Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Wow, it's been a while. So much to do while we have these warmer weeks. I'm trying to get outside work done, but it's been hard with my daughter unable to help because of back problems, plus an extremely active puppy, and just the ordinary day to day stuff.

Spray paint projects have been in full swing. My daughter commented that the colors and designs looked like the toppings for a cheeseburger (ketchup, mustard, and pickles). 

I made a little more progress on the pollination garden. This project is going to take most of the summer. I haven't figured out how to explain to a puppy that the plant markers I am putting next to my plants are NOT for him to take out and run away with, so I used a bucket to mark where I put some canna lilies. Yes, he managed to dig two of them out. Today it was my marigolds. Oh well.

My garlic is coming along nicely. I'm hoping next month to have a good harvest. For me that would be three dozen strong heads of garlic. Some to plant in the fall and most to use for fermenting in honey and a good amount for cooking.

I harvested a great amount of lavender yesterday. My daughter has had to sit, so she cleaned it up and made bundles for drying. Glad to help her so we didn't lose the first harvest. Looks like it's going to be a bountiful summer. I also harvested an over flowing cup of chives, and chive flowers for salads and vinegar.

This is a calendula blossom. The more you pick them the more they grow and they are starting to have many blooms. This one is so pretty. So nice to see those seedlings grow into pretty flowers.

The Bee Balm and St. Johns Wort are thriving nicely. They were just single stems when I put them in last summer. I had more than enough to split and add to the back yard garden. The pots contain shallots that I started from seed and I can't wait to harvest them later this summer.

The bees are doing well. Lots of orientation flights, so we know the colony is growing. We got a taste of their honey from a tool  being used for inspection and we are hoping to get a little in the fall. One day at a time.

We have been in our, new to us, home for fourteen months and what a difference a year makes. This is one after picture of what the front garden is today. 

This was one year ago this month and the work was well worth it. Just have to keep working in the back yard so that we'll see the same result next June.

In the next week or so all of these plants will be in bloom. My zinnia seedlings are in the ground now and I can't wait to see it all colorful in the next few weeks. This is another one year later picture.

I've done some more unpacking and sorting for a garage sale and along with the sorting I've been putting things in place on the breezeway. It needs a lot of construction fix up, but for now I have a place to chill while Hunter plays out back. I love the fact that we have a vintage home with vintage Pyrex collections. So nice that they can be out where I can see them and not shoved away in boxes or cupboards. 

Last, but not least there's Hunter. He's four months old now and I'll still confess, I am not a pet person. Here he is in his pen that he reconfigured to suit himself, but he didn't plan on a place to play. Needless to say he wasn't happy, but we couldn't stop laughing. Most of the time he is lose outside with us in the fenced in yard, or tethered in the gazebo out front, but he can find mischief wherever he goes. Maybe some day I'll share the nightmare story of his first obedience class, or maybe not. So, that's what's been keeping me busy at the new townhouse homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So much going on around the property and keeping us very busy, but it's been worth every ache to see the results. After thirteen months we've got a yard that's starting to look good and work for us, a dog, and bees. Not to mention the developments on the house itself. So much needs to still be unpacked and organized, and I think I need to buy stock in shelving. 

My daughter did a quick inspection of the bees. The ladies seem to be surviving well, and in another few days she will check them more closely to see if she can spot the queen, and check on egg production. Weather has kept her from looking.

She did have time to notice that there was honey production, and when she sits to watch them come and go, she sees pollen pants. We are hoping to see a little more activity as warmer temperatures move in.

Hunter is trying to learn to be outside on his own. It's going to be a challenge, but he'll get there. He loves being outside, I have nick named him the Tasmanian devil. 

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All I do is turn my back on him for a couple of seconds and he runs off with whatever he can steal. He keeps my busy.

My seedlings have been hardening off and I'm slowly getting things planted. These are mostly perennial flowers for the pollination garden, tomatoes, peppers, bunch onions and shallots.

I continue to dig out plants from around the yard to replant around the bees. I transplanted a rose bush, found even more chives,  spider wort, and more hosta. It's a work in progress, but so far it's cost only physical labor and a couple packages of seeds.

The plants are beginning to take well and are growing better than I expected. Can't wait to get more done this coming weekend and watch it bloom through summer. 

The compost bin is moving right along too. We've come a long way learning the composting process. It's ready for another good toss now that we've cleaned up some leaves.

Turning to the growth on the inside, she has added this beauty to the kitchen. It's smaller and gives us room now to be comfortable and it's in almost pristine condition. True vintage, and come this fall we will get back to adding color to walls. 

And finally I found a few moments to play with the succulents that have been growing around the house, and replanted my old steamer. Unfortunately last years plants didn't winter well and I had to start over. These are plants that were gifts and babies that we were able to collect. It's in the sun and already growing. Relaxation at it's finest. That's what's been happening in the last couple of weeks here at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by to visit and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

The Town House Homestead now has it's first colony of bees. What an experience so far. Getting  a garden tilled, putting plants in, painting boxes, and then the trip to get them.

It was a one hour drive south of home to pick them up. You enter a driveway in your car, are given a tag with your order on it, drive up and they load a nuc, or many in your vehicle. Drive through bees. 

This is one colony of bees in the trunk of my daughter's car. On the one hour trip back we had one lose bee, but she may have entered when we had the windows open to do business. The process took less than fifteen minutes. 

When we arrived back home my daughter carried the nuc to the back yard and set it on top of the hive box and pulled the plug allowing them to come and go. It's been a week of very wet and cold weather, so she had to watch the weather to get them homed.

Fortunately we got a break between storms and the transfer was made. They were not happy, but did a great job settling in.

I was only brave enough to stand with the dog in the pen to take pictures, but fearless daughter got the five frames moved.

She added the cover and got them protected as quickly as possible. The next move would be to get them some food since it's been rainy and cold and they are not coming out to forage.

She temporarily added a jar of sugar water to the outside and left the empty transport box next to the hive box so any stragglers could find their way to the hive.

A few ladies here were discussing their plans to move. The next evening they were gone so they may have found their way in.

It was a great relief knowing they were in and it's been a long week waiting for the bad weather to stop, but yesterday a few started venturing out and looking around.

Since the initial transfer she has added a second box containing sugar water so they had something on the inside and could stay dry and hopefully warm. It's going to be warmer today and maybe a bit sunnier so I may see more activity. I didn't get as much of the garden around them planted as I wanted, but when they develop their flight path I can try and work around them. I'm an anxious gardener and I want to see it grown in quickly. 

Blossoms are starting to pop out around the yard. These are apple blossoms on a very sick tree that will need to come down, but for this spring we are going to leave it.

Hunter needed a bath. It's been nothing but mud here and he enjoys digging in it. He also thought that the dead bees around the hive were yummy, started licking the robber screen and chewing the corner, so today he goes out on a tether. Poor guy, but he was lucky no guard bees came out before I was able to call him away. He's developing well. In four weeks he's doubled in size. His first weigh in had him at six pounds two ounces, but last night he weighed in at twelve pounds six ounces. I think he's going to be a good addition to the homestead. In another month we'll start obedience classes. Until then he has to keep learning from us, but he is getting better every day. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I wish everyone a great week.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well let me update you about this little guy. Hunter is now three months old and quite a handful. It looks like he's imprisoned here, but he actually is quite comfortable with the crate and pen. Hunter has tripled in size and we'll have a weigh in at the vets on Friday. The bet is he's gained at least three pounds, but I think more. He has a wonderful appetite. Hunter is learning and trying and boy does he love to be outside. He will just sit in the pouring rain and watch what appears to us to be nothing, but I'm sure there's something. I am changing and growing with him and for the first month we had him, every day I wanted to find him a new home. Don't tell my daughter, but I think Hunter is staying.

I broke down this month and bought new tools. I drive, but I don't own a vehicle to get to garage sales and estate sales to find things used, so one trip to the home store and it was done and we have the additional things we needed. I looked at my purchases and wondered how we made it through the first year without them.

I got started on some planting in the pollination garden. The bees will be ready tomorrow evening and there's so much more to do. Yesterday, in the pouring rain, Emily and I were out digging in the mud trying to get things planted. This is because we don't want to disturb the bees while they are getting themselves oriented to the new surroundings. We can work to the sides and back  more easily than in the front of the hive. I can't wait for it to grow in so it doesn't look so shaggy. 

This is last night just after the torrential downpours. At least you can see the plants. Behind the bench is a row of St. Johns Wart and under the bench are variegated Hostas and Lilly of the valley. Also planted is lavender, bee balm, butterfly milkweed, and Calendula. 

This morning before the rain and while Hunter was in the crate, I went around the yard and thinned some Shasta daisies, black eyed Susan's, echinacia, and found a full pot of hyacinth bulbs that were just in odds and ends spots from last years tilling. A few new things appeared this year and we are just waiting to see what they are. I still have to move some iris, daffodil, and tulip bulbs. We are shopping our property first to save money. We can always change things as we grow.

This was the sunset after one of the wettest days we've had this spring. We were exhausted, but took a few minutes to enjoy it and the work we've been getting done. So, for this week that's what's been happening at the new Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by for a visit and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So, two weeks later this little guy has become king of the homestead. Well, he thinks so any way. He has the run of a quarter acre and if I have to say so, I think they make them cute so we keep them. He has punctured my skin, chewed on my pant legs, stolen my boots, and I cannot get any sweeping or dust mopping done unless he's in the crate. I am exhausted, but for the last few nights he has been sleeping for at least eight hours. Not bad for ten weeks. I think he has doubled in size in two weeks and has a wonderful appetite. The vet says he's very healthy. Hunter is a thinker and problem solver and it's hard to stay ahead of him. I was totally unprepared to have a puppy in the house and a few times I've wanted to find him a new home. Hopefully with warmer weather we can learn to get along better. Together we have a lot to learn.

This past weekend we had some major tilling done to start our pollination garden. CCH Lawn and Landscape spent several hours clearing the yard. We are on our way to being known as 50,000 bees and a puppy.

This is a very large area with lots of potential for every kind of plant we feel like planting, and enjoying. It will be undergoing lots of changes in the next month.

CCH Lawn and Landscape was also hired to make an eight foot bench for this garden. Just simple cement blocks with timbers. This is for sitting, but will also be used as a work surface for the bee tending.

My daughter also had them create removable lattice fence panels as a bit of architecture that we can blend in with plants. They came out perfect and we can store them if we need to make changes to the garden.

The hive boxes are being painted. Another coat and we will be ready to receive the ladies. They will have a struggle to survive, but we will do all we can to keep them going and protect them. So many predators and battles for them.

We did a bit of raking to prepare the hive location. Emily helped bring in supplies and they laid weed cloth, cement squares and stones. They added a water bath over the tree stump that we cut back further and at the end of the day, a test of what it would look like was done. 

I think it's going to be beautiful. Right now there aren't any plants and the area with the pebbles will be much larger, but for this weekend we are finished. CCH Lawn and Landscape will be hired to put a stronger floor in the shed and build new doors so we can use it this coming winter. It's a bit worn right now, but still has a good roof, and some paint will bring it back to functional.

The sign warning of bees is on the gate at the side of the house and we've taken out a few locks for it, so we can decide which one is best to keep people safe. The neighbors are all on board with our bees and they hope they may have a jar of honey in the fall.

The gardens we put in last year are beginning to blossom and it's so nice to see. As of April 15th we have been in our new Town House Homestead for one year and when I look back at what we've done, I see all the miracles I am grateful for. I look forward to vegetable gardens and sharing our abundance in the near future. Thank you for stopping by and visiting. I hope to see you again soon. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well for sure this has been an interesting week. We've had things scheduled, but we were a bit spontaneous too. Spontaneous to the point that this little fellow is now a member of the family. We've wanted to find a dog, but most dogs, two to three years old, are always gone by the time we find them. However, this past week my daughter found a Craigslist add for him. She sent a message, and within an hour she had a response that he was still available. We made arrangements to go see him and sure enough he came home with us. 

His name is Hunter and he is just over eight weeks old. He is a lab and terrier mix and I'm sure he's going to fit that name within a couple of months. In the mean-time he, and we have a lot of learning to do.

He is my daughters dog and they have more than bonded. He's been here just shy of three days. Yes he's very cute. She named him Hunter because that will be his job. Keeping those ground hogs from digging any more dens. He already has a fix on them and I haven't seen them since he's had free run of the back yard.

Don't let this cute little guy fool you. He is very smart. He's a problem solver and a con. He's trying everything including being bad for me because she's not here. He just realized this morning that she leaves and that didn't make him happy to be stuck with the old one. Oh well. It was a very hard first two days, but her co-worker brought us a crate and without hesitation after we put his blanket in it, he put himself inside and cuddled up to sleep. Two sleepless nights left us frustrated, but last night he slept for three and a half hours before needing to go out. Small steps, but we'll get there. He's got half an acre to run on, and lots of people who have come to play with him. Even our senior neighbors have offered to babysit. They love dogs. 

My seedling are doing well. Last week I got my Italian basil and Purple basil started and they have popped their heads and are growing. I think I miss basil the most through the winter, but now I can grow it in the basement under the grow lights. I will need to find some heat source for it. I'm not sure what I'm going to start this week. I have my hands full with puppy.

So the puppy took up all of Saturday and Sunday my contractors, CCH Lawn & Landscape, came and built my compost bin. I am so happy with it. They said they have some tweaking to do, but I can use it, and as you can see I've started collecting wintered leaves and brush for it. I also have a bit saved in the freezer as far as food scraps to add, along with paper and cardboard. This has been a life time dream, believe it or not, to have a place to garden and dig in the dirt. I see Hunter and I out there for many hours during the day this summer. CCH Lawn & Landscape will be back in a couple of weeks to do more work for us too. Our little homestead is taking another major step. That's what's been going on at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. See you soon.