Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trying The Bee Thing Again

This was our first honey harvest in 2014

Pretty great for a couple of novice bee keepers.

When we purchased our house in December of 2013, 
the old owners agreed to leave their hive of bees behind.
I spent a lot of time reading and researching bees during that spring and summer.

The husband and I really didn't do anything that first year 
but add a honey super and keep our fingers crossed.
Boy did we luck out!
The first harvest was a huge success!

Since then not one drop of honey has made its way through the extractor.

The next spring when I went to see how the bees had survived the winter I was shocked and saddened to see a frame full of dead bees.

After our harvest the bees failed to make enough honey
to sustain themselves through the winter.

Thankfully we had ordered another hive through our local farm store with plans to start another colony.

They arrived via mail buzzing happily away!

The hubby added them to their new home.

All went well until I went to check the new hive.
I wanted to make sure the queen bee had settled deep into the frames, ready to start her reign.
Sadly we had forgot to make sure the plug was out of the queens cage.
She had no way to escape.
She had died.

I scrambled to find another queen!
It was imperative to find a replacement before the hive decided to swarm in search of another queen.
I called all over the United States looking for her majesty.

The new queen arrived in all of this fanfare.
It was also the birthday of the queen of England
Hence the name Queen Elizabeth.

I released her into the hive,
fingers crossed that the bees would decide to accept her.

After checking a week later I could see new cells that the queen was fertilizing.
I was so excited to have a honey harvest that fall.

But for some explained reason the population of bees kept declining.
The only thing left in the hive were drone bees.
No honey again!

I placed an order with the same farm supply store for another colony to be delivered the next spring.

When spring arrived the date for the bees approached.
UPS sent me an email that they had been shipped.
I waited and waited.
I could track the shipment online.
The bees had never made it past a pickup point in Tennessee.
It took some phone calls but I found out when they arrived at that facility the hive was dead.
The "bee farm' didn't have enough bees to replace the order.
They would be refunding my money.

I called around to try and find another hive.

With the decline of so many hives the last few years
bees were hard to find.

The hubby and I just decided we would have to wait until the following year and try again.

The husband was telling all of this to a co-worker.
The co-worker said his brother was a bee keeper.
It just so happened he was getting ready to split a hive.
His brother was nice enough to give us his split hive for free.
We just had to hope that a new queen cell would produce the queen to reign over this hive.

Let me tell you from the get go this colony of bees is mean!
I have been stung twice!

But I am happy to report this colony made it through the winter!
(Maybe from their meaness!)

This past weekend the husband and I put on a small honey super.

I sure am hoping we can have our first batch of honey ready by June!

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Shower Brings...

We all know the old saying....

April showers bring
May flowers!

But around here it seems all April showers brings is

My plans were to add a layer of manure to the flower gardens, then cover them with some black plastic for a month.

All of these April showers have sure put a delay on my plans.
Heck I can't even get a pick up truck close to these beds for unloading any manure.

I can see weeds in one bed are going to be a huge problem!

The other big problem I can for see this coming season will be the ever present herd of deer that roam the yard.

All of the mud sure doesn't seem to bother them!

The temperatures this weekend are forecasted to be in the mid 60's to low 70's.  I am sure that southern winds will usher those temps in as well.  A good combination for drying up that mud!

I have lots of new seeds arriving daily.

Planning the dates for seed starting keeps my mind off of the mud mess.

At least for a little while.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Growing Decisions

Well I knew in my heart I wanted to plant flowers...lots of flowers!

Now the tough decision would be what kind of flowers.

Every seed catalog has pages and pages full of beautiful blooming specimens.

I needed to find out what type and variety would grow best in my climate.

Also what variety is the best for my ultimate goal, selling fresh cut flowers.

Time to sit down and do some research!

Lynn Byczynski sure knows her stuff!

From reading her book I came across another great publication

Through the years I have been collecting folders worth of reading material on organic growing,
mainly in the vegetable garden but some flowers as well.

Soon I felt I had enough knowledge to begin making my flower choices.

I guess my final decision really came down to what I had already been growing for my own pleasure.

Flowers I knew that worked.

Mainly zinnieas with some celosia thrown into the bunch.

A few of these had been blue ribbon winners at the local county fair.

And of course sunflowers!

It took me a couple of days but I finally completed my seed order!

I bought some varieties new to the flower scene this year.

I purchased some flower seeds that I have always wanted to try.

Then there were the tried and true varieties that I new produced summer through fall, continuous blooms.

To the flower order I added some broom corn, ornamental corn and popcorn.

(Fingers crossed the local herd of deer don't find my corn as their personal buffet!)

Within a week or so the seeds started arriving by mail!

While opening box after box of seeds I was sure that I was already in over my head!

Can you really ever have to many seeds?

They look much less daunting all contained in a box.

Its hard to believe the contents inside this small, wooden box will fill a field full of glorious, spectacular blooms all summer long!

With that I know, comes a lot of back breaking work.

I say bring it on!

I am ready!

Let the planting begin!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Beginning

My adventure into the world of gardening and flowers came to me as an answer to a prayer request.
At the time I was a young, married mother struggling to make ends meet.
I waitrresed weekends to help with extras around our household.
But it wasn't the long term solution to the question I always had.
Lord, what is it that I am meant to do with my life?

(You know besides being a good wife and a mother.)

I prayed that a lot.

We had just returned from a relaxing vacation in Florida when my mom called.
She told me the lady from the local greenhouse had stopped into their hardware store. They were chatting and the lady mentioned she was looking to hire some help for this spring.
My mom told her I might be interested, she would have me contact her as soon as we were home from Florida.

Of course I called right away!

That was my introduction into my love of flowers!

My answer to that prayer!

A prayer that continues to be answered over and over!

The lady from the greenhouse took me under her wing.
She paid for me to attend horticulture classes at the local community college.
She taught me the art of flower arranging.
As I became more skilled at all of the various tasks involved in running the greenhouses,
she let me take over as manager of the whole operation.

But one day I came to work and she told me the bad news.
They were getting out of the business.
She just didn't have the passion or the money to continue.
Even though I saw it coming,
I was devastated!

But God continued to answer my prayer!

I was able to purchase most of the greenhouse and floral supplies at her going out of business auction.
I bought 3/4 of an acre land next to our own farmette. 
With the help of my dad, we erected 2 greenhouses.
My parents let me take over a storage shed next to their hardware store.
That became home to my floral shop.
A year later I even managed to purchase a wreath and grave blanket making business from a retiring couple.

Things were good!

I was busy!
Busy trying to keep of with the demands of my businesses and busy trying to meet the demands of my kids hectic school schedule.
Some days I was sure I would meet myself going or coming.

Then things in my life changed.
My marriage was over.
And so was my business.

The truth of it was I hadn't been taking very good care of either one.

10 years later....

God is still answering that prayer!

I am happily remarried 9 years to a wonderful man!
We recently moved to a beautiful house that sits on 5 acres.
If that wasn't enough
last year we were blessed to be able to purchase the 5 acres north of our property.

We have 10 acres!

What do you do with that much vacant land?

(Its like an empty canvas to a painter!
A bare piece of paper to a writer!)

Grow flowers of course!

Oh I have more, so much more than just flowers that I want to plant!
Somedays I can hardly contain my excitement!

This begins my next journey!

A continuing answer to my prayer!