Tuesday, December 30, 2014


2nd Family's daughter, loves to roam around on the trails I have cleared and mowed and she's really into taking pictures of trees and flowers and birds.  

So the other day she emailed us this photo:

Owl in tree
It's an owl (amazing how camouflaged they can be) sitting in a tree near our house.  She said she has seen this owl in this tree several times and hoped to snap a picture.  She got this one picture, though she readily admits it's a bit fuzzy because she was pretty far away trying not to spook it.

I'm not sure how you encourage an owl to stay around but if they snatch up mice and rats, they can stay as long as they want to, LOL.  She's going to point out the tree to me so I can try to get a few pictures myself.  

We just love sharing our property with the local wildlife  
(most of it anyway, ha).

Anyone have any owl experience?

Monday, December 29, 2014


2nd Man did well on the gift giving.  We had agreed to not really exchange gifts this year, but he said he couldn't pass this up when he saw it as it will make doing something I've complained about much easier at the farm...

Water tank mounted to back of John Deere

A 35 gallon tank that mounts to the back of the zen machine!  It's made for chemicals but works fine with just water and that's what we are going to use it for.  It connects to the battery so it has an electrically powered spray wand/pump.  This will make watering the fruit trees and bushes/trees along the driveway much, much easier.  

My old routine consisted of two 2-gallon watering pitchers.  I'd ride to the faucet...get off the mower...fill up the pitchers...get back on the mower holding one on each side and ride to the trees....get off the mower again...water until they were empty...then ride back to the faucet and repeat...about ten times.  

Now I'll be able to fill it up, ride to each tree, water with the wand and never have to get off the mower.  Since several of the trees are at least within water hose reach, I will only need to fill up once or maybe twice in the heat of the Summer to get the rest.  That's no problem though since the wand dispenses water at the flow rate of 2 gallons per minute, it will go quickly as well.  

Did you get something unexpected for Christmas?

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Always seem to get us down...

After the radar image I posted from yesterday morning, this is it today at about 4:30pm.  Nothing has changed...though the rain is finally, albeit slowly, going away.  Rainfall abut 1 1/4" over the last two days.

Since it was rainy, cold and we had a case of the blahs, we just didn't feel like cooking in.  We went out to eat and had Tex-Mex both days.  Today we went to another of our favorite local places.

Fajita tacos
These are chicken and beef fajita tacos, drizzled in queso with sides of rice and re-fried beans.  Hot, fresh, and so good!

Queso Flameado
This is an appetizer called Queso Flameado...it's melted asadero cheese topped with chorizo.  You stir it all up and then spread it on flour tortillas.  

Healthy?  Probably not so much.  
Delicious?  Absolutely.

Yesterday it was 78 degrees...today it is 39 degrees with the possibility of a light freeze tonight.  Houston area weather, it can change on a dime!

Chocolate chip cookies
So we came home this afternoon and 2nd Man made some more chocolate chip and pecan cookies.  Using the oven is a great way to warm up the house on a cold evening and of course course warm cookies can warm up the body too...

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


Liberty Bonds - Public Domain image
You'd think finding holiday themed vintage poster images would be difficult but they actually had quite a few.  This one of course equated buying war bonds with helping to end the war and to bring liberty and peace on Earth.  

I remember my Grandfather was still a firm believe in bonds.  Even in his later years, he asked about buying government bonds (can you still even do that?).  

Hope you are having a great weekend.  The new year is almost upon us!

More later this afternoon!

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Well it might be a holiday weekend but it's another messed up weekend.  Radar image this morning...it's rainy and gray.  So far about 3/4" of rain, needed, but not needed on a long weekend when so much more could be getting done.

Unfortunately, we still have our coughs, so we went to the store to pick up some honey.  Do you know these little honey bears are $6 each?  What the heck?  And it's not even local honey!  It does however help with the cough, better than any cough medicine we've used.  Gotta love those bees!

Honey bear
...oh how we can't wait until we have honey from our own hives!

The gray hangs like a billowy blanket on a clothesline, ready to drop down and envelop you at any moment.

Caldo de Res
We did run out to our favorite local Mexican restaurant and got a big bowl of Caldo de Res (beef soup).  It's SO good, especially on these kinds of days.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


We hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!  

Postings will be sporadic as we take some time off this long holiday weekend and enjoy the last long holiday weekend for awhile.

Thank you all for your friendship over the years...it is the best gift we could possibly ask for!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


We've always loved this classic poem but so often we only hear parts of it or some of it has been changed a bit.  I thought we'd post it in its entirety.  

Enjoy your evening!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!  On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


A few weeks ago, I blogged HERE about roasting some Sugar Pumpkins.  I mentioned saving the seeds because we were going to roast them. 

Well, here is how we did it:

First, take your seeds (above) and remember when saving them, try to remove as much pulp by hand as possible.  Then put them in a bowl of water and the seeds will float and the pulp will mostly be under them.

Put them in a strainer and run water under them for one last cleaning, they are slippery don't lose any.

Put them in a pot of water, with enough water to cover them.  Now you want to salt the water.  We used 1 TBSP per 2 cups of seeds.  It sounds like a lot but don't worry, it's not.

Just bring them to a boil and allow to boil in the salted water for about 10 minutes. Take them off the heat and drain them, you can use the same strainer as when you rinsed them off.

Spread out on a baking sheet and dab with paper towels to get them as dry as possible.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You can, at this point, drizzle with olive oil or butter if desired.  We left ours plain for this first go round.

Roast for about 20 minutes but you must do it in stages.  We roasted them for 10 minutes and they looked like this...

We tossed them around in the pan and put them in for another 5 minutes...

Then we tossed them around again and put them in for 5 more minutes...

This was what they looked like after 20 minutes, toasted and crispy.  Feel free to sample them, that's the best way to know when they are done.  You want them crispy, not chewy.  Since all ovens are different it could be 15-30 minutes.  Just test and watch them.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit more salt, you want some on the outside just for taste.  You could also take this time to season with chili powder, pepper, cinnamon/sugar or whatever seasoning you prefer.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
And that's it.  Really couldn't be easier and they are so yummy and crunchy.  We used them for a couple of weeks (kept in a sealed container), a handful here and there, we added them to some salads for a crunchy topping.


UPDATE:  Based on comments and questions, I thought I'd add to this post so that anyone stopping by on a Google search will have more info.

Boiling in water?  This is the first method I learned and the only one I've done.  They can be roasted without this step of course, just cleaned and dried.  The purpose of the boiling, salted water is to get some flavor inside the shell and it does make them flavorful.

Eat whole or open?  Unlike sunflower seeds, these can be eaten whole.  But like sunflower seeds, they can also be cracked open with your teeth (easy way,ha) and you can eat the smaller seed inside.  But again, these are most normally just eaten whole.  They need to be crispy so that you chew them up.

Monday, December 22, 2014



No, not hives like you get on your body, hives for bees!  

EMPTY of course, but we have them!  For those who were guessing yesterday, I guess it was kind of obvious huh?  Although no bees yet, they come in the Spring, next April to be exact.  But we have to get everything else in place and ready so that they can be put into the hives and then start doing their thing!

After much research, and a few aesthetic considerations, we chose the English Garden Hive style.  They were delivered Saturday.

Brushy Mountain English Hive
Unboxing them was fun.  While they may look unassembled, the components are already built, you just have to place them together.  You can opt, for a lesser price of course, to actually build each piece yourself but since it would fall on me to do, "I" opted for easier.

8 Frame Medium Super
We chose 8 frame hives due to the weight of 10 frame hives when they are full. And these have medium supers which are also more manageable than deeps.  The bottom one will be the brood box and the top one will be the honey super.  

We'll explain all of these terms in a future post.  

Copper Roof of English Garden Hive
These are called English Garden hives because of the roofs.  They are peaked instead of flat and of course, covered in copper.  They are just gorgeous.  They are still 100% standard Langstroth hives, only the roof is different.

They can be left to weather but with that comes the chance the wood will eventually degrade, especially in our heat and humidity.  They can be stained/sealed or painted.  We have chosen paint.

Unpainted English Garden Hive, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
And you know how I've always blogged about different colors.  The more research I did, I learned that a downside for that is that your boxes, as you add and expand upwards and even to future hives, won't be as interchangeable (unless you like the patchwork look).  I also learned that white is the best color to keep them cool in the heat of Summer and if it's one thing we have down this direction is HOT Summers...

White English Garden Hives, image courtesy of wikicommons.com
So this (of course these have galvanized roofs) is what why will look like once painted and put in place.  These are in fact actual UK hives.  We like this white look, it's much cleaner and with the copper roof, they should be a beautiful, yet functional addition to the farm property.  

We ordered our hives from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.  Nothing in return for mentioning them (unfortunately!) just wanted to make sure that we made a note of where they came from in case anyone ever wanted to order their own.  

Please know that getting into beekeeping is not cheap, as we have found.  What we have also found is that most of the expenses seem to be mostly one time 'initial' expenses.  Hives, if we want to expand from here, we can expand UP with more supers but once you have the hives you have them (we are going to order additional hives next year, if this all goes well).  The tools are one time purchases.  Then you order a smoker and a beekeepers suit and those too are one time expenses.  Lastly, you order the bees and, in theory at least, those are one time purchases as well.

Time will tell but for now, we have the hives and some more things are coming in, we have the bees paid in full and on order for delivery next Spring...now we just have to paint them, get them in place and get everything else ready!

Then the beekeeping / honey production can begin!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Christmas came early...these boxes arrived on the doorstep yesterday!

While these are not 'technically' our Christmas gifts, since they are for the farm and are an investment, we're considering them early gifts to ourselves.   

Now of course the question you might have is "what are they?"  All will be revealed soon!

Tonight, I'll catch up on your comments!


Don't Hoard Food, vintage poster image courtesy of public domain
This is a very interesting poster image...it dates from WW1.  As with most of these wartime posters, they are about conserving.  This one comes from the Canadian Food Board.  As food was in short supply and needed for soldiers, hoarding it, stocking up on it, was not allowed.  In this poster, they have bags of flour and sugar while a policeman or perhaps government official is just outside the window.  Notice the sign on the wall above them... $100-$1000 fine and/or 3 months in prison.  Yikes!  Kymber?  Are you obeying?  LOL!

Funny that now those of us that prep (or prepare) for whatever contingency, do the equivalent of what they would call 'food hoarding'.  Today hoarding brings up a completely different image than just having a lot of food saved up.

Hope you are having a great weekend, we're feeling a bit better and the sun is finally out today.  We'll see what we get done. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014


It's been a strange weekend for the weather.  These two radar images were from early Friday morning...at midnight it was pouring...and at 7am it was pouring.  And it rained all day.

We ended up with almost 3 inches of rain.  It also went from almost 80 degrees for a high into the 40's.  Today is gray and overcast and damp and cold.  Ever have one of those days where you just don't feel like doing anything?  Today is one of those days.  To top it off, we're both are seemingly getting our colds bouncing back.  Could just be allergies but we're both stuffy and have the occasional cough, and just generally feel 'blah'.  So no farm today...with Christmas coming, we don't want to overdo and make ourselves sicker.

Time for a little cookies and ice cream, am I right?

Friday, December 19, 2014


When we were at the farm last weekend, we stopped to visit with 2nd Family and they have their Fall garden going pretty well. This was one that I hadn't heard of.  They are Alaska Garden Peas.

Alaskan Garden Peas
They built this trellis and planted them from seed on both sides of the trellis and now they are growing tall and strong.  They have a 50-60 day growing period.

Growing peas
Of course they were covered in pea pods in varying stages of growth, from flowers to small new pods to fully ripe pods.  They readily admit that not many make it into the house, instead they are eaten in the garden, straight off the vine.

Alaska Garden Peas
They gave us a few to bring back into town.  Only this one made it safely into town...but it too was eaten shortly after this photo was taken.

Since we know they grow so well down here this time of year, these are definitely going on the planning for the garden next season.  They may even grow in the early Spring, need to do some research on that.  I hope to snap some more pics of their garden when we go out this weekend.


Clover the athletic kitten
Alas, this adorable little girl isn't ours, she belongs to 2nd Family.  She's all grown up now but when they found her, she was a little tiny ball of orange energy.  Her name is Clover...and there was nothing she loved more (as a kitten) than playing under the table.  It was her own personal jungle gym.  Now of course she's more of a lounging around in the sun all day kind of girl.

Kittens are SO freakin' cute...

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Red Chicken Coop, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
A chicken coop/building is on our project list for the farm.  Of course, that's a bit further down the road but we won't let it stop us from researching ideas and such and this is just one of those.  

This is a nice set up.  They built a small (and nice) building and then enlclosed the side yard on all sides and the top.  I guess those hens aren't going anywhere.  So this give us ideas, where we might incorporate one or more of them and come up with our own plan.  One thing we know without a doubt is that our barn and all outbuildings will be red and white.   

Addendum:  Dani asked about American barns being red, a couple years ago, I did some research and created THIS POST about it, if anyone is curious.
Be inspired!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Vintage needlepoint with flowers
Found this at lunch the other day and one of my favorite thrift stores.  I'm guessing it's a table runner of some sort but it was the beautiful needlepoint work that really caught my eye.  It was only $5.00!

It's got these beautiful roses mixed with other flowers and greenery.  The colors are vibrant and it's edged in a metallic thread.  The background is a nice yellowish gold color and it's lined on the back with a cream colored fabric.  

I knew immediately what room it would go into at the farm, the guest room (which has a flower theme), but I wasn't sure where.  

Vintage needlepoint table runner with flowers
So when we went out, we had to decide.  We thought about hanging it on the wall but there wasn't a suitable space for that.  We don't have a long dresser that it would go on either.  Then we looked at this yellow cabinet we have in the room and thought that it might look nice hanging on the side.  I put a little hook at the top and here it is!  It looks nice, and is kind of the first thing you see when you look into the room. 

Anyone else love a thrift store/garage sale bargain?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Bay Tree in small container
This is a Bay tree.  Or Bay Laurel as they are called.  It is, of course, one of the trees that the Bay Leaf comes from which is used in culinary creations around the world.  We've been babying this one for about two years now, it started out about 2 inches tall and now is about a foot high.  I was thinking it might be time to transplant it out of its container and into a more permanent home.

That brings me to the question.  

I'm wondering how it should be planted?  Are they better off ground planted or just large container planted?  Seems kind of small to go into the ground and let's face it, our ground is not conducive in some areas and I'd hate to have it die after keeping it this long.  Or do they perhaps grow better in containers?  We have a few empty, very large clay pots in town and we could use one of those.  As it is now, it only gets watered once a week and it's growing well so I'm guessing we'd be OK in a large pot that was watered every weekend.

Bay leaves
I know they are slow growing so we have time to wait.

What about it?  
Anyone ever grown a bay tree?  

Monday, December 15, 2014



We ordered our bees!

What were YOU thinking?

We plopped down the money for two "packages" like this.  They weigh about 3 lbs each and a package contains an already mated queen and upwards of about 10,000 bees...EACH!  That's a lot of bees coming to the farm!  Believe it or not, this is the time of year to order bees.  I learned in the bee school last year that you should always order your bees in the Fall because they are delivered in the early Spring.  Many apiaries are actually already sold out, or have people on a waiting list at this time of year.  For us, this is good for planning because we can spend the next few months getting everything ready.  It's almost like "nesting" when expecting a new arrival.  Hmm, or would that be "hiving"?

We ordered ours from this place, R Weaver Apiaries.  We don't get anything in return from them for this post, this is just our own recommendation.  They actually came highly recommend by a reader of the blog that lives nearby who got their bees at the same place (thank you JM!).  We figured if they have been in business since 1888, they must be doing SOMETHING right.  Their answering of questions and help via phone and email has been wonderful.

Buckfast Bees, image courtesy of Wikimediacommons.com
We ordered BUCKFAST bees.  They are an Italian bee strain that was first developed by Brother Adam who was in charge of beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey in England.  Brother Adam has a fascinating story, if you are interested, click HERE to read his Wiki entry.  Anyway, they were developed for their highly desired qualities.  They are gentle, have a low incidence of swarming, are great honey producers, keep their hives clean, they overwinter well, and of course the queens live a long time.

We are beyond excited.  We're now just a few months away from an exciting new adventure at the farm.  We're learning so much, I've been ordering tools and supplies, those will be coming soon and I'll have some posts about them as well.  

I really always wondered how you actually ordered bees.  Who knew that they were buzzing their way through our postal system, or riding around in FedEx and UPS trucks?  Ordering bees online...now that I think it about, I guess this is the apiary equivalent of mail order brides?  

Let the countdown BEEgin....

*sorry, couldn't resist!