Category Archives: Hard work

New Cattle Working Pen

On February 20th our new cattle holding/working pen had progressed to this.

Hubby and I have been working everyday on the pen when the weather permitted.  We were delayed in the beginning due to problems finding the lumber we needed.  One of our neighbors, Mr. All, has a portable sawmill and sold us 20 of the 1 x 6 x 16 boards to get us started.  We then finally found a sawmill that took private orders and we bought 100 of the boards.  Most sawmills that we contacted don’t take private orders anymore and only sell to commercial builders such as mining operations.

100 oak boards from Bennett’s Sawmill in Lowmoor.

First row of posts are boarded and this side of the pen faces Little Mountain Road. We put heavy woven wire on first and then put the boards on top of that. We did this to prevent the cattle and calves from sticking their heads through the fence and breaking the boards. We’re learning from EXPERIENCE!!

Post holes are dug using a drill and our Kubota tractor. We are drilling into a bank of slate and sometimes had to use our big tractor and its front loader to press on the drill to force it into the slate and break it up.

Next row of posts are dug and post put in the ground with Quikrete.

And some bracing rocks are placed in the holes for durability.

This is the roll of wire that we placed between the posts and the boards.

The is the outside of the pen next to the main road.

This is the second section of boards and woven wire. We put boards on both sides of the posts for a sturdier loading chute. This needs to be sturdy because if the cows or calves are going to get honery getting on the truck, this is the spot where they’ll do it. They’ll try to back out, turn around or go over if they’re really anxious.

From this angle you can see the double layer of boards reinforcing the woven wire

This is another angle from the end of the pen to see the reinforced chute.

This gate is at the entry of the loading chute.The chute opens to an eight foot chute that narrows into a four-foot chute. The eight foot gate will swing from the narrow chute to the wider chute depending on what we are loading, cows or calves.

This four foot gate was then hung at the end of the chute where the trailer will load. You can also see another short gate about half way down the chute to help control turning and backing. Cattle are more apt to go into a wider space at the other end and that’s why we start with a 8 ft space that  narrows as you get toward the end of the chute.

This section is where the wider chute will be and the next we will board up. The posts are set and now we put the boards on. I might mention the posts are treated but the boards are not. We are using 3 inch screws to mount the boards. Once those green boards dry they’ll make the chance of coming out because the boards will shrink around the screws.

This is another section of the pen that we expanded from the old pen. We were experiencing lots of pushing and shoving when trying to separate 50 – 75 head of cattle at the same time. This section will have a gate that opens on both sides at the end of the pen toward the scale house. We can release them into the barnlot or if we still need to do some separating we can release them back in to the loading section.

Yes we have a scale house. The scales with in this building are state certified every year. We can watch the growth of the calves, we can check the weight of the cows or bulls and we can get an idea of how much weight is going to the market before they’re loaded on the truck.

This all I have for now but will continue the saga when the pen is completely finished and we can send a load of fall calves that we’ve weaned and been holding for the completion of the pen and hopefully a price increase.  I’m hopeful it will be completed this week!!!

Hay Season 2016 . . .

It has officially began on Caldwell Farms. I’m going to miss seeing those waves of grain in the field while sitting on the front porch every evening.

The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.

The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.

The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that's closest to the house.

The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that’s closest to the house.

This fields total yield last year was 191 and we're anxious to see how it does this year.

This fields total yield last year was 191 and we’re anxious to see how it does this year.

Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.

Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.

The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.

The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.

The 4x5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that's pulling that baler.

The 4×5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that’s pulling that baler.

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The previous pictures are of the first field which was completed on Friday and Mr. Caldwell has moved on to three smaller meadows today.  He probably won’t put anymore hay down until the weekend because it’s calling for heavy rain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  The grass is so heavy that it has to have at least two drying days before it can be baled.  Wet grass means moldy hay which means sick cows that eat it and bad milk for the calves that nurse their mothers.

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Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.

Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.

Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay.  We've already decided it's needs a load of chicken litter.  The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.

Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay. We’ve already decided it’s needs a load of chicken litter. The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.

The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baler twine.

The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baling twine.

He's making quick work of this field.

He’s making quick work of this field.


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These ladies will be fed in the coming winter!

 

What A Day

I’m pooped and this is all you get today!

We starting splitting and haul around noon after the wood splitter warmed up enough to crank!

We starting splitting and haul around noon after the wood splitter warmed up enough to crank!

Eddie did the hauling in with the tractor from the woods and the splitting.  I hauled from the splitter to the front porch with a wheelbarrow.  Bet I lost a few pounds today!  ;)

Eddie did the hauling in with the tractor from the woods and the splitting. I hauled from the splitter to the front porch with a wheelbarrow. Bet I lost a few pounds today! 😉

We had this end of the porch stacked to the top last week but have used a little less than half with the cold snap we have now.

We had this end of the porch stacked to the top last week but have used a little less than half with the cold snap we have now.

All I have to do now is cover it all with plastic before the rain sets in tomorrow afternoon.

I’m totally whipped this afternoon and we’ll probably have a hotdog for supper instead of the roast in the crockpot because I don’t have enough spunk to fix anything to go with the roast!!

Bath Re-do

Our home was built-in the early 1800’s and is part of the 200-year-old family farm we live on.

Our home 2015

Our home 2015

I have a very small bathroom and it’s the only bathroom in the house. We don’t have a bathtub and our shower is an antique surround of metal which is in bad need of repair. I would like to buy a new shower but the old one sets up on a concrete foundation and is embedded with concrete. Until we become rich (NOT) we’ll make do with what we have.

You have to remember that our house has been in the family for at least four generations and the bathroom facility was put in when hubby was a wee one, 65+ years ago, we think!! YES I DO LOVE OLD THINGS! Anyway, here’s what it looked like before I made some minor repairs/touch-ups a couple of months ago:

Exterior of the shower walls is being sanded and reinforced for strength and to keep the water in the shower.

Exterior of the shower walls is being sanded and reinforced for strength and to keep the water in the shower.

Interior lower corner is being reinroced with a cement solution.

Interior lower corner is being reinforced with a cement solution.

Corners of the shower are rusting out really bad and hubby found a cement solution to reinforce the metal framing and it's waterproof.

Corners of the shower are rusting out really bad and hubby found a cement solution to reinforce the metal framing and it’s waterproof.

Flooring is gray tile and very outdated.

Flooring is gray tile and very outdated.

Tools needed to sand and rebuild the metal shower.

Tools needed to sand and rebuild the metal shower.

Soap dish molded to the shower wall is rusting and will take detail sanding to repair and paint.

Soap dish molded to the shower wall is rusting and will take detail sanding to repair and paint.

Shelving unit I put in right after we moved in is now rusting and needs to be replaced.

Shelving unit I put in right after we moved in is now rusting and needs to be replaced.

It took two weeks and the changes are not major but it’s much nicer taking a shower in what is new to me.

Clean, white, no rust.

Clean, white, no rust.

New tile, fresh and clean.

New tile, fresh and clean.

New shower caddy and curtain.

New shower caddy and curtain.

Made new curtains and changed some decor.

Made new curtains and changed some decor.

This was a pretty good start to my retirement and now on to bigger challenges.

 

Wednesday short

First honey of the season

First honey of the season

Jars full of sweet decadence!!

Jars full of sweet decadence!!

Taken from hive on Sunday, in the jars on Tuesday and 16 quarts gone on Wednesday!!

Taken from hive on Sunday, in the jars on Tuesday and 16 quarts gone on Wednesday!!

Now we wait for the sourwood honey!

Now we wait for the sourwood honey!

Left over strained for my hot biscuits.

Left over strained for my hot biscuits.

Weekend gratification

What an awesome long weekend I just had (Memorial Day Weekend).  I worked my tail off but the end results were so gratifying.  On Thursday afternoon and evening of last week, I moved everything off my front porch and swept down the walls, porch floor and steps.  Then I took a very stiff brush with a long handle and knocked down all the debris from spiders and other bugs and peeling paint from the ceiling and walls.  I worked until dark but even got it all mopped with a solution of two gallons of water, 1/2 cup of bleach and a cup of laundry detergent.  It still looked pretty rough but it smelled good and there were no more spiders and their nasty webs.  The wind was blowing about 20-25 miles an hour so I knew the porch would dry by the next day when I would start painting.  Here’s my “before” pictures:

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Before the cleaning 05232014 (2)

 

On Friday morning I took a trip with my beautiful daughter to Roanoke/Salem area and we visited four spots looking for flowers for my gardens, stands, gazebo and porch.  We had such a great and much overdue trip together.  Those beauties will be shown in another post after they’re where they need to be and taking root.

On Friday afternoon, the paint brushes came out and I spent about five hours painting the columns and wooden trim and part of the ceiling.  Most of the ceiling is a very pale blue siding but it’s has a wide section that flows from the porch columns up to the siding and it’s wood.  I painted it as well in the brilliant white that I put on the columns.  They looked so good but while on my step ladder I realized how dirty the ceiling was and the white siding didn’t look so white so I went at them with a vengence and what a difference.  Everything dried overnite while I worked in the yard on other projects and hubby built me another shelf on the entrance to the porch just like the one on the opposite post.  We use these to sit our binoculars for watching wildlife on the mountain.

On Saturday morning I started putting the stain and water repellent on the porch and it took about four hours because I used a brush and got down on my knees to make sure everything was covered really good.  It was dried by 8:00 p.m. but no furniture was to be placed on it for 24-48 hours.  On Sunday afternoon, I cleaned up all the furniture and put felt pads on everything.  Here’s the results:

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The end results and very nice, clean porch that has been washed down, painted, weather proofed and furniture minimized and cleaned as well.  Out damned spiders!!  Not sure how long it will look this nice with two cats and a dog always on it and muddy feet when it rains but it is so gratifying at the moment and a little swish with a broom and a mop to wipe off tracks and we’ll be set.  We’re already enjoying the evenings listening to the quiet!!

 

Heat

Winter 2014 warmth stockpile to be completed.

Winter 2014 warmth stockpile to be completed.

On Sunday morning we took off to the woods and started cutting for the 2014-15 heating season.  We found two oak trees that had been dead from the gypsy moth invasion three years ago and put more than a ton of weight on the farm truck.  Here’s a view of the visit with nature.

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IMG_0014We were there for about one and half hours and Hubby sawed the trees up and loaded the heavy pieces which were way to heavy for me and then I loaded the lighter stuff and enjoyed being in the woods.

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IMG_0004I enjoy anything that involves us being outdoors together and I love the smell of fresh cut firewood.  One of the trees was blown to the ground and heavier than the other because it soaked up the last rain.  The other tree was still standing but the bark had fallen off.  This will keep us nice and toasty next winter.  All we have to do now is split the big stuff and put it in the woodhouse.

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Handmade Knives

My kitchen has every kind of knife you could possibly ever need or use and a lot of them are handmade by my husbands Uncle Holl.  The knives stay sharp but most of them are larger knives so I have to buy smaller paring knives.  I usually buy them online at LEM’s and they are a very good quality knife.  Here are some photos of the knives that Uncle Holl made:

Knives made by Uncle Holl

Knives made by Uncle Holl

The handles are made from wood he cut at the farm.  The blades were made from steel he had on the farm as well.

The handles are made from wood he cut at the farm. The blades were made from steel he had on the farm as well.

This is a handmade knife holder that was made at the farm as well.

This is a handmade knife holder that was made at the farm as well.

I have three of the cases hanging in my kitchen.

I have three of the cases hanging in my kitchen.

Close up of the knife I use the most.

Close up of the knife I use the most.

Bigger butcher knife

Bigger butcher knife

We have two knives that a friend of ours made and the handle is made from a deer antler and the jaw bone of a black bear.  The paring knife fits my hand perfectly and the one from the bear jar will be place in the living room on an easel for everyone to see.

Paring knife with a deer antler used for the handle.

Paring knife with a deer antler used for the handle and made by Mike Duncan.

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Knife with a bear jaw handle.

Knife with a bear jaw handle made by Mike Duncan.

Handmade case for the knife

Handmade case for the knife

The bear jaw had lost two teeth and the knife maker made teeth to complete the jaw.

The bear jaw had lost two teeth and the knife maker made teeth to complete the jaw.

Just goes to show you can re-purpose almost anything.

2013 in Review

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE COUNTRY GIRL AND HER FAMILY! 

I don’t know of any year that has flown by like 2013.  We’ve been very blessed to have been healthy most of the time.

We enjoyed a fairly good harvest season and hunting season on the farm. 

January/February started with some wet weather which was good for the very dry pastures and hayfields.  It was a good start for our hay season to come. We had lots of icy mornings for me to travel to work but luckily when they are very icy I can work from home.  Through out the month we had some snow but nothing major. 

 Eddie got back into coonhunting this year and had two walker hounds and a redbone.  Later in the year he got a beautiful plott female that he hopes to train to be as good a dog as some he’s had in the past. 

Little brother, Dean, remained a groundhog, and stayed in as much as possible.  He does not like the cold weather. 

I quilted some, crocheted some and I’m working on a cookbook for my family  and  I’m teaching myself to knit!  

Eddie and I celebrated our 41st year together February 4th and our daughter turned another year older February 3rd! 

I found a new home for my Norwegian Elkhound.  She’s not turned into the hunter/farm dog I was hoping for and she is now living with a wonderful family that has two beautiful kids and Dusty loves kids and attention.  Belle, one of the new dogs, got lost for seven days and she was in sorry shape when we finally got a call that she has come into a farm on Johns Creek.  She never completely recovers from the hunt and dies about six months later.  She was the oldest of the dogs at 13-14 years of age.  The weather was somewhat wetter and we received a little more snow.

March/April is sugar time on the farm and we had our best year since living here.  Maple sugar time and I missed it because of the bronchitis but Eddie cooked off about 6 gallons of syrup and it was the best year we’ve ever had.  The weather was perfect and the honeybees got in on the event.  Some very special friends and the kids helped with the process and some of the neighbors came out to watch.

Baby calves started arriving and we had a great year with only two losses on calves and one cow died calving which allowed one of the mom’s that lost a calf to adopt our little Annabelle. She was bottle-fed for three weeks  and has turned out to be one of the better heifer calves and Eddie decided to keep her and one other black-white face heifer for new breeding stock.  You’ll have to come visit and meet her!

Our daughter, Heather, hit a deer one morning going to work and soon after she got the Tahoe fixed she hit a bear.  Both populations need to be thinned.  Craig is famous for the deer claims.

In April we planted about 30 new apple rootstock this spring and planted some apple, peach, and cherry semi-dwarf trees.  The duratio we had June 2012 destroyed a lot of our old apple and chestnut trees and two of the pecan trees.  Eddie has been kept busy clean up downed timber and filling the Woodhouse with firewood for this winter.  The last four months were wet and the hay fields, pastures, and orchards are getting much-needed moisture. 

Working at Virginia Tech now for two years in April and it’s great job. I’m amazed at the wealth of information my brain has absorbed about energy in our world and the bad press a lot of it gets.   I’ve made lots of new friends and some of the ladies that I work with have decided to start a book club and have asked me to join them once a month and we have so many book choices to choose from.  The ladies in our club have become very special friends and we have lots of fun together.

May/June/July finds us having more and more issues with Dean and he’s been with us almost seven years.  No one can imagine or will know what it’s like living with someone with disabilities and we spent almost as many years taking care of Eddie’s uncle who had Alzheimer’s.

May and June have me feeling much better after a long winter the spring weather has put me in the yard and enjoying working in the dirt.  Eddie treated me to a truck load of perennials and annuals to keep me busy.  It’s hard to find plants that love shade because our yard is surrounded with huge beautiful sugar maple trees but I think I’ve chose some great perennials to fill the void and using some herbs to fill in.  They’ll be used in the kitchen as well.

May had us planning a big birthday celebration for our son, Shawn.  He turned 40 years old June 15th!!   It turned out to be a wonderful 40th birthday party with about 20 of his friends and colleagues and our family coming to spend the evening with him.  We did a big outdoor picnic with games and we had gorgeous and what seemed never-ending fireworks but the highlight of the evening was the slide show a friend of his put together for him.  I had sent her about 100 photos of Shawn dating from birth to present and she put it together in that timeline with a music background and I was in tears by the end of the video.  I got a copy of it a couple of weeks later.  What made it more special was the fact that he received his Bachelors degree in Engineering in May and she added his graduation pictures at the end of the show.  We weren’t able to travel to Newport News for the ceremony so this was so special.

In June, we are having more issues with Dean and have decided it’s time to find some help.  Don’t let anyone tell you is a quick process to get Medicaid for someone.  UNREAL!  I’m working with our local social services to find a very special place for Dean to move to.   

In July/August, we can’t believe the rain we’ve received all spring and summer and it’s been really hard for hubby and our daughter to get the hay cut, processed and rolled. They end the season rolling almost 650 5×6 rolls. 

 Since the end of June, I’ve called over 20 assisted living facilities in Roanoke and Montgomery counties for placement for Dean but there are either no availabilities, private pay/no Medicaid, or he’s not old enough.  I’m not giving up.  He’s been with us for seven years and since I work and Eddie farms 24-7, I’ve decided he needs more help than I am able to give him anymore.

Our garden is non-existent this year except for onions and potatoes and weeds.  AND, it’s still raining.  We’ve got over 30 inches of rain this spring and summer and not enough breaks for the ground to dry and get to the weeds.  Onions and potatoes will still make good eating.

With bow season, black powder and rifle season,(September thru November) we now have a two freezers full for winter meals.  Hubby and our daughter got beautiful nine and ten point bucks and our granddaughter got a nice eight pointer on youth day.  I got a seven pointer while on vacation Thanksgiving.  

We were very blessed to have the kids and two guests join us for a big Thanksgiving feast that I cooked two days for.  The leftovers were wonderful too!!

In September I was hooked up with a weight coach and have lost eleven pounds total and gained back two but my coach says it’s muscle weight not fat so I’m happy but still have about 15 – 20 left to go.  I already feel so much better and dropped a full pant size. Happy, happy, happy!!  Since the weather has turned cold I’m using my treadmill and walking 1 – 1 ¼ miles in 20-25 minutes at a speed of 2.5 – 3 miles per hour.  I actually get more good from the treadmill than normal walking because there too may distractions outdoors to keep up my speed.

November brings more good news, I found an Intermediate Care Facility for my brother in Covington VA which is about 45 minutes from where I live.  I took him to visit the center in November and we were both so impressed.  He wanted to pack everything that night after we got back home.  It’s a beautiful one story home in Covington just off route 18 before getting into the town of Covington.  There are only eight residents(three women and five men) in the home currently and he will make nine, when approved.  He will share one of the large bedrooms with large bath with one other resident.  The rooms are bright and cheerful.  Each day the residents leave at 8:00 a.m. for day school or a job at a recycling center in Clifton Forge and return to the home at 4:00 p.m.  He will be able to decide which he would prefer to go to. The residents go bowling once a week, go to movies, and other entertainment venues all year-long.  I’m told the counselors find talents of their residents and work with them on those talents when not in school or work.  We found out while there that one of the counselors plays the guitar and Dean is taking his guitar to learn how to play.  I’ve never seen him so excited, as I had given up hope of finding a situation that fits him perfectly.  The facility is very secure with locked doors so that no one can enter the facility without being allowed to and meals are taken together in a huge dining room.  There are three rooms for watching TV and all have comfortable furniture and wide-screen TV’s.  One room is a sitting room with large screen TV for viewing DVD’s.  Dean was excited to hear that one of the other residents loves westerns as much as he does. I’ve never seen such a large kitchen in a home.  The centers directors and staff are all so very nice and pleasant and Dean naturally fell in love with all of them.  One of the residents met him at the door when we arrived, took his hand and started taking him around to meet everyone.   His application has been accepted and I just found out on Thursday that the Medicaid should be approved by the end of next week and before 2014.  If all goes well he will move in on January 6th.  I ask for all of your prayers that this will be a blessed fit for him and for me and hubby.  Our hope is that 2014 will be a blessed turn for all of us!

I messed up my hip early December and started seeing my first chiropractor and feel much better.  I will never have another negative thought about chiropractor again. 

I hope that all of you had a very blessed Christmas and that Jesus was a part of your celebration and that you all have a very blessed and prosperous 2014!!

 

I leave you now with a few photos from 2013!!

 

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He's on the alert to danger!

He’s on the alert to danger!

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Come on, give it up!

Come on, give it up!

Camouflaged in the bloom

Camouflaged in the bloom

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Jippy decided to take a nap!!

Jippy decided to take a nap!!

 

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Father - Daughter hunt 2013

Father – Daughter hunt 2013

 

Victoria's last year to early hunt (Youth Day)!!  Papa and Victoria very proud.

Victoria’s last year to early hunt (Youth Day)!! Papa and Victoria very proud.

Victorias pumpkin

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring To-Do List

I consider myself a pretty organized person.  I also consider myself a pretty hard worker.  AND, a lot of people that know me think that I’m a cleaning fanatic.  I don’t.  I clean a lot but if I don’t have a list to go by and check off, I only do a fair job.  I have lists for everything.  I have Christmas lists, shopping list, gardening list, spring cleaning lists, spring chores, fall chores, and the list goes on and on and on.  I thought I would share two of my lists today.  First is my spring cleaning list and I start preparing this list during the winter when I can’t do much outside and sitting in front of the TV at night, thinking about the things I should be doing!

SPRING CLEANING & OTHER CHORES

In each room:

Dust all decor, furniture(under & around), ceiling fans & lights, walls

Wipe down walls and baseboards, interior and exterior doors

Take down curtains and wash

Clean/shampoo furniture

Wash windows and ceils, inside and out

Clean all trashcans

Clean all fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, ceiling lights, paintings (including behind)

Clean/replace blinds

Sweep/vacuum

Mop floors

 

In the kitchen:

Purge and organize kitchen

Clean kitchen cabinets and drawers & replace shelving paper

Clean small kitchen appliances

Clean stove top and oven

Clean refrigerator and freezer (new this year, shelving paper on refrigerator shelves and drawers)

Clean all decor on shelves and all wall decor (and behind)

Clean kitchen table and chairs (don’t forget the chair rungs)

Replace kitchen chair pads
In the bedrooms:

Wash bedding

Air the mattresses for several hours and spray w/Lysol

Clean bedroom closets & purge clothing & shoes

Clean Sassy’s bed and replace mattress in her bed

In the bathroom:

Clean bathroom cabinets

Wash shower curtains and liners

Purge medicine and toiletries

Clean the toilet tank, bowl and outside
Special chores to complete during the late spring or during the spring clean:

  • Paint mantel bolts.
  • Make new quilts for bedrooms.
  • Make new hassock covers.
  • Re-finish master bedroom floors .
  • Put down corner round in guest bedroom.
  • Build bookshelves in guest bedroom.
  • Rebuild closet in Master bedroom.
  • Clean out downstairs closet.
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    OUTDOOR CHOIRS  

    • Put water spigot at back of house.
    • Clean up old herb garden.
    • Clean up game feeders.
    • Clean up bus houses & repair.
    • Move lilies, peonies & roses.
    • Board up the back of the milk house.
    • Stack wood in milk house.
    • Fix roof on sugar house.
    • Clean cellar and apple house.
    • Clean up smoke house.
    • Clean out boat house.
    • Clean up  paddle boat.
    • Replace plug in paddle boat
    • Clean up all lawn furniture.
    • Make new pillows for lawn furniture using old denim jeans.
    • Transplant peonies from mansion & red house.
    • Clean up front porch and mop.
    • Refinish & paint exterior doors from porch.
    • Clean up small chick room in hen house.
    • Tar paper interior walls of chicken house.
    • Paint the chicken house roof.
    • Clean up and store the bird feeders
    • Make more birdhouses.
    • Prune all shrubs & roses in yard.
    • Clean up flower beds.
    • Transplant more garlic to large tire planter from haylot.
    • Set up another tire planter for more rhubarb.
    • Set up another tire planter for asparagus.
    • Move furniture out of tractor shed.
    • Cut out and spray all pawpaw sprouts in back yard.
    • Put dinner bells up (corner of front yard and at gazebo).
    • Paint front porch columns.
    • Stain front porch and waterproof.
    • Clean up yard.
    • Put up solar lights at Gazebo.
    • Replace wire over chicken house windows.
    • Put new bedding in chicken nest.
    • Hang chicken water tank from ceiling near food bin.
    • Put new supers on bee hives.
    • Change batteries in solar lights.
    • Clean off potting table in yard and fill with flowers.
    • Transplant white orchid iris, oriental iris and peonies.
    • Prune and tie up raspberries.
    • Clean off tree limbs in apple orchard.

As you can see I have plenty to keep me busy inside and out of the house.  I think I need some elves or get myself cloned about three or four times.  Oh well, if it gets done, wonderful, and if it doesn’t, it’ll be there another year.  As for my clean house,  if visitors come to see my house instead of me, they can pitch in and help!!  Guess I better get off this computer and get busy!! 😉

More trees

We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight.  Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.

We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples.  Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees.  Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.

We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success.  I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established.  Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft.  At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.

DSCN0655Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live.  When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established.  We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer.  We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather.  Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.

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Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.

We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait.  Our biggest challenge will be the deer!!  The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of  deer.  Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off.  To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree.  We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then.  Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them.    So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!

 

Farm building under repair

Hubby seems to always be repairing something on the farm.  Recently he’s been working on fences, hauling more limbs out of the fields from the winter winds and last years durachio.  We have lots of repairs to buildings to be completed due to time and lack of repairs before we inherited the farm.  Some buildings were beyond repair and have been torn down and cleaned up.  This week he started on the corn crib at the mansion.

Repairs made to back of corn crib.

Repairs made to back of corn crib.

 

The winds wreaked havoc on the roof of this building and some of that will be replaced in the coming weeks and some will be pulled down and screwed down to prevent further wind damage.  The front of the crib is in fairly good shape but this end needs new support at the bottom which you can tell has sunk.

West side of the mansion corn crib and work to be done.

West side of the mansion corn crib and work to be done.

This side of the crib has an addition on it for storing equipment and is in really bad shape.  First we have to get the old bulldozer out of it and take it to the scrap yard and then we’ll begin the work of repairing the side of the building.  We’ll us it for storing the lawnmowers, tiller, and other small equipment in the winter months.  The other side of the building holds the backhoe and is in good shape.  It doesn’t suffer the west winds and rain like the side you see above.

Here’s some of the fencing that has been completed by Hubby and our daughter in the last few weeks since it’s warmed up.

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More tree limbs to pick up

more pecan trees

Eddie and Sassy repairing fence

Damage to chestnut trees

There’s always something to do on the farm and never any time to be bored!!

 

2013 Maple Syrup Season Completed

It took three days of work for my husband and a very special friend and our kids and the maple syrup is cooked off and ready to sell.  From 235 gallons cooked down to 59 pints of golden maple syrup.  

Hubby collected the sap three days and stored the tank in the garage to keep it chilled.  He and our friend from Giles county worked on it from 10:30 Friday morning until 12:30 that night and started again at 6:30 on Saturday morning.

 Several of the neighbors came to visit and watch the creation and some friends from Blacksburg came on Saturday afternoon but not in time to watch the procedure.  They were fascinated with the results and the education they received about Mother Nature and maple syrup.  

I’ve decided to complete this post with the pictures I have of the event which my daughter took.  I was under the weather and banned to the house and a very special friend stayed in with me so we could catch up while I filtered the syrup and canned it.  All in all, everyone had a good time and there were lots of smiles throughout the day!

Tap buckets are running over 03162013

Final pan boiling down 03162013

Golden maple syrup 03162013

Eddie and Jared in a maple syrup fog 03162013

Shawn skimming the foam from the sap_syrup03162013

Marion Ross joins the maple syrup festivities 03162013

Preparing to take off a batch 03162013

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Sugar house repairs

When we moved to the farm almost 12 years ago we  were way too busy taking care of  my husbands uncle who had Alzheimer.  What a horrible disease but that’s another post!!  My husband inherited our farm from his uncle which has been in the family 200+ years.  It once was the farm of at least five different links of the Caldwell family.  Some parcels were sold off and some of what we know was in a journal of one of my husbands great uncle, OFWC.  There are at this time two apple houses, two cellars, two smoke houses, numerous  grain bins, storage building, barns, barns and more barns and currently four houses.  We live in one, our daughter is building another, the other two are family homes or build somewhere in between.  We have bull barns, cattle barns, hay barns, equipment barns, bee house, and did I mention a “sugar house”??

A sugar house was built for just making wonderful maple syrup.  Our farm is loaded with all sorts of fruit and nut trees, pines, and more than anything else, sugar maple trees.  One on the property we are sure was about thirty years old when a family picture was made on the farm and that was in the mid 1800’s.  It’s starting to look pretty bad and in need of pruning or taking down but it sure pours the maple sap in the spring.  I digress again and on with the story of the sugar house.  This is what it looked like when we moved here 12 years ago and hadn’t been used since our kids were small and they’re 36 and 39 years old at the moment.

2004  and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

2001 and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

 

Time to take some measurements and start over.

Time to take some measurements and start over.

My son-in-law is a brick mason and loves restoring old building and the fixtures within.  Even though he’s my kin, I have to say he used to do awesome work.  Economy and no work has changed that way of life in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, hubby, Joel and my brother broke it down, cleaned it out and started over as you will see from the following photos.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

 

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

 

Now, I wasn’t around to take pictures when Joel was rebuilding but I think these beauties will show you what a beautiful job he did and I’m so proud of the beautiful “sugar house”!!

Bandit Ann checks for varmints Now to clean out around the pit and put down small gravel Nice pit, clean pan and tools time to make syrup Need to fix the chimney flashing Side view Sugar House Tools ready_pan full_fire heating upWe’ve used it several times since the renovations and everyone enjoys the time together!  We usually have friends and neighbors into for the day or two that it takes to cook the sap off and everyone enjoys the french toast and waffles when the first batch comes out of the pans.

The main reason I did this post is the time is upon us to tap the trees again if Mother Nature will cooperate and everyone is well.  I’ve posted in the past on the process but plan to do that again sometime next week with some new photos of last years event.  Until then, THINK SWEET THOUGHTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

New fencing in2013

A new year of fencing has begun.  Hubby pulled out the old fence over a month ago and then the weather got bad and then hunting season got in full swing.  This area of fencing is at the bull lot and had originally been made of chestnut railing.  Over fifty years ago it was used a lot and was a very useful tool for short spances of fencing.  Weather and bulls being bulls had worn it down and it’s just one more area completed.  The bulls seem to know that they won’t be pushing this fence around.    Boards were essential at both ends of this stretch due to the bracing of the heavy gate and at the other end was a short wet area where the mountain spring fed the pond.  We thought sitting the end post with quickrete would fix the problem but it was never dry enough to set up so good oak boards stretched across  a couple lenths worked fine and made for a sturdy fence. Four strands of  high tinsel electric wiring is between the boarded sections.

 

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This will be just a small section of the fencing to be done this year but it’s a good start.  Dad and daughter did a fine days work and enjoyed each others company while I was at work.

Saturday with Hubby

It’s been a good while since Hubby and I spent the day together in the woods.  The weather was nice enough (40* and sunny) for me to get out with my fingers crossed that the bronchial problems wouldn’t re-surface.  It was the last day of deer hunting season and hubby had killed two does and one buck with his muzzleloader in the last three days to complete his big game tag.  The front porch firewood supply was getting low (even though the wood house was fuller than it had been for three years) and it had been a long time since we had cut firewood together.

Porch wood stack getting low.

Porch wood stack getting low.

 

After breakfast was over, I washed up the dishes, fed the chickens and turned them out, and started the laundry while hubby fed the cattle.  Then we headed for the flatwoods with the chainsaw, gloves and a smile on my face.  We saw several deer run as we entered the woods and a squirrel took for the tree tops.

Within a hundred feet we found three dead locust and and a downed oak so we stopped the truck and I waited for hubby to bring them down and within a hour the truck was packed with wonderful fuel for the woodstoves.  We headed back to the house with the pickup full.

Truck full and some has to be split.

