~Bees In March~

We took advantage of a lovely day, March 10, to feed sugar cakes infused with essential oils to our bees. 

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The hives were weighed going into the winter.  In order to survive a Minnesota winter, the bees need at least 60 to 100 pounds of honey reserve.  It’s been a long, cold winter and when the weather warmed a bit, they were fed.  Who knows when spring will be here!

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Pollen patties were added later in the week, which was done to boost the queens, in order to get them to start laying.  If the queens don’t start laying soon enough, the bees within the hive become old and will just die off.  The average life span for a worker bee in the winter is six months.

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Fred and Mario have been busy this winter building boxes, branding and wax dipping them.  The waxing is something new this year that Fred wanted to try.   He built 50 new brood boxes and re-conditioned another 50 that were purchased last year.  Then he built 26 Nuk boxes out of  older  reject boxes and also crafted frames for holding queen cells.  He loves working out in the shop during his “off” season, winter. 

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Each box takes four minutes to coat with a mixture of paraffin, beeswax and mineral spirits.  The wax temperature is held at 300 degrees.  This will hopefully take the place of paint!  Like anything else in farming, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!!

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The day before (the above photos) we decided that pork sausage was greatly desired!! 

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Everyone was  thrilled with how quickly the processing part went.  It took an hour to cut the hog up.  My wrapping job took a lot longer.   I like to take my time and make the packages cute!  Then yesterday we cut and wrapped another hog for Clayton.   In a few days the bacon and hams will be smoked and packed.  If anyone would like to buy some excellent quality Natural Niman Ranch Pork, just let us know. 

Sometimes we play!  While my niece was here, we had a grilled pizza night.  Dreaming of summer helps make long winters pass!

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Last but not least, a little “honey” for your day!  Frenchy and Peter’s little Josie June!  Life is good by golly.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

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Posted in BEE NEWS AND UPDATES, EVERY DAY FARM LIFE | Tagged | 8 Comments

~Our Son, Clayton, Shears 72 Ewes~

Nice method of shearing.  There's a pattern to this shearing every time.

Nice method of shearing. There’s a pattern to this shearing every time.

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Yesterday was sheep shearing day.  I haven’t seen Clayty shear any sheep since this time last year and I have to say I was pretty impressed!! He’s gotten really fast.   He worked his tail end off because our sheep are large and their wool is super thick.  Caleb caught sheep for him while Mario and Fred packed wool.

Clayton shearing while Mario wait for the wool!

Clayton shearing while Mario waits for the wool!

It had started to snow a bit and we were glad the sheep had been locked in the barn early, before their wool was made wet.  Clayty first went to one of our neighbors to shear and set us up for a ten a.m. spot.  He has been so busy with no days off except for Sundays as far as I know.  April 1 will bring a load of horses in for Clayton to start training.  To be young again……………

Close up of the action.

Close up of the action.

 

Nice clean job of shearing.

Nice clean job of shearing.

 

A beautiful birthday suit for this bred ewe, due to start lambing around April 6!

A beautiful birthday suit for this bred ewe, due to start lambing around April 6!

 

Mario is in charge of packing the wool.  He does a great job!

Mario is in charge of packing the wool. He does a great job!

 

Clayton's job was catching for Clayton.  Fred hand packed the darker type wool.  That kind of wool brings less money.

Caleb’s job was catching for Clayton. Fred hand packed the darker type wool. That kind of wool brings less money.

 

This cat sat watching with her tongue out the entire time.

This cat sat watching with her tongue out the entire time.

When it was all said and done, we had a nice meal and Fred welded some extra part on the packer machine to improve the way it works.  I sent Clayton home with two apple pies.  Hey, what comes around goes around after all!

 

Posted in LIVESTOCK | Tagged | 2 Comments

~It’s A Girl!!!!~

Even the coldest of weather can’t stop the natural cycles of birth!

