Chicks, Bees & Peonies

Yesterday was graduation day for the chicks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bees are busy, busy little bees.

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

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

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

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

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

Sure enough!  Pink peonies!

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

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!

Finding Balance

This post is not going to be my usual picture-filled ramblings about life on the farm.

Nope.

This post is going to go much deeper.  I am going to share with y’all some innermost thoughts and struggles in my quest for finding balance in this journey called life.

I recently received a free copy of the book “Oola For Women: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World” by Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl in exchange for my honest opinion regarding the book.  So, yes, this post will be a book review but it will also be about my plans and goals for achieving an Oola Life at the farm and making dreams come true.

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What the heck is Oola you ask?  Well, simply put, “it’s a state of awesomeness.  It’s when your life is balanced and growing in the seven key areas of life: fitness, finance, family, field (career), faith, friends and fun.  It’s living an inspired life – one that you define.”  (You will hear me referring to the seven key areas as the 7 F’s of Oola.)  It’s pursuing your dreams and becoming the best YOU can be.  It’s finding the greatness within you.

This book is not the first time I’ve heard of Oola.  I was privileged to attend an OolaPalooza event last year with fellow oilers from Young Living.  Wow!  What a weekend!  Dr. Dave and Dr. Troy (the OolaGuys) were amazing!  They were so real, so down-to-earth, so inspiring and they walked us through two hard and emotional days of soul-searching for ways to find balance in our lives.  By the end of the second day we all walked out of there with goals written down in each of the 7 F’s.  Goals to help us reach a balance in this crazy, unbalanced thing we call life!

One of my goals for OolaField (remember I’m a homesteading housewife so that is my career) was to get bees this year.  Well, two weeks ago I got BEES!

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will remember this picture from a previous blog post…

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Becoming a beekeeper has been a dream of mine for many years but writing it down during OolaPalooza and coming up with a plan over the next several months to make it happen was what I needed to actually MAKE it happen.

Dream Valley Farmstead is also a dream CountryBoy and I had and we worked to make it happen.  I am all about pursuing dreams!

So let’s talk about ‘Oola For Women’.

In my humble opinion… it is a MUST-READ for all women.  Young or old, new Mom or Grandmother, career woman or housewife, this book will be an inspiration to each and every one to find the greatness within them.  Seriously.  It seems that everyone I talk to or come in contact with struggles with balancing all the demands of life these days.  ESPECIALLY women.  Wow, the juggling act that most women do ev-er-y single day, is mind-boggling.  Kids, spouse or single-Mom, housework, career, special events, sports, whew, I’m exhausted just typing all that!  How does one find the balance in their every day life?

Here at the farm, my daily goal is to live simply and focus on finding ways to achieve simplicity in this modern world.  Most days, though, I find it extremely difficult to do.  I find myself doing thirty-thousand things; 90% of them being things that don’t have anything to do with living simply.  sigh.  Nor do these thirty-thousand things help me achieve a balanced life.  They’re just ‘things’ that occupy my day but don’t help me define my purpose or make life less -stressful.

It takes a balance of each of the 7 areas to achieve the OolaLife.  I find that most people are strong in a couple of areas but weak in others which causes an unbalanced life.  It sounds difficult to achieve but ‘Oola For Women’ breaks it all down and gives you tips to strengthen the weak areas.  ‘Oola For Women’  has inspired me to continue pursuing my dreams and achieving a balanced OolaLife.

Which of the 7 F’s do I need to work on?  Most of them.

  • Fitness:  ugh.  phhtt.  hate it.  period.  I am going to have to make myself do some sort of physical activity.  Probably walking.  For now.
  • Finance:  ugh.  There never seems to be enough money especially when trying to reclaim a run-down farm and farmhouse. I need to keep up with the budget – not just sporadically and save money somehow
  • Field:  I need to set aside specific times to work on my Young Living business and farm ‘business/goals’.  I also need to define and be more specific on farm goals and how to achieve them.
  • Fun:  my idea of fun is different than CountryBoy’s.  Fun, to me, is doing things that I enjoy and are productive such as crocheting, quilting or refinishing a piece of furniture. Fun, to him, is fishing or sightseeing.  While he fishes I crochet, read or cross-stitch, heehee.  I need to consciously tell myself that it’s OK to take a day to do some sightseeing and that it’s not going to kill me to NOT be doing something productive.

