Monday, March 31, 2014


Oh, how I've missed you guys! I didn't get a chance to post last week because I started a new job on Monday that kept me very busy. But it's good busy, because I'm loving it so far (I'm a paralegal in the real estate/finance division of a company). It's much more demanding than my previous job, and I've found it has been a struggle to balance work, homestead demands, and the blog.

We're seeing more and more signs of spring around here lately, and our garden work is in full swing. Lots of seeds planted in the garden already with tons of seedlings growing indoors. Our vineyard is set up and ready to go when our vines arrive, which can't be soon enough! We also recently planted 30 trees (10 pecan, 10 persimmon, and 10 evergreens) as part of our digging in goal for the year since these trees will take many years to grow and produce for us.

Of course there are cats, chickens, guineas, a dog (and a husband) to feed every day, so that keeps me busy as well.

Baby waiting not so patiently for her food.

So with all of that, the blog had to take a back seat this week while I figure things out. My good blogging buddy, Jackie, reminded me that blogging should be fun, not another thing on your to do list. And this week, it was more of a thing on my to do list. She knows a thing or two about balance, so I will listen to her advice.

 This one's for you, Reifyn.

I'm not sure going forward how regular my blogging schedule will be, so if I'm away for longer than normal, things probably just got a little bit hectic around here. With spring and summer coming up and the gardening work getting even more time consuming, I do see that happening.

I had a few people check in on me last week to make sure everything was ok (thank you guys!) so I thought I'd just let you all know what is happening right now. I won't be around to visit you all as often as I did before, but please know that I still care and I do think about you all the time!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Feathered Friend Friday: Happy Girls

Welcome to our "Feathered Friend Friday" series. Each Friday I write a post with facts, photos, or stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the FFF posts here

Now that spring is officially here (woohoo!) I can tell the girls have a little extra pep in their step. It's easy to see that they are thrilled with the warmer weather. They can barely wait to get out of their coop in the morning, and they don't want to go back in at night. We humans are ecstatic with the warmer weather, but our feathered friends are happy as well!

It's still very brown out here, but there are small signs of green popping up around the house. In no time the grass will be back in and the girls will be overjoyed to chomp on fresh greens and catch bugs.

They really are getting back into the groove with their egg laying, and we are collecting around a dozen eggs a day, sometimes as many as 14 eggs from our 16 girls. They are definitely earning their keep!

My favorite thing in the world is sitting outside on a beautiful day while watching my chickens free range and happily scratch through the woods. I am so thrilled that soon I will be able to do just that!


PS - This one goes out to my youngest follower, Grace. Hope you liked this post! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bee Update

Our bees made it through the winter! Hooray! We were nervous since this was our first winter as beekeepers and we have heard that many beekeepers have losses over the winter. One main reason why the bees die is starvation, so we left all of last year's honey in the hive for the bees. Of course being their first year there wasn't a lot of excess honey, but we did keep it in the hive just to be safe. We also began feeding them with a sugar board over the last few weeks to make sure they have enough food until they can start foraging again.

We are also working on moving the hive back a little bit to sit on our new hive stand that will hold all of the future hives. In order to make sure the bees return to their hive, it is best to only move it several inches each day and take some time. This way they won't get confused and disoriented when returning from foraging during the day. Apparently they don't like change very much!

Making sure his veil is secure before moving the hive!

It's still a little bit too cold and windy to do a full inspection of the hive, but from the population we're seeing out flying each day, we're hopeful that the hive is strong. We even saw several bees bringing pollen back today. I'm so happy that the bees made it through this harsh winter!


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Vineyard: Part I

Back in January, I shared our resolution for this year is to dig in and add long-term improvements to our property. We visited a winery in January to get some ideas on how to set up our vineyard and ever since then David has been working like crazy to get our space ready for the vines.

This is the view from our back porch. If you look really hard, you can see up on top of the hill we have our space cleared and all the posts in for the vines! David gets about 99% of the credit here, since he cut down around 60 massive trees and stacked up all the wood. I helped with moving the wood that I could carry and burning some bigger sticks.

Here you can see the posts and all the wood stacked in between the trees (yes, we got snow yesterday - ugh!) and a pile of sticks to burn still. The posts were reused from part of the rustic wooden fence that ran in front of our house.

We also have bamboo placed where the vines will go in order to get an idea of the spacing. We're planting a total of 56 vines, so we need a lot of fencing and support. The vines are being shipped to us in a few weeks so we had to get the structural support in place before planting the vines.

This is the view from the vineyard looking back down towards the house. We do still have some cleanup left, but for now at least the space is ready for the vines. (If you look to the right of our house, you can see our garden space. To the left of the house is the chicken compound.)

Our biggest goal of all is to dig a pond on the property in the space between the house and the vineyard. We are getting quotes on the pond construction and mapping out the best size and placement for the pond. Now all we have to do is win the lottery!


Shared with Maple Hill Hop 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Feathered Friend Friday: Chickens And Ice

Welcome to our "Feathered Friend Friday" series. Each Friday I write a post with facts, photos, or stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the FFF posts here.    

We haven't had super cold temperatures for a few weeks now (thank goodness), but for most of winter every morning I would have to chip the ice out of the chickens' water pan. It would freeze solid overnight so I'd have to break up the ice and refill with fresh unfrozen water each morning.

For some reason, the chickens always went for the pieces of broken ice first before drinking the actual water. In the dead of winter, they go crazy over ice. Go figure.

Goldie's high stepping cracks me up.

Do you see Emma?

Eventually when they had eaten all the smaller pieces, they headed over to get a drink of water and a bite of food to start off their morning. It was kind of a funny ritual every morning to make me smile when I was freezing while breaking up chunks of ice and dreaming of warmer weather.

Now that we are into weather above the freezing point, I can look back and reminisce at these photos and smile even bigger knowing that soon enough they will be foraging for grass and bugs, not chunks of ice!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back in the Garden

Over the weekend we were able to get in the garden and plant some seeds, and I can't tell you how good it felt! Spring is such a thrilling time of year, and the beginning of the gardening season is full of hope and promise.

For many months now, I've been waiting rather impatiently to plant the Red Russian kale seeds that my blogging buddy, Sue, sent me last year! I'm so excited to see how they do and try this variety of kale. I'm excited about the radishes as well, because I think the sprouts are just about as delicious as the actual radishes themselves (here is my favorite way to use the sprouts).

We have done a ton of work on our garden in the last year, with adding a lot of garden beds and fencing in the area to keep the critters out. We are adapting it as we go and see what works and what doesn't work from year to year.

I took this photo to show how bare it looks now, because I can't wait to take another photo in a few months and compare the before and after!

We tried to stay as frugal as possible when creating the garden beds and fence, so a lot of the wood is reused from other projects or from materials given to us by family (like the green beds you see up front). So it has a little bit of a hodge-podge look to it now - let's call it rustic haha - but when everything starts growing and blooming it will really fill in and look awesome. I can't wait!


PS - Congrats to Jennifer Wood on winning the seed starting giveaway! We will have another seed starting giveaway coming up in the next month or two, so be sure to check back for another chance to win.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flowers From a Friend

I met with one of my best friends over the weekend to hang out and catch up. We like to do coffee dates every so often to talk about what's going on in our lives and what we have planned for the future. Lots of exciting things happening for my friend and for me, so it's always fun to catch up.

Even with exciting things happening, life is composed of the good and the bad. My sweet friend wanted to help cheer me up since the passing of Roosty last week, so she came bearing a huge bouquet of mums in the cheeriest yellow color I have ever seen.

I've always loved cutting and arranging flowers and find it to be very therapeutic, but something about arranging these lovely flowers was extra special.

You know there's gotta be a cat in the mix somewhere.

I thought this was just the kindest and sweetest gesture and it meant so much to me. She is always inspiring me to be a better friend and an even better person. And the yellow color did definitely cheer me up. The cats seemed to like it as well - the flowers were on the table for a whole 15 minutes before they had to be moved to a safer location!

Now they are placed in different rooms throughout the house so I can get a burst of sunshine wherever I go and think of my dear friend and her thoughtfulness. The world is made so much better with good friends!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Feathered Friend Friday: Goodbye Roosty Roo

You may have noticed there was no FFF last week, and I do apologize for not posting. So much was going on around that time and Roosty was very sick, so I didn't feel right publishing a post on that day.

Around Wednesday of last week, I noticed Roosty wasn't acting like his normal self. He was staying away from everyone and just standing with his head hanging down. On Thursday he was so bad that I decided to bring him into the house to try to figure out what was wrong. By Friday morning, he was lying down and not moving at all. I noticed his breathing was very shallow and I had a feeling that he wasn't going to make it through the day. I stayed with him as long as I could, but I had to go to work. So I said my goodbyes and left him. He was gone by the time I got home that night.

Roosty was supposed to be a girl. We got him at our local feed store in a bin labeled "pullets." But since chick sexing isn't 100% accurate, occasionally a boy gets thrown in the mix as well. At first we were disappointed, but he turned out to be such a sweet boy and fit into the flock well since he was submissive to our head rooster, Cam.

I told David the other day that I am really thankful that we got Roosty, because if someone else got him expecting a girl, when he turned out to be a boy they may have gotten rid of him. I feel like it was meant to be for us to bring him home. 

The one thing that homesteading has taught me which I didn't really expect, is to appreciate the moment because you never know when things will change. With keeping animals, you have to expect that you will lose them at some point. It's one thing to say you realize that, but it's another to actually live it and experience it firsthand. Through all our losses, I am reminded that time with those we love, whether human or animal, is a gift and we need to appreciate it every day.

Homesteading isn't all sunshine and roses, even though sometimes to an outsider it may appear that way. I choose to focus on the positive because that's just my personality, but I feel that it is important to also write about the disappointments because those are just as much a part of the journey as the good times.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Clearing The Camera

This winter just won't let go! It is into March and we are still getting winter weather and David is still getting more snow days at school. It's past the point of ridiculous. We got another blast of ice and snow over the weekend, so we've been spending our days hibernating inside.

Which means lots of human-kitty cuddle time...

Kitty-kitty-kitty cuddle time...

Hot coffee and freshly baked cookies...

And judgy looks from Gizmo when I haven't changed out of my PJ's all day long.

Even the guineas are hibernating. They fly up into the trees to roost at night, and if we've had snow and ice before dawn, they refuse to fly down.

But really, who can blame them? I'd stay in bed all day as well if I could!

Here's hoping spring really is just around the corner.


Shared with Maple Hill Hop 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Seed Starting Giveaway

Last year I teamed up with Plantation Products to bring my readers a giveaway, and I'm thrilled to say that we are once again partnering up this year! Today I am happy to host a wonderful seed starting giveaway featuring items from their NK Lawn & Garden line of products. One lucky reader will win a 7 pot seed starter kit and ten packets of seeds!

I was provided with a seed starter kit and seed packets for review purposes, so over the weekend I got to planting some asparagus and pepper seeds. What I really like about the seed starter pots is how much room there is for each plant to grow. The individual pots encourage root growth and since they are made of all natural fiber, the pots can be planted right into the ground once the seedlings are ready to go outside.

The best thing about the seeds, in my opinion, is how they are foil packed and hermetically sealed for freshness. This keeps the seeds viable and allows for higher germination rates because the seeds are less impacted by changes in temperature and humidity during storage.

I also appreciated how much information is provided on each seed packet. I could easily see how many plants I can expect to grow from one packet, and get detailed instructions on how and when to plant in my area. I found this so helpful since I am still fairly new to gardening and at times unsure of what conditions each individual plant needs to grow and thrive.

Gardening items from Plantation Products can be found at major retailers like Walmart and Lowe's in the lawn & garden section. Next time you're shopping, I would highly recommend stopping by the garden section to browse the available products from Plantation Products. Let me know if you pick up some of their items!

I think it is also important to note that Plantation Products does not sell any GMO seeds. You can read their GMO policy here for more information.

To enter the giveaway for one 7 pot seed starter kit and ten packets of hermetically sealed seeds as shown above, use the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway open to US residents only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway