Busy as a bee or worthless?

Hi Everyone!

How is your week going? Life here is improving. I think we have finally moved past the snow and frost of winter and started Spring for real this time. It is raining here and looks like rain for the next few days but we need it so I will try not to complain. My son is home from his few months in Hawaii so that has definitely cheered me up. The bug bites have cleared and the shingles are slowly going away. They are truly a pain! 

I am beginning to get back some energy finally and can make it through a full day without collapsing around 2 pm.  I hope to be back to full speed soon. The fatigue has been constant for months due to high stress levels and illness. Am I the only one who beats themselves up when everything on the To Do list does not get done? In the middle of the worst of the shingles pain I noticed just how badly I talk to myself. “Worthless” kept coming up time and time again when I was not able to do something that I thought I should be able to. Dang. I wouldn’t call anyone else that when they were sick. 

So in my exhausted state I looked at my list of To Dos with a more discerning eye. What I noticed was that I really don’t have that many truly HAVE TO DOs.  Rarely do my clients have rush orders and they are very understanding when I’m sick. Generally I only HAVE to look after the animals and myself when D. or Miss L. are at school or work. I MAKE myself do the laundry and cooking (cooking is loosely defined as having some sort of at least semi-healthy food when I’m sick) to avoid guilt. 

What I discovered is that I set up self imposed deadlines on projects that cause high levels of unnecessary stress. There were actually SIX projects that I was beating myself up for that truly did not have to be done any certain time at all. What the heck? Why do I do that? So I gave myself permission to put those on the back burner for now and promised myself that I will quit calling myself Worthless. 

What does have to be done now? We have a garden to get planted and I have two portraits to finish (my clients did not give me a deadline, but I’m sure they would like them in a reasonable amount of time) and the normal life upkeep. That’s it. I have been able to get a good start on the portraits so here is a sneak peek. I’m trying not to give too much away until my clients see them.


I did have to get my new package of bees settled last week and have another one coming soon. My new bees are busily setting up their new home. My surviving hive is moving slow for this time of year. I checked on them Sunday and I’m afraid they are, for some undetermined reason, struggling like I am. The Queen is laying, but not profusely or regularly. Guess what? I’m not calling the queen worthless. She was my second best queen last year and her girls were my top honey producers for the year. They survived 6-9 degree nights this winter when the other hives didn’t. To the best of my ability I’m going to try and figure out what is wrong and help them if I can. I would love to see her thriving again.  Here is a video of my bees. The new colony is in the back, busy, busy , busy. My survivor hive is in the front, functional but not where they should be right now. 


Have a great week and for heavens sake, talk kindly to yourself.

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Itchy

Hi Everyone,

It all started last week when I had a head on collision with a honeybee. She panicked and stung my forehead. 

A few days later we took on three tons of mulch spreading in the garden and yard. Evidently I disturbed a few ticks who decided to make a meal out of me. 

Where I found the poison oak I have no idea, but it found me. I’m not really allergic to it but this time it seems to have found its way into my bloodstream and is popping out in little uber itchy spots all over my body. 

To add insult to injury I began to have mystery pain across my right side that took me to the doctor who also decided it was a mystery that would require blood tests this week. During the weekend, before the scheduled tests, the mystery pain began to turn into itchy patches and revealed itself as shingles. 

When I say that it has been a VERY ITCHY week… It’s an understatement. 

So please excuse my brief post today. I can barely focus and of course, my new bees are ready to be picked up. I will be fully suited up for their transfer into their new hives (bees can’t wait for the beekeeper’s recovery). One more itchy spot might be one too many this week!

Hoping you have a no itch week! 

It’s a little bland

Hi Everyone!

A day late and a dollar short over here, but that’s life sometimes. The current state of affairs has me bundled up on the sofa sipping tiny quantities of coffee and nibbling on a bland rice cake. Since I am very rarely sick and I am now in my second round of sickliness this winter, I am assuming that my body still hasn’t completely recovered from the stress of 2017.  My one and only real goal is to get this post done today. Anything else will be gravy. Thank goodness it is D.’s day off because I’m not sure I could drag myself out to look after the animals today.

