And Before You Know It,

the month of May is gone and my plants have come to life.

heurchera bloom with columbine bloom on the side

Heuchera bloom with a columbine on the side

showy evening primrose

Showy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) is a good groundcover


Phlox paniculata is a tall garden phlox that blooms profusely in the spring


I’m pairing this hot pink impatiens with my white hydrangeas ’cause that’s how I roll

The garden is waiting patiently for the rain to let up.  We’ve had over 13 inches of rain this month with more to come this weekend.  My lettuce is looking very yummy but I sink trying to get to it.

pinto bean

Lina Sisco Bird Egg Bean (pinto bean)

okra seedling

Okra prefers sunnier days. This little seedling was found about a foot from where I planted it. Surprise!


Garlic seems to be holding up well


Tomatoes also love warmer days. Mulching tomatoes helps prevent blight which occurs from water splashing up from the soil to the plant.


Tomato bed with wire supports

This past winter I started saving my eggshells.  I placed them in a plastic bag and stored them in the freezer.  Around April, I thawed them out and placed them in the greenhouse to dry.

eggshells eggshellsAfter a month, the heat from the greenhouse made them brittle enough to be crushed easily.  As I planted the tomatoes, I placed a handful of eggshells (calcium) in the hole, mixed them with the soil, and placed the tomato plant on top.  Calcium deficiency in tomatoes presents itself as blossom end rot, a very dark, rotten-looking spot on the end of the tomato (hence the name).  I’ve never had any problems with this before but figured it wouldn’t hurt to give them a boost and possibly prevent a very ugly problem.

The meat chickens are growing nicely and the first batch is almost 6 weeks old.  Out of the 25 I started with, 17 have made it and they will be ready to process very soon.

meat chickens

The newest set of meat chickens are 2-1/2 weeks old.

*whisper*of the 50 I started with, only 2 have died.*end whisper*

I still have a long way to go, but so far this is much better than the first batch. They will be ready to move to the chicken tractor when the older ones are processed.

A while back, I told you about all the eggs in the incubator.  Unfortunately, none hatched.  I was sure it was operator error but Peaches only hatched 4 of the 13 she was setting on.  This means my rooster is only good for one thing.  Making noise.  Oh well.  My luck all 4 of the new chicks will be roosters.  Wouldn’t that be interesting.

My great-grandmother’s peony bloomed on Mother’s Day weekend like it usually does but the rains have beat the blooms down to the ground.


They were pretty for a day!

The peach tree is loaded.  My dad said he used to work in a peach orchard and his job was to hit the trees with a big stick to knock off (or thin) the peaches out.  I decided I wouldn’t go that far, but I did give the tree a good shake and several small ones fell off and that’s all I’m going to do.  I don’t know what the rains will do to them, but I would really like to eat fresh peaches this year.  Pleeeezzzzzeee!


My resident road runner is scouting for snakes.  Excessive rains bring out the snakes and although I’ve just seen the good ones (aka king snakes), bad snakes like the poisonous water moccasins and copperheads are also common.  I didn’t know they ate snakes until I recently saw him with a small one.

road runner

You go, bird!

This is a shot of what used to be the old highway on the way to our house.  When the new highway was finished, the Highway Department planted the old one in wildflowers.   It looks like a river of daisies and I love it.

daisies on old highway

As part of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful program, they also planted coreopsis and evening primrose on our  unmowable strips next to the highway.

roadside daisies and coreopsis coreopsis and daisies daisies and coreopsis

A weird thing happened with the bees.

I had just finished weed-eating around the bee yard and had taken the weed eater back to the barn.  From inside the barn, I  heard the buzz of bees.   It was very loud.  Too loud.  I ran to the bee hives only to see the bees POURING out of the large hive.  I’ve never seen a swarm leave the hive, but I’m sure this was the beginning.  They weren’t flying away  but gathering at the bottom of the hive.  Thousands of bees.  Luckily I had my bee suit on and the smoker ready because I was getting ready to add some supers.  I smoked them and literally picked up handfuls of bees and put them back in the hive.  I don’t know if it worked or not because it has rained ever since that happened.  Hopefully the rain will stop soon so I can check them.  Like I’ve said before though, once they get in their heads to leave, they usually do.  I have no idea what to expect when I  open up the hive.


On a happier note, we’ve been fortunate to spend a good deal of time with our grandkids.  When they are together, there is running, chasing, splashing, and laughter.  Lots of laughter.  They are the best part of my day.

hallie and luke may 2015

rare photo of him–most are blurry

We’ve attended PreK graduation,

hallie prek graduation

and her first dance recital

hallie ballerina recitalfollowed by losing her front teeth!

Hallie 5 lost teeth

Life is good!







Posted in Arkansas, Bees, Family, Farm life, Flowers, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bee Update

I can’t remember if I told you or not, but last fall I had bees from one of my hives leave.  Before we had left on vacation, both hives were doing well.  I had inspected them a few days before we were to leave and both hives had a good amount of honey stored up.  When we returned though, one hive was empty.  No dead bees just no bees at all.  Had I killed the Queen inadvertently when I did the inspection?  Was it really a weaker hive to begin with and I hadn’t recognized the signs?  Was this Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)?  I don’t know for sure, but several beekeepers told me it sounded more like CCD.  Bees will leave the hive (or swarm)in the spring due to overcrowding, but bees that leave their winter supply of food for no apparent reason is a mystery to many beekeepers and scientists alike.

The one hive I had left was strong.  It survived the winter and obviously has a good queen because in March when I inspected, both hive bodies were overflowing with bees.

Spring Bees Busy spring bees

Fearing a swarm later on, I thought about splitting the hive.  I had never done that before and was hoping to find someone to actually come out to the farm and help.  Unfortunately, all the  beekeepers I talked to were busy with their own hives and unable to make a physical trip to my place.

So, I made an executive decision and decided to add another super on top to ease the overcrowding situation.  I put 3 frames of bees from the middle box in the top box and replaced those with empty frames.  I’m not sure that’s acceptable protocol or not but what’s done is done.  (I have a tendency to overthink and research things to death so this spur of the moment decision is kinda monumental for me.)  This addition was done about 3 weeks ago.

expanding the bee hives in spring

Bee condo

The beehive and box in the background is a new group of bees I received last weekend.  The white box contains a nucleus (or nuc) of about 3000-5000 bees.

nuc bee box

nuc box

nuc bee box

nuc box

These boxes contain 5 frames of bees with their queen.  These frames are transferred into the deep hive body (gray box)

bee nuc box with awaiting hive body

with 5 empty frames so they have ample room to grow.  Sugar water is given as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift and they are left alone for about a week.  I’m hoping to get a peek inside this weekend if the rain lets up.

When I installed the nuc into the new hive body last weekend, I also checked the progress of the bee condo. I was shocked to see all frames filled in the middle box and all but 2 in the top.  Look at this

bees and honey bees and honey, sweet honey.

It was dripping off my hive tool.

bee and honey on my hive tool

I am so excited!  I then realized I will need to get more honey supers ready to add to the top of the bee condo.  I had ordered some extra hive bodies a few weeks ago, but wanted each grandchild to paint one with their favorite color.  We got both of them together recently, gave them a brush and let them loose.

painting our bee box

yellow for her

painting our bee box

and lots of blue for him! (We won’t be needing a second coat)

So much fun!

Our 5-year old granddaughter asked if she could help with the bees, so I’m hoping to find her a bee suit.  I think all she really wants to do is operate the smoker, but I love that she’s so interested in learning about them.

There is still a chance the bees in the bee condo will swarm.  Sometimes, I’m told, no matter what precautions you take to prevent this, once they get it in there little bee heads to leave, they leave.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed just in case.

If all goes well, I hope to do my first honey harvest soon.  Some good friends of my dad have given us a honey extractor.  This extractor is  stainless steel tub with a hand crank to spin out the honey.  That’s all I know about it at this time.

I better go overthink and research it.




Posted in Arkansas, Bees, Farm life, Garden | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

I Don’t Even Know Where To Start

This spring, I had great intentions to keep updates about the garden current.  Once the weather warmed though, I have been frantically trying to clean up flower beds, get the garden planted, tend to chicks and bees, and work.

I’ll start with the chicks.  I received my meat chickens (broilers) 2 weeks ago.

baby broiler chicks A boy and his chickens

Last year, I housed them in the barn and lost several chicks.  I thought it was from the drafty barn.  This year, I set up the brooders in the shed and have lost even more.  Of the 25 chicks I started with, I now have 17.  The chicks were divided between two of these tubs and each had heat lamps.  Chicks from each tub have died.  My brother-in-law has 25 from the same batch and has not lost any.

Time to regroup.  Again.  I decided to make the back of my shed a brooder.  We had some plywood left over from another project, so that became the front wall.  Allen built a screen to go over the top which will keep them from flying out.  Their wing feathers are almost completely in and they are trying to fly about as we speak.

brooder for chicks

As soon as they feather out completely, they will move to the chicken tractor.

I also purchased another type of heat for the brooder.  I had used a heat lamp which is most commonly used for brooders.  (This is the red glow you see in the above picture)  I had a feeling this was too much for the black tubs I was previously using.  Chicks need a way to escape the heat and the black tubs may have kept the entire tub too hot and not giving them a chance to cool off.  The new heater is radiant heat.

EcoGlow chicken brooder heater

No hot light 24/7 and they are able to come and go as they please.  Another big reason for switching is this

heat lamp damage in chicken coop heat lamp damage in chicken coop heat lamp hangs about 6 inches above the tub shining into a corner.  This happened when the heat lamp moved more to the side of the tub.  This is very thick plastic so you can imagine how hot those lamps are.  I’m just glad I went out to check them before I went to bed.

Another reason for the new brooder heater is this

eggs in incubator

I’ve borrowed an incubator and put in about a dozen eggs from my chickens.  I had waited for one of my hens to go broody so I could put eggs under her but gave up and started these.  These should hatch out next weekend.  Also, a lady gave me some Cuckoo Maran eggs the week after I started these, so (fingers crossed) they will hatch out as well.  Hopefully, the different type of heat will work better.

And, of course, after these had been in the incubator about a week, Peaches decided to go broody.

broody hen (picture is sideways not the hen, lol) I made her a little en suite in the corner of the coop and she is sitting on 12 eggs.  Her hatch date is around the 25th of May.

If all of these hatch, I will be having chickens the whole month of May!  Oh, and I also ordered another 50 broiler chicks that will be here during all this chaos.

I must be mad.

Posted in Chickens, Farm life, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

How to Make New Metal Look Old

When I told Allen I wanted to have a corrugated metal ceiling and shower in the master bedroom and bath at the lake house, I got “the look”.

You know “the look”.  Everyone you know has their own unique “look” for the unexpected request.  For Allen, the look starts when I open my mouth and say, “I’ve been thinking…”

“The look”  doesn’t  bother me.  I’ve gotten “the look” many times over the last 32 years of our marriage.  But when I said I wanted the new metal to look old, not only did I get “the look”, I got the, Are You CraZy?? “look” as an added bonus.

But, after he thought about it, looked at some pictures I found, and talked to his brother, he/they/we decided it could work and set out to make it happen.

We purchased our corrugated metal sheets at a local lumber yard.  Since these sheets are usually used for barns, the lumber yard had various sizes and better prices than the big box home improvement stores.  They are covered with a zinc coating to keep the metal from rusting, though, and it is very shiny.

How to make new metal look old

But I didn’t want shiny.  I wanted a duller finish that looked aged.  So that meant using some elbow grease to remove the coating.

Let’s start with some basic supplies.

How to make new metal look old

What worked best for me was steel wool grade 3.  This is a coarse steel wool that could roughen up the metal with just a couple of swipes.  Fortunately, we had some unusually warm days for January and I was able to do this outside.

After I roughed up a piece, I liberally squirted toilet bowl cleaner over the sheet.  I tried every toilet bowl cleaner out there.  What worked best for me was Lysol (no bleach)

How to make new metal look old

It etched the metal instantly.

How to make new metal look old

I let it sit in the sun while I roughed up another piece.  I came back to the first piece and used the sponge to spread the cleaner all over every inch of the metal.  I left little puddles of cleaner in various spots on the metal hoping it would etch it more.

How to make new metal look old

Wash thoroughly.

How to make new metal look old

The result is a darkening of the metal making it appear old or used.

How to make new metal look old


How to make new metal look old



Here are some tips I learned after doing thirteen, really long sheets.

1) Don’t skip the roughing up part.  I thought I would squirt on the toilet bowl cleaner and then rub it in with the steel wool.  Save a step, if you will.  All that accomplished was it gave my arm an extra work out.  It didn’t etch the metal at all so I washed it off and began the scrubbing process all over again.

2)  I found that after you rough up the metal, wash the sheet and then immediately apply Lysol , it gives the metal a darker, almost rusty look.

3)  I’m not sure that letting the Lysol sit on the metal in the sun makes too much difference.  The sun in January was not that hot so summer sun might be better.  I mainly did that to let my arm rest.

I really liked the result.  The metal ceilings look very rustic and goes well with the plank siding.

How to make new metal look old

Ceiling in the master bath

I did apply two coats of a clear sealer  to the shower surround just for good measure although I’ve talked to a couple of people who have showers like this and they didn’t.

How to make new metal look old

shower surround in master bath

No sealer was applied to the ceiling metal.

How to make new metal look old

Ceiling in master bedroom

It was a lot of work, but I love the end results.  These two rooms are by far my favorite.





Posted in do it yourself, Garden, Home, Lake house | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments


In January, I had surgery on my hand.  As I was recovering, I enjoyed reading other blogs and looking at information and ideas for our lake house renovation.

During this time, I found the website Hometalk.  Hometalk is like a Pinterest site with more of a ‘how-to’  feel to it.  Tons of projects are posted here (or with links to other sites) with detailed instructions on anything you want to know about.  You can “clip” these ideas to a board for future use or send a question to the person who wrote the article.  Questions I asked were promptly answered and I liked the personal feel of the site.

Since I had some extra time on my hands, (well at least one hand) I decided to post about our own renovation as well as some gardening posts.

So imagine my surprise and excitement when they featured my Gardening board in their newsletter.  They also sent me this pinnable graphic to share with you

hometalk pinnable graphic

I was also asked to give some gardening advice.  I feel a little strange giving gardening advice.  I am by no means an expert, nor do I hold any sort of horticulture degree to put me in the category of expert.  I am a graduate, though, of  UJDI or the University of Just Do It.  I can read for weeks about something but, unless I get out and try it myself, I don’t get the full effect of learning.  Getting my hands dirty for years is how I learned about gardening.

Anyway, the editor of Hometalk also featured some of my basic gardening advice on the blog site below.

Thank you Hometalk for sharing my blog.


Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Springtime in the Ozarks

Serviceberry trees are the first to bloom in the Ozarks

I love that we have four distinct seasons in the Ozark Mountains.

'Mt. Hood' daffodil is a long blooming daffodil.

If I had to pick my favorite, though

It wouldn't be spring without a tulip.

it would be spring.

Blossoms on a pear tree bring in the bees.

The pear trees and

Peach blossoms in spring.

and the peach trees are full of blooms.


Golden alexander or Zizia aptera is an early  blooming spring flower.

Golden alexander or Zizia (isn’t that a fun name?)

'Butter and eggs' daffodil is an old, long blooming,  heirloom daffodil.

and the ‘Butter and Egg’ daffodils are making a show.

Creeping phlox is an old-fashioned spring flower.

Creeping phlox never fails to disappoint

Goose eggs have appeared on the pond bank.

and this year we have a pair of geese that have decided to start a family on the bank of the pond.

Springtime bees are busy gathering pollen.

It’s shaping up to be a busy spring.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!



Posted in Arkansas, Flowers, Garden, Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

70’s House Master Bath

First, let me say I am SO excited about this master bath makeover!

If you remember, the master bath consisted of the original  31″ x 31″ baby blue shower,

1970's Master Bath Makeover

with matching sink,

1970's Master Bath Makeover

matching paneling,

1970's Master Bath Makeover

and trim.  Lovely.

The total size of the bathroom was 9 ft. x 40 “.   Small.

Smaller than small.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

master bath


1970's Master Bath Makeover

Next to the bathroom is a small closet.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

1970's Master Bath Makeover

closet view

What if we made the bathroom longer by removing this closet?

How about extending the walls into the bedroom making it wider?

So that’s what we did.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

closet side


1970's Master Bath Makeover

shower side

The silver metal box you see in the picture above, is a space heater that faces into the kitchen.  Since the house now has central heat and air, the space heater was taken out to add more wall space on the kitchen side.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

The walls of the bathroom were extended 6″.  Not much, but anymore than that would mean relocating/reframing the door into the bedroom and we didn’t want to create any more work than we had to.

Lots of tedious work came next.  Redoing plumbing and relocating the plumbing and electrical took a couple of weekends and several trips back and forth to the hardware store.  Unfortunately, this meant tearing up the ceiling and the floor.

1970's Master Bath Makeover


1970's Master Bath Makeover


We decided to keep the shower in the same spot.  The toilet was placed where the closet was and the sink close to where the toilet was.  All of this redoing and relocating of plumbing was done through one of the downstairs bedroom ceilings.

lake house ceiling

Which led to replacing lines through the downstairs bathroom

lake house ceiling

and into the laundry room.

lake house ceiling


Anyway, that’s downstairs.  Let’s go back upstairs.

Every bedroom upstairs has a different feel to it.  I had wanted this bedroom and bath to have more of a cabin feel, so I decided to place corrugated metal on the ceiling.  The only problem with corrugated metal is it’s galvanized and very shiny.  To make the metal look old, I had to remove the galvanized coating.  Easier said than done and a process that I explain in a different post.

The next issue was what to do for a shower.  Since the shower pan was not a conventional size,  my brother-in-law, Richard suggested we make our own out of concrete.

Did I tell you he can do everything?  Well, he can.  Before you know it, he and Allen had the new shower pan formed

1970's Master Bath Makeover

1970's Master Bath Makeover

and poured.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

Once that set up, we decided to use corrugated metal as the shower surround.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

Remember the car siding we used in the other bathroom?

We flipped it over to the flat, five-inch side and used this for the walls.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

I debated for hours, days, weeks about a color to paint the walls.  I like color, but also wanted it light because it was still a small space. I chose white for the long walls and a color for the back wall that the toilet sat against.

I went to Lowe’s and found this sample container

1970's Master Bath Makeover

and began to paint.  I liked the color and thought I would be able to paint the entire wall with this container.  I ran out of paint with this much wall left.

1970's Master Bath Makeover 1970's Master Bath Makeover

I’m not kidding.


Luckily, the local hardware store was able to match the paint for me and I was able to finish the job.  Disaster diverted.

A new toilet was placed

1970's Master Bath Makeover

along with my unique light fixture my dad made from a tractor funnel.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

The flooring we used is a ceramic tile that looks like old wood.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

and the trim was done in rough cut cedar.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

When we bought the house, it came furnished with quite a bit of furniture.  One piece was this old desk.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

I thought this would make a good vanity, so I bought a vessel sink and Allen and Richard attached it to the desk.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

The door going into the bathroom is an old door I found at a flea market.  It is attached to a track rail on the outside of the bathroom wall and slides shut saving room on the bedroom side.

1970's Master Bath Makeover

So……from this

1970's Master Bath Makeover

to this

1970's Master Bath Makeover

from this

1970's Master Bath Makeover 1970's Master Bath Makeover

to this!

1970's Master Bath Makeover

1970's Master Bath Makeover

Now to decorate!
















Posted in do it yourself, Family, Garden, Home, Lake house | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments