Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Independence Days Challenge

Here is another  installment of our Independence Days Challenge. The Challenge was originally written about in Carla Emery's wonderful book, The Country Living Encyclopedia. Writer Sharon Astyk expounded on the idea and encouraged us all to do what we can to be more self sufficient and to enjoy good, real food. Click here to read Sharon's description of the 7 categories presented in the challenge.

Would you like to join us? You can begin anytime, and don't worry if you haven't accomplished every category. There will certainly be weeks when I only complete a few! Post weekly, or whenever you find the time, and add a link back to here. 

Here are the 7 categories for you to copy and paste to your blog (or to the comments section below this post):

1. Plant something:
2. Harvest something:
3. Preserve something:
4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):
5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):
6. Build community food systems:
7. Eat the food:



Here is what we did this week:


1. Plant something:

Husband brought home several young apple trees he'd found on clearance for $14! They're 6-7 feet tall. What a bargain! Our baby orchard is sure growing. One day, we'll have more fruit than we can shake a stick at. And I'm not sure why I'd want to shake a stick at my fruit anyway. 



He also planted these Goji berries in the garden:




2. Harvest something:

The first salad greens of the season!! Yum. Here Artist trims and washes them (with my help):







Spinach is next on the list for harvesting.


Elsie is now giving 2 whole gallons per day! And the eggs come like crazy. It must be spring!


3. Preserve something:  Nothing this week...

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  The plastic container from the store bought salad that I reused for our salad greens? ;) That's about all I can think of for this week...

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?): Well, we did have 10 young turkeys out there. Ones that we incubated, cared for under brooder lights then released into our farm yard to free range during the day and go to bed in a barn stall at night. And guess what, the other morning there were only three. Seven of them disappeared at some point since the day before!  Soo disheartening. Since we found no feathers and no chickens were missing, we think that possibly they simply wandered off together and couldn't figure out with their pea sized turkey brains that they ought to come home. And then got eaten. 

I found one huge patch of feathers over by the sheep days before, where a chicken apparently had been eaten. We're never positive whether it's coyotes or neighboring dogs that pick off our poultry. At least we haven't had trouble with the owls lately! They fly in from above so no fencing helps, and just eat the necks off our birds! What a waste.

The very last of our adult turkeys got carted off by coyotes (we believe, since there was an enormous patch of turkey feathers right on the path the coyotes use) a couple months ago. So, we've been hoping to get the eggs they left behind to grow up into our next turkey flock. Well, now that there's only 3 of them left, it's good that a friend of ours gave us her turkey pair! They're fun because the female (the darker colored one on the right) is quite tame. She lets us pet her and everything. 



6. Build community food systems: We're selling eggs  this afternoon. And, I get to start selling at the local farmers market next week!

7. Eat the food: Lots and lots of eggs, milk, and salad greens. I've been utilizing Pinterest for egg recipes. I made yogurt in the new slow cooker and it turned out great! I made a whole gallon and the kids gobbled it up in one day. This week I opened up canned jars of broth, potatoes, jams and dilly beans.



Shared with: Homestead Blog Hop














Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Independence Days Challenge #3


Here is the 3rd installment of our Independence Days Challenge. The Challenge was originally written about in Carla Emery's wonderful book, The Country Living Encyclopedia. Writer Sharon Astyk expounded on the idea and encouraged us all to do what we can to be more self sufficient and to enjoy good, real food. Click here to read Sharon's description of the 7 categories presented in the challenge.

Would you like to join us? You can begin anytime, and don't worry if you haven't accomplished every category. There will certainly be weeks when I only complete a few! Post weekly, or whenever you find the time, and add a link back to here. 

Here are the 7 categories for you to copy and paste to your blog (or to the comments section below this post):

1. Plant something:
2. Harvest something:
3. Preserve something:
4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):
5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):
6. Build community food systems:
7. Eat the food:



Here is what we did this week:


1. Plant something: Again, it was my husband who did all the planting. But I went to the store to buy him the plant starts! ;) 

Monkey helping his dad plant grape vines today:



Tomato starts, garlic and more tomatoes...



Newly transplanted bell peppers:




2. Harvest something: Just milk and eggs for this week. Here is a picture of eggs I'd just put over the flame for breakfast. The 2 huge ones are goose eggs. The tiny one is from a brand new young layer (chicken). The lower right is a regular chicken egg. 



3. Preserve something: Six more quarts of ground beef. 


4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  A lot of pots are being reused in the garden. All our kitchen compost goes to the chickens. Some of the farmer boys helped weed and cut grass in the garden this week and fed all the trimmings to the sheep.

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?): Our incubators are packed this time of year. The birds out there have been quite busy in the breeding department. If you look closely at the tops of these 2 eggs you can see where the wee goslings are beginning to peck their way out. Did you know birds can start peeping and chirping for 2-3 days before they even begin to crack their eggs?! 




Newly hatched gosling:



There are at least a few birds out there setting on nests. When we see a hen or goose or turkey that appears interested in sitting on eggs we leave her be. More often than not she gives up after just a few days, but now and then they do show up one day with fluff ball babies behind them. Only once did we have a turkey actually sit on eggs long enough to hatch out a bunch of babies. As soon as they hatched, she promptly went back to the chicken coop and left them all in the grass to freeze to death. Sigh. She was even a heritage breed, a Bourbon Red. None of our Pekin ducks have seemed interested in their eggs... They don't even put up fights when the ravens come daily and steal their eggs from right under their noses!

This week I undertook The Great Canned Food Inventory of 2015, which much help from Ranger. Our modest home has little storage space, no pantry, and certainly no root cellar or anything super cool like that. So the canned things just get stuck wherever there's a space. Sometimes that's in a child's closet, sometimes a kitchen cupboard, sometimes somewhere in the laundry room... And eventually I have 8 jars of peach jam in a closet, 4 in a cupboard, and 17 in the laundry room. As I can feel this canning season looming on the horizon, I knew I needed to get a handle on what we already have. But first I had to find it all!

Here was the very beginning of the adventure- Ranger and Artist helping empty the first cupboard. 



Here is an example of what can happen when one has neglected her canned foods in every nook and cranny. A pint of pickled garlic scapes had lost its seal and spilled all over some other jars in the back of a cupboard. This one rusted right through! 



Although looking at pictures of old fashioned pantries or root cellars such as this one make me swoon...

Image result for old fashioned canned food pantry



.....we make do with what we've been given. :)  A corner in the bathroom:




The cupboard designed to house a microwave in the kitchen:




All in all, our canned foods totaled 431 quarts, plus 55 quarts of lard (a lifetime's worth I imagine!). It includes meat from 10 different types of animals, and way more fruit and fruit sauces then I realized! I know what we'll be snacking on for awhile. Must make room for this year's fruit! 

It felt incredibly productive to get all my canned goods inventoried and then sorted out. We now have "zones"- one area of the house is the canned meats zone, one is the jam and syrups zone, one is the lard zone. There's also the green bean cupboard, the liver and ground beef closet, the "everything pickled" zone, and more. And I actually know what foods we have stored up. Imagine that!

6. Build community food systems: We sold a few dozen chicken and duck eggs to a neighbor. 

7. Eat the food: Tonight was tacos with our beef. Lunch was homemade cheese and crackers with canned pears. Breakfast was our eggs and leftover steak from last night's dinner. We are blessed and I am grateful!

Shared with: Homestead Barn Hop 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

the first mama hen of the season has appeared!

 Artist came in from playing outside and said, "Did you know there are chicks out there?" I jumped for my shoes and camera and darted out to see if he was right. And there they were- a mama hen with her 5 chicks. We didn't even know there was a hen out there sitting on eggs. She'd kept her nest perfectly hidden somewhere. That happens every year. I love that little chicken families just appear suddenly on our homestead! 




One of them was weak. You can see him down there on the lower right. He looks completely normal, but he's so slow in keeping up with his siblings. Hopefully he gains some more strength by tomorrow. If not, we'll bring him in to live in a cozy box in our kitchen with the incubator babies. 






Look what a good mama hen she is. When our dog wandered up to investigate, she puffed her whole body up to look big and scary and charged at him. It was actually pretty impressive!



Yay spring!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Independence Days Challenge #2

Good morning! Here is the 2nd installment of our Independence Days Challenge. The Challenge was originally written about in Carla Emery's wonderful book, The Country Living Encyclopedia. Writer Sharon Astyk expounded on the idea and encouraged us all to do what we can to be more self sufficient and to enjoy good, real food. Click here to read Sharon's description of the 7 categories presented in the challenge.

Would you like to join us? You can begin anytime, and don't worry if you haven't accomplished every category. There will certainly be weeks when I only complete a few! Post weekly, or whenever you find the time, and add a link back to here. 

