Days Like Today

It’s days like today that remind me why we chose to find and move to a farm in Kentucky and attempt to live a simpler life.

(Notice I didn’t say easier; I said simpler.  There certainly is a difference as the homesteading lifestyle actually entails lots of hard work but it’s fulfilling and rewarding leaving very little time for many modern-day frivolities and conveniences (which usually wind up stressing me out, ha!) and that’s OK with us.)

Beautiful days like today where I can hang the clothes on the line to dry and listen to the birds sing their song while doing so..

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When CountryBoy can jump on the tractor to bush-hog the ‘lower 40’ keeping the farm looking good…

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To go from one project to the next without being in a hurry…

(Leftover jute string was used to make this miniature modern plant hanger and leftover scrap wood was used to make a recessed bowl stand for the cat’s food.  Greyfus insists on raking food out of the bowl wasting a lot of food and enticing the ants to find it.)

And things like gathering two dozen eggs; taking a few minutes here and there to catch up with friends and family on Facebook; and getting to do one of our favorite things…

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relaxing on the front porch, watching the birds and soaking in the peacefulness of our little piece of property…

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Yes, it’s days like today that remind us that no matter what may come our way, good or bad, we are living our dream and we are thankful we are able to do so.

What kind of day is rewarding and/or memorable to you?

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A Much Anticipated Time of Year

After a long, cold, wet winter we are finally enjoying some beautiful warm Spring weather during the days and cool, crisp nights here in Kentucky.  Nights without frost so you know what that means?  It’s time to get the garden tilled and planted!

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CountryBoy borrowed a friends tractor and tiller which made short work of getting the ground ready.  (He also fixed our washed-out road while he had the tractor making good use of the bucket on the front.)

Once that was done he staked out the rows…

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and we spent a couple of days planting seeds and several of the plants we started in the greenhouse.

Planted so far are corn, potatoes, okra, cucumbers, several types of tomatoes, lima beans, pinto beans, green beans, brussels sprouts, squash, onions, and sunflowers.

Still to plant are green peppers, cayenne peppers, sweet banana peppers, beets, more squash and brussels sprouts, and more tomatoes once they are big enough to transplant. We will direct sow watermelon in the next couple of days.

I am thankful for my greenhouse that we recently added on the side porch.  It is accessible from the mudroom and does a great job of creating a hothouse effect.  A few more small projects and it will be completely finished.

A few days after we finished planting we had a nourishing rain that gave the seeds and plants a good start.  When the rain quit I meandered around the farm with my camera looking for spring flowers.  Here’s what I found…

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The passionflower vines are coming back and are climbing their way up the arbor leading onto our front porch.

The purple irises are beginning to open up…

such beauty…

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After reveling in their beauty I meandered over to the sour cherry trees…

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We may just get some sour cherries this year which we’ll make into jam (or maybe I’ll crush up a few and put into some Kombucha!).

From there I wandered over to the asparagus bed…

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YIKES!  Here is where I had a squirrel moment… I thought after the good rain we had that the weeds would pull up rather easy so I set my camera down and started pulling.  These weeds were not going anywhere without a fight.  Well no weed is going to get the better of me so I trotted off to the greenhouse to get some backup.  My hand shovel could barely break through the thick weeds but I did find some asparagus…

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YUM!  This is our third year since it has been planted so we are free to harvest it this year.  CountryBoy has picked several already and, boy, are they yummy sautéed in some butter, balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with some salt and pepper.  Good stuff!

As I was pulling the weeds I came across some poison ivy.  Oi!  Since CountryBoy can almost just look at it and break out in a rash I started yanking and pulling on it trying to remove it from the root so that it wouldn’t come back.  I got all of it except for a thick root which we’ll pour either some white vinegar or the salt water from homemade ice cream on it or both.  (Good excuse to churn some ice cream!)

When I came in I scrubbed and showered and thought I was good-to-go but the following day I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning, itchy arm.  I now have a rash on my face, both arms, chest and stomach.  sigh.  Apparently, I too, am now allergic to poison ivy.  This too, shall pass.  I’m just thankful for warm weather and for being able to help get the garden planted.

Have you got anything planted in a garden or containers?

A New Dress For My Vintage Treadle

Three years ago, when CountryBoy and I were walking through the farmhouse with the realtor, the seller had an old Singer treadle machine sitting on one side of the double-sided fireplace.  I fell in love with it and its reminder of times past and decided, then and there, that I wanted to decorate our farmhouse with dual-purpose items from the past.  Dual-Purpose as in both decorative and functional or decorative and sentimental.  I half-jokingly asked her if she was going to leave it!  Her reply was “maybe, if I was good”. Apparently, I was not good.  Go figure, ha!

Shortly after moving in, we started discovering where the local antique and vendor malls were and we frequented them whenever we were out and about and time permitted.  Most times we weren’t really looking for anything in particular yet at every shop I found myself looking for a vintage treadle sewing machine in decent shape.  After striking out shop after shop I asked one of the shop clerks if they ever got any in the store.  I was told that I just missed out on a couple of them and that a fella would snatch them up as quick as they came in.  No wonder I never saw any since we didn’t leave the farm very often!

Not too long after that encounter, we were in another antique and vendor mall and there they were… in a room behind the counter with a sign on it that said something along the lines of it being a workroom.  WHAAAAT?!  A workroom?  But, there are vintage sewing machines in there!

As we were peering into the room and my head was swimming with the knowledge that I have found some vintage machines but they weren’t for sale (at least not in their current state) a fella asked if he could help us.  Then it hit me – THIS was probably the fella that was snatching up all the vintage machines right before I entered any of the shop doors.  GASP!

Sure enough, he bought old sewing machines in cabinets mainly for the bases and he would repurpose them into other useful things.  Sometimes, even the machine itself would be turned into a lamp or some other decorative item.

While I’m all for repurposing items that are beyond their original function the very thought of doing such a thing to a vintage sewing machine left a pit in my stomach. Especially if the machine(s) were in good shape and still worked.  Sacrilege!

I quickly recovered and asked him about all the machines in this workroom and were any of them for sale.  He said none were for sale and then he explained how he repurposed them.  sigh.

I’m not sure whether it was the deflated look on my face or the fact that I teased him about being the one that always snatched up old machines before I could get to them but after a few minutes he had a change of heart and offered me one of the machines saying it wasn’t really the style he was looking for at the moment.  I looked at CountryBoy with my hopes up so he asked how much.  $60 bucks.  SOLD!

Here it is looking how she did when we brought her to the farmhouse…

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Isn’t the cabinet gorgeous?  We love its curves and the ornamentation on the drawers.  I couldn’t believe my luck that this was the one he didn’t want!

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And the machine?

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It was in decent shape and looked like it would function properly it was just a little dusty and grimy…

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See the original wood around the machine?  I figured one day I would get around to restoring the rest of it back to the original wood.  Three years later I haven’t done a thing with it.  sigh.

Well, after sewing my heart out earlier in the month at the annual quilt retreat I attend in Florida my sewing space has been on my mind.  It’s been needing some TLC so I figured while I was still in the sewing frame of mind I thought it was time to tackle the treadle.  I figured this would up the wow-factor of my sewing space and provide me with some inspiration every time I saw it.  Plus, this project has been one of my ‘just get it done this year’ goals!

Another source of motivation for working on it was our last snow storm where we were without power for several days.  Since then, my thoughts have been consumed with getting this machine cleaned up, something done with the cabinet and ordering the parts needed to get the machine up and running.  You know, just in case we’re ever without power again I could at least do some sewing in the light of the hurricane lamps.  (Remember my decision to decorate with dual-purpose items? Hurricane lamps (and lots of them!) and a treadle = able to do something without electricity!)

After mentioning my idea of restoring the cabinet to its original wood CountryBoy reminded me of the work involved in that process and that I would have difficulty getting all the black paint off from around the ornamentation on the drawers and from around the drawer pulls.  After closer inspection I knew he was right and it had me wondering if I really DID want to restore it back to the original wood.

At first I didn’t mind it being painted black but after looking at it in the sewing space for three years and not really being able to see it since there is no natural light source in there (making it rather dark) I thought maybe I should do something different.  Something that would showcase the beauty of it which got me to thinking (I know, right!)… why don’t I just paint it.  WHAAAT?  I know, I know.  I am the first one to want to restore something to its originality but in this case… it was already painted and as I’ve mentioned before, I could never paint original wood unless it was severely damaged, already painted or cheap wood.  So, since someone else already painted over that fine wood I figured I’d add another layer.

The last two days I spent chalk-painting and waxing my vintage treadle sewing machine cabinet and I’m really pleased with how it turned out…

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Look at the tiny drawer in the middle!  Before it was hard to see its unique shape.  I also love the simple black and white palette, how the sewing machine is featured now and the whole thing is noticeable in the space.

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I still have the lid to do.  It needs a bit of gluing and TLC and the weather has not been suitable for working on it out in the shop.

I ‘distressed’ it a tiny bit to feature the ornamentation on the drawers and tried to give it a ‘used’ look… after all, it is vintage!

 

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I also spent some time on the machine.  It had a little ‘spa day’ yesterday…

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It’s hard to see the difference but the dirt and grime are gone and the metal shines  once again.  The clear coat is mostly gone and the decals are showing wear but that’s OK.  She’s old and, as they say, just adds character!

This is a Minnesota A model treadle sewing machine and from what I’ve found in my research it was made in the very early 1900’s, probably 1910ish, and sold by Sears via their catalogue.  It was made to rival the Singer models and was mentioned as a ‘top of the line’ sewing machine.  I’m glad to have found her!

I need to find the correct bobbins and shuttle for this machine, the right needles and it needs a belt then I imagine she will purr like a kitten.  That is, if I can figure out how to sew using my feet! It will probably be a test of my coordination or maybe lack thereof, ha!

This is what I now see as I head up the stairs…

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A bit of inspiration for hanging out in my sewing/craft space whenever time permits!

The lid that still needs some TLC is leaning against a storage cabinet CountryBoy made that holds my small fabric stash behind the glass doors as well as some crochet thread, scrapbooking stuff, cross stitch patterns and who-knows-what-other-crafty-type-stuff!  The wicker basket is home to all the partial skeins of cotton yarn I’ve ever used.  Anyone know of a good scrappy project for all that yarn?!  For now I see tons of knitted dishcloths in my future, ha!

So, that’s a portion of my sewing space featuring my newly ‘dressed’ vintage treadle sewing machine.  I really like how it turned out and can’t wait until she’s got all her parts so I can learn how to use it.  You just never know when we’ll be without power again!

Till next time 🙂

 

 

 

It’s Been Quite the Year

Oh, two thousand eighteen, what a year you have been already.

You have not been very kind to me.

In January, I was diagnosed with Bronchitis.  It lingered and seemed to dive deeper into my chest.  I continued to go to work but did very little when I got home.

In February, I was still coughing uncontrollably and had such terrible pain in my right rib cage.  It was so unbearable at times that I couldn’t breath.   I  went back to the doctor and was diagnosed with Pneumonia.  When I agree to go to the doctor CountryBoy knows I am not doing well.

I had zero energy.  I would cough so hard it made me gag and whatever I had recently eaten came right back up.  (Sorry, but it’s true.)  I did not go to work for two weeks.  (Thankfully, I have a very understanding boss who truly cares about the people that work for her and all she wanted was for me to get well.  Gotta love a boss like that!)

