Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Working With the Bees.....

 I went with Sherry and Dean Saturday evening to check out what we thought would be a swarm of bees up in a pecan tree in Waco.

Turns out, this is an external hive and the very first one we have seen.
It was hard to get a good pic of it but I got this one with someone shining a flashlight up there.
You can see the comb on the bottom and the entire hive is covered in bees.
There was little activity going on as it was nearly dark and all the foragers were back at the hive.

You can see how high up in the tree this is.
This hive has been there since April, they are certain.
The father of Dean's friend passed away this spring and they noticed this ball of bees the day of the funeral. They didn't bother anyone and no telling how long they have been up in that tree.
I'm sure they weren't there during that Arctic cold we had in February!
And we are equally sure they will not survive the winter up there in that tree.

Dean and Sherry are planning on going back with scaffolding later this week and will try and capture this hive and take them to our apiary. They have a plan and it will take some creativity and energy to accomplish it but it is at least worth a try in order to save this hive before winter arrives.

Sunday morning, Sherry and I spent a couple of hours working with our bees.

We are preparing them for winter by treating for Varroa mites and small hive beetles.
I lifted the lid on the pink box (called a super) and Sherry took that off since you cannot fo the mite treatment with a honey super in place because of the chemicals. It doesn't hurt the bees but we don't want any of those chemicals in the wooden ware of the supers that will later hold the honey that we will harvest.

This picture shows the SHB traps where we place a tiny bit of pollen patty and some vegetable oil.
The small hive beetles will crawl into the traps and drown in the oil.
Sherry place the Apivar stips - two to a box - and suspended them on toothpicks.
We will leave them on for 21 days without opening the hives.
Then on October 17th - or thereabouts - we will open the hives, turn the strips around, and leave them for another 21 days.

This particular super was full of bees and honey and even some brood - which means the Queen had been up here. Normally the Queen stays down in the brood box.
Here Sherry is shaking the bees off so we can put the frames in what is called a nuc.
Dean has been making some of these for us to use when we rescue bees - as in the boat bees from the summer and hopefully, the pecan tree bees soon.

We realized there was a small amount of brood on these frames for we were careful to watch for the queen. We shook bees off of five frames - one at a time - putting them in the nuc as I quickly put the lid on. 

Since there were still so many bees in the box - which had been their home hive until that very day,

Sherry decided to shake them off onto a tarp un front of their 'home' hive.

The goal is that they will walk right back into the hive.
There are many stages in a bee's life cycle and there may have been some young bees in that super who could not yet fly. Yes! You can see them all filing into the brood box just like little soldiers.
Reminds me of that song my grandson Levi loved so much when he was little .......
The Ants go Marching One by One....
It appears the bees do, too!

Our work was done and I only got stung once!
It was on my right hand so I was not the least bit concerned as that is my most arthritic one.

I came in and changed out of my bee suit and got dressed for a trip to town to pick up a prescription and have lunch. That's when I noticed a red welt on the inside of my wrist. I put some Aloe Vera on it before we left.

Our lunch spot was The Catch and it was good!
Each table had Halloween decorations on it - but Louis Dean thought they were salt and pepper shakers! It took me a minute to convince him they were not!

By the time we got back to the ranch, my arm had turned red and was swollen and hard.
I took Benadryl and went to bed. Sherry came down later and put a paste of baking soda and vinegar on it.

This morning it was still swollen and so itchy!
More Benadryl and more paste. This time I cut off the top part of one of Louis Dean's socks and kept that on my arm. I was beginning to think I had been bitten by a spider. The swelling had gone down a bit and I could then feel the stinger was still in my wrist. I got that out with tweezers and I'm sure by tomorrow morning it will feel a lot better.

We had breakfast for lunch today!
I made an omelette of fresh eggs and onion and peppers!
That green jelly is jalapeno and it is good!

Our cats are having a ball here at the ranch!
They spend most of the day out in the front room and then come in for a good long nap.
We keep them inside the camper at night just in case they might manage to escape through a screen or something in the front room while we are sleeping.

I would like to share this photo of my first grandchild on his 19th birthday!


What a beautiful family!!
I sent Sam a text this morning and then sang Happy Birthday in a voice message.

And THIS young lady is Rayne......

she's growing up so fast!!

She and Sabrina are coming back to Texas next month for a visit and we are all going to gather at a Dude Ranch in Arkansas!
So many good things to look forward to this fall!!

And I will close tonight's journal entry with this photo.....

The Golden Hour is still my favorite here at the ranch.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Celebrating my 73rd Birthday!

 I started celebratin on the eve of my 73rd birthday.....
although, once Amber has her birthday on June 6th, I start thinking of myself as a year older.
Amber is now the age I was when I had her.

I like to get used to the new age a little at a time.
This is Tabitha yearning to be out there in the garden!
She got out twice before I figured out she was running to this window, pushing it open at the corner and plopping herself out on the deck. Louis Dean fixed that exit!

Thursday I painted......

hard to believe anything pretty could come from this mess!
I have a container of messy tubes and I am determined to use these up before going to my new ones.
I had every one of the colors I needed except for Payne's Gray.

