Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz

  The buzz is bee's!  We have our two hives set up and going.  Again the things you can have mailed to you astound me! 

This is two packages of Bees. Enough for two hives.  They are all clustered at the top as this is where the food can and queen is.  Now to get them from this into the hive boxes.

Here is one hive.  With a few frames missing where we'll put bees, then come back in a couple days and add the frames back in. 

So here are some bee facts... Almost all the bees in a hive are females.  Female bees do all the work.  The Queen lays eggs and then the women get to work taking care of the eggs, feeding the queen, making wax, cleaning the hive, collecting pollen, and making honey.  In a bees life they will do all of the jobs for a time. Only the oldest bees actually leave the hive to collect pollen as they may not come back.  The hive makes what are called Drones, male bees, in the spring and summer but the males do nothing in the hive.  There only job is to mate a queen.  When winter comes the Drones get kicked out of the hive and die because they don't want to feed them all winter.  Drone bees can't even sting. Poor guys have no defense but really don't work a day in their lives.

So back to getting our bee's into the hive.  The bee's follow and stay with the their Queen so we have to get her in the hive.  The package makes that easy as she will be in a cage that has a candy stopper that the bees eat out to free her. 

First we sprayed the bees with a Sugar Syrup of 1 part sugar and 1 part water. This kept them busy cleaning each other off and they stick together a bit to make getting them in easier.  The Metal circle is the food that comes out first. 

 Here's Super D putting the Queen cage in. She's in the middle of that mess of bees.

Next Shake the bee's into their new home. All goes well but notice Super D's hole filled jeans?

Yep, bee's found those holes! Super D got lucky and didn't get stung bad. 

Ok, bees are in!  Yeah!  Now just one more hive to go.....


This one I got on film. So here is the installment. Super D changed for the second hive.  (I tried to get the video uploaded but it just wasn't working. Will try again later. )

All set up.  Just two hives. We have the other part of the hive bodies on the ground but will move those after the bees calm down.  With a good year we will have some honey at the end of summer!

In all Sugar Bug got stung and Sassafras and I got bees stuck in our hair but no stings and Super D got stung on the lip with the second hive. He really thinks he can do all this with out the bee suit and so far has done great! He did get gloves and hasn't gotten stung since that first day. He's much braver than I but I do help and get close enough to hand him supplies and check out the hives.  It is a neat thing to watch them grow.  I'll keep you all updated on their progress.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


     I'm starting a new category.  Ever wonder what we eat around here?  Maybe not but I've had some ask.  We have lived for a year now with no refrigerator or microwave.  While I will be happy when we get the refrigerator working I haven't missed the microwave at all.  Although Super D and Sugar Bug have missed microwave popcorn a bit I like the stove popped stuff better.
     So how do we keep food cold?  We do have a refrigerator in the trailer but it's not functioning yet so I put frozen water bottles in it and use it like a cooler.  We are fortunate to have access to a freezer at the in-law's about a mile away.  To be fair it is our freezer we brought with us but we were struggling to keep it running here and didn't have a good place to put it so it was outside.  Probably not the best for it. So it is now in their garage and we share it with them.  It really works out pretty well. We are slowly learning how to keep food with out freezing it and will start canning a lot more this summer.  The future plan is to have a root cellar and not need a freezer. 
     But back to now. My goal is to post about our food once a week.  Probably through out the summer.  We try to spend very little on food and continue to move towards growing and producing all our own food.  These posts may be recipes or just information about how to keep, grow, or find certain foods.  I also hope to include cost of eating with these.   

   I'd thought I start with breakfast, around here we VERY rarely eat boxed cereal.  First because it is expensive and we can easily polish off one box to fill everyone up in a morning. Two because they are very unhealthy especially the cheap kinds we would buy because of reason one.  ;)

To replace cereal when we need a quick breakfast I make granola.  This can be made ahead of time and kept for a week to two although it never lasts that long here. Plus it can be made over the fire or on the stove or even in the oven.  Very versatile!

Campfire granola I pictured in 1 month Anniversary post.
Here is my recipe. 

Sweet Ma's Granola

1 Cup Butter
2 Cups Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)
1-2 teaspoons Cinnamon (optional)
6 1/2 cups Oatmeal (18 oz pkg) (I always use old fashion)
About 6 cups of what ever combination you want of...
Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Peanuts, Sunflower seeds, Coconut, Raisins, Dried Apples, Dried Cranberries, Dried Cherries, Dried Apricots, or any other nuts or fruits you think you might like :)

The method is to melt your liquids stir in oatmeal and add ins and cook.
Oven Method = Pour Granola on cookie sheets with side or large cake pans and cook at 400 degrees. Check and stir often.(every couple mins!)  It will take 20 - 30 mins. Take it out when it is browning and all is toasted.   Dump on wax or parchment paper to cool.  Watch carefully as it will burn fast if you don't keep an eye on it.
Pan Method = Melt your liquids and Cinnamon in at least a 4 qt pot.  Then add everything else and stir.  Stir often while it cooks when the bottom of you pan turns a dark brown and the granola starts sticking together it's done. Take off heat and dump on wax or parchment paper to cool.

    Now all that said. Play with this recipe.  I never make my granola the same way twice.  If  you want to stay away from butter use a different oil.  Maybe sunflower oil or canola.  (I'd steer clear of olive oil as the flavor probably wouldn't be a good match) 
When I made the Stuff in the picture I didn't have any nuts or dried fruit so I increased the ratio of oatmeal and added more spices like nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. 

      Once when we were looking for a sweet treat I made some and added peanut butter at the end to make it into balls like a cookie.  Sometimes it's okay to play with your food!

Tell me...
Did you understand my instructions? Any questions? What did you try? What combinations did you like?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Canyon Hike

My sister-in-law had a birthday and wanted an adventure to take the family on. Well, we got it.  We went hiking up and down a canyon and it was the perfect way to kick off spring!  Enjoy the view...

The Beginning.  There was a small trail along this creek but it quickly turned to more climbing than walking.  A true hike in my opinion. :)

    Cousin C and Sassafras were not amused.  Waiting for the stragglers was no fun.

     View from the top. 

  Good thing she wore orange and I have good zoom on the camera as this is zoomed in all the way otherwise they looked like ants at the bottom from where I took the last picture!

  Grandma S where we stopped for a break before heading back.

   The water was rushing everywhere and we had lots of little waterfalls to look at.  I loved it!

  Looks almost alien huh? These's are frog eggs sitting in a puddle.
Here my sister-in-law picks up a cluster.  You can see the tadpoles forming.  So neat. Now this is hands on school!

This fence lizard trying to stay warm is the only other life we saw this day.  I'm sure we were loud enough to scare anything else off.

End of the line for us.  There was to no way to get to this spot with out getting very wet. :) 

As incredible as it sounds this is a cave entrance.  Were glad no one fell in but of course that didn't stop us from climbing down to check it out.

Sassafras climbing out and yelling at me to put the camera down and help her. 

Super D took this one from inside the cave looking up at Sugar Bug.

    Also taken from inside the cave it had a second entrance from the water.
This picture taken from the other side. 
Passing little ones down. We have to get down through the hole under the rock.
Here's me landing. We all ended up with wet feet at some point in this journey.  I'll be sweet and not post all the others coming through this space.  I want my family to keep talking to me at least ;)
Our little neices were such awesome troopers.  We had to pass them over several spots as we criss crossed the creek on our way down.
Aunt M looking back while catching her breath. Yes we came through all that!
We made it! (actually this spot is a drive away from where we hiked)  Our Family photo. 
Happy Birthday Aunt S.  Hope you had a great day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Healthy Chocolate Milk

What can I say we like our chocolate around here.  With 3 girls in the house what did you expect!

 So I was in the kitchen the other day craving something sweet but still wanting to stay away from sugar.  So as I rummaged in the cupboards I found I had cocoa so I racked my brain what I could make with cocoa.

I decided on Chocolate Milk and threw together this healthy version that uses honey for sweetener. 

Heathly Chocolate Milk.

I just grabed a kitchen teaspoon (like what you eat your cereal with)
2 heaping teaspoons of Cocoa
2 heaping teaspoons of Honey
Just enough hot water to mix into a syrup (about a tablespoon or so) stir together.
Then pour milk to fill glass and stir. 

It was delicious and if you wanted Hot Chocolate just heat your milk.  I feel ten times better giving into my kids chocolate milk demands with this.   I think it tasted better than the  chocolate syrup we used to buy!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

All Grown up

  Easter came twice this year for us! Our chickens layed their first eggs this week!! 

Even Sassafras was excited about the eggs. It took about 5 months for us to get our first eggs.

We got our chicken coop built complete with boxes for them to nest in.

There is still work to be done but it is functional for now.  This picture was taken the day we found eggs.
Below is how our chicks grew!
November they arrived.
 December big enough to move outside!

  January taking a dirt bath..

By February they are pretty much full grown here.
They have been so much fun to watch.  They are all still very tame with the exeption of our roosters. They like to practice their dominance by chasing children that run and pecking at thier legs. :)  Our girls have gotten better about warding them off. Sugar bug carries a "chicken" stick with her to bat away attacking chickens.
We only need to have one ot two roosters so we are still deciding which roosters to keep.  We have four right now. The others will go the the frying pan. 

We feed our chickens ground corn but only feed them a couple handfuls in the morning and evening.  They get the rest of their food from the land.

