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Winter Chores on Our Mini Farm

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Though retired, we’re still havin’ trouble

Keeping up with the chores, We’ll have to redouble

Our efforts to keep chickens fed and watered,

Egg gathered, washed and put in cartons.

Then there’s the bees, about all we can do

Is pray them through until next spring!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

Rain Barrel wrapped in insulation and plastic

Rain Barrel wrapped in insulation and plastic

The worst of winter hit Ohio early this year with three weeks of snow and some bitter cold nights in early December.  We outfitted our chicken coop with a heat lamp and thermostat, a rain barrel watering system wrapped with heat tape and run through the wall with a washing machine hose to an automatic pet watering dish with float.  This sits on

auto-pet watering bowl fed by heat tape wrapped washing machine hose, sitting on metal oil pan with light bulb under it

auto-pet watering bowl fed by heat tape wrapped washing machine hose, sitting on metal oil pan with light bulb under it

an upside down metal oil pan fitted with an incandescent light bulb to keep the water unfrozen when it gets really cold.

We’ve also added a timer and light to come on from 4 am to 8 am to supplement their light on short winter days.  This helps them keep laying at full capacity, so  we still get 18-20 eggs a day from our 20 red hens.

heat lamp connected to thermostat, light connected to timer

heat lamp connected to thermostat, light connected to timer

I also decided, a few weeks ago, to block off the bottom row of nest boxes that were on the floor level.  We had

Bottom next boxes blocked off, now laying in second row up

Bottom next boxes blocked off, now laying in second row up

re-purposed a shelving unit into 15 nest boxes, but the 20 chickens only use two or three to lay all their eggs – and it’s always the bottom ones.  That means we have to bend way down to collect eggs out of the lowest boxes.  I decided I’m too old for that!  So I screwed some thin plywood boards over the bottom nests so they can’t use them.  Problem solved!  Now they are using the next row up!  As I’ve said before, we are lazy farmers and have tried to set things up so some chores don’t have to be done every day!

Today, since we had a bit of a heat-wave, we went out to quickly finish some of the fall chores we missed, and tweak a few problem areas.   Our chicken watering system had leaked a little and made some of the straw wet, so we headed out to the coup with some wrenches and feed.  The girls are always excited to see us and expect a treat.  They squawk loudly and chase us around, pecking at our shoes.  We hauled out wet hay, tightened the leaky connection, refilled their food and re- duct taped the black plastic covering our insulated rain barrel, since the wind had blown it off.

They always expect a treat and love popcorn!

They always expect a treat and love popcorn!

Next, we headed out to our apiary of 4 hives.  One thing we didn’t get done in late fall was removing the hive top feeders from our beehives before the winter snow hit. We loosened the top and box feeder on the top of each hive, quickly took them off and sneaked a quick peek before putting the inner cover and lid back on.  We were excited to find live bee clusters in all 4 hives!  They’ve made it so far!  We left 2 boxes of honey on each hive to feed them over the winter.  The bees cluster together and vibrate  their wings to create enough heat to keep the queen in the middle warm at 85 – 90 degrees!  They work hard doing this all winter, moving in and out in the cluster to get warm and need lots of honey for energy.  I learned something new at a fall beekeepers’ meeting – that the bees don’t heat the inside of the hive.  They only heat the cluster.  For this reason, many beekeepers suggest not insulating the hive.  Insulation can create air flow problems that causes moisture to collect and drip on the bees, and they’ll die.  The bees can take the cold, but not being wet.

cluster of bees under the inner cover

cluster of bees under the inner cover

~~

Another thing I learned recently was, that when it snows we must make sure the lower entrance does not get clogged with snow and ice.  This can happen even if the snow isn’t that deep and create airflow and moisture problems.  So I’ve been stopping at the hives on my trips down the driveway, when we’ve had a snow, to clear off the entrance ledges.  So far, so good.

~  ~  ~  ~

Bees carry out the dead to the entrance ledge.

Bees carry out the dead to the entrance ledge.

Psalm 65

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,  God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain,  for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.

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Peeling Fresh Eggs – It CAN be Done!

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Eggs, eggs and more eggs!

Laying here and there.

For sale sign went up today

And a potful boiling on the stove.

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

 

Fresh from the hen house!

Fresh from the hen house!

I am here to testify, that my Hive and Honey partner, Laurie Dotson, has discovered a successful way to prepare and peel fresh hard boiled eggs!  All over the Internet, there are suggestions for how to do.  But all the responses say, “Unsuccessful!”  “Can’t be done!”

Well, I can’t take credit for this method, but I will verify that it really works!  Did it yesterday with a dozen fresh eggs right out of our backyard coop!  Got all the shells off and the eggs left in one piece – pretty enough to make deviled eggs out of, though that was not my intent.  Just wanted some yummy egg salad for a sandwich for lunch!

Here’s Laurie’s fool-proof method of preparing fresh hard boiled eggs so they will peel.

  1. Double boiler to steam eggs

    Double boiler to steam eggs

    Put a half pot of hot water on the stove to boil.

  2. Put your eggs in a steaming basket or add-on double boiler, ABOVE the water.
  3. Bring water to boil, and STEAM the eggs for 20 minutes.
  4. Take eggs off the stove, pour out boiling water and run pan under cold water to cool off.
  5. Fill cooled pot about 1/4 full of water, add lots of ice, and put the eggs in the ICE WATER to cool.
  6. When cool, crack the eggs, and start peeling, being sure to get under the membrane as you peel.  The shells should come right off, leaving the whites in one piece!
Ice bath to cool

Ice bath to cool

Try it for yourself and see.  I’m a believer!  And it’s a good thing it works, because with 21 chickens, we have more eggs than we know what to do with!  Quiche two nights ago, egg salad yesterday, and I sense some deviled eggs coming on tonight!

John 3

12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up

15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Honey Zucchini Butter Bread

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Land of Milk and Honey

Cooking with Honey by Laurie Dotson

This spring, here in Ohio, the weather was wet and cold for at less 5 weeks. Our bees had a rough start. We had to feed them a high protein sugar water.  When it rains, bees don’t leave the hive.  In addition to that, the flowers from plants and trees emerged later then in previous springs. When the flowers did emerge, they came all at once. We were not given a long continuous nectar and pollen season. So our bees, were not able to produce a large production of honey for a  early summer extraction.  We have had to wait and care for our bees with a gentle hand this summer.  Good news though, we are looking forward to extracting honey in the next few days.  Crossing our fingers and hoping for a large production.

With the wet long spring,  my garden could not be tilled by Budd the old farmer, until the ground had dried out. So my garden went in almost a month late.  I was not able to put in spring lettuces, broccoli and other cool weather plants and seeds.  My good friend and one of the partners in Hive & Honey BEEpothecary, Steve Saum,  had planted indoors, tomato plants, early this spring for transplant.  He had given me 35 plants and then I had another 20 plant reseed themselves from last year.  My zucchini, summer and winter squash, melons, beans, and corn are just now reaching their peak  production of fruit.  So I have an abundance of gardening and fruits that need a home.  I have been giving away veggies to people in need, here in my community.  God is good and knew when this garden needed to be planted.  I had my ideas of when but, God’s timing and plans are always far better than mine.    Thank you God!  If you know someone in need, I have gifts!   Let me know!

So with an abundance of squash, I have made this recipes multiple times and finally revised it, to where I love it.

Honey zucchini butter bread

Honey Zucchini Butter Bread

Recipe makes 2 – 9×5 inch loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 cups self-rising flour

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup melted butter

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  • 3 cups grated unpeeled zucchini

  • 1 cup chopped walnut

  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

  2. Stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl until blended. Set aside.

  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, oil, butter, honey, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini, walnuts, and coconut. Add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans.

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool completely. Store loaves overnight in plastic bags for best flavor.

Happy Eating and Harvesting!

Numbers 11:5

“We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic

Our First Egg!

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Our first egg!

Our first egg!

Our first egg

A tiny little thing!

But evidence of big things to come.

Soon we’ll have

20 a day,

Goodness to share!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

 

An old friend stopped by for a visit the other day and wanted to see the chickens.  We went out to the coop and started showing him around outside and it.  As we looked around in the coop, our friend found the first egg from our flock!  it was a tiny one, but we were so proud!  And kind of annoyed, too, as we were set to leave on vacation in just one day!  We were going to miss the first days of our girls’ laying!

While we were at the beach, we had to keep a running text-fest going with our kids, to keep up with the laying!  Sarah and our grandkids, Naomi and Madi stopped by every few days to check for eggs, and Nate came down each evening to check on the chicks and collect eggs.  So THEY got to eat the first eggs from our flock!  By the time we got back a week later, the flock was laying about 7 eggs a day, and this has continued into the next week.  The eggs are still small to medium-sized, but we hope that by the end of the month, we’ll have 20 or so a day of large , fresh, organic, eggs!  Can’t wait!

Up to 8 eggs in a week!

Up to 8 eggs in a week!

Psalms

8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;  where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of  joy.

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.

Where Did Our Cute Little Chicks Go?

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

The cuties are gone

All grown up

Wearing their grown up girl feathers

And headdresses

Squawking big girl talkGrown Up Girl

Demanding treats!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

 

Well, the cuteness factor is officially gone from our chickens – the Golden Comet girls.  The chicks are nearly grown.   They no longer peep, but squawk and cluck.  They are starting to get their red combs and red around the eyes.  Their feet are yellow, lined and bumpy.  They do have beautiful red feathers and some are red and cream.  I wonder if they will stay mixed in color, or will that change, too.  But they will be even more beautiful in a month or so, when they start laying eggs!

We finally have the automatic door opener functioning, after a few glitches with the timer and the opener string.  It sure is nice not to have to get up early every morning to let the girls out!  We have a pickle bucket homemade feeder in the coop, so we don’t have to feed them every day.  But we still go out to see them every day and they EXPECT a treat!  Sometimes, we pull up a handful of chickweed from somewhere in the yard, or take kitchen scraps to them.  They start squawking and demanding the minute they see us coming!  Recently, our son and his wife gave us several bags of bread cleaned out of their freezer.  The chicks LOVE bread, but I read that it is very drying to their crop, so it need to be wet down with water or milk.  They can hardly wait while I crumble it up in their pan and add water!

They don’t seem to be using the pickle bucket with nipple waterers on it, hanging in the coop.  We keep an open pan of water in the yard for them, and they always seem so thirsty when they come out in the morning.  We may have to retrain them to use this.

Big Girls, now!

Big Girls, now!

And we do have chickens flying the coop.  They have learned to fly up to the top of the gate and then out.  Then they want back in and can’t figure out how!  They don’t go far, they know where they live and where their food is!

We found out, too, that we are in civil disobedience!  It never occurred to us to look into the rules for livestock out here in the country, in our township.  We just read in the local paper, that people with 1-5 acres can only have 16 hens, no rooster, no turkeys, no guinea fowl, no peafowl.  Oops!  We are 6 chickens over our limit.  Steve says if anyone comes out to complain, he’ll just wring the necks of 6…!  Our township IS amending the rules to allow people with less than an acre to have up to 5 hens – so that’s a good thing!

So,the cute little peeping chicks are gone, but soon we will have eggs – lots and lots of eggs!

Psalm 33

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;  he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,   for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,  even as we put our hope in you.

Blueberry Honey Breakfast Bars

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Land of Milk and Honey

Cooking with Honey by Laurie Dotson

I think, I told you in one of my past posts, that I have removed sugar and flour from my diet.  Well, I’m still doing it, the best I can. There are the occasional chocolate chip cookies, pizza slices or dinner at a friends, who does eat sugar and flour.  I’m not going to complain about a gracious cook or a delicious meal. No sirree!  But at the Dotson home, this is what we’re doing.  So try this great “Take and Go” breakfast bar.

Blueberry Honey Breakfast Bars

Blueberry Breakfast bars

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg plus 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  •  1/3 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted slivered almonds

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mist an 11 x 8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk oats, flour and cinnamon.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg and egg whites. Whisk in applesauce, honey and vanilla until smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold into flour mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in apricots, blueberries and cranberries.
  3. Transfer mixture to dish, spreading in an even layer. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Let cool completely in dish. Slice into 16 bars.

Proverbs 31:10-12 A competent wife, how does one find her? Her value is far above pearls. Her husband entrusts his heart to her, and with her he will have all he needs. She brings him good and not trouble all the days of her life.

Spring is Finally Here

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Come out! Come out and play little bees!

The weather is warm.  There’s buds on the trees

Dandelions blooming, just waiting for you

And chickweed, and clover and dead nettle, too!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

 

After a long and cold spring,  the weather has finally changed and warmer weather is here.  The bees can come out and gather pollen and nectar.  No more sugar syrup necessary.  Time to go inspect our 6 hives and see how they are doing.

Steve and I went out one morning while it was still relatively cool, since we always wear our bee gear and it can get hot under all that protection.  We gathered up some propolis traps, inner covers, a can for wax and a can for propolis, lit the smoker and headed down the yard.

Inspecting hIve 3

Inspecting hIve 3

As we inspected each hive, we removed the hive top feeders, looked for brood, larva, the queen, any problems like mites or beetles and just generally looked to see how the hive was doing.  If the hive was doing well, we put a propolis trap on top.  If the hive was not doing too well, we did not – figuring that we didn’t want the bees working on plugging up holes with propolis if they needed to be doing something else.

A frame of brood

A frame of brood

Of our 6 hives, we found 3 that were doing well, but could only find the queen in one.  We found no eggs in 2, couldn’t find the queen in either one, but did see larva. One of these hives had several empty queen cells, so we figure they re-queened.   We’ll check these 2 in a week to see if they have eggs.  One hive, our 8 frame that made it through the winter, did not have much of a bee population and we didn’t see any capped brood.   We think this hive either doesn’t have a queen or the queen is not laying.  This hive had the same queen since we got it 2 falls ago from OSU, so guess it is time to re-queen.  We had to order one that will be here in a week, from  our bee supplier.  Hope this hive can make it.

Honey in the corners, brood in the middle - perfect!

Capped honey in the corners.

The last chore on the list was to collect some bees in a jar for use in bee sting therapy.  I got our mason jar with a honey soaked coffee filter in it.  I pulled out the coffee filter and set it on top of the frames in one of the hives and left it.  Later in the day, when we headed down the driveway on an errand, I hopped out, pulled the coffee filter, now covered in bees, out, and put it in the mason jar.  Now we are ready for bee sting therapy!! More on that next time!

Romans 1

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

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