Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

From out of the deep, dark recesses of my archives comes this photo I took several years ago.  Small butterflies had found an old baseball next to our garage.  They took advantage of the soft resting place and stayed in this cluster for several hours.

A bright spot of sunshine on a very cold winter day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anyone at Home?

The winter months can be a restful, but trying, time as a beekeeper. On the one hand, the hive is at rest and there isn't much for me to do. But, on the other hand, I wait and worry. Is anyone in there?

The two larger boxes on the bottom of the stack are the brood boxes.  This is where the queen does her work and new bees emerge from their cells.  From the bottom up, the third box in this stack is the honey super.  It is smaller than the two bottom boxes, but when it is full of honey, it is quite heavy.  

There is a wooden lid between the honey super and the top box.  It provides a small opening for the bees to come through and eat the sugar cakes provided in the upper space.  The opening here has a sticky coating of propolis on the edge.  It looks rather dirty, but this substance is vital to the bees.  They use it to seal up openings/cracks in the hive body.  

These sugar cakes remind me of snow, but are really just measured amounts of water and sugar, patted into a pan and left to dry.  

Interesting how when I placed more sugar in the upper space bees started to emerge.  They seemed both curious about the sugar and annoyed at my presence.  

Needless to say, I left quickly as I was not suited up for any type of work.  

They're alive!!!  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Comfort

I have a tendency to whine a bit about winter. I don't mind it, but I do miss the gardens, flowers, and sunshine. Winter gives me that bit of rest that I sorely need. The kids lay low on sports and I have time to read in the evenings. And, we have time for supper....together as a family. In our busy months, that doesn't happen so often.

 I found the following recipe many years ago while in Pennsylvania roaming around the vast Amish farmlands. It comes from an Amish cookbook and I think we all know that Amish ladies are well known for their delicious and hardy fare. It is simple, nutritious, and very forgiving. I often add pasta, fresh garlic, extra basil or whatever I might have on hand. Venison or sausage can substitute for the ground beef. 

 In this picture I have it topped with a torn slice of horseradish cheddar cheese. Possibly the best cheese ever conceived.

Autumn Soup (You can call it Winter Soup, if you like.)

 1lb. ground beef
 1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup cut-up carrots
1 cup cubed/peeled potatoes
 2tsp. salt
 1Tbsp. Brown Bouquet (or Gravy Master)
 1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. basil
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes with liquid (I used crushed tomatoes.)
 *I also add one tablespoon of Better than Bouillon beef base - it adds richness

 In bottom of Dutch oven, brown meat. Drain very well and place back into pot. Add onions and stir in remaining ingredients, except for the tomatoes. Heat to boiling, reduce and cover until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes (with liquid): cover and simmer 10 minutes longer. Stir and serve.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Who Needs Snow

Snow, shmow.....who needs snow when you have ICE!  

This picture is a bit deceptive in appearance.  While it looks like the bird feeder is just a bit icy, you then must examine......

the road from ye old farmhouse to the barn.  My daughter asked why it was wet and I had to explain that it was ice.  "Slick as glass", as my Grandma Bird used to say. 

Instead of snow we received a thin coating of ice all over the farmette last night.  

It has put life on hold in Smalltownland.  

Salt trucks have slid off of roads, doctor's offices are closed, as are most businesses and schools.  

A day for rest, movies, cooking/baking, and a bit of blogging.  

Being stuck inside can be a good thing.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

The roads have been treated with brine and Smalltowland is at the ready.  

Will we get more than a dollop this time?  

That remains to be seen.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Failed Attempt

Yesterday I failed in my attempt to capture a shot of a group of Starlings swooping through the farmette. While they are a non-native, invasive species, I still enjoy seeing them sway through the air.

And, did you know that a group of Starlings is referred to as a murmuration?  

A group of ducks is known as a raft.  

A flock of Finches is called a charm. 

A bunch of Ravens is known as a horde. 

A flock of Pheasants is called a nye. 

A group of Owls is wisely known as a parliament.  

And, one I have heard of.....a group of Crows is called a murder.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pretty in Pink

Yet another photo from my archives, because the days are gray and I am dreaming of spring.  

I am also making sugar cakes for my bees.  I swear I worry about them like they are children.  

I have been looking here and here for spring planting ideas.  

This one is a tried and true source for seeds.  

If you need a bit more color in your day, check out the home of this lady.  

So, what's been on your mind lately? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Consider well...

"Consider well the proportions of things.

It is better to be a young June-bug, 

than an old bird of paradise."  

Mark Twain 

How I adore thee.....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

Photographed outside my kitchen window over a year ago, this picture shows a dusting of snow that I wish had fallen.

Alas, we received rain and trudged our way to school this morning.  

