Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Busy-ness and Bee Drama

We've had a fairly busy week.  Two days ago, my table looked like this

The green beans have now been canned up, the tomatoes, well, some have been eaten fresh, the rest are being made into sauce tomorrow.   We ran out of time to do it today, with our bee drama.

Yes, bee drama.

We checked the hives today.  We checked hive 1 first.  I harvested one frame of honey from the medium super.  There is more in there that I could ideally harvest, since their two deeps are fairly bursting with honey, but I'm thinking we're going to have a rough winter, so I'm only taking the one frame until spring.  Until  I see how they survive this winter, until I know for sure they have enough food for themselves.

But, I absolutely LOVE hive 1. 

Capped honey comb, ready to harvest.

Cutting the comb from the frame, for crushing and straining
Honey, straining into a bowl.  Will be ladled into jars.

I'm still using the crush and strain method for harvesting my honey, until we either build or buy our own extractor.  My sweet husband is looking at the plans to build one, and knowing how handy he is, that's probably the route we'll go.

Which now brings me to Hive 2.

There are not enough words in the English language for me to adequately explain to you how 100% evil this hive is.  It was all I could do to NOT burn the hive where it sits.  Just out of revenge. 

It started out well enough. We opened the top super and began pulling out frames, which I wasn't too thrilled with how they were looking.  A few of the girls buzzed around our heads in warning, but nothing abnormal to be concerned with.



When we moved the top box to check the bottom deep super -   Insanely EVIL bees!

They chased AND I MEAN AS IN A CLOUD OF BEES ABOVE MY HEAD me and DH the entire 200 ft to the pig pens! beyond the garage! They are insane!!

We turned on the water hose, set the nozzle to shower, and sprayed it in the air like rain above our head to get them to go away. They came after us again when they saw us coming back to close up the hive.

 We closed them up, didn't find the queen, so I suspect she is dead, but did see a queen cell that I left. Came in and made a call to the State Dept and the State Bee Inspector is calling me back tomorrow, plus our local county bee inspector is going to come out to look at hive 2 for me. Especially since, 1- they had a couple cells with black(ish) stuff in it that I suspect may have foulbrood  and 2- I think they are queenless and 3- I think that Hive 2 may have Small Hive Beetles. (only because I saw a worm larvae crawling on the top of the inner cover, and i squished it, and when I came in to look up foul brood found a pic of Small Hive Beetle larvae and it looked like what I killed).

I also think I may have some yellow jackets harrassing that hive. I squished (on purpose) one of those trying to get IN the hive.

Hopefully the County Inspector can give us some insight.   We'll see.  The State inspector is giving us a call tomorrow.

Worst case scenario, Hive 2 becomes a Honey Torch.  I'm afraid I'd rather enjoy torching them. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Yesterday we decided to work in the front yard garden as a family project.   My husband and I pulled weeds and our youngest 3 kids filled our garden wagon 3 times with the weeds we'd pulled.  They then divided the weeds between our goats and the pot belly pigs.

Our oldest 2 children helped by picking green beans, and pick they did! 

We pulled out 2  tomato plants that our goats had destroyed a couple days ago. I plucked all the green tomatoes off the plants before we fed the plants to the pigs.  We picked all of our tomatoes, and sadly found some squishy rotting on the vines.  I think our pot belly pigs must have thought it was their birthday.

I harvested my first homegrown eggplant, which I was really excited about. We enjoy a good fried eggplant.  We also picked our first fresh green pepper for the year (not pictured) and we ate it in our eggs for breakfast this morning.

We'll be sorting through the beans today and seting aside the ones that will be dried for soup beans.  Most of the tomatoes will be cooked down for sauce.

Our backyard garden is doing amazingly well, too.  We have more tomatoes planted back there, green beans, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash, sweet peppers, pumpkins,  and a few volunteer sunflowers. 

How's your garden?  Has the drought affected your growing season or were you able to keep it watered?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Savoring Sunday, with a Good Book!

We visited a small local congregation this morning.  It was such a wonderful Sunday morning experience. A simple, yet meaningful morning of fellowship.

Just what we needed.

Even E commented about how the message touched him today.  A first I've ever heard him say that a sermon affected him in anyway!

We're definitely going back, we were a little sad to have the services end and to head back home.

We just can't wait for next Sunday

Meanwhile, I've closed out this Sunday by finishing off the book  Touching the Sky by Tracie Peterson.   I do feel a teeny bit of guilt, rushing through reading this book (if you call 2 weeks rushing it) since I had already started MaryLy Tyndall's Veil of Pearls (and I feel like I'm cheating on my book!), and haven't finished it yet.  But, Touching the Sky is a borrowed copy and I feel it's best to return borrowed books as soon as possible. Especially when I tend to get confused on which book is actually mine, and which I've borrowed!  Veil of Pearls, on the other hand, is my own (signed - I love you MaryLu!) copy to read at my leisure. 

And read it leisurely I will! 

Touching the Sky is definitely one I'll have to add to my collection, though, as it's one I can see re-reading over and over. 

These women who are fawning all over the book Fifty Shades of Grey....yea, read Touching the Sky.  Captain Reid will show you a TRUE romantic gentleman!

No, I am not one who writes reviews for books, but I shouldn't be shy in telling you when I've read a good one.  I also think it's important that women, and young girls (teens especially) know that there are good romantic stories out there, without the erotica.   And no, I haven't read 50 Shades.  I don't need to, nor have the desire to. 1) I have all the romance I need with my own husband and 2) I have books by MaryLu!

Except, I will be honest an admit that when I first read MaryLu Tyndall's Legacy of the King's Pirates, my first reaction was, "Whoa!  That's borderline risque for Christian romance!"  At the same time, it - being The Redemption - was one of the best reads ever, and I must confess that I nagged my BFF Becky for her copies of the much so that she finally, finally, handed them (being the entire triology) over.  Oh, c'mon they were out of print!!  Her copies were the ONLY ones available!!

So who needs 50 Shades or Magic Mike when at any given time I can draw a warm bath, and take my choice from any of the Christian Romance books off my book shelf by authors Janette Oake (have almost all of hers, too), MaryLu Tyndall, Tracie Peterson, Cathy Marie Hake (if you haven't read her Serendipity I highly suggest it! That and Letter Perfect and Bittersweet.  Bittersweet made me cry!) and several other authors who's names escape me right now.

So this Sunday has been a wonderful day, and I'm sure there's more I  could talk about, but I hear a book calling my name...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Barter Queen Strikes Again???

Originally, this blog was just going to be titled "Cookies" as that's what I've been baking today.  That, and I'm working on fry pies.   But then something happened. 

I'd like to say what happened was purely Divine Intervention.  I mean, I spose we could say it was, because if it hadn't happened, then this blog post wouldn't be happening. 

So what happened?

I ran out of eggs. 

Now stop laughing, something as simple as running out of eggs may not be a big deal in YOUR home, but's right up there with the zombie apocalypse and world wide catastrophes in ours. 

We consume/use no less than 12 dozen - yes, 12 DOZEN - eggs a week.  Well, what did you expect?  We do have a small army of children here.  Trust me, they can eat.
Plus, almost every cookie recipe I make calls for 2-3 eggs, and so do the Pecan and Pumpkin pies.  So eggs are a must have.

Although in worst case scenarios I COULD substitute applesauce for eggs.  IF I had applesauce.

So this meant turning off the oven, stopping in mid-cook of breakfast, and driving 3 miles to the local grocery.  Oh the horror!!  We live in a small town, so when I say "drive to the grocery"  I am meaning drive to the local place to pay horrendeous prices.  Prices that make you feel like you're the vicitim of a prison shower gone wrong (not that I'd know what that is like, but I've heard stories).  

I had done a quick perusal of my baking stash, and decided it would bode well to also pick up a few other supplies. Even if it is only 3 miles, we like to make trips count.

We get into the store and every Amish man and his Cousin who is also his brother in law and second  uncle twice removed is there.  (ok, that might be a stretch)  I was in a bit of a hurry, so I skirted around the Amish (mostly to avoid questions as to if we're willing to do taxi no) and booked down the dairy aisle and grabbed 6 dozen eggs.  Down the baking aisle, grabbed the 3 things I needed from there, and scooted to the check out.

Seriously, the whole town must have been shopping there.  One register open, and really I'm not the most patient I'm tapping my

The store manager steps up and opens register 2.  My husband nudges me and we move over to register 2 and check out process begins.  The following conversation ensues:

Manager, as he's scanning my 10lb bag of flour:  This is more flour than I'd probably use one time in my whole life!
Me: yea, well, I have 6 kids.
Hubby: She really wanted a 25 # bag but you don't carry that.
Me: 50 #'s would be even better.
Manager, after his head was done snapping back and forth between us:  What kind of flour do you usually buy? 
Me: All Purpose
Manager: I have a store outside of Cambridge and we sell in bulk, and I sell a pastry flour.
Me: In 50 # bags?!
Manager: Yep.  It's a bulk store and a meat and cheese store. We sell everything in bulk.
Me: even the meats?
Manager: yep.
Hubby: I guess we'll be heading to Cambridge!
Me: Oh yea!
Manager, about to go down the list of what he has in bulk:  Sugar, we carry oats in bulk -
Me (interupting):  Oats?!  I use oats!  In my monster cookies and oatmeal raisin and no bakes (and I was also thinking to feed the chickens lol)

The conversation continued on for a bit, and I told the manager that I bake and then sell my baked goods. HIS reply to that was, "Really?!  We used to have people who would bake for us and sold their baked goods in our store.  No one is doing that now." 

AND here is where the BARTER happened.  The manager says "Maybe we could work out a barter, baking supplies for baked goods in our store to sell." 

I cannot tell you when I've been more exited!!!  SERIOUSLY!! 

Divine intervention?!  It had to be! We've talked to this guy A LOT at the local store, and never knew he owned his own Bulk store (that his wife runs).  Never would have had this conversation if I hadn't needed eggs!  Or if I hadn't picked up that 10 lb bag of flour.

So we're planning a visit to the bulk store soon.  Meanwhile, I'm still baking. Cookies. Which what I was originally GOING to post about..and share a recipe for Chocolate Mint Cookies...but I guess that will have to wait for the next blog post.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More Buzz

On July 29, 2012, my mom came over and we checked my newest hive together. She showed me queen cells (ends were open not capped so whew!) and we got rid of those, then we found newly laid eggs! THEN on the very next frame, we found my Queen! My girls by this point were FURIOUS and hammering away at our suits....LOL NO one got stung, but NOT from lack of trying! I pulled frames and my mom snapped pics with my camera!

So, here's the pics from that day! (The Queen is in the last 2 pics, but the last pic is a cropping of the original).

We will be opening the other hive today or in the next few days, providing the weather cooperates. Hopefully we'll have honey to harvest.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cleaning House

That's what we've spent today doing.  Cleaning house.  In fourteen years of marriage, 13 years of being parents, you can accumulate a lot of....well, junk. 

Saying "a lot" is, frankly, an understatement.  My kitchen is so small, that the contents (read that as baking accessories) tend to creep into the rest of the house - hence why when I sat on my couch earlier, I landed on my new round cookie cutters.  Not cool.

So while we were cleaning - and I mean as in washing down the walls, sweeping and mopping kind of cleaning - I issued pink slips to items we don't need/don't use anymore.  Like 2 super small skillets that would never be big enough to cook a meal large enough to feed our army sized family. 

The bathroom cabinet tends to get ignored alot.  Kind of a toss and go kind of thing. Kids think "hey, it's put up, so..." and I'm bad about not making sure things are put away neatly if we're rushing to get somewhere (like we're pushing being late for DD's cross country training now, but we're hoping it's cancelled with the storm rolling in) or if I'm in the midst of something cooking dinner.

I opened the bathroom cabinet...and oh the horror!! 

I mean, who lets the space under a bathroom sink get that unorganized?!  (A busy farming mom of 6 who spends her day's between goat wrangling/kid chasing/honey straining/baking/etc that's who!)

I spent all of 15 minutes sorting, organizing, rearranging, and tossing things we probably should have tossed some time ago, and wiping down (ok sterilizing) the inside of the cabinet.

15 minutes, and it looked like this...

All the while I was thinking about how I'd let my own spirit get cluttered up.  With worry, with things of the world, politics, religious views, and other "junk".   Then I thought, if I was able to clean this up, organize it, remove the junk, etc. just imagine what God accomplishes in 15 minutes. 

15 minutes spent in prayer. In reading the Bible. In quiet fellowship. 15 minutes. A spirit can be decluttered, renewed, refreshed. Cleaned.

Psalm 51:10  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

10 Things I Am Thankful For

1.  My Heavenly Father, for through Him all things are possible.

2. My husband, for without him, I would have missed out on a lot, and wouldn't have the beautiful children I have now.

3. My children. I know people think we're crazy for having the large family we have now, but as the kids are getting older and are more of a help, and are able to help themselves, we are finding new joys (and frustrations) in being parents.

4.  Not having a mortgage.  I cannot express fully how thankful I am that God provided us a home.  One that was paid for fairly quickly, and we're not looking at a 30 year loan.

5. Family and friends who encourage us and build us up. 

6.  Tylenol (no explanation needed.)

7.  Water (no explanation needed for those who know us, but for those who don't, read here.)

8.  Summer.  Oh how I love summer! and spring, too! My favorite season is actually what I refer to mud season (rainy season) because I'd much rather fight the mud when caring for the farm critters than snow. Fall/sweater weather is Ok.  It's when the temps get below freezing. And snow...well, that's just a 4 lettered word in this house!  which brings me to number 9...

9. Our woodstove.  I love (in horrible winter) listening to the crackle of a fire, feeling it's warm radiating from the stove, and sipping coffee on early, cold winter mornings. (Please just let me stay inside, thank you!)

10. My chickens!  They provide free entertainment, food, and when they're laying well, extra income.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Picture Pages, Picture Pages...

...time to get your pictures pages...time to get your crayons and your pencils...

Ok, there were no crayons or pencils involved today, but I did work on "picture pages".  I pulled out near 500 pics today that needed organized and put into albums.

That was a slow process!! 

My sweet DH picked up 4 brand new albums for me today, each have the capacity to hold 200 pictures.  I've completely filled 2 of the albums today, and have started on the 4th.

Add to that, I'm starting scrapbooks for each of the kids.

I was sorting through scrap book paper!  So many pretty pages to choose from!

Our day was interrupted with the excitement of my DH blowing out a brake line on his truck. We took a quick trip to the local NAPA and $3 later, his truck is fixed. Gotta love old trucks and their cheap parts!!  We're planning to tear the whole truck down to the frame and rebuild it.  The kids are excited for that learning experience!

For the most part, though, today was just a relaxing day.  I even managed to squeeze in a little reading while the baby was sleeping! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Madness

I feel like we spent all of this Monday in the car.   Between Auction, picking up my check, and getting our oldest off to Cross Country training, plus the mandatory athletic meeting for parents and students.

We snuck in a little bit of school supply shopping while we were out today, too.  I am so glad that I saved everything they hadn't used up last year.  It has saved us a lot of expense for this year.  It still irritates me that they expect us to send baby wipes, shaving cream, paper towels, and clorox wipes ontop of the "normal" box of tissues.  The year they put toilet paper on the school list is the year the school regrets messing with this mom.  I'm so over these ridiculous lists of things.

I digress.

This morning in prep for Auction I hammered out - ok not really, I rolled them out - lemon filled and strawberry filled fry pies.  YUM.

I took 6 regular pies as well as the 13 fry pies, and am very pleased with the sale.  It seems that not everyone is happy with me each week, because I was asked where the cookies were. Sigh. Maybe next week. 

Then we cheated for dinner, since we were rushing and had to get DD to Cross country training, so we ran into Wendy's for a quick bite.  They were extremely busy, and sorely understaffed, but it seemed all of the customers were understanding and patient.

Spent this evening researching local churches in our area, continuing our journey in finding a church home.  I think we've found one, or at least I found one that I want to "try on".  Mt. Shiloh Baptist Church.  It's only about 15 minutes from us, depending on how fast E drives LOL I'm hopeful this Church will be a good fit for us. One of the things that appealled to me right off is the Pastor and his wife have a large family! Sunday school starts at 9:30 am, but with all E's back issues and not being able to sleep well at night, I think we'll start with the 10:30 am services.  E seems agreeable to the idea, so I'm allowing myself to get excited for Sunday! :)  We really need this!

For my friends who are also prayer warriors, please remember us in your prayers as we search for our permanent Church Home/Family.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer is almost over !!

It's hard to believe in just a little over 2 weeks 4 of my brood will be back to early mornings, book bags, and homework.

I've been thinking ahead to what activities I can do with our youngest son while his older siblings are at school.  He really wants to go to school, too, but he one more year before he's old enough.  Last year we had problems with him sneaking out the door and following his older siblings to the bus each morning.  I'm telling you, it is not fun manually hauling a 3 year old from the bus to the house, kicking and screaming and insisting he should be going, too.

So as the flurry of "back to school" begins, I'm left thinking how fast time goes.  It seems just yesterday my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world, and this year we welcome her into the world of Jr. High.  Mom isn't quite ready.

Our summer has been filled with a lot of fun, good memories, and we don't plan to stop as we head into fall. 

July was an especially busy month for us, and I can scarcely believe we're nearly a week into August.
July included:

Celebrating our country's Freedom/Birthday with Family and Friends

Truck pulls at the fair

Setting up a swimming pool for the kids

Harvested  from our garden

Had  Mickey Mouse themed birthday party for our youngest son.

We opened the bee hives (and this truly deserves it's own post)

We made chocolate chip cookies (and yes I used my awesome kitchen aide mixer!)

Our youngest learned to pull herself up, stand, and now walks with assistance..

And I think the highlight of July for the whole family, was our trip to Louden Farms to visit our dear friends Jennifer and Jay for family fun and fellowship!

So I think now I'm all caught up to August, and this first week has already been a busy, but full of God's blessings, week. ;)

Have a Blessed Sunday everyone!