The Making of a Beekeeper

A few years ago, the little boy found himself in the middle of an angry hive of stinging, flying somethings. They were in his shorts and up his shirt, he got it pretty good. The following summer he stayed in the house every time we checked bees.

Fast forward to this summer, curiosity got the best of him. One night I went to check the bees and he asked to come with. “Next time. You need pants and boots and long sleeves.”

We weren’t even finished with supper the following night and he has excused himself from the table and came back dressed to check the bees. Together we built a fire in the smoker. He “suited” up in Mike’s beekeeping hat and gloves and grabbed the hive tool. We hopped on the four-wheeler and headed out for his first hive check.

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Putting Up Hay

Rain, rain, stay away. Come again another day. Papa wants to hay today.

By Friday night we had the first cuttings bales of fresh hay in the loft. I think this was the first year nothing broke and we didn’t have the worry of rain. I should probably write that down because who knows if we will ever be so lucky again. I guess I am jumping the gun a little bit; the hay on dad’s fields still needs to be put up and the sky is looking pretty dark.

Personally, I love haying season. As with anything there are some not so great parts but I do my best to overlook those. Things like a million cuts on my forearms from the scratching hay, the constant heavy lifting in the summer heat, the chaff that clings to sweat and itches and the sneezing and snot. Yeah, haying isn’t always pretty, easy or comfortable. All that aside, it’s great. (Yes, I know, I probably am outnumbered everyone to one on this.)

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A Year to Tend the Weeds

I feel like this should be a post talking in metaphors about how I need to take a year to “weed the garden” and simplify my life or minimalize the amount of stuff in my home. It’s a good thought and both would be beneficial, but not this time. I literally need to weed the garden.

Its official, I’m not planting a garden this year. All of my seeds will remain neatly sorted in their packets and in a zip-lock bag until next year. How depressing. A ton of vegetables, herbs and flowers and all their beautiful potential sitting quietly under my desk.

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Farmers Market Meals Made Easy

Its farmers market season. You drive through town and see a farmers market or down a country road there’s a roadside stand wouldn’t you love to stop and just snoop?!

And then you don’t. Why not? Maybe the thought is “What am I going to do with a bag of vegetables?” “My kids don’t eat vegetables.” “I don’t like salad.” Any of these relatable?

Don’t worry! You need to stop anyway!

You can sign up below for my Free Farmers Market Meal Recipes and each week you will receive an email with a couple recipes so you can pick out beautiful produce  with confidence knowing that they won’t go to waste! Did I mention they’re Free?!

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Spring Rain and Loose Barb Wire

Thelma by the “scratching fence”.

During the winter months the cow are kept in the corral to keep them from damaging the pasture. They do quite a number on the barb wire fence during that time; scratching and rubbing on it all winter long. When spring arrives the fence is always in need of tightening. As soon as we can get some savings set aside I want to put boards up for the corral fence instead.

We have yet to have a calf that has not slipped out at least once. At least when they a new they are easy to catch and carry back. The yearlings are a bit more challenging. They are too big to carry and don’t come to the shaking of a grain bucket yet. These spunky little guys can make life on the farm rather exciting.

Last Friday night I raced home from work to pick up Mike so we could go pick up our bees. It’s only about a 45 minute drive but the way things go we wouldn’t have much time before the beekeepers close up for the night. I came flying down the driveway watching for kids, ducks, dogs and a cat, so the cow in the yard was a surprise.

“Caroline’s out.” I called towards the house as I headed towards the barn. I tossed some duck feed into my milk pail, grabbed the rope halter and headed back out. The second surprise of the night, I should have known better. Sweet Caroline doesn’t get out unless I leave the gate open and invite her. Elwood, our yearling steer was out.

I tried a couple times with the pail of duck feed and then went back to the barn for a rope. The idea was to rope him and then lead him back. By that time I had help and that plan was pretty well out the window too. We chased him into the pig gate and up the hill to the corral gate. Just as we (Mike and I) opened the gate the rest of the herd thundered over. On to Plan C… or F?

We didn’t have time to mess around, our bees were waiting. We closed the pig gate and opened the corral gate and let everyone spend a night on the pasture.

A few nights later, one of those nights when everyone was exhausted, supper was late, because bathes were needed first. We had spent the day working outside, Mike was working on the tractor and cleaning coops and pens, while I was cleaning out the garden. The kids were busy playing in the sun and the baby napping in the shade. The night was winding down everyone was settling into the living room and I was doing a weekends-worth of dishes. That’s when I noticed a new sandbox toy…Thelma…the heifer.

“Mike, Thelma’s out!”

He headed for the door and I kept washing dishes and watched the rodeo unfold out the window. He wasn’t messing around that night. He started with the rope right away. Walking up and down the fence line trying to the perfect time to throw. It wasn’t long and he had her and wasn’t happy about it. I watched as he leaned back, the rope was tight and Thelma was kicking and running. Down through the pig gate and up the hill. (Obviously, the cows know the drill) Then they turned from the corral and headed out to the pasture; Mike still in tow. Then they disappeared.

I don’t know where he left her but pretty soon he was back to the house.

“I’m gonna need some help.” Mike said.

I dried my hands, situated the kids and headed out. I rounded the corner of the barn and there they were again, one on each end of the rope.

A little back and forth and a slight distraction on the other side of the corral and I was able to open the gate. Mike pulled Thelma in and then hopped out just before the rest were over to visit. She was wearing the rope like a Girl Scout sash and we let her. It wouldn’t be too long and she would step out of it.

At this point we should have tightened the fence lines. We didn’t.

On to a couple days later. Coming home after another long day and guess who’s trimming the grass by the chicken coop? Yep, Thelma. We sent the kids to the sandbox and the chase was on again.

It had rained almost constantly for the last couple days so everything was delightfully sloppy. Thelma kicked and bucked her way around the barn, through the yard, into the pig gate, up the hill and around the barn again. Mike fed the cows to distract them…again. Then he started to send her back down the hill to the pig gate while I ran (actually ran this time) around the barn to get to the corral gate and get it open in time.

That spunky little heifer snuck right by and went for lap three! She was half way around and saw Mike at the bottom of the hill and me at the gate and that little $#!* squeezed through the fence and was back in with the rest just in time for more rain.

Mike tightened the fence.

What happens when Mike and I chase cows.
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