Thus, I started my day feeling a bit miffed, much like the bird on the right side of this scene.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


"Remember, happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have;  it depends on what you think."  

Dale Carnegie 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cherry Orange Delight


It brings to mind cars with tail fins, ladies who lunch, and poodle skirts.  It is the comfort food of my childhood.  It was served to sooth during hot weather, times of sickness, and even as a fancy dinner dessert.  

The following recipe is straight off of the handwritten card from my mother.  I always enjoy finding it in her fridge when I visit and since it was almost 70 degrees today, (that subject is another post entirely), I thought we needed some cool refreshment around the farmette.   

Cherry Orange Delight 

2 1/2 cups boiling water 
3 packages (4 serving size each) of cherry flavored gelatin 
2 3/4 cup cold water 
1 - 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges, drained 
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened 
2 tsp sugar 
1 tub (8 oz.) of dairy whipped topping 

Stir boiling water into gelatin until completely dissolved.  Next, stir in cold water.  Refrigerate approximately 1 1/4 hours until the consistency of egg whites.  Gently stir in the oranges and reserve a few for garnish, if desired.  Set aside. 

Beat cream cheese and sugar in separate bowl, until well blended.  Add whipped topping and then spoon into a serving bowl.  Cover this with the gelatin mixture.  

Refrigerate at least 2 hours and garnish as desired.  


Friday, January 11, 2013

If You Need a Good Laugh....Read This

Cows grazing in the side accident.

Blogging always gives the illusion of perfection, does it not?  We share what is nice and not too ugly, for those who choose to read it.

Until now.

Because, we are far from perfect here on the farmette.  Most days I struggle to come up with something semi-stimulating to write about on this blog.  But, sometimes chance throws something our way that is much too chuckle-inducing not to share.

Thursday morning, at 12:19am eastern time, our bed fell in on Secret Agent Man's side.


Before your mind starts racing, we were ASLEEP.  That is until 12:19am.  At that moment I considered that Jesus had appeared and was there in the bedroom to lead us into heaven.

As Secret Agent Man put it...."That was exhilarating!".  I wouldn't say that I shared that sentiment.  Long story short, the side-rail cracked and sent his side we have a high rise four poster bed.   It was a long way down.

No repairs were going to be made at that time and the mattress was on the floor for the rest of the night/morning.  The dogs were loving it.  We were not.

Cherish your bed,people.  It may not be as sturdy as you think.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday


you're the windshield 

and sometimes you're the bug.  

Dreaming of spring here in Smalltownland.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Do I Read

A corner lot of my Smalltownland historic town square.  

After asking for reading suggestions a while back, I received several inquiries into what do I like to read and did I happen to have suggestions.  I like to read most all genres and much of my winter evenings are spent by the wood stove with a good book.  While it is true that I did read the Twilight Series, try not to let that affect your judgement.  

So here's a little peek at my bookshelf.....

ALL books by Barbara Kingsolver 

A Discovery of Witches and the sequel, Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, (and the four other in the series), by Alan Bradley 

The House on Tradd Street Series by Karen White 

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch 

The Dirty Life by Kristin's about farming, people 

Letters of  a Woman Homesteader free on Kindle....really just a collection of letters written by a young woman who went out west.  Very good actually 

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain  

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks 

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden  

Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier  

The BeeKeeper's Bible published by  Stewart, Tabori and Chang 

Honeybee;  Lesson from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese 

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it by John Seymour 

and, really there are so many other books that are on my shelf that I have enjoyed.  Of course I love, To Kill a Mockingbird, and I confess that I have read all of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  

Not too long ago I read a quip that mentioned being sad at the end of a book, simply because it was over.  

Actually I think that is a special kind of joy reserved for people who fall in love with their books.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Colors of the Season

January can be a bit dreary. The holidays are over and the weather can be a bit undesirable. But, there is beauty to be found everywhere.

A bit of brown can be found all over the farmette. 

A dash of fading white peeking out from the fence row.  

What would January be without a bit of beige?  

A splash of red hanging on for dear life in the vines.  

And, last but not least......

a single green leaf waiting for spring.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Oh....the Resolutions

"Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and ultimately, reinforces humility.  Breaking them is part of the cycle."  

Eric Zorn  

Well, maybe I have just a few simple ones like..... take more photographs, grow a better garden, learn to can a few more vegetables, read more books, read more books, and read more books.  

I might have a few goals, but let's not get crazy.  I shall not be: 

giving up coffee
getting up early on Saturday mornings 

Some things are just too precious to do away with.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

Just a short walk from my parent's home in Florida is a park that we frequent whenever we visit.  As I tried to sneak up on this bird, he was totally miffed by my presence and did not appreciate the fact that I almost fell into the water while trying to photograph his greatness.