Calling in sick.

Taking a day to rest with some tea and a book.  I did my first two hive checks this weekend and have a tale to tell.  Come back tomorrow and hear all about it.

Hoping you have a fantastic Monday!

Hive Bonanza Jellybean ladies all in a row.


This Moment ~ A gift

A Soulemama tradition.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Marie Antoinette Doll Patter in Wee Wonderfuls book.


I Am Doll Parts

It’s a dreary week in the Pacific Northwest.  We’ve been spoiled rotten with gloriously sunny and warm weekends this last month followed by grey cold weeks.  Between a relatively easy cold making its rounds, a kinked neck, and poor weather not a lot has been accomplished on the farm front.

What we have been doing is planning. I’ve made lists.  Lists of lists.  Detailed lists.  Lists with estimated completion dates.  My brain is gearing up for full-bore yurt completion mode.  There is so much to finish and like a wise friend recently reminded me a goal of  ‘finishing up the yurt’ is not specific enough.  How true, Vanessa, how true!

Carter has declared today a pajama day and I whole heartedly agree!  He will be finishing up some food chain studies, as well as working on his first commissioned art piece (more on that later).  I imagine Bodhi will join her brother in cutting, pasting and painting.  She just can’t let others do art around her without taking part.

My plan is to finish a terribly overdue gift.  One of Bodhi’s friends from preschool had a birthday a while ago and I haven’t yet finished her doll.  Since today is a pajama day it would also be a great day to catch up on this belated gift.  I do hope that Stella will enjoy her embroidered Marie Antoinette doll.   Hopefully, it won’t be considered creepy to give a doll of a decapitated monarch to a preschooler.. Hopefully.


Chicken Tales

Here’s the scoop from the chicken coop.

Bjork, the free funky chicken, she’s a Roo.  I had originally thought that I didn’t want a rooster as I couldn’t imagine having another rooster as great as our last one.  Poseidon was a beautiful gentle rooster.

It would appear that I’m changing my mind.  Bjork can stay as long as he’s cool.  The name however, had to go.  We tried on Frank Zappa or Zappa.  It just didn’t stick.  Bjork is pretty tough and seems to run the yard even when Frank’s birds wander over.  During a tough male rocker brainstorming session one of us kicked out Henry Rollins and that sounded like a keeper.  It has since morphed into Henry Rooster.

May he be as friendly and as beautiful as the magnificent Poseidon.

 The meat birds are a trespassing nuisance.  Within hours of propping open the layer coop door, the meat birds have scared of the layers, filled their coop, eaten all of the feed and have forgotten how to exit the premises.  Every single time I have to catch them and help them out the door.  Every time they freak out.  It’s great fun.

We are working on moving the chicken tractor farther away so hopefully this ceases to be a problem.

Apollo likes to stalk the meat birds.  So far, he’s not been able to catch any.  I guess those birds are really lucky that this is the most uncoordinated cat that ever roamed the planet.  He’s flippin’ adorable, but the worst hunter ever.

 

For the most part that’s all that’s up with the chickens.  Frank moved his smallest meat birds to an outdoor brooder.  It’s nice to see them outside.  They are a lot more happy with grass under their feet.


How did we get here?

If you have overcome your inclination, and not been overcome by it,

you have a reason to rejoice.

~Plautus

One afternoon when I was five years old, I was playing with my sister and a friend on a little island in the middle of the creek in our back yard.  The older kids were fishing, I imagine, and I was just trying to be involved in what they were doing.  My mom came out to check on me and I got very busted for wearing my new school loafers out in the muck.

Angry that I had to go inside and miss all of the fun, I was stomping through the woods to make my point known to anyone that was paying attention.  Somehow during my theatrical flounce, my hair got tangled in a low tree branch.  Clearly, I was already in a poor mood and I imagine I did some more stomping and flailing and guess what… I stepped on a bee’s nest.

Now, I guess I should give you some sort of proper information, in that these were actually ground wasps and not bees.. but to my five-year old brain, a bee was a bee.

So there I was standing in a bee’s nest with my hair caught in a tree screaming my head off.  Someone freed me of the tree and carried me into the house.  I couldn’t tell you if it was my mother or my sister.  My mom hurried around to make me a bee sting paste and while she was working on that, something horrible happened.

The story goes I was in full screaming freak out mode when I got silent and with large eyes and said, “There’s something in my shirt.”  Sure enough three bees flew out of my clothes and I was in hysterics all over again.

From that day forward I was completely terrified of bees.  All flying insects that stung were bees, all were mean, and all were out to get me.  I was sure of it.

So how does that girl end up in charge of two hives of bees?

I have no stinkin’ clue.

In January, I read an article on top bar hives on Mother Earth New’s facebook page and I was hooked.  I started reading everything about bees that I could get my hands on, and it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to do this.

Soon after I joined a local bee club and then I ordered two packages of bees.  At the time we were in full chicken preparation mode and so bees seemed a long way off.  Time sure flies when you are busy doing other things.  Before I knew it, the bees were a couple of weeks off and they needed a home.

Frank and I worked for two weeks on the hives.  They weren’t terribly difficult or anything, but as we’ve learned in the last few months.  Everything takes twice as long as we expect it to.  The hives were no different.

We got the hives finished and in place the day that we picked up the bees.  Nothing like getting things done at the last-minute… but hey, we did it!

On Sunday, the bees hung out in the shade of the yurt most of the day while I walked through the last few preparations to ready them for their big move.  I did a lot of checking and re-checking.  I was nervous and excited.  Nervous and excited.  I would get a huge feeling of giddy excitement.   ‘Bees!  I have bees!’, then the nerves would kick in.

I had visions of myself running screaming from the hives and all of my bees chasing me.  I could see myself freezing and Frank having to take care of hiving our new charges.  I had terrible visions of my body being completely covered with bees while they tried to consume me.  Luckily for me, I saw ‘The Savage Bees‘  when I was younger so I had plenty of horrifying images to conjure up any time my nerves necessitated one.

At some point on Sunday, I just made myself stop indulging these thoughts.  I had read up on this as much as I could.  I watched numerous Youtube videos of people hiving their bees, I had talked to experienced beeks about how to do it and I got all of my questions answered.  I was as prepared as I was ever going to be.

I decided that I would just go ahead and hive the girls a few hours early….. I just had to get it done.  I followed my rehearsed plan one step after another and before I knew it, I was done.  There were no stings, no tears or freezing. I was not chased off into the sunset by a humming black cloud.

For the most part, everything went according to plan.  The bees are in their hives and they have some food.  I’ve checked on them and they seem like they are doing OK.  In the next week, I need to go back to the hives and do a few things:

  • I need to feed them. When I put them in the hives, I gave them the sugar can that they came with.  I have two different feeding options in mind.  I think I’ll try a different one with each hive and see which one works better.
  • The top bars are not all into place as the bees were kind of everywhere when I installed them.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get them moved to where I want them and have the hive put together properly.
  • Queen check – make sure the queens have been released from their cages and see if I can find them.

I’ve been drawn to the hives many times in the last two days.  Watching them is my new favorite pastime.  I am officially a beekeeper.  I still don’t know what I’m doing, or maybe even how I’m doing it…. but one thing is for sure.

I’m doing it!


The Bees Have Arrived

We got our bees yesterday.  On Earth Day.  It was just perfect.  Please enjoy these pictures.  I’m still processing the experience and will write all about it when I’ve figured out what to say.

Hoping your weekend was great!

Package of Carneolans

Bee package stragglers going into Top Bar Hive

Bee activity around top bar hive

Busy bee already going to work.

Bees gathering around the entrance of the top bar hive.

Investigating from a distance.


This moment ~ Sportsmanship

This moment.  A Soulemama tradition.

*****

This one is getting a few words.

My son Ethan was honored in front of his entire school with a sportsmanship award this morning.  I’m very proud of this young man for being kind, considerate and all around awesome!

(The number everyone is wearing on their chest is to celebrate one of the teachers for her recent marathon accomplishment.  The entire school surprised her by wearing her bib number to the assembly.  We homeschooled for years and I miss having him home, but if he’s going to choose to school elsewhere I’m glad this is the place!)


The tale of Itty Bitty.

A while back, when we were moving our first bach of meat birds from the brooder to their chicken tractor we noticed that one of our chicks was really small.  Like really small.  I figured that maybe we got a bantam or something and left her in the brooder to hang out with some of the layer chicks that were still about the same size as she was.

A couple of days later, I noticed that she had a weird lump on her chest.  I picked  her up and felt her and sure enough she had a really hard lump on her chest.   She was also skeletally thin under her feathers.

You know I ran right inside the house and consulted Dr. Google to see what could possibly be wrong with our little girl.

I found a few articles about impacted crops and figured that must be the problem.  Basically, chickens have a sack that their food sits in, a pre-stomach, that is called the crop.  Food sits in there and gets soft and then travels to the next stomach called the Proventriculus and then moves on to the gizzard.

Got it?  Well don’t worry neither did I.  I know the gizzard goes in gravy, but that’s about it.

The first website I found that had a treatment plan for Itty Bitty’s rock hard crop was to slice her open with a sharp knife remove the mass and then put a bandage on it and hope for the best.

Ummm…. No.  Not on your life was I going to do this.   It’s very clear that I’m not a veterinarian and I certainly won’t be performing poultry surgeries any time soon.

So I kept googling.

I finally found a forum that suggested putting mineral oil in an  eye dropper and feeding that to the chicken a couple times a day followed by a gentle massage.  That seemed to be a reasonable option.   We went to the local store and got supplies to fix up our wee chicken.

I have to be completely honest here.   This is a meat bird.  None of them have names.  I call them chicken dish names when I call them.  I had not formed any kind of emotional attachment with these animals as I knew that I would be taking an active part in their end.  I had all kinds of mixed feelings about how to proceed, but one thing was sure I couldn’t leave her in pain and that had to be dealt with.

We gave her the mineral oil and tried massaging the bulge.  Massaging was difficult as these birds are kind of skittish so for the most part she got the oil.  It seemed like her crop would get better and then the bulge would come back.  About a week later, she seemed like everything was back to normal.  Her crop stopped bulging and everything went back to normal.  I went off of chicken death watch and life resumed.

When the layer’s coop was finished we decided to keep Itty Bitty with the big girls on moving day (the Wyandottes were still tiny and staying in the brooder a bit longer).  She still was pretty small and had really bonded with the girls so I figured it would be best to keep her in a calm and happy environment.   She just loved the new space and was one of the first to venture outside.

A couple of days later, I noticed her crop bulging again.  Oy.  I rounded her up and took her back to the brooder so we could keep an eye on her.  She got some more mineral oil and massage and spent a few days with the little ones.  Apparently that is all she needed and it didn’t take long for her to get back to normal and back outside with her big girl friends.  She very clearly regards the Wyandottes as underlings even though they’ve passed her up in size.

 Please try not to be jealous of my mad photoshop skills, K?

For scales sake, I wanted to show you the size difference between Itty Bitty and Bjork.  They are within a day or so of having the same birthday and their size difference is laughable.  Understandably, they are not the same breed and are completely different birds but still it’s funny.  She does try to have stand offs with Bjork.  She hasn’t won any that I’ve seen, but I admire her spunk.

Itty Bitty will probably always  be in the layer coop.  She’s wormed her way into my heart and I enjoy watching her pushy little self doing her best to be at the top of the pecking chain.

I wish her a long life of health and happiness.

I wouldn’t complain if there were some eggs involved as well.


Raw Granola

The more I pay attention to how the food I eat makes me feel, the more I’m realizing that grains are not my friends.  If you have any kind of chronic ailment, I’d try 30 days without grains and see how you feel.  For  years I was plagued with fibromyalgia pain and migraines and when I eat a grain free/low sugar diet my body sings!  There are loads of resources on why you should be grain free and here’s one.  I really never feel better than when I’m eating clean.

I wish I can say that I was religious about my eating and I never faltered…  I’m getting there.  One day I’ll be one of those clean eating gurus with crazy amounts of energy and healthy food flying about when I wave my hands.  I just know it.  In the mean time, I’m working on making small changes that will be lasting changes.  Starting with breakfast.

I can’t eat eggs every day.  I just can’t do it.  I like eggs, I love my chickens.. but I’m just not one of those peeps that can eat the same food day in and day out and not get bored out of their skulls.  Some mornings, I’m so stinking tired that anything that takes more effort than shoveling some kibble into a bowl and pouring milk on top is too much.  So you know, cereal is a must on these mornings.  Obviously, cereal is almost always full of grains so I looked around until I found a grain free granola recipe that sounded edible.

Here’s a little video on soaking and sprouting buckwheat.  I thought for a long time that it was a grain and also wheat, but I was wrong.  It’s actually a seed of a plant that is closely related to the rhubarb plant.  I didn’t actually sprout the buckwheat in my granola, but I think I will next time.

Choosing Raw posted this recipe for The Only Raw Vegan Granola Recipe That You’ll Ever Need.  That was a lofty title and I figured with a name like that, I had better try it out.   I’m glad I did.  It made a very good breakfast.  You could easily make changes to the nuts, seeds and fruits to change it up if you get easily bored like I do.

Choosing Raw Granola (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Yields about 3 cups

1 cup soaked and dehydrated buckwheat
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried, chopped apples
1/3 cup maple syrup (agave is also fine)
1 tbsp coconut or flax oil
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Dash salt

1) Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2) Whisk together the maple syrup, water, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix them well with your hands. If you’d like to make a sweeter granola, you can add another tbsp maple syrup, or a few drops of stevia; the amount listed is intended only to add gentle sweetness and to bind the granola together.

3) Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 10-12 hours, or until granola is sticky but adhering firmly. Refrigerate till ready to use; this will help maintain crunch and texture!

My notes on the recipe:

1.  I really would fully sprout the buckwheat before  making into granola next time.

2.  Next time, I’m going to use less sweetener.  I used 1/3 cup agave and found it too sweet.  Also I’m going to try maple syrup.

3.  I dehydrated at 105* and it took nearly 3 days to get to crisp enough to be considered done.  I’m not really sure if 105 is better than 115, but 3 days is a long time to dehydrate anything.  Especially if your giant Excalibur dehydrator is taking up precious space in your kitchen.

Enjoy!


Guest Post – Lies they’ll tell you

I’m happy to have Andrew from Andhedrew write this guest post today.  He has an impressively fresh look on ‘changing the world by changing yourself’.  You’ll want to download his free manifesto ‘Slapping Yourself Upside the Head‘.  You’ll be inspired to dive right in to your dreams when you’re finished.

Enjoy your inspiration.

 See you tomorrow!

~Monika

Lies they’ll tell you

 

Lie: “You have to live life my way, or you’re at risk…and just plan stupid.”

Truth: You don’t have to settle for an ordinary life. You don’t have to buy into whatever our society says is normal. They think it’s in their best interest to keep you scared, so you won’t challenge authority, and you’ll quietly be mediocre your whole life. They want this because scared people don’t end up challenging the powers, scared people accept less pay for turning our more widgets in an assembly line; scared people are content with living in a little box and never stepping outside of it.

They’ll tell you it’s responsible to be ordinary.

They’ll tell you it’s safe to be ordinary.

They’re right – doing something extraordinary is a risk, but would you rather fail a few times on the road to something incredible and adventurous, or be a drone your whole life?

Lie: “They’re just lucky.”

Truth: People create their extraordinary lives, brick by brick. They rarely have everything handed to them on the proverbial silver platter, and in those few instances they do they do a pretty good job of ruining their lives if they don’t have the character to handle the money or the fame.

You get to make the decisions: are you going to live your life hoping to be lucky, or do you want to commit to creating your own luck?

Lie: “Happiness comes from having more stuff.”

Truth: The inverse is more often true. Buying something new makes you happy short-term, the same way that an ice cream sundae makes you happy: but like the ice cream sundae, you have to keep consuming to keep the thrill going. You also have to escalate: buy bigger and better stuff to maintain the same buzz. No, there’s no long-term happiness to be had from the constant acquisition of stuff, only a shopping addiction and a messy house. Cast it off and embrace what’s really important: human relationships, spiritual connection, and making beauty to share with the world.

Lie: “You’re the only one who wants to be different.”

Truth: You can always find people like you, people who don’t want to take life for granted, people who like talking about obscure Russian poetry, people who won’t tolerate the lies, let alone believe them. Seek out your people. Build your support structure. You never have to be a Lone Ranger.

+ + +

If you would like some more great tips on living life on purpose and becoming the person you want to be, check out AndHeDrew’s free e-book, “Slapping Yourself Upside the Head” which you can download here: http://andhedrew.com/upside-the-head/


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