Sunday, June 29, 2014

Garden tour and Bees

I didn't get much accomplished while the grand children were here--grass never got mowed, or the trimming/digging around the edge of the new perennial bed that I put in, but that is fine.

 Yesterday we got a light gentle rain. Not enough to keep me out of the garden! Frank and I were out there for most of the morning weeding and watering. In the evening, after supper, the sun was shining, and it was perfect for finishing off the weeding. Madeline aka Daughter#3 was in the garden with us. The garden is looking pretty good! Woke up this morning to puddles. Which was a welcomed relief! We sure could use more.



 I don't like to use a roto-tiller in the garden. So everything is done by hand. For a few years I have wanted a Dutch Hoe. That tool just makes work easy in the garden, unlike like the typical hoe. When we moved in here, Frank was going through some stuff that was left behind from the previous owners, in our one and only granary, he happened to find just the end of a Dutch Hoe! I was ecstatic!! We have always kept the handles from my yacht mops, and one sure came in handy!    


Frank finished my greenhouse just after Mother's Day. Inside however is another story. We--and when I say we, I mean Frank---decided we would use old water troughs. Wood rots and you would just have to replace it.


All sorts of peppers and Roma tomatoes in containers and pails.

Cantaloupe in the bathtub, carrots growing for seed, watermelon and peppers in the water troughs.

roma tomatoes

I can't get over how quickly plants grow inside the greenhouse compared out in the garden!!


roma tomatoes
I started all of my tomatoes at the same time, and planted them outside and in the greenhouse at the same time. The ones in the greenhouse are already getting buds and starting to flower out. The ones is the garden, haven't even come over the time top of the milk jugs!

Two of bee hives swarmed last weekend. I was prepared to capture one of the swarms. The other swarm went to high up in the tree, and there was no physical way of getting it. The ladders weren't tall enough. And we believed the sound of a tractor would have pissed off the other hives. So I lost a swarm.

The newest hive

This one, I need help with! To tall and the top super is probably full of honey. I fear this is going to swarm next.

We managed to capture the swarm from this hive. It now resides in Miss Bee Haven.

I wasn't able to capture the swarm from this hive.
When O Bee One decides to swarm, I have another hive ready for it.


In my perennial bed, I wanted a mixture of flowers, shrubs and herbs. I started some comfrey from seed, I think only three survived transplanting! I can always start more next year!


I have one cantaloupe so far, that has started flowering! I super stoked about having fresh cantaloupe to eat. I have never grown them before, so yes I am excited.








babies

It has been an extremely busy week.I can not get over how fast time goes by. As you all know, I have had two of my grandbabies for the past week. They went home on Friday. All is quiet now.

Gordon coming for a visit--more like checking out the small humans

Henry stood on his hind legs, so Boss could scratch his ears

The barn kittens--all eight of them--got a lot of loving from the grandbabies!

Boss checking over the baby chicks


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kombucha

Kombucha (fermented tea) is an healthy drink, an 'elixir' if you will, that contains living enzymes, probiotics, organic acids, B Vitamins, etc.  

Kombucha is very detoxifying/energising!!

Before you make (brew) a batch of Kombucha, you will need a culture called a--SCOBY.

A SCOBY is: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast

There are three ways to acquire a SCOBY:
a) Friend
         b) The Internet
                    c) Grow one yourself 
(There are plenty of helpful videos online that show you how to do this)

I purchased my SCOBY online. So this is how I am going to show how to brew a batch of Kombucha!

You will need the following:


INGREDIENTS:

6 Black Tea Bags or the equivalent to loose tea
1 cup sugar 
1 cup of reserved Kombucha and SCOBY
4 litres of distilled or filtered water (don't use tap water, because of all the 'added' stuff)



SUPPLIES:

1 Gallon Jar
Wooden Spoon
Cheese Cloth or Cotton Cloth
 Rubber Band
6 Quart Stainless Steel Pot


Pour the water into the pot, and bring all most to a boil. Add the one cup white sugar. The sugar isn't for us, it is for the SCOBY to feed off of during the fermenting process. Stir the sugar until it is dissolved, approximately five minutes. Remove from your heat source. Add your tea bags, stir for a little bit. Cover and steep for about ten minutes. Remove tea bags, replace the lid, and let the tea water cool down to room temperature.



Once the tea has cooled down, pour into your gallon jar. Add a bit more distilled water to the jar to get the most out of your jar. Remember though, you need room in your jar to add your reserved Kombucha and SCOBY.



Pour in your reserved Kombucha. If you purchased your SCOBY online, it should have come with about 1/2 cup of Kombucha for your first batch of Kombucha. With clean hands--don't use an antibacterial soap, or vinegars. If there is a bit of these left on your hands it will hurt your SCOBY. Just rinse your rinse hands extremely well. Pick up your SCOBY and add to your tea water.



The SCOBY will drop to the bottom of the jar, but will 'float' back to the top during the fermenting process. Cover with your breathable cloth and elastic band. Keep in a warm dark spot, about 20-30 degrees Celsius. ( 72-80 F) In the cooler winter months you may have to sit your jar on a heat pad. You also need good air circulation around your jar. 
No smoke or tight spaces.

