Monthly Archives: April 2014

This will bee the start to our honey production….

One of my favorite snacks as a kid was toast with honey. My family had a huge honey jar in the middle of our kitchen table that I would sneak finger swipes from when no one was watching. Honey was a constant in our house. My mother cooked and baked with it. It wasn’t until high school that I realized putting honey in your coffee like my father did was not the norm. Like much of the amazing things my parents did when I was a child, I took for granted and didn’t pay nearly enough attention to what was there. I only have vague memories scattered through my childhood of some of my parents earlier homesteading projects and don’t remember much of what it was like having bee hives in the back yard, or baby goats running through the pasture, or, as mentioned before, tapping the maple trees in our front yard. While a lot of what my husband and I are doing should be second nature to me from my upbringing, I am learning a lot along the way while waking up those very distant memories and brushing the cobwebs off of them.

This week “The Compound” is starting our newest journey into self-sustainability. We are getting bees!! This area has a strong bee keeping community with lots of years of experience and willingness to share. In an effort to bolster new beekeepers in the area, one local fellow, John Brenemen, has been holding small workshops at his home on Monday evenings. He is also the president of the Fayette County area beekeepers association and the new president of the Fayette County Farmers Market. In another effort to encourage beekeepers in the area (and I think just for the fun of it too), John builds all the wooden bee equipment needed right in his backyard. And by build all the wooden equipment, I mean he has a huge building with stock piles of materials for people to buy – both handmade wooden supplies as well as any other general tool, food (yes, bees need to be fed sometimes in the slow pollen seasons) and clothing (think fun beekeeper suits). He says he doesn’t make much money, if any, off of these supplies, but by having them on hand, and keeping the source local, it is easier for all of us other beekeepers when we are in a bind and need more materials.

After forking over a chunk of change for our initial supplies the other night, the five members of the Compound glued, assembled, nailed and painted all the wood pieces that John had painstakingly cut for us. The paint and glue have dried, the rain that has swept over the state has stopped (bees do not like rain) and our bees will be waiting for us to pick them up tomorrow….yep they get shipped right to us, and believe me when I say the Post Office is very willing to let you pick them up as soon as you can! Pictures, and hopefully a success story, later on after the installation of the bees to their new home. Image






So, it has been a while. Sorry. Life has, as usual, been crazy and busy. Now that spring has finally sprung, my real-life job has suddenly picked up and I have been spending long days in the field collecting samples and being away from a computer. Excuses, excuses I know. BUT I just bought a new computer with the intent that while spending all free time working at the property I can bring this new computer and have no excuse to not write. So here I am typing away while my husband carries on building our new chicken coop. In an effort to avoid any inevitable and unnecessary squabbles, we learned quite well while building our barn, that my husband builds better without me and my opinion. Today instead I have been sitting here in the shade organizing our garden plot information, learning new things, updating and backing up my photo library and putting off, until now, writing a new blog post.

Trillium - my favorite spring flower

Trillium – my favorite spring flower

Apple leaf reaching for the sun

Apple leaf reaching for the sun

So where do I start? So much has happened since maple syrup season. Spring came. Then it left. Then it came again, but left shortly thereafter. Now I think it’s here for good. Spring has finally sprung in the New River Gorge! It’s about time, right? I guess it’s really right on schedule, but something about this winter has made spring a very welcome site for sore, weary and cold souls. And now that the long anticipated season has graced us with its presence, life has turned from busy to crazy to non-stop! This past Friday it was raining and I was glad for it, not just because of the forced downtime but because we really needed it. All of our plants that are just waking up from hibernation were happy too. It has precipitated very little in the past few weeks. A week ago this Sunday one of the most popular climbing and hiking areas in the Gorge caught on fire. Overnight a 15 acre fire ignited and grew to 130 acres in 24 hours. At the time of the fire, relative humidity in the Gorge was 21%! If you have ever spent time in West Virginia you know that this is crazy. During the summers I spent here living in a tent I often had clothes get moldy. It’s moist here….except for these past few weeks.

Newly emerging hops

Newly emerging hops

While running around and working 50 hour weeks, going to meetings and working at the property, I have failed to really notice that spring is here. Yesterday I was complaining about how hot it was. 1 month ago I was complaining about how cold it was. Fickle natured people we are, aren’t we? As I sat in my office at work Friday watching the torrential downpours, I realized, “This is spring! It rains in the spring!!” The only thing that could have set this deeper in my brain would have been a thunderstorm. Ahhhh, I am squirming like a little kid thinking about the magic of summer thunderstorms. What is it about them that makes people so happy? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s an east coast thing. When I lived in Colorado for a few years I actually disliked how sunny it was ALL THE TIME. Blue skies and sunshine, every day, most of the day. I needed some east coast overcast weather to make me feel comfy.

But enough rambling for now. I promise to write more now and talk about everything that has happened, but for now, it’s time to go plant our potatoes….another task I have been putting off J


New born fern fiddle heads emerging

New born fern fiddle heads emerging



So in celebration of an awesome second year making maple syrup I am going to share with your my mom’s pancake recipe. I know this recipe by heart, even though I don’t use it nearly enough anymore. Since I was a kid, I helped my mom make pancakes at least once a week. I think we have a small addiction 🙂 Add some crushed walnuts or, my favorite, chocolate chips, and you are ready to start the day on a fantastic sugar rush!

Mom’s Homemade Pancake Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 Tbs melted butter

Mix it all up, let it sit for a few minutes to get that baking powder working and voila! Who needs Bisquick?!

PS – Dont forget some fresh, homemade maple syrup!!


Photo Mar 30, 10 23 19 PM