Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Junior Beekeepers

When the girls were younger they would suit up and inspect beehives with me. In fact, Indiana has done quite a bit with me as far as maintaining hives.

The last few years have been difficult for me in terms of keeping viable hives. Bees die off, disappear, become weak, etc. Beekeeping has been much more of a challenge than it was in years past. Last summer my only hive vanished, after being robust for many months.

It is easy to  come discouraged, especially when beekeeping costs a good bit of money, but since I have been covering many bugs as part of the entomology class I wrote for the younger set, I felt I needed to include honeybees.

So when I ordered 3 packages of bees and they arrived, I suited the three young ones up!



The kids painted the hives several weeks ago and helped set them up near the new blueberry patch.
All we needed to do was install the packages.



Of course the kids really enjoyed looking at the queen bees.


They each had the job of holding the queen cage until ready to place her cage inside the hive.


We were successful in getting the packages installed and the bees have been productive and busy ever since. We also started a small notebook for keeping notes on each hive, a smart practice for any beekeeper.


Three days later we suited up again to see how the queen was doing, and we discovered she was released in all three hives.


The kids are keeping the cages as a keepsake.

Let the beekeeping fun begin!



Happy Tuesday Ya'll!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Navi

We got a new critter last week.

Meet Navi.


Willow's pet bunny dies last year and she has missed having a soft lovie in her arms.

We searched and found a Holland Lop breeder close by, and Willow started earning and saving her money.

She is a perfectly sweet bunny.


Everyone loved bringing her home.


Willow loves having a new soft friend to cuddle.

Happy Thursday Ya'll!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Doozy

The only thing I dislike about spring are the wild storms that come through. Last night we had a doozy blow in, and although there were no tornados, it left its fair share of damage.

 We stood on the porch watching the chicken tractor closely because we had 45 pullets in it when we heard a loud crash.
This huge tree fell on the metal carport we use to park the tractor.





This morning I had a chance to assess the damage. The tractor seems fine but the carport is trashed.



I have already had a conversation with my insurance agent.


The tree fell just enough to damage our wooden storage shed too. 

I know we are actually lucky that no people were hurt and that we never lost our power. 

Now to do chores and see how best to repair the chicken tractor.

I really thought it was going to blow away during the storm. I am grateful it did not, but I do need to repair it the best I can today.

Hoping everyone is safe after last night's spring doozy!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Doing the Best I Can

If I was a busy person a year ago I can honestly say that I feel busier these days but with less to show for it, except this little guy counts for 99% of my time.


          *Ace is wearing a sweet beanie knitted by my good friend Martha. It's made from angora yarn she spun from her bunnies.*

I had honestly forgotten how much time babies consume, and this guy is no different. Warm weather is on its way though and Baby Bear loves to be outside. The last 2 weeks have been busy here as we start the post winter, clean the crap from the yard and get ready for baby animals process.

We sent the remaining of our pigs to process and then started the much needed clean up of fencing. These pigs challenged fencing every single day. We had a mess of barbed wire and pallets. 
Once the pigs left we spent a day pulling up electric wire fencing from the woods and pulling up pallets. We plan to clean it all up and allow it to recover. We will not run pigs again until fall so that will give it time to recover and us time to run new electric wire.

We did have sad news when we discovered a heifer, who was due in April, had miscarried her calf.
Of course these things always happen in the dark, so finding her dead baby was nearly impossible. We discovered the heifer, Chance, with membranes dangling when we took hay out for the cows. 
Because I feared she might have a calf inside we called the vet, only the vet was on vacation. I was able to call another vet out and he confirmed she had miscarried. 
We gave her a shot of lutalyse to try and get the membranes expelled.
I was disappointed that we did not get a live calf but happy Chance was okay.

The next day we did find her dead fetus in the 20 acre field we rent. On the upside, she is milking well.
Her membranes finally expelled after 5 very smelly days.

The day after Chance lost her calf I woke up and decided to move Molly closer to the house. Molly was due any day and I was worried she might suffer same fate as Chance. 
I was happy to walk out and find Molly had calved during the early morning hours. She had a healthy bull calf, a wagyu cross, at her side.


We did move them both closer to the house, but Molly has been a great mama cow and her calf is doing great.

This is the first official start to my beef herd.

Between these happenings we had two birthdays to celebrate!


Quinn turned 19 years old! 


Indiana turned 17 years old!

We celebrated with a huge family dinner/party.

This week I am finally catching up and taking a deep breath. I am getting our lives back on a routine, no thanks to the daylight savings time change, and I actually went grocery shopping yesterday.
I cleaned out my fridge and was feeling good about my day yesterday. Have you ever just really felt like you had it all together as a mom? That was me yesterday......until this happened.







That is Zeb wearing overalls that are about 3 sizes too small. He refused to take them off too. 
When my girls were all little I was really good about keeping their clothes folded and tucked neatly in their drawers, and I was always good about switching out clothes seasonally and taking out clothes they had outgrown.

