Fruits of our Labor (Pun intended)

One of the hardest parts about starting a new farm, is having patience while valuable plants get establish.

I’m not known for my patience.

Luckily, Gage has more foresight than I, and convinced me that we needed to invest a lot in fruit and berry plants in our first few years.  I was astonished a few weeks ago when we were mapping the orchard to realize that we have nearly 60 fruit trees.  Yes, SIXTY.  I was thinking we had 20, maybe 30 … but 60??  Now I’m just scared.

What in the heck are we going to do when they ALL begin producing??

Open a “You-Pick” operation, perhaps??

DSC_0049

In any case, this is the first spring where it looks like we will have more than a handful of fruit.  We only have a few established blueberry bushes, but they are covered in fruit.

DSC_0069

The raspberries have pretty much taken over the front yard.  But once again … covered in fruit!  I think we might actually have enough to take to market this year.

DSC_0041

A few peaches, pears and apples are making an appearance.

DSC_0042

Cherries!  We have two little trees just COVERED in cherries this year!

DSC_0045

The grape vines are looking great …

DSC_0047

… and covered with buds about to blossom.

DSC_0048

This is an aronia berry bush.  Gage harvested a handful of aronia berries last year and used them to make a pear/aronia wine that was To. Die. For.  Since he drank the last bottle while I was pregnant, I have made him SWEAR he will make more this summer.  🙂

Looks like our patience is finally paying off!  We will have plenty of fruit to enjoy this summer, and even enough to share!

Great First Market

We sure enjoyed being back at farmers market this weekend!  What a great first crowd for an early start to the year.  It will be a few more weeks before we have anything substantial to sell, but we were happy to be there, none-the-less.

2013-05-25_07-22-37_879

Thornless blackberry plants and homemade jam were popular items.

DSC_0052

 

As I was walking out the door to head to market, this sleepy, fuzzy head popped out of a new bee box Gage had just completed on the porch.  Milo, what will the bees think of their new home smelling like a cat’s bed??

First Farmer’s Market

The first Walnut Valley Farmers Market of the year is tomorrow!  Wish we had more produce to share, but the extra cold temperatures this spring really set things back.  Still here is a sampling of what we will have for sale tomorrow morning:

3.25.13 001

Homemade strawberry and mixed-berry jam.  We only use berries from our farm!  These were picked last spring and frozen to allow me to make jam when things are not quite so busy!  The mixed-berry jam has strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and is delicious.

3.25.13 008

Pecans from my father-in-law’s farm, less than a half-mile up the road

3.25.13 009

Asparagus plants … plant now for a small harvest next spring, and a bumper crop in two years!  We will also be selling blackberry plants and chocolate mint plants.

2012-06-25_18-55-17_942

Farm fresh eggs!

Hope to see you tomorrow morning at the Walnut Valley Farmers Market in Winfield!

Beekeeping

A year ago, we purchased our first hive of bees.

2012-05-22_17-41-38_337They were super easy to maintain, took little effort, and produced more than 10 pounds of honey in the first harvest … enough to pay for our initial investment, had we sold the honey!  I was starting to think bees are where it’s at.  I mean, who doesn’t want to add more of something that takes little time, is low maintenance, AND makes money?

But then, this spring, our bees swarmed.

DSC_0075

Gage, ever-knowledgeable about this sort of stuff, had been saying for weeks that the bees were going to swarm, but we still weren’t prepared.

We called Richard Harvey, our “bee guy,” who came, and helped us lure the bees back into a hive.  I had no idea this could be done.

See that black thing way up in the tree?  That’s bees.  A solid bee swarm.  I had never seen anything like it.

DSC_0078

The tree came down, and Gage and Richard lured them into a hive.  Amazing.

In the process, Richard discovered that the original hive was still populated, probably with a new queen, which means it was probably the old queen that left and took the swarm with her.  He also discovered three more queen eggs in the original hive, which they separated into new hives, hoping they would populate with bees looking for a new hive.

It’s all very complex.  I don’t pretend to try to understand it.  Bees are Gage’s thing.

DSC_0093

In any case, at the end of the day, we had not one hive, but five hives.

Then we had, what we can only assume was a wild swarm, populate one of the catch boxes Gage had set out.

Since this little adventure, Gage has captured two more swarms, from people wanting to get the bees out of their yards.  He has also been frantically building new hives to house all of these little creatures.  And as it turns out, new swarms are not exactly low maintenance.  Oh well … I knew it was too good to be true.  🙂

So in the matter of a month, we have gone from one hive to eight.  I guess we are in the bee business.