Sunday, May 25, 2014

Busy Beautiful Day!

Well, I had another exciting day today.  I got bees!  Yes, I got bees!  My mom and I spent the morning cleaning up the hive boxes, adding foundation to the frames, and setting up a nice level spot 18" off the ground.  Ok, so I guess I have a little bit more explaining to do here.  I have two hives that we set today.  First, since we live in an area with a lot of other wildlife, I have to take some extra precautions.  I put the hives over 18" off the ground to protect them from the skunks - they like to eat the bees like candy.  I also placed them near our electric fence to possibly help keep away the bear!  At least that's my plan.  

Setting the foundation & hive boxes

 After I had a nice level spot, we placed the first box with the entrance facing the south.  Then I put in the frames.  To help the bees get a head start, we put a sheet of bees wax foundation in each frame.  I then placed 5 frames in each box.  Once we picked up our two hives from the "bee man", we needed to "bee" careful so we wouldn't get stung... (hehe, I couldn't help it).  When we got home, we had to pop the lid off the box because inside is a special cage with the queen bee.  I checked her out and made sure she looked good.  She has a longer abdomen.  She looked great, then I pulled the cork out of her cage.  There is candy inside that the other bees will eat away to get to her.  I then place the box of bees inside too.  With my bee suit on, we pulled the lid off, placed a divider over them, and set-up candy solution for them in a second box on top.  I covered this whole set-up with a telescoping lid, sealed it up for the night, and will go back tomorrow to remove the box and open up the hive so the bees can begin their work.  By keeping them in for twenty-four hours, they will get used to their new home.
setting the queen

We did this and didn't get stung one time.  Hopefully tomorrow will go as well!  I'll keep you posted on that.

We did it and didn't get stung!
The whole time I was working with the bees, my mom and I also had a batch of farmstead cheese going on the stove.  This type of cheese takes quite a bit of time to get the curds just right, so it was a perfect day to give it a try.

Cutting the curds.
I'll post pictures tomorrow of us opening the hives and taking out the cheese after it has been pressed!  Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Busy, busy, busy...

Hope you're all enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  I know I am.  All my goat kids are healthy and growing, Peek-A-Boo is settled in, and now we even added a few more Dexters to my brothers herd.  Dexters are a miniature breed of beef cattle.  They are a recovering species on the North America Livestock Conservancy.  On Monday, my mom, Tyler, and I traveled to Claysville, Pennsylvania where we picked up a cow and a little heifer calf.  The cow happens to be the mom of the cow we already have.  So now we have Rosalind and Dream.  Tyler named the little calf Daisy.  She's adorable.  Of course we also have the bull named Macbeth.  

So, the first day they were here, Tyler took out Rosalind, brushed her, groomed her, cleaned her udder, and actually milked her.  She seemed like she enjoyed it!  The whole time he was doing that, Dream was just watching.  We've tried to milk Dream in the past, but she never stood for it, but she watched as Rosalind was getting all this attention.  When Tyler was finished, Dream actually put her nose in the halter as if to say, "Hey, my turn."  Tyler took her out and thought he'd give it a try, and guess what?  She stood for him!  Now, we get to make even more cheese from not only the yummy milk from my goats, but now from A2/A2 milk from the cows too!  We made our first batch last night.  You should see the amount of cream we get from this milk...  Ok, I just have to say it... Holy Cow!  hehe...

So our dinner was homemade lasagna with my mom's pasta, ricotta from my goats, mozzarella, homemade spaghetti sauce, homemade bread, and fried cheese.  Just delicious!

Our Yummy Dinner!

Tyler and Daisy bonding time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weeds... I Think NOT!

It's SPRING and for me, that means time to pick flowers, lots, and lots of flowers!  No, not daffodils or other spring surprises, I like to pick dandelions and violets.  While most people see these beautiful purple and yellow flowers as weeds, I see the yummy goodness that we can't wait for.  For several years now, my mom and I have been making special jams and jellies with all the wonderful things nature has to offer.  We find ourselves scanning neighboring yards and fields for anything that can be used for different flavors.  Of course we always do our homework to make sure that whatever we us is safe, but let me just tell you, our jelly only contains juice from whatever treasure we pick, sugar, lemon juice, and sometimes pectin.  There, that's it, nothing that is trouble to pronounce and the best part, all natural.  (did you know you can make your own pectin?)  I can post about that later.  

So while others are looking at those yellow and purple flowers as weeds, spraying them with nasty pesticides that are helping to kill off our honey bees, know that I look forward to those flowers.  They are one more of natures many gifts to us.  What's that saying?  When life throws you lemons, make lemonade.  When life throws you lots of violets or dandelions, learn from me, give it a try, make some jelly!  It's delicious!
Lots of violets
Picking Violets
Picking dandelions 
Isn't it beautiful?

Well, gotta go have some jelly bread to eat now!