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Homestead Update 4/16/2017

16 Apr

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I had some slopes on the Homestead that were starting to wash and develop the beginnings of gullies so I went to the Nursery and bought 1/2 of a pallet of Zoysia Sod.

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I used my Kubota tractor and disc to work and loosen the soil before laying the sod. Since then I have been watering the sod every day and it is supposed to rain several days in the coming week so I hope it takes hold. If this works out I plan on doing more of this next Spring because I have several spots with washes starting.

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The lettuce in the raised bed is doing really well. Sweet Thing picked a big mess to take to the in-laws for Easter dinner and I expect it will be delicious.

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Speaking of Sweet Thing, she has been working to straighten up and organize her sewing room. I noticed 5 different sewing machines over there and I asked her why she needed so many. She asked me how many woodworking saws I had so I just shut up and smiled!

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She really has everything neat and organized. Maybe I should ask her to come straighten out my workshop!

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On the bee keeping front, I caught my first ever cluster swarm. This lady called three weeks ago and said she had a swarm in a bush, but before I could get there the bees left. Then she called a few days ago about this swarm.

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The swarm was so low to the ground I couldn’t rake them into the box so I just reached into the swarm and pulled off several double handfuls of bees and dropped them into the box. Eventually the stragglers began to go into the opening on their own.

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After the cluster got smaller, I got brave and removed my glove and scooped up a handful of bees barehanded. That is a really strange feeling to have a hand full of bees, and not one single sting! I transferred them into a hive when I got home and now after 5 days they seem to be doing fine.

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I was out and about putting out my swarm traps and I noticed this shrub. There were many of them in this fence line and most of them had really pretty red flowers on them. I researched it and determined it is a native plant “Red Buckeye”. I think it will be suitable for naturalizing so I am going to dig up some of the smaller ones and replant them. Have any of you had any experience with this plant? And oh yeah, my swarm traps. I put out 22 traps, some of them have been out 3 weeks, some 2 weeks and some 1 week. I checked them all Friday and I had no bees. Skunked! 0 for 22. I still expect to capture several swarms and I’ll keep you posted.

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I hope all of you had a peaceful, blessed Easter. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 3/5/2017

5 Mar

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This week I planted some cold crops in my raised bed. The bed did so well last summer even with me neglecting it badly I decided to give the lettuce, broccoli and onions a try.

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I put together and painted some bee hive supers and assembled some frames. I even made some frames from scratch and they turned out really good. But, I have to say, if I can buy them from Mann Lake for 88 cents that is cheap enough not to make them myself.IMG_20170215_092921808_HDR

I saw this cardboard box on the side of the road near our house so I just had to stop and pick it up.

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Turns out, it was just filled with garbage! Oh well, you can’t find a prize every time.

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The wind blew our newspaper down the road and when I walked over to pick it up, I found this nice, Uncle Mike’s sidekick holster. Score!

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We spent the weekend in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel for a meeting I attended. While there we dined at Texas De Brazil. After consuming several pounds of grilled meats, I finished off my meal with Key Lime pie, vanilla bean ice cream, and coffee.IMG_20170302_201907071

Sweet Thing finished up with Pecan pie, ice cream, and coffee. If you go to Texas De Brazil, be sure to bring your appetite! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 12/24/16

24 Dec

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Tonight is Christmas Eve and Santa stopped by the homestead to have dinner with all of his little friends.

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Sweet Thing has the table set with her festive holiday décor so Santa can dine with reindeer and bears.

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His other friends are Elves, Snowmen, and a Christmas mouse!

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Sweet Thing has also been busy making her world famous Chex Mix. She worked three afternoons and made 30 gallons of mix.

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Here is some of it all bagged and all ready to go. A lot of people really look forward to her Chex Mix!

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Brandi helped her make the Chex Mix so now she is asleep beside me in my recliner because she is all tuckered out! Keep prepping everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Homestead Update 5/1/2016

1 May

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Well, it looks like we are going to be keeping Brandy after all. You look at this picture and say “Ah, Isn’t she a sweety.” No, she is not! She is so bad! I know why she was dumped. She bites and chews on everything, including our fingers. I understand that is partly from being a puppy, and partly from being a Terrier. We are trying to break her of the habit, I hope we make progress soon, I can’t stand to loose much more blood. We are also working on house breaking her and we are probably 80% there. Hopefully we will be 100% very soon.

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I had to work on getting my parent’s house ready for them to move in, and we are almost there. This is the dining room after I added the beadboard and trim. I think it looks pretty good.

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I was looking at my deer browse area in the back of the property and saw a lot of bees working the blooms. As I was watching that clover I noticed lots of Bumble Bees feeding there.

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As I was out working, I saw this field, probably 80 acres, just covered in some sort of Winter crop which was blooming heavily. I sure wished this field was closer to my hives, they could do a lot of foraging there!

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I saw a recipe in a newspaper that looked interesting, so Sweet Thing fixed it for me. This is a mix of Jalapenos, red and orange bell peppers, with a clove of garlic all steeped in a mixture of vinegar and sugar. Man that stuff is good! I could eat this every day! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

30 Aug

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I use this net to sweep through the soybeans I check each week. In this field I swept up several honey bees which was unusual since these soybeans were no longer blooming. But, the weeds in the field were blooming. The main weed they were working was prickly sida, commonly known as teaweed.

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It is hard to tell from the picture, but teaweeds have lots of small yellow blooms. They sure seemed to like those blooms!

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I drove by this pile of driftwood from the river backwater and noticed someone had thrown a bunch of wooden shipping pallets onto the pile. Well, you know what happened to those pallets don’t you? That’s right, I went back and got them and stacked them behind my barn. I can always use a good pallet!

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I drove by this house and noticed this bush. Do you see those dead limbs sticking up and the green foliage underneath? That is a huge, old fig bush that was frozen back to the ground two winters ago, but regrew from the roots. My small bushes did the same thing, but this bush was at least 15 feet tall. That’s how cold the winter was!

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Some of my regular readers know how I keep my eyes open and spot lots of things lying on the side of the road. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye and thought “Oh Lord, surely that is not what it looks like.” And thankfully it was just a doll. There are some evil, vicious people in the world today,  just like the nut who killed the TV reporter live on-air last week. You never know what kind of murder and mayhem you may encounter out in the world. You have to be on guard at all times. The TV and internet has been full of articles remembering this 10 year anniversary of hurricane Katrina. Many, many people said they were shocked at how fast civilization collapsed once the electricity went off. I’m not the least bit surprised. As a matter of fact, I surprised it doesn’t happen more often! The world is full of animals just waiting for an excuse to go on a rampage. The stock market crashed (not really a crash they say, just a correction) and the powers that be said don’t worry, everything will be OK. Keep moving, nothing to see here! Keep your bullets, beans and bandages stocked up and keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

16 Aug

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I didn’t do much around here this week although I did pick a few grapes from the vines I planted last Spring. I’ve neglected the orchard this Summer, but hopefully everything that survives will be tough and hardy for the future. I disked up a small area in the back preparing to plant some turnip greens when we get a rain. We have 3 days with a 50% chance this week so maybe I can get the greens planted then.

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I found the first open cotton bolls of the year this week. The bolls are small and dinky because they came from a burned up sand blow area in a field, but at least they are an omen of things to come. The end of this season is near! Finally!

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As I was working, I stopped under a tree to send a text on my phone and these chickens came running out to my truck. I guess they thought I was going to feed them. Someday soon I will have chickens here on the homestead. If you look at the top of the picture you can see the sun shining through the fog that morning. We have a lot of heavy fog days in August because of the high humidity. That’s what drives the heat index values so high in the Summer. It’s cooler this week, but the prior week the heat index was nearly 115 degrees. That is way too hot!

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This is a picture of one of the Cooper’s Hawks that live here at the homestead. When I do get chickens, I don’t know if I will ever be able to let them free range because of the hawks. Do any of you have hawks bother your chickens? Keep prepping everyone!

Happy Independence Day!

4 Jul

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As you are celebrating this Independence Day, I hope you are spending it with family and friends. I also hope you take a moment to reflect on what this holiday once actually meant. If you have not studied any old boring history concerning the hopes and dreams of our founding fathers, I wish you would take some time to do so. You will be shocked and appalled how far away we have diverged from their ideas. You can also read some writings from them and you will see they warned us about exactly what is occurring now, and how they urged us to be vigilant and prevent our current problems. Sadly, we have allowed our freedoms to slip away in the name of political correctness. God Bless America!

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One of our local volunteer fire departments sells smoked pork shoulders to raise funds and we always get two to carry to the family get-together. I decided to try it out last night to make sure it was ok. I had a pulled pork sandwich with home-made slaw and a cold Sam Adams. That was mighty tasty, I might do that again tonight!

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Even though it is a holiday, our local farmers market was open today. They had a big crowd of venders and buyers too. I bought some nice sweet corn to eat over the next few days. Sweet Thing doesn’t eat corn so it is all mine! BAH-HA-HA-HA!! Have a safe and happy holiday ya’ll!

Another Swarm Trap!

28 Jun

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This is my box style swarm trap hanging in a tree last Thursday. It must have been hot in that box, they had a small beard of bees on the outside. Sweet Thing and I went over about dark and picked it up yesterday.

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I sat the trap on top of their new hive home and let it sit overnight. After church we went out to cut them out and it still must have been hot in that trap, there was a big beard on the outside! There were 6 really nice pieces of comb drawn out and attached to the lid of the trap. The comb had a good bit of uncapped honey stores, but I didn’t see any brood yet. We did a cut out and placed them in the new hive. The bees were so nice and calm, I didn’t even put any smoke on them. After we put the comb in the hive, I shook out as many of the bees into the hive as I could. Then I just set the trap down in front of the hive and it took about 30 minutes for all of the stragglers to make their way into the hive. I really hope this swarm stays!

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You probably have trouble seeing it in this picture, but our lawn has a lot of white clover in it in this area. As I was mowing Saturday, I stopped and looked before I went over it and I saw dozens of bees working in the clover. I can’t run over those bees! So I just mowed around all the clover patches. I told Sweet Thing if she wanted the patches mowed she could go out about dark and mow after the bees quit foraging. She just gave me a really strange look, I didn’t quite know how to interpret it. What do you think it might have meant? Keep prepping everyone!

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Oh, speaking of prepping, I found this can of fruit cocktail in the pantry and the expiration date was June 2012. I decided to take them for my lunch and give them a try anyway. They tasted just fine! They didn’t have any funny taste or smell, although the color may have been slightly pale. Other than that, the can was just fine. So just because something is a little out of date, don’t automatically discard it without opening it up and checking it out. I have several nice posts in my head to go along with the pictures I take everyday, but somehow I just can’t seem to find the time to type them out. More to come.

Bee Day!

19 Jun

Last week for the monthly area bee keepers association meeting we met on a Saturday morning and went to inspect some bee hives at one of the older members homes.

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He said he was under Doctor’s orders not to pick up the hives anymore. I think he just wanted us to be there to provide some free manual labor to pick up and move the hive bodies as he inspected them.

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This is a really nice frame of capped brood surrounded along the top with capped honey. That is what a frame looks like when you have a good, healthy Queen!

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I was being nosy and checking out his garden and grape vines while I was there.

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After we inspected the hives, we met back at an area community center and had hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. Sweet Thing bought these cute cupcakes for our local baker. They resembled little bees sitting on top of natural bee hives. They were a big hit with the group!

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I caught my second swarm of bees last week. This swarm went into a box trap with 2 empty frames and they drew out both frames with wax and had some capped brood in less than 10 days! Our neighbor came over and watched while we transferred the swarm over to a hive and he was astonished at how docile they were. After we finished with the new hive we went and opened one of my older hives that started from a nuc 6 weeks ago. I was pulling the frames up and showing him things and he said why aren’t they attacking us? He thought when you messed with bees, they just went crazy attacking and stinging! He said he might get bees of his own someday. We might have a new convert!

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Some new bee hives showed up around one of the fields I check this past week. There were about 30 of these fancy, peaked roof hives. I have never seen professional hives look this nice and pretty so this must be an amateur like me, only with a lot more hives!

Homestead Update

14 Jun

I’m going to make this post short and sweet just to let everyone know we are still here. I’ve had two nice sunny, dry work weeks where I put in 70 hours each week so I didn’t do much around here except the usual mundane tasks like mowing and picking up limbs. I did manage to take several pictures of interesting things that happened the last two weeks and I will save them and post them as soon as it rains and slows my work down a little.

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I pulled into a farmer’s shop and these two adorable mutts came out to greet me. I started to bring them home with me!

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I turned on the Air Conditioner in my man-cave and wouldn’t you know it, my cats still prefer to lounge around outside in the heat!

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Most of the trees and berry vines I planted in the orchard last year are doing well, although I did have a few casualties. I picked the first blueberries of the season and ate them straight off of the vine.

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I took off early enough one evening to attend a get-together dinner for my SILs birthday and we ate at a restaurant I have not been to before. I had the blackened grilled oysters as an appetizer and they were delicious! I am going to visit that restaurant again!

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Outside the door, they had this old shipping pallet painted to resemble a flag. I have noticed some of these as I drive around on my daily routes so I guess that is the newest fad. That is a nice use of some old junk I guess, good thinking! More to come as I get more time, keep prepping everyone!