Friday, September 30, 2016

Jammin' with Gramps

My kids don't get their interest in and talent for musical instruments from me (I'm a choir kid through and through), but there are quite a few musicians in the family and boy do they revel in their attentions!

I had completely forgotten about this Von Trap Family-esque jam session from the other day until I was dumping my camera memory card....... this was quite a session, y'all.....

...and Gramps has the patience of a saint. My kids need proper lessons and lots of practice, but they sure did have fun jamming with Gramps! Never mind that they were off key, out of time, and were prone to bouts of stop-playing-and-dance-the-jig. We want that love of music to grow!

We're on the right track.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Feeding the Bees

We've been going through about five pounds of sugar per week feeding our girls in preparation for winter, and now that we've had a couple days of rain and a decent drop in temperatures, it feels even more important that we don't drop the ball on this.

During our last hive inspection, I put some Swiffer-like cleaning cloths in the hives to trap any hive beetles (and figure out if they're at manageable levels or if any of the hives are actually having a problem with them), and I also figured out they all needed a pollen substitute.

Today, we slipped out as grey rain clouds rolled in to refill feeders, pull the fuzzy cleaning cloths out, and put the pollen patties in. There was a lot of stuff to carry out to the bee yard, so I enlisted the help of my ever-present mini-beekeepers, and they did a great job helping!

I'm happy to report that after a week with those Swiffer-esque pads in all three hives, not a single hive beetle was trapped, which tells me we do not have a SHB population to worry about as the weather changes.

I'm also happy to report that both of my little beekeepers remembered all the working-the-hive rules without being reminded, and they put all their own bee gear away when we were done... which for this mama was the best part of the outing today.

Watching them learn this process without fear, and with such respect for these mighty little creatures makes my heart swell to bursting.

Best part of the day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Weather

We had our first rainy, chilly day of the season yesterday. It felt so special, so refreshing and delicious that it was hard to decide how to spend the hours of that beautiful day... Part of me was being pulled out into the breezy wide open where everything was either hunkered down or celebrating... part of me was arguing that I should find an indoor project and a cup of hot tea... and part of me was longing to just sit near an open window and absorb what is so fickle and fleeting this time of the year.

In the end, I gave in to it all and ended up feeling pretty satisfied as the sun broke through the clouds to set in blazing colors.

Oh how we love fall weather!

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Favorite

The eve of the first autumnal cold front always feels like a holiday, and with trimmings more beautiful than any wrapping paper, the feeling of Real Fall is better than any gift we could get here at the end of September.

Just look at that sky!

My favorite... everything about Fall... love, love, love.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


By unanimous vote, we traded in the puppet theater for the kitchen (from the attic cache of toys-that-need-to-be-forgotten-to-be-new-again), and throughout this on-again off-again rainy, muggy, windy, humid day it's been the place to be.

I've had a couple cups of coffee, some pancakes and a "curved fried egg," some whipped cream with a side of a fried chicken drumstick, and some orange juice at this new and improved kitchen cafe.

It's almost bath time, but the kitchen is still open... never mind that they have to be on their knees now to use it (remember when it was just the right size?).

Wishing all a weekend with a little something new, special and fresh! Happy weekending!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Art Show

 The kids put on an art show last night, complete with mood music and prices. They made it clear when we were invited that we needed to bring our money. They worked out their pieces and prices all on their own, and were very proud of their collections.

(On the pink price tags, you'll notice a price in both dollars and cents- so we could choose what we wanted to pay for the art... and it was mentioned that we of course could choose to pay both...)

It was a sold-out show.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...

...a kickoff with a Friday evening thunderstorm, a glass of bubbly, and some reading for potential prep of a spring garden spot!
...a Saturday morning full of light sparkling off rain drops, a major appliance DIY repair, and a good movie at the end of the day.
...waking up on Sunday to another thunder storm, a big breakfast, and a beautiful afternoon spent mostly outside.
...a fancy dinner in celebration of 12 years married, a little bit of stargazing (until the mosquitoes chased us inside), and early bedtimes for everyone (it's official- we've forgotten how to party, ha!).

Right now, we're all up a little earlier than usual (probably because all of us were in bed by 9pm last night), and enjoying the chance to get ready for the day a little more relaxed than normal.

We've got a full week ahead of us and a little prep to do for our annual farewell to Summer and hello to Fall, so a slow start to the week is oh-so-welcome!

Wishing all a calming, solid start to the last few days of Summer... happy Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fall Hive Inspection

Fair warning: The following post is heavy on the bee-talk, mostly for my future reference, so if you have no interest in the nitty-gritty of my beekeeping journey, I'll never know if you skip this one!

My beekeeping mentor swung by yesterday and we went through my hives for my first thorough fall hive inspection. We have taken to referring to our three hives after the farms in our beloved 'Noisy Village' book collection- we have North Hive, Middle Hive, and South Hive.

North Hive and South Hive came from the nucs I bought in May, and Middle Hive is the feral hive I took out of a tree over the summer. I've been most worried about Middle Hive, because they have been so slow to pull wax, and at my last hive inspection they had almost no stored honey in their single deep brood box.