On the Eve of my birthday, I changed out the bedding on the Girl Bunk in the camper.

I love this cozy bunk.
I pulled off all the bedding and put on a set of red flannel sheets.
I KNOW it's still hot in Texas and too warm for flannel.....but I like to sleep cold with the AC anyway and the flannel is SO comfy!

I switched covers from the spring/fall quilt to this one.....
the quilt I made for myself the year I turned 65.

My Birthday Week in 2013 when I turned 65 was one of the best I've ever had!!
I rode a motorcycle on the beach that day.

Summer and Sabrina and a group of their friends and family rented a beach house on Crystal Beach for a week.

They were so sweet to remember it was my birthday and they even gave me a party!

My sister, Luann, came with me and the entire time was so much fun!
I think 65 was one of my very best birthdays!
I qualified for Medicare and was then able to buy the best supplemental insurance policy money can buy and thanks to my son, Benjamin, I have had excellent insurance ever since!

Back to my Girl Bunk.....

The wall are wallpapered but I have layered needleworks and all sorts of fabrics on top of it.

It is a camper and they are generic until you add your own personality to them.

My Girl Bunk looks like a gypsy caravan.....and I'm fine with that!
I fixed it all up special as a way to celebrate when I woke up on Friday being all of 73 years old!

Sherry fixed a pre birthday dinner for me Thursday night and it was delicious!
Poblano Chicken Lasagna, garden salad and garlic knots with pepper poppers as an appetizer and homemade Salted Caramel Ice Cream for dessert! ALL so good  and I ate so much that I went to bed as soon as we got back up to the camper/cabin!

Sherry picked me up Friday morning and we drove neary 50 miles to a little Texas town called Calvert.

We were meeting my friend, Carla, at the Farmers to Market Coffee Shop.

Carla is a friend from our Katy days when Amber and Mike lived down there and Mike and her husband worked together. She and Dave are now retired and living in Gause at the Rockin' K Ranch where Louis Dean and I visited them in July.
We had coffee - I ordered the Flat White again - and Sherry doesn't drink coffee but they had an excellent menu of frappucinos. We sat, sipped and visited!

Then we went out to see what we could see.

I loved this beautiful garden patio area.....

The Fall Festival season started the next day and every weekend through November, there's craft booths and tables and all sorts of things to buy and to eat crowding the sidewalks.
But we were early and that's fine with me since I don't do 'crowds' much anymore.

Can you spy the gecko?
Outside the coffee shop, Sherry had spied a beautiful blue/green iridescent beetle all decked out with gold trim. She thought at first he was an ornament but when she touched him, he moved, so she picked him up and placed him in this garden. I'm certain he appreciated that!

We shopped our way down the block and arrived at the Cast Iron Bistro.

I loved the building and the paintings, decorations, food - everything!
This staircase to nowhere was so pretty. If I had it for my own, I would display things on it. Maybe art.....

I noticed this window as I went back to find the restroom.
Later we drove along the back road behind this street and saw that the window is all framed out on the other side. I just LOVE this.

The old plaster wall covering an even older brick wall.

The food was amazingly good!!!

I had the grilled cheese only it had a fancier name and was most certainly NOT a regular grilled cheese sandwich! And those waffle fries were SO good!

Carla ordered the Ocean Goat Salad.......
I'm getting that on my next visit!

Sherry had the Cheese Grits with shrimp......
I think there may have been a fancier name for it but it was exceptionally good!
She took half of it home to share with Dean since he's such a foodie!

It was a wonderful birthday lunch and I was so happy to spend it with these two special ladies.

I'm wearing the shirt my Sister Rita and Brother Buster sent me for my birthday.
Just a Girl who loves Fall
That's ME!

We came home later that afternoon and I went in to take a good nap.
Unfortunately, just as I was about to drift off to sleep, I realized there were ants in my bed!
SO....I had to strip it all off - after all my hard work the day before - and hang it out in the sunshine while Louis Dean sprayed on and under the bunk.
I went on to take a nap in the camper bedroom while he did all that.

Louis Dean had a busy day.
The grasshoppers and slugs/snails had eaten up every bit of anything left in the garden including the blackeyed peas! For our evening campfire, he burned up all the remains and hopefully the rasshoppers are now gone!

It was a wonderful birthday!
I heard from so many friends and family by way of Facebook, email, texts, and phone calls.
I heard the voices of Nita, Deanie and Lonnie as well as all four of my children.
The evening ended with one more phone call from my brother Buter and Anna Marie!
They sang Happy Birthday to me and we had such a good phone chat.
I am so blessed to have so many people who love me.
I've never had as many friends in my life as I do now.
I've said it before and I say it again......

God saved the Best for Last for me!!!

I went to bed with a happy heart!
Louis Dean is teaching himself to play the violin and closing out my birthday celebration with him just made the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Today (Saturday) was a slow easy day.
It was 67 degrees when I woke up this morning!

I opened up the girl bunk window and Tabitha hung out in there for a good part of the day.
Louis Dean put a screen guard over the window so I can still open it but the cats can't get out.

However, she managed to stretch two paws outside the screen.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

We're Walkin' in HIgh Cotton' at the Ranch!

 We arrived here at the ranch late Monday afternoon.....

and I was so excited to see the cotton fields along the County Line Road!
I've never see the cotton look this high and this pretty!!

I knew it must be time to harvest, and once that was done,
 I would be free to pick the 'leavin's'...the left overs!
They seldon ever get their big machinery along the edges of the fields.
I have in mind to pick a big bouquet with long stems for a tall wooden vase I have by the front room door at the ranch.

There's always a special thrill when we get to the gate!
Arriving is so much more fun than leaving.

This time we have Tabitha and Samantha with us.
It's been awhile since they've been down here and I think they were excited.

Tabitha 'sang' to us nearly all the way and I'm pretty sure she thought they were going to the Bells.

Ah, we are back!
The horses came down to say 'Hello.'
This is outside the big garden gate and where I feed them carrots and veggies.
Sherry came down to help us unload and she did all the lifting putting the food and stuff away.
Louis Dean was out mowing the spent garden down within an hour of getting out of the truck.

We got everything situated and carried our glasses of wine out to the deck just in time to see the Harvest moon rise. Perfect!!!
Louis Dean was in bed and sound asleep by 9:00.
I was in the girl bunk and looked at my phone and it was 9:20 on 9/20!

We both slept a good 10+ hours and Louis Dean brought me coffee in bed.

Samantha especially likes to hang out in the girl bunk with me. 
We put a screen door guard across the window since she pushed her way out of it one day last spring.
Louis Dean will need to screw/nail it to the wall so she can nose it over and crawl out.

Tabitha has been enjoying herself.
Shes such a big girl cat!
They have been running around and exploring everything.

There was a package in the mail for Louis Dean when we left town and I stuck it in my purse for him to open on Tuesday morning.

It was from Chandy!
A pic holder in the shape of a guitar with three specailly engraved pics.
She even had his named engraved on the case!
I took lots of pictures and videos and we were swapping them back and forth with Chandy - but I forgot to take one of just the case with the pics.

It was a fun morning!

He spent the day getting the garden all cleaned up.
Grasshoppers are everywhere and they ate up all the blackeyed peas and anything else that was growing. Our rose bushes are stilldoing well but my herb garden has literally bit the dust.

I am determined - again - to buckle down and write the rest of my memoir.
My goal is to write a chapter a day, until I opened up my documents and discovered I needed to work on both of those to finish them off. And I did do that!

While I didn't actuall do any art on Tuesday, I did set out all my current projects and glazed the two that were finished.

Tuesday was the Bee Meeting in Hillsboro and Louis Dean surprised us by coming with us!
The speaker was the man in charge of the Beekeeping Program at the Johnson County Jail.
What a great idea and it is wonderful how this retired man has shared his love for beekeeping in such a way as to help inmates discover skills they can use upon release.
Commercial beekeepers can't find enough people for the jobs they have so this is a viable area of employment opportunity.

It was interesting and inspiring and when it was over, we ate Mexican food at El Conquistador followed by a quick shopping trip to Walmart!
I did so well all day and had lots of energy - until I didn't.
Seems I get no warning signs before it's gone!
The moment we got back to the ranch, I walked right in and went right to bed, leaving Louis Dean to unload the groceries. No thoughts whatsoever that he would put any of it up.

This morning I found the toilet paper on the front porch, my candles scattered in different places in the front room, detergent in the bathroom and I finally found the cat food underneath a curtain on the coffee bar area! AND the little 2 for $1 pies from Walmart are in the freezer! (I think Louis Dean is trying to hide them!) 
It's always an adventure living with Louis Dean!

Summer called me this morning - and we made some plans to spend the day together!
She drove from home and picked me up at the ranch and then we met up with some friends at a Mexican restaurant in China Springs!

We had a great time and visited and caught up with everyone and what they are doing.
Lots of good things going on with these ladies!
Linda and Dona had been Glamping at a RV park nearby and they were now going home.

Summer and I went to HEB!
LOVED the pumpkins and I bought one of the pink ones.

Plus a lot of the clearance plants!
Yello tomatoes, lantana, plum bago, and more.
I plan to plant all this in the rose bed flower garden area.
Hopefuly, the grasshoppers will not be there.
We plan to borrow a few chickens or roosters to come stay with us up here and eat all these pesky crtters!

We saw they were harvesting the cotton on our way back to the ranch!

I'm so happy I got to see it!!!

Texas produces a quarter of all the cotton used in the USA.

Those are some big rolls of cotton!

Grasshoppers can feed on cotton plants without damaging the cotton!

Summer is planning on going out of town so she brought my birthday gifts with her and gave them to me before she left.

My favorite is the book......

Though I do love the fragrant candle with the wood burning wick and the Autumn Taffy!
She always gives me a Christmas ornament and it's usually cardinals. It's a tradition!
Summer knows I'm a bag lady and I do love the bag!

LOVE the book!!!

I'm grateful for the blessings of being a mother.
It made me cry.....

I'll close tonight's journal entry with Alabama singing....
High Cotton!