Construction · Gardening · Lazer Creek Apiary · Natural Food Sources · RV rehab · Supplemental Feeding

Lots of Work: Lots of Progress

…but still so much more to do!

Clayton Homes - Bliss - Mobile Home
Clayton Homes – Bliss – Mobile Home

Our RV upgrade was delivered on Tuesday, so we will soon have 765 square feet of living space and a shower that Hubby can stand under!   Of course, we have to endure the waiting game first — waiting for the electrician to hook the home up, then for the air conditioning installation.  Once the a/c is in, we can get the propane tank moved and connected and wait for repairs and inspections along the way.  While all of that is going on, we need to hook up water lines and install the septic system.    It’s possible to take a test to acquire  a one-time septic installation permit for your own land in Georgia and with Hubby’s army engineering training, that won’t be a problem.  However, we spent many hours over the past two days transporting supplies for the septic and the decks and the heavy lifting still needs to be done.    We also have to make a trip to one of the more distant hardware stores to buy what the closest Home Depot didn’t have enough of in stock yesterday…..

Our first foray into the house — just to measure so that we know what actually will fit from the house in South Carolina — resulted in our first clay stain on the light beige carpet, despite all the precautions we took to avoid that.   Beige carpet, clay, and a dog are a bad combination — not that the dog has been in the house yet, so we can’t blame her!    We surrounded the home with grass seed covered with straw last night, but it will be a while before the “front yard” stops being a muddy mess after a thunderstorm, so we’ve decided to remove the carpet in the living room and install laminates before we move furniture down here.  Installing flooring in a 13 foot by 13 foot space is a breeze compared to what we’ve done in the past.  (Diagonal hardwoods look great on HGTV and in our bedroom, but we’ll NEVER do that again.) 

Meanwhile, our everyday life goes on, but with gardens, bees, and walks to the creek taking a back seat to getting the home move-in ready.    I took the time to put landscape fabric around magnolia trees this morning and plan to gather more rocks to put on top of the fabric after this cool-down break.   We’ve eaten our first zucchini from this garden, all five blueberries that we harvested this year, and handfuls of plump, sweet blackberries from the thornless vines we planted last summer.    One grape vine is producing well, but I reluctantly pruned it a little this morning as this is its first year and it needs to put its resources into deep roots and good health, not grapes.    Hubby’s brother has provided us with a bounty of vegetables and blueberries from his garden, so we are eating well, despite the size and maturity of our mini-garden.

The bees are bringing in three colors of pollen in large quantities and all hives are full of nectar, bee bread, and honey.  While the bees are now showing an interest in syrup, every hive has enough resources that I don’t worry when I’m too busy to refill feeders.   I’m still trying to reduce the number of drownings on feeders.  The gravity fed dog bowls work fairly well, but the bees insist on moving the gravel aside to crawl under the container when levels get low.   Somehow they’ve forced their way through cheesecloth, squeezed through rocks, and just generally worked around everything I’ve tried to block spelunking expeditions.  The next step is the wire mesh we use for robbing screens.  Surely I’m smarter than a bee and can figure out how to save them from themselves!

Dog bowl feeders
Dog bowl feeders

We didn’t harvest any honey this year, although we do plan to pull some and store it before the fall flow so that we can feed it back to them over winter.    Not harvesting honey is a sacrifice that we have to make this year as there are only so many hours to the day and my first day of work is rapidly approaching!    The new bees are still very productive and mild-mannered and I’ve only been stung twice in 3 weeks.

Well, it looks like it’s going to rain soon, so it’s time to stop typing and go gather rocks.  We have no shortage of them, so I have plenty to keep me occupied until the weather drives me back indoors.

RV rehab

Climbing out windows….

…and other adventures.

Let me first start with the good things about today:

  • Once again,  friends and family members took time out of their busy days to bail me out of a predicament — or two.  Or the same predicament twice…  you decide.
  • People at Taylor-Foster Hardware store also went out of their way to help  me and didn’t make me feel incompetent at all!
  • I have successfully learned how to use a screw extractor.
  • At 59 years old, I am still able to climb out of a window without any injuries.
  • I am not allergic to yellow jacket stings, although there is now a yellow-jacket on my hit list.
  • Half the “living room” of the RV is painted and redecorated.
  • Our loan for the tractor was approved, so we should be proud Kubota owners tomorrow.

So, back to climbing out of windows.

The last time I remember climbing in through or out of a window was at the first house I lived in.  I forgot my house key on a regular basis, and the bathroom window was just big enough for me to get through when there was no-one home.  By the time we moved when I was fourteen, it was becoming a tight fit, but as that window required me climbing up onto the window sill and then climbing in the small window that actually opened above the larger window pane, I felt pretty sure I could climb out of the RV window and step down to the bench below.  I was right, but I shouldn’t have had to do that in the first place.

It all started when I went to let the dog out this morning and the door wouldn’t open.  We had always wondered what the second lock on the RV door was for, and we’d lock it for good measure when we’d leave, but today we (I) found out that when that second lock is locked from outside with the key, it prevents anyone inside from unlocking the latch from inside.  Now, I see no reason for this as it could only possibly be of any help to kidnappers and I don’t see RV manufacturers intentionally aiding and abetting crimes, but the fact was that when hubby left in the morning, he unintentionally locked me in!

My first rescuer was our neighbor who seems to bail us out of something or other every time we are here.  He came over, unlocked the door, and I was free.  That is, I was free for a little while.   Before I sent him a text message and while I was waiting for him to arrive, I decided to remove the plate from the inside of the lock to see if there was anything I could jiggle or spray with WD-40 to get out.   That didn’t work, so I had everything half put back together when he arrived.   Silly me then decided to take it back apart and spray some more WD-40 into it for good luck …. and then I put it back together with the door latch part in the wrong position …. and I stripped the one screw that I put it while doing so.  Once again, I was inside with a dog that needed to go out and a door that didn’t open.

 

latch
Stripped screw

Now, asking a neighbor for help when hubby has unintentionally locked me in is very different from asking for help when I have very shortly afterwards unintentionally locked myself in.  (It’s a pride thing!)  I googled ways to remove a stripped screw and nothing that was inside the RV worked.  I decided my best bet was to get down to the shipping container to see if a smaller screw driver or anything else that might work was available.   So, out the window I went.   I don’t remember it being quite as difficult 45+ years ago, but I’m still quite proud that I made it out in one piece!  I came back with a hammer (Bob Villa recommended trying to hammer a screw driver a little deeper into the screw among other things), a crow bar (not practical, but it seemed like a good idea at the time), and a screw driver.   The door opened from the outside, so I let myself in and promptly shut the door again to keep the rain out!   The rain was out, I was in, and the screw wasn’t going anywhere.  I needed a screw extractor — something I’d never used before.

By this time, I’d spoken to hubby a couple of times and he was very much against me repeating my acrobatic out-the-window maneuver.    My second rescuer was my wonderful brother-in-law who stopped by long enough to open the door even though he was already running late to catch a flight.   The dog went out, I went out, and I DID NOT close the door again.  Eventually I got the dog back in (she was a little freaked out by my animated language while trying to get out of the window, especially when the window latch latched itself under the back of my bra strap, leaving me dangling with my toes barely touching the bench below the window) and made my way to Taylor-Foster.

I bought a set of screw drivers to leave in the RV for future emergencies and the screw extractor.   The directions were pretty straight forward and the only real problem I had was getting the extractor to turn once I had it firmly embedded, but finally I was back where I was when my neighbor left almost 3 hours before.    The door opens much easier now, thanks to all the WD-40 I sprayed in there, so I that’s another plus.  I don’t see any new bruises and nothing hurts, so I guess I’m in pretty good shape for someone who’s AARP eligible.  I have a new skill and increased confidence in my abilities.   Finally, despite the late start, I managed to get the portion of painting done that I had planned to do today.

I did forget to say how I know I’m not allergic to yellow jacket stings.  There’s one acting very territorially at the front gate and it stung me on the chin as I was leaving and on the hand when I came back.   As hornet stings give me asthma attacks, I’ll take knowing that my body handles yellow jacket stings as a positive.

It’s supposed to rain again all day tomorrow, but I’ll try to stay out of trouble.   Maybe I just need to sit on the couch a read a good book — or maybe I’ll try to teach the dog to at least appear concerned when there are mouse-like sounds in the cabinet under the sink!   But that’s a story for another day….

mouse
Mouse from cdn.isciencetimes.com

 

 

 

Bees · Construction · Honey · RV rehab

Living on our land.

RV moved onto our land.

Thanks to BIL, BIL’s friend, and BH, our RV is now on our land and we went to sleep and woke up looking at tree tops — our tree tops!   Having never moved an RV before, I don’t know if it’s always such a bear to get one set up, but I do know that the new scissor jack that looks prettier than the others but refuses to work makes everything more complicated.   We also thought the pad was more level than it actually is, so if we ever do this again I’ll actually break out the level and see where we may need to add more gravel before parking the behemoth.   We’ve enjoyed sitting outside drinking our morning coffee and sitting outside at the end of the day watching the sun set.   It’s easier to notice all the wild life when we just sit still for a while.  We’ve also withstood our first thunderstorm, so we know that the fibreglass remained intact over the leaky roof bits.   We still have the other roof coating to put on, but it requires 24 hours of dry time, which means that we won’t be able to run the A/C once we paint it on.  The plan is to put it on when we have a dry morning before heading back to the city.   The plan may turn into putting it on when it’s cool enough to not need A/C.   After working outside in 98 degree heat the last few days, that sounds like a better plan to me.

Checking the English hive

Being out there first thing in the morning made it easier to check on our bees.   All of the hives except one are doing okay, but the dearth is definately upon us.   The queens are not laying and there is very little nectar in the hives.   There’s still pollen coming in, but no nectar.  We found the same thing happening when we got back to the city, although one queen is still laying well.  The new queen in my English hive is very active, but has not laid any eggs yet.  We put some sugar water out and hope that jumpstarts all the queens.

We had opened the English hive shortly after our new queen had hatched.  It was clear that she had dispatched most of her sisters, but there were two queen cells intact that we had hoped we got to before she did.   No dice.   The two-frame section of the queen castle in which we installed the cells with a couple of frames of bees from another hive contained only a few dead bees, some hive beetles, and wax moth trails.   We were disappointed and took the frames over to the shed so that we could put them in the freezer as soon as we took the suits off.   Hubby put the smoker and hive tool up, took off his jacket, turned around to pick up the frames, and, lo-and-behold, there was a brand new queen searching the frames.   Of course, all the queen isolation stuff was in the garage, but we did manage to get her into a queen cage and installed into the castle with a couple of frames of bees, larvae, and honey.     We’re pretty sure we have a drone congreation area in our yard as we have found an abnormal number of queens and I’ve even had mating bees clinging to my tshirt!

Figs, July 11, 2016

Finding the queen would have been enough excitement for one day, but we also picked 3 pounds of figs that ripened while we were gone.   I currently have mason jars sterilizing in the dishwasher and will start making jam just as soon as I finish my second cup of coffee.   I want to try using honey instead of sugar (or using a mixture of the two) this year, but I’ll do that with a small batch later.    Honey-whiskey ribs are already a big hit in our house.   I have an entire book of honey recipes to try, so we’ll keep feeding the bees in hopes that they will feed us in return.

RV rehab

RV Rehab – December 2015

I added a date to the title of this post because I doubt that our initial round of repairs will be our last!   We got a great deal on a used RV, but there was clear evidence of leaks, especially in the bedroom.  When we took the mattress out, we saw just how bad the plywood below was damaged and moldy.   I still spent the first day cleaning and we ended the day with a bug bomb to reduce the lady bug population!

That night, it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  The next morning, the bedroom was flooded, so we started to dig a little deeper.  The ceiling panels in the bedroom were not caulked to the walls and there was water in the light fixture.  We took the light fixture down and water poured onto the floor.  My husband started to take the ceiling panel down and ended up dumping a whole lot of water on himself.  At that point, we decided to take the ceiling and back wall down.   That led to taking the useless corner closet and nightstand out, and, with the closet gone, the floor started to feel like a trampoline with worn-out springs.  So, out came the walls and floor.  The wall panels did not match the rest of the RV, and we found out that was because someone had simply attached them over the old damaged ones.  The floor was the same story.  Continue reading “RV Rehab – December 2015”