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The kids found this fresh born heifer in the barn, wet and shivering.  She was carried into the basement to be warmed up.  After a good morning in the house and some nice warm colostrum she was ready to be returned to her new home.  Her name has to start with an A due to her blood lines and there is still a good debate as to which name it will be.  It’s a toss-up between Amore and Ariat.  She is so pretty and will be a nice addition to the farm.

It is so cold here, hard to believe anything can survive such temperatures.  She is snug inside of a home-made bale hut in the barn and is thriving so far.  As always new life is always welcome and enjoyed over and over again through the years on our farm! 

 

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She is a mix of Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey and Holstein!   I bet she’ll be an amazing milk cow some day!!

Posted in EVERY DAY FARM LIFE | 3 Comments

~ Winter…Down on the Farm!~

 

Silvana and Marisa giving some gentle therapy to the calf.

Silvana and Marisa giving some gentle therapy to the calf.

Poor little December.  She came to us with two front hooves that were bent.  Fred and the girls put splints on her when she came in on a bitter cold day in early January.  She was four days old, which is why her name is December.   The splints were worn for a period of three weeks. 

A crippled heifer calf.

A crippled heifer calf.

 Now the little calf wears a pair of horse wraps.  The girls tighten them every night.  She is perfectly healthy other than the feet and yes she does walk.

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I can’t help thinking how good it is for the kids to have to tend to the weak animals.  Honestly, this kind of work can only be a labor of love.  Patience and kindness are a necessity on the farm.  She will most likely be a butcher calf eventually and the kids all know this.

Mario before milking.

Mario before milking.  He turned 10 years old recently!!

Niman Ranch pork for sale locals !!

Niman Ranch pork for sale locals !! Best Pork ever…..taste and see!

Bella loves her goats and is very gentle with animals.

Bella loves her goats and is very gentle with animals.

Content cat in a cozy barn.  A good life for cats too!

Content cat in a cozy barn. A good life for cats too!

Bella with our three goats.  There were two more that have been sold.

Bella with our three goats. There were two more that have been sold.

Fred built this new meat smoker for our bacon, hams, summer sausage and hotdogs.  He makes something out of junk!

Fred built this new meat smoker for our bacon, hams, summer sausage and hotdogs in two days.  We final finally figured out how to make these goodies.  YUM    He makes something out of junk!

 

Well cared for hogs. For livestock they have a good life too on the farm.

Well cared for hogs. For livestock, they have a good life too on the farm.

 

This hog is now bacon, hotdogs and summer sausage.  I didn't get any plain sausage......some chops and roasts.....We took advantage of a few warmer days.

This hog is now bacon, hotdogs and summer sausage. I didn’t get any plain sausage……some chops and roasts…..We took advantage of a few warmer days.

 

Summer sausage in the oven before Fred built the smoker.

Summer sausage in the oven before Fred built the smoker.

Life is good, down on the farmMay your lives be blessed……………

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~Merry Christmas~

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Okay it’s a bit late but Christmas seems to be ongoing here.  We actually have our beautiful REAL Christmas tree up still, today……..January 19!  I love that tree and especially at night when we turn on the lights to add beauty to the family rosary.  Also lit every night, are the porch lights which light up the yard and house so nicely.  I’m having a hard time giving it all up this year!  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if it was Christmas each and every day?  Christmas brings out the best in everyone!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that the joy carries on throughout this new year.

Full beautiful Mass at St. Leo's 4:00 P.M. mass.  Caleb was happy to serve!

Full beautiful Mass at St. Leo’s 4:00 P.M. mass. Caleb was happy to serve!

Fred and Sandra

Fred and Sandra

Caleb, Silvana, Marisa Magdalene, Clayton, Mario and Isabella Angel on Christmas Eve after mass.

Caleb, Silvana, Marisa Magdalene, Clayton, Mario and Isabella Angel on Christmas Eve after mass.

Francesca, Josie, Kallie Jo, Peter and Blasé Ryland at the manger scene in St. Leo.

Francesca, Josie, Kallie Jo, Peter and Blasé Ryland at the manger scene in St. Leo.

Everyone was home this Christmas except for Jessi, Luke and the children.  We missed them very much but are also happy for them now living in beautiful western South Dakota!  The photo below is from their Christmas card taken out west. 

Jessica, Shawn, Luke, Anya, Maura and Cael Dougherty.  A South Dakota Christmas!

Jessica, Shawn, Luke, Anya, Maura and Cael Dougherty. A South Dakota Christmas!

I’ve been pretty slack keeping up with the blog.  I always thought  I’d  have more time for things once the children got older but that’s not the case with mothering!  It’s great to be alive and healthy.  Hope everyone has a good New Year.  LIFE IS GOOD BY GOLLY.

Posted in EVERY DAY FARM LIFE | 5 Comments

~Thanksgiving and Food~

 

Happy Thanksgiving....blast from the past.  Before I married Fred !

Happy Thanksgiving….blast from the past…. just before I married Fred !

 

Thanksgiving Day Photo, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Photo with 8 of our 9 kids …2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  We give thanks for our Faith, family, friends and farm life.  Throw in good health, a warm roof over our heads, fair livestock prices, great honey sales  and wholesome home- grown food and we count ourselves blessed.  Thanks be to God we don’t have to buy too terribly much from town but it takes work to cook from scratch.  Cold weather makes everyone who works outside extra hungry!

The kitchen has been busy and here are some of the foods we have been preparing.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread!  108 buns and 6 loaves.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread! 180 buns and 6 loaves.

Fresh bacon that was made recently.  Fred did a great job with the flavor!

Fresh bacon that was made recently. Fred did a great job with the flavor!

 

Fresh ground venison.

Fresh ground venison.

 

Creamy Venison soup.

Creamy Venison soup.

Potato, yams, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.....bake. This is a favorite!

Potato, yams, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic…..bake. This is a favorite!

 

Potato and Yam bake before it is cooked!

Potato and Yam bake before it is cooked!

Cranberry Scones make for a nice 3:00 snack for my hungry crew!

Cranberry Scones make for a nice 3:00 snack for my hungry crew!

 

Honey, Velveeta Cheese and Chicken!

Honey, Velveeta Cheese and Chicken!

 

This Quiche was delicious.  Eggs, onions, milk, cheese etc.  Wow!

This Quiche was delicious. Eggs, onions, milk, cheese etc. Wow!

 

These eggplants were fried and frozen to be enjoyed all winter.

These eggplants were fried and frozen to be enjoyed all winter.

 

The making of a good eggplant parmesan.

The making of a good eggplant parmesan.  Making layers here.

 

 

Homemade bread with my own mozzarella grilled to perfection. YUM

Homemade bread with my own mozzarella grilled to perfection. YUM

 

Focaccia...white pizza grilled with our own cheese! Oh Boy........

Focaccia…white pizza grilled with our own cheese! Oh Boy……..

Grilling Pizza during cold weather.  Check out the Temperature!
Grilling Pizza during cold weather. Check out the Temperature!

Caleb had a pretty good trapping year.  Chief and Rowdy looking so cute!

Caleb had a pretty good trapping year. Chief and Rowdy looking so cute!

 

Better late than never…..  Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a wonderful life!!

 

Posted in FARM KITCHEN | Tagged | 5 Comments

~A Trip To The Country~

Isabella, age 12, gave me a copy of this short story today.  She had cut it out of the Birthright newsletter.  I thought it was worth sharing.  This describes the farm life well!  A land of milk and honey but no money!

Isabella Angel Callens.

Isabella Angel Callens.

What It Means To Be “Poor”…

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah” said the son. “So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

With this the boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective. Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the bounty we have, instead of worrying about wanting more.

Posted in EVERY DAY FARM LIFE | 2 Comments