Thursday, December 1, 2011

october, november & december...

it has been months since i have been able to sit down and i have lots of updates!

kids: my boys have started cub scouts, and my little girl has officially entered the terrible 2 stage!

bees: all 4 hives are still alive (yayyyy)!...i started feeding the bees back in september, to help them build up their stores. i fed them sugar syrup in the beginning, but now i am feeding dry granulated sugar...on warm days some of the girls will still leave the hive in search of pollen...i also did a powdered sugar treatment back in the fall...hopefully, this helps lower the mite population in the hives. there is nothing to do now besides pray they make it till spring...i realy hope next year we get a decent honey harvest! the little we got this year was incredible!

hens: our girls have been doing an excellent job laying! we were getting 8-10 eggs per day...but now with the shorter days, we are down to 5-6 per day. overall, the chickens have been a huge success! they are easy and fun to keep...everyone really enjoys having them around...we are looking forward to getting a few more chicks in the spring...a few different breeds. i would like to get some wyandottes and a few marans.

garden & worms: so fall plants, kale & brussel sprouts, were destroyed by the green hornworms!! so now, i am planning for spring...we will make more raised beds, keep composting, and think about what to plant next year! i am even thinking of starting a worm farm! i have been thinking about red wigglers! these little crawlers break down compost material and give back incredible fertilizer for the garden!

pets: we have a new addition to our family...
meet my boy, hagrid! as in harry potter's hagrid :)
he is a 10 week old, black lab/ golden retriever mix! he is a moose and already weighs close to 30 lbs!!

crafting & holidays: i have been learning how to quilt!! my husband bought me a sewing machine for chistmas last year, my mom & aunt have been teaching me quilting and sewing basics! i really like it and have made a few projects already... a quilt for my son, 2 wall hangings, and some drink coasters (from all my scrap material)...i am trying to do alot of homemade gifts this year...i think they are better than store bought :)
chicken print coasters!

Monday, September 26, 2011

apple pickin = apple pie!

yesterday,we packed up the minivan and headed out to our favorite apple pickin' location... a great place it is! family owned, huge selection of apples, hayrides, pumpkins, farm critters and beautiful scenery!
little boo!
when we got home, i got to work on my first apple pie of the season...i used a combo of macs, honey crisp and golden supreme...yummy!

my apple pie w/ crumbly top!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

fall decor...

i found that piece of pottery for free on the side of the road!

i love this pumpkin! i plan on saving the seeds to grow next spring!

Monday, September 19, 2011

fall hive inspections...

honeybee out collecting some fall pollen!

things are changing here in new england! in 1 week we have gone from having 85 degree days to 50-60 degree days. bring on the apples, pumpkins, mums and hayrides!

yesterday, we did our fall bee inspections...all four hives are still active and bringing in pollen, which is good because they really need to stock up for the winter! i will be feeding them from now until winter...i made a more concentrated syrup than the one i feed in the spring. i also made up some grease patties, they help with treacheal mites. here is all the recipies i use for my bees...

there are important things to remember about winterizing your hives; ensure the colony has enough food stores; ensure the hive has proper ventilation; protect the hives from high winds ( i use ratcheting straps on all 4).

ventilation is very important...bees do not hibernate during the winter...they cluster together, with their queen in the middle. the middle of this cluster can get up to 90 degrees, so it is really important that the hive is ventilated, otherwise condensation will build up and moisten inside...the bees can tolerate the cold, but being wet will kill them!

Monday, August 29, 2011

end of summer- tomato chutney

6-7 good sized tomatoes (roughly chopped) can use green tomatoes also!
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 apples (peeled & chopped)
1 small cucumber (peeled & chopped)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp garlic powder OR 3 cloves finely chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cumin

combine all ingredients into a large sauce pot...heat to a boil...reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until reduced and thickened)...stir to prevent sticking...pour into prepared canning jars...process jars for 10 minutes in boiling water.
*i did not peel the tomatoes...i did pick out any really large pieces of peel that floated to the surface.*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

lots of tomatoes and a bee update...

"black krim" heirloom
i have been waiting all summer for my tomatoes and they are finally ripe!! we have had weird weather this summer...only a few really hot days, several weeks of just rain, and alot of days in the 70's or 80's...i grew a few different varieties this year, and my fav is the "black krim"! they have a deep red/ purple skin, and a really strong flavor. i really love slicing them up for tomato sandwiches...toasted bread, mayo, tomatoes, salt...perfection!

in bee news...all 4 hives are doing well! here is a video of hive #2 "washboarding"...they are dancing forward & back. no one knows why they do this "social activity", but it is really cool to watch!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

barn cats...

i am a definate "cat" person...i like dogs, think they are adorable...but i LOVE cats. at any giving time in my life, i have had at least 2 cats. right now we have 4...all were rescues or given to us free. meet our cast of mouse hunters!
our newest baby...this is "ginny"...she was found in a pickle bucket, left in a parking lot! orange cats seem to have the best personalities, and this little one is so sweet!
this is "fudge"! he is a maine coon mix, the most loveable out of the bunch...although, not as smart as the others. but, we love him all the same.

this is "salem"...she is MY not supposed to have favorites, but she's mine! salem only comes to me for loving... she is also the best hunter, she catches at least a mouse a day! i have a thing for black cats and she is my baby!
this is "albus"...he is the most aloof of all the kitties... and my husbands favorite! poor alby is not a huge fan of the kids...but he does like an occasional scratch behind the ears and a warm spot to curl up on.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

good little hen...

this is "omlet" and im very sure she is the little hen doing the laying! she is so cute... she is squwalking up a storm and running between nesting boxes. here i found her in a barrel i use to muck out the coop...she is making her own nest! me & the kids cracked open one of the little eggs she made and it had a perfect, tiny yolk inside...i love it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

our first egg!

one of our hens finally laid an egg...and it's green! looks like one of our auracana girls wins the prize! yesterday morning i went out to do my usual feeding & clean up, when i saw this tiny little green egg on the ground. at first i thought it was a robin's egg. it is small, the size of a quail egg, but that is normal and in a few weeks she will be laying normal sized eggs. so excited to see months of work start to pay off :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

still learning...

about 2 weeks ago i wrote that i thought 2 of my hives were queen-less...well i was so wrong! i still have so much to learn...i jumped the gun and bought 2 new queens. when i went to hive them, i did another inspection and found eggs and capped brood in both! so we took 3 frames of brood, honey & bees and 1 of the new queens and made a nuc...the other queen i am trying to sell so she doesnt go to waste. making this split was not in my plans, but i hope it grows into another full colony!

today was pat's first day as a beekeeper! he is fearless and has been asking & asking to do an inspection with me...i had to gain some confidence in myself before i took him out there. he wore his dad's jacket (maybe we will save up and buy him his own suit) he did great, he loves it! pat is a nature boy, anything that is alive and growing he is all about it! im happy that we can teach him beekeeping and as he grows it may be a real passion for him...the world needs more beekeepers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

bee troubles and garden 2011 update...

on sunday i was stung for the 5th time, and this one was the worst yet! she got me on my thigh, through my jeans! i had my gloves on, so i couldnt get the stinger out fast poor leg got every drop of bee venom she had in her...ouch! by monday morning i had a softball-sized lump...but today its a little better, so i think ill live :)...but, i am very worried because i think 2 of the hives are queen-less! no brood, no eggs, no larvae...not good! thankfully i found an apiary with lots of queens in our area, , we are going to pick them up ASAP!

today i harvested the first cucumbers of the year...hopefully they are the first of many, because i really want to make homemade pickles! summer squash & beans are still going strong and i can not wait for the tomatoes and corn.

in chicken news...we are still anxiously awaiting the first egg. come on ladies...any day now!!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

another school year gone by...

yayyy, today is the last day of school for the boys! school went really late this year because we had 6 snow days over the winter. i cant believe how much kids change in just one year! these are "before & after" pics...taken on the first and last days of school (the boys were not feeling photogenic this morning, but still cute)...i even put them in matching shirts for the occasion...dont worry they go to different schools :)
pat...1st day of 2nd grade
last day of 2nd grade

DD first day of kindergarten

last day of kindergarten!

Friday, June 17, 2011

strawberry~cranberry jam :)

here is my recipe for strawberry~cranberry jam! me & the kids picked the strawberries and the cranberries were harvested last fall, from a family friend's cranberry bog...enjoy!

~4 cups freshly picked strawberries, roughly chopped
~1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
~7 cups white sugar
~1 pouch of liquid pectin
~1 tsp of ground cinnamon
~1 tsp vanilla extract
~1 tbsp butter

combine the berries, sugar, cinnamon in a large sauce pan; heat on medium/ medium high; use a potato masher to mash the berries as they cook down; bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesnt stop bubbling when stirred);  add the butter and boil for 3-5 minutes (stirring constantly); stir in the pectin and stir constantly for 1 full minute; laddle into prepared jars! 

hive inspections and the start of summer!

yesterday we had bee~utiful weather, so we suited up, and went to check in on our girls! we started with hive #2...this was the hive we started with a 3 lb package. things are going good so far, but these bees have alot of building to do! the queen is laying eggs...we saw lots of capped brood and alot honey stored. but, this hive has me worried because they only have about 4 framed built out with comb...i have been checking in on them a couple times a day, there has been lots of activity, and i am still refilling the feeder every couple i thought there was going to be much more growth...hive #3 was a split from hive #1, being beginners we had never "split" a hive before so we were really worried that we didnt do it right, and would loose our bees. BUT, this hive is going gangbusters! they had 6 out of the 8 frames covered with comb and bees, so we added a medium super on top. these bees are sucking down the sugar water i have been feeding them...i filled it yesterday afternoon, and this morning it is half empty!...hive #1 also has me kinda concerned...they seems to be having an ant problem. i read online that if the hive is healthy, they can keep invaders, such as ants, at bay. but it looks like alot of ants to me!...did you know that bees need plenty of water to drink? we used a chick waterer as our new bee waterer! we filled the base with small stones, so the bees have a landing spot!

yesterday, i harvested the first batch of peas! within a week or so we should have more peas, beans, lettuce, and strawberries... we built another raised bed, and i planted my herbs...chives, basil, parsley, cilantro and rosemary! in the big garden, we planted 5 rows of corn, 3 rows of pumpkins and 4 rows of onions! the corn was a local "early" growing variety, and has already sprouted!

our laying hens are about 16 weeks old now! so in another 5 weeks of so we should start getting eggs! finally, all our work/ expense will pay off!
my little boo, enjoying the weather!

Monday, June 13, 2011

linguica & cheese quiche...

this easy quiche is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner...i used ground linguica for this recipe, but you could also substitute bacon or ham...i also made my own pie crust, but you could use store bought/ frozen crust.

5 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
8 oz/ 2 cups shredded cheese (i used a "pizza" blend)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup ground linguica
1 medium potato, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
pie crust

~preheat oven to 350 degrees; combine the beaten eggs, milk, shredded cheese, salt & pepper; pour egg mixture over unbaked pie crust; add potatoes, linguica and onions over egg mixture; bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until top browns.

Friday, June 10, 2011

growing mushrooms...

i love mushrooms, not only do they taste good, but they are really good for you...shiitake mushrroms even have anti-cancer properties! i also didnt know that you could grow shiitake mushrooms in your very own backyard! when i read an article on it, i was immediatly i did some research online, and found out that it is pretty easy to, i ordered some shiitake spores/ spawn on little wooden dowels. you can buy spores in a couple different ways and there are alot of different mushroom types that you can grow, including shiitake, oyster (pink, blue and even yellow colored!!), morrel, portebella, and white button...go to this site: they have a ton of info on buying & growing shrooms!
here are my mushroom spores on wooden dowels!
all you need to start is a good sized log from a freshly cut hard wood tree...i used maple! it has to be freshly cut because you need the moisture from the tree and you do not want your log to be infected with any type of "wild" spores...some wild mushrooms can be poisonous!! drill holes in the log using a large drill want to drill the holes in a diamond pattern. next, you push the dowels into holes you just drilled. once you have all the holes filled you can cover each hole with a food grade wax, like cheese wax, to keep moisture in.
my holes in a diamond pattern.

so once you have finished that, you can move the log to a shady corner of your yard! do not put directly on the ground (again "wild" spores)...i am going to put this log up on a cement block...hose it down every once in a while, to keep it moist. the mushrooms will take a long time to grow...somewhere between 9-12 months! but it will be worth the wait!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

the queen is free!

yesterday, we inspected the hive (hive #2) that we packaged last week...the queen has been released from the queen cage! it is amazing to see how much the worker bees have done in only 1 week! they have been out foraging everyday, and have 3-4 frames covered with comb! when we removed the queen cage, part of the comb was stuck to it. in the comb are tiny little the queen is doing a great job!

beautiful new comb! inside is pollen and eggs from the queen!
we have decided to split hive #1! we are going to have 5 frames of brood and honey (frames with queen cells on them) and put them into an empty hive. within a few days the new queen should hatch...and then we will have 3 hives!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

hiving a package of bees for our 2nd hive...

today, we drove to "trail's end farm" in richmond, ri and picked up a 3 lb package of bees with a russian hybrid queen! this package is for our 2nd hive. here is a video of us doing the poor bee-aphobic sister served as the camera man. this was the first time doing this... so we went on what we learned and from other people advice! usually, when hiving a package of bees you literally shake/ dump the bees out of the box into the hive...we have had terrible weather here lately. it has rained for almost 2 weeks straight (and the forcast call for rain till sunday). so we were literally doing this between rain showers, our bee supplier told us to just put the whole box in the hive and let them come out on their own. so thats what we did. we will check them out in a few days and make sure the queen has been released and add the rest of the frames to the super!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

honey oatmeal raisin cookies!

~1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
~1 1/4 packed brown sugar
~2 eggs
~2 tsp vanilla ext
~2 tbsp honey
~1 1/2 cups flour
~3 cups rolled oats
~1 tsp baking soda
~1 tsp cinnamon
~1/2 tsp ground ginger
~1 cup raisins

using a stand mixer cream together softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, honey and vanilla ext; in a separate bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger; add 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time to the wet ingredients; once mixed together, stir in raisins...bake at 350 degrees, for about 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

birthday, bees, peas & chickens..the month of may!

6 years ago today, at 7:08am, i was blessed with a second healthy baby boy! a little sweetie with blonde hair and sparkling blue doctor said he was one of the most handsome boys he had ever seen. he was born with his hand up over his head "waving hello"... yesterday, i asked him if he could stay 6 years old forever and always be "my boy"....he told me that he couldn't stay 6 forever, but he would always be my baby :) happy birthday "DD"! mommy loves you so much & you make my world brighter everyday!

in bee related news...our package of bees (for our second hive) has been delayed for over 3 weeks now, because of the terrible weather in the south! we finally got word that our girls will be here next weekend! yayy, i cant wait! yesterday, we attempted another hive inspection on hive #1...i say "attempted" because we had a smoker malfunction...and by malfunction i mean it would not stay lit and SMOKE...we have tried different flamables in the smoker and for some reason we can not get it to smolder for longer than a few minutes?!? anyone have any smoker tricks?, i pulled the cover off, and without the smoker they were pretty irritated and stung me through my jeans on my leg. so we decided to let them BEE and come back another day with a working smoker.

"johnny" our ri red rooster!

our chicks are 9 weeks old, all healthy and loving being outdoors. i love watching them...they have such personalities :) AND we have peas, beans, raddish, butter~leaf lettuce, and strawberries all coming up in our new raised beds! other exciting week there is a livestock auction that i am looking forward to! i almost have my husband convinced to let me get 2 goats...maybe "feta" and "cheddar" will come home with us next weekend!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

my recycled feed-bag totes!

my husband bought me a sewing machine last christmas and i finally have it up and running! i have a few feed bags that i have been saving because i wanted to try to make a recycled tote. i haven't used a sewing machine since home-ec in junior high! so my stiches aren't perfect, but i can live with it! these feed bags are made of very strong plastic and are perfect for i love the animal pictures!
- cut the top & bottom of the feed sack off, clean the outside and inside of sack with water or lysol wipe
- turn inside-out
- decide where you want the center of your tote to be...trim extra off
- sew 1 inch hem around top of tote
- i made a squared bottom, but you could close the bottom however you wanted
- attach handles

Monday, May 2, 2011

sad day...

i read a quote on another blog that said, "when you keep livestock, expect to have dead-stock"...well, yesterday was a sad day around of our 7 week old chicks died unexpectedly :( it had no signs of illness or just died! my poor 8 year old son was the one to find her (everytime he comes home he runs to the coop to see them). this was kinda the first time we had to have the "life & death" discussion with him, he is quite a sensitive it was hard. he gets really attached to all the animal. it broke my heart when he told me that he wished he could of saved her. i told him that sometimes these things just happen...and we should be happy about the other healthy chicks we still have. poor's alot to think about for a child. especially for one so sensitive and loving.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

my lap chicken...

this little auracana chick is the friendliest girl! she loves to be held!

Friday, April 15, 2011

moving the hive & being stung...

on tuesday, husband, sister, brother-in-law and myself packed up the minivan for an hour drive to pick up my new hive! i found it listed on craigslist...the woman selling it had lost interest in beekeeping. in preparation for the move i read up on "moving a hive" and watched lots of youtube videos of other people doing it, so i felt almost confident...we got there about 6:15 pm and the bees were all in the hive, which was exactly what we wanted. i duct taped the exits and strapped the hive together. my 2 strong men CAREFULLY carried the hive and all 10,000 honey bees to my van. then came the hour + drive back home with a car full of bees. my poor sister and her husband were such good sports.

the woman i bought the hive from had it put together some of you can tell from the pictures. she has the inner cover, in between 2 shallow honey supers. she was not using a screened ipm bottom board, and she had not managed/ inspected the hive at all from last summer until now. i know that some people are thinking i may have inherited a headache (which may prove to be true). BUT, i did check the bees for signs of infection or illness (i did not see any), i got everything for cheap, all the hive componets are from brushy mountain bee farm (so it's quality equipment), and i plan on using this hive as my learning/ test hive.

yayyyy we did it!
because i really have an obsessive thing, i want everything to match (paint color) AND because i want to set the hive up with all the correct componets and equipment... i want to take all frames out of this hive (including the brood supers) and transfer them to my empty hive that i have all set up and ready to go. i know pretty ambitious...

on wednesday (the next day) i was stung for the 1st time! totally my fault...i was in a great rush to set up an entrance feeder with medicated syrup. i didnt realize it, but i approached the hive from directly infront of the entrance (and i was only wearing leggings on my bottom half AND i didnt have my smoker) guard bees came right out and stung me on the leg...i also should of left the hive alone for a week after i moved them, giving them time to adjust to the move. but i was EXCITED and couldnt help it! SO... next week i will try to do better! i will adhear to all safety measures and procedures...wish me luck :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

busy bees...

this will be our 1st year beekeeping! we are so excited! i have been reading for over a year and took a online beginner's bee course. i am really ready for my hands on experience. i have two bee packages that come in may 7th. but, i also found a woman on craigslist selling her whole hive bees & all! so on tuesday we will be picking up this 3rd hive! this colony is strong and active, so we should have a great honey crop this summer!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

the finished coop....

 yayyy we did it!
 the nesting box...
husband building the run.