Homestead Happenings

Continuing on from the previous post, more weird scenes. Plus, lots more happy snaps, an update on Scrappy with video clip, danger averted, and mushrooms galore.

Starting with the weird and disgusting, so those trying to eat and read, or others simply of an easily-queasy disposition, may skip right down to the happy snaps post haste.

Thanks to the lovely rains last week, which may or may not have destroyed our blackberries (still documenting), we’ve been finding plenty of mushrooms. Some we know very well, like chanterelles, and hunt for them routinely. Most others we collect, and I try to identify, usually without success.

Occasionally that proves to be a disgusting lesson. Boletes in particular bring unwelcome inhabitants and you may just wake up to this sight as you’re making your morning coffee.

If that concerns you, best to leave them in the wild and admire from a safe distance!

Not edible, but cute!

Staying in the weird-disgusting realm, I mentioned last we lost an established bee colony, which was a big disappointment. I wanted to figure out what went wrong with them, and thankfully Hubby noticed the empty hive almost immediately, thanks to the observation window, that so many beekeepers complain about.

I was able to bring all the comb in for inspection. It was highly unusual, because the colony left behind quite a bit of resources, in this case pollen. That means something must’ve been very wrong. Luckily we did capture a swarm off this hive the last month, so it wasn’t a total loss. The culprit behind their total departure from the hive, the dreaded wax moth.

Hubby noticed immediately the spotty brood pattern, sure sign of a failing queen. Had he not noticed and had I not taken action, very quickly all the colony’s painstaking acquisition of pollen and long, hard work of drawing out the wax comb, all would’ve been lost within a fortnight. Wax moth damage in a hive is truly disgusting, the clean-up of which is probably the dirtiest job a beekeeper faces.

Saving the comb, therefor the pollen, therefor the hive body, was the silver lining to this colony collapse. And, it was a good scientific observation for me. What happens is the wax moth eggs as they develop, having been laid in the empty cells where the bees then place their pollen, grow into larvae that pushes out the pollen. From that point they squiggle around a lot. Some of them are able to make it as far as the next room in search of a place to cocoon. Pretty amazing!

Bee pollen is actually pretty tasty, is said to be healthy, and makes a great flavoring for kombucha. I’m sure they eat the larvae in some cultures, just like with silk moths, but don’t worry, I’m not that weird, yet.

*******The rest of this post is safe for the easily-queasy!********

But, there is still danger afoot! And Bubba lets us know about it. A water moccasin on the loose and ready to terrorize the troop, if not for Bubba’s keen scouting.

Bubba sounds the alarm, such a good boy!

In other homestead news, Scrappy, whose Mama rejected him at birth, is doing just fine raised on the bottle. Hubby even set up a portable milk station for him, which he adjusted to almost immediately.

In garden news we’ve been harvesting onions and we’re quite pleased with the prolific results for the 2nd year in a row. We’re about 2/3 to completion. Where the onions and garlic have come out, we’ll be planting okra, sweet potatoes, and melons.

The tomatoes and green beans are coming in great, and a few forgotten flowers too.

Never forgotten, Datura, one of my very favorites. If only I could capture that most sublime scent when the blossom first opens!

In more critter news, Shadow is still adjusting well to country life, with occasional hiccups. Like, he still likes to chase the goats and the lambs if they stray too far from the herd.

Is he gone yet?!

Only the pigs remain unconcerned with his massive curiosity.

And he seems to find the kittens quite exasperating!

And that’s kinda weird for us too, because we’re not cat people, this is the first time having kittens around at all, yet they seem to be taking over!

It’s an exhausting life for a townie-dog, I’m sure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Do you have any critter or garden news to share?

Author: KenshoHomestead

Creatively working toward self-sufficiency on the land.

22 thoughts on “Homestead Happenings”

  1. see what i mean!! you have excellent word magic! well said….social media is a bizarre a controlled and regulated circus act that holds peoples attention indefinitely on trivial nonsense. creates a whole society of narcissists each one waving their hands saying ”look at me…look at me!! look what i had for breakfast!”…truly a bizarre!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Speaking of cats. A few months back I noticed a huge cat patrolling my property on a regular basis. He (I think he was a male because he was so huge) He never came near the house (at least not during the day) & if he saw me, he’d turn around & go the other way. What I did notice was a great decrease in the number of vole hills which were starting to multiply in my yard. (creating havoc with my lawn mower). Hope he hangs around forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have definitely noticed a decline in moles, voles and mice, just with the one small cat. Also wild birds nesting on the porch and under the car port, which is kind of a mixed blessing.


  3. To H’s question. While living in Illinois I started researching dandelions when I found out that I was destroying a potential food source to make my lawn “pretty”. There are no poisonous dandelions & they’ve been used as a food source for thousands of years. They say there are a few look alikes but even they’re not toxic. I’m in Texas now & I haven’t seen any on my property. I do remember my God-Father saying he made wine from them & that was over 70 years ago & he lived into his 90’s so it certainly didn’t hurt him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing the lovely (and not so lovely) updates! While the damage to the hive is saddening, it is encouraging to hear what you have learned. Super valuable insights and continues to leave me on the fence of keeping my own bees or just trading for honey. That ‘mobile milk station’ is pretty much ingenious! The garlic harvest is looking very promising!

    Funny you mention the kittens… we too have learned the black cat who showed up the week of Halloween last year is indeed of the feminine variety, as she gifted us 5 kittens about four weeks ago in our shop.

    But for the back story…

    Us not being cat people either, and much preferring the company of dogs, Our shop was the home to a rather assertive red squirrel for many years. The squirrel was elusive and mean, more than once trying to assault uncle Doug as he worked in his wood shop. He even chewed the wiring harness on Doug’s skill saw in a brazen attempt to electrocute the aft uncle.

    After repeated encounters and failed attempts to get the squirrel with non-lethal means, Uncle Doug (who is just a dog with a ‘u’ in it) raised a kitten in the bathroom of his cabin for a couple months in hopes the kitten would eventually evict the unwelcome tenant. But regrettably, after introducing the kitten to its new home in the shop, the kitten was not yet large enough to defend itself from the attack of a red squirrel. It was a rather grisly scene, and the timing of it all left me wondering how did the squirrel know such a strategy to inflict maximum emotional disturbance to the humans?

    Uncle Doug took this personally and resounded to eating a small amount of some of those mushrooms you referenced, (the magical kind), allowing the pupil in his one good eye to fully dilate as he sat in the fading twilight, still as a rotting log, when finally the squirrel ventured down from its post in search of food and water.

    I was in the greenhouse, setting out trays and filling them with seed starting mix, when the sound of single shot 4-10 boomed loudly over my head and up the hill. The next morning I learned that our shop was now free of vermin and a small perimeter had been reestablished setting out again the grand compromise we must balance between nature and our place in it.

    So, a bit surprised I was, when as I was moving the snow tires up into the loft storage in the shop signaling the change of the season, the sudden sound of a cat quickly scurrying was encouraging as we had removed the squirrel and now found a cat who would hopefully deter any more unwelcome guests from moving in.

    Later, I ventured up to see where this cat had been bedding down, fearing a mess I suppose. In the small tow behind bicycle trailer that was my ‘cradle’ of personal belongings as I toured baja mexico over twenty years ago, there was a pile of black fluff that was wriggling around a bit.

    It never ceases to amaze me how one ‘thing’, such as a bicycle trailer long since relegated to the storage and clutter of my material excesses, can reemerge as a cradle, a literal basket of reeds, that appears before us, floating into our lives out of nowhere, for that which is divinely birthed into our life.

    Now, what to do… and how to do it…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a beautiful anecdote Sean, thank you for sharing it, you have quite the gift of story!

      Squirrels are definitely one of my favorite critters—tree rats to some, and sometimes quite the nuisance, but so crafty and entertaining—how can we not appreciate that?!

      And the cats will take over if we let them! Easy to see how someone goes from 3 cute kittens to 30 screeching for food until every other critter, wild or domesticated, is insane from their racket.


  5. You’re harvesting onions??? We haven’t even transplanted all of ours out, yet! I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around living in a climate where you’re already harvesting things in May! 😄😄

    I transplanted out some gourds and squash today. I’m taking a chance, since our last frost date is June 2. The long range forecasts have been encouraging, but we’ve been caught by unexpected frosts before, with much damage done. This time, at least, we are in a position to cover things if we start getting frost warnings.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Equally so for me imagining frost in May, or even June, wow! Got my fingers crossed for y’all. Is nice to have the option to cover, but would be nicer if you didn’t have to go to the trouble. We just got our first squash blooms and I planted pumpkin this year, a variety for the seeds which are so tasty.

      I bet you can do cool-weather crops there all summer—like lettuce and broccoli and cauliflower—that would be a big plus. Or no, does it get too hot?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It actually does get too hot for those in the summer! It’s the short growing season that is most limiting. Unless we start indoors, we typically can’t grow anything that needs more than 90 days from sowing to harvest.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Thanks! Not that was have much choice, with the price of food, these days! My mother always managed to have a huge garden here that did very well. She was able to grow things that I’ve only ever seen in places as mild as zone 5, somehow, so I know it can be done!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Absolutely! I remember a while back you were talking about the depleted soil in those decades of no inputs. I can totally relate to that here. It’s taken us years to rebuild the soil, but now that it’s so improved, we’re growing things that didn’t work at all before.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. You have a farm full of love. I love mushrooms but, chicken of the forest and the one that looks like a bicycle seat are the only ones I can determine in the wild. The local market names them for me. HA!

    Love your dogs and your kittens. Why did the momma goat reject her young Billy?

    I am growing Egyptian walking onions and trying my hand at tomatoes. Two days ago, I found the wild version of the large dandelion, that I usually by from my market. Are all varieties of dandelion edible? Is there a poison version?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks H! Don’t know about the momma. She had twins, boy and girl, and I wondered if maybe she thought she could only manage one, because she’s getting up there in age? But that’s really just a wild guess, because she looks fine and the girl is quite big. I think all dandelions are safe, we also get more of the tall ones here, called ‘false dandelions’.

      I just got Egyptian walking onions to take, hopefully they will survive the summer, tried before with no luck. Hope your tomatoes are good, got to have tomatoes!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I got mine from the heirloom/organic company up in Virginia. I planted my batch back in 2014. The box I started with is long gone but, the mound of onions comes back every year, with little tending.

        I’m Vic…remember?

        Liked by 2 people

          1. good point. online i don’t use people’s real names unless advised by them to do so…the internet is a giant bulletin board for all to see. it sits in public square and what might people do with that info that is provided so readily if given a chance?…good things or bad? why make it easy for them?….I know your name kensho…and admire you , your word magic, and your homestead!

            years ago i had family on facebook that wouldn’t talk to anyone outside of it. I tried an account for a month or so. it was way to invasive! privacy destroyer. and what people posted on it was mind numbing in what they give away of their private lives….most prefer not to have a private life….my few family members wanted me to start posting ”details…pictures….explanations…” ah! no! no way. they unfriended me…that was a new term that i had never heard before. Before they did that I told them to pick up the phone and call me if they want to know things about me….never heard from them. They don’t use the phone except for thumb exercise and for storing their brains in. have to have a box to put it in don’t you know. don’t want it spilling on the ground. I closed the account and never looked back. don’t miss it either.

            they were cousins, aunts, uncles. lost touch because I won’t put my life on a bulletin board! that being said. it is easy to join the crowd…harder to go it alone…that is what homesteading is all about…going it alone! your homestead is doing just fine despite the trials and the chemical bombs dropped on us all from the sky. you still flourish.

            i hope said slithery that had your dear dog threatening it is on his way to snake heaven! in pieces!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well said Highlander, thanks for sharing! It is the illusion of privacy, and it continues with full approval and even cheating from the crowd. The social media is so toxic for the most part. Sure there are great learning channels and we can try to focus our attention there, but it’s like being on a touristy beach being constantly bombarded by blanket sellers. The savvy folk will continue to vacate those areas because ultimately no one of right mind wants to live in a cheap bazaar. Real names, pseudonyms, aliases, all phantoms of the opera.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: