Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Winter Mending

Mending is not my favorite chore, but it turns time in the dead of winter when nothing is stirring outside.  Below are a few projects I finished:

Jon's travel bag zipper separated from the bag so I joined the two pieces with a strip of black fabric.

BBQ sauce stained this skort the first time I wore it.  The fabric was basically bleached so... 

a band of ribbon was added to cover the spot, and to make it symmetrical, a ribbon was added to the other side as well.

This Holly Hobby sleeping bag is probably 25 years old and the zipper broke several years ago.  It has been used as a blanket for years but that darn zipper always caught my face when I snuggled with it so I decided to once and for all remove the zipper and hem the edge. 

My nephew outgrew this jacket a few years ago and passed it down to Paul.  The zipper was broke and needed replacing. 

My first Christmas gift from oven mitt...10 years ago.  I finally wore a hole in it and couldn't say goodbye to it just yet so it now has a patch. 

I wonder how many patches this pair of work pants will get before it's retired? 

A pair of clogs I purchased for $2.00 at a garage sale 5 years ago.  The soles finally broke out...

so I took them to a shoe repairer and they are good for another several years. 

Fixed the cloth bag for grocery shopping. 

Another pair of pants that needed new elastic.  These were hand-me-downs from a coworker.  They are 2 sizes too big but Paul will wear them eventually.

Honeybees Bringing in Pollen!

It's crazy to see pollen being brought into the hive when it's mid-February!  After reading about a beekeeper (Show Me the Honey blog) in St. Louis finding pollen being brought into his hives, I decided to check mine.  Sure enough, they are bringing in pollen that is bright yellow!  I did a quick search online to find out what flowers are blooming currently and one early spring flower is coltsfoot.  I haven't seen this flower but they are known to grow along roadsides and in wet areas.  We have a creek running through our property along the road so perhaps there is coltsfoot growing there?

The hive has remained closed since the fall when I last checked them so I can only hope the queen is alive and laying eggs.  We have had cold spells interspersed with warm days in the 60's this winter.  The warm days have been a blessing for our hive because they had a small amount of stores for the winter.  Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.  I placed a rock against the entrance reducer because the strong winds knock it off.
Pictures were taken 2-11-13


Maple Syrup Summary 2013

This past weekend was the end of maple syrup season for us.  It was a short 4 weeks but we canned 15 pints and filled 3 flasks with this delicious syrup.  We learned a lot from the experience and plan to tap again next year but we want to get a larger evaporator pan.  The cast iron kettle we used worked really well but we'd like to increase the surface area so we have shorter boiling times.  The picture above shows how the syrup color changes throughout the season.  Starting with the first week of tapping, the syrup is a very light amber color compared to the jar on the right that is very dark from the last boil.  

This is Jon's 3rd design for the boiling operation.

Other links on the blog about tapping maple syrup:  first time tapping   preparing

Feeding Chickens in Cold Weather

Brrr....we just had a cold spell of temperatures in the teens this past week.  While I am all nestled in a blanket sipping hot cocoa, our 3 chickens are huddled on their roost with temps at 11 degrees or scratching the frozen ground in their outdoor run.  Sure, they have feathers, but I can't sit back and watch them peck at the frozen food pellets each morning when I collect their eggs.  To encourage eating and to warm their little stomachs, I warm some water on the stove and then add the water to their pellets to form a mash.  The girls absolutely love this mash!!  I use a flower pot water catcher as the dish for the mash.  As usual I give them a handful of corn grit that they will do just about anything for (it's a great bribe when I need them back in the coop).  The water feeder freezes everyday so I put the frozen water dish in the laundry room sink each day to thaw and replace it with a new one with some of the warm water.  We have golden comets and they are still giving us a reliable supply of eggs through the winter months.  Occasionally we only have 2 eggs, but that's probably only 5% of the time.

Jon took a video last week of me feeding the chickens; nothing exciting, but a few may be interested.  All of the racket in the background is Paul playing pirates.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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