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!

IMG_8258
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!

IMG_8268
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!

IMG_8269
Bamboo! 

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

IMG_8270
Homegrown food! 

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

IMG_8266
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!

IMG_8272
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!

95796726-F097-4350-8308-21E5E56F2E8C
Solar is kicking butt!! 

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

It’s planting season!

This weekend was the perfect planting weather, cooler with rain showers in sight! I planted tons of tomato plants, a few luffa gourds, cucumelons, popcorn and relocated a few tomatoes and pumpkin plants.

IMG_8228
Newer garden area

I also relocated the two pumpkin plants that didn’t succumb to a hard frost to a better area. They are going to grow around the popcorn plants! (Hopefully!)

IMG_8225
Volunteer pumpkin plant 

The birdhouse gourds are coming up nicely! Once they get a good bit larger, they are going out to grow some more birdhouses. We sold almost all of the ones that we grew last year!

IMG_8226
Birdhouse gourds

I’m shocked to see that the potatoes are blooming already. They still have at least another month before harvesting them, but they are liking the weather so far this growing season.

IMG_8232
Potato blooms

I also took some time during this dreary day to get around to sewing! I made my itty bitty niece a sun bonnet. The first is 6-12 months and the next one is 12-18 months. Oh, and yes I had to use a stuffed pup as a model!

E4CA072F-122A-446A-8912-7B1447570185
6-12 month size 
D9CD970D-3801-45AE-83FB-6890E634870F
12-18 month size 

I might just have to add some bonnets to the Etsy store! They would fit in well with the homestead theme.

Today we also ran up to a native plant sale for a school project. Lots of work ahead in the next week!

IMG_8243
Native plants

And we also had to finally throw out our 3rd bag of trash of the year this weekend.

IMG_8248
#3 for the year! 

So, still a slow season here! But, we have lots of great ideas and work ahead for us! And yes, garden work makes me excited for the week! I hope that you all have a lot of fun ahead of you!

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!

IMG_8197
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!

IMG_8196
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!

IMG_8213
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!

IMG_8209
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?

IMG_8225
pumpkin plant……. maybe? 

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

Mushrooms and gardening

One of the best parts about our quirky (but totally normal to us) way of life around here is everyday is like a life science lesson! Yesterday our wine cap mushroom spawn finally arrived!

IMG_8139
Wine cap spawn! 

So, what is spawn you might ask?! Well that’s exactly what the homestead lesson with the crazy boy was yesterday! It’s wood chips that have been inoculated with spores from the winecap mushroom and allowed to start mycelium growth! In easier terms, it’s like the roots of the mushrooms that your putting in an area to get them to grow there! That’s exciting stuff! Bill Nye would’ve been proud of that lesson!

So we took that spawn outside and broke up pieces and basically made layers of spawn with straw and lots of water. Fungi like things wet and decomposing material. I love teaching that little knucklehead of mine about all things science-like!

IMG_8140
Hoping to eventually get some 🍄!!

Now on to the rest of the garden! It’s been raining, a lot! And seedlings are loving it!

IMG_8142
Baby beet! 
IMG_8143
Potatoes that need me to hill them! 
IMG_8144
The newly planted onions 
IMG_8147
The oldest onions sets planted
IMG_8148
Beautiful garlic
IMG_8149
Salad bed of leaf lettuce, arugula and spinach 
IMG_8150
June bearer strawberries

And I’m pretty excited about our volunteer pumpkins! My friend’s dad gave us the gigantic pumpkins that he grew last year for the chickens. Now there are huge pumpkin seedlings coming up where they ate them!

0A7F1AFB-FC1D-4ABD-AD50-51FDBB345BB0
Maybe a huge pumpkin this year?!

This weekend I will be crafting like noone’s business, since we have a show next weekend. Hope that you enjoy your weekend!

Earth Day Weekend! 

The boy and I waited most of the morning to go pick up litter around the neighborhood because of the downpour. But, wouldn’t you know that it rained all day, so we just went out in it anyway. 2 hours of picking up garbage! I figured it was some good volunteering for both of us! And we finally took care of a cushion that has been on the street for a month! 

10 cents the boy found!
Garbage from 2 streets!

Would you believe that these were the most commonly found items: cigarette butts, styrofoam McDonald’s cups, plastic bottles and plastic wrappers.

After viewing all that waste, I spent the afternoon/evening working on ecofriendly crafts! 

Reusable makeup cloths
I think they turned out pretty awesome! I’m hoping others will too! 

And the mister used his blacksmithing skills to make some railroad spike gardening trowels. These are basically indestructible! 

Blacksmithed garden trowel

I was also able to check in on the honeybee hive I split and almost got stung because they are doing just fine! And then cleaned the chicken coop and planted my assorted onions. 

Onion sets!

And of course I put them in the ground in a sequence. It went yellow onion, white onion, purple onion for all 100. Do other people do weird things like that? Probably not. Ha! 

I checked in on the baby quail that are not babies anymore! They are so easy to tell a male from a female. The females have dots on their chest and males don’t. They are both beautiful birds! 

Male on left, female on right
Great solar day!

And check out that solar day that we had on  Sunday! Beautiful day! 

I have a lot to get accomplished for the weekend with a craft show and the end of the month! Enjoy your week! 

Walk through the garden 4/19/17

Could it be?!?! Our first Wednesday walk through the garden of 2017. Even though not much is going on until the end of May (our last frost date), we can see the start of a great gardening season!

The garlic is growing nicely! And I just added some compost around them to help feed them a touch

IMG_8029
Garlic growing! 

The onions and strawberries growing in the raised bed are coming along!

IMG_8030
Onions! 
IMG_8031
Strawberry blooms! 

And I was pretty shocked to see that some of my potatoes have made their way above the soil already!

IMG_8033
Potato plant! 

My Granny’s rhubarb is looking great!

IMG_8035
Rhubarb! 

I really thought that since the grape vines didn’t really grow last year well, that they wouldn’t come back. But look at how healthy it looks:

IMG_8036
Grape vines! 

And the mister had taken the wheels off of an old wagon that was falling apart years ago. Well, I decide to use it for a salad garden. In it I have arugula, lettuce and spinach.

IMG_8039
Salad wagon! 

The boy was beyond delighted to find some frog or toad eggs in the tiny pond (puddle) above the garden:

IMG_8034
🐸 eggs! 

I will leave you with a picture of me splitting my hive, since I found a pretty nice capped queen cup. I got the future majesty and some nurse bees to move into a new box. (this was a first and I’m hoping it turns out well!)

IMG_8016
Splitting the hive! 

I hope that you are seeing lots of signs of Spring where you live!

Spring trip to Williamsburg Va.!

So it’s no secret that our boy loves history of any kind. So when he saw a commercial for Colonial Williamsburg last year, he claimed he needed to go there.

IMG_7977
We walked over from the visitor center

IMG_7982

The walk over was delightful! Only about 1/3 of a mile and it there were sights along the way to see.

While there, the boy loved looking at the buildings, touring the different tradesman shops and of course buying himself a souvenir.

Then, of course, we had to stay a little extra longer at the blacksmith shop. While there I got to hear the mister tell me all about some of the tools there that he could really use! Surprisingly the boy wasn’t that impressed with the blacksmith, since he watches his dad do this work quite frequently!

IMG_7987
Blacksmith at work

Now for my favorite part: the GARDENS!! There were several, and more was planted than I expected!

IMG_7988
Mounds of ??

Most plants were labeled, but some were not. I could figure out most of the plants!

IMG_7993
Beautiful flowers and radishes
IMG_7994
I believe these were kale!
IMG_7996
Beautiful arbor and raised beds
IMG_7999
Love this trellis tunnel!
IMG_8002
Swiss chard and love those greenhouses
IMG_8005
I need those cold frames!

Then there was a little garden store right beside the garden that was selling all kinds of pots and plants and garden items.  Here is the item that the mister needs to start making:

IMG_8003
Garden trowel

I would love to have a nice trowel not made of plastic with a handle that won’t break off! These puppies were about $50, so I’ll just keep begging for one to be made for me!

Overall it was a nice trip! I wish that we could have spent more time there and visited Yorktown and Jamestown, but we needed to be back home for Easter!