Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gardening. Finally.

My bee mentor came yesterday. He did a very thorough hive inspection. I saw lots of beautiful golden honey!!!!! I am SO happy! He took the biggest box off the top and added the medium and shallow ones instead. He said they are easier to get in the extractor. We also put a queen excluder on the 2nd box. He  saw lots of brood and pollen in the brood box at the bottom. And lots of smaller newer bees too. So I have a very busy queen! I should get honey in June. So I went and bought a manual honey extractor. I am ready!

In garden news, I mowed most of the clover down Monday. Gary, the bee guy, said the bees don't really pay attention to the Crimson clover, because it's a hybrid. I had not seen any honey bees in it, just the big bumble bees. So yesterday, I mowed that bigger patch down.

Went to mt friends over at Pocket Farm and got 10 huge Rutger and 3 Black Cherry tomato plants. And some dill. Then went to Lafayette to this plant place and got 2 Better Boy, 2 Big Boy and an Amish Paste tomato, 2 red bell and 1 green bell, 1 sweet banana and jalapeno and cow pepper plants. Also 2 yellow and 2 zucchini and a cabbage. These are cups of 6 each. I had some kale left from last year. And a little envelope of organic kale from Woolly Moss Roots in Oregon. So I got some collard, radish, lettuce and spinach seeds from the feed store. And they were slap out of Blue Lake green beans. OUT! And will get no more. I am not happy. I love those beans and have planted them every year for 35 years now. There is no other bean like them. So I will be on the hunt for BL beans.

I got all of this planted yesterday afternoon. My husband planted 10 tomato plants. That helped. And I do believe I planted all the kale and collards in the same row!  I know I did really. This should be interesting. Sometimes I could just kick myself. And now, we are getting the most gentle little April shower. Perfect. It hadn't rained here since last Friday night. The South side of the garden was pretty dry, but the North side was still a bit wet. I still have beans and corn and okra to get planted. It's a start anyway!

Down here, I think I want to plant the stinging nettles. And I got some organic Mullein seeds from Taryn too, so might plant a row of that here as well. It will get pretty big. Got some catnip too. Don't know a lot about it. It does not smell too good though.

What's growing in your gardens so far? Would love to hear about it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Around the farm

 Not a whole lot going on around here yet. But we're working on it. I'm waiting for it to dry up so later this afternoon, I can go mow the clover down. It's supposed to be nice til Wed. So I hope to go get some tomato plants and some other things. And seeds. So I might be able to get a garden going. I saw on FB where this guy is making a bean tunnel out of bamboo. I know where a bamboo jungle is, so I might go cut down a bunch and try this. It looks so cool.

So hubby went out this morning to weed eat around the electric fence. It was getting a bit over grown back there. I am planning on getting a couple of goats again. Just because I really miss them. And milk is expensive. And we drink a lot of it. And they'll pay fro their selves real fast. And I am planning on getting a few pigs in July. And I'd love to have a calf to raise again. So I think a few milk does will be needed here. I'll keep the sheep out of the back from now on, so it'll grow back up again. So it'll be ready for the goats.

I was outside awhile ago, taking pictures and saw the new growth on 3 of the fig bushes. I thought they were all dead. Fickle figs. I just never know about these. We killed the one by the fence, where we have to go through to get to the studio. It just wasn't a good place for it. And the plumbers had to go through too. So it's gone. But I was just surprised and happy to see the new growth. I'll do some more trimming on the dead branches and mulch around them.

And this is a big Burdock. I have several of them around. Obviously, there are some in the sheep pastures too. Because they were covered in them last fall. I hope I can get them out of the pastures before it's too late again. These things are brutal on wool. But, I have heard they are good to eat. The roots, anyway. So I want to get some of them really big and dig them up for the roots.

And I was so sick of nasty filthy dogs, I gave them both showers this morning. I also cleaned Stella's crate and washed all the rugs. So now, I have nice clean dogs. For a few hours anyway. Til they go back outside and roll in chicken or sheep poop. Or get out and run back to the dirty filthy pond out back. Or chase a skunk. Yeah, it won't last long.

And a friend has some shears she uses to shear her donkeys. She said she'd come shear poor ole Bubba. He is miserable when it gets so hot. And there is dog hair ALL OVER my house. All the time! I hate it. He will feel better and I will too. I use a curry comb on him and now there is dog hair all over the yard. And still, there is hair just hanging off him.

Stella, all nice and clean, in her clean crate. She's so pretty when she's clean. But it won't last long at all.

So this last weekend was pretty busy. We went to my niece's daughter's wedding in Spring City Saturday. It was like a family reunion in April. Lots of Indiana people and some from Mo. So fun to see everyone. The big reunion is in August, so this was fun.

Sunday, I went to a church up the road that I've wanted to go to for years. I know the preacher and his wife. Great people. And so nice and helpful. And I'm walking with a friend who goes there. I also know lots of the people who are members there. So it felt very comfortable there. Like an old timey country church. All the old hymns that I know. Just a good church.

Then after church, I went to the Chattanooga Market. It was the grand opening for the season Sat. and Sun. So hundreds of people. So many people, it took forever to go down one aisle. But saw so many nice things. And saw some neighbors, from way out here! So fun. I bought some fresh local strawberries. And some shea butter from some friends. I use it to make soap. Which I need to make more of. I have soap at the local feed store in Flintstone now, and have sold a lot. I need to go add more and different soaps.

I am waiting on my bee friend to come later today, to help me with my hive. I am hoping he'll say it can be slpit. So I have the other hive ready, just in case. If I have to, I can run to town and buy a new queen later. I hope I'll be able to split this hive. It's doing so good.

And still waiting on news about sheep shearing. She said she'd be here mid to late April. I know my sheep are ready. And I could take the 2 wethers to the butcher tomorrow, but I'd like to get them sheared first. I can bring them next week though.

So, that's it for now. I want to post about my Cade's Cove trip later.  I hope you all had a great weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The birds and the bees.

 This hen. I have tried everything to get her to stop being broody. I take the eggs from her every day. I dunk her rear end in cold water to cool it off. Nothing works.  Monday, I didn't gather eggs. The next morning, she's on 5 eggs. So I am going to let her have them. She's still on them. Just the 5. I got 5 eggs from the other nest boxes, so she's pretty much settled on those 5. We shall see what happens in about 19 days or so. I haven't had chicks in a few years. Because when the hens did set on eggs, about 75% turned out to be roosters. But I know a few people who could use some roos.

Some hens are just so stubborn and want to be mothers so bad. I bet this one will be a good little momma.

I did a semi thorough hive inspection a few days ago. Not much going on in the top floor. I have 4 boxes on the hive now. Maybe I should take the top box off? I have no clue about bee keeping. They seem to be a really healthy hive of bees. Lots of activity. And the top box has lots of smaller bees. So I assume they are new bees?

The SHB traps didn't have much in them. And what were in them were long dead. This hive is so full and healthy, they are taking care of the beetles themselves now.

This is the 2nd box. Lots of busy bees here.

I could not get the 2 bottom boxes separated, so I don't know what was going on down there. I really need my bee mentor to come over and help me. I smell honey all over though and really want honey. I'm nearly out.

This is from the 3rd box. Looks like the start of some beautiful golden honey right there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I have finally hit the 25 pound mark! I have lost 25 pounds!!!!!!!! I cannot even begin to say how excited I am about this! It's the halfway point plus 1 pound, for my goal to be reached by my birthday in June. I will have to walk a lot of miles and ride many many more.

I know I can do this. I can so see myself at a healthy weight right now.

Fiber show and antique store finds.

 I went to Townsend Tn. this past weekend to a fiber fair at the Heritage Center. My niece Jill and her son went with me. I had so much fun, talking to all the fiber people. I love them.

This is so Cormo I found. I've never spun any yet, so I got enough for a few skeins, I hope. It's really soft and pretty.

And one booth was nothing but rug hooking. She had little kits so I got one of a sheep. I had to go back Sunday and get the black felt. It wasn't in the kit. She was really nice and helpful. Had to get her to go over it with me again. I am such a visual learner, so directions don't mean a thing to me. I will get started on this soon.

This is some 100% cotton roving from The Spinnery. They had a booth at the show. I asked if they had any hand combs. She said they did in their store in Gatlinburg. We went after the show for lunch, then went to the store. It was amazing. I got hand combs. They are below.

And on the right is a bunch of Merino tops. It's amazing. Can't wait to spin it up.

This is an ounce of CVM wool. Never have tried it either. I've heard people talking about how no one really knows a lot about it and they want people to try it. So I am. It's not very soft but she said it can be worn next to the skin. We shall see.

On the way home Sunday, I went past a few antique stores that were open. I kept going, but then decided to turn around and go to the one that had all the stuff outside. I found SO many good things. I'm so glad I stopped.

This book caught my eye. Then a little tiny McCoy lamb that just had to come home with me. I'm such a sucker for sheep. Has anyone read this book yet? I've read the 1st 2 chapters so far.

Also found these 3 stacks of quilt scraps. For $10.  Now I'll have to make a quilt. We sure need more quilts on these chilly nights.

Then I'm in a booth looking around and see this tall wooden shelf, holding a bunch of stuff. I looked for a tag to see if it was for sale. It was. $18! I ran to the desk up front to grab one of the ladies to see if that was for real. It was! I got it! It's amazing. It was a wind chime display rack.  I love it. It will be to hang my hand spun yarns on. Too cool!

And the chair was on the front porch. It did not have a tag, so I asked about it. I sat in it and it's so sturdy and comfy. The lady called someone about it. She said they were asking $55 but would take $25. I said I'll take it. This will go on my studio porch.

So I sure am glad I stopped.

I can't get that top picture to separate. But that's the set of combs I got at the store in Gatlinburg.  They are hand made. Called Indigo Hound. Just $150. I had to get a bolt to put in the hole to keep it steady. And we had clamps. This is some Wensleydale locks I was playing with, trying the combs out. You can see how much I put on the comb. Then below, the 2 balls I made and then all the waste to the left. That's a lot of waste. But I posted this on the fiber group on FB and they say that's pretty much normal. That's why combed top is so expensive. But I love doing this.

This is some of Adalaide's curly kinky locks. I could not put this through my carder at all. This is why I bought the combs, so I could process her wool. And I have a lot of Romney that needs processed as well, so I'll use these.

This will keep me busy til all my sheep are sheared. Which I'm kind of glad she hasn't come yet. It's FREEZING here! Although, we have had some pretty hot days where the sheep will be panting like dogs. Poor sheep. Thank goodness, we have lots of trees.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The boys are back!

  Finally got my boys home last night. It was dry enough to drive the truck and trailer into the pasture up to  the barn. And Susan had them in a stall. They were ready to go home, I do believe. They were with about 12 other boys with lots of testosterone flying around. And she was worried they might also bond with the herd there. But they didn't. And they are back home with their own little flock of sheep. I think the sheep missed them too. I feel a lot safer with the alpacas in with my sheep too.

This is them at the alpaca farm, waiting their turn. In the misty rain. It was a nasty day to shear for sure.

And here they are, back home with their flock. Sugar is way back at the barn, eating hay.

Just about every other picture I took of my boys, this alpaca would stick his head in front of me. It was too funny! He was all over the place, wanting to know what was going on. Then it was his turn. He was quite surprised, to say the least.

And here is the result of the shearing. I don't know how many pounds. It was damp when I got it home, so I spread both fleeces out on the drying rack before I left for my weekend away. Sugar's fleece was really dirty. Someone was telling me they say a really cool box made out of small wire, where the alpaca wool is put in and they'd use a blower to blow out all the dust and VM. I might have to try that myself.

And, I have to say that last year, when the boys went to the farm to be sheared, I could not tell Sugar, the white one, apart from all the other white ones. This year, I knew exactly which was mine! He was smaller, but also hes a certain look. When we went last night to get them, she had most of the boys in a stall. But I didn't see Sugar in that bunch. He had gotten out somehow and was outside the barn. But we got them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Around the farm today.

 I know I am not the only one sick and tired of all this rain and storms we've had, practically the whole month of April so far. But really, I am tired of all this water. And mud. And messiness. And I am worn out just walking to the chicken coop for eggs. I'm not even locking them in at night, so I don't have to slosh back down there to let them out in the morning. Just not gonna do it.

It's really windy today. And cloudy. But I do see a little bit of blue sky poking out between all those clouds. I hope they aren't rain clouds. I think it's supposed to not rain til Wednesday. Maybe.

I can't even go get my alpacas because it's too muddy to get back there to them to load them up. We had to leave them at the alpaca farm last Friday because I have to use my friend's trailer to haul them over there. And one of her alpacas broke her leg, so she had to use her trailer to take her up to the UT vet school in Knoxville. She there went my alpaca's ride home. I will get them either today or tomorrow. I miss them being here.

The red clover in the garden is finally blooming. I've had some in my dandelion tea a few times. The bees are loving it.

These collard flowers are busy these days too. Full of insects. I'll leave them there. Because it looks like I won't be able to garden til Fall, as wet as it is. I'll just have a wild garden.

My bee condo. It's getting bigger and bigger. I think I need to do a split soon. They are really do good so far. Haven't done a thorough check of the whole hive yet, because the weather is so crazy. But I added this box last week and they are already up in it.

I saw this huge ant mountain this morning. I think I should do something about it before the old tree falls down. Black Bart found some good food here. I am not feeding them now, because there is so much for them to eat naturally now. They do get scraps when I go gather eggs.

This is the clematis vine today. In full bloom! It's beautiful. And it will bloom a few more times.

This is the tree with the ant mountain. It's slowly dying. Big limbs have fallen off over the years we've lived here. But it's a bird condo. There are already baby birds in this nest. I hope it stays up a lot longer.

And some azalea flowers. I have more, but they didn't do too well this year. I have way too much of that creeping Charlie pest and it's taking over all my flower beds. I pull it up and it just comes back more.

I went North this weekend, instead of South. I'll post the rest of the week about my adventure.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alpaca shearing day...

is tomorrow. The boys just left to go to My Little Darling Alpaca farm. My friend Susan has a great little trailer and she comes to get them the night before the shearing day. So they can be dry. Because they are pretty much sopping wet right now. And pretty much filthy. Sugar, the white one, is not white at the moment.

So they will be sheared, their hooves (or toes?) trimmed, teeth trimmed and whatever else needs to be done. I'll take pictures I'm sure. Lots of beautiful alpacas there.

Then Saturday, I'm off to Savannah for a few days. I need to get away! I want to go check out cute little beach houses for the summer. I'm taking the grands for a week. I've been wanting to do this for a long time. And they have too.

So I will see y'all next week!

New bike.

 This is a window I've had for years and years. It's just kind of hung around on the floor. When I got this studio finished, I brought it over here. It's like it was just waiting for this place. It's home now. I love it. I started putting sheep photos and other prints around it. 3 of the sheep are from Suzanne at Chickens in the Road. blog. The black lamb is from Maria at Full Moon Fiber Art blog. The rest are from my favorite magazine, Taproot. Sometimes they put these cute post cards in.

And here is my new bike! I love this bike. It's so much better than that other one I had gotten a few weeks ago. I took it back. This is from a store in Chattanooga called Trek. It's just a nice cruising bike. Very comfortable. Nice big seat. Peddles in the middle, not right under me. Higher handlebars, so I sit straight up. And very light. And long too. We had to take the front tire off to get it to fit in the back of my Trooper.

It didn't come with fenders, but I can order some for around $50 if I feel like I need them. I think I will go ahead and get the rack that goes on the back though. It just made it look so much better. And I can strap stuff on if I want to go for a longer ride.

I hope this will help motivate me to get out and ride now. I have only lost 3 more pounds in over a week. A little disappointing but I'm not stopping. I feel so good right now and do not want to go back to the way I was before. I have not missed sweets at all. Or bread. Or fried stuff. Because I know in my mind that if I did eat any of that stuff, I would feel horrible.

And I have 22 dreads for the 22 pounds I've lost. I need to do another one.

I have set a goal for myself. My birthday is June 5th. I want to have lost at least 51 pounds by that date. And I want to have ridden my bike down to Mt. Cove farm and back. That will be 10 miles. Then I will be getting a tattoo. Of a honeybee on a dandelion flower. On the top of my left wrist. Just a small one. Not too elaborate but pretty. 2 of my favorite things.

I think I will do it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Around the wet farm.

 It's going to be a wet rainy week here in N. Ga. I guess I could do some house cleaning maybe? But I could probably think of something else to do instead.

  This is the chain link gate the sheep tore up.  I cannot believe they were able to do this to it.

 Campbelle is doing a lot better. But I've noticed how she reacts when Darla comes near her. Darla is huge, the biggest ewe I have. She's half Suffolk and half Finn. Huge! Yesterday, I put them back over on the other side of the yard so they could go out back. The grass has grown so much in just a week. I saw darla heading toward Campbelle, in a not very friendly manner. Like she was going to ram her. So now, I'm wondering if Darla is picking on her. I did take a picture a few months ago, where Campbelle was at the gate and all the other sheep were behind her. Darla was giving her some really evil looks. So maybe there is some bullying going on there. The biggest picking on the smallest. I'll have to keep an eye on those two.

I did get most of the garden mowed last week. It just about killed me to do it. I love all the wildness out there and wanted to keep it that way for the bees. But there are still several spots that I left wild. Plus all the clover. I'm waiting on it to bloom. I am seeing some red flowers here and there. So will wait a while longer to mow it down.

When I am ready, I'll get my husband to get the weed eater in there and just knock it down. Then wait a few days, cover it with old hay, and plant tomatoes and squashes and other plants in it. No tilling. The other places I'll till for seeds.

The sheep are back over in the bigger pasture. In just a week of them being away from it, the grass has grown several inches. We've had a very wet spring so far and it looks like it will continue this way.

 Sheep generally don't mind a little sprinkle, but a down pour they do not like. So they get under shelters. The alpacas love it though. When I'm filling water troughs, they come running for me to spray them down on warm days.

Speaking of alpacas, they will be getting sheared this Friday. My friend will come get them Thursday evening and take them to her farm, where several other people bring theirs, for the annual Alpaca Shearing Day. Susan has about 75 alpacas at her farm, My Little Darling Alpacas. Then there are about 6 other people who bring theirs there. It's just easier on the shearers. It took all day last year to do them all. It was Mother's Day. I was there ALL day helping out. And it was hot. I think these guys are ready for a hair cut. And their hooves need a good trimming. They do it all there that day. Teeth too.

So, all winter, I had not seen a single ant in my house. I thought I had been given a break. But I guess about 3-4 weeks ago, here they came. A few here, a few there. Not too bad. But now, they are all over the kitchen. On the counters, in the stove, in the cabinets, and under the coffee pot. Even over here in my studio. I have about had it with them.

I tried cinnamon. Did not work. I sprayed with kitchen stuff, like Lysol and anything I could reach when I saw them. More would come every day. So I got some ant traps and ant spray. For days, they didn't go near the traps. Then I noticed a steady stream of ants in the pantry shelves. So put traps there. They started going in. For a few days now.

This morning, I had enough. There were hundreds on the counter, under the coffee pot. I was out of spray, so grabbed Dawn. Poured it all over the counter. I never saw where they were coming from. I had already sprayed the cabinet shelves so was out of spray. I am just SICK of those stinking ants. I smell like an ant, as many as I have squished. I might just have to call an exterminator to get rid of them. I hate ants.

Anyway, we had a great weekend. I'll post more about it later. I hope you all have a great week!