Our week has been somewhat bland this week too and I don’t have much to share but it’s way too easy to fall out of a habit and next thing you know I will only be writing here once a month. Just think about how much crazy you will miss out on if I did that! 

D. and I had dinner with friends Sunday evening that made for an enjoyable start to the week. Sharon, glad you and Alan could meet us. We had a great time!

Monday, snow, again. Ours was minimal to what much of the country is dealing with but it was enough to call school off and Miss L. to lose one of her Spring break days. 


Yesterday I went with my Mom to her post op checkup and was already feeling yucky. By the time I got home I knew that I would not be going to the monthly beekeepers meeting and crawled into bed. It was all downhill from there. Right now I have the energy level of a wet dishrag. My two mutts get very concerned when I am not up and going at my usual speed. This is Kato keeping watch over me last night until he couldn’t hold his eyes open any longer.  This morning they kept taking turns checking on me when I wasn’t out of bed at my usual early hour and would snuggle up closer than normal to me while I was trying to catch up on some sleep. Dogs are just the best!


My apologies for not having better to offer this week. I do hope to work on some drawings today if I can stay upright long enough.  Today’s post is like doing anything that is important to you that you want to improve at. Some days you have to show up, put in the time even though you know it’s not so good and persevere until things get better.  Sort of like the sock I have been knitting. I wanted to learn a new heel type. I pulled out that heel four times until I got it right. Not fun. Not fun at all but it got done. 

I hope you have a healthy week and bless you if you read this to the end! I hope for much better next week!

Beans, barns, bees and boredom

Hi Everyone!

How has your July been? Do you feel summer winding down? It has been hot and miserable here for the past couple of weeks. Midday is spent inside. 

This week we decided to enjoy a good dose of boredom around here. Last week was an awful mess of traveling to appointments that resulted in nothing more than frustration, disappointment and stress. Now it’s a waiting game for the attorney and government entities to accomplish something so we can move forward. Boredom has been a good tonic.

Our garden is producing high levels of green beans this year and the tomatoes are putting forth a good effort. Miss L got to try her hand at picking beans. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it about as much as I did at her age. She also got to see the canning process while Danny canned the first 14 quarts of beans. She was keeping track of the pops the jar lids made as they sealed. We are also consuming green beans frequently at meals.  Last night’s dinner was green beans, potatoes, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes and biscuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

I have been checking on my bees more and feeding them now that most of the blooms are gone. My goal is to get at least two hives through the winter this year. It’s sad to admit that, but with colony losses of 40-50% on average each year now in most places in the United States, you have to brace yourself and hope for the best. I have one hive I’m already concerned over and keeping a close eye on. 

Our keets are having issues. We have lost three of the 16 and have 2 more that aren’t doing well. After some research we think there is a possible vitamin deficiency so Miss L and I made an emergency grocery run for wheat germ and vitamin E this morning. Hopefully that will help. 

It seems like a combination of heat and boredom are making our hens cranky. They can’t free range anymore due to the Thing In The Thicket that has snatched a couple of their coop mates. They seem to be protesting with a decrease in egg prodution. 

I am almost done with the barn drawing commission. I hope to have the finished picture on here next week.  Sooooo close but I can’t show it to you before I show it to my clients.  The boredom and heat have allowed me the time to put in several concentrated hours on it. 

We have enjoyed walks, time with the dogs, cat and some crafty time this week.  Danny has been able to work with Bob several evenings. Books have been read, movies watched, etc.  It has been GOOD!  Next week could get crazy again and August will bring school shopping, soccer and school faster than I’m ready for. I’m going to enjoy one more weekend of “boredom”. 

Hope you find some boredom this week! 

Bits and pieces

Hi Everyone,

Believe it or not, I am actually writing AHEAD of time this week!  That sounds good, but primarily it is because I have yet another day of appointments tomorrow when I normally write my posts.

We need a copy of Miss L’s birth certificate and social security number before we can get all her requirements for health insurance, school and soccer done.  So part of tomorrow will be doing that and the other part will be meeting with the attorney to get the final papers done for me to be the executor and finally get started on the estate.

Ok, a soap box moment…if you do not have your final affairs in order, especially if you have children, STOP right now, GO make an appointment with an attorney and GET THIS STUFF DONE!  I don’t care if you think you are never going to die,  JUST DO IT!  No one should be left behind to go through the mess that we are having to work through.  This could have turned out so much worse for Miss L.  You do not want to leave your children to “the system”.  I doubt you would want to leave your possessions and affairs to “the system” either.  GO DO IT NOW!  Ok, enough of that.

I have a good start on this commissioned barn drawing.  If only I could find a few hours in a row for about three days, I could call it finished, but my days are broken into bits and pieces until late evening so it is taking longer than I would like.  I am pleased with the way it’s turning out, but frustrated with the broken time.


On a brighter note, the disappearing Sweetie Pie (the cat) has reappeared and seems to be transitioning into a barn cat quite nicely.  We still have to get her wrangled to the vet and get her spayed before we wind up with 25 barn cats, but it was good to see her again and know she was ok.  Miss L was especially relieved and goes out to spend time with Sweetie Pie each day.


Our 16 guinea fowl keets are thriving in our bathroom.  We have had them for a week now under a heat lamp. By this weekend we should be able to turn off the heat lamp and just leave them in the bathroom without the AC blowing on them.  Danny will be especially happy to turn that heat lamp off.  It’s like a full time sauna in there.  I will have to find them a taller box soon too.  They are almost able to jump out now.  Guinea’s are known for their excitability.  Can I just empathize that “excitability” is an understatement?  They totally freak out every time you move and at every noise.  How they just don’t drop dead from a heart attack is beyond me.  Soon they will be adding their well known loud alarm calls to the freak out.  I hope we have them outside before that kicks in!


Bob, the horse, still isn’t taking to the saddle outside of the round pen.  The discussion is turning to what to do if we can’t get Bob trained into a trail horse.  He is bred to be a Western Pleasure horse and that may be what he has to go and do somewhere else.  I’m very partial to the crazy horse and don’t really want to think about not having him around.

All other critters, including the bees are doing fine. No honey this first year, but the hives seem healthy and growing.  The next three months are critical so I will be paying close attention to my bee colonies now that the honey flow is over.

That’s all the news from Green Acres (if you don’t know Green Acres then go check it out on YouTube) this week.  Hope all is well in your world.  Have an awesome week!

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

Rain and Roses

Spring is exploding all over the place and so is the To Do list here. It has been one big, busy week! We had a few days of good solid rain. Almost too much. Rivers were flooding. Luckily it stopped before things got bad. Now the grass needs mowing again. Why do we have grass?  There are better things to do with a piece of land than grow grass just to mow it down.

The bees are good so far. I am checking this weekend to see if I will need to add another box to their living space soon. 


Here is the state of my office/studio right now.  Soon to be the office/studio/guest room. I have five days to finish painting and rearranging this room. Wish me luck! 

I did finish the portraits of the grandpups and am pleased with how they turned out. It was only a few weeks ago that I was going to throw away my paint because I could not make them do what I wanted. Hopefully I have turned a corner on that.


It seems more people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic and trash in our world and we are on that journey as well as my daughter and son-in-law. She asked for some beeswax wraps so I figured out how to render some of the old beeswax and have this blob and some fabric to attempt making them. I will let you know how it goes.


And last but not least I will leave you with my roses that are starting to bloom. I LOVE SPRING!!


Next week my son graduates from college so we will be traveling and celebrating with him. I will try to get a post done, but if I don’t, you know why.

Go out and wallow in some fresh air and sunshine this week!

