathers was left behind.

We tossed the idea around of putting up a fence around the existing coop and creating a run for them.  That would cost us a lot of money and a lot of sweat equity.  The sweat equity would’ve been fine but we did not want to go in debt to purchase fencing nor did we want half the yard fenced off so we needed another plan.

We walked down to the barn and that’s when we made the decision to house the chickens in the barn.  They would have protection from the elements and full use of the paddock as a run where they would still be able to dig, scratch, play and free range a bit but have the added protection of a fence.  Now we know this is not fool-proof from predators such as hawks but we’re hoping this solution will deter any four-footed predator from attacking.

Our first thought was to use one of the larger stalls at the end of the barn.

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As you can see, this room needed a lot of work.  It was the stall we originally chose to store our reclaimed wood and other paraphernalia in.

We began by relocating the wood.

Once that was done we began the assessment of what all needed to be done before it was safe from night time predators.  whew, the list was quickly becoming long… a roof of some sort was needed, blocks or rocks around the base, chicken wire on the sides… yikes!

So after taking a short break and assessing the situation again we chose a different location but still in the barn.

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Facing the barn, this room is on the left at the front of the barn and had a ramp in it to load and offload animals.

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It also had a metal roof over it and sturdy goat fencing above the three quarter wall and the other three sides are wood.  It seemed like a much better and more immediate solution.

It also had lots of cobwebs…

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and even a dead chicken (not one of ours) was found under the ramp.  Don’t look at the following photo too close or you’ll see it :(.

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But before any work began in this room we relocated a gate from the center of the barn to the front of the barn.

The older girls love to be around us when we’re working so since they were already in the barn we simply closed the gate thinking it would be somewhat easier on us when it came time to relocate the girls come evening.  phffft, were we wrong!

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Now that we had the gate in place and the ramp removed it was time to add some roosts…

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While CountryBoy reworked the ramp door I started removing the chicken wire behind the windows.  They served no purpose since the windows were there and just collected cobwebs and encouraged wasps to build nests in between the two.  I’m thinking the windows were added after the chicken wire.  I also started cleaning the paint off the windows.

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After I finished that it was time to bring the feed and feeders over and get them hung…

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There was already a box in one of the corners.  The girls that hadn’t already laid an egg decided it looked like a good nest box.  So, I added some hay to it and, lo and behold, we got a couple of eggs in there shortly after…

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We really wanted to have the nest boxes in the center of the barn so CountryBoy hung the cabinet that was in our bathroom out there and put some hay in it but the girls didn’t like that idea.  They would jump up, check it out but then go back to the box in the corner and go to fussing if another girl was already in there.

So, today, he cut the cabinet in half, added some sides and hung them in the new coop.  We’ll see if they approve.

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Throughout the day, yesterday, I managed to grab a few of the young’uns and take them to their new digs.  They were happy to find those feeders!

Each time I was able to grab a chicken I was thinking, ‘yay, one less chicken to relocate come evening’.  Boy, was I WRONG!

Come evening, all those chickens knew was that they needed to get back to the coop before nightfall.  What a ruckus!  They started jumping over the gate (even though we added wire well above the top of the gate), squeezing under and through the sides of the gate and generally just freaking out!

What started out as only needing to relocate six chickens ended up being more like a bakers dozen.  I would be carrying a chicken or two from the old coop to the new and another chicken was passing me on the road headed the opposite way.  sigh.  What a fiasco!

CountryBoy ended up snatching them up at the gate and putting them in the coop then shutting the door each time while I went back and forth from the old coop to the new coop carrying chickens.  After several trips we finally had all 24 of them in the new coop and they were vying for their spot on the roosts.  whew!

Needless to say, we were thoroughly exhausted by then!

Today, we did a few more things to the new coop and added their light.  We’re hoping that it will draw them into the coop making for a smoother night.  We also plan on sitting in front of the gate to ward off any escapees.  We’ll probably have to do this for a few nights until they get used to where they are supposed to go at night.

Thankfully, they seem to be very content today.  They’ve spent a lot of time in the barn checking out all the stalls and some have even ventured into the paddock.

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Our beautiful Buff Cochin, aka Fuzzy Foot, spent a little time this morning on the roost.  I think she was picking her spot for the night!

barnyard chickens Fuzzy Foot

Overall, I’m pleased with the solution we came up with.  Not only did it save us a lot of money but we were also able to get the girls a little more protected much quicker and they still have lots of room to roam around yet be protected by the elements.  It’s also a little bit cooler in the barn which is great during the summer and it is well ventilated for the winter months.

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Not only that, there is now LIFE in the barn!  I’m thrilled about that!  After we finished up today we sat on the front porch facing the barn and I said to CountryBoy that I thought the barn looked like it was standing straighter.  He looked and said he agreed.  Buildings, and even barns, seem to know if they’re abandoned or not.  Don’t ya think?

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While I do miss seeing the chickens running all over the place it will be nice to NOT have chicken poop all over the yard, heehee.  I also have more peace of mind knowing they’re a tad bit safer and, I’m thrilled that there is life in the barn now!  Yay for barnyard chickens!

A Simple Bathroom Project

Yea, right!

We have been in the farmhouse for a year and a half now.  I know, right?!  Where did the time go?

Anyhoo, during that year and a half I had turned a blind eye to our one and only bathroom because, well, it was gross.  Clean, but gross, if that makes any sense!  I mean, I would clean the toilet, sink, tub, etc. but… it was just ick, cosmetically speaking.

I had hoped that we would be able to add the half bath upstairs shortly after moving in but too many other things needed our attention first.  So, my hopes of the upstairs half bath being done went out the window. We were now short of m&m’s.  M&m’s?  Yep, money and manpower, ha!

After acknowledging our m&m shortage I decided I needed to do SOMETHING to the bathroom.  I mean, it was time.  My blind eye was gone and I could no longer ignore it. Or maybe it was because I got glasses and could really see it now, ha!  But, nonetheless, it IS currently part of the pantry and the laundry nook and something needed to be done.

Here, let me show you and tell me what you think…

bathroom project 02

The wallpaper border was half on half off.  I’m not really sure why it was like that but it’s been that way since we moved in.

The walls were stained yellow.  I won’t say anymore about that but every room in the house has been like that.

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The existing shelves, hooks, cabinet… just wasn’t working out in there current positions.  (See my beautiful pantry in the mirror?!  And then you see the bathroom.  ugh. Especially if you look up.  YIKES!!!

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Oh my word.  Just disgusting.

The fan didn’t even work.  THAT definitely had to go. eeeyyyuuu.

And this is what you saw when brushing your teeth…

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when you’re in the shower (and yes, you showered with the towels)…

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Aw, my sweet LizzieBelle!

And although she purdied up the bathroom she’s not in there very much so it was time to do something.  I had reached my limit of turning a blind eye.

So, I thought I’d do a simple bathroom project that would only take a couple of days and would be cheap.

The cheap part turned out great but the simple and few days part? Yea, not so much!

I started by removing what was left of the wallpaper border.

bathroom project 03

And that is when simple went out the window.

The border came off fairly easily but so did the paint.  Right down to the bare drywall.  sigh.

So now I had to remove ALL the paint because new paint over existing paint in some spots and bare drywall in others just wouldn’t work out without being noticeable or causing problems in the future.

It actually started out being kind of fun.  It was like peeling sunburned skin!  You know, when you try to see how big a sheet you can peel off before it tears?  OK, maybe that’s a Florida thing, ha!

Anyhoo, this is what I was left with…

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And holes.  Big holes from the shelves and cabinet.  And torn drywall.

So, I smeared drywall mud over the tears and filled all the holes and waited for it to dry then sanded it all down.

Now I could get back to my simple bathroom project.

I picked up a can of white paint & primer for $15 and went to work painting the walls.

Ah, much better!  Bright, clean and crisp!

Then it was on to the accessories.  Since none of the existing shelves or hooks matched and I needed to reuse them I decided to paint them all white.  I also spray painted over the gold hooks and gave the ceramic knobs a thorough cleaning.

Since our budget was slim I asked CountryBoy if he would make a frame for the three pieces of mirror that had made up an unsalvageable medicine cabinet as well as adding trim around the ceiling.  They turned out great and no more icky medicine cabinet!

So, without further ado, let me show you our simple but clean and  crisp bathroom…

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TADA!  Much better don’t ya think?!

Let me show you around.

My salvaged mirror using reclaimed fence boards…

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and the trim around the ceiling to match the mirror frame and the pantry…

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and notice the nasty fan is GONE!  We reused one of the old fixtures we took down from the mudroom (we used the whitest one we had).

I kept the galvanized bucket we were previously using as a trash can and we no longer have to shower with the towels!

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I didn’t show a ‘before’ photo of the vanity but it had something in a few spots that just would not come off no matter what I used to try and remove it.  So, my answer was to get my trusty sandpaper out and sand it off!  It also gave the vanity a more distressed look and since there was white paint underneath the green I thought it tied in nicely with the new white walls.  And, the un-cleanable gunk is gone!

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I also kept the apple basket we were using to hold the extra toilet paper.

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I’m sure you noticed the three different types of flooring.  Yes, this disturbs me but will have to be something I turn a blind eye on for now.  See, we have to redo the subfloor.  It’s currently 1/2″ plywood with a 1/4″ sheet on top.  The installers did not do the previous owner right and she was none the wiser.  We could tell it wasn’t 3/4″ just by walking on it (lots of give in some places if you know what I mean).  But, I digress… when the time comes and we can seriously tackle this room then we will completely remove the floor, add 3/4″ plywood then continue the wood-look vinyl that is in the pantry and laundry nook into the bathroom.

What are our plans for this bathroom you ask?  Well, we have a cast-iron claw foot tub that was on the property (but outside and in rough shape) that we want to have re-glazed and brought back to its original splendor.  We have an old kitchen sink with a wall-mounted faucet that was also on the property that we intend to use.  (That one is in decent shape and shouldn’t take much to make it shine again.)  We will custom build the vanity for it.  We will buy a new toilet and we will change the floor plan.  Easy-peasy!  (See why we need more m&m’s, hahaha!)  So, that is why I will turn a blind eye to the flooring until we can seriously tackle this bathroom.

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And, for now, I intend to leave this wall blank.

I had fun looking around the house to find things I already had to decorate the bathroom.  I wanted simple yet farm and vintage related things…

I think I found a few!

CountryBoy has plans to build a temporary wall by the toilet; one that is easily removed when the time comes to tackle the bathroom but for now…

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I moved my ‘linen closet’ over there!  This somewhat separates the bathroom from the pantry and will work until winter time then it will have to be moved as it stands in front of the gas wall heater.

I thought I was going to get by with a $15 dollar bathroom project but after washing our vinyl shower liner, the piece that reinforces the liner holes came off.  After several showers, the liner was barely hanging on as many of the holes had torn.  I wanted a fabric liner and found one on sale for less than $10.  Yay!

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One last before and after…

So, there ya have it…  for less than $25, my not-so-simple but cheap bathroom project!

Garden Update

This year of gardening has been much different than last year.

Last year, in the midst of a kitchen gut and remodel we decided to throw some seeds in the ground and see what happened.

Then we had lots and lots of rain making it difficult to stay on top of the weeds.

In spite of the weed takeover and limited time spent in the garden we still ended up with quite a harvest and were able to put up a lot of it for winter.

Since the kitchen is finished (and no major projects in the works) and we haven’t had the amount of rain we had last year we have been able to keep up with the gardens much better.

garden update July 8

With the exception of the corn we tried to leave ample room between the rows this year.  It makes it much easier to walk between the rows when checking the plants or harvesting and it’s also easier to run the tiller between them to help with weed removal.

Pictured below are corn, beets, onions and lima beans.

garden update July 13

We’ll be picking beets soon…

garden update July 11

Mmmmm, I can’t wait to pickle them!

Soon, we should have some onions about ready…

garden update July 12

Many will be put in a tomato, cucumber and onion salad and the rest dried for later use.

The corn is shooting on up…

garden update July 9

with skinny ears of corn on the stalks…

garden update July 10

The lima beans have a loooong way to go before they’ll be ready for harvesting…

garden update July 14

I love, love, love home grown lima beans!  So naturally buttery tasting with just a tiny bit of salt needed as seasoning. mmmmm!

The potato and sweet potato plants look good so hopefully the potatoes are getting bigger as the days go on…

garden update July 15

And, of course, the sweet potato vines want to head into the walkway rather then spreading out within the row so I nudge them along and encourage them to grow in the row.  yea, right!

garden update July 16

Above, in the right corner, you can see a few of our many tomato plants.  These were some of 75 plus tomato starts gifted to us that were already a foot tall and looking kinda bleh.  We planted all of them thinking they wouldn’t amount to much if they survived at all and guess what?  Yea, all but a couple didn’t make it.  Woot!  (Gotta love neighbors that can get free plants from the feed store!  And, ya gotta love a store owner that gave them away because customers weren’t buying any more so he stopped watering them. They planted all they had room for and that’s how we ended up with the rest.  I’m thrilled that all this ‘food’ didn’t end up in the trash simply because they didn’t ‘look’ all that good.)

Oh, you’re wondering how we planted the tall, leggy things?  We dug a trench, laid the stem part and the roots in the trench and buried them almost up to the leaves.  Shortly after we planted them we had a nice rain which gave them a real boost.  And, today, they have grown to the point of needing to be staked.

The tomatoes I started from seeds are in the small garden and already have tomatoes on them…

garden update July 6

We staked these up several weeks ago and just this week we needed to add another string to tie them to since they’ve grown so much.

I wanted to try the deep mulch method in the small garden and I have to say that I am pleased with the results.  It was a lot of work gathering it from the hillside there and spreading it but it was worth it.  I like the look of it and the few weeds (morning glories actually) that worked their way through the mulch were easy to pull up.  A few of them were relocated around the obelisk.  Over time, the mulch will break down further enriching the soil.  win-win!

garden update July 1-3

On the trellises are the cucumbers…

garden update July 4

We have a couple nice size ones that will be ready for picking soon…

garden update July 5

Also, in this garden we planted jalapenos, green peppers, cantaloupe, Roma tomatoes and asparagus.  This is our first time growing asparagus and let me tell ya, it looks like dill!  It will be fun to watch them throughout the year and to see what they do next year.  Asparagus is a perennial and we have to wait a year before the first harvest.  We’ll see what happens!

More perennials are the grapes…

garden update July 2

and the super tough rhubarb…

garden update July 1

These rhubarbs came up last year out of the ashes of an old burn pile.  Can you believe it?!  I dug it up last Fall, split it into two plants, stuck them each in gallon pots then ‘ol man Winter came and buried them under snow.

These survivors came back once again and now they have a permanent place in the garden where they can do their thing!

That’s about it for the garden update.  Picture overload, I know, but I’d thought you’d enjoy looking at a bunch of photos rather than me droning on and on. Ha!

What’s in your garden?

Oh, by the way, I changed the size of the photos when I saved them so if you would be so kind to let me know if you are having any trouble viewing them or are they coming up too slow.  I tend to use a lot of photos in my posts and I want to make your viewing experience enjoyable rather than time consuming or frustrating.  So, if you’d let me know how they’re loading for you I’d really appreciate it!