The Bee Hive

Sometimes it's honey; sometimes it's sting...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The chickens have finished the larger area weeding, fertilizing and scratching up in the garden, so today I moved them to their smaller individual chicken tractors between the rows. They are working between the mesclun and rainbow kale rows today... and will be for awhile, as they get moved down the row to the end. Then they'll start on another row. Truthfully, I have WAY too many weeds that are getting so much taller since the rain we had. I think I will be forced to get out there and actually chop some of them mysef, with a hoe.

The chickens love it. I saw Goldilocks get a small grasshopper earlier. Both hens are banties, so are smaller than the usual chicken. The cats, who would like to try to kill and eat them, have been very curious about them in the smaller tractors. They can get closer and the sides are wire, not boards, so they can see them better and reach in! So Coconut is having a blast helping me by keeping them chased away from the tractors. Of course, SHE would like to get the chickens too, but knows I highly disapprove of that, so is very satisfied that I have lifted my ban against chasing cats, as long as they are loitering around the chicken tractors. The one cat that you see in the photo is Nissa, who has a free pass to be anywhere she wants. She is very old, and is a sweetheart who will not hurt chickens or anything else. Coconut is not allowed to chase her, ever. Of all the cats here, she is the only one who is actually 'ours', as a voluntary choice. And poor thing, she has it rough with ill-tempered Thorn attacking her and running her off the porch/patio every time she sees her. When you take a cat to be fixed you have to come up with a name for it, and 'Thorn' fit so well for our large, contentious squatter.

I had some stale bread, so gave the chickens some as a 'tractor warming' gift this morning. Coconut really, really wanted some too, since I was giving it to someone else. So I gave her a piece, which she carried off and reluctantly ate, lest the cats get it.

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Monday, April 21, 2008


Pay no attention to 'Speak-No-Evil". He is being melodramatic. The starter is proofing and getting bubbly, and it does smell kind of strong, but it is not awful. This will be my second time to make a loaf of bread from the starter I began over the weekend. At first I was disappointed in the finished loaf, but it has grown on me. I've been calling it 'Lead Bread' and warning the grandchildren who were here this weekend, not to drop it on their feet, as it could break a toe. But they liked it a lot and ate quite a bit of it. I did, too. I think there is only the last end slice left. I am hoping this loaf is lighter, but if not, that's okay.
When I took Shabree back to Corpus Christi on Sunday afternoon, she took a carton of eggs and a bag of mesclun with her. She is very proud of the eggs her chickens lay.
We had a good heavy rain in the pre-dawn hours a few days ago. It has done wonders for the garden. Today, I did a little chopping in the garden and put in two more dismantled cardboard boxes. I noticed there was another tomato plant that had come up, late, so I weeded around it and put a tomato cage over it. I am jumping the gun in putting tomato cages over them when they are still so small, but it keeps the small plants marked and safe from being stepped on, while they grow into them.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


Because of the three long rising processes, this loaf of bread was nearly an all day project. I had used mostly whole wheat flour in the starter, so that slowed it down too. And the fact that I chose to make the starter as a purist would and not 'cheat' by putting a little dry yeast into the mixture. Also, I misread the bread recipe and added 4 tablespoons of sugar instead of the 4 teaspoons the recipe called for. It was okay, I guess, but really pretty tasteless. Blah. It was heavy, too, and didn't have a sourdough flavor. I kept thinking that I could have made my regular yeast bread recipe that I always used and be done faster and have great tasting bread... But I am going to keep with this starter for awhile, and see if it improves.

In garden news, Shabree and I will be cutting the first batch of mesclun tomorrow. It could have been cut before now, but I let it grow a little longer. The chickens are doing a great job in their chicken tractor. Shabree and I moved it again today. I'm wondering if they are doing such a great job in clearing out garden weeds because they don't like the pellets I got them last time for feed. If they don't start eating them better by the time this (not so) small bag is done, I guess I'll go back to the other kind. After they clear this new patch where their tractor is, I will be moving them to smaller chicken tractors (one for each hen) and putting them between rows and in tighter spaces.

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Friday, April 18, 2008


I was reading a discussion on a website this morning about sourdough starters and that seemed like a good idea to make. So here it is on day one. I just googled to find how to do it, but then added a tablespoon of plain yogurt to it, when someone mentioned that they heard that was something you could do, too. I hope it turns out well.

The April Buy Nothing Challange has kind of fallen by the wayside for me. I really don't buy much anyway. Or at least I'm not at the moment. It did help me forgo that impulse buy off of the internet, that I have since realized I don't want, anyway. Mostly, I just buy simple groceries, and eat out with friends a couple of times a week. With the kids all grown and gone, I don't have many child-related purchases at all. If I have to go to the store when any of them are with me, I usually get them something, but that hasn't happened in quite a while. But the challange has made me think about finding a solution near at hand before being quick about going to the store to get something that I need.

Once again, I am attempting to declutter around here. I did completely dig out the counter between the stove and the sink, and the space acquired was amazing. But that was the easier side. Now I need to do the same on the other side of the kitchen - the bar and counter on the other side of the sink. I have been picking away at it a little bit, but I need to just be bold and drag it all off at once. *shudder*

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Monday, April 07, 2008


I really think I did pretty well this week, although this week wasn't TOO much different than most.

