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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bees are Buzzing!


Yesterday was the culmination of something that has been a LONG time in the making! We are NOW, for real and for true, beekeepers. 

We placed a. hold on two nucs at the first of the year and have been eagerly waiting for the bees to come in. Shannon even took part in a class to learn more hands on than we had been reading! I have been reading about bees for years, but he has just now started in earnest since I got him a book for Christmas. He had told me a long time ago, "Chas... if we get into this homesteading lifestyle like you want, I want bees." I was wholeheartedly in agreement, because not only is honey amazing, but I want bees for our garden! Pollination is so important! And hopefully we can do a good job and grow good hives around these parts. 


Being a brand new keeper of bees, I had NO idea how they would be transported, so I asked the guy if I could drive my little SUV and he told me as long as I didn't mind riding with them. I'm not scared of bees... but I'm not all that fond of pain either, so I didn't want to be stung if I could help it. HA

They rode just fine in the back of my "farm truck" (I jokingly call my little car that because I haul everything in it and it's never clean).  There was also a beautiful little fig tree at the farm store and I grabbed me one of them. I really wish I had gotten the other... Figs are some of my favorite fruits! YUM! 
And fig and goat cheese... and HONEY? All we are doing coming together in a beautiful bite eventually! WORTH IT!!!!  ;) 

DAANNNNGGGGGGG..... 


Shannon was at work when I went to get them, so I set the hives up myself and got the boxes of bees set beside the hives. The first step is to pull that strip of black tape off the front and allow the bees to acclimate to the environment and find their new hive home. 

I opened the first one slightly slowly... and those bees flew out like lightening. I just knew I was going to get stung because I didn't suit up. I ran and opened the other and then took off. HA. I don't run a lot... but I ran then!
They poured out of the boxes! 

Shannon came home after work and suited up to get the frames transferred. 

Bees. are. amazing... 
I mean, seriously. amazing! 
I wanted to get pictures of him doing the transferring, but again, I wasn't suited up. I needed to milk, but I was so interested I couldn't hardly stay away.


I kept inching closer and closer.





I think he really enjoyed the process and I loved watching him work. 

So hey... now we have bees!!!
I'll keep you updated on how it goes! 





Monday, April 12, 2021

New Faces on the Farm


It's funny how things work out sometimes... 
We believed that Hazel was bred and would be due to kid for her first time in April, Easter weekend actually. As time neared, we recognized there were no changes in her udder and that in fact she was not bred after all. It totally bummed me out because I was kinda counting on  being able to be "in milk"....

So after talking to a friend, she had a goat that had recently kidded and was needing a twice a day milking family. Shannon was game because he wanted us to have milk and so a deal was struck and our Laverne came home! She is SUCH a pretty girl.... and just as sweet as honey! I'm already very smitten with our new girl. She is a first freshener, which in dairy talk means that this is her first time kidding, having milk, etc. And she is doing beautifully! 
I will admit, my Hazel is a bit jealous of the attention of the new milkers... 

I said milkerS... yes, I did! Not long after Laverne came home with us, another friend messaged me about a doe in milk. Her life was not permitting her to milk like she wanted to, and asked if she could come live with us for a while and we tend to her and have her milk while she is producing. So through another happy situation, Elise is here with us for a while as well! 
And I am telling you... I am thoroughly enjoying my daily milkings.  I love hearing the family enjoy the milk. I love being able to make things with our milk... I love the goats, plain and true. They are a delight in my life. 

Speaking of making things from the milk... Goat milk caramel has to be one of the best things on God's green earth! It's absolutely phenomenal. 

Mornings and evenings... you will find me here!


Sometimes, I even have help!! And that is a treat too!


Even my little Moma, she came over last night and asked to help milk. 








I count myself very blessed. Blessed with good, healthy animals. Blessed with wonderful family. Blessed with the ability to raise some of our own food. Blessed with the life we live. 

Blessings upon blessings... too numerous to count them all, but I am exceedingly grateful!

















Thursday, March 18, 2021

Irish Soda Bread with milk kefir



Yesterday was St. Patricks Day and when the kids were young, I used to be fun and do themed foods for the day to make everything special. The kids are so much older now and don't seem to get the same thrill, but we were on a severe weather watch and I was anxious... I was also anxious about my first ever zoom call as part of the Homestead Open House, so I thought, I'm gonna take my mind off things and be fun mom again for the day.

I began by making them some green pancakes and bacon that morning! They were really good! I need to share that recipe for pancakes as well (with milk kefir). I'll do that soon.

Anyhow, so last night I made shepherds pie and Irish soda bread.
The shepherds pie is so forgiving and so good and honestly, I kinda used it like I do my fridge dump stir fry and whatever we have is what goes in! 
I used up some radishes, red bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and peas. It turned out great!

For the bread, here's the recipe!

Irish Soda Bread with Milk Kefir

Preheat oven to 400*

Dry:
4 1/4 cups flour (you can use a half and half mixture here of freshly ground wheat and white)
(or you can use a more white than wheat, but don't go more wheat than white)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Wet:
1 3/4 cup milk kefir or buttermilk
1 large egg

5 Tbsp COLD butter cut into chunks


Mix your dry ingredients together

Mix your wet ingredients together 

Take your hands or a pastry cutter and mix the COLD butter into the dry ingredients. You just want to get the butter incorporated into the flour mixture. Similar to when you are making biscuits. 

Now mix your wet into your butter/flour mixture and mix til JUST combined. This dough is not supposed to be smooth and supple like a bread dough, it looks kinda shaggy when pulled together. Once you get it combined, I greased my cast iron skillet and then put the dough on the skilled and slashed a fairly deep X on top. 

Bake for approximately 45-55 min depending on your oven. 

Remove when nicely browned, risen, and opened on top like a flower. 

