Summer’s Freshness

Summer’s are a busy time of the year for us but it’s also the most rewarding.

When the grounds have been freshly mowed and bush-hogged the farm is beautiful.

When the garden has been freshly tilled and we’re able to keep up with the weeds seeing it will put a smile on your face anticipating the goodness that is about to come.

The hot days of summer we can do without especially when living in an old farmhouse with no air conditioning.  But, we schedule our days according to the weather and we survive.

What does that mean?  We do the animal chores in the morning before the sun comes up over the mountain or in the evening when it sets behind the other mountain dropping the temperature quite a bit.  We weed and check the crops during those times as well.  During the hottest part of the day we stay indoors underneath the ceiling fans.  To keep the house cool we have fans in a couple of the windows during the night time and then we close the windows during the day.  So far, it has been tolerable.  Worse case scenario, we have a couple of portable AC units we can hook up if it gets unbearable.  I just don’t know how our ancestors survived before all these modern conveniences like ceiling fans and air conditioning!  My guess it’s because they didn’t know any differently and they didn’t really have a choice.

Enough about our summer survival methods and on with some good stuff!

The beauty about summertime, besides the green grass and trees and everything in bloom, is the harvest from the garden.  Summertime has us eating lots of garden goodies and freshness!

One of our favorites is a marinated cucumber salad…

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Our onions aren’t ready yet but the cucumbers and tomatoes are straight from the garden.

Another summer dish we really love is a Greek Orzo Salad…

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We can (and do!) eat a huge Pyrex bowl of this stuff in a couple of days!  Fresh basil and parsley from the garden as well as the cucumbers and tomatoes thrown in with some cooked Orzo pasta, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onions and a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and YUM!!!  Simple but tasty.  I had to modify the last batch I made because I didn’t have any feta cheese or red onions on hand and living 30 minutes from Anywhere, USA I used what I had!  So, that meant cubing up some mozzarella and using a white onion instead.  It gave it more of an Italian flare but was just as good!  And it’s already gone, sniff.

On a really hot day we’ll have a smoothie for lunch…

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These are so yummy and so simple to make.  I add one packet to a cup of milk, throw in some frozen berries and a few ice cubes and mix it all up in my Ninja blender.  Super.Simple.  And right up my alley on a hot day!   I mean, who wants to be in a hot kitchen on a hot day?  Not me, especially with no air conditioning!!!

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Now on to more goodness…

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I’ve got cucumbers coming out the wazoo!  I’ve already made a batch of Bread & Butter pickles.  Now I’m trying Sweet Icicle Cucumbers.  These babies take a while to make.  First, they sat in a brine for a week.  Now I’m in the pickling process.  Every day I strain the pickling juice into a saucepan with the bag of pickling spices, bring them to a boil then ladle it back into the crock.  I have two more days to go and then I can finally process them in the canner.

I didn’t read the directions thoroughly enough before starting so my processing timeline is off and I’ll end up canning these on Sunday after church.  I typically rest and relax on Sunday’s but after all the work involved with this batch of pickles I don’t want to take a chance on messing them up by waiting or adding another day to the process.  I also hope that they’re good after all this work.  Fingers crossed!

My next batch of pickles I want to try some Garlic Dill pickles.  I’m hoping to discover a recipe that tastes like the pickles I used to get at Ronnie’s Restaurant in Orlando when I was a kid.  I remember the place well.  It was on the corner of a huge L-shaped outdoor mall or strip mall, if you will, and it was always a treat to go there.  It was a big restaurant with delicious food and desserts and on every table was a gallon jar of whole pickles where you could help yourself while you waited for your meal.  They were SO good and I haven’t found a pickle like them since.  Sadly, the restaurant has been long gone but I’m still holding onto hope that I’ll find a recipe or some pickles that taste just like them.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

Summer means early mornings or evenings on the front porch when it’s cool…

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Aren’t they cool?!  LizzieBelle and her buddy Creamsicle – so cute!

I mentioned earlier about summer blooms…

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This plant completely disappears after winter.  I mean, it’s dead and gone and every year I think it’s not coming back.  Then all of a sudden, it reappears again and puts out these huge flowers.  I mean HUGE!  These flowers are the size of my hand.

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Do any of y’all know what they are?  They remind me of a Hibiscus but bigger.

Another summer bloom are the Rose of Sharon’s…

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We have a LOT of these trees on the farm and they are literally humming with bumblebees and honey bees!  I wish y’all could hear it.  It makes me wonder what our honey is going to taste like.  I snagged a sample of it while I was in the hive a while ago and it was really good.

Speaking of honey, I will be getting into the hive on the first somewhat cool day we have.  I’m hoping to pull a honey frame or two out that is ready to be harvested.  That’s going to be an exciting day!

And, speaking of honey, at last week’s farmers market I had a couple people ask me if we were the ones selling honey.  I told them, not yet.  Maybe next year we’ll have some to sell at the market but it depends on how much we can sustainably harvest and still leave the bees with enough to get them through the winter.  I go through a LOT of honey so any honey we sell would have to be extra honey.  Although, if my bees continue to multiply like they have been I am going to need another hive or two and then I might have some extra.  Yea, I go through THAT much honey!

And, speaking of the farmers market, it’s going well…

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CountryBoy manning our table

We have several regular customers now and have sold out of eggs the last two markets.  This past market we took some of our cucumbers and sold out of them as well and even did some bartering with them.

Here’s what we bartered for…

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Yummy homemade herb & cheese bread and golden oyster mushrooms which I promptly sautéed that night and put on top of my burger with some pepper jack cheese.  With the burgers we grilled fresh corn on the cob that we also picked up at the market –   Mmm!

Our market is small but it’s slowly growing with vendors…

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That’s only half of our regular vendors but check out the view of Appalachian Mountains in our town!

I’d encourage you to find a local farmers market if you haven’t done so already.  You will not only be getting the freshest of the fresh but you will be helping support your local farming families where every purchase is greatly appreciated.

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Summer Happenings

Summer and Fall are busy times ’round here.

It seems there is something that needs to be done every day just to keep up, or else…

First, there’s trying to keep up with the garden.

We’ve had lots of glorious rain this year which is wonderfully nourishing for the plants but is equally nourishing for the weeds.  And, when you garden organically, that means trying to keep up with the weeds just so you can see your crop!

Then, there’s the harvesting of said crop.

Currently we’re only harvesting cucumbers (lots and lots of cucumbers!) and a few tomatoes here and there.

With so many cucumbers ready every few days I am trying new-to-me recipes to preserve them.

In the last blog post I talked about making Bread & Butter pickles.  I can’t wait to try them in a few weeks!

Today, I started the process of making Sweet Icicle Pickles found in the Complete Blue Ball Canning book.

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Four pounds of cucumbers in a stainless steel stock pot and covered with pickling salted water.

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I placed an inverted plate over them and sat some canning jars full of water on the plate.

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(It’s a green glass plate which is why it’s so green!)

These will sit in the cool pantry with a thick towel over them for a week before the next step.  There are six steps total so this process is going to take a while.  After all that I hope they turn out!

Once the rest of the veggies we’ve planted are ready to be harvested our days will be non-stop and there will be veggies all over the mudroom and the kitchen waiting to be preserved.  Yea, it’s a lot of work but when you see your pantry fill up with all the food you started from seed and tended to and harvested there is nothing more rewarding!  And, we’re able to eat that reward all throughout the year, woot!

Of course, with all the wonderful rain we’ve had it also means the grass is growing as well.  So, there’s mowing to be done every week and bush-hogging the upper and lower forty every other month.

We really need to get a hay rake and a small square hay baler so that we can bale the grass from those fields to use in the chicken coop throughout the year.  Some day.

Speaking of chickens, this guy has got his hands, er, feet FULL!

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The gorgeous Fuzzy Foot always has a lot to say!  I guess that’s the only way to keep up with seventeen laying hens and sixteen ‘babies’.  Either that or he’s awfully proud of his brood and wants everyone to know!

And, speaking of babies, the chicks are no longer chicks and are growing like our weeds!  They are eleven weeks old and getting so big.  I will have to take some photos for y’all to see.

I’ve enjoyed taking a few minutes here and there and walking around the farm with my camera.  Well, let’s just say for the sake of keeping it real, I’ve mostly enjoyed it.  I’ve had issues with my camera for a while.  It seems it likes only one lens now and half the time the automatic focus doesn’t work meaning I miss out on a lot of shots.  I know that’s neither here nor there for y’all but that’s my world.  ha!

I did manage to capture a butterfly or two when they were hitting the daylilies…

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I love watching the butterflies flit from one flower to another!

A friend of ours gave us this plant last year and it bloomed this year…

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I have no idea what kind of plant it is but the flower is larger than my hand.  Anyone know?  These are bulbs and will spread.  I already have two large stalks and two smaller stalks.  Yay!

There was a full moon last Saturday and when I went out to lock the chickens up the moon was just over the barn.  I had to walk back in and grab my camera…

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Along with summer comes the heat.

So far, we’ve had a decent summer.  With no air conditioning in the ‘ol farmhouse we appreciate a decent summer.  We open the windows at night and close them when the sun comes up and the house usually stays fairly cool.

My bees, on the other hand, have taken to bearding in the evenings to stay cool…

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Bearding typically takes place during the warmer months.  With all the buzzing and humming and work going on inside the hive it tends to get warm in there.  In order to stay cool, the bees will congregate outside the hive in the evenings creating a beard-like effect.

Another reason they may do this is when they are getting ready to swarm.  If they are out of room in the brood box they will swarm, congregate outside the hive getting organized waiting for the scouts to return then leave the hive and go to their new home.  I checked the hive and, thankfully, there was plenty of room for them.  I even added another brood box just in case so I know they are just bearding to cool off.

Another summer time happening is the process of gathering wood for the winter.  This will be our third winter here and maybe the first winter that we will be completely prepared for it.

The first year, we had no heat source, bitter cold temps, lots of snow, and no snow shovels.  We moved from Florida where one doesn’t need snow shovels!

The next year, we had some heat sources (wood burning insert and propane) and we had gathered quite a bit of wood but we still needed to be frugal with burning it and even then, the wood shed was empty by the last cold spell.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a bad winter.

This coming winter, we hope to have the wood shed completely full and get a jump start on wood for next winter as well.

I mentioned earlier about all the rain we’ve had but we’ve also had some terrible wind associated with several of those storms.

Quite a few friends and neighbors have had several trees come down in those storms.

CountryBoy is currently helping a friend from church cut up a HUGE tree that fell recently.

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This is only half the tree and just the branches are shown.

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The wood shed is half full and they haven’t even gotten to the trunk yet!

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Another church member told us about a couple hundred trees that came down in his cousins field that we are welcome to.  YAY!  Y’all just don’t know what a blessing and relief it is to know that we will stay warm this winter.

While the guys were cutting up the tree I meandered over to take some photos of the original cabin on their property.

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The history of this homestead is that two elderly ladies occupied this little house up until the time our friends bought the property.

There is no electricity and no creature comforts that we are accustomed to.

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The ground is slowly taking this little cutie pie piece of history.

The current owners had taken up the wood floor before it started disintegrating and stored it in their barn although much of it was stored under a roof leak and had started to deteriorate.  They gave us quite a bit of that flooring that was in somewhat decent shape and, one day, I hope to salvage what I can of it and put it in the second guest room.  It will be nice to have a finished floor in that room and some local history in the farmhouse.

There’s never a dull moment during the summer but we do manage to get some down time, especially during the heat of the day, allowing us to do some fun things or just relax.  After all, it’s all about balance!

Farm Realities & Ramblings

Hey everyone!  I trust y’all had a nice Memorial Day weekend and took some time to remember the men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

We enjoyed a quiet Memorial Day and even managed to get a few tasks done.

But, first, let me talk about some farm realities…

First up, this thing…

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sigh.

Every.time.we.mow. now SOMETHING happens to the riding mower.

One time when CountryBoy was mowing the chicken’s paddock I witnessed both front wheels turning in the OPPOSITE direction!  Another time (several actually) it was the belt.  This time it’s something with one of the blades.  I’m done nickling and diming this thing so we took advantage of a sale and 18 month zero financing at Lowe’s and bought another one (ouch!).  We bought a slightly larger Husqvarna and we plan on using our current one for parts.  At least whatever parts are salvageable, ha!

We took advantage of their free delivery offer which, it seems, so did everyone else!  Thank goodness, it is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we’ve had LOTS of rain last week and no mower for almost two weeks so you can imagine what the grounds look like right about now.

Speaking of the grounds, CountryBoy is still not able to work the tractor due to his knee surgery so the upper and lower 40 and around the barn and garden are a bit high.  Almost waist high.

Thankfully, his brother bush-hogged all but the upper 40 when he was here mid-April otherwise it would be ridiculously high.  I’ve offered to jump on the tractor but CountryBoy is concerned about all the natural obstacles I might run into.  He’s also afraid I’ll end up, tractor and all, in the creek!  Fine.  Whatever.  I offered.  Ha!

So, needless to say, the farm is looking pretty shabby right now.  And, not the kind of shabby that’s in style these days (wink!).  What’re ya gonna do?!  This, too, shall pass and we’ll be back on top of things soon enough.

Another unfortunate reality is the closing of my recently re-opened Etsy shop.  sigh.

Do y’all remember a recent post about me FINALLY reopening the shop?  I spent a weekend taking photos, writing up descriptions, determining pricing and paying the fee to list my items for sale.  A week or so later I get an email from Etsy stating that I HAVE to sign up for Etsy Payments in order to keep my shop open and if I don’t?  Well, my shop will be suspended and I can no longer sell items.  sigh.

quilt top all about me

most recent crib size quilt top waiting to be quilted

What’s the big deal about signing up for Etsy Payments you ask?  Well, in order to do so, I would have to link a bank account to their system and I’m just not comfortable doing that.  I briefly thought about opening another account just for the Etsy business but a) I don’t have enough business to warrant any fees that may be involved and b) adding another account goes against my efforts of simplifying our life and c) there are just too many hackers that have nothing better to do and I’m not willing, nor can I afford, to open ourselves up to the possibility of a financial wipe out.

But, what eats me up is I had no idea prior to re-opening the shop that I would be forced into doing something against my will and better judgement just to keep my shop open.  If I had known, I wouldn’t have wasted my time and money on re-opening the shop in the first place.  I may be a little extreme in my thought-process of linking a bank account but in these days… I’d rather just be safe than sorry.

So, at the end of this month, my shop will be suspended  and I will be looking for another platform to sell my handmade items.  sigh.

Enough about the realities and on to some ramblings!

Last Friday we had a break in the rain and  I decided it was time to get into the hive for an inspection.

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These bees are amazing little creatures!  I get mesmerized just watching them.

But, I had a job to do so I made myself focus on the task at hand.

First up was psyching myself up to open the hive.  I had no idea what to expect once it was open and I think the unknown was what made me a little nervous.  Once I got into the mindset of ‘just do it’ and I had my mental checklist in order it really was no big deal.

CountryBoy was in charge of the smoker.  He did a fine job.  Even smoking me out a time or two, ha!

Once the bees had been smoked, I removed the two honey supers.  There were a few frames in the lower super where the comb was under construction and there was even a small spot that had some honey in it.  When I pulled the two frames apart to check them it opened up the caps and some honey dripped out.  Wow, was it tasty!

Next up was checking the brood box.  I had a time pulling the frames out due to the sticky propolis but I managed.  I pulled each frame, one at a time, and checked for eggs, larvae and pupa.  I never spotted any eggs but I saw larvae and even witnessed the ‘birth’ of several bees.  Also, several frames in the center were almost completely capped. These are all good signs of a functional queen.

Speaking of queen, we actually SAW the queen on the next to the last frame I inspected.  Yay!

We also have a LOT more bees than we came home with so the colony is growing.  We just might get to harvest a small amount of honey this year.

On the gardening front we have a few things planted and coming up nicely…

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One row of onions, two rows of potatoes and a row comprised of tomatoes, pickling cucumbers and pinto beans.

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Hopefully, this evening, we can till up some more ground and get some corn, okra, turnips, beets and maybe even some watermelon seeds planted.

During the break in the rain, we also managed to set up a grapevine trellis and get a couple of Muscadines planted.

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Hopefully you can see the muscadines amongst our unruly grass!

Yesterday was a beautiful Memorial Day here.

After spending the morning clearing the fridge of science projects (yuck) and giving it a good cleaning both inside and out I went outside and hoed and weeded the garden.  CountryBoy came out and took over while I went inside to put cooler clothes on.  We rested a few minutes on the front porch then tackled a much-dreaded project… moving rocks that were tossed IN the yard from an old flower bed in front of the old porch OUT of the yard so that we could mow when the new mower arrives.

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These are some heavy rocks!  They will reside here until we find another use or place for them but at least they are out of the way.

After all that, I decided it was time to relax and do something I enjoy like taking pictures!

I sat for a few minutes in my rocking chair on the front porch and captured these beauties…

a female hummingbird on the feeder and a male buzzing around it…

realities n ramblings 04here’s another female…

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These girls are tough and stand their ground on the feeder while the males fight each other and try to run everyone off the feeder.  You go girls!

I also snapped a shot of some pretty impatiens that I got from our Pastors wife…

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They hang from a shepherd’s hook in front of the porch.

Speaking of porch… it’s coming along.  There is still a lot to do which is why I haven’t done a ‘reveal’ but you’ll see a bit of it in this next photo…

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The arbor is up, yay!  But, that’s another post!

Back to relaxing yesterday afternoon… I decided to cut some fabric for an upcoming quilt project.

Since I’m not a big fan of cutting fabric (it’s SEW expensive one definitely has to measure twice and cut once.  Oh, and TRIPLE read the instructions!) I decided to do it outdoors where I love being on such beautiful days.

That was a good move on my part because I actually got fabric cut for two different quilt projects…

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All ready for the fun part of sewing the quilt top!

Last, but not least, I have to show you yesterday’s egg haul…

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That’s a typical daily haul except for the one egg on the bottom.  Can you see it?

Here it is next to some other eggs…

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Mercy that had to have hurt!  I bet she was glad when it finally came out!  Poor girl!

That’s about all the realities and ramblings I have for now.  Give it a day or two and I’m sure I’ll have more, haha!

Chicks, Bees & Peonies

Yesterday was graduation day for the chicks.

It was a week sooner than we originally planned but after seeing the mudroom under an inch layer of dust and the house starting to stink no matter how often I cleaned their cage it was time.

We dug out the grow-out cage that CountryBoy made last year from the depths of the side barn and set it up in the breezeway of the main barn.  Then, it was time for the graduation ceremony.

We put their current cage on the dolly and wheeled them down the drive.

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These poor girls were awfully quiet after their bumpy trek down the gravel drive and from all the fresh air!

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One by one we moved them into the grow-out cage.

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They were somewhat shocked from the move, the bigger cage, new surroundings, big things staring at them and some awful loud noise in their ear every now and then (good ‘ol Fuzzy Foot crowing) but, by nightfall they were doing better and were eating and drinking and running around their new digs.

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Of course, several of the big girls had to check these tiny things out!

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It’s been 24 hours since their graduation ceremony and they are doing just fine.

We will leave them in the grow-out cage for a few weeks until they get a little bigger.  By then everyone should be acquainted and used to each other.  The pecking order will still need to be established but, by then, the young’uns will be big enough to not get pushed around by the older ones too much.

The bees are busy, busy little bees.

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I could sit and watch them for hours.  OK, maybe not hours.  I don’t sit for any length of time very well, ha!  But, seriously, the bees fascinate me.  I can not WAIT to open the hive to see what they have accomplished.  I will, not-so-patiently wait, though, as opening the hive disrupts their rhythm and they would have to spend precious time re-sealing the stacks of boxes rather than making delicious honey.  So, I wait.  And watch.  By simply watching the goings-on around the hive entrance one can learn a lot about the health of the colony.

A really cool thing that has happened this year is a holly tree at the side of the house has bloomed!  It has never had any sort of flowers or berries on it since we’ve moved here.  THIS year, it is loaded with tiny white flowers and the tree sounds like it is humming!  It is alive with busy little bees!

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Isn’t that awesome! I just think it’s so cool that the year we get bees is the year that this tree blooms!

Today, I identified one of the plants that resides under several Rose of Sharons and gets swallowed up by weeds every year… they are Peonies!

Some friends of ours from church brought me some flowers that were in their yard and they said they were peonies.  They also gave me a good-size piece of one of their white peony plants to plant in my new flower bed in front of the porch.  As I got to looking at them it dawned on me that I thought I had seen some similar flowers in the weed-filled side yard that we have yet to tackle.

Sure enough!  Pink peonies!

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Aren’t they pretty!  I was wanting some pink ones after seeing them so I’m excited to already have them and now, I’ll have white ones, too!

Farm Life Musings

What I love about life on a fixer-upper farm is that no two days are alike.

I have always loved variety.  From whatever job I had outside the home to crafts the more variety involved the more I enjoyed it.

We are only half-way through the day and here are just a few things that have taken place…

CountryBoy and I worked on underpinning the front porch this morning.

We used some old, original metal roofing from the farmhouse that we found in the barn and began custom-cutting each piece to fit the uneven ground.

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We had to use the backside of the metal because there was black tar on the other side.

I love it!  It’s kinda rough looking right now but with the addition of some plants and the finishing touches on the porch it’s going to look awesome!

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The BEST part about the under-pinning?  It will keep the cats from using that area as a toilet.  Peeeeuuuu!

We’ve also come up with a solution for this wall.

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Say Hi to Creamsicle posing on the concrete step!

It’s going to take some work but at least we have a plan now.  I know.  What a mess!  But, we are going to add some structural support which means we can also add some insulation.

Tonight is our monthly business meeting and potluck at church.  I had no idea what to bring so I am making a favorite of many that attend – soup beans.  I had never heard of soup beans before moving here.  Of course, I’ve heard of bean soup, you know, with navy beans and ham or a 9 or 15 bean soup but not soup beans which is really nothing but pinto beans ’round here.  I found a recipe online from an Eastern Kentucky gal so it oughta be pretty close to the way the locals make it.  At least I hope it is!  (Trying to get an actual recipe from anyone, phhhttt!  It’s a pinch of this or some of that but an actual recipe?  Fah-getta ’bout it!)

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The secret ingredient?  Bacon grease!  And, thankfully, a farm kitchen always has a jar of bacon grease!

Later on I’ll make some cornbread to go with it and maybe even some sugar cookies.  I love having a well-stocked pantry for occasions like this especially since town is thirty minutes away.  (Just ask my brother about that, ha!)

I checked on my bees since I knew they would need some water.

There was lots of action in and out of the entrance.

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I tried to get a shot of the bees coming back with huge pollen sacks on their legs but they were too fast and my camera is having issues.  Seeing those bees so active and bringing the pollen back is a good sign of a healthy and productive hive.  Maybe I’ll get a bit of honey this year!

While I was checking on the bees I took in the beauty of the blooming irises.

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These are near one of the garden entrances by the grapevine arbor.

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The purple and yellow irises are so pretty together.

Speaking of grapes, I’m hoping for a few clusters this year.

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One of the grapevines shows a lot of promise with lots of teeny tiny grape clusters on it.  The second grapevine has a few but not near as many as this one.

I am purposefully walking to the mailbox each day for a bit of exercise.  (If you read my last post then you know how much I loathe exercise, ha!)  On my way back, I stopped at the barn to check on the girls’ egg-laying progress and FuzzyFoot posed for the camera so I obliged!

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Such a handsome and good rooster!  And, it looks like we’ll have a dozen or more eggs today.

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My days can quickly fill up with all things farm-related but I am conscientiously making time in the afternoons and/or evenings to work on business ventures such as my Etsy shop and oily care packages for my Young Living team members.

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Each day is a different scenario, a different set of tasks but all too soon the day is gone and it’s time to lock the chickens up for the night.

Life on the farm.  I love it!

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!