Enjoying the rain

Rainy afternoon at the farm.
Many years ago, a friend from Seattle came to visit while South Carolina was in the middle of a drought.  We went out to Congaree Swamp and got caught in a downpour, and he simply could not understand my ecstatic dance as the rain cooled the 100 degree day and provided much needed water to our state.  It continued to pour for hours, the parking  lot at the baseball park flooded, and still I was happy.  Now, I would also not have understood when I lived in Germany or England, but, like Seattle, rain is more common in both of those places than sunshine, which is what makes all the scenic photos and postcards so lush and green!
The area of Georgia where our farm is located has been edging into a drought, and working on weed-eating and finishing the water lines has been hot, sweaty work the past few days.   The good thing is that the fig trees and Goldenrain trees are hanging in there, presumably pushing their roots down into the Georgia clay, which will help them in the long run.    Still, the daylilies are a little brown and two of the Goldenraintrees were a little
The “redneck living room”

droopy, but this afternoon it started to rain.   We bought a bench and a beach umbrella a couple of days ago, and when the rain started we sat in what I have dubbed the redneck living room and listened to the rain fall in our woods and on the umbrella.  We stayed there until the rain soaked through our jeans and just enjoyed the sounds of the rain and the birds.   Once our jeans were so wet that we couldn’t bend our legs, we decided to head back to the RV where we have continued to listen to the rain for the past 4 hours.

One other thing I noticed today is that the soil around the figs was still damp this morning from the water I put on them yesterday.   That made schlepping a watering can and milk jug of water 300 or so yards worthwhile!   We’re used to dealing with South Carolina sand that feels bone dry an hour after the sprinklers run.   It’s no wonder that the daylilies here look better than the ones in Columbia that get watered 3 times a week.

There is more rain forecast for the next few days, and I am still thankful after seeing the corn and the hay fields so very dry around here.   I’m enjoying reading The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy again and we both needed a relaxing afternoon.   Now, if it rains for two weeks straight again, like it did over winter break, I’ll be back to complaining, but for now the sound of rain is a good thing.

City Life · Hive equipment

Delays, delays, and more delays!

Bee on lavender, June 2016

Last week we spent two days at the farm, went to workshops, and returned home for dental appointments.  We had planned to head back to the farm yesterday, but that didn’t work out.   We intended to check the bees in the out yards on Saturday, and are just getting around to doing so today.  It’s been a busy weekend and week.

The good news is that I was able to get the bones of the website coded and uploaded.  It took me a while to get back into writing HTML, but that part of my brain finally kicked back into gear and I’m happy with the design.  I have used CoffeeCup Software for web design for at least 15 years, but this was my first time using their Responsive Site Designer to create a template which I then edited through the HTML editor.   If I decide to start creating websites for other people again, I will probably buy and spend the time learning to use the site designer, but for now it was less of a learning (relearning) curve to just do things the old-fashioned way!   I’ve also really enjoyed taking and editing photographs to use on the site.    We still have to take inventory and then decide on pricing for items, but updating that won’t take me long at all.  The deciding is going to be what sucks all the time out of the days ahead!


Brushy Mountain English Hive

We used one of the website pictures for our business cards so that the site and the cards have similar themes.   We realized that we needed to get cards when we met many great people at the workshops last week.  The business card picture features the English Hive that hubby won at the Bee Institute — we set it up next to one of our Adirondack chairs  and I love sitting there watching the bees fly in and out.

Hubby also cut wood and built hive boxes, covers, and bottom boards, which I then painted.  I do have to wonder about his math sometimes as I’m sure he told me there were 10 covers to paint.  I stopped counting at 13…..   Maybe he didn’t think I’d go outside to start painting if I knew the real scope of the project.  (He’s probably right — it was HOT out there!)

Now we just have to replace the rusted-out bolts from a toilet tank, check the other toilets to see how close they are to springing leaks, vacuum seal and freeze the whiskey-honey ribs I cooked yesterday , and then maybe take a nap before deciding when to leave the big city for the peace and quiet of the country.   Not being on the farm has been frustrating, but the days in the city have been productive and satisfying.

Business Planning · Farmers · Government Agencies


Bee on lavender, June 2016

The school year is over, JROTC camp is over, hubby is on vacation, and we are very much looking forward to waking up on our own land.   We still have water and septic lines to finish up and bees to move, but when a friend told us about a couple of workshops this week, we felt attending them was well worth delaying other projects, and we were right.

Yesterday we attended the Team Agriculture Georgia (TAG) Workshop for Small, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers.   We learned a lot about the resources (financial and other) available to us.  Even though hubby’s degrees are in business, farming is a different kind of business than the ones he studied in school.  AgSouth offers many courses at no cost to farmers, some of which help you qualify for FSA loans.  I have four typed pages of notes just about creating a business plan.   One of the things that stood out to me from the AgSouth presentation is that we need to move our mindset away from bee-keeping as a hobby and toward bee-keeping as a business.   While I’ve thought of it as a business, the presentation made me realize that I was actually still mentally in hobby mode.   Our conversations since yesterday have been productive.   Something as simple as setting a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed  (a SMART goal) instead of having a general goal of wanting “more” bees and honey has made me think deeply.

The afternoon session we attended informed us about USDA programs available.   The Natural Resources Conservation Service is there to help private landowners make good conservation decision, and they will come to your farm to make suggestions about all kinds of things.  One of the things mentioned was “herbaceous weed control” and we’re wondering if they’d have suggestions as to how to get rid of the blackberries and those spiny vines!

The first session we attended was about honey bees and other pollinators.  While we already knew much of what was discussed, we did pick up some good additional information and it stroked our egos to realize how much we do know!   We also got some ideas about services we can possibly offer to farmers and beginning bee-keepers in our area.

Today we attended an AgAware Marketing Seminar that was replete with information and resulted in another 4 pages of typed notes in addition to hubby’s notes.   When he finally makes it home through the wind, and the rain, and the downed trees, and downed power lines (it’s been a long, interesting trip home for him), we’ll combine notes and discuss which of the many things we want to research from both days to prioritize.

If anyone is interested, I’d be glad to share my notes, but I strongly recommend attending workshops like these, especially if you are just getting started, or even just thinking about, building an agriculture business of any size.   We learned so much and we are so excited to refine our business plan.

Other news that I still need to blog about:  we harvested our first honey, we waterproofed the RV roof, we dug trenches for water lines, and we drank from our well.  It’s been an exciting few weeks!  My brain has been rebelling against putting anything into complete sentences or proof-reading, but I’m ready to start writing again now.