Garden happenings, beekeeping and lots of work

I’m elated to say that this week is my last week of school and from here on out I will be busy taking on all this homesteading!

I’ll start with my beekeeping fun. All the hives seem to be doing well and are laying lots of eggs. The newest swarm that I got has been really busy laying eggs! Great job on picking that queen!

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You can see the brood! 

When we pulled the hive out of the tree being cut down, we put some frames of their brood in there to help get them started and attached them to the frame with rubber bands. Well, they showed me how much they liked those bands!

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They don’t like the rubber bands

The mister has a friend that has a ton of bamboo growing in their yard. That stuff is so invasive and grows too fast! But, they let us cut some for free to turn into tomato stakes and a green bean teepee!

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Bamboo! 

Around the homestead we have been gathering lots of eggs and some delicious strawberries!

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Homegrown food! 

The mycelium from the winecap mushrooms are really enjoying this wet weather!

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Fabulous fungi!

I was also given a fixer upper kind of project by a friend! Her camera strap was looking sad and needed recovered! So, 30 minutes later, I had removed the old fabric and made it pretty again!

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Pretty again camera strap! 

The solar panels did great last month!! Our bill was for only $8.16 and we even got a credit back for over $80 from previous months!

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Solar is kicking butt!! 

So that’s a quick update here on our tiny plot of land in the middle of a small town!

Keeping Busy Beekeeping

It is super swarm season in my area right now and we have been tagged on Facebook and contacted for so many swarms. We decided to split our overwintered hive when we found a queen cell, which brought us up to 2 hives.

Then, we picked a swarm up right in our own neighborhood. So, that brought up the count to 3 hives. And then another in the next town over!

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Our 2 swarms

We were lucky enough to have some old nuc boxes that we could put them into with frames already made. And of course I need to show off the perfect handle that my blacksmith made for the top of the box!

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Our bee catching box! 

For the past 2 days, we have been working with a tree cutting service friend to get a hive out of a tree that he was cutting down. I’d love to show you pictures from me being in the lift, but I was kind of too terrified to take a picture!

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My mister doing all the work! 

I was stuck at school until 4 and then ran up to help him finish up the job. There was comb in there at least 3 feet long! It was a hot and sticky job with loads of angry bees!

As for the rest of the homestead, we are finally harvesting some delicious strawberries!

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Strawberries! 

I also took time to hill all of my potatoes and I’ve been hardening off plants and will be putting them in the garden very soon!

Now my question for you is what is the world is the volunteer plant below?

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pumpkin plant……. maybe? 

I’m hoping to get loads more things planted around here this weekend! Anyone else already have their garden planted?

Greenfest, gardening, mushrooms and swarms

Happy Mother’s Day weekend and I must say that this weekend was so busy! But, it was a great kind of busy. On Friday I spent the evening prepping everything for  Saturday’s Greenfest in Boonsboro, Md while the mister took the boy to go see Guardians of the Galaxy. (By the way, they said it was great!)

It was a really cold craft show, but we sold a good bit of our crafted items!

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Our craft show items!

I sold several gardening aprons, and got lots of compliments on them as well! And I still have 2 in the print below and will be adding them to the Etsy store!

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Love this gardening apron! 

And the mister got a lot of compliments on the railroad spike bottle openers as well as the bolt bottle openers! And I love the garden spades!

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Garden spades and bolt bottle opener

The mister was also able to get the itty bitty greenhouse all set up! Since I managed to accidentally bake my original seedlings, round 2 seedlings are in the greenhouse!

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Greenhouse! 

And we got our first strawberry tonight! I bet you can guess who wanted it! But the boy actually got it and said it was delicious!

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Fruit and veggie thief!

I don’t want to jinx myself, but the mushroom spawn seems to be spreading out well and looks very healthy!

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Mushroom spawn!

Then, just tonight, I had 2 calls for bee swarms! The first one seemed to be some bees that are taking up residence in a house. I’m not sure if I can get them to move out of there! But the second call was a beautiful swarm!

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Honeybee swarm!

I was able to get pretty much every bee! And I’m hoping they learn to love it here!

I was able to get a few minutes of relaxation on the new hammock with my lazy pup!

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Hammocking! 

It was a great weekend and it might take until Wednesday for me to get caught up around the house! I really do love all this fun homesteading life of ours!

Same old, same old!

You read that right! Same old things! We are enjoying the quiet days of winter, enjoying our harvest that were preserved from the summer and dreaming of summer! The mister surprised me with some popcorn seeds! I can’t wait to give that a try this summer in the garden! 

Strawberry popcorn

When the evenings are cold and I need a friend, old Sherman dog has no problem cuddling up! He’s such a sweet pup! 

Our cuddly pooch

And of course I have been spending time working on combining my crafting and homestead! I’m working on getting a custom logo made! It’s a load of work getting a business going!

I also picked up some super amazing vintage style fabric for some aprons. Then, I finally cleaned up my nightmare of a craft room. The holidays kind of turned it into a mess! 

Future aprons!
So nice and clean!!
Yogurt making!

I ended the weekend with some yogurt making! It turned out pretty yummy and I’ll do a whole post just on making this yumminess! Have a fantastic week! 

Birdhouse gourd growing!

On this very cold day, I’m going to think back to the warmth of summer and the plants I grew! And, up for potential space in your 2017 garden is the birdhouse gourd! I bought my seeds for about a quarter from Dollar General. I figured they would be worth a try!

So, I started the seeds in late May in the house until the threat of frost was gone. Then I planted the seedlings by the chicken run, but you obviously don’t need a chicken run! In no time they will give you beautiful blooms!

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Beautiful blooms!

The blooms were beautiful along the run, and the bees loved them! Very quickly the gourds started growing!

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Tiny gourd. 

And they grew and grew!

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Quick growth! 

This plant served 3 purposes! It obviously gave me gourds, gave the bees some pollen and kept the chickens cooler because the vines provided shade. And they did look great!

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The vines were everywhere! 

Just look at the before and after:

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I love the after! 

Before a heavy frost, I cut the gourds from the vine and stored them in the basement to dry out!

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Harvested gourds! 

After about 3 months, some have dried out all the way! So, to make birdhouses, we cut the hole in the front of those dried ones and pulled out all the seeds and “other” stuff!

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Strange looking seeds! 

I was able to get this big ol’ bag of seeds from just 3 gourds!

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Lifetime supply of seeds! 😆

The mister drilled the entrance hole, some drainage holes on the bottom and attached a chain that we had on the top! And Voila!

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All finished! 

I had to scrub them really well because they grow some weird fuzziness and other moldy stuff on it! (Totally normal!) After it dried, it was stained. But, you can paint them or decorate however you’d like!

These will definitely make another appearance in my 2017 garden!

Selling crafts like whoa!

I work the ol’ 8:15 to 3:45 all week, craft in the evenings and sell those crafts on the weekend. Between all that, I’m doing mom things, gardening and taking a few naps! This weekend was amazing! I made lots of sales and was pretty proud of making a few bucks!

I’m still smitten with the thought that people think my stuff is amazing enough to spend their hard earned money on! That’s amazing in my mind!!

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And now back to the other love of mine, which is gardening! I picked my first butternut squash today! And to think when I fed that baby food to my boy 11 years ago, I really had no idea what it was! (I’m so glad I’ve found the new me!)

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My first ever grown butternut squash!

I’m getting a few cherry tomatoes still and I might just get some cabbage!

And a quick flashback: Remember when I blogged about driving in the craziest rain storm this summer to pick up my tumbling composter? The people were getting rid of it because they had chickens and didn’t need it! Well, there are plenty of things that can be composted that I wouldn’t feed my chickens: shredded paper, coffee grounds, chicken poop, rotten produce… Well, this composter rocks! Check out this totally black compost:

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Free veggie food! 

The garden will be getting cleaned out for the season in the next few weeks! Here’s to the next busy days and another craft show this weekend!

Kick back to the weekend!

There really isn’t much growing around here right now. It’s getting pretty cold at night and the garden will be all cleaned up soon. We are still able to harvest a few cherry tomatoes.

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Chicken snack 

I was really excited to cut the birdhouse gourds from the vines! These were all grown from a 25 cent seed packet! I’ll be doing another post on growing these in the future!

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Birdhouse gourds! 

The chickens have been clearing out where the 3 sisters garden was and it’s looking great! I threw a pumpkin thre for them and they devoured it!

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Pumpkin eating! 

I had all but given up on the cosmos flowers and they decided to take off! They are beautiful!

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Cosmos 🌺 

And this pretty lady was loving the pretty warm sun! She’s my garden buddy! I see her all around the garden!

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Turtle buddy! 

And I also got all the domestic fun completed too! I made a delicious loaf of bread to put some of my grape jelly on! I also got some laundry hung out and dried! Yippee!

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Line drying! 

This weekend I have a big craft show! Hope that you all have something great planned this weekend!