Monday, May 9, 2016

Right place at the right time.

                             A worker bee, checking out the new Queen , second after being placed in the hive..

An hour sooner or an hour later ,checking the hives, and we would have missed this! We were able to watch 4 Queen Cells emerge  from an emergency cell in a Queenless hive.  All have been place in new nucs( hives.)
you could hear them chewing there way through trying ever so hard to make their way out of the cell, it was really a cool event to witness.
what a blessing and how grateful we are for these experiences on our farm!!!

I hope you enjoy the photos!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dreams and gardens are Growing!

So, Its that time of year,, its bee season and garden season. and I just cant seem to sit down and blog! At night I am just too tired to try and conjure up the words and explain to you the gazillion things we have going on.

In the past couple weeks we
*got our gardens in
* have been building bee equipment
* inspecting bees and getting ready to rear queens
*weeding, watering, watering and watering( we finally got rain)
* remodeling our honey "house" and putting new equipment in
* spoke at the Mother Earth news fair out bees
* spoke at Eustace Conways Turtle Island preserve ( about bees)
* working with Blue Ridge women in agriculture as we are going to part of this years farm tour,,

oh and did I mention,, ??? we bought a 150 year old General store?? yeah, true story...

We are now on top of everything else ( almost) the owners of a 150+ year old General Store Located in the middle of the National Forest on a wild n scenic river.. * Coffeys General Store* ( its one mile from my house and has been closed down for years) it has survived 2 Historic Flood a great depression and has so much history. the antiques in it are amazing,,  It's  almost overwhelming ... so much history in the store!! and yes everything in it comes with the store ;)
  it will be a bit of long road and a 5 yr vision to really have it how we want, but we plan to open on July 4th of this year.
   the goal : you can get your essentials here for camping, our local produce, honey, eggs, soap, Chicken, ( pork eventually) etc

This is going to be a beautiful extension of our homestead!

The gardens : so all 5 gardens received a wonderful steady rain yesterday( after about 3 weeks of nothing) so everything should really start filling in!!
Its just me working these gardens so its quite a bit of work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.. :)



 so if you follow my blog you are just gonna have to get used to a lot of info crammed into one post,, haha...
we have a lot on our plate right now, but I will continue to update your on our homestead , store, off grid life, market, bees etc...

So as you can see our gardens are growing and so our our dreams!!
Yay for new adventures!

and please forgive all the typos, I know there are more than a few ;) headed out the door and getting started on my day!! Have a beautiful day!

until next time

The Cools

Friday, March 18, 2016

Progress and Simple Pleasures


Robb and I spent the day on Monday getting our row cover up for our cabbage and broccoli. I am done dealing with Cabbage worms. They are the sneakiest most destructive little suckers, and the squish squish method just isn't doing it anymore... Its easy to get them out of the broccoli, but the little worms borrow inside the inner leaves of the cabbage and its impossible to get them. I have had some gorgeous cabbage over the years , only to be destroyed...
So this cover will keep the moths from laying their eggs on my plants ( which eventually hatch and turn into little worms that munch away on my Brassicas.
It was a bit of work and dealing with frost cloth in wind, I forgot but was soon reminded that it is nothing short of aggravating.. I also managed to really smash my finger.. But I am sure it will all be worth it when I am opening a fresh jar of kraut this winter!

We have also been working on some new chicken tractors for our meat birds. This year we did not skimp on materials and made them the "right" way so they will last us many seasons. We just got tired of weathered rotting wod and things falling apart because we decided to use recycled items. don't get me wrong, recycled is great, but the maintenance and time we spent on these older tractors for them to just start falling apart made us realize we need to use new treated wood. These are some nice tractors!
Robb managed to get 2 done this week! Ill have more photos soon, they are pretty nice. Each one will fit around 10 birds. We will move them around the property as needed, giving them a good life of bugs n fresh grass!

I have planted nearly all my seed potatoes! 40 lbs!  I am glad to have gotten them in the ground, just in time for a much need rain, forecasted for tomorrow.

Simple Pleasures

In between all the work, there are always moments of simple beauty in spring that make my heart sing. I am so happy another season has arrived! The first bouquet of the season, our girls pollinating the peach tree, and some baby chicks are truly life's simple pleasures!

Happy ( almost) Spring!


The Cool Family

Monday, March 7, 2016

and just like that, Spring has Sprung

Getting ready for life in the Fast lane, so to speak, here at our Homestead! It looks like Spring is jusssst about here. Now I am quite sure we will get another frost or 2, and probably one in late April ( Ya know that one that always makes ya freak out, because you have everything planted in the gardens). But for the most part it looks like temps are steadily rising.

The bees are out! and dang happy too! We have been feeding them some pollen substitute . A good source of protein for them before the Alders and Maples bloom( which are in Fact in bloom right now!)

Ive started all of my seeds. Some are being transplanted now, and other have a ways to go before that happens...
A lot of my cool weather crops are going  in now. I have 4 pretty good size gardens, and like to take my time getting stuff in ( instead of doing it all in one day) so I started planting last week and hope to  have all my cool weather plants in , in the next week or so.

Norah has been busy Fishing, Playing in her Tree House, and Bringing insects into the house ( the first sign of spring around here.. hahaa) ..  She even found some Frog eggs in the pond, that we are going to raise up and release, when time :)

It feels good to be outside with hands in the dirt again!

How are Temps In your Neck of the Woods???

The Cool Family

Saturday, February 13, 2016

When Life Gives You Lemons

Or when a wonderful neighbor gives them to you............... Make Lemonade :)

One of our part time neighbors was kind enough to bring us a bowl full of lemons from his lemon tree in Florida ! They are nothing like lemons from the store, not to mention twice the size!
I decided to make lemonade concentrate with them, which will come as a real treat once the summer heat hits. Nothing beats a cold glass of lemonade after a morning of gardening. I think it is my favorite summer drink.
I ended up with 5 pints of strawberry Lemonade, and 5 Pints Of regular Lemonade...........YUM!

Homemade Lemonade Concentrate
Its pretty easy ;)
1 Cup lemon Juice
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup water
Make a syrup by mixing the sugar and water in a pan on low heat..Once dissolved add the lemon juice and syrup into a pitcher and stir.. add about 3-4 more cups cold water ( depending on how sweet  you like your Lemonade) and serve with ice!
If you would like to can the concentrate. Can in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The days in Between



We are just trying to stay busy here, in between the days of Snow and mud..The Roads are pretty much clear( though muddy) and the weekend is supposed to be gorgeous! 60-65 degrees and sunny.

While its going to be nice, its still a bit too muddy to do very much outdoors.. Although I have started some seeds...  too early , you ask?? maybe a little, but I always start a few trays to hold me over until its "officially" time. I find that starting them a bit earlier gives them time to grow big and strong too..

Norah has been on a letter writing kick.. I believe she has written and mailed out around 6 or 7letters. It makes me happy to see her doing this when almost every form of communication these days happens via the internet. She has been begging and pleading for an email, hehe, for what, I don't know, but she really wants one for some reason ( probably because mom has one ;)... I briefly explained to her that before  days of tinternet ( when I was a kid) people used to write letters all the time, this is really how people used to communicate or say hello, if there were not talking on the phone.
She wrote some friends from camp and some relatives, I really hope she gets some letters back and continues to write.

The sewing machine has been pulled out briefly. I made a skirt and a small quilted table runner for our table.... I have so many fabric scraps that really need to be used up, as they take up so much space ! This was the perfect project to use some of them. It really started out as a full blown quilt before I decided I just didn't Love the fabrics,, and didn't want to invest time in a quilt if I just felt "meh" about it everytime I looked at it. It looks nice on the dining room table and brightens it up a bit ......

Besides that, we are just really waiting for things to dry up before working on a million projects outside. My mushroom hoop house ( that keeps my shiitake logs in the shade) collapsed during the snow storm so that need fixed. We have 5 fruit trees to move, a grape trellis to put up, trellis for the peas, 2 chicken tractors need built, and on and on and on.. I always seem to get anxious this time of year,, so much that needs done for spring,, and so little time. It all gets done though, always does....
and our chickens, well they hate snow, haha.... so yeah they are happy about the thaw too...


The Cools

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Big Snow on the Homestead

Well ,the much anticipated Snow from Winter Storm Jonas,  arrived! I kind of lost count after awhile, but am guessing we were blessed with about 15" of the white stuff.
For those of you who follow our blog, you know that we are within a National forest. We have a 12 mile gravel ( now snow ) commute. The roads are not maintained by the state or county. although The National Forest does hire someone to plow( sometimes). Last time we had snow like this, it was 6 days before our roads were cleared...and a week before our Mail arrived.
They did come through with a plow yesterday when the snow started,but that has since been covered with about 10 more inches of snow.
Hey, it makes for a good hiking trail, when ya cant drive on it!

We have really been enjoying our time snowed in; baking, hiking, sledding , reading. eating and hanging around the wood cookstove staying warm.

Now spring can officially arrive.. *wink