Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bee Charmer

Ever since I can remember I've always had a love for bees, not just any bee though, specifically the honeybee! I think it all began when I found out the Greek meaning of my name (Melissa), which is Honeybee.

To top off my infatuation with honeybees, upon seeing Idgie handle the bees in Fried Green Tomatoes, I decided I wanted to be a bee charmer! Well, twenty some odd years later, I finally get my chance! I am proud to say we have our first bee hive!
My husband grew up helping his grandpa with hives, however, I'm a I bought some reading material. (We both found them full of invaluable information!)

After doing research, we decided on Russian bees, they are suppose to be more docile and more resistant to disease than the more common Italian breed. However they are also less common. We turned to Walter T. Kelley, a bit weary of mail order bees, they arrived in good condition.
We gave the post office a heads up to expect them. They called first thing Friday morning, the bees had arrived! Giddy with anticipation, I loaded up my son and headed to the post office to bring home the package! My husband suggested I take a spray bottle and mist them with water to calm them down for the ride home. Ever wondered how bees are mailed? This is the package I picked up!

My husband came home to perform the transfer of the bees to the hive. While we had the head netting, the rest of the gear had not been purchased yet. (I do not recommend trying this at home without proper attire.)

He removed the Queen cage, she was in good condition with a few bees tending to her. Within the first week the worker bees should eat through the candy, which will release the Queen into the hive.

He put two little nails in the side of the Queen cage to hang it from the frames.

And finally, dumping the remaining bees into the hive, and I mean literally dumping!

Closed up the hive and let the bees get acquainted with their new home and surroundings! All done without a single sting! (I wonder how long that'll last?)

We've been patiently waiting to open the hive for the first time, meanwhile we've been observing the hive daily! I wondered how long it would take them to find the blackberry blossoms - it didn't take long! They also love the white clover that is blooming all around! We love watching them, it's fascinating!

Our future bee master!

Do you have bees? What is your favorite part about being a bee keeper?
This was shared at The HomeAcre HopFrom The Farm Blog Hop, and The Backyard Farming Connection!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I am devastated! It was a wonderful Spring, all the established fruit trees were loaded with blossoms! I've been gearing up for a canning marathon....and now...BAM! We've lost our Bartlett Pear, and both Crabapples trees to Fireblight!

What is Fireblight? It is a bacterial disease that is very destructive to apple, pear, and crabapple trees, in addition to roses and other plants in the Rosaceae family. Fireblight is easily spread from tree to tree by pollinators, who spread it via an ooze. It can also be spread during pruning via shears, that is why it is very important to always clean your shears between trees (or even cuts). Rain and wind are also contributors to spreading the disease.

Weather conditions play a big part in the onset of the disease each season. A damp spring, with warm weather that produces rapid growth on trees are prime conditions for the bacteria to flourish.

It is called Fireblight, due to the appearance the tree it has been burnt or scorched by fire.

Once the tree has it, it will always have it. It sits dormant through the winter months and is rejuvenated when the temperatures rise in the Spring. When temps reach 65-degrees the bacteria is kicked into full gear and multiplies like crazy.

If only a limb, or small portion of the tree has Fireblight, it is possible to save the rest of the tree. To manage the spread of the disease within the tree, you need to cut off the diseased branch (recommended at least 16" from the infected point) and burn it. Do Not let the wood sit in a pile on your property, it can still transmit the disease...
Unfortunately in our case, too much of the trees are infected. We have to remove the entire tree. (It would never survive if we removed all its branches...)

This is a sad, sad day at Magnolia Holler...however with 60+ young fruit trees, we can't risk it spreading further!

Have you ever faced the damage of Fireblight? Or lost prized fruit trees to other environmental factors? What did you do?

This was shared at The HomeAcre Hop and From The Farm Blog Hop!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Twine, bamboo, and time

Using bamboo stalks I cut down from behind the pond, a ball of twine, and about an hour of my time - I made a climbing structure for my peas, the Great Wall of Peas. Placing it next to the bamboo teepee I made earlier to support the miniature pumpkins, and the Sunflower Forest, our Children's Garden is coming along.

It is very easy to make this style climbing structure. First, gather your supplies. As I said, I used bamboo, but any type of pole would work. You could make it very rustic and use tree limbs, branches, etc. To make one of these, you'll need seven poles; the four uprights need to be the same height, while the other three should be about the same length (the length of your row).

Take the four uprights and stick them in the ground, two on each end of your row (my rows are 7 ft long) and about a foot (12") apart. Cross them near the top and tie together with twine.

Next, take your remaining three- place one one top, laying on each X you just created with the uprights. And the other two laying on the ground at the leg of each upright.

I use landscape pins to hold them securely in place. Now you have a structure ready for twine!

I like to mark my seed holes first, to serve as a guide for my twine. I space my peas 3" apart. To start, I tie the twine to one of the bottom bamboo poles, wrap up and over the crossbar, and down to the other side.

Repeating this all the way down the row.

Voila! You have a simple climbing structure (and easy on the pocket book), that will show off the beauty of your peas!

Do you have a special or fun way you plant your peas?

This was shared at the HomeAcre Hop, From The Farm Blog Hop, and the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Monday, May 20, 2013

Turkey Chili Recipe

Earlier in the month I shared about how blessed we've been this Turkey season, you can read that here. Yesterday was the last day of the season and we got our last one to fill the bag limit.

Previously I showed a craft and talked about the chili. After (a lot) of begging and pleading, my husband shared his special recipe for Wild Turkey Chili!!!

Clean game and debone. (This is about a 2lb breast.)

Grind the meat...a grinder is a wonderful investment!

Sweating garlic, onion, olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt & pepper. Just until onion is translucent.

Add meat to onion, more salt, pepper, olive oil, and Bam! (More olive oil is better than too little, since wild game is extremely low in fat.)

Mix up the special spices...
We mix them up based on smell and keep it pretty mild; it is mostly chili powder, with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and pinch of sugar.

Add spices, pinto beans, and tomatoes.

Cover and simmer 30-ish minutes. Stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom.

Now to cook the rice, we use a rice makes it so easy!

We serve over a bed of rice, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a few green onions from the garden!

(You can substitute the wild turkey with ground meat of your choice. Be sure to cut back on the olive oil if it's not wild game.)

This was shared at The Backyard Farming Connection Hop, From The Farm Blog Hop, and Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Cicada

The long awaited 17-year Cicada on the east coast of the United States has finally emerged!

They needed the ground temperature to be at least 64-degrees F before they would emerge. The warm front that came through yesterday, must have raised the ground temp just enough, because they started to emerge in the masses overnight!

We have a lamppost in the front yard with clematis growing up it...they seem to LOVE this area!

Their are 12 different broods of the 17-year cicada, each on its own cycle. Therefore the ones emerging now are Brood 2, last seen in 1996.

Cicadas have a unique life cycle. After emerging from a long 17-year life underground, the males sing to attract the females, and die soon after mating. The females can lay up to 600 eggs! The eggs will rest on twigs or branches (where ever the female left them) and will hatch later in the season, fall to the ground, and the nymph will burrow into the ground and start the cycle all over again!

My garden flag is covered as well.

But a closer inspection shows that many are empty shells in which the adult Cicada emerged from.

Supposedly the Cicada is a delicacy (low fat, no carb, high protein), though I have not ventured to try them. Our dog, Genny, loves them! And I'm sure they'd make great fishing bait too.

If you are willing, here are a few recipes by Jenna Jadin, an Entomology major at the University of Maryland.
Their are several that catch my eye, such as Cicada-Rhubarb Pie, Banana-Cicada Bread, and Maryland Cicadas.
Have you ever feasted on Cicada? Let me know what you think and your favorite Cicada recipe.

This was shared at the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Monday, May 13, 2013

Traveling Gypsies

We have a caravan of traveling gypsies that set up camp in our garden!!! Or are they elves, maybe hobbits!

Thus far, this Spring has given us some pretty crazy weather! And tonight it strikes again...the average low at our house for mid-May is in the low 50's. Tonight the low is 32-degrees with a frost warning! Yikes!

Luckily we don't have everything for the summer garden planted yet, just the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. So I grabbed some old bed sheets, clothes pins, and headed outside to save our delicate veggies. The tomato cages where easy, but I had to get creative for the rest. I used bamboo to make little teepee's for some of the smaller plants. We had three saw horses I grabbed, they made perfect drapes to cover two plants each. Lastly, we had some old lattice which I locked together to make tents.

Here is a basic guideline for Frost Sensitive crops, which should be protected (covered) when/if temps near or dip below 32-degrees:
Hot peppers
Sweet peppers
Summer squash

I ran out of bed sheets for our sunflowers! I covered them with hay, hopefully that will be enough...

Also, I'm worried about our strawberries...a coworker told me about a trick...
Going out early in the morning and spraying them with water before the sun shines on them. I'll have to give this a whirl...fingers crossed!

Do you have delicate veggies panted already? And are you experiencing March weather in May? How do you protect your crop?

This was shared at the Backyard Farming Connection.

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Friday, May 10, 2013

Embroidery 101 for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is right around the corner and if you're like me, you're still waiting for that perfect gift to jump out at you. I've always felt thoughtful gifts are more memorable than the price of the gift. This year, I saw an embroidered saying...Hello, Beautiful...and inspiration struck! I found the perfect gift for my Mom! I decided to make an embroidered wall hanging that she can hang by her nightstand, to see every morning when she wakes up and every night before going to sleep.

Now, I've never done embroidery before, so I figured I'd keep it simple and wing it! I use to do cross stitch all the time, so I already had the needed supplies. I'm using a 3" hoop, scissors, embroidery floss, and needle.

Next, I practiced my writing and carefully wrote on my fabric.
I used muslin for my first one, then got a little more creative and used printed fabric for my second.

I chose my floss, divided to two strands, threaded the needle, and knotted the end. My second gift, I used three strands to make the yellow floss more bold and standout against the printed fabric.

Embroidery has several stitches, however since I'm a novice and keeping it simple, I only used the back stitch. To do the back stitch, starting on the bottom side, decide the length of your stitch, and bring the needle up at the end of that length (at the end of the, would-be, stitch).

Pull all the way through, then poke the needle down at the beginning of your stitch. Your stitch goes backwards through your design, hence the name "back stitch"!

Continue through your design, trying to keep the stitch lengths equal in size. Since my design has loops, I found it easier to have close stitches in the loops to keep the shape.

When you're ready to tie off your thread...on the backside, stick the needle through a prior stitch, then loop it through itself to make a knot.

It took me about an hour for each. Voila! I now have a homemade, thoughtful gift!

So, if you're still looking for that perfect something...maybe you have a special saying you'd like to give your Mom, Daughter, Daughter-in-law, or friend.
This was shared at the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and the From the Farm Blog Hop.

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sunflower Forest

Our Children's Garden already has the teepee for the miniature pumpkins to vine up, as well as provide a private hideaway for my son. And the Great Wall of Peas, for him to hide behind (and guard) while playing Super Hero! Now we have the Sunflower Forest!

First I drafted my plan. I have five sunflower varieties, all ranging in height.

Russian Mammoth 10'+
Arkara 10'
Vanilla Ice 5'-6'
Lemon Queen 5'
Chianti Hybrid 4'-5'

Next I marked the rows. Two rows, about a foot apart, and the seeds 15" apart in each row. I staggered the seeds in each row, so when they grow in it should be a nice, full forest.

We already have sprouts! I'm amazed how large this little sprout will grow!
This is the Russian Mammoth and could grow to the soaring height of 18'!

Won't the birds, bees, and butterflies just love us!
Are you planting any cheery sunflowers this year?

This was shared at the Backyard Farming Connection Hop and HomeAcre Hop.

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler