One of the first shrubs we planted was this hydrangea.
And each year since, I've picked up a couple more on sale.
I could possibly have an addiction.
Check back in a few years, just to confirm.
It's been another busy week around the old farmhouse.
We've had a lot of grass to cut and as you can see, it takes a while.
This isn't what they mean by a push mower?
I'm pretty sure I could convince the Artist to build a barn and get us some goats to
mind the grass and without much arm twisting; he's been fixing this thing for weeks. And weeks.
We have a volunteer sunflower growing in our mulch pile. We're pretty sure she was from one of last year's flower heads that I hung on the bird feeder last winter. The birds love to sit in the pine trees and shuttle back and forth to collect seed. She's the beauty in my header photo and she was almost mistaken for a weed. Good thing weeds get neglected around here.
But this isn't her; this is mini-sunflower, standing at about a foot and a half tall next to her and it's the cutest thing I've seen out my kitchen window since the male twin was last out to mow the lawn. And that, my friends was some time ago. See above.
We planted an elderberry sapling from my mom. (I do call her mom, by the way.) Apparently, they should be planted in the spring, but I couldn't envision this sapling still being alive once the snow has melted, so we went for broke and planted her, out by the crab apple trees.
My favourite pie in the world is elderberry pie. My Gram used to love picking them and until she lost her baking mojo would make me one for my birthday. I can't wait to have a few of these put away in the deep freeze or my stomach. I'm pretty easy going when it comes to things like that.
If all of these buds come through, I'd say we're going to have a brilliant show of mums in the not too distant future. Mums, moms, mamas, mothers, Momma! Call'em what you'd like, they're too dang pretty to give a hoot.
Raising bees is a rewarding experience on many levels, the most notable benefit, however, is the gift of honey. Supplied to me by my very own girls, I was able to extract some of this delicious nectar for the very first time this past week.
I met a local beekeeper, Bill, a few weeks back at a great bee supply store and he kindly and graciously offered his time and resources. We spent a morning checking on his hives, he keeps his bees in three different yards and placed bee escapes on his hives to help coax the bees out of the honey supers.
Afterwards, I left him with this box above, my own super of honey, almost ready to be extracted. Using his refractrometer, we were able to measure the moisture content of the honey. Too much water content in the honey will cause it to ferment. The ideal is around 15-17% moisture, mine was at 17 to 17.5. We left it for a week in his honey room, with the dehumidifier running to help draw additional moisture out of the honey.
That super, by the way, weighed a tonne. It was tricky lifting it off the hive because of its weight and bulk. Still I wondered if it was heavy enough to hold anything substantial. Here it is on the honey room scale, coming in just over 55lbs. Who knew beekeeping would provide such a good workout?!
A week later, the moisture content was down to around 16.5% and we were good to go. Here I am removing the wax capping from each of the ten frames in the super with a capping scratcher. It looks easy, but there is a certain knack to it. Use to much pressure and you risk taking out big chunks of honey, not enough and you could be standing there all day and every cell must be opened so the honey can be released.
As each frame is uncapped, it is placed inside the extractor. I quicky learned, you want to get the caps off and the frame in extractor as quickly as possible, as once you uncap it, the honey starts to flow!
The extractor uses a centrifugal force to separate the honey from the wax comb. The photo above was taken while the extractor was running, and the lines you see running from the frames to the wall of the tub is honey being whipped out as the extractor spins.
This was definitely the coolest part, the girl twin who loves putting on her science cap was quite enamored with this step.
And within no time, it was running out of the tap at the bottom. You can see the wax chunks in the honey as it comes pouring out.
The honey kept flowing and flowing, the wax is easy to see now, along with someone trying to steal a bit of my honey.
We weighed the super before extracting to determine how much water had evaporated during the week. Then we weighed the super with the empty frames after all of the honey had been extracted. Subtract the two and voila, you have your actual honey weight. My girls generously supplied me with 33lbs of honey.
The pail of honey was left to sit for 24 hours, to allow the wax to rise to the top. Bill kindly strained it, separating the large wax cappings and had it ready for me to bottle a few days later.
Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering, how much is 33lbs?
Just what does that much honey look like?
Well, let me show you.
My guess is this is the equivalent of about 20 pint jars.
I've decided to push the This or That theme one step further here at Rural Revival and use it as a means to catch up on a little of this and a little of that, that's been happening around the old farmhouse. Just little tidbits that don't seem like much to post about but this city girl learns something new, each and every day, here in the country and now I can share a little more about what's happening in my neck of the woods.
1. This serene, peaceful sunset disperses a false truth around these parts. Things are far from calm. We are scrambling to prepare for fall, as we still go about our daily routines of work, school, and picture taking. We're missing out on family events in the process and the guilt sticks to my ribs more than I'd like. Living this dream includes making sacrifices, much more than I realized.
2. I've twice had four of five photos ready for the Sunday Scavenger Hunt photo challenge but just couldn't find that last one. And if I don't have everything ready early Sunday morning, there won't be time to get back to the computer; see 1. Which is a bummer 'cause I love this vintage coke machine, and I've been trying to figure a way to slip this into a post. Mission accomplished.
3. I'm lamenting the fact that I did not eat enough of these this summer. Last year, it was a nightly feast before bedtime. This year, ehm, not so much and I have no idea why. Maybe I could blame it on number 1. But I made pies! As I speak and you read, they're hibernating in the deep freeze until the temps outside match the temps inside of the freezer. Then they're coming home to momma!
4. Speaking of momma, my momma came to visit. Before I delve into this fact further, let me just say that no one, I mean no one around here says momma. But I read it all the ding dang time in blogland and I just love the sound of it, and just because I'm from the near north doesn't mean I can't say it, so what the heck, I am gonna. Momma! ( I can guarantee you she's rolling her eyes right 'bout now.)
So my momma, she came for a visit and brought a new friend for me to play with. I guess she figured that other girl and I weren't ever gonna get along. But then she left, my momma that is, and she took my new friend back home with her, said she wanted to sort her out on a couple issues before she moves in to the old farmhouse permanently. I miss this new friend, we got along together, rather swimmingly in fact, but it's just as well because I'd likely just ignore her for the next little while. See number 1.
5. I love it when I go outside and discover one of my girls working hard for a living and for me. I do a little dance and take about a hundred photos, then I blow up the image in Photoshop so I can look at her in fine detail. And then I wonder if she really is one of mine, she seems sort of fuzzy. And then I remember how overwhelming beekeeping is and I shut down my computer. This is just as well, 'cause I got lots of chores outside that need tending. See number 1.
So there's your sweet and lowdown on what's happening at the old farmhouse.
I recently watched the movie Country Strong. Have you seen it? I can't say it's on my favourite list, it was only a little more than okay, but it did have one or two things going for it.
The movie is set among the back drop of a country singer's music tour and there were plenty of shots of the tour bus and it's entourage as they traveled rural roads chocked full of gratuitous images of farms and barns. And tell me, who doesn't love a good barn around here? And there were some catchy songs too, but I knew within the first five minutes I'd be watching this movie til the end when I saw this:
No, not the guy, although come to think of it that might have been a plus too but to maintain my integrity round these parts I'll have to plead the fifth on that one. Wait, can I do that if I'm Canadian? So, I suppose your wondering, if it's not the guy then, just what am I talking about? I'm talking about the truck. The old, beat up pick up truck. Now that, my friends, is a beauty. For the last year or so, I've oohed and aahed every time a pick up with a certain patina passes me by.
And while I gaze longingly at beautifully and lovingly restored vintage models, what this girl would really like is a beat up old pick up. No fancy convertible, no sleek and classy sedan, and definitely not another SUV. No-sirree-Bob's-your-uncle. A hard working beauty, with all the scars to prove it, is what I'm after.
One that will take me and my dog to the feed store, ferry our rare breed chickens back and forth to poultry shows and take us to the library for more books and maybe once in a while check out the DVD of Country Strong so we can admire that pretty blue Ford all over again.
And maybe, just maybe, head to the hills of Tennessee.
~So do tell friends, what's your dream on wheels?~
This year, after two years of failing rather miserably at starting morning glory plants from seed, I picked up three plants at a local nursery. Once I got them home, I quickly realized I don't have a trellis or fence for them to climb. So I placed them in one of the herb beds and watered them fastidiously until I could find a home for them. They're still there.
edited with Kim Klassen's 'dream' texture
Before I knew it, we had rain, and I sort of became a little lax when it came to my watering regime. Note to self: baskets and pots must be checked routinely, no matter how much it rained...last week. So imagine my surprise, more like delight actually when I headed out for a morning run on the weekend and I saw this. I took two strides and did an about face, running straight inside for the camera. I do believe they're just as pretty folded up as they are wide open.
edited with Kim Klassen's 'if only' texture
As a teenager sleeping over at my grandparent's house, my grandmother would be dismayed that I could sleep in long enough to miss the entire show put on by her morning glories. I would wake in time to see lots of green but not much in the way of flowers. It's been 18 years since I've heard her voice but I can hear it just as clearly as if it's only been a day and the sight of a morning glory reminds me of that smile and sparkle in her eyes reserved just for me.