Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Brief Hiatus

I will be away from Bee Haven Acres until Tuesday, July 7th. It is a tough time to leave, with all that is happening with construction. It will be doubly hard to leave the new baby miniature horse, too....oh how I will miss the little fellow (who still needs a name).

I have planned for this trip for the past year. I will be flying to Spokane, Washington to visit my friend, Grace, and together we will attend Farm Fair 2009 at MaryJane's Farm. I will post pictures of the trip on my sewing blog upon returning.

Until next Tuesday......I hope your week is wonderful. I am sure that mine will be!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Arrival

Today is quite a special day....from a very sad situation some good has come to Bee Haven Acres. Meet our newest addition. He is 3 1/2 weeks old and very tiny. Unfortunately, his Mama developed a bad neurologic condition and she was unable to take care of him. She passed away this morning, leaving her little boy in need of a home. Doctor Becky has been caring for the mother and offered the owner a home for the foal here at Bee Haven Acres.So, we loaded him into the truck and brought him home this morning. After settling into his new stall, he introduced himself to his new barn friends.

Needless to say, there is much excitement in the barn right now!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TomTom the Omnipresent

Today I received a couple of calls wondering if everything is ok at Bee Haven Acres. This question came about because of my obvious lack of blog posts these last couple of days. Yes! Everything at Bee Haven Acres is hunkey-dorey (is that really a word?). Construction is coming along great...it looks like move-in is scheduled for 2 weeks from now. As a result of the last minute push to finish, I have been very busy helping out with finishing touches around the house. Farm chores, like mowing, cleaning pastures, feeding animals, weeding, tending gardens takes up what little time is left after construction duties.

So, bear with us....I will post when I am able. But I fear that until we get through moving, posting may be a bit irregular. I will try to keep up.

I did want to share a few pictures with you of our barn kitty, TomTom. I call him TomTom the Omnipresent. It seems that no matter where farm chores take me, he is always there. Sometimes I fear there may be more than one of him! He has a rather busy schedule and makes his regular rounds of all the animals....the chickens, the goats, the bluebird houses. Oh if only I had a picture of his antics on the bluebird houses. Picture, if you will, King Kong on the top of the Empire State Building....swatting at fighter planes with his arms as he desperately holds on. Then take that image and transplant Tom Tom on the top of the bluebird houses....standing on his hind legs swatting at the birds who are dive bombing him to protect their domain. Pretty comical sight!! Fortunately, he never catches any of them....but he does like to reach his paw into their nesting house and pull out the downy feathers that line their nests.

It seems his favorite activity is hanging out with the horses. You'd think that such a diminutive cat would be wary of giant animals such as horses. Not the case with TomTom. He lounges on top of their hay piles as they eat and if they get too close....a bat across their nose keeps them in line.

"Oh, oh yea, that's good....a little to the left, please!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Construction continues with all of the details....lighting, cabinetry, etc. These last few weeks seem to be going so slowly.

This morning I installed the faceplate and doors to the fireplace. Here is the finished version.....

Both stairways are lit with these sconces....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Look At Us Now

My girls continue to grow like weeds...funnier each day. To me, they look like cartoon characters instead of chickens. I have named a couple, for obvious reasons. As they mature and develop personalities, many more of them will inherit names. Growing chicks is one of the easier tasks on the farm. They really don't require much other than a constant warm temperature, food and water. These girls are feathered enough that I have removed the heat lamp from their coop now. A daily visit to assure their water is fresh and their food plentiful is about all there is to do at this point. As soon as our fenced-in chicken yard is built, I will be allowing these gals to go outside. For now, though, they are safely tucked away, inside.

Meet Hank, our rooster (center of picture) And Phyllis


And Izzy

There are a few more noteable ladies, but they were now very photogenic this session.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Custom Work

Our kitchen and library installation was begun this week. Each side wall of the middle room of the loft has been outfitted with book shelves.

The left wall and beyond it is a guest room and a full bath.

The right wall..and doorway into my sewing room (to be used as another guest room when needed.) Looking into the kitchen from the dining room...across the breakfast bar (counter tops are not yet installed). The far wall straight ahead will have a gas cooktop and a microwave/exhaust hood.This picture shows the pantry doorway (a screendoor will be installed here) and to the left of that is a space for the wall oven. The cabinets are made from natural hickory.

So much has been done...and so much left to do!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Do Honeybees Do.....

On a hot afternoon???? They hang out at the water's edge of course!Take a walk to the pond on any given hot afternoon, and you will be aware of a constant vibration....the buzzing of hundreds of bees as they visit the water's edge for a refreshing drink.

It is important when raising honeybees that you have a good supply of fresh water for them to drink. In our case, a spring-fed pond serves this purpose quite nicely. Luckily, the bees don't bother the dogs, as they, too, stop by the pond to cool off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Safest Place for a Mouse

Having barn cats seems to keep the mouse population at bay....at least in the barn. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the chicken house. Apparently, the mice have deemed the chicken coop a safe haven, because there are always a few scampering around when I perform the weekly coop clean-out. I have to admit, they sure are cute!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor

This week marks the official entrance of Summer. After weeks of rain, we are finally in the midst of a warm, dry spell. We have more strawberries than we can possibly use. Finally, our fruit trees and vines will have a warm sun to help them ripen. If all goes well, we should have a great harvest by late summer....nectarinesblueberriescherries (not quite enough for a pie)apples blackberries
raspberries gooseberries pears (not the prettiest) tons of tiny grapes (harvest is quite a ways off)

Growing such a variety of fruit makes for lots of work...but it is worth the work, to be able to pick our own organically grown fruit. Organically grown fruit is quite a challenge...so many diseases and pests that fruit can succomb to. Sometimes I think luck plays a big part in the harvest....not to mention weather conditions!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Things I Love About the Country Life

Late yesterday afternoon I decided to make a trip to the local supermarket. It is located in a town about 10 miles away from our farm, and is the county seat. It is our biggest local town... and actually has two traffic lights (the only ones in the entire area). Having lived in the city/suburbia for so long, we have gotten used to (and tired of) traffic and the nuisances that accompany it. Life in the country is a refreshing change. No traffic, no road rage, no parking issues. You pretty much know how much time it will take you to reach any destination...and you never have to account for traffic! About the only thing that will slow down any trip is an occasional horse and buggy. And to me, they are a welcomed sight....a reminder that it is possible to live a slow, simple and deliberate life.

I thought I would share a scene from our local supermarket with you....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Construction Update

The cupola has found its place on top of the garage roof. The walnut floors are stained and ready to finish. I love the warmth of walnut...and I love the mix of heartwood (brown) and sapwood (white). This picture was taken looking down on the powder room floor from the laundry/mud room.
And, looking from the laundry room into the kitchen....
The stone masons have returned and started to finish the foundation beneath the guest house.
And, they have begun construction of a rock retaining wall beneath the front deck of the house. This area will be finished with a cement patio between the rock walls. The earth and shale held back by the retaining walls will be landscaped (by me) next Spring.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

And Then There Were Five

It seems that so much of our life on the farm revolves around our feathered friends...and trying to keep them alive. This week I noticed that our guinea troup is dwindling. We now have only five of our lovely, tick-eating "farm alarms" remaining. This is so discouraging to us, as we love our guineas. I have 30 more ordered for July and will train this next batch to roost indoors instead of outdoors at night. I fear our poor dears fall prey to owls at night. This troupe of guineas has always roosted in the tree outside their coop at night. A little research on the subject has taught me that you can train your guineas to return to their coop each night by offering them a little white millet (favored treat of guineas worldwide). I cannot bear to lose any more birds...so I will keep my fingers crossed that this practice helps.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Strawberry Picking Time!

Oh, how I would love it if you could reach through your computer and help me pick strawberries! We have thousand and thousands ready for picking. I picked for a short while and before I knew it had 12 quarts filled...and never made a dent in the patch. I still have some of last year's strawberry jam left, so I will need to find another way to use them this year.

Some of our patch was planted in everbearing strawberry plants...so we will continue to have some berries ripening until Fall. Yum.....there is no strawberry better than a home-grown one! Please...help youself....there's plenty!

PS: Our chickens love a strawberry treat and get all the berries that are just a little too ripe to last in the refrig.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bird Dilemma

Yesterday as I was driving the lawn tractor through the apple orchard, my eyes caught a glimpse of something moving in the grass. As I turned off the mower and approached it, its little mouth opened, revealing a bright yellow orange throat...hungrily searching for its breakfast. There in the grass, all by itself was a baby bird, feathered, but unable to fly on its own; no mother in sight.Now here is the dilemma....should I leave it alone and risk the probability that some hungry predator would find it, or pick it up and place it back in its nest? For about 5 minutes I stood there talking to it...trying to decide the best course of action. I knew that I could not adequately care for this bird, so it seemed that placing it back in its nest was the best option. I scooped up my little charge and headed back to the house in search of a ladder.

With ladder in hand, we headed back to the orchard. Luckily, I had found the bird on the ground directly beneath a nest in the apple tree above. So, to that nest I returned my feathered friend.

I am hoping that I did the right thing....and that its mother will return and care for it until it is big enough to survive on its own.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Few More Finishing Touches....

Work is slow this week...with emphasis on sanding and finishing the walnut flooring. However, a few more finishing touches have been added.

A hearth for the basement woodstove (still in need of grouting)My Pantry screen door (without screen)

It is all of the decorative touches that get me excited for completion. Having a pantry will be a luxury that I have only dreamed of....in addition to having enough kitchen cabinet space to make cooking and baking much more efficient.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Natural Beekeeping

Last week's weather was bad for honey production. Even with all of the blossoms on the trees, our girls spent most of the week inside their hives...consuming the honey that they had spent the past couple of weeks producing (that's what happens when it rains for extended periods of time). Finally this weekend, the sun returned and the girls were back hard at work...gathering and storing nectar.
As part of my natural pest management, I am using IPM bottomboards in my hives. These grid-marked plastic boards slide beneath the hive's screened bottom board. I coat them with a thin layer of vaseline and then check them after a period of time to see how many mites have become trapped. It is suggested that you check the IPM boards after 3 days have passed, count the mites and divide by three for an accurate varoa mite count. Because the previous week had been so phrenetic with construction issues, I did not get back to check my IPM board until 1 week had passed. I found a few mites....but not many. The white arrow in the next picture points to a mite. They are visible with the naked eye...but too small for my camera to adequately focus upon. Most of the other markings on the IPM board are from pollen and debris. I will clean off the boards, re-vaseline them and check them again routinely to keep an eye on the mite problem. If I see an increasing trend in the mite count I will turn to other measures to help control this problem. Mites are a part of beekeeping....especially if you elect to practice natural beekeeping (without chemicals). As long as mite counts are manageable, I will consider this practice successful.

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Finishing Touches

By the end of last week, we had several additions to our log home construction.....

Two garage doors just like this...

Sinks, faucets and ceramic tile on the master bathroom vanity....Stairs from the living room to the loft, with banister....

Cabinets in the laundry room (which I assembled and varnished)....

This week's construction will be relatively slow. The walnut hardwood flooring is scheduled for staining and varnishing. Our construction crew will be banned from the inside of the house while floor finishing is happening. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so that they can get more outside work completed! The week after will be "full speed ahead", however, with all of the cabinetry being installed.


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