Harvests and feeling like Fall

This week brought on the start of the school year, which is year 13 for my teaching career. Every year feels like I’m starting a new job. I’m hoping this year goes well!

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Third grade, again! 

And on to gardening! The strawberry bed had gotten so unruly and to be honest, I don’t get a large amount of strawberries. So, I decided to clear out the bed and I’m going to plant a cover crop and hopefully make the soil even better.

The cattle panel trellis that goes from one raised bed to the other is looking great! There are always lots of big yellow luffa blooms on it and the luffas and birdhouse gourds are growing fast!

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Sweet potatoes to the right and lots on he trellis! 
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Huge luffa! (And a birdhouse gourd!) 

The trellises in the yard are looking great!

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Growing food, not lawns! 

And I love growing sunflowers! This year our tallest is around 10 feet tall! The pollinators are enjoying the blooms and the chickens will enjoy the seeds this winter!

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Sunflowers!
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Pretty monarch! 

This weekend is going to consist of lots of canning  because we have a ton of tomatoes that need to be preserved! The end of the month update will be coming soon!

It feels like summer!

This week has really heated up! We have been able to go swimming and be outside all of the time. The plants are really taking their first growth spurt and I am up to 2 okra plants! All the birds are very happy too!

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Quail eggs

We have also been able to harvest a few things:

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My first garlic this year 
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Strawberries and eggs 

And as for the first week of our zero waste summer challenge, altogether we only made a little over 3 ounces of trash between the 3 of us! The chocolate chips have been put into cookies enjoyed by all of us. (That’s why it’s circled!)

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Week 1 of zero waste challenge 

I have also spotted a few beautiful flowers blooming away in the garden and the bees and butterflies seem to like them!

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Beautiful echinacea 

I will get a picture of all the yummy things growing in the garden this week!

Garden happenings, beekeeping and lots of work

I’m elated to say that this week is my last week of school and from here on out I will be busy taking on all this homesteading!

I’ll start with my beekeeping fun. All the hives seem to be doing well and are laying lots of eggs. The newest swarm that I got has been really busy laying eggs! Great job on picking that queen!

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You can see the brood! 

When we pulled the hive out of the tree being cut down, we put some frames of their brood in there to help get them started and attached them to the frame with rubber bands. Well, they showed me how much they liked those bands!

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They don’t like the rubber bands

The mister has a friend that has a ton of bamboo growing in their yard. That stuff is so invasive and grows too fast! But, they let us cut some for free to turn into tomato stakes and a green bean teepee!

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Bamboo! 

Around the homestead we have been gathering lots of eggs and some delicious strawberries!

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Homegrown food! 

The mycelium from the winecap mushrooms are really enjoying this wet weather!

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Fabulous fungi!

I was also given a fixer upper kind of project by a friend! Her camera strap was looking sad and needed recovered! So, 30 minutes later, I had removed the old fabric and made it pretty again!

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Pretty again camera strap! 

The solar panels did great last month!! Our bill was for only $8.16 and we even got a credit back for over $80 from previous months!

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Solar is kicking butt!! 

So that’s a quick update here on our tiny plot of land in the middle of a small town!

Keeping Busy Beekeeping

It is super swarm season in my area right now and we have been tagged on Facebook and contacted for so many swarms. We decided to split our overwintered hive when we found a queen cell, which brought us up to 2 hives.

Then, we picked a swarm up right in our own neighborhood. So, that brought up the count to 3 hives. And then another in the next town over!

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Our 2 swarms

We were lucky enough to have some old nuc boxes that we could put them into with frames already made. And of course I need to show off the perfect handle that my blacksmith made for the top of the box!

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Our bee catching box! 

For the past 2 days, we have been working with a tree cutting service friend to get a hive out of a tree that he was cutting down. I’d love to show you pictures from me being in the lift, but I was kind of too terrified to take a picture!

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My mister doing all the work! 

I was stuck at school until 4 and then ran up to help him finish up the job. There was comb in there at least 3 feet long! It was a hot and sticky job with loads of angry bees!

As for the rest of the homestead, we are finally harvesting some delicious strawberries!

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Strawberries! 

I also took time to hill all of my potatoes and I’ve been hardening off plants and will be putting them in the garden very soon!

Now my question for you is what is the world is the volunteer plant below?

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pumpkin plant……. maybe? 

I’m hoping to get loads more things planted around here this weekend! Anyone else already have their garden planted?

Greenfest, gardening, mushrooms and swarms

Happy Mother’s Day weekend and I must say that this weekend was so busy! But, it was a great kind of busy. On Friday I spent the evening prepping everything for  Saturday’s Greenfest in Boonsboro, Md while the mister took the boy to go see Guardians of the Galaxy. (By the way, they said it was great!)

It was a really cold craft show, but we sold a good bit of our crafted items!

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Our craft show items!

I sold several gardening aprons, and got lots of compliments on them as well! And I still have 2 in the print below and will be adding them to the Etsy store!

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Love this gardening apron! 

And the mister got a lot of compliments on the railroad spike bottle openers as well as the bolt bottle openers! And I love the garden spades!

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Garden spades and bolt bottle opener

The mister was also able to get the itty bitty greenhouse all set up! Since I managed to accidentally bake my original seedlings, round 2 seedlings are in the greenhouse!

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Greenhouse! 

And we got our first strawberry tonight! I bet you can guess who wanted it! But the boy actually got it and said it was delicious!

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Fruit and veggie thief!

I don’t want to jinx myself, but the mushroom spawn seems to be spreading out well and looks very healthy!

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Mushroom spawn!

Then, just tonight, I had 2 calls for bee swarms! The first one seemed to be some bees that are taking up residence in a house. I’m not sure if I can get them to move out of there! But the second call was a beautiful swarm!

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Honeybee swarm!

I was able to get pretty much every bee! And I’m hoping they learn to love it here!

I was able to get a few minutes of relaxation on the new hammock with my lazy pup!

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Hammocking! 

It was a great weekend and it might take until Wednesday for me to get caught up around the house! I really do love all this fun homesteading life of ours!

Friday Funday (well, my version of fun!)

Don’t expect to read about something crazy amazing, like winning the lottery or taking a once in a lifetime trip. Nope, just what’s going on now that the weather is beautiful!

The bees have been buzzing around doing bee things! And I officially have tiny green strawberries and loads of blooms!

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Strawberry blooms

And although I don’t like creepy staged pictures where it looks like life is just perfect, I had eggs in my hands and these flowers were growing in my garden… so, I used the opportunity for a cute “L” photo!

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L for Llewellyn! 

And the arugula, leaf lettuce and spinach in the old wagon are growing!

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Salad wagon

I spent the evening hilling potatoes, checking on seedlings and finally moving the quail into their outdoor home!

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Quail dust bathing! 

And just when you think the day can’t get much better, I got to meet up with an old friend and barter some sweet potato slips and luffa plants for some onions and pepper plants!

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Best gift ever! 

And I didn’t even mention that our solar panels are loving these long, sunny days!

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75 KWh!

Today was a great day and tomorrow I will be at a local arts walk selling (hopefully) some of my craftiness! Have a great weekend!

Walk through the garden 4/19/17

Could it be?!?! Our first Wednesday walk through the garden of 2017. Even though not much is going on until the end of May (our last frost date), we can see the start of a great gardening season!

The garlic is growing nicely! And I just added some compost around them to help feed them a touch

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Garlic growing! 

The onions and strawberries growing in the raised bed are coming along!

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Onions! 
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Strawberry blooms! 

And I was pretty shocked to see that some of my potatoes have made their way above the soil already!

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Potato plant! 

My Granny’s rhubarb is looking great!

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Rhubarb! 

I really thought that since the grape vines didn’t really grow last year well, that they wouldn’t come back. But look at how healthy it looks:

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Grape vines! 

And the mister had taken the wheels off of an old wagon that was falling apart years ago. Well, I decide to use it for a salad garden. In it I have arugula, lettuce and spinach.

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Salad wagon! 

The boy was beyond delighted to find some frog or toad eggs in the tiny pond (puddle) above the garden:

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🐸 eggs! 

I will leave you with a picture of me splitting my hive, since I found a pretty nice capped queen cup. I got the future majesty and some nurse bees to move into a new box. (this was a first and I’m hoping it turns out well!)

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Splitting the hive! 

I hope that you are seeing lots of signs of Spring where you live!