Saturday, June 30, 2007


We are having a great weekend on the homestead. It was raining when we arrived, which was a welcome respite from the dry weather we've been having. The grass is coming in quite nicely now.

This morning we worked on my trike and corrected a backfire issue is was having by replacing the #1 cylinder spark plug and wire. We tuned her up and she's running like a top now. Which is really good - because we're riding in support of Delegate Lingamfelter this week for the Dale City 4th of July parade.

Afterwards, I made a batch of home made soap. I've been reading up on this, and it's something that seemed a little intimidating, but I really wanted to do. If things were to get really bad, I'd like to think I could at least continue with basic hygiene. The ingredients are pretty easy to come by, with the possible exception of lye - and I found a recipe for making my own lye, if it comes down to that. At any rate, I spent an hour or so making soap, and I am pretty excited to see how it turn out. Check it out!

This afternoon we cooked out and grilled some great burgers and bratwurst. Then we walked down to check out the bees. On the way down we stopped by one of the little creeks and saw several of the girls getting a little drink of water. They were darn cute standing on the rocks so their feet didn't get wet. Wish I'd had my camera. They seem to be doing pretty well. Lots of activity around every hive. We'll get Bob W. from the Dept. of Agriculture to come out again in a couple of weeks so we can do another thorough hive inspection.

We also noticed on our walk to the hives that we have raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries ripening up. I had a few for dessert as we walked. Hopefully I'll be able to beat the birds and bears to them in the next couple of weeks and collect enough for a pie - or at the very least for a nice topping on my pancakes!

Oh - and for those of you who have asked, I do believe I reign triumphant over the mice! I haven't seen a sign of them in the house for several weeks now. Of course it helped that daddy helped me search out every conceivable point of entry for them while he was here and fill it with that expanding foam. And as a side note, I would mention that when you read "expanding" on that foam, it means EXPANDING. That stuff looks alien about 30 minutes after you spray it - and it ain't budging once it's in place. I speak from experience.

Bee Free,

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Told You I'm a Good Wife

As we have well established in the past, I am a pretty good wife. I not only accepted that my husband wanted bees, I've learned to love them and become totally absorbed in them. I throw him a Super Bowl Party every year. And I not only hunt, fish, and ride motorcycles, I also willingly participate in pretty much every cock-a-mamie scheme he comes up with. Take tonight, for example.

My wonderful husband walks in an announces "I'm going to take down that branch that hangs over the driveway that's been bothering you." I looked up at him. "Well, that's great. Need my help?" - never expecting in a million years that he would actually say yes. He pulled up his pants, puffed out his chest and said "I thought I'd drive the back hoe down there and lift you up in the bucket. You'll be able to cut it down a lot easier that way." What the...... "Lift ME up??? I thought you said YOU were going to take down that branch????" He looked at me ever so tenderly and said "I figured it would be a lot safer if I lift YOU in the back hoe than if you lift me." He had a point. I don't know how to operate that back hoe very well yet. I mean I could do it, but I couldn't insure he'd be heading up or down in the bucket right at first. I am struggling with what is up and what is down with that bucket right now.

It was getting dark, so I reluctantly agreed. We headed down and Bernie positioned the backhoe exactly where it needed to be:

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He hoisted me up and I snapped a picture along the way:

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The branch hung over the road - which seemed a lot further up than I remembered it:

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I thought Bernie looked a lot more smug than he should have at this point:

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I swear I sawed on that stupid branch half the night:

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And then I got it! It fell to the ground!

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Bernie lowered the bucket and rode me back up to the house:

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If this is not proof of what a good wife I am, I don't know what is. That Bernie is one lucky man. And I never cease to remind him of it.

Bee free!

Friday, June 22, 2007

You Wascally Wabbit

We are overrun with rabbits. I'm sure I've never seen as many rabbits as I have this year. We can't walk outside without seeing a rabbit or two hop through the yard.