We worked from south to north checking on the girls, and overall I was completely surprised at how well they're doing!

Since my last hive inspection I'm happy to say that South Hive has continued to steadily grow in population, and there is a much more stable and consistent brood pattern. I've been inconsistently feeding them sugar water, but after this inspection I'm doubling down and making sure their feeder stays full and fresh until we get our first freeze. I've also ordered pollen substitute for all the hives, as the guest speaker at the last beekeepers' meeting stressed that now is the time to encourage "explosive growth" to prep the bees for winter. I'm on it.

Middle Hive was way better off than I'd thought. The brood pattern in that hive was amazing... probably the best out of all three (God save that queen!). They were storing nectar and sugar water pretty well, and their population was definitely better than the last time I looked in on them. However they still haven't filled out their brood box, and there were a lot of empty frames in there, so we decided to intervene...

We saved North Hive- the strongest hive by far- for last, and had to smoke the you-know-what out of them to be able to open them up. They were positively overflowing with bees. I never put a queen excluder on them during the honey flow because I never intended on harvesting honey this first year, so I have brood throughout all three boxes. We took three frames of brood out of North Hive and put them into Middle Hive to give them a boost and hopefully rocket them into preparedness for winter. We then filled the void with empty frames and finished our inspection. Oddly enough, the strong hive was the only hive where we found pests- there was a small hive beetle (SHB) that scurried for the shadows when we first opened the lid, and upon accidentally breaking some burr comb that contained brood, we found a varroa mite on one of the exposed larvae. However we spotted a handful of drones with no varroa at all, so at first glance it does not appear like an infestation.

After spotting the varroa mite, we opened all three hives back up and dusted everyone with powdered sugar (which encourages grooming behavior, thus significantly increasing the chances of varroa being picked off and dropped out of the hive). I'll check back in on them in about a week and probably dust them all again.

I'll also be picking up some Swiffer-like disposable mopping pads soon to help with any SHB's that are roaming the hives (the beetles have barbs on their legs which will terminally entangle them in the fibers of the Swiffer pad, thus allowing the beekeeper to cull the population without chemicals... I've seen it done, it works!).

It feels like such a relief to have that first major seasonal hive inspection accomplished. I feel good about where they are at this point, I have a manageable to-do list for the next month or so, and they all have a pretty fair chance of pulling through this coming winter (especially if it ends up being as mild as they're saying!). Plus we've got blooming fall flowers all around us, and those girls are on it!

This "newbee" is a happy camper.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Henry has been learning about scientists in school lately. Today he came home and decided he would become a scientist. He dressed the part, gathered his tools (note pad, freshly-sharpened pencil, magnifying glass and ruler), and headed outside to explore stuff.

Completely on his own for quite a while, he later showed me his "science journal" highlighting his discoveries thus far; he had an unusual flower (damaged, he said, by something mysterious and probably from a bad guy), some specks he said was special dirt, and a caterpillar with every detail logged very thoroughly. He then produced the actual caterpillar, which he said was "fantastic."

Sister was not amused in the beginning...

...but it didn't take many discoveries and found treasures to draw her in eventually...

...and together they decided they could probably solve any science question or universal mystery. They found ant eggs, discovered the source of a mysterious "invisible sound" (a cricket chirping), and found sparkly rocks. Lots and lots of them.

And Mama just stood back and watched and tried not to let them see her tearing up.

I love these guys... these little scientists!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chasing Owls

For some reason, we heard a hoot-owl out in the woods at about 4:30pm the other day. It must have been trying to tell my wild babes to quiet down so it could get back to sleep, but what it really did was spur a full-on camera-and-binoculars investigation. It was adorable.

Audrey swears she saw it's nest, and that evolved into seeing the owl itself, and later she said she saw the owl in a nest feeding it's babies a snake.

She was so excited- she says- that she forgot she had her camera, and therefore had no picture to prove her story. When we came up to see what she had found, she guessed that the owl didn't like that she had spotted it's home, and had moved it away before we all gathered to look.

She then spent the rest of the afternoon with her Bubba hunting the nest's new location.

She captured some blurry blobby leafy pictures she thinks might be the owl carrying it's nest away, and has sworn she'll translate them into drawings so we can all see what she saw.

Brother, on the other hand, lost interest in the adventure pretty quickly, and resorted to spying on things a little easier to spot...

...but they both swear that they are now officially professional experts at chasing owls.

I believe them, too.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Late Summer Light

This late summer light is irresistible to me right now. We finished 99% of our projects by mid-day Sunday this past weekend, and spent the rest of the day out in that hazy golden light. The humidity was low, the breezes were cool, and everything seemed like it was glowing...

 it seems we have officially entered that insufferable seasonal phase where all the photos I take between now and early November will have practically the same setting and light. Can you blame me? Especially when all the things I love capturing the most are feelin' just as fine and practically glowing themselves?

We just love this late summer light!