The family really enjoyed this bread last night.
And you can make variations to it if you like!
Add some fruit and make it a little sweet. Add some herbs and make it a bit more savory! 
Play around with it! I've done both, and it works well! It's quick and easy to pull together and is great alongside a stew or shepherds pie like we had last night! 





Monday, March 15, 2021

Slow weekending




Yesterday was Pi (3-March 14) so it worked out extremely well that I made pies on Saturday... they turned out a little loose, so they had to set overnight, which was perfect cause I had forgotten pie day this year. Most years I always make pie for pi day. 

The weekend was busy but, not all that eventful, which was kinda nice. I like slow weekends... it makes them feel like they last a little longer. Most of the time they zoom past so rapidly! 

I worked on making jam and cutting a flat of strawberries on Saturday. I did a little work with our transplants and seeds. Getting some thing ready for the ground and some ready to start. 
I went and picked up hay and feed because Shannon spent the majority of his day doing a side job of welding. He normally does the feed run on Saturday. 
This little guy emerged from his slumber! I think rhubarb is one of the prettiest plants. I just love the various shades of green and pinkish reds! 

And then we got the surprise of this little man visiting for the evening! His parents were invited to go to dinner and this little love stayed with Granddaddy and Grandmoma! 


What an absolute joy he is to us!

I hope your weekend was lovely! 





Friday, March 12, 2021

It's the perfect time for Pumpkin Pie!



You may be saying... 
"Chas, seriously, it's March for heaven's sake!" 
"Pumpkin Pie in March?"
"It's not autumn, it's not November!"

Just hear me out! 

You may be like me and have some pumpkins or butternut squashes that are getting past their storing prime. And do you know what that means? 
IT'S THE PERFECT TIME FOR PUMPKIN PIE!!!!!

Split your pumpkin or butternut squash in half, scoop out the guts/innards/seeds.
Place flesh side down on a baking sheet.
Roast at 400* til nice and soft.
Scoop out tender flesh and puree...

NOW you have your own pumpkin/squash puree.

Let's proceed with the pie recipe, shall we?

Now if you are going to the work of making your own puree, I would suggest your own pie crust as well... but if you don't have the want to or the time, grab you a store bought crust!


2 cups of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup cream
2 eggs slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar 
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp FRESH nutmeg (I do not like ground nutmeg unless it's fresh)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter

Mix everything well and pour into piecrust.

Bake at 425* for 10 min
Lower temp to 350* and cook til set, approximately 30 more minutes

Enjoy!




Thursday, March 11, 2021

SURPRISE!


SURPRISE!!! 

We knew it was going to be soon, but we weren't ready for these little fluff balls to be coming home last night! We had built a brooder and had the heat mat, but picking up chick feed and shavings were going to be done THIS morning... WRONG! Haha... you gotta roll with it!

So last night I went to a friends house where they were delivered to pick up our chicks.
These are Cornish cross meat chickens. I hope to be able to document the whole process, start to finish at least on our instagram if you are interested! Follow along there! But I am planning to have some updates here as well, if you don't do that form of social media!


This morning I ran to our local feed store and grabbed the shavings and got these little ones set up in their new "for now" home!

The great thing about this is there is no heat lamp dangers. That warming plate/mat mimics a mother hen and the babies go under their to warm themselves and then come back out to eat, drink, and scratch! So neat! I'm glad we went ahead and bought it several months back in preparation for now! Plus it has this plastic dome on top so they can't get on top and poop all over it. VERY handy! 

Just one more step in learning and growing our own food! How exciting!




Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Happenings on the Homestead


March is flying by around here! We have several new adventures coming for the homestead. The first one is meat chickens, they should arrive THIS WEEK! Possibly even today. Shannon built a brooder for them and hopefully we will be able to keep them in the garage this way... we will see! 25 chicks may be a bit much in a tote in the bathroom. haha (we've always raised baby birds in a tote in the bathroom in the past)


We also will be diving into bees this year. Something Shannon has had a particular interest in for a long time, but beekeeping can be very pricey. We have acquired quite a few of the necessities from some dear friends, so hopefully by getting the bees we will be dipping our feet in the deep end and getting ready for this adventure. We are very excited (and nervous)!

As you can see above, the chickens are really producing right now and we are grateful! Eggs that are so full of flavor and nutrition. It's a tremendous blessing to be able to gather them each day! 



And it is about that time! The homestead open house starts in JUST 4 days!!! 
Have you signed up yet? Make sure you do! 
Click on the picture above for a link!





It's also that time of year for seeds! Planting, planning, and anticipating! So excited for what this spring/summer growing season will hold for us! 

Praying for good health, good weather, and great crops! 

Blessings!






Thursday, March 4, 2021

False spring


It is absolutely glorious outside lately. Cool mornings, warm days. Just enough to make your heart ache for spring. But as we know living down here in the south.... it's a tease! We will have some cold days ahead for sure. I just looked at the forecast and saw that one day next week will have a low of 27. brr... that's pretty cold. 
In other news.. my grandson is growing like a dang weed! He's getting SO big, I can't stand it. He's THE most beautiful child and I just want to eat him up every time I get to be with him. He smiles at me and I melt... I'm talking mush on the floor. I am so in love with him.




We have learned that our doe, Hazel didn't get bred back in November, so we brought Spot over to enjoy some time with Mavis and Hazel for a while. HOPEFULLY this time, we will have both bred and we will have some babies by July/Aug.

The chickens are earning their keep right now with eggs aplenty! I have sold a few dozen, but we still have more than we can eat right now, I believe I am going to begin a 5 gallon bucket of water glassed eggs this time... because I do not want to waste this abundance! 

I'm so grateful for the goodness of the farm. I enjoy our lifestyle so much. Even the work that goes along with everything. It's a blessing.