Catching Up

Here it is, another Monday.  Since I don’t have a 9 to 5 job I don’t mind Mondays.  It’s just another day.

Speaking of job, it’s going very well and I really enjoy it.  Our two days of 40+ people for lunch last week went fairly smooth.  Not bad for just a handful of girls prepping, cooking, plating, serving, waiting and cleaning up.  We had a couple hiccups the first day but we got through them and everything worked out.  The second day – smooth as buttah!  And, with fewer staff and a few more guests.  LOVE working with people who have an amazing work ethic!

I spent the following day relaxing.

I did a little bit of sewing…

These Soup Bowl Cozy’s took some time to accumulate all the necessary stuff to start making them.  You can set a microwaveable bowl in them filled with whatever you want to heat up and pop them in the microwave.  In order to do that, though, these cozy’s need to be made with 100% cotton everything.  Cotton fabric, cotton thread and cotton batting.  Do you know how hard it is to find cotton thread these days?  And what is labeled as cotton batting is more than likely an 80/20 blend of cotton and polyester.  That’s what I had on hand and thought was all cotton.  Nope!  Thank goodness the little fabric shop down the road had the batting I needed.  Unfortunately, they were out of 100% cotton thread but I found some at Hobby Lobby the next day.  Whew!

Even though we do not have a microwave I wanted to make them as if they would end up in a microwave cuz, ya just never know!  What if they’re handed down and someone assumes they can be put in the microwave?  Yea, better to be safe than sorry!

Anyway, I made three different sizes.  The original pattern ended up being too large for my bowls.  The second size was a tad too small and finally, the third one was just right.  Kinda sounds like a nursery rhyme!

I also did some baking…

It’s a Texas Sheet Cake only it’s made in a skillet.  Anything with chocolate AND made in a skillet HAS to be good, right?!  And, it was!  This was a Pinterest win!

I also enjoyed the rain we got that day.  Some very much needed rain indeed!

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Our gardens were very happy!

Before the rain started I decided to remove the reducer from the entrance to the beehive.

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The colony is well established now so our thought was to remove the reducer to help with air flow during the hot summer months.  It seems to be working.

On my way to the hive I noticed that many of the grape clusters were ready…

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Although we didn’t get a whole lot this year it’s a LOT more than we got last year.  For a young grapevine I’m pretty happy with the results…

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Another thing we’re extremely happy about…

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is a completely FULL wood shed this year!!!  Yay!

There is still a lot of wood to be had where that came from.  We just need to decide where to store it.

Before I went to work Saturday evening our neighbor called to tell CountryBoy about a yard sale just around the corner or on the other side of the mountain across from us, if you will.  He spotted a sickle mower and knew that we were looking for one.  The price was reasonable so CountryBoy went over there and paid for it before I had to leave.

He then drove the tractor over there to pick it up.

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It’s old and hasn’t been used in a while but it’s supposed to work.  We just need to figure out the best way to maneuver it while on the tractor since it’s not hydraulic and we need to get a part for it.

On a sad note, one of the front tractor tires was found flat today…

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sigh.  Now we have to have it fixed.  I have no idea the cost of repairing or replacing a tractor tire.  Happy about the sickle mower and bummed about the tire.  It’s ALWAYS something.

We’ve been selling some extra tomatoes at the market but these tomatoes were ripe yesterday…

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And when they’re ripe, they’re ripe!  They won’t wait until market day, ha!  So, although I like to spend Sunday’s relaxing with minimal farm chores I spent the afternoon putting up these beauties!

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I ended up with four quart jars and three pint jars of crushed tomatoes.  It will be nice to add them to some soup or stew this winter!

I’m off to do some more relaxing and doing some cross-stitching this afternoon.  I am really close to finishing up a piece I’ve been working on for over a year.  It’s time to GET IT DONE!

Till next time!

 

 

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Monday Morning Chit-Chat

I reeaally need to write blog posts more often.

There’s usually something going on ’round here all the time and by the time I get around to blogging I end up cramming a bunch of topics into one post thus, the title of this post.  Ha!

