Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Garden Manicures

We did some major garden clean-up and prep in that tiny little break from the rain we had over the weekend. My little gardeners even got out there and helped for a bit, digging up the rest of the carrots to free up the bed for spring seedlings, raking weeds out of the garden paths, and some general cleanup and back-and-forth between the compost pile and the chicken coop.

I'm happy to say that at this point it looks like we're already doing better with our spring onions than what went down with last year's, and I'm betting in the next month or so we'll be able to pull our fall garlic (if the constant rain doesn't rot them all in the ground before they're ready). This weekend I'm shooting for planting some greens and distributing some flower seeds, and in another week or so we'll be sowing root crops and nasturtiums!

The ramping up into Spring is one of my favorite times of year, and don't you just love those garden manicures? I sure do. Queenie, however, does not seem impressed..................

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kids and Bees

It's no secret that I'm a proud beekeepin' Mama. My Littles never had to be convinced to join me when we took our first steps to becoming beehavers, and they've been right there beside me as we've wobbled our way through becoming beekeepers. They even have their own custom-made wee bee suits, made especially for them by a sweet and talented friend.

In the beginning of our adventure, I had no trouble sparking their interest in joining me whenever a hive inspection was due, or we needed to top off feeders, or check honey stores. As soon as Mama's suit came out, they were practically diving for their own. Even my sweet, smart girl- who early on showed signs of having a bug phobia despite so desperately wanting to be like Mama and be brave- would suit up and stand calmly beside our open hives, watching the bees fly around her.

And our Bubba? I've had to practically pull him back from climbing in to the hives to see what's going on. Did I mention he got his first bee sting on Sunday? Yep... right on the neck. Thankfully he's not freaked out by the knot he still has at his collar line and is actually kinda proud of now being a "Real Beekeeper." I bet he'll listen, though, the next time Mama tells him not to take off his veil before he gets checked for straggler bees!

Anyway, back to what I was saying: during this most recent hive inspection, I noticed a pretty significant shift in Audrey's attitude. Granted, it had been quite a while since she had been out to the hives with me (it being the end of winter and all, there wasn't really a need for the whole posse to come along each time I checked on the girls)- this time around she absolutely freaked out once the bees started bumping her. It really surprised me.

And now I'm faced with one of those dreaded Parent Decisions: do I let her bow out of this hobby that we've been doing together up until now? Or do I insist that she come back out with us, and try to desensitize her to something that obviously has grown from something that's been part of her for a long time?

We had to make a similar decision about her piano lessons a few months ago, and we decided we'd influence her to stick with it. Granted, she didn't want to quit piano due to a phobia- her issue that time was just stubbornness. No regrets with that one.

But this? This time I'm thinking I'll let her back off. I want her to remember this unusual hobby of ours as something fun and special, not something she dreaded and was forced into. Maybe in that way- in giving her the control- she'll circle back around to it... in her own time.

Here's hoping, anyway.

Friday, February 23, 2018


What a week, y'all, amirite?! Over here we're soaked through- we're as full as we can get with the news, school activities, weather, work stuff, and sib drama from this week. We're keeping it low-key on this Friday evening, in keeping with the grey and dreary vibes out each and every window: DIY "Special Drinks," a little dance music, a one-pot dinner, and early bedtimes to come.

I think that'll set just the right tone for the weekend to come.

TGIF, y'all!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Quiet, Dark Day

It is wet and cold and wet some more over here today. Yesterday mid-running errands (me wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and no jacket) a cold front blew in- 24 hours earlier than the last prediction I saw said it would- and the temperature dropped 25 degrees in 15 minutes. It had been rainy and muggy up until then, and today it's still rainy, but now it's cold

Even though it was no fun to run all our errands yesterday in the pouring rain- and later in the freezing pouring rain- I am so glad I have no where to go today except to school and back as the kids' schedules demand. Today I will feel no pangs of guilt as I stay in leggings and my oversized sweater, finishing off laundry, working at my computer, and finally making that apple scrap jelly that's been waiting for my attention...

...and I think Rory is wishing I'll also curl back up in bed with him at some point, though he'll probably have to wait for me until after the kids go to bed! It's on my to-do list, though, no worries.

Oh, and apparently we're not the only ones taking advantage of this quiet, dark day...

...looks like our local pests think us staying inside all day means an open invitation for them to just wander around as they please! I think it's getting to be about time I reached out to our trapper friend from last year... lemme see if I can clear my busy schedule today and fit that in.............................

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend Bees

I went down south to my hometown this past weekend to help a family member with a feral bee hive he'd discovered on his property. It was an amazing natural-comb hive that had more than seven sections easily over 12" long, and despite being untended and mid-February, they still had some stored honey and a decent population.

It took us almost 2 hours to cut them all out and get them installed in their new hive, mainly because we figured out mid-removal that they were balled up inside a piece of the old satellite dish they'd chosen for their home, and we had to cut and tear it apart to get them all.

I left them perfectly installed in their new Langstroth hive under the supervision of their very enthusiastic new beekeepers, and I feel very optimistic that they have a pretty darn good chance. I can't wait to hear how they're looking in a couple weeks... I hope they like their new digs and stick around!

Friday, February 16, 2018

This Moment

I'm still feeling a bit raw after my rant yesterday and the tragedy that spurred it on Wednesday, but my babies are safe and the comforts of having them home are working on me like a balm on an open wound... not enough to heal it, but the pain is feeling manageable.

I'll let that pain fuel the fire that keeps me motivated to act, and on the flip-side of that coin is the gratitude I have for what I have in this moment... and in this moment I will dwell.

For now.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thinking Out Loud

Does this photo look familiar? If you've been following my blog for very long, you'll recognize this shot from this post. At the end of this this post- back in 2012- I closed with: "As time wears on and on, sometimes intimately connected to us and at other times so harshly oblivious, may healing and peace find their way to those touched by this tragedy."

I am so beyond that now.

There is no soft, gentle healing vibes to send out into the universe today.

Today I am pissed.

How can this keep happening? How can anyone sit back and just send thoughts and prayers to the grieving families? Those families who are so far removed from the safe bubbles we think are around our own loved ones... those families who aren't ours, so our thoughts and prayers are really good enough?

But it's not my school, it's not my kid, someone should have said something, seen something, done something to prevent this... the warning signs were all there... we all saw this coming...  

Does anyone realize that the official word from our leadership on what needs to happen now- and how these situations need to be handled in the future (because it is apparently something that is now just assumed to be status quo)- is to treat these situations like a plot twist in 'Minority Report'? It's beyond ridiculous.

Everyone did everything they were able to do when this new shooter sent up all his red flags, but he hadn't broken a law at that point and so nothing further could have been done.

It wasn't illegal for him to have all those weapons.

It wasn't illegal for him to have all that ammunition.

It wasn't illegal for him to post photos of it all on social media.

It wasn't illegal for him to make threats of violence.

Do you see a pattern here? Everyone else did, but nothing could be done until seventeen people were dead.

Something has to change. Something has to change now. And good news: there are lots of things that can be done, you just have to shovel through all the crap that's been used to block the paths to solving this problem.

It's all common sense. How can anyone disagree with something that can be proactively done to help prevent things like this from happening that is simply common sense?!

I'll tell you one thing that makes no sense: recycling the exact same thoughts and prayers that were sent six years ago to the new round of people suffering again from the same reoccurring problem; those same tired, worn-out, cliche thoughts and prayers that make you feel better and help you move on, and that have changed nothing.

Is your heart actually breaking? Have you heard the terror in the students' voices and the AR-15 ringing out in the hallways of the school that- but for a twist of fate- could have been a school where someone you loved was? Would someone sitting on their hands and sending you a prayer make you feel OK with the state of things right now?


Then do something about it. 

"A little righteous anger really brings out the best in the American personality. Our nation was born when 56 patriots got mad enough to sign the Declaration of Independence. We put a man on the moon because Sputnik made us mad at being number two in space. Getting mad in a constructive way is good for the soul- and the country." ~Lee Iacocca

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Next Move...

Just like all the sleeping things outside right now- dull and still and yielding to the darkness dominating these late winter days- I myself have still been in a sort of hibernation mode. However, just like within all those growing things, there is an energy beginning to kindle and shake things up a bit, and I'm directing those little sparks towards my garden! I planted an entire bed full of onions just the other day, and now I'm sitting down with seeds and planner and paper to make sure I have my next move all worked out.

On the one hand I have a struggle to be more realistic this year (planting more of the things we all love, and nixing the things no one will eat much of), and on the other hand I have flights of fancy (did I mention I'm trying out growing popcorn this year?!), both struggling to be balanced with the staples that never seem to have enough room. It's a fun and challenging little dance of planning and preparation, and one I happen to love! Especially when I can sit and stare out at all the brown dormancy and let my imagination plug in dark greens veined in orange, purples hidden in viney green, yellow and waxy red things hanging in wild tangles, and zinnias everywhere!

It won't be long now!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Right Now

Right now, we're...

...coming down from a weekend spent celebrating the upcoming nuptials of my sis-in-law and her beau, which involved a 24-hour trip out of town, a really late night, and a surprise cold front that made me regret everything I'd packed.

