Spring/Summer 2017 Homestead Updates: Bees!

This will probably be my final update for this series and it is pretty short. The bees have been pretty simple and straight forward so there isn’t a lot to say!

Homestead updates, bees

I got my bees in the middle of May. I ordered a package and picked them up about an hour and a half from my home. I realized too late that I should have bought two packages. Let me tell you, driving an hour and a half with a box full of irritated bees next to you in the car is a bit unnerving!

Truck full of package bees, homestead updates

Homestead updates, picking up bees 

Luckily, my brother is staying with us for a bit and is an experienced beekeeper so I have expert help! My neighbor is also an experienced beekeeper, so between the two of them they make up for my lack of knowledge! I have read the books but actually doing it a bit different than reading about it!

 

I bought all my bee supplies from Dadant. My brother assembled the hive bodies and frames for me and I got discount mis-mixed paint from the local hardware store to paint them. My husband built a great stand that will hold about five hives.

Homestead updates, assembling bee hives Homestead updates, assembling beehives

We got the bees installed in the hive, fed them sugar water for a couple weeks, and just let them do their thing. By mid-June, it was time to put on the second hive body so my bees now have a two-story home. We will be adding the first super in the next week or so.

We are trying to check them as little as possible since hive inspections set them back significantly. I’m super impressed with how quickly they are filling the hive and reproducing. They make me look like a sloth! I can’t wait until next year when we have honey! I got a bit of a taste because they tried to build some comb on the lid. It was amazing!

Homestead updates, bees

We did put out a bee trap in hopes of catching a swarm or two but didn’t have any luck with that. Maybe next year. I will probably purchase another package in the spring so that I have at least two hives. Or I’ll figure out how to split the hives….apparently, that is something I am supposed to do.

I have a ton to learn still about bee keeping but so far it has been the easiest of my projects!! I managed to accomplish 2/3 of my animal goals this year. Chickens and bees have been successful! I didn’t get rabbits and I am postponing that goal until next year, but I’m happy with what we have accomplished so far!

***I just realized I don’t have any pictures of the whole hive put together. I’ll take some next time I’m out there and put them in a new update!****

Well, that’s it! A run down of what I’ve accomplished this year on our little homestead! I’ll update again in a few months when there is something to tell. If you would like to see all of the updates in this series visit the homestead update introduction post. Later this week I’ll let you know how my other goals are coming along.

I would love to hear what sort of homesteading adventures you are up to, please share in the comments!

Spring/Summer 2017 Homestead Update: The Poultry

Man, it is taking me a long time to get these updates done!! I plan to do several next week and finish up. Hopefully, I am able to get them all up!

My homesteading adventures in raising chickens

The Poultry: We got chickens (and guineas)! I’ve learned a lot in our little chicken experiment.

We had an existing small building on our property with an attached fenced yard that we are using for our chicken pen. We just added nest boxes and a roost.

First, in February, we got 13 chicks that were just a couple days old (well one of them was a week older than the rest). We got 2 Cochin, 3 Brahma, 3 silver laced Wyandotte, 3 gold laced Wyandotte, and 2 Columbian Wyandotte. I had intended to get all lace winged Wyandotte but the breeder we got them from didn’t have enough so we got the others instead. Unfortunately, 3 died in the first week. One we are pretty sure died because one of my kids dropped it on its head. The other two we don’t know why.

our homesteading adventure updates

I kept the chicks in a large plastic bin with pine shavings in our spare bathroom. I quickly learned that I do NOT like having chicks in the house and the got dust from those shavings EVERYWHERE. I also realized how long it was going to take to get eggs from these chicks and decided I needed some laying hens. So, at the first animal swap at our local Tractor Supply Company in March we picked up 6 laying hens. I also picked up 6 guineas at that swap.

our homesteading adventure updates

The laying hens are Egyptians and Phoenix. These are both ornamental breeds and not really known for great egg production and they are definitely too skinny for meat but they were what was there and a good price so we got them! They lay small to medium eggs. When we first got them, they laid almost every day so we still had pretty good egg production although smaller eggs.

My homesteading adventures in raising chickens My homesteading adventures in raising chickens My homesteading adventures in raising chickens

My brother came to stay with us for a bit and brought his six chickens as well. I’m not sure what breed they are, I believe some sort of laying cross. They are excellent layers and lay medium to large eggs.

We have lost a few chickens from the dog or from them flying out of the pen and not returning and I bought two more silver lace Wyandotte pullets at a recent swap. Currently, we have 7 of the original chicks left (one or two we suspect are roosters), 5 of the six layers we got at the first swap, all 6 of my brother’s chickens, and the 2 we just got.

Our guineas were constantly getting out of the pen and we ended up losing all but one of those to the road, the dog, and unknown causes. Now we have one male guinea, I’m debating keeping him, butchering him, or selling him. He stays in the pen now that he is alone. I would get more for snake and tick control (which is why I got them in the first place) but I don’t want to waste money on them getting killed again. Turns out guineas are about the stupidest animals I’ve ever come in contact with!!

What I’ve learned so far:

  • I need an incubating/brooding area that is NOT in the house before I get any more chicks.
  • Leg bands are a pain in the rear; if I decide I need to keep track of specific birds in the future I will try wing bands in stead.
  • Guineas are really really dumb.
  • I need to fence our property so I can let them range more. At a minimum we will expand the chicken yard, it took all of two days for them to completely remove all of the vegetation in there.
  • Chickens eat a LOT and organic feed is expensive. We are exploring ways to lower our feed costs.
  • Egg production slows down a LOT in the hot weather. I will be exploring ways to freeze or dehydrate eggs for when we have a surplus to offset times when production is slower.
  • To balance the cost of food and egg production it will be important to cull birds who are not producing well and roosters that we don’t need. That makes me sad but I can’t feed a bunch of birds that aren’t doing their jobs.

I’m actually enjoying the poultry more than I expected and would like to add quail, ducks, geese and perhaps other birds eventually. I didn’t think I would like it much and was just motivated by the potential for fresh eggs, but these birds are great! Chickens are surprisingly full of personality.

My homesteading adventures in raising chickens

I’m still waiting for my chicks to start laying, I believe a few may be laying since we are getting some odd eggs. Our overall egg production has plummeted from 11 a day to about 6 a day due to the heat. I’m still trying to decide which chickens I will keep and which I will get rid of or butcher. We ended up with one really nice looking silver laced rooster that will definitely stay. There are a few I don’t like and I’m not sure the original layers are worth their feed at this point so we will likely cull a good bit in the fall. I had originally planned on having only one breed of chicken but I kind of like the way the variety looks in the yard.

I won’t do chicks in a brooder again until I have better facilities for that but I’m considering letting a hen sit on and hatch some later this summer and seeing how that goes. I would definitely like some more Wyandotte hens, but of course at this point, we wouldn’t know what we are going to get with the mix of chickens.

I will put a light on a timer in the coop in the winter and I would love to add an automatic door but not sure that will be in the budget. I’m hoping the hubby will make me some small chicken tractors later this year to use for quail, quarantining new birds, and separating birds I want to use for a breeding program.

I would love to hear from you! Share your experiences with chickens or chicken tips in the comments!!

Click here for the intro post to the Homestead update series which contains links to all posts in the series. 

My Journey to Wellness – Part 2 – What I’m Doing About It

Last week I shared with you some of the health problems I have struggled with and my most recent bout of issues. Today I would like to share something I am trying out to address these issues. This is something I actually debated for quite some time and have been really hesitant to try. I decided to give it a shot even though I’m still a bit skeptical.

How I'm overcoming my health struggles

I have MANY friends who are Plexus Ambassadors and I see their stories of how awesome they feel and how much their health is improving. I had read all the literature about how Plexus is targeting gut health and how their products work by healing the gut. I’m familiar with gut health and agree with the idea that gut health effects the entire body but I was skeptical of this product.

  • What is in it?
  • It is expensive.
  • I want to be able to heal my body with natural whole foods, not a processed supplement (but I’m already taking processed supplements so I’m not sure why I had such an issue with this).

I started a few other things to try to support my adrenals. I am taking an adrenal cocktail each day (orange juice, sole, and cream of tartar) and I’m taking an adrenal support supplement. I tried a nettle infusion but couldn’t drink it, it tastes like dirt and makes me gag. After weeks of not seeing much improvement and being exhausted, I decided I might as well try Plexus. At this point what do I have to lose except a few dollars? I reached the point of desperation and am willing to try anything that might help. I’ve looked over the ingredients and while I’m not necessarily familiar with all of them they are natural ingredients and I didn’t see anything concerning in it.

 

How I'm overcoming my health struggles
Click this graphic for a detailed information sheet on Slim

 

I thought some of you may be feeling the same way, seeing other people’s results and wondering if perhaps it could help you too. I don’t know yet if it will help me but I’m giving it a try and will post here every couple of weeks and let you know how it is going. I am drinking Slim and also trying the Bio Cleanse and ProBio 5. I joined as an ambassador because then I get the best price but I will be absolutely honest with you on if I think it is benefitting me. If you would like to try along with me feel free to order through my link and I’ll support you any way I can.

Check out this video for a quick overview of how Slim works!

So far, I’ve been drinking Plexus Slim for two weeks and have slowly added in the Bio Cleanse and ProBio 5 over the last week. One of the first, and in my opinion most important, changes is that I was able to kick my soda habit. It is embarrassing to admit but I was horribly addicted to soda (Dr. Pepper specifically). Anyone who knows me knows the ability to quit drinking it is a huge deal. The first couple days of drinking Slim I had pretty major sugar/soda cravings but after that, they just stopped. I literally FORGOT to drink a Dr. Pepper. That is a pretty big win in my books!! Definitely worth the cost so far.

How I'm overcoming my health struggles

I have also been waking up by 6:30 every morning without an alarm. I’m waking up before my kids and not feeling groggy or having to drag myself out of bed. I am also not experiencing the mid-afternoon slump where I can barely keep my eyes open at 3 pm. I am still pretty tired by the time I get my kids in bed but I also have a lot of damage to heal. I have had less pain overall and more pain-free days in the last week and I was able to make it through running our local 3-day homeschool conference without a major crash (I was exhausted when it was over but I made it through!).

How I'm overcoming my health struggles

I am finding these improvements pretty awesome and am hoping to continue seeing other improvements. I am still taking my adrenal supplement and sole as well and plan to continue doing so (and I will expand on those a little more in the future). I will share every few weeks how I am doing and how or if I think the Plexus is helping. If you would like to try this experiment with me click here to get started or feel free to continue following my story before deciding if you want to try it!

Have you tried Plexus or found some other awesome way to improve your health problems? Share in the comments!! 

**I am not a doctor or health care professional and I don’t play one on the internet. Seek the advice of a trusted health care professional for any health concerns.***

Journey to Wellness – Part 1; The Problem

I have mentioned in other posts that I’ve been having some health struggles. I thought I would share what is wrong and what I’m trying in case any of you are dealing with the same things and looking for ideas. (This post got long so I’ve broken it into two parts, this first part is the background on what my health issues are, next week I will share what I’m doing about it.)

My pursuit of health and wellness trying to heal adrenal and thyroid issues

I have had thyroid issues for 15 years, my thyroid just can’t seem to keep up. For the first 10+ years after being diagnosed I was treated in the way modern medicine typically treats these issues. Unfortunately, my health slowly deteriorated instead of improving. At one point I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (I believe the symptoms of this were really just a result of my thyroid issues being inadequately treated and the adrenal fatigue that resulted because of my sluggish thyroid). The first half of this time was what I call “pre-crunchy” and I really didn’t know or pay attention to how what I was ingesting affected my health, so my diet was also terrible and I depended on caffeine and sugar to keep me going. I now know that this just compounded my problems.

About 10 years after getting diagnosed with my thyroid issues, I started learning more about natural treatments for all sorts of things and how food and the gut affect overall health. I started cleaning up my diet and sought out a functional doctor to change my medicine to something that would hopefully allow my body to start actually healing and functioning better rather than putting a bandaid on the symptoms. I had amazing success with changing my diet, adding a few supplements, taking a good quality multivitamin, and changing my thyroid medicine.

For several years I felt great, my energy level was back up, and my pain and migraines were almost non-existent. Then we got our assignment to Germany and I had trouble getting the supplements and medication I needed. While I managed to get the medication, it was a constant source of stress and I wasn’t able to maintain my whole regime of supplements. The entire assignment was also stressful in other ways, my husband worked long hours and our living situation was not the best (our house was full of mold and the neighbors smoked right outside our windows so we were forced to constantly inhale cigarette smoke).

My pursuit of health and wellness trying to heal adrenal and thyroid issues

About a year and a half ago we needed to make an emergency trip back to the states. At the last minute, we packed up and flew 9 hours over the ocean, spend a whirlwind two weeks in Texas visiting family and driving all over the state then flew back over the ocean – all with 4 kids. At this time I was heavily (overly) involved in many volunteer positions there in Germany and spent a lot of energy on them. When I flew back, there was no time to recover or grieve the loss that prompted the trip, I had to jump immediately back into my roles. I did not have the physical or emotional reserves for this and my body started to show the signs of it.

Just a few months later we found out I was expecting our 5th child and we started working on getting our assignment back to the U.S. We were very thankful to be able to get my husband’s report date moved up so that the baby could be born here but that meant moving while eight months pregnant (I preferred this to moving with a newborn OR staying in Germany longer). So in December, we moved back across the ocean and less than 2 months later had a baby.

Remember my health was already starting to suffer from the previous trip. The move did me in. I crashed. The pain from 9 years ago returned, my energy level plummeted and I reached a point where I was having trouble functioning. I knew my adrenals were fatigued to the point of exhaustion and that I had to do something.

Next week, I will tell you what I am currently doing in hopes of improving my health and healing my body! 

 

Do you have any of these issues? Feel free to share what you struggle with and what you do to get or stay healthy in the comments! 

 

**I am not a doctor or healthcare professional and I don’t play one on the internet, check with a trusted healthcare professional about your health problems.**