BEEKEEPING: Join me as I share what I've learned, am learning, and want to learn. This is where I share my experiences, accomplishments, and sometimes disasters.

HOMESTEADING: We live on a rural homestead and strive to be as self-sufficient as possible, not totally off grid, yet.

CREATIVE OUTLETS: My crafts include sewing, weaving, fiber arts, knitting, crochet,etc. I also learn new crafts as I go.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update on what's happening on the Homestead:

Gardening:  Not doing to well, the summer has been extraordinarily hot and humid - so much so that even our tomatoes didn't do well at all this year.  I'm gearing up for winter/cold weather planting. 

In all honesty I haven't really been taking care of the garden as I was planning to.  Had a few major projects that took up the last couple of months and they pretty much took up all my time.  I am just now getting back in stride.

We are trying to salvage what we can and move on.

Beekeeping:  I don't know if I posted this, but my bees from last year are all gone.  They died over the winter.  I thought they were doing well until the early part of the year, I noticed they were dwindling and fast.  We had to try and save them, so I was told they may have been starving - we fed them for few months and thought they were pulling through.  When I went to check on them in February I noticed there was no brood at all, the honey was all gone, there was barely a trace of pollen, there were worms and hornets/wasps in the hive.  Terrible Disaster - Major Disappointment. 

Called the beeman and told him what had happened, he talked to a few of his buddies and no one could come up with a good explanation as to why this happened.  No one's ever experienced this, not to two hives at once.

New hives, new bees.  This year I have left them alone to do what they do.  I did add a second super with a separator about a month ago, and go by to check on them occasionally.  I do plan to feed them through the winter as an added measure of protection, and possibly put a cover on the hives for warmth.
Will update on their progress soon.

Weaving:  As I mentioned earlier, I've had a major change this year and am now weaving year round.  At the moment I am working on some houndstooth dish towels for a client.  I will have made some extras- always try to warp for extras, and will change colors when I'm done with these; trying to stockpile for traveling sales in the future.  I'm working to build up inventory of finished items to sell so I can start working on craft show circuit sales, maybe; unless business picks up and I build sales from the shop.

I'm changing the color scheme and making several sets of these for selling.  Also, been working on weaving rugs on my Union Loom, I've made these few so far.

Working my way through project that clients have asked for, like a completely reupholstered and restrung antique rocker -- stay tuned for pictures of that project. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gardening Has begun

 Spring has just about been sprung upon us.  

Been working on getting the vegetable garden cleared for this years growing.  My plans are to try and keep it going, even through winter this year - or as long as I can through the cold season.

Out here we have two seasons: Hot and Cold, and it's pretty much even at about 6 months of each.

I'm learning.  

 Very happy that the bees survived the winter.  Wasn't too sure about them at a couple of points through the cold weather, but the little bees are resiliant.  As much as I tried to go totally organic on beekeeping, it's just not possible, not here.  There is no bloom or vegetation that they can actually get nectar from in the cold season.  I hung in there until at least December, but my little bees were starving themselves and it was a scary sight.  The beekeeper I got my bees from mentioned feeding them through the winter or they might not survive - I should have listened to him, he knew what he was talking about.  Oh well, lesson learned and just in time.
 New addition to the garden plan this year is onions.  Never had them to grow, and found some at the nursery.  Yay!  Hope they do well.
 Another new addition is Potaoes.  Always wanted to grow them, but never quite knew how.  When the local feed store put up a sign for seed potatoes I just had to stop and buy them.  She thought it was funny that people don't know how to grow them and walked me through what to do with my "sack of potatoes".  They were from her garden, not store bought.
 These are peppers and tomato plants which did very well last year.  We actually still had tomatoes in late November I believe.  A few bell peppers lingered as well.  So knowing they did well we knew those were a sure shot.
 Can't forget the workers that add to the great garden earth.  Chicken pullets.  We only have 5 left from last years group.  We've actually lost a bit of livestock to a group of wild dogs that roam through here.  The danger of living in the woods is that people drop off their unwanted pets and they become wild at some point or they won't survive.
 A second shot of the tomatoes and pepper beds.  I put down ground cover before placing the raised beds on them.  I've done that with almost all the beds and pots.  The wild growth out here is fast growing and as you can see it seems to make a big difference for the beds at least.
This is my spin on a strawberry pot.  We have a few water cans from the past owners hydroponic adventures and I made use of this one.  In the background you see the pond - it is full of rain water that fell in the past couple of months - great for the garden.  We actually have all sorts of cans and buckets and even a couple of unused aquariums that have collected water. 

There are more plants for growing, I'm waiting for a shipment of seeds and starters in the next few days.  Also, hubby and son bought a few trees on their last outing:  Avocados, peach, tangerine, kumquat, plum, and we have two lemon trees from last year.

So our homestead is growing and moving along.

Until the next post.  I am going to try and update more often. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happenings..... updates of the farm life

Bees.....they are doing great.  Still growing the hive, they are finding nectar even though this is the "dearth" or low nectar time of the year.  I checked the hives a week or two ago and they aren't building comb as fast as they were 6 wks ago.  They each have empty frames but lots of full frames, I'd say they have 25% growing room out of two deeps each.  We are making sure they have plenty of water and we check on them - just a peek occasionally. 

I've been a member of the Organic beekeepers list since last winter when I was preparing to get bees for this year.  Dee Lusby has been raising bees since forever and she teaches that we need to let the bees get back to their way of doing things and not doing things the way we want them to.  In other words, let them be...no pun intended.  So far I've done everything they've discussed and I can't complain. 

I am most likely not going to see any honey this year, they need all the honey they have now to survive the winter.  Being that it's my first year keeping bees, I don't want to threaten their survival by taking honey from them when I'm not entirely sure they won't need it.  Better safe than sorry.

Rabbits....we picked up our first set of breeding rabbits about 2 months ago.  They weren't quite ready for mating at the time.  Yesterday the male rabbit happened to push out the bottom of his cage and got out, luckily my son was persistent and caught him the next day.  That got  hubby and him started on building  stronger cages and building an extra so we could breed them.  We have two females and one male.  So what I've done is that I went ahead and had them breed both the girls the first time so we can determine how good a breeder the females are.  So I have marked my calendar for 28 days.  This will be our winter stock of rabbit meats.

Living off the land.....I've been reading up on edible plants of my area and have learned that we have lots of plants on our property alone.  In late March early April the neighbors and my hubby and I were out picking what i believe are wildberries/dewberries, most the neighbors made cobblers but not I...I went home and made jams.  They turned out great.  Shared with the neighbors and got great reviews. 

Right now I am waiting for the beauty berries to finish ripening.  They are pretty close, like any day now.  I'll be putting up plenty of that.  I have tons of bushes of these berries in the perimeter of the house alone.  I don't know how much I can actually put up.

I'm taking a few days off of work for the Labor Day holiday and will be spending some of it canning and doing other stuffs around the farm....

I have to say that this is not a bad start for the first year on the property and establishing the farm........so stay tuned for more updates coming up shortly - and I promise pictures will follow.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Today the new bees were everywhere.  They were on the deck table where I tied the comb to the frames last night.  It was so late and I was so tired that I didn't clean it up. 

We decided to move the hive to its final location early in the morning before sun up.  Worked out great, the bees were dormant and they weren't bothered by us at all.

This evening no bees in the hive, but they were in the darn cooler!!  I need to separate the bees from the honeycomb and they won't cooperate.

So what we did was that we took the top of the hive and inverted the cooler on top of the hive.  I think we'll leave it there for a day or so.  I'll check on it daily to see how they are doing.

I'm hoping they take the honey and do whatever they need to do and then I can remove the cooler with whatever scraps are left.

I'm at a loss.  They are not behavin.  

We'll see.  I'll take some pics tomorrow of the progress. 
Keeping my fingers crossed.  

Regardless of the outcome, it was a learning experience for sure, plus we have a new hive I could use for a split if this doesn't work for the ferals.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bee Removal  

A neighbor contacted my husband about bees in a tree.  Hubby then called me and said there was bee trouble.  Turns out the man is deathly allergic to wasp stings and cannot go anywhere near bees.

Neighbor had a few felled trees and one was full of bees and honeycomb.

Hubby knew what I needed to do and was waiting when I got home from work.  We went over so that I could get an idea of what we were going to do.  I did have hubby bring a chain saw so that we could the tree down a bit to better work on removing the bees and honeycomb.

After he cut the log it rolled over and out came all the honeycomb and bees.  Not a very old colony, fairly young actually.  Mostly nectar in the honecomb and brood.  I put the comb and bees in the cooler and went home to prepare the hive I would put them in.

We now have a third hive.  Hope it does well.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beekeeping newbie


End of April
Beehives were brought home about a month ago, or so.  New nucs bought from a production beekeeper.  The nectar flow is on right now, they should be good to go.

Mid May
At this point I have checked on the hives at least once.  Wasn't too sure of myself when opening the hives and panicked a little when the bees reacted to me opening the hives.

A week later on the 15th, again I went back to check on their progress.  I see they've been very busy.  I am realizing that the hives are almost out of room.  Rule of thumb is 80% full means they need more room.  At this point I was unprepared for adding a second deep.  We picked up the deep boxes without frames from a yard sale, but have no frames.  We honestly didn't think we'd need them, at least that's what the beekeeper told us.

I then got online and ordered frames in the hopes that the bees are going to hang in there til I add the deeps.  In the meantime, I took out the plastic feeders that came with the nucs and replaced them with empty frames - the man we bought the deeps from gave me a few frames to show me what types there were available; thank goodness he did, cause I did use them to give the girls a little more room to work.

Yesterday:  May 23 and today-
UPS delivered the box of frames.  Yay!!! disaster averted and not too soon.  Started putting together the frames, glued & nailed.  Then I had to run fishing line through them for support and brushed on beeswax on the top wedges for the girls to start on. Whew....got it done before noon today.  Glad there was a little breeze in the air cause it's been hot, and it get's hot in those coveralls ;).

This is the Josephine Hive.  It is the stronger of the two.  This hive took to foraging faster and stronger.  Had brood hatching and layed, right away.  This hive has 10 bees returning with pollen to every one or two of the Maddie Hive.  It is a couple of weeks ahead of the other Hive.  Here you can see they're busy and pretty calm.  See the gray colored frame on the left end?  That is where the feeder was, that is an empty frame that I put in to buy time til the frames came.  Next picture:

Yup that's the empty frame, not so empty anymore.  Amazing that they did this in less than a week.  The hive was full with honey, nectar and brood.  Beautiful.  They sure are glad that they got an addition to their condo.  

 This box (below) is the second deep going on top.  I have removed a honey frame and put it in the top box, next an empty frame.  I then added a brood frame in the center, and an empty next.  I added another brood frame and moved the honey over instead.  So, I have EHEBEBEHEE.  

It was great to be able to look at each frame and see what they've done in this short time.  The nectar flow is dwindling at this point, but the occasional rains bring new blooms.  We are surrounded by a National Forrest and there's plenty for them to forage from.  

Here they are with their new additions.  The Josie on the left and the Maddie on the right. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Originally uploaded by NcTxweaver

Here are the finished potholders. The black one is the free-motion embroidered one. It is red on the backside.