Here are the 7 categories for you to copy and paste to your blog (or to the comments section below this post):

1. Plant something:
2. Harvest something:
3. Preserve something:
4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):
5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):
6. Build community food systems:
7. Eat the food:




Here is what I did this week.

1. Plant something: I planted flowers. :) It was a bittersweet thing for me because it reminded me so much of my mom. She knew flowers, lemme tell ya. Their common names, scientific names, what to grow in every gardening zone. I hadn't planted flowers in many years, I've been too busy having babies! I felt our humble farm needed a little colorful sprucing up and so I hit the garden department at a store in town. And then I sighed over how badly I wished I could text my mom pictures of my work!

Here's where I lined up most of my project. 




Such a neat white spider!



It was a very sunny day! Here's Roo enjoying the scenery from my back. 













I even bought a few houseplants! When I met my husband 11 years ago I probably had around 50 houseplants. Being raised by my plant loving mother, I always felt a home should have lots of green, leafy plants in every room. I love houseplants. But then I started having lots of babies. And then they grew into toddlers. And then they spilled my plants, ripped my plants, and dug in my plants. After a time I decided that I was fed up with cleaning up potting soil and that perhaps I needed to decide between having children or having houseplants. Children won and for the past several years I've had exactly one houseplant above the kitchen sink. But today I have exactly 4. :) They are hanging instead of being on the floor or low shelf so we shall see if the toddlers ignore them. 


While I was busy prettying things up with flowers, my husband was planting lots of tomato starts and potatoes. Though Monday was a hot, shiny day, today is chilly, wet and overcast here in north Idaho.





2. Harvest something: It's not quite harvesting season here yet. But we did harvest 2.5 cups of chives from the garden. Plus there is always the cow milk and eggs the animals give everyday.



3. Preserve something: I washed and chopped up the chives and measured out a 1/2 cup for each ziploc bag. The bags went into the freezer for future soups! Today I am canning up 7 more quarts of ground beef. I came down with mastitis (ouchy, ouchy, ouchy) this week for the 2nd time since Roo's birth. That hindered my productiveness this week!

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  Hmmmm. Nothing is coming to mind for this week. I have milk on the stove right now that I'm making cheese out of because our cow is producing way more milk than we have jars or fridge space for! Maybe that counts.

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?): I've just begun the research into getting a manual hand pump installed on our well. At this point our water only comes to us through our pipes when we have electricity. This has long been a concern. It's so easy to take electricity and water for granted- right up until we have power outages!

My husband has decided to try fish emulsion for fertilizer on our berry bushes that are small.

I purchased a cookbook to help me learn how to use our new pressure cooker.


6. Build community food systems: We did sell 4 dozen chicken and duck eggs this week. 

7. Eat the food: Daily we eat the food we produce on our homestead. This week I made a shepard's pie out of  lamb that was particularly tasty. This morning we ate chicken and duck eggs for breakfast. I'm encouraging the kids to drink up as much cow milk as they can stand since we have so much!




Here's a cute little salamander my husband found in the garden!





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Independence Days Challenge

The other day as I was flipping through Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living for the bazillionth time, I came across the section she wrote about striving for independence in your food supply- "independence days". I was reminded of Sharon Astyk and her Independence Days Challenge (click there to read all about it), her book, and the Independence Days blog hop from a few years back. Upon doing a search I found that nobody is doing any sort of hop thing this year so I'm going to do it by myself just for fun. :) Ideally I will post about it weekly because that will help me keep myself accountable and actually accomplish the things on the list of challenges. But we shall see how that goes...


The link above describes the challenge in detail. Would anyone like to join me in a weekly posting challenge? You don't have to fill in everything! There will be weeks when I've only accomplished one or two things on the list. 

Here is mine for this week:

1. Plant something: Well here's the thing. My husband is the gardener! lol! He has been doing much planting out there: barley, corn, potatoes and more. Can I include him in *my* challenge? He is my other half...  :)


Here he is showing the kids stuff growing in the garden:



And here is a super cool photo he took in the garden the other day. It is a huge whitish colored spider eating a fly's face! And the fly was still alive. Ew. 




2. Harvest something: Dandelions. One batch was to follow the recipe for Dandelion Blossom Fritters in Carla's Encyclopedia. Here is how they turned out: like bland pancakes with dandelions in them. Dandelions taste like grass. I added a whole lot more sugar to convince my family members to eat them. We picked another batch in order to make dandelion salve. Those ones are drying out a bit in the bathroom (yes, in the tub area). I'll share how that turns out in the coming weeks. 





The 2 roosters I put in the slow cooker. Does harvesting eggs and milk from our cow everyday count?

3. Preserve something: I am slowly but surely canning up the manymanymany packages of ground beef we got back from the butcher recently. Remember the naughty steer that ignored fences? He is now taking up an enormous amount of space in our freezers as ground beef. I'm trying to free up freezer space. .... For things such as the sheep we also "harvested" several days back. I took that meat from the fridge, ground up all the weird stuff, and put the rest in  Food Saver bags to go in the freezer.


Canned ground beef:




Grinding the sheep/mutton:




4. Waste not (use up stuff instead of toss or buy new): I put the bones from those 2 roosters back into the slow cooker to make stock from. I used the stock for a soup and cooking brown rice in. I also hid the sheep organs in my ground mutton instead of ignoring them in the back of the freezer forever because who, while looking for a snack, eyes sheep heart and kidneys and grabs them?

5. Want not (anything else that would go in the "prepping" or "learning new skills" category): Well, I'm learning how to use a slow cooker (which is also a pressure cooker). The cooker will save a lot on our propane! I very often have stock simmering over propane for 18 hours or more. I look forward to saving time on simmering beans all day by learning to use the pressure cooking aspect. 

6. Build community food systems: Here is an area I can predict I am not going to have much to say about.... Until/Unless the local farmer's market begins. 

7. Eat the food: And here will be the easiest for me. We eat the food everyday! The milk, the eggs, the meat, the canned foods, the stored up bulk foods. It is what makes up the bulk of our diet. I want to do better though! I desperately want to get GMOs out of our diets. I plan to learn to make my own condiments, force my children to like homemade tortillas ;), and expand my breakfast cereal recipes so the kids can forget all about store bought. 

This morning was quinoa from the slow cooker with our milk. For snack the kids reached for store bought tortillas! (ug! This is a problem!) For dinner tonight is cream of kale soup made from our milk and our frozen, preserved kale. Plus whatever leftovers I can find to throw in. 


We can all be happy we were not born chickens. The other morning as I sat milking in the sunshine, I heard a familiar sound. A rooster was clucking for his hen-women to come feast on something yummy he found on the ground. This time the "yummy" thing was a fresh, steaming cow pie. They both scratched joyfully through it, enjoying their breakfast in the sun. 




Friday, May 1, 2015

whole, freshly butchered chicken in slow cooker

Well, we finally joined the masses and purchased a slow cooker/crock pot. I wanted to try one for 2 main reasons. One being how often I hear the ladies in the large family forums mention how much they rely on their slow cookers to get a great dinner on the table, even on busy days. Second, because we don't like plucking birds! 

Frequently, we simply skin the birds we butcher. Skinning takes mere moments, plucking takes many minutes (and more than an hour if the youngest farmers are the ones doing it!). And even then I get so tired of trying to pull every last tough feather quill out with pliers that I say "forget it!" and just bake it, feathers and all. Plucking birds is time consuming, lemme tell ya. So much so that we get behind on our butchering to avoid spending half a day plucking. 

However, skinned birds just do not roast/bake/cook well. I've yet to find a recipe or method that gets a skinned bird (chicken, duck, turkey, goose) anywhere near the yummy, tender, juiciness that you get from a bird with its skin on. Skinned birds get all tough and dried out upon roasting. So, we thought perhaps slow cooking a skinned bird might be a solution. 


Also, there was another issue we've come up against in our bird butchering adventures. Everyplace you'll ever read says the same thing: you must let a freshly butchered bird sit in your fridge for at least 24 hours after killing to allow it to get tender. As we all know, dead things get rigor mortis. You have to allow your dead thing to pass through the stages of rigor mortis, getting all tough and stiff, and then change to soft and tender again. Apparently that process takes 24 hours. 

We don't always have space in our fridge to stick birds for 24 hours. They take up all that room, they bleed and drip, it's just kind of a pain. I searched around online and couldn't find one person who said they've experimented with trying to cook a bird during those first 24 hours after butchering. I began to wonder how true it was. Are they really inedible during that time or do we all just go around mimicking what we've heard other people say about the 24 hour thing? I often wonder that about the giving chickens raw potato peels thing.... Everybody says "never feed your chicken raw potato peels! They will all keel over and die!" Has anyone actually ever tried it though? And how many potato peels are we talking about? Six potatoes worth? Or a diet of them solely? I've never heard of anyone trying it. Chickens eat the weirdest and grossest and most rotten dead things when they find them. Are a couple raw potato peels truly that deadly?? I'll never know, I follow the masses and throw all mine in the trash can!

Anyway. I read one person somewhere on the internet that said you could get tender, freshly butchered birds if you got them cooking within an hour of their death. Well, we all know that everything we read on the internet is true so I decided to try it. 

And here's how it all turned out:

Husband went outside to fetch and butcher a rooster. I followed a recipe online and mixed up this in a bowl:

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper

When he brought me the very freshly butchered rooster, I rinsed it thoroughly under cold water, tossed it into our brand new slow cooker, and rubbed the spices all over it. I tossed some of the spices inside it. When I got bored of rubbing them all over I just dumped the rest of the bowl on top of it. I was in a hurry you know, trying to get the whole business done in under an hour from his dispatching.

I then peeled and roughly chopped an onion and threw that in. I quartered 4 potatoes and threw them in, too. 

I put the lid on and pushed go. A few minutes later my dear husband appeared with a 2nd freshly dispatched rooster. Oops, I wasn't expecting that and had no more spices mixed up. I decided to just throw him in the cooker spice-less. Both chickens were soft and floppy when I put them into the cooker. No signs of stiffness yet. 

Then I slow cooked the whole deal for 8 hours. When I opened it later this is what I discovered: Being that this was the first time I'd ever used a slow cooker, I didn't know what I was doing and had the lid on all wrong. My roosters hadn't quite finished cooking. So, after that user error, I turned it all back on correctly and slow cooked them overnight, for 8 hours. Our cooker doesn't give me temperature choices exactly. Set to "slow cook", it cooks at 176-180 degrees.

The first rooster, all spiced up.


In the cooker with onions and potatoes (this was before I added the 2nd rooster on top):




And HERE is how our 2 roosters turned out the next morning (today): Incredibly delicious. Moist, tender, not the least bit tough or chewy. The first rooster had been over 6 months old. The thighs on that one were ever so slightly more chewy than the other rooster who was only a few months old. The meat fell right off the bones. Our entire family gathered around the pot this morning, forks in hand, to dig in to fresh, juicy chicken for breakfast. I moaned. Yes, I am a fan of our new slow cooker.




And so there ya go, two whole people on the internet say you can cook a freshly butchered chicken and have it turn out soft and tender, as long as you get it cooking before an hour has passed since butchering. And you can cook skinless birds in a slow cooker and have them turn out moist and delicious. Of course you can't fit a fat goose or turkey in a slow cooker, but that's another problem for another day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a picture heavy "what's goin' on on the homestead" post


Mud? Yes. Mud is goin' on on the homestead.





Smiley with our cow Heidi, who we ended up selling this past weekend. It was a tough decision to sell her, being that she's the first and only cow ever born right here on our farm. But. We are already milking her mother, Elsie. Elsie has a fantastic udder. Sooo fast and easy to hand milk. Heidi did not inherit her fantastic udder, unfortunately. Her teats are short, short, short. Hand milking her is like milking a sheep. It's a 2-3 finger job and it kills my carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist and arm pain was keeping me awake at night. 

Since her calf was mysteriously abducted by aliens (or perhaps eaten by coyotes, we're really not sure which one it is...), we do not have a calf to put on her to keep her milked. Since a cow's milk dries right up when her udder is not being emptied one way or another, she had to be hand milked until we made a decision on what to do. We could have spent big bucks and bought a milking machine, but then we'd have all those tubes and gizmos to wash after every milking. I've heard it takes longer wash the milking machine than to milk the cow. We don't have electricity down where we milk anyway. In the end we decided to just let her go to a farm with either a milking machine or people with stronger hands than me. We listed her on Craigslist, and about 10 days later, away she went to her new home! At a ranch with a milking machine and folks familiar with short, short, short teats. 

And now we continue milking Elsie, who is all alone in her pasture and does not like it, until we decide what on earth we want to do next:

1. Search out and purchase another milk cow, one with a great udder and teats, who is accustomed to being hand milked, so we can continue a cycle of having one cow in milk while the other is being bred or pregnant. Or,

2. Forget this whole silly cow business and get goats. 

You wouldn't believe how much time I've spent analyzing this decision! The lists of pros and cons for each are long! In order to avoid taking this post on an 8 million word long side note, I'll simply share the top couple pros/cons:  We don't have a bull. We don't plan to ever keep a bull. So, we have no self sufficient way of ever breeding our cows. We could keep a buck to breed our own goats though. However, the overwhelming con to that is the fencing job a herd of goats would need. A huge time and money expense! We have a garden and baby orchard to protect. We would need a goat proof fence and I wonder if one of those exists? But, another pro: the children could learn to help me milk goats! I don't feel our enormous cows are safe for our small children to milk. And, the lack of giant, wet, splashy cow pies in my life sounds pretty dreamy. But, but , but..... Okay, I'd better stop now. 





Husband reading the kids a bedtime story book. A few of them found it more sleep inducing than interesting. ;)




Nobody can get a baby laughing hysterically like a goofy sibling can.




Homeraised dinner. Pickled carrots, milk, rooster hand plucked by the little farm boys around here. 




Zoomed in and taken through the window- This duck decided that my nice little daffodil patch was a good place to put her nest! We had to keep shooing her out of it. Now it has a permanent duck-butt-print in it.




Monkey found this cute, little Blue Tailed Skink living at the edge of our driveway. Apparently Mr. Skink didn't really want to be found and bit Monkey. It didn't hurt him but he ran around our entire farm howling and yelping "ooowww! OWWwie!!" and laughing hysterically with the lizard hanging from his finger which got everyone else laughing hysterically. 




When not squealing around the place with a lizard dangling from him, Monkey built this lovely fort out of farm junk. 



All the outdoor fun makes for sleepy dinosaurs, er, Farmgirls.





On Saturday, Husband brought home our new bees! How would you like to drive all the way home with 3 of these things full of bees buzzing in the back of your van? Yikes!




My apologies for the super blurry photo. It's the only one I took of the queen bee. It was quite windy, cold, and raining and I had the baby tucked in my coat. I ran out there, snapped a zillion pictures quickly, then darted back in from the drizzle so the baby didn't get chilly. Anyway, this little thing is what the queen came in. Each of the 3 hives have just one queen. 




Husband had Artist spray them with sugar water. That made them docile so Husband could then open up the box and dump the bees into our hives. 











Does our little Roo have a big, fat face or what? :)




Hmm, I wonder how many times my poor children have had to suffer through their mother saying, "Hey, look at me so I can take your picture!" while I have the sun right behind me? ;) Here Artist is filling the wheelbarrow and hand truck's wheels with air. What a good helper!




Husband giving us a tour of the garden. Things are starting to wake up in there!




He continued the tour down to an area of our land where he is growing our baby orchard. Here is a newly planted tree, without its fence around it yet to protect it from wandering sheep and deer.










The kids trying to climb that little pine tree while the dog roles around in happy dog ecstasy in the grass.







Some baby turkeys, chickens, a duck and a goose under the warming light. That great big enormous gosling is quite a bit younger than nearly all the other birds in there, yet he towers over them all!





The last lambs born this season. Isn't their coloring so neat? (There's a rooster standing guard while his ladies dust bathe there in the background)




Well, in sad news, my eldest daughter has decided to move back to Oregon! She prefers the weather there and feels there are more job opportunities for her and her boyfriend... I will miss her being so near to us! :( But I will require as many visits as she can manage. :) Since she didn't want to make the move with her ancient pet rat, we took him in. The kids placed his cage out in our pig-less pig pen. I tried to rouse him for the picture but he refused to come out of his rat's nest. So, here is a picture of his cage, and the dog staring at it. 




Farmgirl and Busy, ages 3 and 2.



Smiley, bravely battling with that bush.




Peek behind any farm stuff around here and you will likely find a hidden egg nest. Here, a duck egg behind some folding chairs:




Besides garter snakes and lizards, Monkey has also returned home with this... thing. A mole, vole, furry something. Whatever it is, is equipped with big ol' claws for digging!




Ranger, moving a lamb from one field to another. Husband fixed up some fencing right next to Elsie, the lonely cow, so we could move some sheep over there to keep her company. This lamb heard her mother in the new field and is calling to her. And yes, in case you were wondering, Ranger is wearing 2 hats. 






And there they are, next to Elsie. Hopefully they will keep her company for the time being!




Smiley: "Look, mom! I stuck a feather on my head and called it macaroni!"




Ranger with little mister fat legs (at this point I'm pretty sure Roo thinks his name is "my fat little baby".)






Shared at: 
Rurality Blog Hop #73


And:

Homestead Barn Hop