I really enjoy the whole blogging process… from coming up with the topic, to the taking and editing of the photos, to the writing… it’s a creative outlet for me.  Unfortunately, it’s only ONE of MANY creative outlets for me and, as of late, it has become a more distant outlet and pastime, if you will.

I think because the whole blogging process takes me a while I tend to put it off until I have a good chunk of time.  But, since I really do enjoy blogging I am going to make a concerted effort to start incorporating it into my days more often than not!

Speaking of days, about a week ago I started working outside the home again.  WHAT?!  I know!  It’s quite an unbelievable story but let me tell you how it all came about…

As any homesteader knows, creating a self-sufficient homestead can be quite costly these days.  There’s farm equipment such as a hay rake and baler to purchase so that we can harvest our own hay from the lower field for use in the chicken coop or any other farm animals we have in the future; there’s maintenance and fuel for tractors and mowers; there’s plows and tillers to be purchased to make gardening a bit easier as we creep on up in years; a sickle mower is on our wish list so we can keep the creek banks cleared; then there’s a 100 year old farm house that is in need of external repair and siding as well as adding a half bath upstairs for the sake of convenience and renovating the downstairs bath; feed for the chickens; bee equipment; just to name a few things.

With a limited income we were starting to feel the squeeze.  We don’t enjoy being squeezed so tightly so I started praying for a part time job to work alongside my essential oil business.  I spread the word among church members and asked them to keep their ears open for any job openings preferably in a mom-n-pop type business but, in the back of mind, I really wanted to work at a local B&B that holds a special place in our hearts.

See, when we drove from Texas (where we were working at the time) to look at the farm the realtor took us and the seller to lunch at this beautiful B&B six miles down the road (probably two as the crow flies!) and it was there, standing in the parking lot, where our offer was accepted and we shook hands with the seller.  It was totally awesome!

So, I thought if I have to work outside the home to earn a little extra money to put towards some of the things we need then it would be awesome if I could work at the local B&B that, not only holds a special place in our hearts, but is also a place that I have come to respect and, in some ways, can relate to.  How’s that, you ask?  Well, the owner had a dream.  A dream where people could come to their little piece of paradise nestled in the mountains, and rest, relax and rejuvenate.  This dream took a lot of work, perseverance, and some help from family and friends to become a reality.  This dream is now a bustling business and has earned the respect and appreciation of all who enter. Dreams can come true just like owning a farm, Dream Valley Farmstead, was a dream of ours!

Well, the weeks went by and still no job.  I did not want to settle for any job so I kept praying and waited.

I revisited our budget and tightened it up some more.

To bring in a few extra dollars we faithfully set up at our local farmer’s market and continued to sell out of eggs.  We even added some extra produce we had and some of my Jewelweed & Plantain Salve.

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It was at the farmer’s market where I chatted with a fellow vendor and beekeeper the entire three hours!  We talked bees, gardening, Laughlin, Nevada, old farmhouses and tons of other topics, ha!  Towards the end of the market she asked me if, by any chance, I was looking for a part-time job.  I said YES but had no idea what she was about to say.

Come to find out, she knew the owner of the aforementioned B&B and said they were looking for help.  Wait, WHAT?!  Needless to say, I called that evening when we got home and long story short, I started the next morning!

 

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Image snagged from Snug Hollow Farm Facebook page

 

I’ve worked several days doing all sorts of tasks… from cleaning the cabins, to food prep, to plating food, to serving food, to kitchen clean-up, to ironing linens and sheets and it has been a blast!  It is non-stop work and my feet and back are not happy with me by the end of the day but my co-workers are amazing and so very patient with me as I have a lot to learn about the hospitality industry.  I guess that’s another one I can add to my varied list of jobs but talking to the guests and seeing them enjoy their experience at the B&B is so rewarding.  I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to help keep the owners dream alive and to try and maintain the high standard of service that has been set.  They keep calling me to come in so I guess I’m doing OK!

Back at the farm, CountryBoy has harvested quite a few pinto beans…

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Aren’t they gorgeous?  I just think they are some of the prettiest beans.  I will be canning these in pint jars which can, then, be easily added to soups or chili.  For now, they simply get washed and then put in the freezer until all are harvested.

