Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beekeeping for beginners

Sunday I had an opportunity to explore beekeeping- hands on. About two months back I joined the local beekeepers association (Mahoning-Columbiana Beekeepers Association). At our last meeting I asked for a mentor and was introduced to Don Kovach. He keeps bees in my 'neck of the woods' and has agreed to be a mentor for the association. He called me on Sunday to visit and look at two of his hives (he has twenty hives!). He showed me how to create smoke for the smoker, how to put the beekeeper gear on with a hood and all the basic tools to get started in beekeeping. Once the preliminaries were understood we approached the hives. He identified the drones, the larvae, and we found one of his queens! He allowed me to open his hive, lift a few frames and showed me how to feed the bees. He suggests to feed the bees until there is enough pollinating plants to support the hive. The sweet smell was divine. I have to remember to move more slowly when working with the bees so I don't excite them. Don is quite knowledgeable and a very good teacher. I am excited to put hives on our farm so I can add the word apiary to our eclectic farm list. This is what I will be preparing to do this fall and winter. Anyone wanting to get me a birthday or Christmas present... I'll create a list of beekeeping supplies that I need to begin this new journey. *wink*

Monday, May 25, 2009

My inner Farm Chick

I found an old "Atlas" blue canning jar in the garage. So I made a lamp out of it. I put in some plastic strawberries, bought a lamp kit at Pat Catans and voila'. My inner Farm Chick is creeping out again.

The ducks need their pond!

We escorted the ducks to the ditch today to see if they would enjoy a little splash. And did they ever! My daughter's friend Austin, said they really need their pond. So the group cornered Dad,broke out the rototiller and started digging. They said they felt like the kids from the book/movie "Holes". I told them they only needed to dig one hole though. *smile* Here are my pond diggers on a milkshake break.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What a beautiful day!

Today, we started out early, heading off to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, Ohio. We picked up some of our friends from our spinning guild and started our journey. It was HOT! I'm glad that the sheep, goats and alpacas at the show were sheared. It would have been a miserable day for them. We bought a traveling spinning wheel made by Ashford! The mill that sold it to us also offered to take our freshly shorn fleece and wash, skirt and card it for us so that we'll have our own Alpaca roving. So soon we can spin our own fiber and the three of us won't have to share one wheel. I also found a good price on carpet warp and bought some weft from the same vendor visiting from Indiana. Now I need to set a date with my weaving mentor to warp our table loom. We are anxious to start this project. Our goal is for each of us to complete a weaving project (place mats) in time for the Canfield Fair. In exchange we need to show our mentor the subtle art of spaetzel making.

After a few hours at the fiber show we journeyed onto Lehmans Hardware in Kidron, Ohio. Please note, Garmin (the GPS) doesn't recognize Kidron, so beware and enter Dalton, Ohio instead.
Lehmans is an experience in itself. We thoroughly enjoyed this store. We found our favorite kitchen knives and picked up Dad's Birthday present. We got him an 8' windmill. Even though his birthday is next week, he quickly put it together and it is now proudly displayed in our yard. He did an awesome job in its assembly and has it balanced perfectly.
Back at the farm,the Iris' are in bloom. The peas, strawberries and black raspberries are growing nicely. We purchased some tomato, bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant plants and we'll be busy planting this weekend. The sunflower seeds I encouraged to sprout...sprouted!! I'm glad it worked. Emily tried to plant them in a garden spot near Grandma's deck. Now we wait to see how the sunflower garden will mature. Hmmm...I think I will try this method with some gourds.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Book find!

The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen by Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson. This is a wonderful book filled with yummy recipes and treasures of all kind. I want to re-do my pantry, look for local history, renew my interest in garage sales, dig out my antiques and make myself more aprons! Oh, and cook and bake some new recipes. I borrowed a copy from the library, but feel I must add it to my wish list to add to my home library. Enjoy!
PS Click on The Farm Chicks above to see their web site.

Second World Alpaca Conference

Our Shearer's also told us about the Second World Alpaca Conference to be held in Cleveland, Ohio this June! That's practically in our backyard. Must review the family calendar to see if we can make it. I would really like to go.


Our boys were sheared last night. Many thanks to our Shearers-- April Chestnut and Connie Ortz of CA Shearing. You've done a fantastic job. You've taken real good care in shearing of our Alpacas and the best yet, no shearing stripes! You both are AWESOME! Sebastian and Samson say thank you --are both cooler now and appreciate your gentleness.
My daughters watched the process in awe. They learned alot about the shearing process and now they get to help me prepare the fiber for the mill. We need to wash and skirt the fiber before the mill will accept it. We're off to learning something new.
Our shearer's imparted some wisdom to us about how to keep our critters cool in the summer... buy FANS! They also said we need to provide 2 to 3 times the water for them too. They gave us a source for their upkeep, in order to provide them their rabies and tetnus shots. And a few tips with how to keep the flies away this summer. They also recommended their vet for any health issues, should one occur.
Thanks again ladies for a wonderful job. We can't wait for next year.

The pictures are posted in reverse order - DUH.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Last night while my husband and I were throwing sheets over the black raspberry bushes, something fluttered out towards me. I ducked because I thought it was a large bumblebee. I looked up and saw a hummingbird... it was protecting its' nest -I think- because it kept "dive bombing" me. We continued to cover the berries because of the frost warning. I just hope our hummingbird will be back in its home soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weaving Baskets, Spinning at the Agland Co-op Fiber Day and new photos of our ducks and chicks.

Wow the ducks are huge! (Compared to our chicks)
The shearing day was rescheduled for Thursday this week. Good thing,these poor guys are getting warm! Over the weekend, it warmed up and they were breathing heavy. Gotta get the fan before too long!
Due to a freeze and frost WARNING... We've had to cover the strawberries for the last two nights. Tonight we also covered our black raspberries. We noticed that the leaves for the Concord grapes were 'nipped' last night (forgot about those) :( We don't know how this will effect the itty bitty grapes sprouting.
We finally got some peas to sprout and our lettuce bed is full! I planted the broccoli and can't wait to plant the rest of the garden. I think we will be able to safely plant the tomatoes and peppers over Memorial Day weekend. I hope to throw some beets and carrots in also.
I finally got out the Sunflower seeds and put them into some dampened paper towels. This should help them to sprout quickly. I hope Grandma will like her Sunflower Garden this year. While deciding which packets to open... one of my seed packets I read stated it was a non-pollinating Sunflower. I didn't open this packet as I want honey bees and hummingbirds to pollinate all around us. I found an interesting book entitled - The Ultimate Sunflower Book by Lucy Peel, Harper Collins Publishers, 1997. It has everything you ever wanted to know, garden, craft and cook with/about sunflowers. Check it out at your local library (a blatant plug). *smile*
The girls and I are anxiously awaiting the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, Ohio this weekend. This is our first time to this show and we are excited to see all the fiber, vendors, and animals.
I attended another Mahoning Columbiana Bee Association meeting and met up with an individual that is willing to be a mentor to me. He has hives on his father's property in the suburbs as well as hives on his urban lot. I hope to learn alot from him so that I can start my Apiary next season. They informed me of workshops that are held in February and March that I plan to attend next year in Wooster, Ohio as well as Western Pennsylvania. I also subscribed to the recommended magazine Bee Culture. I can't wait to learn about bees and become a good guardian for them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here's the "little ones" today. The chickens are flying up to the roost and around the coop. The ducks are just adorable.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mother, Sisters, Nieces and all who give motherly care.

Update: My family took me to see the new Star Trek movie. It was terrific! My husband enjoyed the campy way they connected this new cast to the 1960's cast. My daughters enjoyed the 'eye candy'! All in all its a great flick.

Friday, May 8, 2009

And how does your garden grow?

Here's a look at our black raspberry patch, concord grapes, lettuce and spinach bed, strawberries and lastly our new asparagus patch. See the tall things that look like weeds? That's the asparagus. We can't harvest the asparagus this year. We need to wait a year. I anxiously await next year's harvest. We used last fall's leaves to mulch around our strawberries and asparagus. Enjoy.

Always something

It's always something... sounds like something Roseann Roseanna Danna would say! Now you probably have an inkling of how old I am too! ;)
The rain wouldn't go away so we had to cancel our shearing festivities for tonight. We're bummed. But we rescheduled for a couple weeks from now. However, our shearers informed us (being new to the alpaca thing) that we need to get a fan for our alpacas to survive the summer heat. So this means... digging a trench out to the barns and running electric in our barns so we can run a fan for them. I wanted electric anyway to have light in the winter so I can see to feed and maintain good clean care.
Good news is, a neighboring farmer wanted to sell her alpaca and we made a deal for him. So tonight we will have another alpaca arriving to our small hobby farm. We are definitely excited. She is downsizing her farm and wanted him to go to a good home. I'm glad she chose us.
Think of all the fiber we will have to spin! My young spinners can't wait.
Until the next 'something'...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Poultry update!

The Ducks are getting quite large. Their feet have grown as have their beaks. They are getting whiter too! The chickens wings have all feathered out, their getting tall and gangly too. I can't wait until they are larger than the holes in my fence so they can get outside. The ducks however can start spending time outside. I think that will begin this weekend. Shearing day is tomorrow. We are all excited.
Until then...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday, Sunday....

Well, we let the ducks out of the chicken coop for a while today. They like to follow Allison and Emily around the farm. It is too cute to see the girls being followed by two little ducks! *smile*

Dad and I were sitting on the back patio resting between weeding and mowing and discussed how the grass was getting high in the chicken run. So I said why don't we move an Alpaca into the run for a while and let them 'em at it. So that is what we did. As a family we rounded up the Alpacas and put the halter on the young one...because Dad messed up the halter for the older one. (Don't take me there). Now this boy resists being led. Oh Yeah! He wasn't going to budge. He got so ticked he started spitting!!! After some extensive prodding we got him into the chicken run. He was still upset, so we all just walked away to give him time to cool down. And cool down he did, especially when he figured out there was all this grass... just for him! He enjoyed his time in the chicken run. I wonder if we'll have a problem next time we decide to use him as a mower?
This Friday is the big day. We will be having our first shearing day after work. We can't wait, but I'm sure the Alpacas will think otherwise.

As far as the gardening is concerned, we have been weeding the hugest dandelions we have ever seen. Maybe we'll have to turn ourselves into a dandelion farm! *wink* Our lettuce bed is prospering, however our peas didn't fair as well. We think they may have gotten frozen. So we replanted them today.

Grandma has a little flower garden next to her deck. We thought it would be cool to turn this into a SUNFLOWER garden this year. I bought some seeds this weekend and will plant according to the Farmer's Almanac. I'm learning my lesson about planting. It seems as though their (Farmer's Almanc) magic works the best.

More farm news later!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tonight's update

Thought we'd show you how fast the chicks and ducks are growing in just one week! The wings are feathering out on the chicks and the ducks are getting lighter/white-er everyday. There is another picture of our two barns. The left one is for the Alpacas and the right is the new chicken coop. All Amish made! And we also included COOKIE our little (old) beagle. Good Night.