Bee Careful

Your time is valuable so I will try to keep this brief. ūüėČ

Our honeybees¬† from last year didn’t make it.

Some of you already knew.

I think it was mites.

Because the whole thing is a hobby, and both of us have been working real hard and are mindful of where we spend our money, I didn’t think there was another $125- $150 of discretionary money available to purchase more bees this season.¬† I still want to keep bees, just in the context of the rest of my life, it wasn’t going to be this year.

And then a few weeks ago, I stumbled across $90  tucked away in my gardening notebook, money from the sale of green beans, apple cider, apples, and  pumpkins from 2017.

Side note –¬† Wife and I both get a $25 a month “allowance” to do with whatever we want.¬† Mine normally goes for coffee beans, (Starbucks/ french roast/ whole bean/ not ground)¬† but because of my birthday, the visit from a friend, and finding some Starbucks french roast on discount @ the Amish grocery store my wife frequents, I still have some of my money. ūüėČ

Suddenly I had $150 to buy more bees.

I found a bee keeper about 30 minutes from me who was advertising bee nucs for sale.  I called him and got my name on the list.

Sunday morning I went to pick them up.

Last year when I brought the bees home to our property, they were in the body of a hive box.  10,000 honey bees alive and somewhat ticked off, after a 20 minute ride  in the back of a pickup.  I still remember the feelings of lifting that hive out of the back of my pickup, just as it got dark.  Felt like I was handling dynamite. Not having ever been around honeybees before,  it was surreal.

That time, things went without a hitch, but I was still creeped out. There was nobody around but me.  Other than a six week bee keeping class and some words of encouragement from another bee keeper, I was flying solo. If something went wrong, there was nobody to bail me out.

This time, the bees came in a cardboard nuc box. 2000 bees on (4) frames. The frames look like this:

photo by google

I plunked them down on the passenger seat of my pickup.  As long as the little cardboard door stayed shut, I would be fine.

Half way home,  an agitated  honey bee suddenly began flying around inside the truck.  Back and forth on the inside of my windshield.

My first thought was…how in the heck did he get out?

Then there were two…

Photo compliments of google

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Moving to town

Picture of dad milking by hand/ early 1970’s


Today was a BIG day.

We moved my parents off the family farm.

Growing up on a¬† 120 acre working family farm shaped me in ways I will probably never fully appreciate.¬† Dad bought 20 Holstein milk cows when I turned 12.¬† Expressed purpose was to give us some spending money.¬† ¬†Milking is a two times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year activity.¬† Up close and personal with the whole cycle of life.¬† ¬†Learned about delivering babies, afterbirth, still birth, cesarean births,¬† the art of milking a first time heifer whose utters are on fire with mastitis.¬† Learned how to deflect the back hoof of an animal ten times my body weight, that wanted to kick the crap out of me, because she didn’t¬† like what I was doing to her.

Manure.  Could write a book on the topic.  Sometimes you just have to block out the fact, you are getting splattered with e-coli.

Winter mornings so stink’n cold, haying the cows, my fingers felt like they were on fire.

I learned it was not a good idea to engage the power-take-off on the manure spreader with a 20 mile wind to my back.

I remember side raking hay, singing along to Band on the run.

Last month, I worked alongside a young man vacuuming hallways.¬† He¬† lasted three days. Told my son that his wrist was bothering him.¬† Said he had pulled an all nighter playing video games,¬† wondered if he could knock off an hour early.¬†I felt sorry for him.¬† He doesn’t know any different.

Baling hay in the summer is still one of my favorite memories.¬† My job of choice was¬† in the hay-mow.¬† Our barn could hold 300 tons of hay if we packed it to the top.¬† ¬†(10,000 bales X 60# = 60,000# divided by 2000# = 300 tons) Over the course of a season, I would have handled every one of those bales at least once.¬† ¬† In mid July, in Iowa, the temperature gets into the upper 90’s, so it had to be 100/ 110 degrees in the mow.¬† ¬†We never gave it a second thought.¬† ¬†It was just a part of getting the crops in.¬† Working in those conditions shaped my attitude about the weather.

When our kids were still home, out of financial need, we started a small commercial cleaning business on the side. The older ones went with us in the evening and weekends as we emptied trash cans, scrubbed toilets, vacuumed and mopped the floors.¬† I wished we could do more to incorporate the chores of my youth, but we were living in town and a dairy cow was not an option….

Final story.  Look at that picture of my dad milking again.  See that fuzzy cat on the left?    Come to find out, she (Fuzzy)  was a prize-winning show cat. Had blue ribbons to prove it.   She used to hang around the lumberyard where my dad worked.  He thought she was a stray, so he took pity on her and brought her home. Year later, lady who lived close to the lumberyard happened to be visiting our farm, noticed the cat and mentioned she used to have a cat like that.  We never let on.

If you were a cat, would you rather spend your days  eating dry cat food or having a front row seat by the family cow?

You get extra credit if you can tell me the breed of the milk cow in that photo.

Here are a couple of action photos from today:

Dad loading up the family picture.

The moving crew

The next chapter begins…

Posted in christianity, family, farming, life, life in the country, personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canned Goods

Just fired up the dehydrator.

The smell of garlic and tomato is still on my hands.

Got me in the mood for a little Greg Brown….

Do you have any memories of helping someone in the kitchen growing up…even if it was just snapping green beans?

Do tell…

I would love to hear your story! DM

Action photo of my mom teaching me how she makes salsa

Posted in christianity, enjoying life, faith, gardening, homesteading, Iowa, life, life in the country, personal, random, self sufficient, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Amish Barn Raising Pictures

This afternoon these pictures of an Amish barn raising came across our Facebook feed.  As I scrolled through the comments, I noticed the photographer (Randy Fath) said he was fine with anyone wanting to share them.

He didn’t have to tell me twice….


As a carpenter, (from a safety perspective),¬† I have mixed feelings looking at some of these images…

That is all I am going to say about that. ūüėČ DM



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The Hula Hoop Tree

The Hula Hoop tree.


If you’re looking for a fun whimsical road trip idea, consider tracking down the Hula Hoop tree.

Here is a clue….it is located in Eastern Iowa…North of Iowa City, South and West of Dubuque.


No one knows who has been putting the hula hoops in the tree, nor why they are doing it.  It is  a local mystery. I occasionally pass the tree on a way to work.

This morning I saw on my face book feed a picture of the tree taken by a local photographer…Timothy Flynn.¬† Apparently, the tree had also caught his attention.¬†¬† Here is a link to his business page

It is beautiful.

A work of art.

I was thinking that tree needed it’s own web page, so here it is.



Would love to hear your thoughts.






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Random Thoughts On Coffee

Mrs DM re-organized the closets again this  weekend, putting all of the medical supplies in one area.

I received five bags of Starbucks¬† French Roast (whole bean/ not ground) for Fathers Day …..¬† I didn’t have room for all of it on the regular shelf so I put it in the medicine cabinet.

This morning I told her about it.¬†¬† “Coffee has a medicinal¬† role in my life.” I said with a smirk.

She¬† said that was the perfect place for it! ¬† ūüėȬ† DM




Posted in life, personal, random, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

It is possible


I remember reading the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald way back in the mid 1980’s.¬† I remember writing out various long term life goals, mostly in the interpersonal relationship realm, but other goals as well.

At the time, we were¬† living 1000 miles from home, on government assistance, renting a rat invested house, driving an old car that someone had given us, living from paycheck to paycheck.¬† Four little kids in tow…I could go on and on…anyway, I know what it feels like to feel trapped, crushed by¬† stress, some of it self inflicted, some of it not.

Hope awakened in my heart after reading that book.

I knew I needed to make drastic changes.

The people pleasing part of me had to die.


I  think it word pictures.

I remember having a word picture in my mind  of  a large ocean going vessel, headed in wrong direction.  Those ships can not turn on a dime, even if you hit the rudder hard.

It takes time to make a course correction.

I remember taping several pieces of typing paper on the wall in front of my desk, with this ship at various positions, until it was headed on a new course.

There is something exciting when ever so slightly you¬† begin to see a change in direction…

Long story short, saw that picture tonight  and thought, there is a nugget of wisdom I have tasted first hand.

That is my story and I’m sticking with it. ūüėČ DM


Posted in country living, enjoying life, life, life in the country, personal, self sufficient, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments