Backyard, bees, carrots, chickens, farm, gardening, heirloom, herbs,, peas, squash, tomatoes

2014 Spring Garden

This year in my garden I focused more on getting things planted to grow rather than to make it pretty or well organized. My older son helped a lot and because of that I had all kinds of things sprouting all over the place. Here are some photos of what is going on at the moment. 
Cilantro from Botanical Interests was quick to sprout and has been thriving well. 
This was one of those “just stick something in the ground and lets see what it ends up becoming” I don’t know what kind of squash it is but I do know that it is squash. 

Lady Gaga my Polish hen is quite the sight and interesting to watch but all she does is teach my other hens bad habits. I really need to rehome her. She finally started laying this spring but like I said she is more trouble than she is worth. 

 This Zucchini is growing so fast and has plenty of female flowers on it already even thought they are not blooming yet I am looking forward to some amazing zucchini dishes this summer

 I planted some Sweeter Yet Cucumbers this spring and I look forward to eating them. They are not an heirloom but they are REALLY good. And they already have female flowers growing. So excited! Hope to eat plenty of these this summer.

 This basil popped up so quickly. It is one of Botanical Interest’s variety  packs and it is so nice to have all the different types of basil to try.

 A few days after I took this photo these vines wilted due to a vine borer infestation. I was so sad to see them wilt and not being able to do much for them. What do you do to save your plants from the vine borer?

 In the past years I have not done well with peas. I have had poor plants and poor yields but this year was not bad at all. It is getting towards the end of these peas but I have enjoyed they fresh and cooked. Beside the peas I have carrots in all different colors. I love how I am surprised each time I pull one up at what color it is. In the past I have had a problem with my carrots tasting bitter. Is there a trick to making sure that they taste sweet?

Something keeps eating my Okra pants. I love Okra and was looking forward to eating plenty of it since over 10 plants sprouted but due to both chickens making it into the veggie garden and just some sort of bug eating them I am starting to wonder if I will get any. I love the flowers that bloom on these and since this is red okra the seed pods are beautiful too. I haven’t seen what is eating them. Do you know of anything that eats Okra plants like this and if so how do you stop it?

Swiss Chard that seems to be thriving.

 My Bees bouncing back from having lost their queen at some point. I checked the hive 3 weeks ago and there were queen cells and little to no brood. I was worried that I had lost my bees but they are growing in numbers again so I will have to go in and check on them again next weekend.

 I thought after I fenced the chickens off in a smaller part of the yard that this would definitely not happen. I thought that in such a small space they would keep it nice and mowed if not completely void of vegetation but this is what my chicken run looked like a few days ago. I have since chopped down all of the weeds but left the sunflowers for shade. Does this ever happen in your chicken run?

This is what looks to me like a pumpkin vine popped up on its own. Anybody have a different opinion on what this could be?  it is right in front of my grape vine and I struggle with deciding if I should let it be there or not and am worried that it will take all the nutrients away from my growing grapevine. Do you ever have surprise veggies pop up in your garden? I had several tomato plans shoot up this spring. If you do what kind of surprises have you had?

Australorp, Backyard, bees, black americauna, Buff Orpington, chickens, farm,, sunflowers, Urban Homestead, veggie

Mini Farm Update

In my backyard I am trying to be more self sufficient. I have 4 chickens for eggs and entertainment, a veggie garden and a bee hive. I live on  an 1/8 of an acre so I don’t have much room but I am doing the best I can with what I have.
This video was recorded soon after we got back from Iceland. Since then the rooster (Cowboy) has gotten a new home and we got a Black Ameraucana Pullet as a trade. She is only 4 months so it will be a while before she lays her blue eggs.
First eggs laid in our backyard the day after we got them back from the friend that was nice enough to watch the chickens while I was in Iceland. The chickens started laying for her while I was in Iceland.
 One of the ladies kept laying double yokers and did that for almost a week straight.
You see the difference. The one on the bottom is the double yoker. You can tell be the thick band in the middle of it. 
 They made a nest under the deck so I put a bucket next box under there and they made a next right next to it so that I have to crawl under there to get them.

Chipmunk the Cream Legbar should start laying blue eggs by the end of the month and Mathilda the Australorp is the one that laid that egg next to the nest box.

Buff the Buff Orpington laid an egg for me this morning that I had already collected. She is like clockwork while Mathilda is a little off laying either double yokers, shell less eggs or oddly shaped eggs.
This is our new girl! A black Ameraucana and we named her Crow. She both looks like one and sounds like one when you pick her up.
 Sunflowers are really the only thing that I have grown well this year.
 My crazy overgrown garden.
As you can see in the video my garden is really overgrown since I went to Iceland and it was not being taken care of. I have had a hard time keeping up with it after mom died so I’m being kind to myself and not beating myself up for it. 
As you can see that the second deep is not full at all. They have a ways to go before there will be honey to harvest. The First Deep is full thought so that is good. 
How is your summer going? Growing anything? Knitting anything?

Wanting to read the book The Urban Homestead. Any of you read it? Is it any good?
chick, chicken, chickens, egg, eggs, farm, Farmer´s market, hatching, hobbies, homestead, homesteading,, Keeping Chickens, killed, loss, mother, sustainability

Sad and Crushed.

My mamma nerves are raw tonight.

A little over 3 weeks ago I went to the farmers market to pick up some eggs. When using set eggs I saw that they were fertile eggs. So on a whim I put 2 of them in my small little incubator. I thought since they had been refrigerated that there would be nothing of the eggs and from my reading on the web it said that they would most likely not hatch but I was wanting to give it a try.

Ten days later I candle the eggs and see that one had started developing. I thought this very cool and had this great blog post brewing in my head about how you can hatch out eggs from the farmers market at only pennies on the chick where they would be good layers since they come from stock used for laying.

Anyhow, fast forward to today, day 23 of the chick being in the egg and the normal cycle 21 days to hatch day and I thought the worst, that the baby chicken had died. Crack open the top where the air sack was and to my surprise I see movement. I instantly feel horrible. Baby was still in there and alive and clearly just behind because, duh… I put COLD eggs into the incubator and it took a few days for the temp to get just right.

I hurry up and put the egg back in the incubator and go online to look for guidance. With the information I had given of baby being on day 23 someone told me to pip the egg (making a hole in the membrane) so that the baby could breath. I try and it starts bleeding! I’m horrified! I feel so guilty and dumb. Poor baby I should have just left it alone to do its natural thing like I believe in for all healthy births! I watch until I notice that baby is not moving anymore. My heart sinks. I leave the egg in the incubator until the boys go to bed to investigate. I poke at it and no movement. I watch for anything but the color now is off too. Finally, I come to terms that the baby is no longer alive in the egg and I crack it open to find a beautiful baby that died because I could not wait longer.

Perfectly formed. All the toes and nails and everything there. Just me being a bad, ignorant mother hen. Had I given the baby a couple of more days to finish absorbing the yoke and pip itself then I would have been welcoming a new member to my flock of chickens instead of feeling loss and guilt tonight.

Amazon, Backyard, bee, beekeeping, BeeWeaver, farm, frames, hive,, Ozark Bee Supply, starter kit

How to Start Right With Bees

As many of you know I was talking about getting bees and ladies and gents I DID IT!!! I am a proud urban beekeeper. I live on less than an 8th of an acre in the middle of Tulsa and I keep both bees and chickens.

Here is the story.

Months ago I got the bee bug. I was very interested in starting my own hive so I started reading, watching YouTube videos, talking to people I know that keep bees and surfing the web. I learned a lot about the bee’s life cycle, the different problems that could arise and the different illnesses bees can get.

I contacted BeeWeaver and Ramona said that they would sponsor my queen bee and then I started looking for local bees as worker bees to start my hive. I went on and found Ozark Bee Supplies and the man that runs it, Greg, was very helpful and full of information.

I started doing my research on where I could get a starter kit which includes the hive, a head vale, a hive tool, leather gloves, 10 plastic base frames and a smoker. I found one through Amazon and since I have Prime I didn’t have to pay for shipping on it. I also bought another deep super to put on top of the 10 frame hive so that the bees had plenty of space for brood and honey through the winter. I’m told I won’t need a honey super this year.

A little over a week ago on a Friday I got my queen bee IN THE MAIL from BeeWeaver apiaries. Yes you read me right I got her in the mail. She came in an envelop, but in the envelop she and some of her companions were in a sturdy wooden enclosure. The post office had tried to call me to pick it up but the number was wrong for some reason on the envelop but the nice lady at the post office delivered it to me on her way home from work.

The BeeWeaver queen and her attendants in the wooden box she arrived in.

I had gotten my hive ready the week before. Set up in my veggie garden and talked to Greg. a local bee keeper of Ozark Bee Supplies, that was willing to part with three frames of brood (baby bees), honey and worker bees for $20 dollars a frame and he keeps the frames from my hive that he is replacing.

So since my queen was there Greg told me to bring my hive, my queen bee, and a strap to keep the hive together for the drive home. I drive out to Jenks, OK to pick up my worker bees and frames and meet Greg for the first time in person. He was exactly what you would think a cowboy would look like but with a bee vale instead of a cowboy hat. Just wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. He put the hive strap on my hive to take it to where the bees are and he doesn’t put on any more protective clothing. I put on a black army jacket on and he tells me that Black is not a good idea and that I should probably get something more Bee Keeperish for the future.  I wish I had gotten photos of this experience but I was so excited about getting my bees that I forgot to take the camera with me. He takes me to the bees and opens my hive and then opens a nuc that has the frames that he was going to put in my hive. He did this with his bare hands and doesn’t get stung once. I was in awe. At first a little stressed with ALL the bees buzzing around me but then when I realized that they couldn’t care less if I was there or not I relaxed and just enjoyed the sounds and sights of the bees.

He put the three frames in to the hive and then just knocked the rest of the bees out of the nuc into my hive and put the queen in her wooden cage into the hive between the frames he put in my hive. Then he closed up the hive, secured it with the strap and then taped the entrance closed with duct tape so that they couldn’t get out! Then I asked my questions about how long to keep the queen in the cage and so fourth and the hive went in my Mazda5 and I drove home with a hive full of angry bees in the car with me! Very exciting but also I was very aware of EVERY bump in the road and prayed that I would not get in a car accident on the way home and be stuck in a car full of angry bees that have escaped their hive because of the accident.

I brought my hive home put it in place where I took the duct tape off and let the bees be bees for a little over a week. Only feeding them some sugar water to help the workers accept the queen and help with a stressful transition. Watching them come back from foraging with their back legs FULL of orange and white pollen. They have been such good bees.

Bees busy being bees.

Yesterday I let the queen out of her cage so that she can start laying her eggs again and my sister in law was nice enough to document it with her iPhone. She did not have a bee vale and even though it was a bit windy (not ideal) my bees were only a little unhappy when I grabbed the queen cage out of the hive. Had I not had gloves then I had been stung a few times. But when I was messing with the frames to see what sort of work they had been doing (they had been very busy bees and built up great comb) they couldn’t have cared less. I also opened the opening up to its next size up to make it easier for my bees to get in and out of the hive to bring in the pollen and honey.

My ladies have been busy on this new frame.
One of the frames I got from Ozark Bee Supplies

Now I must wait 10 days before checking on them again to make sure my queen is laying eggs. I’m SUPER excited! Can’t wait to see how much work they will have done in another 10 days.

BeeWeaver, that sent me the super nice queen bee, also has a new store that sells bee related products. You should check them out. The store is called BeeGoods.