...enjoying a newly fluffed and perfumed pup who was discovered to have taken a swim in the pond while we were out of town and smelled like fishy death warmed over when we got home. Things are so much better now after her first bath... now she's just normal puppy smelly!

...laughing at these dramatic kiddos of ours who came downstairs on Sunday morning "groggy" and saying in pretend-sleepy voices that they needed their morning coffee.

...still picking up from the nests made in front of the TV for the entire duration of the ice skating portion of the Winter Olympics. My kiddos were enthralled, and spent the rest of the afternoon sliding around on the floors in their socks trying to do 'twizzles.'

...nursing a little guy who crashed at the end of the day and spiked a fever overnight, keeping him home from school today. At least he's been wanting to read without prompting. It's a bummer he's under the weather, but we're not in a bad spot.

Right now, I'm feeling extra grateful I made myself get out yesterday in the freezing drizzle to get the grocery shopping done! Now we can just hunker down, read books, and inevitably end up watching some more Cake Wars, I'm sure. It's all good, though, as long as it's all in the name of getting everyone back to feeling like themselves again.

Happy Monday-ing!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Ladies and gents, here it is! Probably the one and only significant winter weather event we'll have this season... a cold front that came through at the same time that it was raining = magical icicles on everything this morning! And lemme tell ya, when the sun peeks through the clouds here and there it's sparkly and amazing (but the roads and overpasses stayed clear so high five).

OK, now that that's out of the way........ is it time for Spring yet?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Keeping It Real

Did anyone see this lovely little gem posted over the weekend on my Facebook account? Awww, look at that peaceful scene... doesn't life look peachy and downright perfect over here? Well lemme tell ya, we have our moments of perfection... but they're peppered here and there throughout the normal life stuff that everyone else has. Don't believe me? I think it's time for another Keeping It Real post.

Kids: My lovely Littles- who are always asking to help, who are willing to share with each other and who are sometimes even better than me at getting the dog to go out before there's an accident- have been so edgy lately. They yelled at each other this past weekend almost as much as they spoke in normal voices, and there were tears on more than one occasion. So what did this Mama do about it? I let them sit in front of a screen- for hours- both Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes digging in dirt does it, sometimes a craft or a project does it... and sometimes, to have a few minutes to hear myself think, Minecraft does it.

Dog: My lovely Suka- who is growing like a weed, has learned a myriad of commands, understands that she has to go to the front door and be let out to go potty, and will halt mid-chase after the cat on command- peed inside like seven times this weekend for no apparent reason. I think she noticed I was feeling a little too optimistic about her transitioning out of the puppy potty training phase and needed to put me in my place (which she felt apparently was down on the floor cleaning up spots here and there and everywhere).

Bees: During my most recent mid-winter hive check, I discovered that although two of my hives are doing great, my North Hive has something majorly wrong and is down to two frames of bees, at best. They weren't even the worst off when I discovered my varroa mite problem, but despite having plenty of stored food, they're really struggling. I'm hoping in the next week or so I'll be able to have a friend come out and treat all three hives with oxalic acid to give them a strong start to the spring... assuming there are still bees to treat in North Hive in another week or two.

Chicken Girls: I have been enjoying the ramping up of egg production as my girls have been reacting to the increasing daylight hours (we don't do the artificial light thing in our coop, mainly because there's no easy access to power out there). Some of my girls seem to have forgotten where their eggs go, it's been so long since they were regularly laying! I've found eggs on the floor of the hen house, on the ground under their feeder, and broken on the edge of their door out into their yard (maybe the egg was laid while a girl was perched there?). It's been like a little early Easter. Unfortunately, a few of them seem to have also forgotten that they need to stay in their yard, and yesterday two girls got out at some point in the evening. I went out right after sundown to close everything up (as I usually do, because they're all roosting by then and round up is a non-issue), and as I approached the coop I heard a coyote hauling them off into the woods. I was probably only five or ten minutes too late to save them. I know predation is something most chicken-keepers regularly have to deal with, but maaaaaaaaaaan... actually hearing it happen totally bummed me out. One of the ones nabbed was a favorite of my kiddos, too, and I am not looking forward to telling them she's gone.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that I also burn stuff (like the batch of low-carb chips I was making yesterday for the hubs), break stuff (like the entire jar of homemade beef stock I dropped on the kitchen floor the other day), and eat cake for lunch.

I also have it pretty darn good, but don't let that stuff fool you... I'm a regular parent and a regular person despite it all.

OK, whew, glad to get that all off my chest. I'm ready for more perfection, now, Universe.