Showing posts with label Farming/Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Farming/Gardening. Show all posts

Friday, March 20

Sugar Snow

It’s the first day of Spring: YAY! Although it’s not looking ANY different to me out there. There was a bit of melting, then 4” of snow in the night the other day and another dusting today, but the temperatures rising! Instead of a high in the low teens most days, we’re sometimes seeing low 30s {really low 30s}.

The kids are just chompin’ at the bit to get outside! Normally I would just bundle them up and throw them off the back deck, but with the yard not really fenced in all the way and the mountain of snow in the front yard…I’m not trusting them to stay in the back yard where it’s safe. Which means mommy has to go outside too, all the time, and frankly all the ice makes me nervous. I do not want to fall.

One of the sweet perks of the warmer weather means that the sap is starting to flow! We have several maple trees on our little strip of land, but have never had the time to invest in tapping them. This year a neighbor asked if he could…By all means! Go for it! Of course, we did demand some small reparations for the use of our trees.


This is an entirely new experience for me. I hated maple syrup growing up; the smell reminded me of sticky, dirty kids. No idea why. It’s another food that I’ve acquired a taste for only in the past few years, and now I love it {particularly rich, thick, grade B}. Of course the first thing I did once the buckets were up was check them out. On the first sunny afternoon I ran out to see if the sap was flowing. It was, although it was more of a slow drip.


Now, I’ve accidentally licked pitch or sap off my hand before while out in the woods, thinking it would taste sweet and it tasted horrible. I tentatively reached under that little tin roof and caught a drip on my finger: Lightly sweetened sugar water. That’s what it tastes like. Nothing like maple syrup and nothing like what I thought.

The buckets have been out a few weeks, getting dumped and boiled as they start to fill. Then one sunny, if cold, morning, someone was traipsing around the front yard and banged on the front door. A glass bottle brimming with golden liquid in hand. Our rewards for having maple trees on our property: Maple Syrup. The kids and I each anxiously dipped our fingers in the narrow bottleneck, excited to taste OUR maple syrup. It did not disappoint.


**If you want to check out a fun book about a sugar snow, this one is Avie and
my favorite {My First Little House Book “Sugar Snow”}!

Friday, November 8

An Interview with Kateri of Tangled Basket Farm

Today I’m going to be sharing a short interview I had with Kateri, of Tangled Basket Farm. Kateri is the gal behind the beautiful baskets and the wonderful garlic that they make, grow, and sell. Thanks Kateri for stopping by today…

Tell us a bit about Tangled Basket Farms: What do you specialize in? 

My husband and I bought our little 13 acre farm in 2009. We were living in Ann Arbor, MI at the time and one of the commitments he made to me when we got married is that we would move out into the country. We were specifically looking for a plot of land between 5-10 acres where I would have enough room for gardens, orchards and a large willow plot and some animals, but An Interview with Kateri of Tangled Basket Farm: A Basket Giveaway and Some Tips on Growing Garlic at LifeintheWhiteHouse.comat the same time would not be be overwhelmed with a large amount of land to take care of.

I grew up way out in the country in upstate NY, and feel much more at home with country life. Both my husband and I work full time (I am a registered nurse who keeps very busy doing homecare nursing), but we are slowly building our dream bringing in an income from our land as well. We currently have a flock of beloved hens that lay eggs for us and a set of miniature goat triplets (Sherlock, Watson, and Emily) who do weed control and provide lots of entertainment. 

Each year since we have been here I have doubled my basket willow patch, and this fall, I finally will have enough willow from my own property to make a few dozen baskets. (It takes four years from planting a willow shoot to having a mature willow bush). We also grow heirloom garlic. We use only organic practices on our farm. 

How did you learn to weave baskets?

I believe I was 8 or 9. A family friend came and showed my entire family how to weave a simple basket using store bought reed as part of a homeschool project. From that time on, one of my favorite things to do was to go into the woods with a pair of pruners and weave baskets from vines, grasses, and wild willow. It became something that I did to relax. When I was in my teens I often wove 2 or 3 each week. I have only ever used wild materials or materials that I grew myself in my basket making. 

I would love to learn, but have no one to teach me: Can you recommend any books or videos?

I must admit, I am not good at learning hands on skills out of a book. I really need someone to show me how to do things. I have several basket books, but I use them more for inspiration, and the only new techniques I have learned, have been through someone showing me how to do them. My suggestion would be to see if any one teaches classes in your area. The other possibility might be look for tutorials on You Tube. 

Love your garlic! How much garlic do you plant each fall? 

It is a work in progress!  I've grown garlic for years, and have always hoped to have enough land to be able to plant enough to sell. I spent the first few years after moving to Tangled Basket Farm building up my seed stock so that we would have enough to sell. This is the first year that we were able to sell some and still have enough to plant. This fall I put over 2500 cloves in the ground. The plan is to sell about two thirds of the harvest next year and replant the other third. I currently have 9 varieties in the ground for harvest next summer. 

What tips do you have for new garlic planters?

Garlic loves soft loamy soil, the lighter the soil, the bigger bulbs you will get. It is very important to plant in the fall. Garlic will spend the winter putting down a strong root system and in the spring it will be one of the first things to pop up once the weather warms up. In late spring the garlic plants will send up a flower bud. This is called a garlic scape. The scape needs to be cut off, other wise all the energy from the bulb will go into the flower head and you will end up with a small bulb. As an added bonus, the scape is edible and should be considered a vegetable in it's own right. It has a mild garlic  flavor and can be used in any dish that uses garlic, but can be used in larger qualities because it is so mild.
Here is a link to a post where I go into more detail about planting garlic.

Thank you so much for not only talking with me, but also sharing your beautiful handwork for the giveaway!

Be sure you enter in the giveaway: It ends tonight!

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Friday, September 20

Harvest Festival 2013

This past weekend was the Fenimore Farmer's Museum's Harvest Festival in Cooperstown. We've been doing this Festival since I was 15, minus a few years in the middle that we didn't do it. This is one of those events though that everyone enjoys doing. Don't get me wrong, it's still work, but it's enjoyable work. The people are always friendly, which makes a big difference.My View
Saturday Matt and I go up, with a friend of our's to work. Then on Sunday my parents and sister work, and we come up in the afternoon with the kids.

I love walking around on Sunday, getting to go into all the buildings and look at all the different displays. My favorite things are always the crafting related. This year the cooper was right next to us, so I got to spend all of Saturday watching him work. Boy, would I love to learn how to do that!

The nice thing about the end of the day on Sunday, is that there are a lot less people and the Farmer's Museum people have the time to talk and let you try things that they may not have usually. Avie was able to sit down with a woman who was spinning wool. After a few minutes of watching she let Ave try her hand at spinning wool, which she LOVED. She even got a fistful of wool to take home. {Of course I don't have a picture of that!}
We always make it a point to take a wagon ride and go on the carousel. Both proved interesting this year, as Henry did NOT like either one. To the point that they stopped the carousel so that Matt could get off with him. The great thing about the Farmer's Museum is how kid centered they are.

assorted 2

I'm always amazed by the homes: How they manage to be so small from the outside, but still have SO MUCH space inside! There was one in particular {center picture below} that was crazy! It was not very big from outside, but go inside and there was so much space. I wish our house was laid out that well!

It was a great weekend. The weather cooperated and outside of Henry's freak out on the "rides" everyone had quite a bit of fun!

Tuesday, September 10


Apple is RipeDoes anyone not like apples? I’m sure there is someone who doesn’t. I used to not like them. Whenever I’d eat a raw apple I’d end up with an itchy throat and the sniffles. Not fun!

Then I realized that it was only some apples, specifically grocery store apples. This was back in the day, when organic farming wasn’t as big as it is now. I braved it a few years ago, and was pleasantly surprised that organic apples didn’t bother me: Yay!

When we bought our house, we knew there were two big trees in our backyard, but it wasn’t until the spring that we realized that they were APPLE trees! Huge apple trees! Nearly 3 times the height of normal, pruned apple trees. That fall we waited, and waited, and waited…finally we got a few apples. It was rather anticlimactic.

Over the years I’ve just enjoyed it for what they where, beautiful trees that shaded our yard. The perfect spot to sit on the stone bench beneath, and breath, listening to the wind chimes hung by a previous owner, high up in the branches, gazing up at the blue sky and the hills rolling on the other side. It is my favorite spot in our yard.

We’re still only picking drops off the ground, but they’re getting to be as big as my fist! The apples on the trees are almost ready. Just a bit longer and we’ll start picking the apples from the trees. I’m sure we’ll be apple-ed out before too long. Fortunately these guys and gal aren’t.


Matt got home early enough this past Friday that he was able to press 2 bushels of apples: We got about 4 gallons of cider, which has been so good. Some of it will be for drinking fresh, the rest will be for hard cider…yum! We’re planning on doing another AppleFest this year, so Matt’s been packing the refrigerated truck full of bushels of apples.

DSC_0136editOn Sunday we went around and picked more of the drops off the ground, sifting through the good and the bad. We still managed to come up with 2 full crates of good apples. The bad apples *hehe* are getting put in the freezer to feed the deer during the winter. They don’t seem to mind brown spots, rot, or bugs.

We've had to get a bit creative as to how to best preserve the deliciousness our trees have given: We've done apple cider, applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, apple crisps, apple slices with caramel or peanut butter, and pretty much anything else that you can think of with apples. I’m beginning to run out of ideas and stamina…and we STILL HAVE TO PICK APPLES from the trees! Oy!

If you’re enjoying the bounty of the apple harvest this year I’d love to hear your favorite apple-iciousness! If you’re looking for some ideas of your own, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, which will go out next week, with a few of our favorite recipes.

Happy Picking!

Thursday, September 5

Farming in the White House


This year the garden has been incredible! We owe that, in no small part, to the amount of time that Mr. White spent studying seed catalogs, perusing which varieties would be best for our growing season and climate, and generally taking the entire thing very seriously. The majority of our produce was started from seeds, which sat in our dining room from March on. All of which were either heirloom varieties or organic, specifically seeking those that were non-GMO.

What have we had going on this year in the garden? Tomatoes, carrots, apples, yellow squash, tomatoes, green beans, apples, beets, tomatoes, and garlic and tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. Lots of apples. Our goal was to be able to get enough tomatoes to can our own sauces and salsa, and perhaps try to make our own ketchup.

DSC_0242As for the apples, we still haven’t picked anything off the trees. Matt has several crates of apples in refrigeration to turn into cider, and we’ve already canned a dozen quarts of apple sauce, and turned another half-dozen into apple butter {a favorite of Matt’s}.

We probably have enough apples still in the tree to fill several pallets full of apples. Next up is canning apple pie filling, or something along those lines for cobblers, crisps, and pies. The kids have just been picking apples up off the ground {I check them} and eating them. They are delicious! We, of course, have no idea what kind they are.

I also attribute a large part of the success of our garden to not being inundated with squash. Matt planted all of the squash in other parts of the yard, away from the delicate things, giving it room to just go crazy, which it will do with or without ones permission.

The other side of this is that I will actually venture into the garden, since the chances of seeing a snake amidst the raised beds is less likely. I do not like snakes. The one day we were in the backyard, barefoot, and I heard then saw a snake slither past a few feet away. I shrieked and bolted for the deck. Only to realize I should probably grab Henry, who had been standing next to me.


The only real issue we seem to be encountering with our garden is the two little urchins that keep stealing tomatoes. They pick one, no preference as to the ripeness, take one bite of it, and they’re done. We’ve gotten over this and have now taken to using them despite the bite marks. We have a baby corral on one side of the garden, which seems to give us a few more seconds to catch them before reeking more havoc.
The raised beds were great! This is the first year we’ve had them. In the past we’ve just had a plot about 12x15’ that contained everything, and the squash got crazy. We have the tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and beets in raised beds; we actually got carrots that were bigger than my thumb…a lot bigger.

The bees have been busy! I can’t wait to see how the bees are doing. We’re probably not going to take anymore off the hives, but Matt’s going to check how much comb they’ve drawn and then decide. When it’s a hot day, if you’re down by them you just smell this sickly sweet stench in the air…so much honey! But the bees need some for the winter.

Tonight there’s a frost warning; we spent about an hour picking what was ready to pick and covering everything else. It was delicious though: The cool air, the tang of leaves and rotting apples, damp grass between the toes. The sun glowing on the mountain side as it began to set. Perfection.

