Sunday, June 15, 2014

Things are Buzzing Around Here

It has been almost 3 weeks now since we got our bees.  I am so in love with them and fascinated with them.  They are such a mystery to me and I can't stop reading any little bit of information I can on them.  I have checked the hives twice now, on my own.  Robby come with me for moral support, but for the most part, I am doing it myself.  Today we checked them and they appear to me to be doing well.  We were able to find the queen in one of the hives and were able to see evidence of her existence in the other hive.  I could clearly make out larvae in the cells, so I know she is there doing her business.  We also were able to witness the hatching of one brand new bee.  We found two dead bees outside of the hives, so I guess it may be the end of the life cycle for the first round.  Bees live for 6 weeks, or so I read, so it is expected that they would start to die off now and a constant flow of new ones be emerging.
I am getting more comfortable with the bees and not so nervous around them.  I think the next time I go out, I will skip the gloves.  As a nurse I hated wearing them and I hate wearing them for beekeeping too.  I like to feel things against my skin, it gives me a better idea of what I am doing.  The bees are very tame and docile the times i have been out with them, and I think as long as I am staying calm and I am checking on days when the weather is good, I should be okay.

Those yellowish cells are filled with pollen.  This frame is just starting to be worked on by the bees.

I literally could just watch them for hours, but they wouldn't like that too much.

This is a brood and , the football shaped area is where the queen has laid eggs and the cells have been capped over, waiting to hatch.  The open cells are filled with nectar or may have an egg or larvae in them.  The yellowish/white at the top left, is honey the bees have made.  From what I can tell, the colonies are healthy and have established themselves well, since they were moved to my hives.  I am a VERY NEW BEEKEEPER, as in 3 weeks new, so if anyone has any advice they want to give, I am all ears.

On another note, the vegetable garden has LOVED all of this rain we have been getting.  My plants, and weeds, are growing unbelievably well and my flowers are starting to bloom which should bring the bees on over to the vegetable garden.  Last weekend was busy and this weekend was half spent in Richmond with my Dad for Father's Day, so we have only had today to work on weeding, staking, tying up and harvesting.  It has bee a great year for my lettuce, kale and other greens.  It is still all going strong and hasn't started to bolt.  The arugula has bolted, but I keep picking the flowers and adding them to dishes, I really love the taste.  For the exception of our tomato plants, we started everything by seed so our plants are a little smaller at this point than in years past.  But I think they look much healthier and are going to do really well.  Just can't wait for our first tomato though to put on fresh bread with fresh basil and some homemade mozzarella cheese!
 The view from my bedroom window looking down onto our garden.

     Raised bed with lettuces, kale, sunflowers and herbs.                                                                                                       
Simpson Lettuce going strong.

Swiss chards, carrots, beets and garlic..

Green beans.....planting plenty this year to can and to make into Dilly Beans, last years newest recipe for me.

Cabbage....we planted late but I think we are going to be okay.

 Potatoes, lots and lots of potatoes.

 Banana Peppers

 Borage for the bees, the tomatoes and me.

 San Marzano of 5 varieties we have planted this year.

 Zinnias, my favorite cut flower for the house.  Can't wait for them all to start blooming.

 Dill all time favorite edible flower. won't be long now.

 First time growing Kohlrabi........hoping it is going to be a success.

 Second planting of green beans just starting, cucumbers, squash and green onions

 Sunflowers reaching for the Heavens towards my mom.

 No day in the garden is complete without a snake sighting, or in this case, a skin sighting.  Ugggghhhhh.

 Newest additions to help with bug population and fertilizing.......4, one week old peeps.  They were born last Saturday here at Poulet Chateau.  That is their loving mommy, Beanie.

My beautiful Oak Leaf Hydrangea, growing strong.

They are calling for more rains this week, so I suppose all the weeds I pulled will be replaced with new ones.  That's okay, my plants are happy and thriving and our corn and soybean crops are happy too.  There is always something that needs to be done around here, but we try and take the time to stop, sit and just enjoy what it is we are trying to achieve.
In two weeks my great-niece will be here for the first time, and I can't wait to show her around the gardens and introduce her to the chickens.  She will be 11 months old when she comes, but still old enough to make an impression on.
I am linking up with Amanda Soule, over at SouleMama to show my gardens progress and see other beautiful gardens.  Please check her out if you love this life as much as I do.
Have a wonderful week and happy gardening.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ramblings of an Unsettled Mind

I don't know what this post is going to be about.  I just feel the need to post something.  I am bursting.  Bursting with emotions, feelings, joy, desires, goals, wants, needs, ideas, dreams.

24 hours in a day and a good 8 of them being spent in darkness so that we can sleep and re-charge our body and soul is simply not enough.  Not enough for me to spend the amount of time that I have to spend at my job, the amount of time I want to spend on my art, the amount of time I want to spend in my veggie gardens, the amount of time I want to spend in my flower beds, the amount of time I want to spend making delicious homemade foods of all varieties and not enough time to spend being a loving and giving person to those I love the most.

There are so many things that are filling my tank right now and I am overflowing and don't seem to have an emergency tank to fill with the overflow.  I am so high on life right now and it is a feeling I have not had for so long, that I am not quite sure how to manage it.  I feel as if at some point it is all going to come crashing down around me if I don't get a grasp on all that I have going on.  I am famous for getting myself into too much and then not being able to control the situation any more and let it all crumble around me.  I don't want that to happen anymore.  I want to rein in this energy and get it under control so that I can retain some control.  I feel as if I am moving at warped speed and I am going to crash head first into a cement wall if I don't watch my step.

I haven't felt this alive and filled with energy in such a long time.  Life is great but it can become stagnant and everyday is routine and the in and outs of my day can feel as if I am on auto-pilot and have no real control.  I am surrounded by so much beauty and simple pleasures, I really want to just take the time to enjoy it all.  I feel like I have been given a specified amount of time to enjoy this freedom and I am just trying to squeeze every bit of life, freedom and carefree living out of it that I can.  For I know, the shoe will drop at some point and this all will come spiraling down and I will start again from ground zero, yet one more time.

But in the mean time, I am going to keep hoping for more than 24 hours in a day and live life to the fullest, finding the beauty in the simplicity of it all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Living Life and Loving It!!!!

So, I have been away for quite a bit, but no need to worry..... I have just been living life.
After reading so many wonderful blogs and wishing my life was a certain way or different, I realized I needed to get off my butt and go live it.  And so, that is what I have been doing.  Working towards living my life they way I want to and love to.  And then, in the late hours of the evening, when I am worn out from living, I sit back and look at a few photos and blogs of my favorites and say, "Wow, my life is just as awesome, yay for me!"

One of my all time favorite blogs has been Amanda Soule's, SouleMama.  Amanda is the editor of Taproot  magazine, my all time favorite publication.  Every year, she does a series on her blog that is a follow-along of her family's veggie garden and shows the projects and progress their garden is making thru the growing season.  I LOVE seeing people's gardens, real people's gardens.  People who do the work themselves, make mistakes, learn from mistakes and are happy and willing to share with other like minded souls.  Amanda also encourages all of us to join in her little project and share photos of our own gardens, our trials and errors, our successes and ideas.  So, this year, I have decided to take part.  My little garden takes care of my family just fine and in time, when I have more time, I hope to enlarge it and garden on an even larger scale.  A scale that is big enough to possibly take care of more than just our family, but that is a future dream, not the reality of this growing season.

We are adding honey bees to our property this year.  At this time, the hives are ready to go, we are just waiting on our bees to show up.  We don't have the hives in our vegetable garden, but I am thinking it may not be such a bad idea to put them there.  I have noticed in Amanda's posts and photos, their bees are in their garden area.  I may have to follow suit and move our hives into the garden.

So without further ado, here are photos of our 2014 Growing Season so far.  Please join this fun thread if you would like and check out Amanda's beautiful and oh so inspiring garden, life and everything over at her blog, SouleMama.  But remember, just read a little and then, GO OUT AND LIVE LIFE!!!!!!!!!

Beauties that I got for Mother's Day to adorn my gardens and help the plants.  Companion gardening is a great way to fight off unwanted insects and other larger animals from you garden.  Here I have Marigolds, which keep the deer out, Calendula and Borage which help with tomato hornworms and other garden pests.  The borage also attracts thousands, I hope, of honeybees and I am all about that this season!

A second story window view of my veggie garden.  Each year it gets bigger and better :) The raised beds on the right are my cooler weather crops and my asparagus bed.  I experiment a lot here and sometimes grow things a little less familiar to me.

One of my raised beds where I grow, beets, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, and garlic.  We will see how it all grows, carrots always give me trouble.  

Our asparagus bed which is now going to seed.  It's in it's 4th year and we were able to pick a lot this year.

Beets, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard and garlic grow at one end and at the other end is a variety of lettuces that we pick for salads.....Mesclun Mix, Arugula, Simpson, Red Leaf, varieties of Kale, Freckles and Romaine.  I also have Sunflowers planted in here to honor my mom, who i lost 2 1/2 years ago and love and miss so dearly.

A view of the garden where the magic happens.  This garden is 50ft. x 60ft. approx.  We plant our tomatoes, cukes, squash, onions, potatoes, peppers, beans, basil, parsley, cilantro, onions and many other herbs in here.

Nasturtiums that I panted from seed to grow in the veggie garden where we plant most of our veggies for eating and preserving.  We use the leaves and flowers in our salads.

Those little green things?  Those are potato plants bursting up out of the ground.

For Mother's Day, my youngest son Trevor helped me plant 43 tomato plants of different varieties.

Every year I try a different vegetable from the usual.  This year will be my first year to plant Kohlrabi.  The plant is beautiful when it is growing and I look forward to trying it out in my garden :)  Also trying a perennial vegetable called Mashua, a tuberous plant very similar to nasturtiums.

Close up of my beautiful Calendula.  So very pretty, bright and cheery.

Beans are breaking thru the soil.

 View of the garden from the far corner, looking up towards the house. We are enclosing the whole thing in fencing so that the chickens will stay out of it and we can expand a little more over time.

 As with most of what we do around here, post holes are dug the old fashion way, with a post hole digger.  Fun work indeed.

No, these aren't groundhog holes, just a few of the many that need to be dug.

So there you go, a little glimpse at what we have so far.  I will update once a week or so as things grow and progress.  Please feel free to join in and check out Amanda's blog for more links.
Happy gardening.