The grapes are finally turning…

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I can’t wait to have enough Concord grapes to make some jam.  Maybe next year!

The watermelons are making their appearance…

Y’all already know that we’ve been harvesting cucumbers like crazy!  So far, I’ve made and canned Bread & Butter pickles, Sweet Icicle Pickles, Cucumber Relish, and now I’ve got Deli Dills in the crock.  These will ferment for about three weeks.  We’ll see how it goes!  They already smell good – garlic, dill, pickling spices, mmmm!

If y’all are following us on Facebook then you know that I ‘saw a butterfly’ this morning (literally!) and got distracted doing other stuff (like scrubbing the porch table and grill, and hanging a whirli-gig!) all before doing what I had originally stepped outside to do.  One thing leads to another – story of my life!

Here’s that butterfly…

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sneaking a drink from the hummingbird feeder.  Speaking of hummingbirds, they were impatiently waiting for this ‘thing’ to get off their feeder, ha!

Also, before I made it to my photo destination this image caught my eye…

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It makes me want to pour some iced coffee and head outside to sit here and read a book and soak up the beautiful weather we’ve been fortunate to have.  You’ll probably find me there this afternoon!

Meanwhile, THIS is what I had originally stepped outside to get photos of, the greenhouse/porch wall…

More progress has been made!  CountryBoy used salvaged 2×4’s from an old pole shed for the studs; he stuffed insulation that was given to us in between the studs and then he covered it up with salvaged 1/4″ plywood from the old porch ceiling.  So far, I’m liking the cost of this project!

Can you believe those vertical boards were once the original interior walls?  It stills blows my mind!  If you want to read more about box-frame houses you can read about it HERE.

He was also able to straighten the wall up quite a bit both horizontally and vertically.  We feel much better about the structural integrity of that wall now and it will be nice to have another insulated wall in the house.  It should help keep the downstairs warmer during the winter which should also help us conserve the wood we burn in the fireplace.

There’s still the other half of that wall to do but now we’re dealing with the electrical panel and there may or may not be a door put in that goes into the mudroom.  The jury is still out on that but I think it’s an excellent idea making it easy to go snip a few herbs for the meal!

That’s about it for today’s chit-chat.  I don’t have to work today so I’m going to head upstairs and do some sewing – another creative outlet for me – and then look for me out on the porch!

 

 

 

 

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!

Rainy Day Ramblings

It’s Monday.  It’s raining.  And, both are just fine with me.

The rain is nourishing the gardens. The onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes are coming along nicely and the recently planted watermelon, okra, turnips, beets and corn will all love this rain!

Also coming up much quicker than the crops are weeds.  Lots and lots of weeds!  One could hoe 24/7 and still not keep up with the weeds.  We are doing our best, though, to not get overrun with them this year.  We’ll see how that goes!

My flowers are also loving this rain…

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It’s been a nice, gentle rain which is perfect for newly planted seeds.

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It’s also good for all my potted plants.

Prior to this rainy Monday, I spent several hours over the weekend re-locating my ‘office’.  Again!  Originally, it was in my sewing and craft room but there are no windows in there and I found myself lacking any desire to get in there to do any blog writing or computer work in general.  So, I moved my ‘office’ (which consists of a laptop, printer, computer software, paper & card stuffs, and files and stuff for Young Living) into one of the guest rooms.  Ah, windows!  I suddenly found myself a bit more motivated!  But, it still wasn’t the perfect location.  When we do have guests, I am hesitant to do any blogging or computer work as I feel like I am intruding on our guests space.  And, I felt ostracized from the goings-on downstairs.  I don’t know if that makes sense or not but it was just how I felt.

So, I decided to move my ‘office’ downstairs.

The only somewhat suitable spot was in the dining room.

My overly-large roll-top desk was already in there so I decided that was where my ‘office’ would be. But first, I had to tackle the mounds of paperwork that covered the top of the desk so that I could put my laptop on it and yesterday morning was the day I felt as if I could conquer it.  Ha!  Please tell me I’m not the only one that lets paperwork get out of control!!!  I love to be organized but if anything is going to whip me in the organizing department it will be paperwork.  sigh.

Anyway, after moving the desk to anther wall so that I could look out the window while I worked I set about sorting, filing and tossing and eventually I saw the top of my desk.  Yay!  So, I started bringing stuff down from upstairs and getting it set up.

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It still needs a little bit of tweaking here and there.  I will finalize the space as I figure out what works and what doesn’t.  But, for now, I’m happy to be downstairs writing this here blog post, happy to be out of the guest room and happy to be able to see outside.  Happy, happy, happy!

I also spent a few hours over the weekend working on an old window that was left behind when we moved in…

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I knew I wanted to do something with this window but I didn’t know what so it’s been moved around from one storage shed to another waiting for me to be inspired.

As I was looking for a wooden box that I wanted to use in my new ‘office’ space (later to remember that I was already using it in another guest room to store bedding) I came across the window and a lightbulb went off!  I was going to clean it up and hang it on wall in the ‘office’/dining room.

It required lots and lots of elbow grease to get the paint off the windows…

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and while I was at it, I cleaned up the backside and ran a bead of clear silicone around each pane to help secure them…

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There was a pane missing so I tried to cut a piece of glass I had leftover from a water-damaged picture frame but I didn’t have the right tools.   So, to avoid a potential disaster I let it be.

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For the window frame itself, I simply scraped off any loose paint which exposed the original white paint and, in some spots, the wood itself.  I love the character that is left behind!

This wall, which is the only wall in there with drywall, is in need of a coat of paint.  I’m hoping that the window will be the focus and not the badly needed-paint job.

Also on this wall is a built-in shelf.  This shelf was originally a window but when, what is now the mudroom was enclosed the window was removed and, I’m assuming, this shelf was built…

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I’ve not known what to do with this built-in. At one time, I was thinking about removing it to have a solid wall and not have to try and ‘decorate’ around it.  But, since this shelf is near my ‘office’ I’ve decided to store some extra Young Living goodies on it…

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as well as a few things that remind me of the farm…

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I pulled that honey comb off the bottom of one of the medium supers I temporarily had in the large brood box.  It’s so cool and the handy work of the bees just amaze me!  It’s also a reminder of my ‘why’ for growing my Young Living business as well as my handmade/homemade farm goods business.

Speaking of handmade goods, I was asked by a friend of mine to make a quilted wall-hanging for her dining room.  She and I both like traditional quilts so I spent some time searching for just the right pattern.  After finding the pattern the next challenge was finding the perfect fabric.  I finally found some and, as you saw in my last post, I started cutting it.  I finished the quilt-top last Friday.  I love it!

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Simple nine patches around a double star.  Here’s a closer look at the gorgeous colors…

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Now to decide how I want to quilt it.  I find piecing the top is the easy part – quilting it, not so much.   I’m starting to come up with a plan.  I’m wanting to keep the quilting fairly traditional and I want it to add to, not take away, from the quilt top.

I did a second one with completely different fabrics which gave the quilt a completely different look…

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The sun was shining bright when I took this photo so it’s hard to see the colors but here’s a closeup…

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This pattern was so much fun!.  I will definitely be making more of them.

I also had some fun with the embroidery machine…

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I decided to make a pillow with this one.  I want to do another one but will use different colors.  SEW fun!

Earlier in the week, we decided it was time to let the chicks out of the grow-out cage during the day…

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CountryBoy cut two openings in the cage just large enough so that the littles could go in and out but the big girls couldn’t get in to eat all the food.  Cuz, you know, the chicks are getting better food than they get.  smirk!  We close the openings each night once they are all in safe and sound.

Occasionally, the big girls throw their weight around trying to tell the littles who’s boss but, for the most part, all is well.  Fuzzy Foot is really the boss but he just keeps thinking about the fact that he’s got even MORE girls to watch out for!  Poor Fuzzy Foot!

The rain has stopped for now so I will end my ramblings.

