Celebrating Labor Day Weekend like this….

Labor Day weekend 2019.

We celebrated by picking  just over 1000 pounds of Cortland and Honeycrisp apples and  100 pounds of honey  from our apiary.

I have a couple of more ton of apples to pick in the next few weeks….want to help celebrate with us ? 😉

Our eldest was visiting with her family this weekend and filmed my our grand daughter and I  removing the honey supers yesterday.  This is our third season with bees and the  first year we’ve actually had enough honey to harvest. Nothing quite like the rush of working 100,000 to 150,000  honey bees.  Grand daughter asked me if it was normal to feel “just a little nervous” before we started.  “Absolutely,” I said.  That means you you’re paying attention.

For any of you bee geeks..We put a ‘bee escape” board on both hives the day before.  On the first hive it worked just like it was supposed to….only a handful of honeybees on the frames.  On the second hive, not so much.  There were dozens of bees still in the frames, so I ended up using a bee brush which worked great.  I don’t have a leaf blower, and didn’t want to invest in one of those fume boards.  So there you go….

Here is a picture of us picking apples:

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Rebranding our B and B

We have decided to re-open and (rebrand) our B and B on a seasonal basis….( May 15th through the end of October).

We originally opened in 2006.   Closed in 2014.  90% of our guests came to us, not so much looking for the traditional B and B experience,  as much as just a place to stay for the night.  Knowing that now, we decided to simplify the experience and keep the price more competitive this time around.

I suggested we call it a “Bed and no breakfast”.  🙂

Offer something simple in the morning, like coffee and a pastry.

Win, win for everybody.

Dug out the guest book last night and started rereading the comments….

“My mom and I had a wonderful time. Your warm hospitality and tranquil surrounding made our stay special. Thank you SO much!”

“Thank you both for your warm hospitality. It was special to stay on a farm.”

“We can’t say Thank you enough for your wonderful hospitality. We felt right at home.”

” I can not thank you enough for their hospitality, generosity and friendship they have extended to us . Your bed and breakfast is the most beautiful place I have stayed in the world. Thank you! “

     “I have never enjoyed my time at a B and B so very much.  This place is a haven and harbors amazing creative energy.   Thank you for your kind hospitality!” (a musician who stayed a couple of days with us)

    ” I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity.  I’ll miss all of you, (and Winston and Oscar) , but I hope to be back!”


And finally, a few pictures of our property:

View to the East from our B and B deck

Views in the orchard





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Wild Mulberry Wine

photo by Google

There are half a dozen wild mulberry trees on our property.

They are a pain to mow around when they’re  loaded with  berries.

More than once. I’ve had berries fall down behind my back and end up staining a good shirt or pair of pants while mowing.

This year they were extremely plump.  May have something to do with all the rain we’ve been getting.

On a lark, I ate one.  Then another.  They were awesome.

Right then and there, I made a mental note to look for a recipe on line for Mulberry wine.

Bottle up a little bit of summer..right? 🙂

Found the perfect recipe (included below)

Today is day 6 in the initial fermentation process.

After I stir the batch each day, I skim a table spoon full off to taste test.  Both of us agree, this is the best tasting sweet wine we’ve ever had.  Period.  By day 3 I could already taste the alcohol.

Neither one of us are big drinkers.  In the course of a year, I might have 3 or 4 glasses of wine, a beer or two.  Having said that, for years I have been intrigued by the whole fermentation process. When I tell people I am thinking about making wine, or hard apple cider, not so much so I can drink it, as much as for the scientific purpose, I usually get that “Yea, …..right” look.  🙂

Here is that recipe with my personal notes in bold print:


Wild Mulberry Wine Recipe

“An unusual delicate-flavored wine that is equally good in main courses, side dishes, and desserts.”

Makes 1 gallon, 2 cups

6 cups sugar

1 gallon boiling water

4 cups mulberries

2 t lemon juice extract

2 cinnamon sticks

3/4 C raisins

(I added the raisins to give it more body.  In several of the recipes I found, raisins were part of the recipe.  This one didn’t have them originally)

1/2 teaspoon yeast ( recipe called for champagne or wine yeast, I just used the instant bakers yeast I had on hand, seems to be working just fine)

  1.  Dissolve the sugar in the water in a non-metal (plastic or ceramic) food container, add the mulberries, mashing them slightly (I ended up just crushing them with my hands once the water cooled off enough), then add the lemon juice, and cinnamon sticks. (recipe also called for 3 T chopped fresh  spearmint, or 1 T dried mint)  I didn’t have any so that is not in this batch.
  2. When the mixture is lukewarm, stir in the yeast, and cover the container with a non-airtight cover, cheese cloth or towel.  (I have a 2 gallon plastic pail with one of those air locks that I am using)
  3. Let the mixture ferment for 7 to 10 days, at room temperature, stirring twice a day.  (about day 3 I noticed the fermentation bubbling really kicking in )
  4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, transfer the liquid to a jug, and seal with an airlock stopper. (which lets the carbon dioxide bubbles escape but keeps oxygen out).
  5. When the bubbling stops and fermentation ends a couple of weeks later, seal the jug with a cork, and let wine age for 10 weeks to 6 months)

Side note:  I have one of those hydrometers that allow me to take alcohol content readings.   The initial readings on 6/30/19 were : 18% /74.

Here’s where I got this original recipe: http://www.foodreference.com/html/wine-mulberry-wine-recipe.html


Have you ever known anyone who made their own hooch? (wine, beer, white lightening, etc). I want to hear more.

Have you ever read my post about jailhouse hooch?

Would also love to hear your thoughts in general on alcohol.

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The Hum of Ten Thousand Wings

Living here on this 140 year old farmstead  never gets old….

I was out in the garden/orchard just now soaking it all in.

The temps this morning are in the mid 60’s,  there is a light breeze.  Great way to start the weekend.

I’m already working on my 2nd pot of coffee. 🙂

First thing that caught my eye  this morning in the garden is the difference in size between the potato plants I’d planted in the older portion of the garden bed and the potato plants, growing in a fresh mulch.  I learned a couple of years ago, that fresh wood chips (and anything else that is just starting to break down), will actually suck the nitrogen out of the soil as it breaks down, short term.  Plant something in these areas and  they will struggle.  The struggling potatoes looked half the size as their neighbors , and were slightly discolored.  I thought I’d made allowances so that wouldn’t happen, but apparently, not enough.

Live and learn.

A  garden is my laboratory.

I’ve told you that before, right? 🙂

I think sometimes about the collective wisdom of older generations.  Too often things like this don’t get passed along to the next generation, which is why I keep those various 3 ring binders on the book shelf, in case you’re ever interested, feel free to thumb through them.

Anyway, so I took some of the ripe compost from the compost pile and amended the soil around 1/2 of the struggling plants this morning.  It will be fun to see if it makes any difference.

I filled the buckets of compost with my bare hands. 🙂

I sure did.

Did it on purpose too.

Would never have done that five years ago.   The more I learn about the connections between healthy soil and our personal health, the more intrigued I become.

There are physical and mental health benefits that come along with working in the soil.

Check out these articles if you doubt me :-):

 Read this

or  this.


When I went to check on the bee hives,  there were just a handful of honey bees coming and going.  Most of the hive was still inside.

As I stood there,  (maybe 4 or 5 feet behind the hive)  I could here the hum of tens of thousands of tiny wings.  I felt like I was standing on a WW 2 aircraft carrier listening to  airplanes getting ready to take off.

It was the sound of power.

Well, sounds like I’m starting to wax a little philosophical, so I’m going to wrap this one up.





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When the grandkids visit the farm

All of our kids and grand kids were back this week to celebrate  grandma’s birthday.  (It was a good week)

As things were starting to wind down,   one of the  granddaughters asked, “Can I check on the chickens  one more time?”

“Can I come too?” said two more….

“We found an egg!”

It is never to early to learn where your food really comes from.

Life is good.

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Drama in the hive

When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed honeybees swarming the 5 gallon bucket of water I have set outside  the chicken coop.  Sun was shining, no wind, temperature in the 60’s, perfect conditions for the bees to be out foraging for water after their long winter.

Side note-  (I do have a large container of water, not 5 feet from their hive, pieces of wood and various other things in it, so they won’t drown.   But no, these bees would rather travel five  hundred feet, and try to get water out of a 5 gallon bucket with nothing to grab onto.)

Taking a closer look, I noticed several bees in the water, at various stages of drowning, so I put some scrap pieces of scrap wood in the bucket, then one by one, fished the stragglers out of the water and plopped them on the wood.

Last night, right before dark, I decided to check on them one more time.   Sure enough, I found 15 soaked honey bees, dead on their little rafts.

I should say, they looked dead, but when I nudged  them with my finger, everyone of them stirred just a little.   Since our  temps were heading down into the 30’s last night, I was sure they would all be dead by morning.

So I took the two little rafts,  with the 15 honeybees into my warm heated shop, and one by one  gently place them on the heating pad I use for starting seeds.  Within 5 minutes all of them were moving around,  drying their little wings and grooming themselves.  Then, one by one, like fighter jets on an aircraft carrier,  they took off.  They instinctively headed for the large window, so I opened it and poof…..they were gone,  headed back to the hive.

This morning  when I went out to the shop,  all  but one of them were gone.

Here’s a 19 second  clip of them  on the heating pad from my YouTube channel:

(as you can tell, I’m easily entertained.)


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I finally cracked the code on how to make thick, healthy yogurt at home.

It happened on Wednesday.

I’ve watched videos on YouTube, read multiple blog posts, talked with Nicole our neighbor who knows how to make it.  Had multiple failures..

Then finally, finally it turned out.

One of the lessons I learned was, just because it says “live active culture on the container” when you buy it from the store, don’t assume it’s still alive a week after you’ve opened it and kept it in the frig.

Not always.

There are so many people who’ve written and posted about making yogurt, I’m not going to do that here.  What I did want to share however was  what I did with some of the leftover whey…that’s the liquid byproduct of yogurt.

Just so happened we got  the Spring 2019  news letter in the mail a week ago from Fort Bumper.   The newsletter is full of “traditional skills, gardening, homemaking, recipes, herbal remedies, caring for farm animals, historical tidbits, and much more for the old-fashioned homesteader.”

In the news letter was a recipe for  “Smith Cakes”  I  tweaked the recipe and made it my own. Recipe called for liquid whey made from cheese making and freshly ground wheat flour.  I had neither.  What did have was liquid whey from yogurt making and freshly ground spelt  flour….

Smith Cakes according to me

“Mix freshly ground (spelt) flour (it called for coarse,  but I used what I had and I would say it was medium fine) and enough liquid whey from the yogurt to form a soft dough.  Cover and let stand overnight.   In the morning pre-heat good quality oil (olive oil is good) in a frying pan.  Make sure oil is nice and hot.  Drop the dough in large spoon fulls, forming little patties.  (I used about a 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time)  then flattened them with spatula) Fry on both sides until golden brown.” 

Oh my.  They were to die for.  They had a flavor that is hard to describe.  They looked like a pork tenderloin when I  got done.  Normally, I need butter and maybe some jelly on pancakes made from freshly ground flour.

Not these.

They were tasty right out of the pan.

Anybody else out there in blog land make their own yogurt or cheese?  Cheese making is next on my list of life skills I would love to learn.   I find the  whole world of  fermentation and the interplay between bacteria, gut bacteria, and our foods fascinating.

If you have a recipe on either you would like to share, tips ,  blog posts,  websites or stories  you would be willing to share, I would be interested, (or questions).

Thanks for stopping by. DM


PS.  Here’s a link to a cheese making kit I would love to have, if you’re feeling generous: 😉 😉




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