I don't know what happened when I had the boys. I honestly try not to enter their rooms for fear I will see something that needs purging or cleaning. Apparently I am past due needing to remove clothes they have outgrown.
Mom fail.

I redeemed myself by ordering both boys a new pair of overalls though.
Thank you Amazon Prime.

                                                     *Valentine soaking up some sun*
                                                   

It has been freezing cold here the last few days, but I am confident spring warmth will return soon, hopefully, because we are very low on hay. 
The cows are starting to shed their winter coats and the grass is really trying to grow.
Just a few more good days working outside and I think the yard will look decent again :-)


Now to spend the remainder of my day tending to this guy.

Happy Thursday Ya'll!!
Sami

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bee Prep

Monday was the perfect weather for some outside work that needed to be completed.

I have three packages of honey bees arriving from a local beekeeper in April. I have plenty of equipment but, like everything on a farm, they needed some upkeep before the bees arrive.

Since I am including honeybees in my bug curriculum this year for the younger kids and because I want the kids to grow up with a strong knowledge of beekeeping, I enlisted their help with equipment preparations.


The boxes all needed a good scraping and cleaning up and a fresh coat of paint.
I have always used white paint in the past, but the children and I thought this was a year for color.


The boys put on large, old shirts to protect their nicer clothes and went to town painting the boxes.
Earlier in the day we went to a local store and I let them pick out 3 colors.


It was all fun and games until Luna and Kid starting chasing each other. Luna got green paint on her head and backside. We rinsed it off and then she rolled in dirt. Dogs!


It was a great day for the baby to be outside too. He did nap between tasks :-) Actually the sunshine was a great immune system booster for everyone.

The next day we gathered the equipment, added new frames, and set up our new bee yard near the blueberry bushes.
This are will be expanded some, and we will be fencing it with a permanent fence to keep the cows out.  
All of the kids help set the hives up and I was happy to be working outside with my crew.



Today we gathered all of the bee suits and washed them. This weekend I will gather and organize gloves and veils.  I do need to order some new gloves for the boys still.

We also decided to set up 2 nuts around the property in hopes of attracting a swarm. We bought a paste called Bee Charmer as a lure for the frames. Every day the boys go check the "bee traps" in hopes that we get a swarm. I really hope we do because it would thrill the kids to watch! IO am thinking n early spring might set off early swarms. It was a nice 77 degrees today!

Finally, the German Shepherd baby starts her obedience training in a week. I am excited to see where this dog goes in life. For now, she is the best companion a baby could ask for :-)


Happy Friday Ya'l!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Heart Day

I meant to post about Valentine's Day but got busy with farm stuff and forgot.

We are not huge Valentine's Day fans. We can take it or leave it, and personally I think it's a made up holiday to sell candy and cards and flowers. The last thing I want my kids consuming during flu season is tons of sugar, but we did spend the day doing some crafts and hosting a get together.

I always pull my favorite storybook out for some readings as soon as we get into the  month of February.

I have looked high and low for other books for Valentine's Day but most of the books are just silly. This book, however, is perfect.

We decided to make our own heart rain clouds.


Tissue paper crumbled up and glued to the back of a cardboard cloud shape.


Some hearts cut from paper and taped to dollar store string was easy enough too.


Soon we had heart clouds decorating the kitchen.

The kids also chose Valentines to make for their homeschool co-op classes. They spent an entire day crafting them and hand writing on them for a co-op party. Sadly, the co-op was canceled because so many kids were sick with the flu.

We wanted to still have a Valentine hang out though, so we invited some friends over for treats and some outside playtime. Because the flu has been rampant we served kefir and yogurt smoothies and lower sugar queen cakes. We also had hummus and fresh veggies.

Perfect Valentine's Day? Absolutely!

Another Heart Day in the books! Now bring on spring!




Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Atlanta Farm Store

This week I was able to venture out with some fellow lady farmer friends to Atlanta (with my baby in tow, of course.)

What is there to see in Atlanta? Well, lots of things, but we specifically wanted to visit Trader Joe's, the Dekalb Farmers Market and IKEA

We started the morning with a good breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then made our way south about an hour.

Trader Joe's is a store I really wish we had up here, of course I bought nothing but sweet foods so maybe I should rethink that desire. 
By far my favorite item there is the large container of ginger snap cookies. A friend this summer introduced me to the delicious cookies and I have craved them since! I bought 2.

The Dekalb Market was a new experience for all three of us ladies. It was very large and very crowded. It is a hot spot for any ingredient needed for any international dish. It was a treat to shop there, and I came home with some blue cheese, goat cheese and dark chocolate covered cashews. These are the main 3 food groups, by the way. 

Of course there is no store that can quite compare to IKEA. 
What happens when you send farm girls into IKEA? Well, we find uses for several items.


For example, this kitchen model would be great for processing chickens outside. Granted a lady or two looked at us like we were crazy while we discussed how useful this would be, but it would be nice.
If you are looking for a simple set up to process birds for your own freezer, check out IKEA. I think this set was $112.

The absolute best purchase of the day, however, was the milking stool. Who knew IKEA sold milking stools?



It was such a fabulous buy that we both, Laura and I, bought one. It came in several colors, but we both loved the pink.




It really spruces up the barn, right?

So if you are in the market for some farming essentials, don't forget to check out the nearest IKEA.

We had so much fun, and Ace was a fantastic passenger, that we are already planning another trip in a couple months.

Speaking of Ace, the boy is 4 months old today. He weighs in at 17.2 ! 


It's a nice day here and will be spring like all week. I am hoping we can get some outside chores done!

Happy Sunday Ya'll!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tis the Season

New chicks arrived today!


Last year, because of my pregnancy and morning sickness, we did not order baby chicks. I honestly have missed having the little balls of fluff.



I ordered pullets to replenish my flock of laying hens. I only got 50 total: 25 each of Welsummers and Buff Orpingtons.  Later in the spring I will order meat birds so we can run 2 batches this year.

Since I really didn't feel like keeping a make shift brood box in my kitchen this time, we finally forked out the money for an actual brooder.

We plan to move it to the garage once we get past freezing night time temps, but it has been super handy.  Although the company says day old chicks can walk on the wire floor, they seemed wobbly this morning when I put them inside. I decided a couple of days with paper on bottom would be simple. 

It also has food troughs on the outside, but again I felt it was easiest to use a feeder inside for a day or two. 
The pictures show it with half the top cover removed. It all gets closed up and has slats to vent on the sides. It really is a great to have the chicks warm and cozy inside.

This weekend I plan to get bee boxes cleaned and ready for new packages.

Yes, tis the season of spring!!!!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Re Usable Food Wraps

I have a love-hate relationship with paper towels. I love how convenient they are, but I hate the waste and expense.
Several years ago I stopped buying and using throw away towels and started using cheap wash cloths. I bought a bundle of wash cloths and keep them in a basket inside a deep kitchen drawer. They have been easy to use and wash.
Lately, though, they have needed some replacing. They are very worn out. Well I got the grand idea of making some "paper towels" from fabric this time.


I bought some yardage of diaper fabric and used my serger to go around the edges. I absolutely love these towels! I cut them to be the size of a real paper towel too, so they are a nice size. I was able to make 25 from 5 yards of fabric. I plan to buy more fabric and make another 25.

I really need to make some baby wipes too!

This project got me thinking about other throw away items I could start eliminating from my house.

Enter reusable plastic wrap.

There are a few companies that sell fabric soaked with beeswax that can be used to cover dishes and food, etc.

I thought this was a perfect opportunity to go through my own fabric stash and make my own.


The results are fabulous! I spent some time online and decided to add tree rosin and jojoba oil to my beeswax mixture. 
It did take me a few tries to get the right balance of wax in the fabric, but they do work!

I made some sizes in 13"x13", 10"x10" and 7"x7". I also made one that is 15"x13".

I was able to pull some really pretty fabrics from my quilt fabric stash and used some fat quarters that have been sitting around fro years.

My first use was to wrap up some left over egg rolls.

The wraps can be used in place of plastic wraps. They are not water proof, so wet foods are not good for the wraps. They do allow the foods to "breathe", so food will dry out in the wraps eventually.

To clean the wraps I just rinse them with cool water. If they must be soap washed always use a gentle soap like Bronner's Castile soaps. 

I am going to keep using them and if they remain fabulous I will make some to sell at a farm day this summer. 
In the meantime, if you want to make some yourself, just look through Pinterest. There are several tutorials. I read through several before deciding how to make mine.

Next I plan to make reusable sandwich wraps. I will post an update once I finish sewing them.

What else can we reuse and recycle?

Here's an updated picture of Bucky Bear.

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kids and the Kid

Gotta admit it!
Georgia has atypical winters. One day it is cold as ice and the next day we are wearing shorts.

This week has been a short wearing week. In fact, my pasture wasn't this green back in the summer, thanks to the drought.


I took the baby on a walk to the mailbox this afternoon, carrying him in the Ergo he got for Christmas. We stopped to snap a picture of Hilda the pig grazing in the pasture, which gets greener by the day.

The boys took advantage of the warm weather too by playing outside the entire week.
Today Devin took a hose to drain water off the swimming pool cover. What happened next was a delight to both boys and Kid, the German Shepherd pup.


The water draining off created the perfect scenario of mud piles and a small mud pile dam. 


I include Kid because she has become a close companion to the kids, especially the boys. The boys cannot go outside without Kid, unless we want to hear her whimper wild inside the house.


She loves to watch over them and play with them too, especially when water or sticks are involved.


The kids have been watching a show on Netflix called Most Deadliest Animals and they had sharks on there last night. I am going to assume that is the reason the boys built a shark pond.


We will soak up the warmth while we can because it is just the start of February.


In a few days this water could be ice. 



Happy February Ya'll!!
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