When we got to the homestead tonight, we scattered several rabbits as we pulled into the driveway. A little while later we went down to take care of a few things and check on the bees, and while we were there a rabbit hopped out of the woods and sat very close to where we were standing. He didn't look even slightly worried. That really surprised me. Did he have no clue what-so-ever where he lands on the food chain? Apparently not. Does this guy look even a little concerned to you?

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I didn't think so.

Anyone have a good rabbit recipe to share?

Bee free, Penny

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dear John

I hinted at this in my last post, but I am at a particularly low point right now. I won't go into details, but I'm sure you realize that the fact that we can not sell our home in town to homestead full time is at the top of my list of downers.

But I have a little secret upper. I have my Dear John. John is a fellow who happened up on the Back to Basic Living website and started emailing me. My dear John has become a good friend to me, even though we've never met. He has a homestead of his own that he dreams of eventually living on. He spends time there and he sends me pictures and updates on a regular basis. John also sends me advice and encouragement. He's a pretty smart fellow and he's studied up on self sufficiency and self reliance - and he's not shy about sharing it.

John makes me smile with his stories of being a yankee in the deep south. I love the story of a neighbor that repositioned a civil war cannon to point at John's home when he first moved in. John delivered several bushels of oranges from his personal orange grove before his neighbor finally pointed the cannon away from John's home.

John also shares little things - like using the solar powered outside lights to work as nightlights in your home. He's sent me plans on switching over to solar power and shared how to make certain you can get water from a well. He's commiserated on mice infestations and taken an interest in honey bees. He's even sent riddles for Bernie to answer. All in all, my Dear John has been a good friend - knowing when to agree that life sucks, and knowing when to encourage me to move on.

And so I would like to share my Dear John letter:

Dear John,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for being a friend, to thank you for taking the time to entertain me, encourage me, and offer advice. I thank you for visiting my website and offering me your friendship. I wish you only the best with your homestead - and I sure hope you can convince your wife of it's virtues. Take care my friend. And know that I appreciate you.

Bee Free,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Confessions of an Overwhelmed Part Time Homesteader

As Charlotte pointed out to me, it's been a while since I posted. I really do apologize for that. We've been working around the homestead, worrying about the bees, and trying to sell our home in town. Have you ever felt overwhelmed with life to the point of being unable to do anything at all? I have been pretty much at that particular point - and it left me with what I suppose is "writer's block". I'm back on track now though, and ready to write yet another rambling blog full of my stream of consiousness.

The bees have given us quite a bit of stress lately - we were seriously questioning the health of two of the six hives. I contacted Bob W. from the Department of Agriculture and he agreed to come on out and help us examine each of our hives. Bob W. is saint - full of compassion, understanding, and a great deal of knowledge about bees. We had a wonderful visit with him, and while I wouldn't say he gave us the best news in the world about our hives, he did explain an awful lot of things to us and promised to come out again in a month to take another look and see how the girls are doing. I wrote about his visit on The Bee Buzz Blog and posted some pictures on the website.

My parents came up from Georgia for a week and we all stayed out on the homestead. It was a great time and I can't believe how quickly the time flew by. We accomplished a great deal during their visit. Bernie and Daddy knocked down the old Wild Cherry Tree that was threatening to fall on the house. They also greased Bernie's backhoe and got it in good working order. Daddy and I spent a great deal of time removing all those strips in the walls of the mobile home and then mudding them. We got just about half of it finished before he left and I'm ready to prime it and then paint the walls. I'll put up some pics when I do that so y'all can see the difference.

We still haven't sold our home in town and it's getting down right depressing. We're trying not to let it get us down, but after spending a week on the homestead it's getting harder and harder to leave. We spent our 20 year wedding anniversary out there and Bernie's birthday. It was really nice. I almost cried when we had to leave.

On the upside, we saw turkeys in the yard this week! Man, are they big! We haven't seen signs of them in a while, so laying eyes on them was a pleasant surprise. I'm hoping to see one of them on the table for the Thanksgiving meal this year.

That's it for now. I'll try to be better about keeping in touch.

Bee Free,