Our Beehive Fail

I have always promised to tell the truth.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  This one was both bad and ugly.

There is just no other way to say it…

top bar beehive failure

Our bees died this past winter.

We aren’t really certain what happened, but we have a few ideas.

First and foremost, we weren’t at the homestead to see the first of the dead bees piling up on the ground in front of the hive.  When we were able to get back up to the homestead, it top bar beehive death in winterwas already too late.  They were all dead.  When I saw all the bees piled up I had a feeling of dread, but I also knew that some bees die, even during winter, and it is normal for the dead bodies to get kicked “to the curb”.  I didn’t want to open the hive if I didn’t have to, because that would expose the bees (if they were alive) to the cold, so I put my ear to the hive to hear that comforting, reassuring hummmmmmm.  I didn’t hear it.

🙁

When we opened the hive we saw that there was a lot of capped honey, a lot of uncapped honey, and a lot of dead bees inside clinging to the comb, the walls and on the floor. Not much brood, but that’s normal.  Hmmm………

Although all the bees were dead, there was still lots of capped honey

Although all the bees were dead, there was still lots of capped honey.  There was also quite a bit of uncapped honey!

It wasn’t wet inside, although there was some mold growing on the outside, especially around the entrance and where the bees were piled up at the door, so apparently mold wasn’t the problem.

Then we found the queen.  She must have been one of the last of the bees to die, because she was at the top of the pile on the floor in the middle of the hive.  So, the problem wasn’t due to a queenless hive.

I circled in red some of the dead bees that were literally buried face first into the honeycomb!

I circled in red some of the dead bees that were literally buried face first into the honeycomb! You can also see with the circle on the left that there were brood, and I even found a few eggs, so the queen had still been laying.

What we did find was some of the bees head first into the comb, with their little bee butts sticking out.  In fact, there were at least two dozen that we found that way.  That was our first clue as to what may have gone wrong.  When I did some research on the internet about what will kill bees during the winter, bees head first into the comb reveals that they may have starved to death.  Starved to death?  With all that honey still in the comb?

Yes.

Why?  Because they couldn’t get to the honey!  You see, the worker bees all cluster around the queen on cold days and flap their wings to warm up the small area around the queen, between two combs.  The bees will not leave their queen and the queen will not likely leave the area of the brood, and so if there is no honey to be had in that small area, the bees will starve.  Ones that do venture out of the small warming zone to find honey get too cold and die, right then and there head first in the comb!

But wait…

We live in an area of the country that rarely sees temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit!  A lot of beehives survive temperatures much colder!  What happened?

Well…  I guess that was our fault, being beekeeper rookies.

top bar beehive

This was at a happier time, during the fall, when the weather was still warm and there was still lots of pollen and nectar to harvest.

When we first got our bees we did a lot of research and read several books about top bar beekeeping, and learned that if a colony of bees thinks their hive box is too small, they will swarm to find a bigger home.  That’s not good.  We read that to prevent bees from swarming a hive they might think is too small, you have to show them that there is a lot of room in the hive to keep the colony growing, by moving some of the top bars around. So, in early fall, during another small honey flow, we moved three of the combs full of honey toward the back of the hive and put three empty top bars in their place, not all in a row but spaced out within the hive.  Our mistake was not making sure that the center of the hive, where the brood comb usually is and where the queen usually stays, stayed clustered together.

We also neglected to pack the empty space at the back of the hive in preparation for winter. Why is this important?  So there is very little empty space within the hive during the winter and the bees don’t have to work so hard by flapping their wings to keep the queen and themselves warm.

Who knew?  Unfortunately, we didn’t.  Live and learn. I actually felt so guilty about killing our bees that I cried.

Getting ready to harvest what we could from the beehive.

Getting ready to harvest what we could from the beehive.

But, after the first shock of our disappointment, we realized there was still a lot of honey in the hive.  We knew the capped honey in the comb would be fine.  The problem was that there was still larvae (baby bees) in some of the comb, and although the weather had been pretty cold, they may have started to get moldy.  Eeeeeewwwwwww.

What we did was harvest most of the comb and separated it into comb with capped honey only and then comb with some brood along with the capped honey. We also saved four bars that had just comb with some capped honey and put it in the freezer, to help jump-start the next hive.

Honey harvested from our top bar beehive!

Honey harvested from our top bar beehive!  Isn’t it pretty?

I first extracted the capped honey and got almost four pints.  The honey extracted that had some brood in it (I cut out the comb with brood) gave us two quarts.  I have been using

This is my redneck, low tech way to extract honey from the comb. Hey - it works!

This is my redneck, low tech way to extract honey from the comb. Hey – it works!

this honey for baking and it is absolutely delicious!  We ended up wasting some of the honey because I was too squeemish to have dead bee pulp in my honey, and a lot of the uncapped honey was just washed out of the comb.  Later I found out that the uncapped honey is perfect for making mead. You learn something new every day!

So, we need to do some more reading and research, consult with our favorite beekeeper Kim (she lost a few hives this past winter also) and carry on.

All was not lost.  Yes, we were upset we had lost (killed) our hive, but we learned more about beekeeping and we got some delicious honey.  It’s always good to look at the bright side.

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Where the party’s at:

Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday;  Homemaking Mondays; Show & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotTuesday Garden PartyBrag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The ScoopTwo Cup TuesdayTweak It TuesdayInspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;   Lou Lou GirlsParty In Your PJ’sYou’re Gonna Love It  Make, Bake and Create;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday; Wined Down Wednesday;  Wake Up WednesdayFluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful Wednesday Our Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking PartyTreasure Hunt ThursdayThis Is How We Roll; Inspire or be Inspired;  Inspiration Gallery;  No Rules Weekend Party  Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopFriday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat;Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesReal Food FridaysShow Off FridayCraft Frenzy Friday;  Awesome Life Friday Simply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to ShareScraptastic Saturday;Share It One More Time  That DIY Party;  DIY Sunday Showcase;  Snickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

 

 

 

Getting Ready to Build!

http://www.clipartof.com

http://www.clipartof.com

We have been working with an architect and an engineer to design our house plans, and were finally able to submit the plans to our building department last month.  They wanted a small fortune in building fees, but our biggest shock was the $8,500 + impact fee to our school district.  Holy cow, I think we just paid for half a classroom!

In the meantime, we have been getting bids for the final excavation and foundation work.

Wowza!

The estimates are much, much more than we anticipated.  The problem is that we are essentially building a three story structure, so the foundation under the basement is requiring 7 foot wide footings and a poured in place concrete wall 8” thick and 35’ long!  Holy Cannoli – we can’t afford that!  Especially since the concrete trucks are tacking on a premium to bring the concrete up the mountain to our property.  (Some silly thing about diesel costing a lot 😉 of money)

This is one version of the main floor of our house plans. I can't wait to live in this house!

This is one version of the main floor of our house plans. I can’t wait to live in this house!

Hmmmmm…  So, we thought long and hard about this.  Why do we want a basement?

  1. The back third was going to be walled off and turned into a root cellar.
  2. Storage – canned goods, household stuff and, of course, junk.
  3. A cool place to sit on a hot afternoon.

We decided (no brainer) we can always build a root cellar elsewhere.  Also, going up and down stairs when I am 85 years old to get my canned goods and stuff – well, let’s just say it’s not something I am looking forward to!  Besides, this is supposed to be our final forever home, and we need to have everything required for everyday living on one floor!  The upstairs only has two bedrooms and a bathroom, so I will only need to go up there when we have guests!

Therefore, we decided to send the plans back to the architect and engineer and nix the basement.  Besides, they had LOTS of changes to make for the county plan checker anyway. Let me tell you – California has some crazy codes that we must adhere to!  More about that later.  Now, if you look at the floor plan above, maybe we could turn the area where the stairs going down to the basement would have been into a nice long pantry? What do you think?  We will see what the architect says.

People warned us that this was a very long, frustrating process, and let me tell you…  they were so right!

This is what the Shelterworks Faswall block looks like.

This is what the Shelterworks Faswall block looks like.  You can see lots of beautiful homes built with these blocks on their website – which is also where I got this picture!  :)

In the meantime, we have already purchased the Insulated Concrete Forms, or ICF.  We decided to go with a company called ShelterWorks and their product called FasWall.  We have done a lot of research for a few years now, and these FasWall ICFs are probably the easiest to work with, the most insect and fire resistant, and breathable insulated forms on the market today.  FasWall is also easier to build with because regular carpenter tools are used and, unlike the plastic ICF, you can actually screw or nail into the form at any place.  One more reason we were sold on FasWall is that the wood used in the form is made from mineralized and recycled shredded wood from old wooden pallets.  The ICFs are stacked together like Legos, with rebar placed vertically and horizontally within the cavity of the ICFs, and then concrete is poured into the cavity.  Essentially, this makes a waffle grid of concrete within the walls, and gives the effect of superior insulation and stability.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

It does cost a bit more (5-10%) to build a home with these forms than it does a stick built house.  However, the payback comes with the energy savings.  The houses built with these forms are solid, very energy efficient, almost sound-proof, and essentially pest (think termite, carpenter ant, mouse) proof!  Also, the fire resistance of these ICF walls is important when you consider that we are living in the middle of a forest here in Northern California, where wildfire is not at all uncommon.  We have been working with Paul Wood, one of Faswall’s representatives, who has been very helpful in getting our building plans moving forward.

This big old Douglas Fir just had to go. So sad. We wanted to use the wood in our house, but California code required that it be graded and certified by a professional - timely and costly. Yet another one of those "codes" run amuck!

This big old Douglas Fir just had to go. So sad. We wanted to use the wood in our house, but California code required that it be graded and certified by a professional – timely and costly. Yet another one of those “codes” run amuck!  Grrrrrrrrr…

In the meantime, we have been getting our building site ready.  We had some beetle killed trees that needed to come down, and a couple other smaller trees that were right where our living room will be, so they all had to go.  We had a massive Douglas Fir that we wanted to save (above), but sadly, after some excavating and figuring right where the house would go, we realized that it was going to be too close to the house for fire safety.  Not to mention the fact that it was leaning right toward where our master bedroom was to be.  Since the tree was too big for Ray’s chainsaw, we called in Clyde, a Professional and Licensed Logger to drop the tree for us.

The beginning of excavation to make a flat building site - first you have to remove the tree stumps!

The beginning of excavation to make a flat building site – first you have to remove the tree stumps!  These guys made it look too easy.

The initial excavation has also been done.  The excavators popped out the tree stumps we had cut, scraped the lot clean of brush, and then cut into the hillside a bit so that the land would be level.  They were wonderful to work with and very respectful of our property, keeping clear of the septic tank so they wouldn’t damage it.

All of the brush was piled into a huge pile, so later Ray and I burned most of it, and cut up for firewood what was large enough to bother with.  It took us several days to get that accomplished, and we were able to get the brush burned before our burning permits were restricted for the fire season.

This is our nice, level building spot! The orange tape on the stakes indicate where the septic tank is. We have been busy burning duff and forest debris, trying to get the house site "fire-safe". It sure is a lot of work!

This is our nice, level building spot! The orange tape on the stakes indicate where the septic tank is. We have been busy burning duff and forest debris, trying to get the house site “fire-safe”. It sure is a lot of work!  The ashes are about where the kitchen will be, and the trees will be the view looking south-east out our front windows!

We are also busy raking up the forest duff, pulling out small bushes and trees, and laddering up the trees that will remain, so that the immediate area thirty feet around our house will hopefully keep a wildfire from getting too close to our house, and help firefighters to defend it.  Nancy, from our county fire department, will be up soon to tell us how we are doing and what else we need to do to make our home fire safe. Unfortunately, getting homeowner’s insurance in our neck of the woods is nearly impossible, so we want to make our home as fire safe as possible!

So, wish us luck, send good thoughts, or even a few prayers that our architect and engineer don’t take too long to get the changes and corrections made to our plans!  I would really like to at least have our foundation poured this year – God willing!

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Here are some parties I attend:

Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday;  Homemaking Mondays; Show & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotTuesday Garden PartyBrag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The ScoopTwo Cup TuesdayTweak It TuesdayInspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;   Lou Lou GirlsParty In Your PJ’sYou’re Gonna Love It  Make, Bake and Create;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday; Wined Down Wednesday;  Wake Up WednesdayFluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful Wednesday Our Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking PartyTreasure Hunt ThursdayThis Is How We Roll; Inspire or be Inspired;  Inspiration Gallery;  No Rules Weekend Party  Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopFriday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat;Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesReal Food FridaysShow Off FridayCraft Frenzy Friday;  Awesome Life Friday Simply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to ShareScraptastic Saturday;Share It One More Time  That DIY Party;  DIY Sunday Showcase;  Snickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

Our Tiny Cottage

Here is the tour of our cottage I promised a few months ago…

But first, some history.

While we are building our new home, we are living in our travel trailer.  Unfortunately, we have discovered that travel trailers were not meant to be lived in – they are basically tin cans that don’t have much insulation.  To make matters worse, cooking in the trailer only adds moisture to the air, which condenses and collects on windows and doors. Everything was damp.  Our bedding, the upholstered seats, bath towels, and our clothes.  Yuck!  We needed a warm, dry spot to sleep!

Don't Live in a travel trailer

The “NEW” tool shed.  You can see how we built it HERE

So, we built another shed (let’s see: a laundry shed, the first tool shed now turned into our tiny cottage, and the new tool shed.  That’s a lotta sheds!), moved everything from the first tool shed  to the new tool shed, and then turned our first tool shed into our new tiny cottage! We bought the kit for the new tool shed at one of those “big box stores” on sale. Despite the instruction manual being written like a Japanese cook book (thank goodness for pictures) we got it all put together in a couple of weeks, including a nice foundation.

This is the cute little wood stove wecooking on a small wood stove bought last spring as a way to cook outside during the summer.  It worked really well! Chicken and dumplings, pork roast, beef stew, navy beans and ham!  We could eat these great meals without heating up the trailer to cook our meals. The stove itself cost less than $200.

When we decided to put the little stove into the tiny cottage, we discovered that the pipes and everything that goes with it to safely vent the smoke outside cost almost twice as much as the wood stove itself!

Was it worth it?  You betcha!  That little stove really cranks out the heat.  In fact, when we were breaking in the pipes (the paint really stinks when you have your first few fires), Ray checked the temperature at the peak of the ceiling – 100 degrees!  Yup – it works well!

Building a Big Box Store Shed

Cooking on the woodstove in our new tiny cottage!

The best part?  When it’s cold and we have the wood stove fired up, I can cook on it!  Our first meal on the stove was a cozy beef stew with biscuits!  Yum!  And I can have a cup of tea almost any time I want it!  We leave the tea kettle on the stove because heating with a wood stove can make the air too dry, and the gently simmering water adds moisture to the air.  Ironic, isn’t it?  In our new tiny cottage we need to worry about having enough moisture!

Living in a tiny cottage

My new favorite place to sit with a cup of tea, a good book and a glowing fire! Cozy!

The rocking chair next to the stove came from our previous home in the valley.  It is small and doesn’t take much room, which works well in this tiny cottage, but is very comfortable. When it’s really cold and raining outside, it is just so cozy to sit in the chair with a good book and a cup of tea or coffee.  The firewood is held in a wood carrier that my husband inherited from his mother.  He remembers sitting in it when he was a little boy, pretending he was sitting in a car!

The bunk beds were built for guests that stayed the night with us, and have been in the tool shed, now tiny cottage, for a few years now.

Living in a tiny cottage

Ray sleeps on the extra long twin on the bottom (he’s 6’2″ tall) and I have a regular twin on top. Now that we have moved in, we have begun customizing our spaces and Ray has built a couple of shelves at the head of his bed, big enough for his laptop, cell phone, wallet, keys, etc..  I want a storage headboard for mine, so I can store my books, magazines, hand lotion and extra reading glasses.  My dearest mounted a “ceiling fan” that bathes me with cool air and a cute little LED reading light. I needed that fan many times this past winter and spring because sometimes that wood stove works too well!  But now that the outside temperatures are getting much warmer, my favorite quiet time is laying on my bed on a hot summer day with the fan gently blowing a cool breeze while I am reading my favorite magazine, Mother Earth News!

In the meantime, while I wait for Ray to build my storage headboard, I put everything on the loft shelf that is just above the head of my bed. Wanna hear a funny story?

Tiny Cottage One night, I heard Ray stirring as he was getting up to use the outhouse.  I figured since I was awake, I would use it also.  It was dark, very dark, but I was able to make my way down the bunk to the cottage floor, out the door where a motion detector light led my way to the outhouse.  Back in the cottage, I climbed up the bunk and lunged into bed, totally forgetting the loft shelf.  Wham!  I hit my head about one inch above my eyebrows, front and center.  I saw stars…  lots of stars!  The next morning, I told Ray what had happened, and as I brushed my rumpled hair aside, I could feel quite a lump.  Ray started laughing.  I ran to the mirror to see what appeared to be a unicorn horn trying to erupt through my forehead!

Can you see the black pipe wrap turned bumper pad that Ray put on the edge of the Loft shelf that very next day?  Yeah.  He knows me all too well.

On with the tour.

At the end of the bunk beds, Ray installed some hooks so we couldTiny cottage tour hang up our TV trays. These trays come in handy when we are eating in the cottage or using our laptops.

Behind the bed is Rays dresser and storage drawers.  It sure is nice to have dry clothes!

You can also see my magazine rack, chock full of magazines, a battery operated lamp and my CD player.  Everything is so handy, and even though the actual room is very small (10×12), we have everything in there that we need for comfortable survival!  The truth is, we are living better than probably 75% of the world in this tiny cottage.  We are warm and dry.  We have food and clean water.  We have lights, satellite TV, and refrigeration.  Plus, this is all temporary.

On the opposite side of the cottage from the bunk bed is my dresser (did I tell you how nice dry clothes are?) and the TV.  Our solar panel system supports a satellite TV receiver for two TV’s, along with the TV’s, a porch light and an interior light, my ceiling fan and LED light, and a small refrigerator/freezer.

Our flat screen TV, my dresser, a refridgerator/freezer and organized storage above. What else could we need?

Our flat screen TV, my dresser, a refrigerator/freezer and organized storage above. What else could we need? Can you see the CO2 detector in the right upper corner?  Yup, we have that and a smoke detector that you can’t see in the picture.  Safety first, you know!

Ray installed a long shelf above to store coffee, tea, mugs, paper towels, napkins, sugar, plates, etc, and I found these cute fabric storage cubes at one of the Dollar Stores so that it looks neat and organized.  One thing I have learned about tiny living is that when everything is organized and appears neat and clean (clutter is my worst enemy), I am much happier and feel a lot less stress.

Now, the only reason to go into the trailer is to shower, cook (if I’m not cooking on the wood stove or the solar oven) and retrieve food in storage!  The only thing we don’t have in the cottage is running water.  But, again, it’s only temporary!  Besides, there’s always the outhouse 🙂

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These are some of the places I party:

Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday;  Homemaking Mondays; Show & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotTuesday Garden PartyBrag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The ScoopTwo Cup TuesdayTweak It TuesdayInspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;   Lou Lou GirlsParty In Your PJ’sYou’re Gonna Love It  Make, Bake and Create;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday;  Wined Down Wednesday;  Wake Up WednesdayFluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful WednesdayOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking PartyTreasure Hunt ThursdayThis Is How We Roll; Inspire or be Inspired;  Inspiration Gallery;  No Rules Weekend Party Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopFriday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat;Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesReal Food FridaysShow Off FridayCraft Frenzy Friday;  Awesome Life FridaySimply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to ShareScraptastic Saturday;Share It One More Time  That DIY Party;  DIY Sunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

His Heart Attacked Him!

000funny farmI remember a hilarious scene in the 1988 movie Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, one of many scenes when I couldn’t start laughing.  My jaws and stomach hurt when that movie was over and I have seen it again several times since. The funny scene I’m talking about is the one when an elderly woman explained to Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith) that she was sitting in the very chair that her late husband was sitting in when his heart attacked him. 🙂

Well, it’s not so funny when it really happens – to you.

Ray had a mild heart attack several months ago.  Subsequent tests revealed he need immediate cardiac bypass surgery.

This is the guy that, during the previous week, had split a cord of wood.  We had no idea that this major hurdle was in our future.

Thanks to great doctors, nurses and facilities, I am happy to report that Ray is now better than ever!  His chest is healing, his strength is returning and our future, once again, looks wonderful!

But let me be honest and say that we didn’t know if all our dreams of building a homestead from scratch were gone.  And while we are being honest here, I have to admit I was a bit annoyed with my husband and the new pickle we were in.

You see, after I knew he was going to survive, I started thinking about our future and all the dreams that we had… that I had… that were probably going to have to be abandoned.  We knew years ago that Ray had high cholesterol, a family history of cardiac disease, etc., and Ray has been on cholesterol lowering drugs for years.  But, he also had a sedentary job (computer programmer), an addiction to sugar, and refused to exercise more than doing what he called a “power walk” two or three times a week.  I had nagged, begged, bribed, bitched and tried to shame him into exercising and watching what he ate so that he would lose some weight.  He was never obese, but carried his weight around his belly, which is not good for a man with cardiac problems.  I wanted to grow old with him, so I became the food police and reminded him that soda was empty calories full of artery destroying sugar, I “washed” the hamburger, served fresh fruits and vegetables with almost every meal, and gave away my deep fat fryer.

Firewood warms you five times!

Here is the stack we had when we were a little more than half done with our wood cutting, splitting and stacking. Ray was doing all this with clogged arteries!  Go figure…

When we moved up to our fledgling homestead last year after Ray’s retirement, he had no choice but to exercise more.  Cutting down trees, raking rocks, shoveling dirt, building sheds – he started to lose weight and gain muscle.  We began eating a more plant based, healthy diet.  We didn’t have a choice because the nearest restaurant is more than one-half hour away, and we only had enough freezer space for whole foods rather than pre-packaged foods with all that bulk.  I refused to buy soda and we drank more water, lightly honeyed (from our own organic beehive) iced tea and coffee.  I thought that all the years of nagging and shaming were behind me (I honestly didn’t like who I had become) and we were looking forward to starting to build our new home.

And then he had a heart attack.heart attack2

All those years of his health neglect added up, and even the new, healthier lifestyle wasn’t going to reverse the damage that was already done.

I know this sounds terrible, but I said to him “I told you so” and I meant it.  Sorry.  I know that sounds pretty harsh, but I am being honest when I say that I was blaming him for upsetting our dreams.

While Ray was healing, we couldn’t live on the homestead.  It was in the middle of winter – cold and wet – and the dirt and gravel road had become mud and deep potholes.  Just getting to and from our homestead was iffy during a rainstorm.  What if he had a complication and needed to go to the hospital which was more than one-half hour away?  He was restricted to lifting 5 pounds or less, and there was no way I could expect him to use an outhouse when his chest had been cracked apart, leaving a 12 inch scar!

how to build an outhouse

As cute and functional our outhouse is, I couldn’t imagine Ray having to use it by trudging up the hill in a possible rainstorm, just after having had major surgery!

So, we rented a cute little house in the city where the hospital and his cardiac surgeon were.  Besides, once Ray’s surgical scars started to heal, he had another 12 weeks, three days a week, of cardiac rehabilitation to go through, and it was certainly easier to live near all the facilities he was going to need.

Then, while Ray was recovering from his major surgery, I became quite depressed.

Living in a tiny cottage

A cozy corner of our “tiny cottage”!

You see, we had owned our future homestead for 12 years, and during that time had put in a septic tank and well for the future house, along with a sturdy tool shed that we turned into our “tiny cottage”.  We had planted a beautiful fruit and nut orchard that was just starting to mature.  We had sold our home of 25 years and moved up to the future homestead with thoughts of a wonderful new life in our peaceful and beautiful new home.  We were going to have chickens that I already had names for: Beulah, Phyllis, Melba and Pearl. This was to be the home we would live out the rest of our lives, and it is the home I have been designing and dreaming about for 12 years.  Living in someone else’s house in a strange city actually made me feel lost and lonely, especially now that the realization of my dream, our dream, was in question. 🙁

It didn’t help that we had already spent over $23,000 for the insulated concrete forms for our new home and would have to forfeit %10 of that money if we pulled out – about $2,300.  Plus, we had already spent well over $5,000 for our house plans, which are almost finished, and we would not get ANY of that back.  Not to mention that real estate has recently taken another downturn in our area of California, and we would never get the money out of our land that we have put into it.

I know I sound like I am whining, and I apologize, but I’m just laying it all out and baring my soul.

I was pretty miserable until a nurse told me that Ray will actually be stronger and healthier once he is healed, than he had been for the last 10 years!  A week later Ray’s doctor affirmed that.  You see, for a few years now, Ray had been slowing down and was not able to do as much physical labor as he had just a few years ago.  We just attributed this to the fact that he was getting older, as we all are!

But, you can now understand, age wasn’t the problem!  It was just that his heart vessels were clogging up and he wasn’t able to get enough oxygen to his muscles!  Now that his heart has all new, clean and clear pipes, Ray is, indeed, getting stronger every day!

And he is kicking his sugar addiction!  Hallelujah!

So, our plans and dreams are back on track!

Ray has finished his cardiac rehabilitation with flying colors and we have moved back to our fledgling homestead – full steam ahead!

I want to thank all of you, my dear blogging friends, for your inquiries and concern during my absence.  I apologize for not answering some of your questions and comments (which I will start doing today), and plan to get back into blogging about our adventures very soon.

Life is good. Live it while you can.

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These are some of the places I party:

Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday;  Homemaking Mondays; Show & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotTuesday Garden PartyBrag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The ScoopTwo Cup TuesdayTweak It TuesdayInspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;   Lou Lou GirlsParty In Your PJ’sYou’re Gonna Love It  Make, Bake and Create;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday;  Wined Down Wednesday;  Wake Up WednesdayFluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful WednesdayOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking PartyTreasure Hunt ThursdayThis Is How We Roll; Inspire or be Inspired;  Inspiration Gallery;  No Rules Weekend Party  Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopFriday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat;Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesReal Food FridaysShow Off FridayCraft Frenzy Friday;  Awesome Life FridaySimply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to ShareScraptastic Saturday;Share It One More Time  That DIY Party;  DIY Sunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

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