Tuesday, March 27

*home sweet home

This post is for my sister, Lori, she simply is in love with the life of a honey bee and asked me to share more knowledge that I have gained through working with our bees. So, here ya go Lori!

Honey bees are amazing creatures and keep me quite fascinated. The swarm that we captured this past week were as mild and laid back as you can ever ask a bee to be.  As I may have mentioned before and if you are aware of bee life you may know this, but a swarm of bees load up on honey just before they leave the hive behind. This makes them docile, they bellies are full. Bees normally swarm early spring due to an over crowded hive. I did not have one bee that I am aware of, land on me -anywhere. The story is not the same for the day that my dh and I split our main hive a few weeks ago. My bee suit was covered with bees, in fact, from a distance I am sure it looked like I had a polka dotted suit on. I have not been stung this season and only stung twice last year. I am feeling more and more comfortable about working with this amazing creatures.

The swarm that I shook down into our empty hive body have put out the "Home Sweet Home" sign. They seem very happy and content in their new accommodations. We of course, could not be more please and grateful to the Lord for this sweet blessing. Our local bee master has a nuc of bees that we will be getting from him within the next week or two.

Did you know that honey is bee vomit? Yes, that is right, they ingest and vomit many times until the end product is honey.  Yummy, that is all I have to say!  Local honey (local to you) can be allergy medication to those of you who suffer with allergies from pollens during the bloom seasons.  

Thursday, March 22

*swarming around from one thing to the next

After a long time away, my mother arrived back her for a stay in her RV that is on our land here in sunny Florida (I still pinch myself from time to time because I have a hard time believing that we live in Florida now). Today was just fantastic for gardening! The temps were just right for hard work in the out of doors, and some how there is always a breeze here. With all of this in mind Momma and I got to work!

We spent the first part of our morning carefully making 4 rows that were 75 foot long in the back garden plot for sweet corn and peanuts. In a week or so, we will plant 4 more rows - hoping for some down time in between each harvest. We may wait two weeks before we plant the next ones actually. It was awesome to be working in the gardens with my sweet mother, really awesome. I am so very grateful to her and my dad for teaching me over the years the 'secrets' of gardening. God used them to prepare me for this time - priceless. We managed to get some wild flower seeds, pepper plants, squash seeds, tomato plants and watermelon seeds in the rich soil today.

I went over to the check on the bee hives, just to monitor their activity and low and behold! I looked up and saw a swarm of bees in the tree over head. We are not sure where these bees came from.. meaning... were they part of our bees that split and swarmed or were they a "new" swarm that ended up on our property.  We are  hoping it is the latter, since we are waiting on a nuc at this time from our local bee master here in the area.   I, took off running to get my bee suit on, Momma is off in the distance a bit and I very enthusiastically yelled out to her, "I am going to need your help, RIGHT NOW! We have got to get this swarm right now!" and I ran quite a ways up to the house to get suited up to capture the sweet bees.  My mother said she was just as confused as she could be.  I yelled out that I needed her help right now and RAN in the opposite direction. She was right there when I got back and we managed to shake the branch into an empty hive box that we happened to have on hand.  EXCITING!

We are hopeful that the bees are still in the box, tomorrow we will check all three hives out and see what is going on with our bees. I will keep ya posted!

 Here is a quick little photo update on a few of our fowl friends. Isn't that turkey adorable? The little pullet is jealous of the bronze breasted turkey's spectacular show!

This is a very likely time to see swarms of bees on branches or other various places. To capture a swarm of bees  you can do as we did and take an empty hive body and carefully bring the  branch down over the hive body give it a good shake which will allow the bees to fall into it.  The bees have taken care to fill up on honey before leaving their last home so they are full and very unlikely to bite or be aggressive at this time. Not to mention.. they don't have a home to defend.  If you don't have an empty hive at the time of finding a swarm you can drop the bees down into a card board box that you have a lid for, or a plastic bucket with a lid and then you make haste to get a hive you can then shake the bees down into the hive.

Friday, March 16

*solace on the surf

Today was a day for solace, and I found my solace amidst loud shrieking children who were all having a great time running in and out of the waves.  The laughter of small children is something I haven't been around in a while, it was wonderful!  The beach was PACKED.

Many young students had driven to the beach for spring break as well.  It was obvious that I was either not at the family friendly beach or they were not at the Belle Glades (the partying beach in Fernandina Beach where I grew up).

The sounds (words) coming out of their mouths didn't bring the same delight as the innocent little children.  I wasn't offended, as I am not offended by curse words. I didn't really like what I heard, didn't want to be a party to it, but I wasn't offended by it. I know that their actions were sinful, so are some of my actions -some I am aware of, some I am not.  I bet it is the same way with them, some things they recognize as "wrong" or sinful, and somethings they don't yet recognize.  I pray that someone in their life is able to LIVE OUT Jesus to them in a real tangible way.

Para sailing seems to be really popular here on the Emerald Coast.  I think I would like to do this one day, but my DH said, "Have fun!"  I guess I wont be para sailing, because I would only want to do this with him.  I am not sure I want to pay the price they are asking anyway.

Crab Island was not terribly busy today, but just you wait! In a month or so from now this area will be crawling with people, boats, jet ski's, floating amusement toys etc.

Thursday, March 15

*spring cleaning

Yes that is Little Red, up on the hay roll.. laying an egg...
Today's spring cleaning started in the barn, but I have already started spring cleaning in the house too! Just this past week I cleaned out a few closets, mind you we have only been in this house for one year. In just one year of not knowing right where you want to put things, all sorts of odds and ends can end up in space that is not used regularly. The barn is a different story.

I can always count on the girls (and Husan our rooster) to help clean things up!

When we first moved in I made judgement about the previous owners and how they neglected the barn. I know, I know - it is just a barn. I do realize this, but I prayed for this barn so it is more than just a barn to me, it is a gift from God himself. Anyway, sorry, back to my story... I made judgement based on some obvious neglect as well as the cobwebs everywhere. Um, we power wash the barn every 6 months - cobwebs are every where both times we have power washed. So perhaps I was a bit hasty in my judgement. I am grateful for the spiders as they eat unwanted bugs and if the spiders get low enough to the ground the chicks eat them, so it all works out good.

Today was cleaning day in the barn. We are soon to be getting our Nubian buck so a bit of reorganization is called for. While I was cleaning up today I opened the Chick Inn door and allowed the chickens free range of the inside of the barn today. We do not allow this on a regular basis, because they make new nest, new hidden nest and I have to play egg hunt. I don't like to play egg hunt. On the occasion that calls for the extra help cleaning I allow them in to pick the place clean. They are such great workers!

Wednesday, March 14

*simple beauty

Today while driving along the Santa Rosa Sound, I drove in and out of a dense fog. The fog along the sound was absolutely beautiful! I couldn't help myself, I had to pull over in Navarre and take a few pictures! The next time I am along this area I am going to take pictures from the same areas so you can see just how intense the fog was! I don't think I have ever experienced fog so thick at 2pm in the afternoon! Enjoy!

Oh, it is supposed to be 85 degrees EVERY day this week. Eat your heart out!

Tuesday, March 13

*chicken tractor the way it was supposed to be

Many humble and I mean really humble beginnings were taking their places last year around this time. Do you remember the "chicken tractor" that our youngest son, Henry and I built last winter to house our chickens until my husband's job was finished in North Carolina. In May of last year my dear husband did finally join us here in our Florida home and at that time he fashioned a incredibly creative chicken coop from reclaimed wood here on the property.

We wanted to get started with our chickens early so we had eggs by mid summer, so in January of 2011 our chicks arrived and Henry and I did the best we could to provide them with a little A frame chicken tractor. Weeks later we got more chickens that also needed a place to grow and thrive, so Henry and his best friend Summit, who was here on spring break built another square chicken tractor. It worked well, just as well as the A frame that was at that time housing the other chickens. (We had a mere 21 chickens total at this time)

Now fast forward a year - Eric needed to do some repair work (rebuild) one of the chicken tractors for our new chicks to live in until they reach a size large enough to introduce them to the flock that already owns the place. As I told you before, my husband is uh-maz-ing at building. I am so keeping him! Seriously though, knowing he had to provide the newest chickens and any future meat chickens or turkeys a safe movable house, he set out to work. He brought both of the chicken tractors that we made last year and disassembled them in order to reuse all the resources he could in this new (much better) design. Can I just say he is truly gifted and amazing in his building (anything really) skills. Using what we already had and only purchasing some hinges we have a well built, sturdy, long lasting portable cage to be used in raising young ones for years to come.