Thanks to all of you who faithfully read my ramblings and for the sweet comments letting me know that you actually enjoy reading my ramblings.  Y’all are too kind!

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.

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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!

Got Rain?

It’s another rainy afternoon here.

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This is the porch roof and part of what I see when I’m at the computer.

I am, most definitely, not complaining about another rainy day.  Many parts of the country are dry and battling drought and fires.  Other parts of the country are getting too much rain and are dealing with flood waters.  Such is the case with family members in Arkansas.  Thankfully, they are safe but it’s still a cause for concern for many in the water’s path.  Be safe.  Be smart folks.  And, make sure you always have a well-stocked pantry because you just never know.  (My PSA for the day, wink!)

We managed to get a good part of the underpinning around the porch done and blocked off from the cats the other day.  The rest of the porch is currently blocked off by rocks.  We plan on continuing the underpinning (for continuities sake) across the rest of the porch which will eventually be the greenhouse.

I am excited for the finished product but Mother Nature (and CountryBoy!) says ‘give it a rest’ for a bit!

So, I am working on my Etsy shop for part of the day before heading to town for a doctor’s appointment.

  • Pictures taken and edited – check
  • Prices compared and determined – check

Still to do is writing the product descriptions and adding the photos to the site.

The re-opening of the shop has been a bit tedious but I’m hoping once it’s open that it will be easier to simply add new items as they are made.  I’m hoping to ‘open’ the shop this weekend if all goes as planned.

Want a sneak peak at some of the handmade items that I’ll be listing?  Here ya go…

Crochet baby blankets, quilted baby blankets, a woven fabric basket and some Bible or book totes.  I hope to be adding some embroidered flour sack towels and some homemade serums and balms in the near future.

I mentioned having to go to town and here’s why we’re heading out on this rainy afternoon… It has been a little over ten weeks since CountryBoy’s total left knee replacement.  It has been a long ten weeks of dealing with a scary blood clot, scar tissue, physical therapy, swelling, stiff and sore muscles and pain.  Continuous pain. After six weeks of recovery he should’ve had full range of motion and use of his leg with some swelling.  That was not the case.  When the therapists were not able to get full rotation, let alone any more increase in rotation, a knee manipulation was scheduled last week.  Physical therapy started again the same day and every day thereafter.  After a couple of days they were able to get 100 degrees but there was bruising and swelling all over the thigh and knee with even more pain.  After two weeks of therapy the rotation is decreasing and the leg is stiffening again.   After hearing the therapists concern for the bruising (and the comments “we’ve never seen this happen after knee surgery”) we called to move up his follow-up appointment which was still two weeks away.  They are getting us in this afternoon.  Thank God!  Some times you have to be your own advocate.  This is obviously not your typical case so we are going to push that more aggressive measures be taken in his recovery and answers be found as to why this is happening and why he is not healing as he should.  A DVT Study (for the blood clot) is scheduled in a couple of weeks.  It will be a huge load off our minds to know the status of the blood clot.

Bless his heart, he continues to try and work on the house and around the farm and do his therapy at home to avoid the stiffness but he can only do so much before he’s engulfed in pain and comes in to ice and elevate his leg.

We would covet any and all prayers for answers, pain relief and full recovery.

Hugs to all our faithful followers!

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!

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!

Feeling Meh

Do you ever have ‘one of those days’?

Thankfully I rarely do.  But today?  Yea, it was one of those days.

The skies were gray.

My head hurt.

I felt grumpy.

I wanted to crawl back in bed.

But, alas, I did not.

Instead, I straightened the house up a bit; helped Hubby move some wood to a different place on the porch; cut fabric for another quilt block and sewed it together; played a few games on my iPad; browsed Pinterest and Facebook; warmed up a pizza; gathered some eggs; locked the girls up in the coop and now I’m ready for bed.  At 8:36 p.m.  sigh.

Is this what they call ‘the winter blues’?

Or, maybe it’s just hormonal.  Who knows!

Tomorrow’s another day.  Hopefully I will be back to my usual self.

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Hard to believe it’s Friday already.  I hope y’all have a great weekend!