So ever wonder the difference of farm, free range eggs from store? 

Our's are smaller but will get bigger as our chickens grow a bit. They are brown because our chickens lay brown eggs.  Some chickens lay white eggs, some blue, and even geen. 

I did a little research and this Mother News site tells the nutritional difference of store bought and free range eggs.  Including what qualifies as free range being that chickens are able to get food from the land.  And interestingly enough that eggs labeled free range from the store may not have the same quality as there are not strict regulations for what qualifies as free range.
We have eaten our share of store eggs the cheapest you can buy and some inbetween grades but farm fresh are by far the best tasting!  If  you have a way to get good eggs I highly encourage you too.

Any questions??  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

More Power Please....

So I keep wondering if any readers wonder how I post on a blog when my profile tells you we have no electric? I guess I may need to reword it now that we have a well too. ;)
We have electricity but we are what they call off the grid.  We don't get our power from a power line feed by a power company that we pay to use their energy.  We run off of Solar.  In some of our pictures I'm sure you've seen our solar panels in the background.
This picture is from shortly after we moved here.  We had the panels leaning against the trailer until we could built a stand for them. 
Super D made these panels while we were in CO.  So we have had some power from the beginning.  The panels supplied enough energy for us to power or lights, TV, X-box, and freezer last summer.  At the end of summer we moved our freezers to a family members house to power while we were on our trip to Colorado, we never moved it back.  It worked out well there and we share it with our family too. 
Now, Super D has gotten into the business of selling and installing Solar for others.  Since we made our panels the cost of solar has come down significantly.  So we bought some new panels...
See the new panels leaning against the old behind the blue thing.  (that is the pressure tank for water.. and I was getting my garden rota tilled! Yeah!)
The difference is that the factory made panels produce more power than our homemade ones.  We upgraded a bit.  We have plenty of power most days.  When we have long stretches of cloud cover and run down our batteries we have a generator for back up.
Will we ever get on the grid?? Maybe, we did look into it but it costs to much to get us hooked up.and while I love not having a electric bill solar does take more thought and effort to watch what  you are using.  In the long run that is probably a good thing as we aren't wasting energy just because it's available.  But that also means we think twice about everything we plug in and things we want that will run off electric.  Eventually we will have enough solar or be on the grid to not worry to much about it. 

 You can tell we live in the information age as it was easier for us to get DSL Internet run to our place than to get a well drilled!  We are fortunate to live where they ran DSL so we have good Internet, go a couple miles up the road and they are still on dial up or have to get satellite Internet. 

So while we may live in the middle of nowhere we really aren't in the dark.  We have plenty of electronics to entertain and keep us busy along with everything else. :)
Any Questions?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

1 Year!

It's a little hard to believe but we have been here 1 year.  It feels like we still just got here!  As I look back at the last year I do so with good memories.  I don't think we are as established as we wanted to be a year after getting here but we are well on our way.  We have had some discouragements like our well taking so long to get, the cost of some things being more than we expected and being low on funds at times, and weather not cooperating with our plans to get things done.  But on the whole we have been very blessed also!  Super D has work that he enjoys with flexibility, we did get our well in, we have friends and family supporting us, and we have been well fed and cared for.  As a family we are less stressed, more relaxed and happier. We certainly have less as the world may measure but that just means we have less to worry about. 
We still have along way to go but that is half the fun :)  We are still dreaming and making plans.
As I sit here writing this I am listening to the chickens crow outside which means we will have eggs and meat soon, the rain is on it's way which bodes well for a good garden this year, and my fire is stocked so we are warm.  I really could not ask for more.  Well, OK I admit I still want running, hot water but I can be patient as I know it will come.  

So again I am looking forward to spring as it brings the promise of hope for good to come!  Hope for a good garden, hope for a fun summer, hope for running water, and hope for unexpected blessings that amaze me continually.

We had a blessed Easter and I hope you did too.  Here are some highlights from our weekend. 

Sugar Bug dying eggs with the cousins.  They dyed 3 doz eggs and wanted more. The little one ended up with blue hands but they had fun!

  Cousin S here is Sugar Bugs little shadow.   The Go-Kart is the newest addition to our fun toys.  They have had a blast driving it around.  We were blessed with a beautiful Easter day in the 70's so we could picnic outside!

 This was the cousin's first Easter egg hunt.  They caught on quick and had a blast! 

The men have to gather around a car to chat right.  In this case the go kart to talk cars and of course how to make the go kart go faster! LOL.
And of course there is the test of strength.  :)  We had a great Easter with family and friends. Sassafras helped me out and made a wonderful Peach Cherry pie for dessert.

Looking forward to more fun times this summer!  Lot's of projects on the to do list.  :)