Friday, April 12, 2013

Update for the week - birthdays, corn planting, runaway chicks

The hens have been averaging about 7 eggs per day this week, with some beautiful weather! We did have one day with 9 eggs, which excited me way more than it probably should have. If I only knew who the one slacker was...

Someone's not earning their keep

I saw a post on Facebook this week that said, "spring was beautiful, all four hours of it". It did get very warm, very quick, but I'm not complaining! Not yet anyway. I'm loving having the windows open, seeing a full clothesline flapping in the breeze, and even the dandelions scattered throughout the yard. 

Did you know...European settlers brought dandelions with them to the colonies to use as salad greens? I've never tried them, although I've always heard that you can eat them, as long as they haven't been sprayed with chemicals and other toxic nasties. The leaves make good salad greens, but I don't think you are supposed to eat the stems of the flowers. According to Organic Gardening, dandelions have more beta carotene than carrots. 

We did get about 600 feet of corn planted yesterday, and had a nice rain last night. We never have done much with corn, so I'm excited to see how it goes! 

Our chicks have been giving us a fit. Well, when I say us, I mean me, because I think all I've been doing is chasing chicks this week. We used welded wire fencing instead of chicken wire on our chicken fence, and of course the little Hampshire chicks have escaped every chance they get. 
Here they are taking a walk on the wild side.

Today is our middle daughter's 18th birthday! Up until she was about four years old, she thought her name was Honey. She was the baby for a long time, until Henny Penny came along, so it's been tough realizing she's all grown up and about to graduate high school. She loves Captain America, so when I saw the Captain America flag cake on Instructables, I knew it had to be her birthday cake. Here's what it SHOULD look like:


How cool, right??

Well, here's my version:

 Nailed it!

I can hear you laughing. 

Close one eye and squint real hard with the other one, and it doesn't look THAT bad.

And for a cake like this, not just anything will do to light the candles:
Yes, that is a propane torch. It was all I could find. It got the job done!

All in all, it's been a great week! Looking forward to relaxing tomorrow and enjoying the weekend!! Hope you have a great weekend. Stay sweet and don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The bees, they are abuzzing

What?? Two posts in one day? What do you know about that? (Although, in my defense, there have been times I have tried to post, but living on the backside of the boonies limits good internet access. The girls and I have done the Lion King thing with our phones many times trying to get a signal. You know, the Lion King thing, where you hold your phone way up in the air trying to catch a signal, like they did with Simba? You know you've done it too)

What was this post about? Oh yeah, bees. Pa had ordered a nuc of bees a while back. A nuc (short for nucleus) is a smaller version of a hive. Ours came with 5 frames of bees. He was scheduled to get them this morning, about an hour away, so we decided to ride with him. The plan, I THOUGHT, was to put the box of bees inside his toolbox, in the bed of the truck. I mistakenly thought this because apparently, when Pa said he was cleaning out the toolbox to put the bees in, what he really meant was, "how about you hold a box with 10,000  bees in it on your lap for an hour". No, I am not kidding.

I had a much tighter death grip on that box than what it looks like. Don't let the picture fool you.

Our youngest daughter, Henny Penny, has a huge phobia about bees. She and our 7 year old nephew were in the backseat. She's freaking out crying, convinced they will get out and sting her to death, and the nephew is asking to hold the box. "Don't worry, it's ok, and NOO you cannot hold the box." She soon realized it was all ok, and calmed down.

Once we got home, the fun began. Well, fun for Pa. Here's how you get 10,000 bees from a box into their hive, in case you were wondering. I had wondered too.

Believe it or not, he only got stung once, on the leg.

Smoker on standby, he takes the rubber band off the box. He's already taken out the yellow plug so they don't all swarm out the top when he takes the lid off. (at least, I assume that's why he did it.)

 Our first peek at them!

 The first frame coming out of the box

 Going into the new hive.

 This one tried to get a little frisky with him, but some smoke took care of that.

Another nice frame.
In reality this is how far away I was. Very happy for the zoom on my camera. A few bees came and checked me out, but I did good and didn't panic. I was begging Pa to come get them away from me (the 4 flying around me as hundreds are flying around him). But I didn't panic. Yes, I know I'm a big baby. 

Once they were all in, he put the top feeder on and gave them some sugar water.

 Look at the pollen on the back legs! These bees were loaded down with pollen. 

 They settled right into their new home.

 Little Rosie No-tail was not impressed. She kept her distance.

 Another closeup of a bee with pollen already loaded on board.

Burlap makes great smoke!

And one last picture to leave you with...
This one landed in my hair. Pa took his time in snapping the picture before finally shooing it away.

We have one more full hive ordered. It's about 3 hours away. Guess what I will NOT be doing?

Let the clucking commence!

Wow, I really have to do better about posting here, don't I? The last few weeks have been crazy busy here on Honeybee Hills. Between honeybees, hens, and getting the garden ready for planting, on top of everything else, we've been busier than the proverbial one armed paperhanger.The chicks and ducklings we bought from Tractor Supply are doing great, we didn't lose a single one. A few days after we got them, Pa brought home 10 hens and a rooster he bought from someone getting out of the business, so that means we are getting eggs already. Yahoo!!! We're getting 5-8 per day, which is good considering our crazy weather. How crazy, you ask?

 This was yesterday. See that white stuff on the roof of the henhouse? Yep, snow! April 4th, snow!

 One of our garden spots, Pa had just tilled it the day before in short sleeves.

If you look very very closely, there are two tiny blue flowers freezing in the sleet and snow.

And then today, back to almost 70 degrees again.

Ok, so back to the chicks and hens. (Speaking of that, I'd love to get some of those hen and chick plants. My grandma always had those, and I thought they were the neatest things.) Anyways, Pa called the guy up who had the chickens, and was talking to him about them. The guy had all kinds of equipment that we didn't need, sounded like he was quite the professional. At least, until Pa asked him what kind of chickens he had for sale. "Oh, I got some white ones, and some brown ones, and black and white speckly ones". Umm ok, sure. 

 Yep, she's brown

 And so is she (she's also my favorite, one of the best layers)

 And here's us a speckly one!

And the original chicks we ordered from McMurray came in. One was DOA, and we lost a few more over the next night or two. As cold as it had been, and with them being shipped, we were still very pleased. And since that first batch, we haven't lost any more. They are growing and starting to get some color on their wings.
 Look how pretty the coloring is on the Barred Rocks (aka speckly ones)

 Gus and Gusala are doing great, although Gusala is twice the size of Gus already!

 We opened up their section of the henhouse to see if they would come out yet. Will they...

 Just for a peek. She wasn't too sure about all this. (bless their hearts, they're in that awkward adolescent stage, where they just aren't cute at all. Just kind of gangly)

I have more to tell you about bees, but I'll save it for another post. I promise it won't be a month!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wake up, spring is almost here!

I'm slowly emerging from my hibernation because spring is almost here! How do I know? Because these tiny cuties are now in my henhouse!
 See Gusala up there among the chicks?

Yes, I know the pics are complete crapola, but I was too excited to see them to remember to take pics out in the sunlight!
These two chicks are trying to figure out who and what Gus Jr might be.

We may or may not have gotten a little impatient waiting on our chicks to arrive. They are scheduled to be here in about a week and a half. In the meantime, we may or may not have went to Tractor Supply and bought 10 Barred Rock chicks.

And 2 ducks. I couldn't resist them. I love having ducks and hearing them quack quack quack!

Gusala is a White Pekin, Gus Jr is a Rouen. Or maybe a Mallard. They weren't marked, but the brochure laying on a shelf had the choices that they could be. I'm fairly certain Gus is the Rouen though. Now whether Gus is really a Gussie, well, we'll have to wait and see.

I still need to get outside and get the coop painted. Pa has primered it white for me, but any self-respecting chicken coop needs to be barn red, right? Now that the weather is warming up, I can get it done. He also needs to get some steps fixed up for the coop. For some unknown reason, he built it about 3 feet off the ground, but has neglected to fix any steps for my short little legs. He may have gotten the hint today when I fell out of the coop. Yep, I sure did, and you missed it. I had squatted down to jump out, and when I jumped, the heel of my boot caught on something and I faceplanted right in the mud. THIS  is why I don't do more outdoorsy stuff. I was just not born with the gene to safely walk and work at the same time. And that wasn't my first trip up today. At Tractor Supply, I walked over to the pine shavings and grabbed a bundle, carefully walking over the pallet to get to the remaining stack. As I stepped off the pallet, I remember thinking, I did that and didn't fall, as I tripped over the little metal sign at the front of the pallet. At least the shavings broke my fall.

I'm no safer inside the house. A few weeks ago I got second degree burns on my arm while trying to stir soup. Yes, just stirring soup is dangerous for me.

I have been trying to be somewhat productive though. My daughter's friend has a serious addiction to the bottled Starbucks Frappuccino. (Yes that is spelled correctly. And yes, I had to google it to make sure.) She has been saving the bottles for me for a few weeks now. I've told her I have a really good recipe for homemade frappuccinos. I'll add the recipe at the bottom of the page! It is soo yummy! I'm not complaining about her obsession though. I have 20-25 from the last batch she brought. Here's a portion of the bottles she has brought me so far:

Guess what I'm going to use them for? Have you guessed yet? Huh? Huh? No?

The smaller ones I'm going to put new labels on and use them for our honey! My friend Kristin at
2:12 Designs is going to make up some cool labels for me. She does party invitations, announcements, custom glass tile jewelry, all kind of neat things. She is supertalented and an awesome photographer. Check out her site and tell her Traci from Honeybee Hill sent you, and maybe you'll get a neat surprise!

Ok, for the frappuccino recipe. I found it on Pinterest and followed it to Christina Flis and her blog. They are delicious! I did cheat and use off brand french vanilla creamer, and it still tasted so much like Starbucks.

Here is the basic recipe, but be sure and check out her blog for the complete details, reviews, tons more recipes and other goodies.

1 pot of fresh coffee
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup French Vanilla liquid creamer
Big squirt of chocolate syrup (for the Mocha version)

Stir everything up, chill until nice and cold, and enjoy!

Time to put some wood in the stove, fix some coffee, and relax! My spring break from college started today, so I am going to make the most of it! I'll be back soon with more goodies. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, and stay sweet!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome to Honeybee Hills!

Welcome to Honeybee Hills! 

If you've followed me over from, thank you! If you're new to my blog, then bless your heart, you're going to need plenty of patience with me. I do real good to put words together in a sentence, just not always coherently, but if you can bear with me, you might get a laugh or two now and then at my expense. I do have a pet peeve about misspelled words, so if you catch one, be sure and grab your red pen and smack me with it. If you find a misspelled word on my page, leave me a comment and I'll send you a prize. I am that finicky about it. Seriously, I will, if you don't mind giving your address out to a random stranger on the internet. What could possibly come out bad from that, right?

Ok, so who am I and why should you care what I write about? Good question! I won't bore you with a long drawn out life story. Ten words or less: wife, mother, Christian, adoption advocate, Girl Scout leader. ohh, only eight, I am GOOD. To read more about the adoption side, go to my other blog listed at the beginning. And if you are an adoptive parent or want to be, give yourself a great big bear hug from me, because I love you for doing it!

So, this blog will be about my trial and misadventures raising honeybees and hens. New Hampshire Reds, to be precise. We've had chickens before, and I have missed them! This is our first time with honeybees though, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it! I kind of don't like getting stung, and to bring tens of thousands of honeybees onto my property, on purpose, sounds a little dumb. But that's what husbands are for, right?

On the chicken side of the fence, we have ordered 25 hen chicks and 4 roosters from McMurray Hatchery. Here's a video, aren't they adorable??

These little puffballs should be arriving at the post office just before Easter. Yes, the post office. I never knew until a few years ago that you can mail live animals. Just slap a stamp on their butts and send them off. No, not really, don't do that. I'm sure PETA and the USPS would frown on that. But they do come in the mail. The last set that came was a few years ago, and I went by the post office, picked them, and took them back to work with me. As cute as they sound, you really don't want to hear it in a small office for six hours straight. Trust me. I bet you didn't even watch the full video because it was too annoying, right? And that was only 1:32. I'm not judging, I turned it off after about 30 seconds too.

So anyway, my hubby, Pa, is finishing up the coop and the hawk/coyote/fox proof run, at least we hope it will be! I'll post some pics when it's up.

Back to the bees. How on earth did we get into the whole bee thing? Pa decided he wanted to try keeping bees, and my dad, who is sweeter than any honey on the planet, found out and gave us his hive. He hasn't fooled with them much lately, and decided to just turn it over to us. I'll tell more about our first robbing experience in another post, but we've ordered two more hives. Well, one full complete hive and one nuck, or nook, or something like that. Hey, I'm learning right along with you, so be patient!

I guess that's it to start off with, maybe the time you're reading this, I'll have pretty-fied the blog up a little bit. Or maybe not. No promises.

More coming soon. In the meantime, don't put all your eggs in one basket, and stay sweet!