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!

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.

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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!)

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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!

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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.

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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!

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6-12 month size 
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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!

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Native plants

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

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#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!

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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!

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!

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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!

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Hoping to eventually get some 🍄!!

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

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Baby beet! 
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Potatoes that need me to hill them! 
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The newly planted onions 
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The oldest onions sets planted
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Beautiful garlic
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Salad bed of leaf lettuce, arugula and spinach 
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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!

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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!

April 2017 Goals Update!

Goodbye April and hello May! Do you know what I love about May? Everything! School is almost over, plants are slowly making their way outside and the warmth!  Yay!! This is how my goals are going so far:

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! I’ve created a variety of reusable make up removers and I’m going to have to write all about how I made my own sour dough starter!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. This month we cleaned out the garage and it looks amazing!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month! The picture on the left is everything that we cleaned up around the neighborhood. And on the right is the same picture from last month. We are still in bag number 2!!

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. This month we attended an art walk locally and it was amazing! I met so many interesting people and heard so many nice comments on my products! Great day!!

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Check out our new banner!!

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. I finally got the cooktop moved to the right spot in the garage. Now all I need to do is get my dad to run the electric to it! He’s amazing!

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Future summer kitchen!

6. Expand the garden. We have been able to expand the garden along the fence and we are looking forward to planting some luffa along there too!

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Expanded area!

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year and we are growing them again! Along with cucumelons, my fellow gardening friend gave me some Egyptian walking onions!


8. Make a chicken viewing area. In the warm months, I love sitting by the garden and watching the chickens and bees. But, I normally sit on the ground. We are hoping to make a nice seated area in the spring! And now we will have some adorable quail over there too!

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They grew up so fast!

9. Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film and I’m still working on collecting magazines to recycle.

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached around 1.5 megawatts! We are loving these longer days!

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April was a beautiful month!!

11. Continue beekeeping. Not too much to say here! The bees are doing their thing and I separated out a queen cell and some workers into a new hive. I was supposed to get a new hive, but the company hasn’t gotten back to me yet.

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Fun with bees!

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and have some major traveling ideas for this year! We went to Williamsburg, VA over Easter break and loved the history! (And gardens!)

If you set goals, how are yours going?

Friday Funday (well, my version of fun!)

Don’t expect to read about something crazy amazing, like winning the lottery or taking a once in a lifetime trip. Nope, just what’s going on now that the weather is beautiful!

The bees have been buzzing around doing bee things! And I officially have tiny green strawberries and loads of blooms!

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Strawberry blooms

And although I don’t like creepy staged pictures where it looks like life is just perfect, I had eggs in my hands and these flowers were growing in my garden… so, I used the opportunity for a cute “L” photo!

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L for Llewellyn! 

And the arugula, leaf lettuce and spinach in the old wagon are growing!

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Salad wagon

I spent the evening hilling potatoes, checking on seedlings and finally moving the quail into their outdoor home!

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Quail dust bathing! 

And just when you think the day can’t get much better, I got to meet up with an old friend and barter some sweet potato slips and luffa plants for some onions and pepper plants!

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Best gift ever! 

And I didn’t even mention that our solar panels are loving these long, sunny days!

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75 KWh!

Today was a great day and tomorrow I will be at a local arts walk selling (hopefully) some of my craftiness! Have a great weekend!