Areas that I am stronger and more balanced (but could always use some improving) are:

  • Faith:  this is one of my stronger areas but I can always have more faith, pray more and serve more.
  • Family:  I am so thankful to have an awesome family!
  • Friends:  I have a lot of acquaintances but I am thankful to have a true best friend that loves me for who I am and wants nothing from me but my friendship.  I try to be that same kind of friend in return.

So there you see how the 7 F’s of Oola relate to my personal life.

But, wait, there’s more!

“In addition to the 7 F’s of Oola, there are habits, beliefs, and attitudes that will either hold you back or propel you forward.  We call these OolaBlockers and OolaAccelerators.”

You will have to get the book to find out what all the OolaBlockers are but let’s talk about a huge OolaBlocker for me… OK, there’s two actually…

  • Fear.  Yep.  Fear of what people might think.  Fear of failing.  “There are only two innate fears that all human beings are born with:  the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.  Every other fear is learned.  And what can be learned can be unlearned.”  Oh boy.  I’ve got some un-learning to do.
  • Self-Sabotage. wow.  That’s a tough one to realize about oneself.  But, I am my own worst critic. I am going to tell myself daily that I am designed by God for greatness!

There are several more OolaBlockers: things that will hinder you from finding balance and achieving an OolaLife but, like I said, you’ll have to buy the book to see what they are.

On the flip side of the OolaBlockers are OolaAccelerators.  Let me just give you a sneak peak at the intro to Section Four of the book which are the OolaAccelerators… “OolaAccelerators, the next seven chapters, are where the real fun begins.  You’ll learn new daily practices and proven success behaviors like gratitude, discipline, integrity, and wisdom that will help bring your life into balance – and lead to stunning personal growth – faster than almost any other way.  You’ll not only get tips to help you incorporate these daily practices into your life, you’ll also discover new insights from women who relied on these Accelerators at different points along their journey.  What do they say worked for them as they learned lessons and created new behaviors on their way to the OolaLife?  You’ll find out in this section.”

What an awesome, inspiring section!

The last section of the book is the nitty gritty – the 3 Simple Steps to Oola.  You will be able to determine where you are today in your OolaLife, where you want to be and how you are going to get there.

What I love about this book is that the authors don’t tell you what to do.  Instead, they give you tips, pointers if you will, on how to achieve balance in each area but you have to do the soul-searching and you have to do the work.  There are also stories from real women about real situations who did the soul-searching and the work to achieve balance.  I had my highlighter in hand throughout the whole book!

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I can’t say enough positive things about this book.  It truly is a life-changer if you’re willing and ready.  Again, I highly recommend this book to any and all women who want to pursue dreams and find balance and achieve greatness in their lives.

Are you ready to find balance in an unbalanced world?

Are you ready to make dreams come true?

You can pre-order a discounted copy from

Barnes & Noble

or Amazon

before tomorrow, May 2nd.  You will save up to 40% by pre-ordering and you will soon be on your way to an OolaLife.  WIN-WIN!

Bees and Butterflies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Me and my bees!  Oh, and no stings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Birds and the Bees

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

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

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

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

The sign is double-sided…

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Hello Dream Valley Farmstead!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Still Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time our farm friends!

Projects Galore

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

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

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It was magical!

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

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So cute!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of my lovely clearance plants!

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

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

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

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

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

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SO much better!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So pretty and ready for winter!

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

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

A Mini Makeover For The Living Room

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

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

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

Here is the before…

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

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

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

Here’s what the living room looks like now…

The crib bottom was in pretty rough shape.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

An Apron Wearing Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mmm!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A bowl of yummy Apple Crisp!