Friday, August 31, 2007

Officially Homesteading

Well, Bernie got here around 1:30 this afternoon and made it official. We're homesteading.

The cats settled in pretty well and let me sleep until 5:30 this morning. Elvis woke me up screaming about wanting breakfast. All three cats greeted me right away and today they all act like they've always been here.

After work, Bernie and I rode around the property in the Trail Blazer for a few minutes and then sat around talking about how we can't believe this time has finally come. What a nice feeling.

I rendered the rest of the bees wax and got some pictures. I'll try to get that page up on the website in the next few days.

Bernie went out to see how well the pin stock he bought is going to work as a pin for his backhoe bucket. He and Tex are going to have to fabricate a stop for it and drill a hole in one end for the clevis pin. Sounds like they need to use the pneumatic grinder to get the bucket holes just right. bernie's on top of the world doing that kind of thing.

There really is not too much to write about right now, but I felt I should post something to let y'all know we finally made it. We're here. We're happy. And we've got a lot of work ahead of us!

Bee Free,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cats Do Not Travel Any Better Than Prison Wine

At least ours don't. I logged off from work at 2:00PM sharp to start gathering cats, kitty litter boxes, cat food, and whatever Bernie and I will need for a few days out at the property before he starts moving us out here all togther.

Unfortunately, the cats just experienced thier pet carriers a few weeks ago when I took them to the vet for shots. It was fresh in thier minds. The minute they saw the carriers, they freaked slap out. Wonderful. Now I have three completely freaked out cats and I have to get each of them in a carrier to transport them. I'll spare you the details, but know that I am not lying when I tell you it was not easy nor was it pleasant.

So I finally got us all loaded up and headed for the homestead. 45 minutes of nothing but extreme yowling. When we finally got here I took them all inside in thier carriers and turned the air conditioning on very cool while I unloaded the rest of the car. Once we were all inside for the night, I opened the carriers and let them take thier time about coming out.

Elvis did very well. He walked around a bit, followed me room to room, purred and acted like he's always been here. The two girls were another story all together. Reba came out right away, but she hissed at me each time she laid eyes on me and ran for a good long while. She yowled for hours on end. She's finally mostly quit that, but she's still not having a whole lot to do with me. Priscilla stayed in her carrier for about an hour and a half before venturing out. She disappeared for about an hour, but has been walking around and even purring recently.

I'm sure we'll all be ok. It will just take a little adjusting. I wish everyone had Elvis' attitude. He's completely settled in and loving life right now. In fact he's sitting in a window staring at the scenery outside as I write.

I have to work tomorrow. I'll get up and logged in before 6AM. Bernie will join me out here about the time I log off. So begins the sequel.......

Pray these freaked out, yowling cats don't keep me awake all night. Prison wine is a snap in hindsight. And I could use a little of it right about now.

Bee Free,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Count Down Until Full Time Homesteading

Well, we left the homestead today knowing that we only have one more time to leave it! And while it's difficult not to wish the next two weeks away, we have so much to do in that time and so much to enjoy that it will take focus to take it one day at a time.

We left the Paper Wasp nest to hang for another week before we remove it. My Dear John had an excellent suggestion and we'll put it in the freezer for a week or so before dissecting it.

Our big project this weekend was putting a double barrel Weber carburetor on my trike. That may not seem much like homesteading to you, but let me tell you that I would be one mean homesteader without my trike. So anything we do to it should be considered absolutely related to homesteading. The happier my trike is, the happier I am. So you can see, it is all very much related.

Putting on this carburetor involved everything from a simple wrench to a rubber mallet to a sawsall. That motor area is unbelievably tight. Like by buddy Tex explains, it's a jigsaw puzzle. But we got it all disassembled and then put the new carburetor on, only to learn we screwed up on putting the alternator back together. Yes, putting on the carburetor involved removing the alternator. It is indeed a freaking puzzle - so much so that the instructions recommended removing the motor. It probably would have been easier had we done so, but Bernie and I are not known for taking the easy way out, so we just kind of winged it. But while we were winging it with the alternator, we didn't realize it didn't go back together quite right. So we had to mess with that a while. Once that was finished, the Grape Ape fired right up! I did a little jig. Bernie tried to look all "Yea, I knew it would start" but he was grinning like a fool. Very nice! The bad news is that I screwed up the throttle connection to the hand grip when we were testing the pull to the carburetor. Expensive lesson, but I'll buy a new hand grip this week.

Other than that, we just really tried to enjoy our time on the homestead. The bees are doing great and you can read about them on The Bee Buzz. I began rendering beeswax this weekend, and once I am finished I intend to put up a webpage on the process on The Bee Buzz website. I have searched high and low on the internet for step by step instructions, and have yet to find them. Maybe this will help out some other searching soul. I hope to have it up within the next two weeks - complete with pictures.

Bee Free,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sneaky Little Things on the Homestead

Earlier this summer we were sitting at the picnic bench at the homestead on a fine, summer day with Tex and Charlotte when we became aware of an odd, rather annoying noise. "Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape." We all looked around. What in the world was making that never ending sound? Finally Charlotte spotted it. It was a Paper Wasp and it had found a piece of cardboard left by the electrician with a schematic drawn on it - it was hanging next to the electric box outside, which was very close to where we were sitting. We watched the wasp work for a while ,and then fly off, only to be replaced by another wasp very quickly. Bobo jumped up to eat it, but we yelled at him and as he opened his mouth, the wasp flew off to safety. We laughed about that a while and then removed the cardboard and allowed Bobo to tear it to shreds. Bobo likes to tear up cardboard.

So fast forward a few months to.... well .... today. Bernie and I spent a couple hours mowing today, and then spent the rest of it working on my trike. We added a two barrel carburetor. She ought to like that pretty well! We'll finish it up in the morning, but we finally reached the point where we could go no further until we visit an auto parts store. So around 4:30PM, we called it quits and came inside to relax a little before cleaning up and eating supper.

Bernie can not relax without turning on a TV, so he did that about the second we walked in the door. I was in the kitchen stirring the spaghetti when I heard him ask "Did we pay the cable bill this month?" By "we", he meant "me". I pay the bills. "Well, of course we paid the cable bill this month. Why?"

He didn't look convinced when he said "Well, we have no cable. The message on the screen says a bunch of stuff that I think means maybe we didn't pay a bill."

"We paid the bill. Maybe that tree foliage got too big. Maybe the dish got out of alignment." I was pretty sure I was not to blame here.

"I'll go outside and look." And Bernie took off outside. I shut off the TV and the dish box and then started them up again. I saw Bernie walking by the window. I opened the window and said "Well, what do you think?" He said "I think you need to come out here. And I think you need to bring your camera." What????? I didn't question him. I grabbed my camera, threw on my sandals and took off outside. I anxiously asked "What is it?" He pointed at the corner of the house, up on the eave and said "Look up there". I expected to see the spot where a meteor had struck our roof and destroyed our satellite dish. Instead, I saw this:

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Paper Wasps! Darn things. And I knew where they had gotten most of that paper from.

Still, we couldn't help but admire the hard work of these creatures. It really is impressive what they can come up with using something as simple as a piece of cardboard:

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And they build those little over-hangs as the entrances/exits. Very impressive indeed. But really not cool to have hanging directly overhead of an area we mow, weed eat, and walk in. So we sprayed them with poison that we hate using. Next weekend we'll remove the nest and dissect it. As much as I am terrified of wasps and hornets, I do admire them. And I'm interested in how they build their abode - although I would highly recommend they do that in one of the thousands of trees we have on our homestead rather than right on our home.

By the way, the cable was fine. When we came inside the satellite had restarted and a nice picture was playing on our TV. I told him I payed that bill.

Bee Free,

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Plan B is in Effect

Well, after trying to sell our home in town for over a year, we've decided to go to Plan B. As much as we had hoped and planned to sell the house and use that money to pay off all debt before we move to our homestead, circumstances have led us to realize that it really makes more sense for us to move forward. Bernie has resigned from his job effective August 31. Three more weeks, and we'll be on our homestead permanently.

I will keep my job for now so that we can continue to meet all of our financial obligations. It will be a little tight, but it is certainly doable. In the meantime, Bernie will slowly move our belongings out to the homestead, and clean and paint our home in town. Maybe it will sell more quickly if it is empty. I'm happy that we'll finally be on our homestead and I can realize my dream of having chickens and goats. Bernie's happy that he'll no longer have to wake up to a 3:15AM alarm clock. We're both happy that we no longer have to remember what food, furniture, tools, and clothing we have at one place or the other. We stay perpetually confused about where our "stuff" is.

It was a nice weekend on the homestead. We went out Thursday night and enjoyed a nice, quiet, relaxing evening. It helped that there was no sign of bears. Then we went to Natural Bridge, VA on Friday for a Governor's Motorcycle Advisory Council meeting that Bernie had. The meetings are open to the public, so I decided to attend since it was being held in such a cool place. If you've never been to Natural Bridge, it's worth visiting. It has been listed as one of the "Natural Wonders" of the world. Very scenic. We rode our bikes down and although I confess to being very partial to Virginia, I will still say that there really is not a more beautiful state. Every state has something to offer, but I think Virginia has it all. And it's so darn pretty.

At any rate, we stayed Friday night at the Natural Bridge Hotel and it was awesome. The hotel is completely biker friendly and the guests just seemed to be there to enjoy life and have a good time. We made new friends from as close as neighboring counties in Virginia and as far away as New York and from other places that we never thought to ask about. Some were bikers and some were not. It was a really super stay in a really beautiful place. I give it four out of five stars - and that's only because the rooms could use just a little renovation.

We arrived back to the homestead Saturday morning and enjoyed a relaxing day. This morning we got up and got busy with the bees again. You can read about it on The Bee Buzz.

We had another great weekend on the homestead - and it only made it more enjoyable realizing that we will only be leaving it two more times before being there permanently! You'll be hearing a lot more from me after that - you lucky dawgs.

Bee Free,

Saturday, August 04, 2007

OK Bears - This Means War

We arrived this weekend to find our spare hive parts torn apart and strewn around. Dadgum bears! I wrote about it and put some pictures up on The Bee Buzz. Today we did an inspection of the apiary and found that someone had been messing around the electric fence. I really hate to give bears a bad name, but there is no question it was a bear that wreaked havoc with that fence. The ground wire was still attached, but hanging and most of the insulator posts were broken - undoubtedly from the pressure of some large butt animal hanging on or tearing at the electric wire.

These bears have about ceased being cute. They may want to talk to the mice around here. I declared war on those little rodents and I won!! I am now officially declaring war on these bears. It is about time for us to start robbing honey and I'll be darned if we'll share it with bears.

On the upside, the girls are doing great! They are buzzing happily about. In fact, several of them are spending a great deal of time up here cleaning up the mess the bear made. I just love these little bees - they are so darn efficient. And cute as little buttons!

We mowed today - early. It was 90 degrees by noon. Then we went into town to get some items to repair the electric fence around the apiary and to hang out in some free air conditioning for a while. We came home and I made some nice bath salts that I'm giving for gifts. Then Bernie got his oak burning grill fired up and we grilled some corn, burgers, dogs, and ribs. Man - that's some good eating there.

Tomorrow we'll repair the apiary fence and open up our weak hive to see how it's doing. We have 7 supers ready to rob right now. We'll get on that in the next weekend or two.

Bee Free,