Having this awesome chicken tractor makes the thought of raising our meat birds, or our heritage turkeys a breeze! This type of construction would also serve as a life long housing area for 2 or 3 chickens living in your back yard, say perhaps somewhere in a suburban area (Lori). You would need only to add two nesting boxes on the one end and voila, you would be set. Fresh eggs every day! I do not recommend you having chickens if you live in a large neighborhood with tiny lots because even hens can make a lot of beautiful noises that may be a nuisance to some. sigh.

Monday, March 12

*foot prints in the sand

About 18 months ago when we knew we were going to be moving to Florida we began making a list of things we wanted in what will ultimately be our retirement home, that is unless God see fit to move us elsewhere.

Some of the things on the list were:
 * close to beach
 * on the water
 * close to DH's work
 * a barn on the property
 * in the rural area
 * a pool
 * land
 * etc....

One of the things we finally marked off the list was "on the water". The water front properties that we looked at, whether it be on the bay, intercoastal waterway or other were just to high priced for our pocket books. And while I would have liked to be closer to the beach, being close to DH's work was in conflict with that, but 45 minutes is still close if you ask me. Today I took advantage of that and walked on the beautiful Emerald Coast before dusk.  It was rather windy and cool tonight, but lovely nonetheless!

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand -when I awake I am still with you.  ~Psalm 139:17-18


Sunday, March 11

*scenic Sunday

Have you ever seen a chick with so much attitude? Meet Queen, she is our cute little polish chick. She is thrilled to be showing you her "do" today. Front and back views were given against her will, or so it looks.

Saturday, March 10

*busy as a bee!

Last year at the end of March we put a hive of bees on our property, an awesome hive! A hive that in its first few months provided us with 50lbs of honey- that is unheard of. You should not expect to harvest honey from your newly added hive until the following year. The local Bee Master (as I like to call him), Mr. Bundrick of Bundrick Honey Farms set us up with an amazing nuc of bees!

We wintered our bees with a deep which had been the queens brood chamber since we put the hive on the property, but we added a supra full of honey to overwinter them as well. Old Man Winter was not really that harsh this year, so they did REAL well. Since we have such a strong hive we decided to try to split our hive, thus making two good hives.

We are amateur bee keepers learning as we go, with knees knocking!  Eric has been building, building, building!  He does not have all the fancy tools but he uses what he has and his ingenuity as well and we have ended up with some pretty amazing end products. He was able to build each supra and hive body for much less than than buying them from a supplier.  Mother Earth News has a Honey Bee Magazine that actually has plans for building your own hive. Eric basically used one of our purchased hives from last year to make his measurements before he began his work.  The only thing we had to buy was the frames (pictured below) for each box.   We purchased them disassembled and spent one afternoon working together until the project was completed.  This past week we put those bee hives that he built into place.  One of them has been put in place, but for now still waits on bees.

We are very hopeful that our now two hives will prosper and flourish from here. One or possibly both of them have to hatch out a queen, she has to take flight, mate and come back and start laying eggs. This all will take about 30 days and hopefully we success will be the end result!

We have our name on a list with Mr. Bundrick for a nuc, hopefully sometime this spring he will have one for us!  If we don't get one from him, we may have to make an order somewhere online. The third hive is actually going on our property for the sole purpose of harvesting for Eric's parents. They have been purchasing honey from a coop for years now and are excited about having their own honey source free of charge!  The only cost will be the bees themselves - about $90! 

If you have a bee hive on your property, and it is a strong hive, it is time to start checking out the space inside the hive making sure they have enough room, so you can avoid a possible swarm.  Once the bees plan a swarm.. there is little you can do to discourage them, as I understand it.