Thursday, April 30, 2009

Construction Update

So much has been happening at the construction site, that I can hardly contain myself. The front porch roof is finally finished. A little bit of fascia needs to be added, and the roof is complete. Decking and railing will finish off that space.The drywall is finished and ready to paint. The tongue and groove walls are being completed... Here is how the tongue and groove looks....in my laundry room... the loft ceiling In the living room...the fireplace is ready to be covered in stone.







The cupolla has arrived and needs to have the base sided in log siding, then it is ready for my special weathervane (it's a surprise!).







The basement porch foundation has been dug. Next a retaining wall will be placed to hold back the hills on each side. Then concrete is poured, the stonework is finished and......another space complete!
Several Solatubes have been installed to illuminate dark corners with natural sunlight...energy saving!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Asparagus Time

Asparagus time is one of my favorite seasons in the garden. Each Spring it is the first crop to be harvested and a sure sign that winter is over. I find great comfort in seeing these purplish/green shoots emerging from the earth. It is reassurance that warmer weather is close at hand. This year, however, the asparagus is a bit early. These past few days of unseasonably warm temperatures have coaxed these tender shoots a couple of weeks early. I won't complain, however, as they taste heavenly. Their early emergence has given me inspiration to get busy planting, planting, planting!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hen Hugs

Chickens are not commonly a creature that I consider affectionate. However in the case of our Helen (our almost blind white chicken with cataracts) that is not so. Each day when entering Helen's yard, she greets us at the door making soft hen sounds. She stands at our feet until we pick her up. After a few words and a few strokes she is happy to be placed back on the ground. It is a funny ritual...and it happens every day.Incidentally, I guess because she is almost blind, she does not lay her eggs in a nesting box like the rest of our chickens. Helen prefers the perpetual Easter egg hunt....and lays her eggs out in the middle of her yard.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Well Surprise

A few weeks ago I posted about the well drilling experience. Our previous well had sulfur as well as the 3 geothermal wells that were dug. Believe me, there is nothing less appetizing than making a cup of tea with water that smells like rotten eggs, not to mention taking a shower in it. In order to find fresh water, we drilled about 200 yards down the driveway from the house. Unfortunately, that well also smelled of sulfur. A water test revealed that we have a small amount of sulfur in this well...much less than the other wells, however. So, we have decided to use this new well and have added an aeration system that will bubble the sulfur gas right out of the water. Since this well now supplies our little guest house, I can tell you...the aeration system works. Our water has no smell...thank goodness! Incidentally, after our last rain shower, our well driller noticed that we also have an artesian well in this same site. Apparently, there is an underground stream fairly close to the surface that bubbled up around the outside of the well. In order to prevent a constant puddle, he diverted this artesian well through a pipe that drains down the hill and into our pond.
I had no idea that the quest for drinking water would be frought with so many trials (I forgot to tell you about the severed phone line and a few other mis-haps along the way.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back to Basics... My Thoughts

Life at the farm hums on...the perpetual cycle continues. Each and every day I am privileged and thankful to be a part of that. Before sunrise I awaken to the song of the resident cardinals and as dawn creeps through the wood, listen as the rest of the avian chorus takes up the melody. There is comfort in those familiar songs...like being greeted each morning by an old friend.

As I move through the day's chores that take me to different areas of the farm, I enjoy visits with the same old friends....the blue heron that frequents our pond in search of fish, the bluebirds that have made their home in our pasture, the tree swallow that sings on my garden fence, and so many more. They watch as I work, offering their song and I try to reciprocate with a cheerful whistle.
Farm work is hard work...physically challenging. Farm work is also mentally liberating. There is a satisfaction in knowing that each and every task, though simple, is of great value. The fruits of our labor is the food on our table and a good life for the animals in our pastures. Because we have gone back to basics, we can understand cause and effect. This has increased our awareness of the precious balance that has to be maintained in order to keep our world healthy. My wish is that each and every one of you could spend a little time getting back in touch with the land and the basics of living.
As the songs of the birds are replaced by the nightime calls of the Peepers (tree frogs), my body is exhausted, but my heart is full and happy. I close my eyes knowing that the cycle of life continues and I have enjoyed being a part of it with all of my senses. I long for nothing more than this. I am a very fortunate gal in a very beautiful world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Welcomed Sight

