more woodwork / nervous beekeeper / garden update

Whew, things have certainly been keeping me busy lately! For a few quick updates, inspected my hive for week 2. All went well, and the queen has gotten out of her cage, but I got a bit nervous and didn’t check all of the frames remaining. Not the end of the world the bees still are fed, and healthy, I just want to make sure that the queen is laying. I am so excited about my bees and love this new hobby that I am taking up, but there must be some kind of deep laying, internal response to the hum of bees growing louder and having them fly around you, that makes a person slightly nervous. This is something that I expect I’ll become more accustomed to over time. It’s just such a new experience there is sure to be a learning curve.

Moving on to my birds- wow they appear to be growing at an exponential rate! So fast in fact, that I’d better get moving on their outside home as they will soon outgrow their cardboard box. Probably the most expensive part of owning a chicken is figuring out their housing. At my new house, I am lucky that there is a large coop already built, however it’s been out of use for probably 25 years, is filled with equipment (as it was used as a shed in that time) and will definitely need some TLC (and cash) before I can turn it into the coop that I want. So in the meantime, and since I have only 3 chickens at the moment, I am attempting (with some help from my dad) to save some money and construct my own movable chicken tractor. I’ll be using the design plans from Ashley English’s ‘Keeping Chickens’ book (love her book and blog!). So dad and I have started out by framing the run of the coop. Just a start but exciting nonetheless. What do you think?

As for the garden, I thought I had been doing so well in my planning this year, but as these things go life gets busy and plans inevitably fall a little behind schedule. My asparagus is up from last year, I was gifted some rhubard from my aunt which I’ve added to my garden, the peas, radishes and lettuce have begun to come up and I’ve been enjoying the spinach and lettuce that miraculously overwintered in New England without any help from the gardener!

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england / wales

So, my chicks have been home for about a week and I’ve already taken off for a week and a half to pay my boyfriend LJ a visit (bad chick mama! Although LJ did buy me the chicken workshop as a Christmas present, so I’m sure the ladies will understand)!  I knew that I would be taking this week out in advance, however, and my parents so graciously offered to handle chicken duty for while I was away.

Well it turned out to be quite an exciting eventful trip!  LJ had planned out an excellent week of hiking in stunning Snowdonia National Park in Wales (LJ is from England and a fellow lover of hiking and the outdoors.  We actually met while doing a thru hike of the Appalachian trail a few years back which I wrote about here http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=10009) which was incredible.  Lots of rain and fog (even snow at some high peaks), craggy rocks and walks through sheep pastures (and many, many lamb photos taken by yours truly).  And most exciting of all, we became engaged during our trip!  And so the nobohomestead will soon be one more..  🙂 Though to be fair, LJ has always been there creating the nobohomestead with me from the beginning. A shared dream and I can’t wait to see where it will take us!

birds

around the water cooler

Well the little chickies have settled into their new temporary home (aka the cardboard box in the back room with a heat lamp).  They made the long trip back from New York in the shoe box safely.  When I checked on them during the trip (couldn’t help myself!), they were all nestled up together sleeping in the box.  Three little different colored balls of fluff.

They all seem to be settling in well… at first I don’t think they knew what to make of the place but they soon discovered where the food and water was and promptly passed out face down in their pine shavings.  I do have to say I’ve surprised myself by being such a nosy adoptive-mother.  I keep trying to creep into the back room where their box is just to take a peek and see what they are up to.  But they’re no fools… they catch me every time!

birds and the bees

Well it’s been quite a month so far!  My mother is finally home and recovering well, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up and hang with my close local girlfriends (and even a non-local friend who dropped into town for a quick dinner), had some home maintenance repairs to attend to and lots of general preparing for exciting upcoming events.

That’s right folks… it’s the year of the birds and the bees!  Bee school has been going well and keeping me bus(zz)y (yup… a it of bee humor!) each week .  I’ve been learning so much and in my spare time have been working to build and paint my hive.  My little winged beauties are scheduled to arrive at the end of April, so I am very much looking forward to (and ever so slightly nervous for) their arrival.

In addition to the bees, my lovely boyfriend bought me a backyard chicken workshop at Cold Antler Farm for Christmas.  So I am looking forward to making the trek over to CAF again soon, and coming home with the first members of my future flock!  I’ve been reading up on chickens and chicken tractor plans to build (the next project!), but at the moment have been focusing on setting up a brooder for them to be nice and comfy.  So that’s all for now.  Lot’s of exciting changes that will be coming up in the next couple months so stay tuned!

where has winter gone?

A month between entries- not a great habit to get into!  But I’m new at this and it’s been a pretty hectic month here (my mother recently undergoing a pretty serious spinal operation) so I’m gonna cut myself a bit of slack.

So I’m sure you’ve been eagerly awaiting to hear what happened to the lye-heavy (I think) soap that I created last month???  Well I attempted to ‘re-batch’ it by basically goggling that phrase and seeing what I found online.  First I checked the ingredients, then added a bit more water and fats (in same ratios as original recipe) and finally I crumbled up my concoction and heated it over the stovetop.  Worried that the mixture might get too hot or burn, I then changed my mind and decided to cover the pot with some foil and placed it in the oven.  Long story short- the mixture never fully melted and I think a lot of the essential oil scent might have escaped in the process…

BUT…. it appears to be soap!  It certainly aint pretty, but after sitting for a couple weeks I tried it out and no slimy feeling (apparently slimy means that means it’s not ready / or there is still too much lye).  Have been washing myself with it for a few days now with no ill effect yet.  So success or failure?  I vote success but you can be the judge.  I figure all learning is a step in the right direction, right?

Well it’s ramping up to be an exciting few months in this neck of the woods and I’ll try to update often as I prepare for all the hope and possibility that spring brings with it.  I’ve been making plans for my 2 gardens (one at my parents house and creating plans for one at my new home!), I just began bee school last week and plan on starting my first hive this spring and finally my lovely BF got me a spot at a chicken workshop in April that might send me home with a few chicks so looks like my household will quickly be expanding.  Think this’ll be enough to keep me out of trouble for a few months!  Oh and in addition to that am busy knitting some baby blankets for two of my very best friends who are expecting their first babies!  More on all this later – life is good!