Thursday, April 14, 2016

A new hive.

 My friend Allen, who lives up the road from me with his family, has been catching swarms like crazy for a little over a week now. 7 so far! Last year he had a swarm in his garden and I brought up my empty hive to use. We will split it soon. I call Allen The King of Swarms now.

So he called me yesterday and asked if I wanted this new swarm he was getting ready to catch. I said sure! My husband had to come get the nuc box that was in my car at Mrs. T's and take it to him. He caught the swarm and closed the nuc.

I went this morning to the bee store in Lafayette to get a hive set up. It was on sale! But we had to put it together. When I got home, our friend and wood fairy Kid, was just coming in behind me. So we had help!

The guys put the brood box together first so I could get that painted. Then as they put each piece together, I'd come in and get it and paint it.

So here it is, all ready for bees! I went to Allen's to get the nuc full of bees. Got them home, added the sugar water and entrance reducer, ran to get my shirt and hat on. Then opened the top. Then realized I'd need my gloves to get the frames full of bees out. So shut the top and ran to get gloves. A whole bunch of bees got out.

Got back to the box, opened it up again, and realized I just might need my hive tool to get the frames full of bees out of the box. So shut the top again, letting more bees out, ran to get the hive tool. Opened the top back up. By then, those were some pretty pissed off bees!

I went ahead and got them out as quickly as possible, without stirring them up too much more. I did have to stop at the 3rd frame to get a few bees out of my hat. Got the rest in, put the top on the hive and the blocks. And ran away! There were several mad ladies who wanted me gone! Fast! So I went. Some followed me out the gate just to make sure I really was leaving!

This is the hive after I was away a few minutes.

Then about an hour later. They had settled down a lot by then. I was a little worried. But they are good right now.

I decided to just put them next door to the first hive. I don't know how they know which hive is who's. But they do. Bees are pretty awesome creatures.

I just love having bees here. But I have just been used to 1 hive. And that hive has been great. I have not had too many problems with them. I just hope these new girls settle down and like being here. I hope they stay.

I'll check the hive in a week to see if they are building comb and brood. Then go from there. I just hope the queen is in there. Pretty sure she is or they'd all be gone, right?

But yay, 2 hives at Outback Farm!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I love to knit. I didn't like knitting at all though, when I first learned years ago. It was hard. So I quit. Crocheting was so much easier for me. Then a few years ago, I wanted to knit again. Because I have sheep and they produce wool. So I just thought I should be knitting. I only knew the knit and purl stitches, so I didn't make anything special.

Then last year, I took some knitting classes in Chattanooga. I was hooked! I loved it. I guess certain things happen in a person's life only when they are ready. Like so many things in my life, that was the right time for me to learn to knit. It just clicked for me then. And I cannot stop knitting! I love to knit.

I knit all over the place. When I take Mrs. T or my mom to a doctor or eye doctor. Or I go with my husband to the would care center. Or in a car dealership waiting on a car to be serviced. Or while at Mrs. T's the days I work. Or riding in a car while someone else drives. Even in restaurants. When I sit, I am knitting.

I had learned the yarn over stitch while in the knitting class. And several other stitches. But had to look them up on you tube to remember. But now, since I found this Etta pattern, and I've made 3 hats so far and a cowl, I can remember these stitches. Like SSK, K2TOG, YO. That's it right now. But I can actually read a pattern! I could not do that before at all. So I feel I have grown as a knitter.

This is the 1st hat I knit using this pattern. I messed up the first lace section. You really can't tell, but I know what I did and corrected it on the next 2 sections. I made this little cowel to go with it.

This is the 2nd hat I knit using the same pattern and did it right. It looks like the pattern picture more than the first hat.

And this is a child's hat I started Sunday at Mrs. T's house. Then Monday at the doctor's office with her. Then at the music school waiting on my grand daughter while she had her cello lesson Monday night. Then getting an oil change yesterday. I knit some more on it today back at Mrs. T's house. Then finished it tonight here at home. I love that my knitting is done in so many places. And people always want to know what I'm knitting. And I love talking to people.

So I just wanted to share my excitement for knitting. I am not the best knitter. Or a fast knitter. But I love knitting. And I hope everyone does what they love doing. It really makes a difference.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My new toy

 Last week, my brother got bored and was looking for something to do. So he got to looking up plans for pottery wheels. Found one in an old Mother Earth News site. Went and got all the lumber and bolts and screws and stuff. Came over Saturday and he and my husband went to work. It was COLD here Saturday too! They worked ALL day on this. It is solid too.! This baby ain't going anywhere.

So this is it. All the metal frame is gone and it's all wood now. That's the seat on the left that we came up with. I have to swing my left leg all the way around to get in. We have to come up with another seat.

But for now, it works! And I love it! It is slow enough so I can do a better job. With the electric wheel, I seem to go too fast. I do everything too fast really. So this will be good for me. I had to try it out right away. So I made a little bowl. I was a little worried I'd be covered in clay when I was finished, but surprisingly I only got a little tiny bit on my pants. The electric wheels have a tray that goes around the wheel to catch water and clay while spinning. This one does not. I didn't use very much water at all on this bowl. But I am usually covered in clay when I leave the studio.

The first piece of pottery made here at Outback Farm!!! I will start signing them Outback Farm now. I just love it and am so excited to have my very own wheel! No telling where this will lead. I hope to be able to sell pottery at the markets soon.

While I was at Mrs. T's Sunday, hubby put this rail up and called it my tea holder. He's so sweet. Plus I was afraid I'd fall off the porch. I need another on the front now.

My classes will be over this week. Tonight is the glazing class but I signed up for a 6 week sewing class which starts tonight. Like I need more to do. So they said I can go to the Thursday class and do my glazing then. I will become a member there so I can bring in all the things I make here to be fired and glazed there. I bought more clay yesterday, so I have a little time today to play with the wheel and clay. So fun!

Friday, April 8, 2016


I'm sure everyone who has goat kids thinks theirs is the cutest ever. And so do I. Really, these kids are so cute! And they are all so friendly. They jump all over me when I'm out there. They are all so healthy and growing like weeds.

I took Astrid and Isla last Friday to get their horns burned off. I had a little scare with Astrid that night, but she's doing great now.  I am hoping Olga's kids won't have horns. I still don't feel anything on the buck. And bucks usually come out with little horn buds. They are 2 1/2 weeks old now.

Last week I started cutting privet and honeysuckle for the goats after I milk. A few days ago, they were all standing at the fence, looking at me. I forgot to get their morning brush! So I got them a big pile. The kids had their own little branch. They're starting to eat stuff now.

I put it over here on this brush pile so it's not on the ground. If anything touches the ground, they will not touch it! These goats are so picky.

I had to keep them all in this week because they sprayed the hay fields. We had some rain so I let them go out yesterday for awhile. They've pretty much stayed in the "jungle", eating all the brush over there.

Happy Friday y'all! I hope you all have a great weekend! It's going to be COLD here. We have had a fire going most of the week. Supposed to freeze tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pretty productive day so far.

 This morning, when I realized the St. Elmo market opens in 2 weeks, I panicked! 2 weeks!? I have got to get busy!

So started making sheep balls. I have so much crappy wool to use for this. Got my scale and needle felting needle and went to work. After making about 15, I decided my hands were too rough and needed lotion. So put some on and went back to work. I loved how the wool stuck together better with the lotion on my hands. It was tighter. So from now on I will put lots of lotion on my hands.

That was before I got stabbed with the needle. Has anyone ever been stabbed through the finger with a needle felting needle? It really hurts! It surprises me first. Then I realize what just happened. I mean, this needle is about 2 inches long, with barbs about a half inch up, that grabs the wool and makes it stay together. I have had one go all the way through a finger before. Hurts for days after. Not fun.

Anyway, this is 24 sheep balls, ready for the washer, when I get some hose.

This morning, I decided to make some dandelion jelly too. So ran out and gathered 10 cups. Got it all ready. Hubby had to bring me some lemon juice from the store on his way home, but I had all the rest to make it. Got 6 jars of dandelion jelly. Tomorrow I want to make violet jelly.

Forgot to say the 2 jars on the left are plantain olive oil ready for salve. I just need the little jars I use to put the salve in. There wasn't much plantain yet, just starting to come up, but I got enough for this start.

And during all this, I washed a load of crappy wool that's not good for spinning, but good for felting. So got that done too. I have another smaller bag when this is dry. I just have one rack.

Now to go fix dinner and get ready for the very last night of American Idol. I am so sad Mackenzie was voted off last week. He was my favorite. I just like his music style. I have watched this show since season 2. But did not watch it when Niki Manaj was a judge.

 Then back to work tomorrow on more stuff. I am not working at Mrs. T's anymore on Fridays. And just filling in whenever I can't find anyone else to work. But still doing everything else. I haven't had a free Friday in years. This should be fun!

I got sucked in.

Went to the feed store yesterday to get chicken feed. I had seen the chicks for weeks now, all fluffy and cute, but did not want to get any. That was like the farthest thing from my mind. Really. I don't need anything else to have to feed and take care of!

But yesterday, they had these. Cuckoo Marans. Yeah. I have ALWAYS wanted these chickens. Like always. I love their eggs. They are just beautiful.

So on the way home, I stopped and got 6 of them. And a bag of these chips because they didn't have any more of those amazing new pellets. And a bag of organic chick starter-grower. About $70 right there. I have not had chicks in years just because they are SO expensive to raise and no eggs for at least 6 months. I'd much rather spend that money and buy some already laying. Makes more sense to me.

                                    But just look at these sweet little cuties. I could not resist them.

They are in the dining room for now, til we get through this crazy April "winter". Then they might come over here to my studio til I can put them out in the coop. I might even go back and get some Buff chicks too. Maybe.

So here are the newest babies at Outback Farm. I love them.

And I did get into the St. Elmo Farmers Market!!! I am so happy! It's on Fridays from 4-7 in St. Elmo, right at the foot of Lookout Mt. at the Incline Railway. So exciting! They get all the mountain traffic and tourists too. And they have a street market the last Friday of the month that goes down behind St. Elmo Ave. So fun! And a Christmas street market in December. I am so excited. Now to get planting! And planning. And making more soap. And yarn. And dryer balls. But I think I want to call them sheep balls. Just because.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Random stuff.

I like this picture. I was walking down the driveway and noticed the forsythia, then the elderberry tree, then the pear tree in bloom behind it. So much going on right now. The honey bees are bringing in pollen like crazy! Loaded down with it. I don't see how they fly with all that pollen on them.

My husband has mowed the front yard twice already. Everything is SO green right now. But Sunday morning, it's supposed to be 32 here. What?! I have figs already on the fig bushed. Blueberry bushes are loaded with blossoms. I am going to put my canopy over the figs Sat. night. Then figure something out for the blueberries. I do not want to lose them. Crazy April!

I have finally started putting the kids in a crate at night, so I can milk in the morning.

This is Olga. Doesn't look to awfully big, but there's a lot of milk in there! I do leave some for the kids. And she is really hard to milk. Very small teats. Like a thumb and index finger small. I figured out if I squeeze up high with my thumbs, it's much easier. So this morning, it only took about 10 minutes! And her milk is SO good!

This is Freya's back end. She has the perfect udder and teats for me. My whole hand fits. She is so easy to milk. I can milk her out in just a few minutes. But her milk still has an off taste to it. The first day is ok, but after that it has a flavor that I just don't like.  So for now I am keeping their milk separate. And I'll use most of Freya's for soap, which I am making a lot of right now.

Silly baby! This is where I find the kids sometimes when I go in to play with them. They are so cute!

Monday, a friend and her 3 kids came to learn about sheep wool. They missed the shearing, so wanted to see what happens after that. I showed them all the ways to card the wool. They got to hand card and turn the handle on the drum carder. They got to see how each thing made different roving or batts. This little sheep was their favorite thing in the studio. Outside, the trampoline was a big hit!

                                   This is Cara's fleece. Oh my goodness, it is so soft! Really long locks too.

                                                       This is Campbelle's fleece. Really nice.

So I am thinking about sending all this year's fleeces to a mill. I just do not have time to process all this wool right now. And the alpacas get sheared the 15th, so I'll have 6 alpaca fleeces too. There's a mill in Tn. not too far from me. I can just drive it up there. I just want it all made into roving so I can spin it myself. It was all fairly clean too, which was surprising. I couldn't use any of Adalaide's wool. It was so matted.

And this is my very first salt scrub bar. It's peppermint. I had no idea how to make it. I just used my recipe and added a lot of salt. I hope it works. It smells good and feels salty.

So now I am off to spend time with my mom and brother. He's still here for a little while longer. Y'all have a great day!