One of my favorite things is to find our bees out pollinating our plantlife. A few of the apple trees have begun to bloom....and the bees went right to work.Although the next two pictures are blurry, they are an excellent illustration of how these bees carry pollen in their pollen baskets on their legs. You can see a yellow structure attached to each of her visible legs... This pollen is carried back to the hive and becomes an important source of protein for the bees.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Blood

Introducing....Mo Jo Risin....our newest addition to our fainting goat breeding stock. Mo Jo came to us this weekend from Virginia. He is just 10 weeks old. He is a tri-color buckling with mostly blue eyes (there is also some marbling around the edges of his eyes). Isn't he just adorable? He is quite friendly and has become attached to Becky right away. I think it was love at first sight for both of them!
What a great addition he will be. And now our breeding potential has increased quite a bit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rainwater Collection

Last year we set up a system to collect the rainwater from the barn roof. As water flows into the gutters and downspouts, we collect it in a system of tanks for future watering use. We used 4 fifty gallon plastic drums from a local bakery (free) and connected them with hose. They receive water through a valve on the downspout that shuts off the water supply when the tanks are full...allowing the water to then travel the rest of the way down the downspout. We float organic mosquito rings in each tank to prevent mosquitos from using this as a breeding ground.

This system has worked out perfectly for us. In the past two weeks we have planted many trees, so watering is an everyday chore. This particular day we started planting sweet gum trees along the new driveway to the barn. This driveway was created from the shale that was removed during the excavation for our log home. It will facilitate hay delivery and horse trailers quite conveniently. Planting trees alongside will make it picturesque.

Of course, TomTom has to be a part of the activity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Moving Day

Late Saturday night while the bees slept (do they ever actually sleep?), Jack and I duct taped their hive bodies, bottom boards and lids together. We then loaded each beehive on the gator and moved it to the new bear-proof yard. Four out of five hives moved with barely any excitement. The first hive, however was "buzzin" mad and spent the rest of the move showing their aggressive side. Jack ended up with a sting on his neck (his veil was too close to skin) and I got a sting on my ankle (I will never work bees without boots on again!). We were both quite relieved to have that job finished.
By Sunday morning, however, the bees had settled down and were back to business as usual in their new neighborhood.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Wheels and Farm Help

Saturday was delivery day for our new gator. Up to this point, we have shared a gator with Mike and Becky. However, now that we will be on the farm full-time, we have need for a second gator. We have found this to be the essential farm work horse. It is the perfect piece of equipment for any job, with its' handy dump bed. Before an hour was up, I had loaded it full of manure and put it to work.

Yes, it came complete with a pink John Deere hat!

Addendum: A special thanks to our friend Kelley for volunteering for farm duty on Sunday morning. Kelley and her hubby Donny showed up right after dawn to "dig in" to morning chores.

Here is Kelley and Jack. Kelley is Jack's secretary. It did not take her long to become a real farm girl.....feeding goats, cleaning chicken houses, mucking pastures.....
The help was greatly appreciated.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New and Improved

Here is Liz (Tin Lizzy) with her fresh coat of paint....look down a few posts back and you will see her "before" picture. Isn't she lovely?Today is moving day for the bees. I have been painting hive boxes and will inspect each hive this afternoon...moving their frames into new boxes. Then when the sun goes down and all bees are back in their homes, we will move the hives into their new, secure, bear-proof hive yard. I found the cutest tin bee to decorate their yard....just in case they forget where they live.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Day in the Life....

Although there is a sort of comfort in a rainy day...being able to catch up on inside chores and do a bit of nesting; we live for warm, sunny days on the farm. Rising early, starting the day with a hearty breakfast, we head down to the barn to whittle away at the ever-present, ever-growing list of outdoor chores. The ground was still a bit too wet yesterday morning for gardening, so I continued my work of revamping old hive boxes and priming and painting new ones.This afternoon, I plan to suit up, take the old bee smoker and check the health of the old hives. Once opened, I will swap out worn out hive parts for new parts, getting each hive in tip top shape for the coming nectar flows. There has been much activity around the hives in this warmer weather, but the bees are still feeding on sugar water until the trees are in blossom.Liz, our 1953 Ford tractor has received 2 coats of fresh paint....her unveiling is scheduled for Saturday....pictures to come....

