Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Kate

I was at the Red Mule hardware store with Katie when she spied the sweet potato slips for sale.
She wanted to give them a whirl, so we brought them home, and the sisters planted about half so far.
I will post pictures in the fall when the full grown sweet potatoes are ready for eating.

First Parmesan Cheese

Because of our busy soccer schedule I usually make adjustments in the time my cheeses ripen and press.
But this Parmesan was made by following directions exactly.
I have high hopes for its future. I'm enjoying the cheese making process so much that I plan to get a refrigerator just for ripening my little two pound darlings.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Hive at #653 Buddys Lane

Katie labeled the hives as we installed them, 651, 652, and 653 Buddys Lane. Number 653 is in the back yard, and is notoriously aggressive.
A few days ago I found out why. I pulled frame after frame looking for brood patterns and finding nothing by honey and pollen.
No queen!
I called my bee keeping guru and left a message, but since it was the start of Memorial Day weekend, I also took measures of my own in case he couldn't round up a queen for me.
I exchanged a frame of capped brood, including queen cells, from my strongest hive for an empty one of theirs.
But then I got a call back from the apiary and went yesterday to pick up our new queen.
We call her Latifah.
I'll let her start to be released tomorrow night.
Already the hive can smell her and is calming right down.
I love my bees!

My Cheese Press

Lately I've been making an occasional hard cheese because Penny gives so much milk.
This is my press, which is functional, but not very good. Often my cheeses are crooked and sometimes the weights shift and fall off overnight, awakening the whole household.
I put a plate with the two pound cheese mold in the bottom of my pressure cooker, add a 20ish pound bucket of grain, and as many weights as needed.
I think I may invest in a real cheese press.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Miss Moppet, in a Basket

Here's a cute kitty for you to look at today.


Katie proudly owns a purebred Gloucestershire Old Spot boar called Garcia.

Dan and I went with her to West Virginia to pick him up in April.
He and Opal got married immediately and are expecting piglets on August 18th, which also happens to be Garcia's second birthday.

He's a joy to have on the farm. He's a gentle as a kitten (don't worry, we realize that a boar can turn dangerous) and as friendly as a Labrador puppy.
Yesterday, when Katie's little piglets went into Garcia and Opal's pen, Garcia herded them into a muddy corner, settled down sleepily, and let them scamper all over him.
Katie said, "It's good that Opal and Garcia are babysitting the piglets since they're going to have their own soon. This is good practice for them."

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's What's Inside That Counts

From the outside this looks like a run down squirrel feeder on top of my clothesline.

But Becky found out that there's more to this feeder than meets the eye.

She called to me with an excited grin, using those words which I haven't heard as often lately since the girls are getting to be grown ups: "Mom, come and see what I found!"
As she lifted the lid I asked, "Are there eggs in there?"
Becky replied with an even bigger smile, "Not anymore."

We're not sure of the species, but the momma is a drab little bird.

My Happy Mother's Day Treats

This rose bloomed for me on Mother's Day.

I also got three flats of strawberry plants and two hives of bees for my special day.

I am perennially blessed this year!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Kittens. Again.

These sad looking little kittens were given to Dan and me while the girls were out of town.

They're new barn cats for Becky, so her barn rat problem can be eliminated when these little cuties grow up.

The girl, on the left, is clever and sociable.
The boy is on the right.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fixed It.

Dan didn't realize the extent of my carpentry skill till he saw the expert techniques I used in building the bee frames.
Now he's impressed.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Porcine Chronicles

Here are the latest additions to Katie's pig operation.
Tammy is the brown pig and P.C. is black and white.
They're Tamworth/Ossabaw crosses.
Last week, Katie got a breeding boar, Garcia, who's a purebred Gloucestershire Old Spot. He's bred to Opal already, and Tammy is destined to grow up to marry him in order to produce many, many sons and daughters full of hybrid vigor.
Since I've found the camera, I'll try to show you more of Katie's pig production.

Goodbye JoJo

JoJo left to be a lesson pony for little children!

In the fall when she's done working for the season, I may buy her back.
'Cause, ya know, a 200 pound woman might need a tiny pony.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surprised by Gypsum

Uncle Johnny is a civil engineer, and he recommended that I spread gypsum on my fields to condition the soil and save on lime.
I had tried to get a truck to come, but nobody wanted to do it because gypsum clogs their spreader easily.
Today at the feed store, I happened to be present when the owner came to the employee I was talking with and asked if he knew anyone who wanted twelve tons of gypsum right now.
I immediately bought it.
I'm looking forward to seeing improvement in my soil over the next few years.