Spring Has Sprung!

Our new chicks arrived on April 17th and are already getting big!! These birds, are moving fast from the cute yellow chick stage to the ugly white bird stage! They grow fast and within 8-10 weeks they’ll be ready for freezer camp! Fresh chicken anyone?

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Pete went to Bee School over the winter. 6 Saturdays of practical teaching on how to keep honey bees! Since then, he’s been busy looking at a variety of dealers and products and has made careful decisions. He bought a hive and spent lots of time putting it together, painting, prepping and getting all ready for the big day!! We have a space, protected (hopefully) from the worst of the winter winds and protected with a solar battery electric fence… to keep the bears out, not to keep the bees in! May 19th is the big day!! We’ll be picking up a 3 pound package of bees to add to the hive! Can’t wait to see how this all works out and to try our own ‘home grown’ honey!

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Last fall we gave away our few remaining hens and only wintered a few rabbits. We are starting our 2013 garden and growing season with new hens! We bought a half dozen Red Comets/Cinnamon Reds and were blessed with a gift of another 6 hen and a rooster a few weeks later from a friend who had to move!! Thankfully, they are all about the same age which made the introductions a bit easier! Fresh eggs are another delicious reason for liking spring!

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The maple syrup has been bottled, the fruit trees have been pruned and the field across the street has been fenced and maybe a few cows will graze on them this summer! The kale is making a comeback, the rhubarb is growing and the fruit (plum, apple) trees and blueberry bushes are beginning to bud and blossom! We were pleased to see that the elderberries made it through the winter too…  they were a new addition last fall! So much to do all at once in the spring!

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The only things we do NOT like about spring are ticks (as of today we’ve had a collective number of 20+ ticks!), black flies and the soon to come mosquitos!

Up next….  keeping the lawn mowed, garden tilling and planting!  Enjoy the nice weather and the dirt between your toes!

May your days be blessed and your nights be restful! God Bless!

It’s Maple Season Again

All of the buckets are hung on the maple trees again…  as soon each tap was put in the tree, Pete started hearing the beautiful music of ‘ping, ping, ping’. It’s the sound of the sap as it rolls down the spile and drips off the end to hit the bottom of the bucket.

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(The picture above is from a season or two ago, but it shows the spiles in the trees and how the sap would come out of the tree to drip into the bucket. Some buckets have two spiles dripping into it and others have just one. It depends on the size of the tree. Notice how clear the sap is. It feels and looks like water, but it has a sweet maple flavor. My family likes to use it to make their coffee in the morning during sugar season!)

maple bucket The ‘ping’ eventually turns into a soft splash sound after the bottom of the bucket has collected enough sap to make a puddle, and then it fills the bucket sometimes to overflowing!

They were all hung by the end of the day on Friday and the first collection happened on Saturday late afternoon…   not bad for the first 24 hours!maple bucket pete

Pete figured out the time it took… about 8 hours to hang buckets up and down both sides of the road and some in the pasture (washing & hanging them) and then about 2 1/2 hours to collect.

I think he said he collected about 50 gallons of sap in the first 24 hours which would equal just over 1 gallon of finished syrup….

Tomato Soup

Remember when I made tomato soup last fall?? If you want to check out the recipe again, click on the link below and it will take you to my previous blog…

www.simplylovinghome.blogspot.com/2012/09/tomatoes.html 006

I have been a little bit concerned because I thought the amount of salt was too much.    I meant to cut it down before adding it to the tomatoes while making it, but somehow I spaced it and added the full amount. Sooo, with all of that said, I hadn’t yet tried the soup. Last night I brought out a jar and determined that today would be the day to try the soup! I had labeled each jar with the directions (in case I forgot) so I would know just how to prepare it! 052I poured the soup in the saucepan, added the four and milk… and whisked it while it was heating!!050 054      Then poured it into my soup bowl and added a few crackers…                                     OH MY GOODNESS….  IT IS DELICIOUS!!!055

Let that be a lesson for me!! I could have been enjoying this yummy-ness all winter long had I not decided it wasn’t going to taste good before even trying it!!  It seems to me that I used to scold my kids for the same thing when they were little!! I wonder where they got it? Tomao soup is a definite RE-DO for this summer’s canning seaon!!

Until next time…  M.

To Bee or Not To Bee

Pete got a wonderful book for Christmas this year all about raising bees. We’ve talked about it over the years, but never really looked into the possibilities! Now, he has a book with lots of information and pictures…. oh boy, we may have bees!

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Mozzie is not so much interested in the book as he is in getting some cuddle time! He LOVES to sit on anyone’s lap that is going to stay put and love on him!

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It would be interesting to have two sources of good, natural sugars… maple syrup & maple sugars as well as honey!! I’m going to have to figure out how to switch over to these for all my baking & cooking instead of buying the ‘white stuff’!! I wonder how that would work….   I guess I will have to do some research of my own.

Do any of you have bees? Any pointers? Any other recommended reading? How about places for supplies…. did you make your own or buy them? Do you cook with honey? Care to share a good cookbook or tips that you’ve learned along your journey?

God Hugs Are GREAT!!

We finally put up our Christmas tree last night! Picking a time where everyone can be home to join in the festivities is the hardest part of the job. We finally agreed that Sunday afternoon would be the best time, even though it meant snowy travels back home for Travis… it was Sunday or wait until the 22nd of December.

This year I made a ‘cheater’s version’ of clam chowder (using a ‘Bear Creek’ package of potato soup and adding lots of baby whole clams etc.) and then second soup called Tuscan White Bean Soup by ‘Alessi’. They both were good, but never as good as home-made all the way! I had the regular stuff; dip & chips, artichoke dip, cheese & crackers, special bread to go with the soups and Travis brought a fresh pineapple and cut it all up for us… it was sooo healthy & yummy!!

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One of the best highlights was about 4:30PM when the computer started making a noise…  it was Audrey calling us on Skype from Cameroon! The lights were on the tree and Austin was just putting the angel on top!! It may be silly, but the honor of putting the angel on the tree has been well documented EACH year since they were all little ones!! This year was Austin’s turn…  and Audrey WAS WITH US FOR IT!!

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013Can you believe we’ve been keeping track of this since the Christmas of 1993?! And, I have taken pictures each year! Some of those early pictures were of Pete holding the kids up high enough so that they could reach to put the angel on!!                               Oh, the sweet memories….

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These are the new scrabble ornaments for 2012!

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You know that special moment when you KNOW it was  a ‘God thing’? Well, putting up the tree was a last-minute decision as of that morning, no one but us and God knew and I’m convinced that He prompted Audrey to call!

Thanks for the God-hugs today!

We all needed that boost!

Until Next Time,  ~M.