Sunday, May 5, 2013

Checking the bee hive this morning

It's been the craziest weather lately. Cold one day and hot the next. Dry a few days then a monsoon for 3 days. Yesterday I went to the farmer's market and got sopping wet and came home and turned the heat on. It's just whacky crazy here.

So I was worried about my bees. I hadn't seen a lot of activity the past few days. I got my hat, long sleeve shirt and gloves on. Filled a mason jar with organic sugar water and got the water thingy that goes on the front of the hive.

When I first went out, there were no bees out. Just some dead ones in the front. That's why I decided to check on them. I put the sugar water on the front. Then took the top off. That's when I see bees. They did this in the front, all at the bottom.

I lifted the top lid and then I saw a lot more bees. All happy and healthy looking and working away in the top box. I had put the queen excluder in between the 2 top hives last week. And I was just a bit nervous and not really knowing what I was doing. So didn't even think to look for the queen. Then I worried about her being in that top box this whole time. She may be, I don't know yet. But the bees look good here. I did see what looked like little brown roaches in the top when I took the lid off. I smooshed them. Are they hive beetles? Or roaches? Yuck anyway.

This is after I was done. They didn't llok all clustered up at the entrance then.

Right now, the locust trees are blooming. And the Princess trees are too. They are so pretty all purple. With all the rain, some of the blooms are being knocked off the trees. I was reading a bee blog from Atlanta and she was saying how with all the rain they've had, that the Tulip Poplar flowers are all falling off. Not a good thing. I hope all will be ok when this rain stops. It's supposed to rain some more today, then clear a few days. It's just been crazy! But I am happy to see the bees are ok.

All you bee experts out there, do they look good to you? Am I doing this right?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Another market day and the amazing dandelion

Saturday, from 10-12, I'll be at the Brainerd Farmer's market. I'll be taking some dandelion jelly and peppermint jelly. Also more dandelion greens. I was just looking up the health benefits of the dandelion. It's amazing. And more healthy than spinach. Full of Vitamin A and all the B's and potassium,  magnesium, iron, manganese, folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, Vitamin E and C. The list goes on and on. And people kill this herb all day long. Makes me sad. It's also good for diabetics. It's great fiber. Helps in liver disease and kidney function. Just an amazing "weed". But people were buying the greens and happy to do it.

What was so neat the other day, several people who stopped at my booth said they remember going out with their grandmothers and picking the greens and flowers. It brought back happy memories for lots of people. That made my day.

So y'all go out and pick some dandelion greens this weekend. You'll be amazed too. And pick the flowers to make tea. It's a great spring tonic. Add some local honey.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


 Today was very busy for me. Trying to beat the rain coming. So started tilling some beds for tomatoes and peppers. Then the post office called. Said my chicks were there and the mail man was going to deliver them. How nice. I have the sweetest mail man, Joey. I called him and he said he had 2 special deliveries for me and would meet me half way. I had to go to town anyway. So got my chicks and my birth certificate! I can get my license now.

On the way back home, stopped at my friends at the Pocket Farm to pick up my Rutger tomato plants. I was going to get peppers too, but she needs to sort them all out. I got basil, rosemary and chives too.

Here they are all ready to go in the ground.

I love this side of the garden. It's like night and day over there. Isn't that strange how there is so much diversity in one area? This was like loamy sandy soil. I had beans over here last year. So decided to put the tomatoes here this year.

So got all them planted with the basil. Got them all mulched and staked too. My husband is home til Sunday. He came out and actually asked if I needed help. So I gave him the hammer and let him finish the staking. Such a sweet guy. He also got new latches for 2 of the chain link gates in the goat yard. And fixed the goat fence going into the milk room. He doesn't get a break when he's home! Yes he does. Just kidding.

Here are the CC meat chicks I got today. All nice and toasty in their brooder box. I got the pine pellets this time. I think I like them. These chicks came from a hatchery in Iowa. They sent 52. There are about 4 of them with black marks on them. Wonder if they are roosters? I ordered straight run. They are SO cute. I also requested they not be medicated. I give them vitamins in their water. And I deed non-medicated chick starter. I'll be feeding these guys the fermented grains at about 4 weeks. I also bought 10 CC chicks from the feed store Wed. They are 3 weeks old.

I hope when the Freedom Ranger chicks come May 15th, these guys will be outside.

Look at these bunny girls. They are growing so fast. We moved their tractor over to the chicken yard. There's lots more grass for them.  The other tire fell off when we were moving it. There was a hole I didn't see. And the dogs were over in the yard a lot while I was working in the yard. Stella was doing the Border Collie stare on them. And later, when I was going over next door to make jelly, one of them was gone. I found her under the little house porch. Had to get Kansas out of bed to help me catch her. We did. And I got the hole plugged up. And she's ok, thank goodness.

My Clematis vine in full bloom. I love this plant. And it seems like every time my husband starts to weed eat, he gets it. This is grown back I don't know how many times. Just gets prettier every time.

I made 10 more jars of dandelion jelly. And 10 jars of peppermint jelly. I'll take them to the Brainerd market Sat. I sold about a dozen jars of dandelion jelly at yesterday's market. And lots of dandelion greens and some flowers for tea. And lots of soap.

I hope you all had a great day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

1st day at market

It was a nice day. A light breeze blowing. But the market is on a busy street downtown Chattanooga. It was quite warm with all that pavement. Not used to that. But the people are great. I had a really good time. met new farmers. And non farmers. Saw people from the other market there.

My garden is really slow and not anything out there yet to take. So I had to get creative. I have tons of dandelions all over. I made dandelion jelly. I also picked the greens. Washed them up and got them all bagged. Put them in the fridge til I was ready to go. Also picked the flowers for tea. Got 6 cups. And I had all my soap.

It was really busy. So busy, I didn't get to take pictures. Completely forgot. There were people at my booth the whole 2 hours. Even the market manager said every time she looked down there at my booth, there were people. I sold 8 jars of jelly, 7 bags of greens, 1 bag of flowers and lots of soap. It was so fun. I just love this market. So my first day at this new market (to me) was a success. And I am tired! So much preparation.

And tomorrow, I have got to get out in the garden. A friend of mine has Rutger tomato plants and pepper plants I have to go get in the morning. And I need to plant some eggplants. And flowers. And herbs. There is rain supposed to start Friday all the way through Tuesday. Good grief! If I don't get out there tomorrow, I'll not be able to for another month. And I can't sell soap at the Brainerd market on Saturdays.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

To market. to market...

Tomorrow will be my first day at the Main St. Farmer's Market in Chattanooga! I have been working fast and furious the past few days, finishing up things here. I made 19 (would have been 20, but one spilled) jars of dandelion jelly. Just picked dandelion greens this afternoon, washed them and bagged them and they're all in the fridge in the garage, ready to go. If there are dandelion flowers in the morning, I will pick those and take them for tea. I love dandelion tea, warm with honey. It's a great spring tonic.

I will also have my home made soaps, which would make great gifts for all those special mothers out there. I'd like to do gift baskets. I'll take all my things just in case. While at the feed store today, I saw an old painted side table that would look great as a display for my soaps. So I bought it. It's so pretty. I'll take pictures tomorrow.

I think I am ready. I have all my things from last season. I had to buy weights for my canopy, since they are required now. $30 at Academy.

I also bought 10 3 week old Cornish Cross chicks at the feed store today. They are already outside in a little round fence. I put a sheep over them. I hope they'll be ok. They're pretty big already. My 50 CC chicks will be here either Thur. or Fri. Then the 25 Freedom Rangers will be here May 15th. SO I'll soon have 85 meat birds soon.

I'll be going to the Brainerd Market Sat. from 10-12. I watered all the greens and cabbages tonight with fish emulsion. I have got to get these plants growing. They seem to be just sitting there. My potatoes are all popping up all over. So I hope to have veggies soon to sell.

My first time all suited up and out with the bees.

I stopped by a friend's place who has lots of hives. His mentor was there too. I lucked out on that trip. They showed me all the hives near his garden. It looked like 2 of the hives were getting ready to swarm. They weren't too thrilled about that. But I learned a lot just in the few minutes I was there. We have a bee association that meets every 2nd Tuesday at the AG center. I will be going.

I also learned that pollen can be different colors. Had no idea. It can be red, green, blue, orange. Just like us, they like a variety of foods, so everything has different pollen colors. I always just thought it was yellow.

I told him I had just gotten a hive of probably 6.000 bees. He said that's about as much as a package of bees would be. I said I was going to put that extra frame box on the top in a few days. He said with that few bees, that I needed to check the frames already there first and see what's going on. And that I should not add the 3rd box yet.

So, when I got home, I suited up and got ready to check my hive. I felt like an astronaut in this thing. And it's HOT in there! I got Heather, my daughter, to take pictures. And Kansas to hand me things over the fence.
I am taking the staples off here.

It was SO smokey, I could hardly see! And the bees were so good. They got a little upset when I'd smoke the hive. But nothing major happened at all. I'm taking the top off here, then the piece under the top.

Taking out a frame to check it. It was just black. There were bees up there. But the frame was black. What does that mean, all you beekeepers?

So I got Kansas to hand me the queen excluder and put that on in between the 2 frame boxes.

Then put the other box back on. And that was it. All done. Now I sure hope the queen wasn't in that top box.

This was really fun. And my very first time doing that. I have seen people do all this. But to do it myself was so cool. And I was calm and the bees were so good. I don't know if I'll get any honey at all this year. The way it looked, probably not. I need to know what the black frames mean now. And I did just look at one of them. I didn't take the 2nd box off to look at it. I should have. Maybe in a few days, I'll go back out and check that one. But for now, I am done.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beautiful day. And dandelion jelly.

It's sunny and blue skies today!!! And SO green out there. But can't get in the garden to work. Too muddy. Can't plant the bushes I bought the other day. Too muddy. Can't mow the front yard. Too wet.

SO, I am on my way to get liquid pectin, which I should have bought the other day when I saw it, to make some dandelion jelly to sell at market. I picked all the flowers in the front yard Saturday and my middle grand, Coryn, helped cut off the flowers. I have the juice in the fridge waiting. I have enough for 2 batches. And enough jars right now. I'll have to buy more little half pints before I can make more. And there are more dandelion flowers popping up now.

My problem now is my stove. It's really old. And I am down to just 2 eyes on the left side. How is a person to do any canning with just 2 eyes? I need to get this stove fixed soon. But the guy that came to look at it said he wouldn't put $300 into fixing it. He'd just buy a new one for not much more. But I hate the new stoves. I love my old stove. My husband said if I love that stove so much, just get it fixed. So I think I will. And soon.