To Bee or Not to Bee

Bee Update: Outlook Not Good. So before we left for our trip up to MA, we realized that our bees swarmed on us.  This means that the Queen and half the bees or more took off to go find a new place to live. Bees will do this for a number of reasons and if you see where they go when they swarm, sometimes you can catch the swarm.  We did not see where they went.  We went out to the hive one day and were like, “uhm, where did all our bees go?” Anyways, we figured there was nothing we could do about it and left on vacation.  When we got back and opened our hive to check things out we realized that we had barely any bees left and a massive small hive beetle problem.  We put our beetle traps in the hive and left it.  A week later the bee inspector came over and went out to look at the bees with me.  When he opened the top of the hive he said “yeah this hive is dead.”  Crap! He gave me the number of someone I could buy some more bees from though so we can try again.  Luckily though, before our bees ditched us, they filled an entire super with honey.  We bought a honey extractor and were able to collect nearly 2.5 GALLONS of honey.

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Garden Update: Better than the bees but not stellar.  Since our return we have harvested some cherry tomatoes a bunch of cayenne peppers and one okra.

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Fortunately we get a fall growing season here so we can plant a whole bunch more seeds in mid-August.

Goat Update: Goat preparations are in full swing.  We decided to fence off a smaller area for the goat pasture to save money on fencing and to save time with installation.  Joe busted out the fence and now we just need to finish it up with putting in the gate and building a goat shelter.

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We’re still undecided about what breed of dairy goat we will be getting and it may just come down to what is actually available.  We may also get more than one breed.  We really like the LaMancha breed but are also considering Nigerian Dwarfs, Nubians and Saanens.  Anyone have any thoughts or opinions on dairy goats?

Chicken Update: Clucking Away.  Still waiting on the three younger ladies to start laying.  Not sure what is taking them so long but I am sure looking forward to having an abundance of eggs.  Quiche anyone?

Ebay Update: Currently up for sale we have Gargoyle’s Quest II for the NES.  We recently sold this really neat old radiator cap/gauge.

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Until next time!

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Part III: Reflections

Now that we are all back home to Prickly Pear I wanted to reflect on the trip and life in general. We had a great trip to MA.  We got to see so many family members and friends that we had missed so much and everyone was so positive and encouraging!  This was the first time we had been back since we moved here on October 1st, and prior to moving to Florida, Matt and I had both never lived anywhere but in MA.  Returning to MA after being away for 9 months allowed us to see everything in a different perspective, as onlookers versus participants. Ultimately this perspective really confirmed for us that moving here was the best decision we could have made. This is a PSA for all of our friends and family still living in MA: You’re Doing it Wrong.  Consider this your intervention.

1) It’s warm here.  Yes, I can go to the beach in a bathing suit from April – October.
2) In Florida we have no state income tax. Boom, more money in your pocket.
3) Here in Florida my property tax is less than half of what I paid in MA to live in the same size house on a 6000 sq. ft. lot and now I have ten acres!
4) My car insurance costs half of what I paid in MA.
5) I don’t have to get my car inspected.  I heard that fee was recently increased to $35 in MA.  Don’t even get me started on all the BS reasons my car failed inspection in MA.  Glad to have that stressor removed from my life.
6) It doesn’t snow here.  Yep, gave away the snow shovels. And my snow shoes and my snow boots….anyone need a down winter jacket?
7) We have world class beaches. Seriously. Like in a post card.
8) Traffic is like nonexistent. Maybe this one doesn’t apply to all of Florida, but here in the panhandle, running into traffic is rare.
9) People are nice.  It’s probably all the vitamin D and the lack of traffic, but no one is laying on their horn flipping you the bird (except Matt; some habits die hard).
10) Property is cheap.  Go ahead, look at realtor.com.
11) You don’t need a gun license to own a gun.
12) Did I mention the nice weather?
13) The growing season (consecutive frost free days) here in the panhandle is 258 days, vs, 170 days in Worcester, MA.  Yes, I planted seeds in the ground in February.
14) Upon entering MA on our most recent trip, we were greeted with a sign which informed us that we could go to jail for setting off fireworks in the state of MA.  In Florida you can buy fireworks at CVS.
15) In MA when there is road construction, a state trooper must direct traffic. How much do State Troopers get paid an hour?  I don’t want to know, but what I DO know is that state inmates are directing traffic where we live.  It’s not exactly a job that requires a skilled laborer and guess what?  Our roadways aren’t littered with wrecked cars and bodies as a result.  Shocking, I know.
Ok, ok, maybe I am a little bit biased because I like warm weather, beautiful beaches, guns,  keeping my money and freedom.  When y’all are ready to come join us, we’ll be here, living the dream.
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Part II: More Family Fun