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

Is it better that I am writing at 4:24 am this week than at 3:15 last week? Slightly.  I actually got a full 8 hours sleep night before last and felt great yesterday. The husband is slowly regaining energy zapped out of him by the flu. Yesterday we killed it in our attempt to catch up on the farm projects. 

I am almost finished with the dog portraits and will post them soon. Here is a sneak preview of their noses.


Along with the weed eating and cleaning, mowing and barn roofing yesterday, I got my new bees and installed them in the hives. 


Spring is full on and life is insanely busy for the next few weeks so my posts will be short for awhile. Thanks for hanging in here with me.  Today is major house cleaning day and we have friends coming this afternoon to pick up a load of horse manure for their garden. Guess I should try to get a little more sleep before the dog alarms go off.

Have a great week!

February. Fun or Funk?

Hi Everyone!

How is your February going?  At the moment ours has been fairly mild weatherwise.  Usually February here is our coldest month and longest and dreariest. For a 28 day month it always seems to me it is at least 60 days long.  I’m writing this on February 2nd so we will see how I’m doing by the 28th.

I did work in a little fun this week when my BFFs invited me to join them on a ski trip.  Get this…yours truly went skiing in 10 degree temperatures (wind chills around -10)!  Yes indeedy.  Here we are.  Four layers on top, three layers on bottom, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, face mask, toboggan and goggles made this a fairly comfortable endeavor. Fresh snow, great friends and no lift lines made it awesome!

Do we look warm enough?
Do we look warm enough?

I have managed to cram a full schedule into the February.  I’m going to visit my daughter in Charleston, SC next week.  It would be lovely to have about 75 degrees while I’m there.  The next weekend I start Bee School and that will last five weekends.  Of course it is time to start on the dreaded taxes. Yuck.  I am working on the bathroom remodeling and need to get new bee hives to put together and paint before bees arrive in April.  I have a list of sewing I want to do and last, but not least, I am working, working, working on new artwork.  Hopefully all this will get me through winter without going into my usual funk.

Many of you who read this blog are creative people with blogs of your own, artwork, writing, etc.  I would love to have your help and advice as I throw myself into my artwork and try to get it out into the world.

I am in the process of writing an Artist Statement.  When I read these at show openings I often find them dry and academic.  In other words…boring.  I suspect that is because they are just darn hard to write.  How do you write about yourself without sounding either conceited or weird?  I would like mine to explain why I create stuff and what it’s about without being boring, conceited or weird.  The challenge at the moment is just to figure out why I create stuff and what it’s about!  I am open to suggestions and would love to read yours or someone’s you think did a good job with theirs.

Do you sell work online?  If so, pointers on Titles, Descriptions and Tags would also be appreciated.  Creating art is not nearly as hard as writing all these things.  I am currently on Etsy, Fine Art America and now Red Bubble and Art Pal (still working on this one in case you don’t find much).  If you want to take the time to check these out and send me a critique, I will be happy to listen.

I am not sure what to do with my Etsy shop.  In my attempts to minimalize my life and stuff I am finding that keeping inventory is a royal pain, not to mention shipping.  The print-on-demand stores are very convenient and after the time involved in shipping, probably gives about the same return on investment.  Oh well, it’s there with stuff in it for the moment and I will ponder the future of it as I go along.

Please join in the conversation.  I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it’s lonely out here.  It is time that I heard from more of you.

Stay warm and in case I don’t get a Valentine’s Day post on here, give someone special a hug and/or kiss.  You don’t have to wait until the 14th.  Go ahead. Do it now!

Backyard mayhem 

I have had three very stressful days. When you hear why, you may think “she’s been out in the sticks too long already.”

To catch my new readers up to speed, this Spring I became a newbie beekeeper.  I grew up with my Dad and Grandpa beekeeping as long as I could remember and often helped my Dad when he harvested honey. Beekeeping today is nothing like back then. I never remember Dad stressing out over his bees (for the record, he doesn’t stress about much anyway). You put a swarm of bees in a hive, then a few months later had honey. The bees did their thing and you stayed out of the way. It may not have been completely that simple but close.

Now, everything is out to get the bees. I have one hive that I have watched over this year like a newborn baby. Dad brought the new hive to me and said he thought they had been robbed (bees from another hive will take honey and food from a new or weak hive) early on. So I fed them sugar water every day until they were gathering enough nectar on their own. 

In July I saw small hive beetles and put in a trap. By September they were strong with good honey and brood (future bees). My queen seemed to be doing a great job. I started feeding them sugar water and essential oils to prevent mites (one of the major bee killers here in the U.S.).  I decided to leave them all the honey for their winter food. I was feeling good about their chances of getting through the winter.

Then came October. No more blooms. A few wet days from the hurricane. Then yellow jackets (for those of you who don’t have them, they are an evil wasp species). They started to try and sneak in the hive. Not a lot, but an ever present evil pest. I had already covered the front entrance of the hive with a wire mesh to keep out mice as the temperature fell (mice want to live in the warm hive but make their usual nasty mess). Now I stuffed the mesh with grass and leaves to reduce the space for the yellow jackets to sneak through until I could get an official entrance reducer that closes the entrance to about a one inch opening. 

Last week I left for a couple of days to visit my college girlfriends and came home to find the yellow jackets broke through the grass/leaves and were coming and going freely into the hive. NOT GOOD!

I quickly duct taped (yet another use for it) most of the entrance closed and Tuesday night got the entrance reducer at our local beekeeping meeting. I live almost an hour away from the nearest supplier and shipping on a $1 ER is about $12. Finally Wednesday morning I installed the ER, took off some unused honey racks, installed an enclosed top of the hive feeder to reduce the chance of the yellow jackets smelling the sugar water, then let out a sigh of relief to have gotten my bees safely tuck in for the winter. 

Thursday morning- 9:30 am. I take a casual stroll out to the bee yard. There I see my hive surrounded in a cloud of bees. Not yellow jackets, not my bees. From parts unknown, either a distant neighbor’s hives or feral bees, my hive has been invaded.  My little guard bees are fighting valiantly to prevent the robbers from pillaging their honey and killing the queen.  I can’t stop hundreds of bees. I run into the house and grab a sheet and a jar of sugar water.  I drape and tie and pin the sheet over the hive, trapping some robbers and my bees together, but stopping the onslaught from the cloud of bees swarming around me and the hive. I dump the sugar water in a pan away from the hive to entice the robbers away. I have done all I can do and can only stand, watch and listen to the battle go on. It is heartbreaking.

At dusk, when all good and bad bees go home, I untied the sheet, dreading what I will find. A pile of dead bees are on top of the hive. I suspect a battle to the death between good and evil. A couple of bee bodies on the ledge and a couple of guard bees dragging a dead body out of the hive.  

Some frantic research on my part revealed I should close down the entrance to one bee size hole and rub Vicks Vapor Rub around the entrance. As I am doing this, one brave, but I’m sure, exhausted guard bee thought I was another invader and stung me. She survived all that then died trying to keep me away. It’s the only sting I have gotten from my bees and yes, I cried over her death. 

I was miserable all evening. I could not open up the hive to see how bad the damage was or see if the queen was dead or alive. I knew the robbers would be back today and yes they were. I got a jump on them, had the hive covered with the sheet before they arrived. There were not as many today. I called my Dad for advice. He told me to keep them closed up, but give them more food at night. They should be ok for a few days like that and hopefully will make a new queen if the existing one was killed. All may not be lost, but I am bracing myself for the worst. 

We have not had rain here for almost two months. Wildfires are burning in our mountains. I would ask again, like last week, pray for rain and while you are at it, plant some flowers for the bees. They need all the help they can get. 

My son will be home next week for Thanksgiving so a post here may not happen so I will have more time with him.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. Have a wonderful week everyone else.