As the day wore on, the soil dried enough to be workable and I planted this year's garlic crop. Last year's crop supplied us with fresh garlic all winter long. Amazingly, it stayed fresh all winter in our pantry. I also put up the snow pea tee-pees and planted the peas (a little late this year). Today's warm weather will give me the opportunity to get more of the earlier crops into the ground. I did happen to notice that our garden is absolutely teeming with earthworms...the sign of healthy soil.

At the construction site, things continue to move ahead quickly. The drywall is up...check out Jack's garage. The stairway at the back of the garage leads to storage above the garage and kitchen.....an added bonus that we had not taken into consideration when we planned this house.
Yesterday, I was surprise to see the fireplace mantle in place. It still will need to be stained and varnished. It is exactly what I wanted, however....a rough, hand-hewn, antique timber. In the end it will be quite lovely. This particular timber was recycled from an old corn crib.
It presently looks a bit gray, but with walnut stain and many coats of varnish, it will darken up quite nicely. The fireplace will be covered in stone...to match the exterior of the house and the chimney.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ah, Fresh Water

During morning chores, we filled the watering trough in the pasture. It did not take long for the horses and ponies to wander down and check out what we were up to. Ah, there is nothing quite as tasty as fresh water right out of the well....Ava and Donnie grab a drink...quickly before the big horses come over and take over the trough. Make way for Fagner and Duffy!
Where is Moonbeam? Still munching tender grass in the pasture...so much tastier than water!

PS....this water is from our barn well. We still have not finished with the house well....and although it was found to have sulfur, we plan to aerate the sulfur out of it....more to come about that!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update

Here is the start of our front porch. Tongue and groove decking will be placed on top of all the beams....visible from beneath. On top of the tongue and groove will be roofing that will match the rest of the house. I just love the web design of the front of the porch roof.The drywall team is currently working...covering the few walls that I picked for dry wall. A few painted walls throughout the house will give it a bit of color and break up all of the wood. Most of the walls are log or tongue and groove. Jack is excited to have his garage covered in drywall.I had to publish this picture of our neighbor's beef cows....they were just as curious about me as I was about them! Someday I hope to have a pair of them in my own pasture.

Emily is Back

Emily, our female Muscovy duck who was listed as MIA a few weeks ago is back hanging out with her pals Daffy and Dorkey. Lately, though, they have been making daily pilgrimages to the barn. Here they are visiting the dry lot in front of the barn..So, if Emily does have a nest somewhere....no one is tending it. My hopes for ducklings this summer are diminishing. Perhaps we will have to order new ducklings from a hatchery instead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Other Signs of Spring

One sure sign of warmer weather is the reappearance of Tin Lizzy back under the old pine tree by the barn. Liz is our vintage 1953 Ford tractor (that still runs....we use here every summer for certain chores). This year, I have decided to spruce her up a bit. A couple of cans of Rustoleum paint will make her a little more splashy!! I will post pictures when her facelift is complete.
If you have ever seen the Disney movie "Cars" you will agree with me that she looks a bit like the tractors in that movie. Can you see her face?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Great News

I have been anxiously awaiting Spring to see how our honey bees tolerated the long, cold winter. I am happy to say that upon initial inspection, there is good activity at all 5 hives. I have begun to feed them sugar water until nectar starts flowing....a few more weeks. Once it is warmer in the afternoons, I will open up each hive and make formal inspections, checking the strength of the queen and the number of brood. At this point, if any of the hives are weak, I will order new queens. Installing new queens should help to build up any weak hives. For now, my fingers remain crossed. These hives are located at the edge of the woods across the drive from the orchard.In the next couple of weeks, we will move them across the orchard to their new bear-proof hive yard....Then in May, I will be picking up 5 more colonies and installing them in our new English garden hives. These hives will be located in a small round pasture that lies beside our main driveway. An electric wire around that pasture should act as a bear deterrent.
I spent a great deal of time this weekend painting these new hives white.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter



Happy Easter.....from All of us at Bee Haven Acres!!

May your world be filled with the kind of peace that we feel each and every day....the kind of peace that brings us together...despite our differences.

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