Truck full and some has to be split.

Notice the handmade wheelbarrow that hubby made last spring.  That thing is the best tool we own as far as I’m concerned.  It’s balanced just right and I can go anywhere with it.  Hubby decided to use the splitting maul to quarter the larger pieces and while he did that I unloaded the smaller sticks to the wheelbarrow and he pushed it to the porch for me and I unloaded it.  It was good quality time together and even though it’s calling for temps to be in the 40’s this coming week, we’ll still have to have a fire day and night.  We’re saving the wood in the woodhouse for hardtimes (snow to deep to get to the woods) and we’ve talked about doing this for the next few Saturdays together, weather permitting, and fill up the entire three sides of the front porch.  We like to do this because it blocks the winds from the front door and we will have those nasty winds.  Here’s the finished work about thirty minutes later.

One load fills up a pretty big gap!

One load fills up a pretty big gap!

From this point I returned indoors to work on laundry and other chores while hubby skinned and quarted the venison.  We had a very productive day.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I want to wish everyone a healthy, prosperous and happy 2013!!

I’m not sure where 2012 went but the goals I have for 2013 will keep me just as busy as in 2012.  Gardening, crafting, quilting, photography, family (most important) and our way of life guarantees I”ll stay busy.  I also hope to post a lot more than I did last year but feel pretty good about my blog.  I started it last year and I have 73 followers and 4,204 hits so far.  I’ve become friends with some pretty spectacular friends/bloggers across the United States and the world.  My goal was to promote farming and our way of life.  I sincerely believe that we all need to slow down and learn to take care of ourselves and our families.  The current situation with our government and the status of our economy should be a wakeup call to all that they need to be more dependent upon ourselves and learn to become dependent as soon as possible.  I don’t mean to bring a cloud over the day but I do want everyone to prepare for what may be in our futures.

ANYWAY, HAPPY NEW YEAR AND BLESSING TO EVERYONE!

Stores for the winter still in progress

It seems we never finish storing and preparing for winter.  This weekend hubby bought 75# of pork which consisted of three hams and 20# of  jowls.  One of the hams is currently in the smokehouse taking salt, seasoning and brown sugar.  We should be able to enjoy it sometime in March or April.  The rest was made into sausage.

You may ask why we didn’t raise our own hogs and the main reason is the price of corn.  When we figured out the time it takes to raise a couple hogs, feed them sacks and sacks of corn and grains, and then the waste that goes with the processing, we determined it’s much cheaper and efficient to buy from pork sellers.  The cost of the hams was $1.35 per pound and the jowls were $1.00 per pound.  It took us about 12 hours of processing which including some freezing and some canning.

Here’s the process we used to can the sausage:

Fresh ham for sausage

Fresh ham for sausage

First he removes the skin from the ham.

First he removes the skin from the ham.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds.  This is the true version of suet.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds. This is the true version of suet.  The birds love it and it puts some meat on their bones to withstand the winter.

 

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

 

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

 

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

 

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

 

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat.  It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat. It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

 

The grinding begins.  We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

The grinding begins. We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

 

Isn't it beautiful!!  It's now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

Isn’t it beautiful!! It’s now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

 

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

 

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

 

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

 

While they cooked we tried some for supper and it was wonderful.  Pancakes and sausage are on the menu for breakfast.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

We canned 28 quarts of sausage and froze the remainder in bags much like you see in the grocers.  We’ll use this first instead of the canned because we found that frozen sausage keeps really well in vacumned sealed bags but they are expensive.  Since we only had about 15 pounds left over we decided to use the bags pictured in the following photo.  These bags just don’t keep the meat from freezer burn as well.  We have a tape machine that seals the bags but they’re not airtight.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

All done!!

Sampler quilt beginnings

I’ve set a goal for the year of completing a king-sized sampler quilt in burgundy as the primary color.  I started it yesterday and completed six 10 inch blocks.  Now, I just have to keep it up and hopefully have all of the 200+ blocks completed in three months, I hope!!  I thought I would share the blocks as I go along so this will be a continuing post.  Here’s the first six:

Block  #1

Block #1

Block #2

Block #2

Blcok  #3

Blcok #3

Block #4

Block #4

Block #5

Block #5

Block #6

Block #6

I think this is a pretty good start and if I 12 weeks to complete 200 blocks, that means I have to complete about 17 blocks a week, which works out to three a day for the next three months.  WOW!  Maybe I’d better rethink this time limit and make it six months instead of three.  Oh well, I will get it done and I will post as I go.  Wish me luck!!  Did I tell you I also have three baby quilts to start and finish by JUNE 2013!!!!!!!

Orphans at the farm

I love babies of all kinds and have raised two kids of my own but I’ve also raised several orphan animals and thought I would share some pictures of them.  It’s very gratifying finding them quick enough to get some warm food in them, warm blankets around them and a good warm bath no matter if they’re furbearing or feathered.  Here’s some of my babes:

 

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

Heather & Shawn, my beautiful children.

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn't raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

My gorgeous granddaughter, Victoria. I didn’t raise her but had her with me every moment I could!!!

 

Sassy - our current baby!!

Sassy – our current baby!!

 

Sassy  & Dandy

Sassy & Dandy

 

Brandy

Brandy

 

Annie and the triplets

Annie and the triplets

Baby

Baby

 

Precious and Bambi

Precious and Bambi

 

Cuddles

Cuddles

 

Little Dan - now he's all grown up.

Little Dan – now he’s all grown up.

 

Baby chicks

Baby chicks

Half grown mallard babies

Half grown mallard babies

 

Baby Dude

Baby Dude

Fuzzy

Fuzzy

 

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

Baby Alex & Alexandra-dogs made them orphans

 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Garth

Garth

Roxy

Roxy

I can’t begin to tell you of all of the cats, dogs, fawns, squirrels, calves, rabbits, chicks and ducks I’ve hand raised but I can tell you everyone of them was worth the challenge!!

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Babies leaving home soon

This is a happy time of year for hubby and our finances but somewhat of a sad time for me.  In the spring we had forty + babies born and now they weigh between 425# and 500# and it’s marketing season.  We’re delaying it for a couple weeks because a few have been plagued with “pinkeye” and they are recovering.  I wanted to share some of their pictures before they leave.

They’ve put on about 300 – 400 pounds since they were born and are grazing along side their moms now.  Most will only nurse a couple times a day at their present weight and they’re first to come to the feed troughs which make it easier on them when they leave their mom behind.

My daughters house

About four years ago our daughter decided to build a house on the farm and it’s coming along but not fast enough to suit her and us.  It’s going to be a beautiful home and we can’t wait until it’s completed.

May 2009

She decided to pay as you go instead of having a mortgage for the rest of their lives.  She is lucky in the fact that her husband is a mason and has done the ground work of the house and  she paid his workers for their part of the construction.  The best part of doing things this way seems to be making sure each step of the build is done correctly.  Her biggest headache has been listening to the many “advice givers”, deciding what step is next and trying to find contractors that really take PRIDE in their work.  In this day and time when jobs and housing are at their lowest,  you would think that contractors would do their best work and hope to get referrals from those they work for.  My daughter has met the cream of the crop when it comes to “men dealing with a woman”  and most of them trying to get away with a fast job and a quick buck.  What they didn’t know and found out quick is that this “woman” knows the right people in so many contractor works of life and isn’t afraid to challenge anyone when it comes to working for HER money.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and when something doesn’t look right she’s quick to find out why.  I admire her tenacity  and strong will to fight for what is right especially when it comes to a field she’s not totally familiar with.  She is not afraid to research the correct way to do things and she’s not afraid to fight for what is right.  She expects to get the same quality of work as she would give in her job.  She is deeply versed in the old saying “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”.    Anyway, I digress yet again, the house is coming along and it will be wonderful having her and her family within walking distance of our house and yet far enough away that she’ll have the privacy she enjoys and respects.  By the time the house is completed she’ll be able to write a book on the do’s and don’ts of building your home.

March 2010

August 2011

May 2012

She has dealt with bad roofers, guttering professionals that weren’t professional, contractors that don’t know what soffits are and men that  don’t know what winds we have in our area and reasoning of why she wants things done in a certain way (especially if they think she is wrong).

Anyway, the next stop is the porches and garage floor poured and the garage door put in.  This will seal up the house to keep the birds and varmints out.  She has a long way to go but hopefully before that granddaughter of mine finishes high school (this is her first year in high school) they’ll be in their “new” home .

My daughter has a lot more men to deal with in the next few years when it comes to this house but I think she has decided that she is going to look at their previous work before taking any more bids and before she let’s them have anymore to do with the construction.  Her husband’s grandfather was  a master builder/contractor and I think it might be a good idea to have him take a look at what’s been done and give her a list of what SHOULD come next and maybe even have him supervise the construction from now on.  He’s a wonderful man!!

I think the values of workers has changed a lot since I was growing up and raising our family.  So many people, old and young alike, feel that the world owes them something and the value of hard work is, in most part, a thing of the past.  Our world is changing and not for the better.  I know that God will work his miracles and help her through this part of her life.  HE never gives us more than we can handle!!

BEEKEEPING

The pictures tell the whole story!!

Bee house with eight hives

Honeybees cleaning house and making honey

Bees swarm in the spring

Capturing the swarm for a new hive

Another swarm in the top of an apple tree close to the bee house

Taking off the full super

New supers to replace the old

honey comb section ready to cut out and put in jars

Beautiful golden honey-great for allergies.

Ready for the buyers

I’ve always heard that eating a teaspoon of honey was good for slowing down or preventing allergy symptoms.  I started eating it on a daily basis three years ago because I was always really sick every spring with sinus and allergy symptoms.  I’m moving into my second year without being sick and I can’t swear the honey made a difference but nothing else changed in my lifestyle.  What do you think???

August/September Preparation for a bad winter

I can’t believe it’s the end of July!  This year has flown by!!  It’s time to start aggressively storing food for the winter, gathering wood, and winterizing all the animal sheds and the house.  I’ll save the house for last since the next two months will probably turn out to be our hottest months.  The farm equipment should be finished for the year except for a couple tractors.  Hubby always cleans them up and checks everything out for worn parts and replacement parts.  I clean up the garden and yard equipment but still a little early for that.  The major thing now is the garden.  I will have more green beans to can this coming week and weekend, more squash to freeze, onions to store and more cabbage to do something with.  The tomatoes and peppers are near ready yet and the summer “duratio” did away with most of the fruit.  Luckily I stored lots last year.

Hubby worked on filling the wood house again today and the split stack is out of the rain.  We still have a large load to split and more down from the storm to cut & split for the following winter.

All of the hay is stacked and ready for winter and hubby is in the process of cleaning up the hay equipment.  The roofs have been taken care of and I have to put new interior tar paper in the chicken house.  All of the major fence repairs have been made and the pastures are being sheared now.