I lost weight.  That part was good!  It’s not the weight loss plan I would recommend to anyone but I’m not going to complain and am grateful to be twelve pounds lighter.

By the end of February I decided enough was enough so I stepped up my natural remedies since the conventional western medicines were not working for me.

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Lots of hot tea.  Sometimes with dried herbs, other times with essential oils (don’t worry, they were food grade essential oils!) and always with raw honey.  And water.  I could not drink enough plain ‘ol water to satisfy my thirst.

Also, on my list of natural remedies were essential oils known for respiratory and immune support.  I diffused them constantly and applied them topically throughout the day and before bed time.  I also took immune boosting natural supplements infused with essential oils.  And, after researching colloidal silver, I added that to my daily regimen as well.

By now, I was no longer on any prescription medication but I started feeling better and began seeing signs that my symptoms were easing up and disappearing altogether.  I’m continuing my daily ‘natural’ regimen and I’m doing well.  Whew!

You may be shaking your head at my non-traditional/natural ways and that’s OK.  I’ve bucked mainstream ideals for many years so I’m used to the head-shakes, ha!

So here we are… the first day of Spring!  We’ve had some other minor issues with our 100+ year old farmhouse this year but I am hoping that we can now get on with our regularly scheduled plans for 2018!

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We had some unusually warm days earlier in the month and the daffodils began to show their lovely faces a little before the official Spring date.  Thankfully, they have survived some frosty nights and even a terrible snow storm that knocked the power and phone lines out in our area for several days.

My newly planted tulips I bought last year on clearance have started peeking through the mulch…

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I love tulips and can’t wait to see my very own open up.  I have no idea what colors they are so I am not-so-anxiously awaiting their blooms!

While I was under the weather this beautiful amaryllis (given to me by my boss several months ago) opened up…

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It is still in the original pot so when the night time temps plummeted below freezing even in the greenhouse I put it in our bedroom.  It started to grow and eventually four beautiful flowers emerged.  It was a lovely reminder that ‘this too shall pass’.  I will be planting it in a new garden spot once Spring is officially here – the warm weather days of Spring, not the calendar days of Spring!

With Spring comes garden planting.  CountryBoy has started several seeds… tomatoes, green peppers, sweet banana peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeños, okra, nasturtiums, marigolds, and who knows what else!  He is anxiously anticipating getting the garden going.

Shortly after the gardens get going it will be market time.  I have been working on an up-cycled project using the chickens’ feed bags and turning them into market tote bags…

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I found the tutorial on the Fresh Eggs Daily blog and will be cranking these out as the feed bags are emptied and will have them for sale at our local farmers market for dirt cheap.  I think they turned out great and are super cute!

Speaking of cute and chicken feed, here are a few of our newest girls hanging out in the mud…

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The lighter color girls (Ameracaunas) lay pretty green eggs and Cotton Top, our little Polish Crested bantam, lays small white eggs.  (My brother will be happy about the white eggs!)  It will be fun to offer green eggs at the market!

While waiting for the warmer months, I decided to tackle a bucket list item… to officially learn how to knit.  I’ve tried it here and there but it never really clicked.  I asked my niece to show me how with this simple little dishcloth…

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It’s called Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth and the pattern can be found online.  I was given several dishcloths of this pattern a long time ago and I’ve used them quite a bit.  To the point of no return really so it was definitely time to replace them.  It really helped having someone show me what to do and especially how to fix a mistake.  I enjoyed making this dishcloth and have whipped up several more since then.  Maybe some day I’ll tackle a larger knitting project!

We’ve had quite a bit of rain this winter.  In fact, it’s raining as I type this.    The Farmers Almanac predicted we would have a cold and wet winter and they were right.  Thankfully, we occasionally receive reminders that there will never be as much rain as in Noah’s day…

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Here’s hoping for a good, healthy rest of the year.  How is your year going?

Till next time…

 

 

 

 

Brrrr!

Baby, it’s cold outside is an understatement!

When your meat won’t thaw…

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you know it’s cold!

We are day five into the new year and ‘ol man winter is officially kicking our butts, not only here at the farm but all up the East Coast.

At the farm, we are still having issues with water.  This time it’s something with our plumbing.  The kitchen sink will not drain.  We’ve snaked it and even resorted to pouring a commercial grade sink declogger down it and it still won’t drain.  We’re not sure if there’s a frozen chunk of ice way down the pipe still there from when our water froze or what the problem is.

Since it’s not a good time of year to be tearing into the house and tackling the plumbing we are resorting to this for the time being…

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At least we have a sink and are not having to wash the dishes in the bathtub like the first year we lived here.  Good times!

We are also having electrical issues at the barn, which means the heated base for the chickens’ waterer won’t work which results in the water freezing.  CountryBoy brings the waterer in each night but has to break the ice or thaw the water throughout the day.

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Today he added a heavy duty extension cord and so far, so good.  Water and food are very important in the winter time to maintain a chickens’ health so we’re hoping this continues to work until we can run proper electric out to the barn.  Just another project we did not want to tackle this year but looks like we will have to.

We are also having electrical issues in the greenhouse.  The space heater we had in there originally worked well without any problems.  Then one night, unbeknownst to us, it threw a breaker and we lost some plants.  Now, all of a sudden, it throws a breaker every time we turn it on which means the cat’s water also freezes as well as the plants. We’ve had to bring the surviving plants indoors and each morning and throughout the day I pour warm water in their bowl to thaw it.  Thankfully, the cats have an insulated house in the greenhouse which keeps them warm.  Even if they decide to lounge in one of the chairs in there instead of their insulated house at least they are out of the wind and elements.

At the moment, we are feeling defeated and as though we haven’t made much progress in getting the upper hand on this farm.  I know we are having these issues because of the extreme temperatures we are dealing with right now and that we have, indeed, made quite a bit of progress since moving in so, this too shall pass and we will continue with the necessary improvements for survival and, some day, maybe even comfort!

Speaking of comfort…

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Our sweet LizzieBelle spends her days on the couch wrapped up in a warm, fleece blanket.  Lucky dog!

How are you faring during this winter chill?

 

Quite the New Year

It’s only two days into January and what a year it’s been already.

I had to work for a few hours yesterday morning and on my way out of the driveway I noticed that someone had run or slid into our mailbox.  It was spun around and facing the wrong way and it was dented up pretty bad.

On my way home I saw the stray cat that we have been feeding at the end of our neighbors driveway.  (We believe it was an offspring of a stray cat that we brought with us from Texas but had drowned in another neighbors pool.)  It was caught in a small trap and dead.  As upset as I was at the news of the drowning I know it was an accident.  But this.  This intentional cruelty has me outraged.  This is not the first time this neighbor has trapped and killed an innocent animal, even neighbors pets.  Trust me when I say I had to do some praying last night because, in all honesty, I want to ring his neck and wish bad things upon him.

Then, last night, CountryBoy woke up in the middle night to find our water pipes were frozen.  We’ve had a week of below freezing temperatures but it was minus two when we got up today and it was just too much for our pipes.

It is after noon, the sun is shining and we are still without water.  And, from the looks of the forecast we won’t get above freezing until Sunday.  We are praying that none of the pipes burst.  sigh.

Thankfully, the outside water faucet in front of the house is operable.  (Whoever came up with these non-freezing, upright faucets is a genius!)  We are able to get water to boil and wash dishes with and flush the toilet.

I had plans to start a painting project today but without water to clean the brushes it has been put on hold.  Also on my to-do list for the day was to clean the paste residue from a wallpaper border I removed in the dining room.  That will also have to wait until we have water.  So, instead, I will go upstairs and see what project I can work on in my sewing room.  There are plenty!

My plans of not tackling anything major this year was short-lived.

With the major freezing of our pipes this year it has become apparent that we must tackle this problem sooner rather than later.  We were hoping for later because of the cost that will be involved.

It’s become obvious that all of our water lines need to be in the house and not underneath.  (They currently run from the hot water heater – underneath the pantry in the crawl space – up into the walls of the pantry and into the walls behind the stove and kitchen sink.)  We have come up with a plan that will involve closing in the cistern room (an open space that flanks both the previously mentioned kitchen and pantry walls), relocating the hot water heater and all the plumbing and electric into the newly enclosed and insulated cistern room.  We will then add a small door or just leave an opening from the pantry into the new room.

It’s a big job, a big expense, and a big mess that we really didn’t want this year.  Maybe I should start a GoFundMe site.  Ha!  We know, in the long run, this will give us peace of mind during the frigid days of winter as well as giving us some much more needed pantry and storage space for the canned goods and even the empty jars.  It’s just that hurdle of getting started.  And dreading the mess!

Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know that my posts are usually chock full of photos but yesterday’s post had none.  My Uncle asked where the light dusting of snow picture was?!  Well, I rushed off to work yesterday and did not take one.  So, I took one of what is left of the light dusting since the content of this post is not photo worthy.

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We only had about an inch of accumulation so much of it has already disappeared.

See the bird feeder?  There is a constant swarm of birds on it making it difficult to keep it full.  In fact, it’s empty again!

I trust y’all are having a much better start to the new year.  My apologies for the nature of this post but I promised transparency to you, our readers, and not to glorify our farmsteading life in a 100 year old farmhouse.  However, we are grateful for our health, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and for being (somewhat) warm on these bitter cold days.  It’s all good!

Now it’s time to fill the bird feeder then head upstairs to the sewing room.  Toodles!

 

 

Honey Harvest and a Dream

I mentioned in my last blog post about our decision to remove the honey super from the hive in order to reduce the size of the hive to make it more manageable for the bees to maintain and to help keep them warm during the winter months.  Yesterday, I had a few hours before I had to go in to work so we decided to try to harvest the honey.

We only had four partially capped frames so we didn’t think it was worth using the extractor and then having to clean it up.  Well, after uncapping one side of the frame and letting it drain for an hour or so we decided that method wasn’t going to cut it.

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Not much honey, huh?  It would take a month of Sundays to extract our four partially capped frames!  So, we broke down and got out the extractor.

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It can hold two frames at a time so we uncapped both sides of two frames and put them in the extractor.

CountryBoy set himself up in front of the TV and started cranking.

For this extractor, each set of frames needs to be cranked for ten to fifteen minutes per side then you flip the frames over and do the same for the other side.

We didn’t think we would get much honey since none of the four frames were completely capped and filled with honey but what a pleasant surprise when our first pint jar filled up and there was still some honey left in the extractor.  I grabbed a quart size jar and, lo and behold, THAT jar filled up!

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To say we were pleasantly surprised and ecstatic is an understatement!

It was totally worth breaking out the extractor because it did a mighty fine job of getting the honey out of the comb in a timely manner.

Now, while all this is going on, I was also putting up the pinto beans we harvested during the summer months and had stored in the freezer.

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I wanted to have beans that were ready to use at a moments notice so keeping them in their frozen state would not suffice.  (I was also tired of seeing the shelled beans we harvested right before the first frost and put in the fridge staring at me every time I opened the fridge door!)  So, since I had a few hours that morning why not put all of ’em up!

I now have eight pint jars of pinto beans canned and ready for use.  Yay!

These eight jars were the results of a couple dozen plants.  We’ll see how long these jars last us but, next year, I’d like to double that.  Not having to buy canned beans during the winter would be a good thing!

On my way in to work later that morning, I had this overwhelming feeling of excitement and accomplishment.  It’s difficult to explain the feeling but those four hours we spent harvesting honey from our bees and putting up our homegrown pinto beans is precisely why we bought this farm – to become more self-sufficient, to know where our food comes from, to be less-reliant on outside food sources, to meet like-minded people, etc.  And, as I look at my jars of honey being proudly displayed on my coffee bar, they remind me of the dream we had before buying this farm and that we are now living that dream.  Now, I’m not saying living the dream is all peaches and cream because life is just not that way.  There are ups and downs as in anything so, be a dreamer and make strides towards accomplishing that dream but be realistic as well because it’s worth it.

I am reminded of a retirement meeting that CountryBoy and I attended while we were working in EMS (Emergency Medical Services) in Florida.  The speaker asked everyone to state what they wanted to do when they retired.  Many mentioned wanting to retire to a condo on the beach or have a cabin in the mountains.  Then, it came our turn… we both stated we wanted a farm!  The response from the instructor… “a farm?!  Don’t you know that’s a lot of work?”  Hahaha!  Yes, we know it’s a lot of work but, let me tell ya’, it’s fulfilling and rewarding work and we wouldn’t change a thing!

 

Another Day Off

Two days off in a row with nothing pressing to do.  Wow!  For a second, I was overwhelmed, again, with deciding what I should accomplish today.  It literally only lasted for a second though!

While CountryBoy was whipping up some breakfast I decided to pay a few of the ever-growing pile of bills.

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That pile may not seem very large to some people but to me, it’s WAY more than I wanted when we moved here two and a half years ago.  Add in house insurance, vehicle insurance, health insurance and property taxes throughout the year and there you have my whole reason for going back to work outside the home.  The sum is just too much.

My ideal when we moved was to simplify our lifestyle and keep it simple but the reality of it all is very difficult to do in this modern age that we live.  Everything is expensive.  From food to fuel to fashion.  We have managed to conquer simplicity and savings in some areas of our life such as growing much of our food and, fashion?  we shop thrift stores, but fuel? it’s something we have no control over and it’s a necessity.  Not only is it needed to go to and from work but also fuel is necessary to keep the farm mowed, weed-whacked and bush-hogged.  And, short of going completely off-grid, there will always be bills to be paid.  I am, however, working on a plan towards a debt-free lifestyle within the next five years.  Vehicle, mortgage and all.  It’s definitely a goal and one that I am working hard to accomplish.

Enough about that.  It’s depressing.

Let’s talk about BEES!!!

One of my bosses has bees so at our party last night (which was so much fun!) I asked her what she was planning on doing or had already done to winterize her bees.

She said she will put the reducer on, treat for varroa mites, reduce the size of the hive and she’s pondering insulating three sides.

We were thinking along the same lines so while I had the whole day off today I thought it would be a good time to tackle the hive.

I added the reducer this morning then when the sun came out we pulled the cover off and removed the honey super.

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LOTS of bees just hanging out!

I suited up (what little suit I have) and started the process of closing it back up without squishing any bees.

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After a few minutes of sliding the inner cover on and over the bees and brushing the rest of them off the edge I managed to get it all put back together.  And, I might add, without getting stung this time.  Yay!

The smaller hive is now more manageable for the bees during the winter months and will help keep them warm.

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We had left the honey super sitting on a dolly near the hive for the rest of the day.  Eventually the bees left it and just before nightfall I brought it up to the house and put it in the greenhouse for the night.

Upon inspection of the supers I found some capped honey on a few of the frames!  Tomorrow, before heading in to work, I plan on uncapping it and extracting the honey.  This will be our first honey harvest and definitely another learning experience.  I’ll let ya know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Remnants

While much of the garden has already been harvested or is slowly petering out there are a few things that remain.

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Gone are the corn and corn stalks, potatoes, cucumbers and the pinto beans we planted.

What’s petering out are the tomatoes we planted and the okra is slowing down as well.

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And, although the okra is slowing down it will still produce until we get a good frost and that’s OK with us!

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We had some volunteer tomatoes show up that we’ve done nothing for them except let them be…

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We have no idea what kind of tomatoes they are but the plants are low to the ground and the tomatoes are small, grow in clusters and are extremely delicious!

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Here’s to hoping our first frost holds off so they can ripen!

Other garden volunteers have been a few pinto bean plants that showed up after the others were harvested…

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These are filling out nicely and will soon be ready to harvest.

The beets are bursting out of the ground and are just waiting for me to have some time to harvest and put them up….

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I see some pickled beets in the near future.  Yum!

The turnips?  We have no idea what’s going on with them.  The greens are looking good but there are little to no turnips.  Maybe we’ll just harvest some greens this year.  Who knows!

The lima beans are taking their time in filling out but it won’t be long until they are ready to be harvested as well…

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A recent planting in late summer were some cabbages…

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They are HUGE!  Some of these will be eaten fresh and the others will be made into sauerkraut.  That is, if I can find a fail-safe recipe.  The last batch I made was WAAAYYY too salty (thanks to guessing at the weight of cabbage vs. amount of salt needed per pound.  I now have a kitchen scale so maybe my recipe will work)

Although our garden was smaller this year than previous years we managed to get a nice yield from it.  We were able to put up enough for eating during the winter months as well as even sell some at our local Farmer’s Market.  Overall, it was another good year.

And, always ready to assist in whatever’s going on is Greyfus…

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OK, so it’s more like getting under foot in whatever’s going on but, nonetheless, he is our trusty helper and a sweet boy!

 

 

 

 

Corn, Corn, Corn

Have y’all ever watched the movie ‘Secondhand Lions’?  If not, you should!  It’s one of the few movies that I could watch over and over again.  There’s a scene in there where the phrase “corn, corn, corn” is said.  Well, that’s what we have going on this week at the farm…

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Lots of pickin’ and shuckin’!  CountryBoy was able to harvest the corn before the wildlife got too many cobs.  This is our best crop to date!

As I write this blog post he is getting ready to blanch the nicest cobs then freeze them.  The other cobs will be de-cobbed and canned.

He put up five quarts the other day while I was at work.

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This was his first time using the pressure canner by himself.  After reading the instructions in the Ball Canning Book and several phone calls to me, he successfully conquered the pressure canner!

He saved the cobs for me so I could try something…

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Corn Cob Jelly!  Yep, you read that right, ha!

I had read that this jelly tastes like honey and since I LOVE honey I had to try it.  Of course the whole ‘waste not, want not’ ideal was very appealing to me as well, so yesterday, I made eleven half-pints of corn cob jelly.

I just ate some on a piece of toast and I have to say, it’s pretty yummy and it does taste a lot like honey but with the texture of jelly.  On another piece of toast I added some crunchy peanut butter with the jelly.  That’s pretty good, too!

After I was finished with the cobs for the jelly the chickens got to enjoy them!

I must say, getting multiple uses from one source is very exciting to me!  Canned corn, corn cob jelly and corn cob treats for the chickens – what’s not to love?!  Truly a waste not, want not ideal!

We’re planning on canning the majority of the corn this year so we’ll be making a lot more of this jelly.  These will make great gifts as well as selling some at our Farmers Market and possibly some in the gift shop at the B&B where I work.

Speaking of selling jellies, we finally got our Home Based Processors license.  Woohoo! We can officially sell jams & jellies and low-acidic canned goods at our local Farmer’s Market as long as the majority of ingredients are locally grown.  I’d have to say that our Corn Cob Jelly would qualify!

Another exciting find this week…

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Our first green egg!!!

One of the ‘babies’ laid an egg AND she even laid it in a nest box!  Proud Mama moment, heehee!

They are only four months old so this is about a month early.  Needless to say, we were very surprised.  Oh, and it was very tasty even though it was so small!

What’s happening at YOUR place?