How’s your garden doing?
Did you notice, you even got a glimpse of me in my muck boots Winking smile I tell ya’ the pinnacle of fashion around here!

Monday, September 2


Now if only the temperatures would drop, and the humidity disappear...I would be feeling a bit more Fall-ish. The other day I bought some mums for the front flower beds, which I haven't touched all year. It's my incentive to actually get them weeded and wintered.

The leaves have been gently falling from the trees for the past few weeks, not a lot of them, but enough that you know it's coming soon. The apples have been falling like C-R-A-Z-Y from the trees! We've just been taking care of the apples that have dropped from the tree that are still good and have canned a dozen quarts of applesauce.

It's been a bit frustrating around here, as I'm feeling behind the 8-Ball. There is still so much to get caught up on from the summer and the fair, as well as all those things that need to be done in preparation for Fall and Winter.

*There's the homeschool curriculum and projects for Avelyn that need to get pulled together.
*The apples that still need to be picked from the trees, and canned.
*Our lawnmower isn't working and needs to get fixed so we can mow the hay-field we've got going on.
*The gardens are going crazy, meaning lots of tomatoes need to be canned for the winter as soon as they start red-ing up, as well as all the other produce
*Matt's been butchering a steer for us for the winter, and we still have a 100 chickens that need to be butchered in a couple of weeks.

Throw in all the normal stuff with a home and kids and I'm a bit overwhelmed, to say the least. I quite seriously am not sleeping anymore. If I fall asleep before 2am, I consider it a good night: If I'm not physically doing something, my mind is just not shutting down. Now if I only I could figure out how to operate without any sleep HA!

I am working on my FIRST newsletter for sometime this month, sharing some of my yummy apple recipes. We've had a huge crop this year, so we've been getting creative with what we can do with them. Be sure to sign up if you're interested in getting those recipes!

Happy September!

Monday, July 8

One’s Closer….

Kiss of the Sun

The garden is a bit weird this year. The weather hasn’t helped at all, given it’s been really hot and humid, with very little sun or rain. As I’ve mentioned before, Matt has taken over gardening duties, which has left me feeling kind of out place in the garden. It’s not like there’s not enough work for two people or that Matt would have some issue with my doing stuff. I think it doesn’t help that any time I  go outside I get eaten alive by mosquitoes…another reason why I prefer Fall/Winter.

GarlicThe garden is well on it’s way at this point. We’ve gotten some of our own lettuce out, I’ll be cutting some beet greens for supper tonight, and we’ve been eating garlic scapes for the past few weeks.

I’m thinking by the end of the month our garlic will be ready to pull. I guess the garlic is the thing I’ve had the most to do with. Now I just have to figure out how to braid some of the softneck varieties that I planted.

Fortunately for Tangled Basket Farms, which is where I got some of my newest garlic stock from, I actually know when it’s ready to be pulled. Some is ready now.

I think part of my hesitance with the garden is that it seems daunting. Matt planted so much stuff, all over our yard, that I’m a bit overwhelmed by it. I’ve always just stuck with the garden space and that was it, but because Matt had started a lot of things from seeds we ended up having a lot of plants. I think we have around 25 tomato plants alone.

In the raised beds, a first for this year, we have Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Beets, and Salad Greens, as well as tomatoes. The tomatoes are a vine growing tomato, rather than a bush tomato. Supposedly they grow to be 10’ or so, but they’re only about 4’ right now, with not even 1 bud on them (bottom left).

Henry and Avelyn took it upon themselves last week to pull up some of the carrots. We replanted them, but I don’t know if they’ll do anything more or not now…they were only about 2” long (bottom right). The potatoes are Matt’s own (top left) invention. He found something about hay and a wire basket-thing to grow them in. We’ll see.


In the lower part of our yard, near the bees, Matt planted an entire section of squashes and pumpkins (bottom right). I keep thinking they should be doing more, but then need to remind myself, that it is only the beginning of July. He also planted a row of climbing beans of some sort, near the bees. We actually have a few bunches of grapes (top right) growing as well. There were a lot more but I think birds and a little girl have been picking at them.


DSC_0106editThe pear trees that Matthew planted seem to be growing really well. We have a few years before they’ll have anything to harvest, but it gives you a bit of hope when you see them growing up and branching out. Our apple trees are loaded with apples.

We had about a week or so, when the apples were drop so much that if you sat under the tree for even a minute you could hear several falling. Even so, we still have quite a few on the trees. Supposedly trees do that when they have more fruit than the tree can support.

Hopefully in the next month or so we’ll see a lot more going on in the garden, because I’m getting a bit excited to see SOMETHING going on.

How are things in your garden this summer?

Wednesday, July 3

“Could you spare a small smackerel?” Winnie the Pooh

Last Fall I had shared with you about our honey bees. They survived the winter and we seem to have a relatively health hive! On and off during this Spring, Matt opened the hive once in a while just to see how things were going and to make sure there were no mice or snakes living in the boxes. We did have a few mice, but they left and haven’t come back. I can’t imagine why they would want to live with the bees.

bee-bearding In the Spring, Matt had put a couple of swarm traps in our trees, so that if the bees did swarm {meaning they decided to fly the coop, err hive, if they were too crowded} we wouldn’t lose them.

Our bees didn’t swarm, but they did do what is called “bearding”, which was kind of freaky looking, and if it was any other insect besides bees, would have been absolutely disgusting. I thought a took a picture of it, but I can’t find one (but here is one I found online).

Bearding is when the bees basically all gather together outside of a hive, literally hundreds or more bees. All of them flapping their little wings trying to cool down the inside of the boxes. It was pretty interesting to see.

During Matt’s inspections he noticed that the bees were going to town with the honey. He’s collected almost a gallon of honey so far,  and that was only from a few of the frames. I’m not sure how much we’ll get total, but let me just say, this stuff is delicious!


How do we get all the honey though? Matt scraps the whole frame down into a fine mesh bag, then it sits for as long as necessary, for all the honey to dribble through the beg. It’s been real fun! Under my desk is a 5 gallon bucket that constantly drips honey onto the floor, most of it goes in the bucket, but there’s a little puddle.

The next thing we have to figure out is how to collect the wax. I’ve been watching and reading a few different things, so one of these weekends when we have time we’ll try and purify some wax!

I asked Matt if we would have any to sell this year, and based on how much honey we use ourselves, it will be a few years before we have extra to sell. But someday….

Wednesday, May 8

Garden 2013

This year, Matt has really taken the bull by the horns. He’s never been over the top interested in what we grow, beyond his hops, but this year he started looking at the seed catalogs in January. Asking questions and keeping me updated on what his plans were, almost

  DSC_0291 Copy
He finally started things a little over a month ago. We are now the proud owners of 37 tomato plants, grown from seeds, in our dining room. Yup.

This season has been a bit odd. We went from it being snowy and cold to sunny and in the mid 50s-70s in a matter of weeks. It just doesn’t do that in Upstate NY. I keep waiting for another frost, which is the only reason why the plants aren’t outside, because we’ve had snow in the middle of May before.

I’m not even sure all of what we have that we’ll be planting. Obviously tomato plants; we really want to try and make our own sauces and salsas. Matt purchased a couple of pear trees, as well as Almond, Cherry, Walnut and something else: Excepting the pear trees, the rest are at our parents’ homes.

Garden Collage
The garlic is doing well so far, and our bee food {tulips and daffodils} are doing great! Matt put a few swarm boxes up in our back yard, just in case the hive is getting too big and looking to split. That way we don’t lose any bees and could possibly gain another hive. He’s also put a few more bee boxes down with the other hives…that way they’re in position.

We’re trying raised beds this year, and since our garlic just got thrown in the ground last fall {bottom left picture}, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the placement of our raised beds. It seriously drives me bonkers. I’m hoping that next year we can get them moved into a better position. {Like our hay bale baby corral?}

We still have to get everything in the ground and actually PLANT something, but we’re making progress. Our gardens always seem to start with the best of intentions, but then fair season comes and that’s the end of it.

Dear God in Paradise
Look upon our sowing:
Bless the little gardens
And the green things growing.
~From “First Prayers”

Tuesday, April 30

Hi, my name is Jessica…..Nice to meet you.

It’s been crazy around here….and I’m not even sure why. I know I had a few guest posts that went up last week, but they only happened, because they were written weeks ago. If you missed them, here they are: Meal Planning at the and Infertility Changed Me at .

This week isn’t shaping up to be much better. I feel like I go-go-go all day long, night comes and I look around and it seems like NOTHING was accomplished. Sunday, the kids stayed a few hours at my in-laws, which was great, for Matt. He managed to get a lot of outside work done: Apple trees trimmed, seeds planted in the garden, things done with the bees, and some other stuff. I’m not even sure what I accomplished, because there seemed to be just as much stuff before as after.

I have decided one thing though; the reason for my having to have projects, whether quilting or DIY, is because I need to have SOMETHING that has an absolute start and finish, otherwise I would go out of my mind. Laundry never gets “finished”, dishes never get “finished”, cleaning the house never gets “finished”: It’s entirely never ending. Sewing projects and other things at least give me a sense of accomplishment, once they’re done.

On top of the household to-dos, this weekend is Matt’s sister’s wedding, which means I’ve been doing whatever wedding stuff I can to help her out. Throw in a bit of kids not sleeping at night or during the day, and mommy is not having much time to blog, which stinks, because I so miss being here!

A brief run down of other things that I haven’t blogged about:

*Ellie is officially walking
*I started a Moms’ Night Out group, and we had our first get-together
*Went to (in)RL
*Started a project for the back yard
*Been busy planting veggies
*Finished a couple of books
*Got a haircut and color {realized how easy it is to straighten my hair with a curling iron}
*Bought some new fabric
*Finished a few more of my quilt blocks
*Have 50 chicks that we’re raising for meat, with another 50 coming today, and  more in the future {we’re doing 300 total}

I’m hoping that things slow down, at least a little bit, because we haven’t even gotten to the summer yet and I’m ready for Fall.

  April CollageIf you’re missing me here, I am pretty active on instagram if you want to follow me there :-) or on Facebook

Don’t forget about the Ultimate Homemaking eBook Bundle sale going on right now!

Thursday, April 11

Where Does Our Food Come From?
{and other random things}

A farm.

Fortunately for us, we are friends with the farmer. Our Mom to Mom group had a play date last week and the kids had a blast! It was the first nice day in a.g.e.s. and it was great being out in the sun!
farm day *Yes, that is me wearing both Ellie and James at the same time.
*Henry was not feeling well and fell asleep on the couch when we got home.

We were even blessed with a SECOND day of nice weather, on which we headed to the playground at the elementary school.playground
There was even a THIRD day of nice weather, on which we stayed home.  
home There wasn’t a fourth day…it’s been kind of blah again. But it was fun while it lasted!

Monday, March 18

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb

In my experience, it’s usually the reverse that’s true. March teases us, letting us think that maybe, just maybe spring is around the corner…and then lambasts us with snow and horrible weather as the month wears on.

Last week (March 10th) we were outside for most of the afternoon, inspecting the “grounds” to see how things were coming along and what needed to be done, now that the nicer weather was coming.Sun Day

The bees were out, the dilly-daffols were beginning to poke up their heads, the sun was shining and the weather was beautiful.

A couple days later it was gray and rainy, everything turning to icky-sticky mud.


If my Oma were still alive, she would be freaking out over this child not only playing, but sitting in the mud :-)

And this is what it looks like outside, right now….DSC_0475

Yea….more snow. We’re supposed to be getting another 5-9”.

Saturday, October 6

Fun Things in Fall

I’ve been really remiss in sharing some of the things that we’ve been doing this fall. I plan on remedying that in this post.

In September we had our usual work-weekend at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Museum’s Harvest Festival. Matt and I worked Saturday, my parents on Sunday. Then on Sunday afternoon we headed up with the kids to enjoy the afternoon and help tear down. It was a beautiful weekend, which was such a blessing considering we’d had nothing but rain leading up to it.

Harvest Fest Collage 1Fall Harvest Collage 2

The kids got to go on their first carousel ride.

The last weekend in September my mom and I had signed up for a Historic Homes Tour of our town. Which I really wanted to: There are some really beautiful old homes in our town {Victorians} that I have always wanted to see inside of. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.

doc's house

This house is always beautifully lit for Christmas…I’ll try and get a picture this year. The middle pictures are of the outhouse: The men’s side had a space heater, but the women’s and children’s did not. In the bottom picture the row of glass on the bottom right was the enclosed walkway to the outhouse.

houses vcollage

The middle right house is one that I have loved since I was a little girl. It wasn’t as in good of shape as I expected, on the inside, but it did make me feel better about my own 100 year old house. I bet you didn’t know that we had a castle in our town! It’s actually being renovated right now to be used as a café and large event facility; it’s been closed for the better part of 10 years and been unused. You can also see a picture of our theater outside and inside.

We also finished a few construction projects: The swing set is officially done {until we add more things to it} and raised beds for the 200 tulips and daffodils we have to plant.
construction collage
I think that gets us caught up on pictures from September!

Friday, September 28

The Winners are....

Congratulations to the luck winners of my Honey Bees post!

Rafflecopter went suddenly crazy and picked 5 winners, but I figure I'd go with it:-)  

Entry #110Maria M.
Entry #118Susan C.
Entry #134T.h. R.
Entry #72Samantha R.
Entry #56Kateri F.

Thursday, September 20

"Eat honey, my child, for it is good." ~ Proverbs 24:13 Honey BeesLast year I shared how I was making beeswax candles. During the summer I had briefly mentioned our new “pets”, our {or I should say my husband’s) honey bees and promised a future post. Today is the day I make good on that promise.

For quite a few years Matt had talked about wanting to get bees, I just pawned it off as another of his ideals of being a Gentleman Farmer. This year he made good.

He started building a hive in March, ordered a hive in April, picked it up from the finger lakes in May. The thing with bees is, they really need to be fenced in, to prevent bears and other such critters DSC_0026from getting them {yes, we do have bears around here}. It was a win-win: Matt had incentive to fence the yard in and the yard was fenced in so that Ave could play.

All summer Matt’s been busy, well, as a bee, but he finally got to open up his bee hive a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to secure a bee suit from a friend, so that I could document {aren’t I stylish?!}.
{All captions are below the picture}.


Opening the hive: We’re currently transitioning from a Langstroth Nuc {a smaller bee-family} Hive to a Warré Hive (the bottom 2 boxes). There are a lot of reasons as to why Matt has chosen this method. Warré hives are a much more hands-off method of beekeeping; allowing the bees to dictate comb construction.


The hive when opened…all the bees are busy! You can see the slats that are strung along the top of the box, allowing the bees to build their combs downward, as is their natural method.



The Warré Hive: Notice how the combs are not of equal sizes, they’re rather wavy and look like snakes.


Matt inspecting the bottoms of the comb.




in flight 1

You can see the clusters of pollen around their legs from their recent expedition.


Langstroth hive (the top box): You can see the previous beekeeper had plastic frames in which the bees would create their combs. The yell0w-brown stuff on the top is a combination of wax and propolis.

The comb is very square, you can see the space in which the bees are filling up the honey. If you notice, there is a large thing-y hanging off the bottom of the frame, that is the Queen Cell. It’s basically the Lady in Waiting’s room. Once the bees are “grooming” a new queen that is where she will reside, until it is time for her “coronation”.




The top has a film over it, which is the bees method of “capping” each comb that has been filled with honey. It’s their way of keeping the honey they’ve made from fermenting. The bottom 2/3s of the frame is where they are currently storing honey. Once it has been dried they will then cap each cell of honey.

We won’t be getting any honey or wax from our bees this year. We need to give them time to grow and develop themselves. If we were to harvest, they wouldn’t make it through the winter, as the honey is their food. In the next few weeks we’re getting a couple hundred bulbs (tulips, daffodils etc) to plant near the hives for the bees. Hopefully, providing them with some new food once the flowers begin to bloom.

I have to admit. I wasn’t that excited by having bees, but now, having looked at their hives and how they work, it has been fascinating. Ave loves sitting down by the hives (we have a wire fence around them) and watching the bees going in and out. There is definitely something to the phrase, “Busy as a bee!”
If anyone has any questions about honey bees, Matt is more than willing to answer them. Oh, and just a note. Matt’s actually allergic to bees: He’s never been stung by our bees. Honey bees are very docile, once they sting you, they die.