After Porcfest we returned to Athol for one night before continuing on to Hopedale. We got to celebrate all the munchkins birthdays in one night at Jen and Dan’s house.

We enjoyed playing in the yard…

…and the new picnic table that my dad built.

The kids also checked out the dog crate in the van.

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On Wednesday all the girls went out to lunch and dress shopping.  Evie was present but wasn’t interested in being photographed. I stole most of these pictures from my mom, so she is in none of them.

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We spent the week doing a lot of grilling and playing yard games.  Anyone detecting a theme?  On Friday morning I went with Jen, my mom and the kids to Penny and Evie’s swimming lessons.

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On Friday night my parents hosted a Southern/Western/Redneck Tavern Party.  Lots of friends and family came out and it was awesome to see everyone.

Everyone that we talked to was so positive and supportive of what we have been doing and genuinely happy and excited for us.  The encouragement has given us a renewed energy to continue with our projects and start new ones on the farm.  Thank you friends and family for being so awesome!

On Saturday morning we packed up the Molar Express to start our journey back to Prickly Pear Plantation!

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And we had a little friend journeying with us.

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We made it into Tennessee on Saturday night and stopped and slept in a Walmart parking lot. On Sunday we arrived back at Prickly Pear Plantation around 2pm.  There’s no place like home!

Special thanks to our lovely parents for hosting us during our trip!  We had a great couple weeks and appreciate everything you’ve done for us!

Check back soon for Part III: Reflections!

Part I: Journey to the North

We departed the plantation on Saturday at 3:30 AM, the Molar Express leading the way and the Gray Elephant in tow.  It was smooth sailing through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and into Virginia where we stopped at a campground in Edinburg called the Creekside Campground.  In fact, our site was creekside.

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We made some dinner, and headed to bed!  We rolled out of the campground by 7am on Sunday, eager to finish the journey.  We continued through Virginia, into West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and then split up in Hartford, Connecticut with the Gray Elephant continuing on to Hopedale and the Molar Express bound for Athol.  We arrived in Athol at around 4:30 ET and were greeted by the whole fam! The pups were happy to stretch their legs after the long journey and Leah and Cadence were happy to show them around!

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On Monday we decided to take a trip to the Quabbin and take a hike from Gate 40 into the former town of Dana.  The Quabbin Reservoir was created in the 1930s in order to supply Boston and the surrounding towns with water.  In order to construct the reservoir, 4 towns in a valley were relocated and the area was flooded.  When flipping through Tim’s book on the Quabbin the first picture I happened across was of former resident of Dana, Earl Cooley.  Seriously, how coincidental is that?  (For the folks in the back, we live on Earl Cooley Rd.) Anyways, it was a beautiful day for a hike and picnic.

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I was able to locate the site of the home where Earl Cooley once lived.  I still haven’t figured out if there is any relation to the Earl Cooley for which our road was named.

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While visiting Athol, we also had a very important question to ask Leah and Cadence.

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They said yes!  We played lots of yard games, ate some great food and looked at baby pictures of Matt.

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And Grammy and Grandpa had a treat for their grandpuppies:

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Then it was time to head up to Lancaster, NH for Porcfest! We spent Wednseday to Sunday at Porcfest and got to spend a lot of time with Penny and Evie, and my parents as well as my cousin Ryan and his wife Heather and their little girls and my cousin Erin and Andy stopped in as well. Here are the highlights:

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Check back soon for Part II of the trip for more thrilling anecdotes and pictures!