 I  let my Kombucha ferment for about 7-10 days.
 The longer it ferments the more sugar/caffeine is transformed and the more vinegary it gets. 

Since Kombucha is made with tea, there will be a bit of caffeine leftover after fermentation. 
Because this is a sugar ferment, a tiny bit of natural alcohol forms-very small amount. Trust me, you will NOT get a buzz off of this drink. 

You need to test your Kombucha using ph strips. A good batch of Kombucha should have a ph around 3.

A baby SCOBY will form on top of the Mother SCOBY. This is all part of the normal process. You can reuse the Mother SCOBY and the baby SCOBY for your next batch together or one per jar. 

You should always inspect your SCOBY after each batch. The following link has some very good pictures what to look for.

Remove your Mother and baby SCOBY again with clean hands, put into a measuring glass with 1 cup of Kombucha. 



I like to filter my Kombucha. I don't like the yeast stuff that is at the bottom of the jar in my drink. However, the yeast stuff is good for the next batch!


This is what happens when you overfill your jug.


Bottle, cap and refrigerate! Enjoy a cold glass of Kombucha everyday!





Here are some good reads I have found online to help you to learn more about Kombucha, the health benefits and what/why of the teas and water used.














Friday, June 20, 2014

homemade vanilla

after two weeks


I am always investigating ways of saving money, you know being frugal or thrifty, going chemical free. And my favourite thought--why give your money to someone else for an inferior product? 

About four years ago, I came upon a recipe on how to make your own vanilla extract. Well, I have been wondering for years-- how does one do this? I stumbled upon the answer. Had I known it was so simple, I would have been doing this for years already!!  

All you need is about 10 vanilla beans split lengthwise, and a litre of vodka. My bottle didn't quite fit the litre of vodka. You can just drop the split beans into the vodka. But the bottle that I want to use has a wire snap lid cork thing and a little decorative. Put the bottle in the dark for no less than three weeks and it just gets better with age. Like us women!! Gently shake the bottle once a week. The vanilla is suppose to be really good about the six month age. I also read, that you can reuse the same vanilla beans again. It just might take longer.

I got my vanilla beans from the  Vanilla Food Company. I am not receiving anything by endorsing this company. I used this company simply because they are Canadian.

I was impressed with my beans! They smelled yummy!!

Grandbabies

For the next week, I will have precious visitors staying with me.
My two youngest grand children will be staying with Frank and I while our daughter re-cooperates from minor surgery.
The grandchildren have never spent time away from their parents, so this is going to be hard on the kiddies.


I don't think it is going to bother The Boss any. She is like a duck! Everything just rolls off of her. But her five-year old brother is having a difficult time. 


We spent yesterday playing in the little kiddie pool, helping Pa with some fencing, visited the chicks, goats and kids, and the kittens down at the barn.
Tonight we had Ben's favourite super heroes' favourite food for supper--pepperoni pizza. Can you guess who is his super hero quartet are? Ninja Turtles!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Early Morning Visitor

Just before seven this morning, we spotted this fella outside of our livingroom window. 







Frank figures he is a two or a three year old bear.



Bears cubs stay with their mamas for the first two years of their life. 


The young male bears are the most curious out of both sexes.

The horses sure didn't like having this visitor. They were running around like crazy. The horses are in a paddock in behind where the bear is in this (below) photo.


 It took this male a bit to find his way out of the yard.


The West and most of the North fence around the yard is page wire and plank fencing.  Back behind the garage is the chicken house and page wire chicken run. 


But he eventually went down the plank fence on the North side of the house to the opening in the willow hedge, and crawled through the electric fence and made his way Eastward through the horse paddock, cross the county road into the neighbours pasture quarter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More layers

Of the seventy something chicks I got last year, we managed to put about twenty-two roosters into the deep freeze, and I ended up with only thirteen hens. I have had a few neighbours inquire about purchasing farm eggs off of me. I couldn't keep up with the demand between four families. So I decided to purchase fifty Red Rock Cross chickens-all pullets. Frank wasn't to impressed with me. We don't exactly have space. Oh well. 


 Frank put some screening across the henhouse on the inside for the chicks. They sure do love the sunshine! We have also been picking them a bit of grass everyday. They really enjoy the green stuff!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Taking a wee drink

While I was out and about watching my Little Ones, play in their pond, I could hear quite a bit of buzzing. I looked down, and noticed a few of my honey bees getting water.


Little Ones

Last summer, I came home with the late father-in-law's geese. Some I lost to coyotes, and the dogs, a few I sold. I kept three, but unfortunately the dog got the one male. But by good grace, I was left with a mating pair. But for whatever reason, she started to lay eggs early March. Our weather this far North is not compatible with egg laying outdoors in an unheated shelter. We gathered her egg when we remembered, and other times, our ten year old Pomeranian cross dog, Goldie, would have a Goose egg breakfast. 

I have never hatched out geese eggs before, and I figured what the heck. I put thirteen eggs into the incubator, and thinking I would only get three gooslings. Those three, I thought were the 'freshest' eggs. Out of the thirteen: three were duds, nine hatched successfully and one made it half way out of it's shell, but died.

My Little Ones are now a month old.