Did you say bees?

Yep, bees! We did it! We took the plunge. I think we threw ourselves into it being semily ready, but yet not super ready.

This all started with my husband sending me a craigslist post of some used equipment and saying hey this is a good deal. So of course, we set up a meeting and went and checked out the equipment. The equipment was in decent shape, and the guy was just “getting out of the bee business” because he didn’t have time any more. This is always a good way to get cheap equipment IF you know that the hives were not infested with anything (varroa, colony collapse for any reason, and any other infectious type problems).

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After finding our equipment we were quickly in the scramble to find bees, because apparently you order bees around December or January if you want a box of bees, verses nukes (which are a partially established colony) which are available a lot later in the spring. Luckily, my friend’s boss (our now bee mentor) is a beekeeper and had extra bees ordered since a lot of their colonies survived the winter. So now we had hives, and bees, and had to get some extra equipment.

We found out what equipment we would need by meeting with the bee mentors and learned things from certain signs from the bees (ex. if they are bearding on the box-add a new box for the hive, they  need more room), watch for pests by checking any dead bees that may be placed outside by the hive (who do clean up very nicely…much more than I clean my home 😉 ), how to feed them when there are no nectar sources when we first begin, etc. etc.

I went and purchased our hive tool, veils and gloves, smoker, and our bee brush. Tim got a blueprint for a feeder to build and made those, I made the sugar water (since we didn’t have any raw honey to feed back to them), and we waited for bee arrival day.

The bees came and putting them into the hives was quite the production. The queen comes in a little box. You have to replace her cork with an edible marshmallow (without her flying away or you can kiss your money goodbye). Then you place her in hive in her box and dump the rest of the bees down into the hive. Yes I said dump…see the pics for all that excitement

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Placing the queens box
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The small box by the glove on the right is the queen box
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The small silver tab is what the queens box is hung by

And then let the shaking begin!

 

Yep so that is all we had to do and walah we have two hives established! The bees fly into their hives if they miss the box, because they can smell their queen and head to be with her!


Yes they smell her! Any who that is all I have about putting the bees in their hives…I am not sure what kind of questions this may bring so leave them below in the comments! ⬇️⬇️

 

Easy mistakes for growing seedlings!

I was asked to do a blog on my mad ninja skills for starting seeds! I have been seed starting for five years now and while I may not say I am a black belt seed starter I can say I definitely have gotten better!

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This is a quick run down of things not to do:

1. Do not let your seedlings dry out…they will start to wilt and the soil will be dry (you can keep a plastic cover on the seed tray)

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2. Do not let your seedlings get too wet…you will start to see a moss type growth on top of the soil (you can blow a small fan across the soil to dry it out quicker)

If you can over water and under water I always stay inbetween by watching the soil to see if it looks damp, if so I skip watering, if it looks dry I water so the water flows out of the bottom of the seed tray.

3. Spindly seedlings can be too little light or the light is too far away. Keep the grow lights with a blue spectrum tint a maximum of two inches above the plants.

4. If your not getting seedlings to sprout, you could be underwatering or you don’t have enough heat (try heat mats).

5. Seedling becomes root bound. When your seedlings start to get larger you will want to make sure to pot up the seedlings to larger container. The larger container should be filled with potting soil vs seed starting soil, because potting soil has more nutrients to help the plants grow. Seed starting soil has less nutrients because the seed has most of the nutrients needed.

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What are some other issues you have had starting seed? These were my most common issues that I have come across and have dealt with! Hope this little bit helps while you set up your seeds for this year 🌱

Quick update

Hey everyone! I have decided to take a step back from my blogging. I have realized that I do not wish to pursue this as a “money making” venture ever. I want to just put up things that may help you when starting your homestead, or whatever that looks like. I also am using it to just track things I am doing on our homestead.

You will not be seeing weekly consistent posts. Posts will be coming when I have something to write about, but not more or less frequent than that. I can not confirm that I will be on a whole lot in the winter but we have a lot going into setting up some things around the homestead so we will see.

If you want to see when we release new blog posts, go ahead and sign up to join the subscription list and that would probably be the best way to catch the posts!

Hope you enjoy the quality posts I will put out in the future and like that more than just consistent forced posts 🙂

Making Margin

This blog post may seem off topic to the hobbies to homestead norm. It may seem like it is coming out of nowhere, and to be honest, it kind of is. Moving has opened up my eyes even more to the anti-social society we live in. We had neighbors so close where we use to live, but hardly spoke to them (except Jerry of course, we couldn’t help but talk to Jerry J)

Now we live on 8 acres, our next-door neighbor is a farm field away, and the other is across a grassy field. They are much farther than our previous neighbors.image

This brings me to my point; my husband had a neighbor stop by the other day. She invited us to the community center for a Christmas program. We are going to a community event,

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This little lady is now home safe!

because community is important. We had a dog show up on our property the other day, so I got to meet the neighbors as I sought to see who owned the dog. It is amazing how people just want to connect as the next-door neighbor invited me in and wanted to know a little bit about us. People are important.

 

I used to think I had no room in my week to get together with people, more than I already was. I didn’t think we had time for dinners with friends, and family or extra time to spend at a friend’s house. I now realize, I have a lot of time, and that time is freed up because living on the farm we are minimizing our technology.

We now live in a world where we are ruled by technology. Technology is how we “interact” and feel connected, but we are not truly connecting at all. (The irony of a blogger writing about the horrors of technology really is not lost on me.)

We moved to the country, and in doing so we realized we do not need internet. Not only is it expensive for satellite internet, it was unnecessary. We can check things on the internet at the library (where we are purposefully seeking to use the internet), or at work on our breaks, etc. We do not need internet. So we have gotten rid of our internet. It has been freeing. I am not constantly checking facebook or instagram or pinterest. I am not waking up in the morning or going to bed and thinking I have to check social media to see what is happening. I am free from the bondage that the internet had on me in. It is amazing to think about the time wasted and the moments we have missed out on due to internet.

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Monday, my husband came home and we sat at the dinner table for TWO HOURS! Why? We were enjoying catching up (I had worked the weekend and we hadn’t seen much of each other that weekend), and we were enjoying just being with each other. Honestly, our dinnertime used to look a lot different. We would plop on the couch and eat as we watched a TV show, or we would sit at the dining room table and scarf down everything and then go to our computer or phone for the evening! WHAT A WASTE! Now, maybe we are the only family out there that does that, but I doubt it. I doubt it when we go to Thanksgiving and everyone is on their phones taking pictures, and it all being about the social media photos. I doubt it when you go to a friend’s house and they sit on their phone the entire night instead of connecting with you. I doubt it when you pass people in restaurants glued to their phone. I doubt we are truly connecting.

So what am I doing different? I am making margin. I am making sure that when I am with people I am intentionally with them. I am making sure that when I am on the internet it is purposeful and not just “getting lost” scrolling through facebook. I am seeking out ways to be intentional, because now that there is margin in my life, I can be so much more intentional.

How purposeful are you being with your time? Do you think the internet is a huge distraction in your life? Are you glued to your phone or social media?

Try for a week to forget about it all. One week! Could you do it?

Projects and poultry!

We finally are starting to settle in at our new house. Unfortunately, we have a pretty big project we had to start with right off the bat. Our shower was very weak due to some old pipes, so Tim and his dad replaced the pipes for the shower. This project lead to Tim also redoing the plumbing, electric and drain for the washer and dryer, which makes all the plumbing and such in the wall, not in the pantry!) Since the pantry walls got torn up, we have been without a pantry since we moved in, in early November!

Continue reading “Projects and poultry!”

Oh so simple dog treats!

Last weeks blog post eluded to what was coming this week: dog treats!! A few months ago, we received a trial bag of dog treats called Sams Yams. These treats were suppose to be good for our dogs teeth, and a more substantial dog treat (not just bite size, inhaled in a second treat), but not as big as a bone. Well let us just say Chewie LOVED these treats!

I did not, however; want to pay what they were asking for ridged yams. This then put me on the path to making my own treats from sweet potatoes. I am pretty lucky that it just happens to be fall time and yams are CHEAP (like $0.50 a yam). A yam can easily make 25-30 potato chip sized dog treats, or 5-10 larger dog treats, which turns out to be a pretty sweet deal.

To make the potato chip treats, I can cut them two ways. The first way is to just slice them with a knife. The second way is to use my potato slicer, and slice them with the ridged blade, so that there is a little more texture (this is what is suppose to help their teeth, supposedly). If I am making the long ones, I just cut them lengthwise with my knife, because the guard on my potato slicer won’t let me slice them. I then place all the slices onto my dehydrator and they will become crunchy if you are doing the chips, and slightly chewy if you are doing the larger ones.

You can also dehydrate other fruits and vegetables for dogs for smaller dog treat. My dog loves bananas, so I can slice up bananas and make dehydrated banana chips and he is in little doggie heaven!

I do also have recipes for other dog treats that I have made in the past. These other treats are more time and financially intensive, but make a good gift for friend or family’s canines in the holiday season. I do enjoy the ease of the yam treats though, so I will probably stick with them for a while!

Do you make dog treats for your canine buddy? What are some of your favorite treats to make?

 

Returning to normalcy

Well moving is out of the beginning stages of crazy! We are getting back to normal life, which means I have to return to some of my “normal” taking care of house things. Two things that came to mind when it comes to taking care of home are cleaning and my dog. That is why this post is going to be on making my laundry detergent and next week will be my recipe for oh so simple dog treats.

First disclaimer is that my laundry recipe is not my own it can be found here but I have been using this recipe for about three years now. It is simple, liquid in form and super cheap! I purchased a box of borax and washing soda when I first starting making the soap, and I still have plenty left and have even given some of them away. I would purchase a container to place the remainder of the wash soda in, because it does dry out and becomes so difficult to break apart. The only part of the laundry soap I have to buy every other time I make it is my bar of fels-naptha. All of the ingredients are usually found down the laundry aisle, but may take some looking for.

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So the first step to making the laundry detergent is to grate the fels-naptha. This helps to melt it easier. I use my regular cheese grater to grate this as well; but if that weirds you out, feel free to buy a separate grater. I only use ½ bar at once, otherwise this makes too much laundry detergent for us, so I store the second half in a bag (which is what is pictured above) Once the fels-naptha is grated, add it to two cups of hot water in a pot.

While the fels-naptha is melting, I go ahead and start filling my 5-gallon bucket with one to one and a half gallons of hot water. I add my ¼ cup of borax and my ½ cup of washing soda to the 5-gallon bucket.

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Once the fels-naptha is no longer visible in chunks, but has melted thoroughly, I add it to the 5-gallon bucket. I then use a paint stirrer that goes on the end of my drill, and stir the contents in the bucket.

After the contents have been stirred, I then fill up the bucket to about the 2 ½ gallon mark. This then sits over night and gels a bit.

In the morning, I then add the remainder of the water to make a total of 5 gallons of laundry soap and stir it once more. I then have a small milk jug that I use to store one gallons worth in at a time. This one-gallon container allows me to shake the soap before each use with ease and is a smaller container to have to handle. Each wash gets the same amount of laundry soap that a normal store brand would require- so I use my old TIDE lid to measure out each load, and set it next to my milk jug to store it (I am not sure how this works for HE washing machines though…that conversion may be different).

Note: I am sure you could probably go a bit more “pinterest perfect” and get a decorative gallon canning jar and a nice measuring cup or something, but this cheap and not so cute way of storing the soap works just fine for those budget conscience people! 😉

That is all it takes to make the laundry soap and probably only takes 30 minutes total. You can also control the scent of the laundry soap, if you want it scented, by adding essential oils to give the scent you are looking for.

Do you make your own laundry soap? If so, do you scent it and what are some of your favorite scents for the laundry! Comment below ⇓

PS. I am starting to design our future laundry space and would love to hear about your laundry areas (what you like and what you don’t!) The more ideas the better!