Thursday, I succumbed to temptation and bought an individual bag of chips and a Diet Coke at the corner store. I was hungry and this seemed quick and easy. Really, I shouldn't have, but it could have been worse. I also bought a local newspaper, but that is an allowed purchase, for me, as I can see what is going on around the area and I can always dream of seeing ads touting a farmer's market or locally grown veggies for sale or something like that. Dream on.

Friday, I went out to eat with two friends. I do this pretty often, but not as often as I used to. It was my turn to pay, so I bought the meals, but I really don't feel like I violated the challange. The money was paid to a local place, and I think it is a good thing to get together with friends and talk for an hour over lunch regularly.

Then today I bought another newpaper. I haven't read it yet, but hope springs eternal. It did have an article on an artist on the front, and the front of the second section had an article about a high school girl who is making and selling really nice jewelry - her own business. Of course, I am always late getting the twice a week county newspaper because I never think about it unless I am out somewhere and see them for sale. By then they are usually 3-4 days old.

Anyway, that is all I have to confess this week, I think.

It would be my dream for my town, or our nearby area to have three things:

1. A Farmers Market - I would love to have a place to buy (hopefully) organic or pesticide-free, chemical-free produce.

2. An Art...what?... gallery, studio, workshop, Something like that HERE, but not like workshops where they teach you to paint the stereotypical field of bluebonnets or scenes of Padre Island. Snooooze.... And something welcoming for just common people to do together, whatever the heck they want to do - even paint by numbers if that's what they felt like doing. The emphasis being on enjoyment, not on measuring up to any fine art standard. Just getting together and having fun painting or creating, no matter if anyone else likes it or not.

3. Something interesting taking place in the cemetery. I love old, non-cookie-cutter, non-manicured-to-the-nth-degree cemeteries. We don't have a really old, old cemetery with famous people buried here, like some in other places, that have guided tours in period costume with small vignettes and mini-reinactments in certain places, but still, wouldn't it be great to have some interesting activity out there? If not historical tours, maybe a Spoon River Anthology type of event, or maybe individual garden vegetable sales and art create-alongs under the huge oak out front for starters. That would make me three times happy all at once. ;)

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time, lately, puttering around in the veggie garden and the herb garden, sitting outside on the swing watching the garden and the animals, and playing a new online fashion design game. Yeah, fashion. Me. Unbelievable. I have become rich in FashionBuckz selling all my designs to what is probably the 10-14 year old girl crowd. ;)

I had a good friend visit twice this past weekend. La'Nelle and her family moved away from here several years back, but she had business in Corpus Christi, and was passing through. It was great to see her again.

We discussed so many things. One of them was the bee 'shortage'. I had seen a stray bee or two lately on the herbs, but today I saw what I guess were carpenter bees on one of the sweet myrtle bushes. And I did see a few more honey bees too. Hopefully there will be more when the herbs get bigger and are flowering. They were all over the basil last fall.

I am out of my beloved Arizona Diet Green Tea with Ginseng, but I may have come up with a new alternative.
I tried this today and need to go out an get it now. It doesn't take long for sun tea to make here in our climate.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I didn't buy anything today, although I came awfully close to the same online purchase I considered yesterday. But I think I am over it now. ;) Tomorrow, I will probably have to go to town and get some groceries and chicken feed.

There is nothing to really report on today. No egg from Goldilocks. :/ The mesclun is coming up nicely in the garden. It will be ready to get the first cutting very soon. The rainbow chard is up in places. I don't know why it is so spotty, though. And I think the tomatoes are up, barely. At least some of them. They are still too small to look like tomato plants, though, so I can't be sure if that's what they are yet.

The garden looks pretty awful at the moment with cardboard covering about half of it, and the plants being too small yet to look like anything much. The nut grass has come back up in full force, too, where there is no cardboard. If I do go to town tomorrow, I hope I can find some boxes to continue my project in the garden.

No photos today - and I hate having a blog entry with no photo. Especially since yesterday's photo was really lame. I'll have something tomorrow. I promise. Even if I have to just photograph individual plants or something. Or maybe hen portraits?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


It's the first day of the Buy Nothing Challange, and I faced down temptation once today for an online purchase. So the only thing I 'bought' today was a mowed lawn, when the man who does it sent his son over to weedeat and mow. It really did need it, badly. We don't do it ourselves because we have never had 'luck' with mowers, They tend to break down quickly, and resist repair. So for us, this is probably cheaper. Plus the money goes to a family a few blocks away, so it goes directly to support the local economy. Oh, and I will be buying a large tub of good dirt later from the grandsons. Again, a necessity and money into the local economy. ;) Instead of going to the next town to Walmart to get the one last bag of soil ($3) I needed, I will get it for a higher price from Zach and Mat. ;)

Goldilocks laid her egg today. She had missed yesterday, and two days before that, too. I hope everything is okay with her. She was laying every day, but now it seems to be every other day. Midnight should start laying in another week or two. The dogs and cats are finally getting to where they aren't constantly in the stalk and attack mode with them. Not that I ever let them out loose. They are either in the chicken hutch or the chicken tractor at all times. And I keep close watch when they are in the tractor.

I've been thinking, rather sadly, about my great love for Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng. It's what I drink constantly, all day long. I love that stuff!!! But it comes in gallon plastic jugs. I used some in the garden as underground waterers, but many more go into the 10 a week. According to the Arizona Tea website, they have recently come out with the same thing in powdered form. I called H.E.B. and they said they didn't have it, but that if they have come out with it, they will probably be getting it eventually. I am down to my last 3 gallons. After that....? Water? Other powdered tea? I guess...but I'm not making any promises.