honeybound hive

If you’ve been following us here, on Instagram, and on our YouTube channel, you know that earlier this summer we found ourselves with a queenless hive. The saga of determining if the hive would produce a queen who would then fully mate ended with a need to buy one from another state, where it was too hot to shop for an additional week. This left our ladies queenless and in need of work for about 5 weeks.

What does a honeybee do when there’s no queen to care for and the nectar flow is at its peak? Make honey of course!

As we went about our hive inspections during our queenless time, we noticed that they were making lots of honey but as novice beekeepers, that made sense to us and wasn’t worrisome. Fast forward to a few weeks after we’d installed our new queen, and we realized a dilemma: our new queen was laying but far less than we expected.

In researching our concerns, we learned we had a “honey bound hive”. Basically, there was too much honey preventing the queen from laying!

We hadn’t been anticipating harvesting any honey this year – we want the ladies to work on rebuilding the population to a sustainable level going into winter. But with this problem on our hands there was only one thing to do – remove a few frames of honey and replace them with new frames!

I knew that local honey tastes completely different than what you buy in the store – you almost exclusively find only clover honey at any grocery store, and it’s all been pasteurized. So, I was expecting something different when I went in for my first nibble, but it was incredibly different and SO delicious!

We don’t have an extractor so there are some bits of pollen and wax as we used a strainer

Our ladies forage acres of wildflowers and wild berries, wild and cultivated fruit trees, and many other native tasty treats. Our honey is a deep orange, sweet as you’d expect, but also surprisingly tangy! I don’t have a clue how to determine what I’m tasting. Regardless of what exactly it is, I will say it’s delicious! We didn’t harvest very much but have a small bit to share with family.

I’ve added it to my morning routine of Chaga and blueberries, and we’re delving into lots of honey recipes – honey BBQ chicken this past weekend was splendid!

Make sure to learn more about our beekeeping and other homesteading adventures by subscribing to our YouTube channel (link below) and by following us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

Boundary Waters 2019

“Awe” is my word for our trip this year. It was amazing and spectacular in so many ways!

The first way I was awed on this year’s trip was my travel companions. My parents are 64 and 65 years old, my mom with two spinal fusions and my dad with two artificial knees. My dad portaged the canoe and heavy packs like he was 21 again, and my mom made the trip with another “awe” moment (read on!). Beyond my parents, my mother-in-law came for her first time EVER at 55! She portaged with the best of them and brought lots of fun.

Me, hubby, MIL, mom, dad

Another awe-inspiring aspect was the sunsets. I am madly in love with them, and the B-Dub sure came through for me this year (we always have some great ones, but every night was a stunner this year!). Check out my YouTube channel on Wednesdays as I’ll be posting a lot of them as Homestead Moments, but take a gander at a few pics –

An additional “awe” moment was the weather. We pulled into camp day 1 and popped up our tents and tarp immediately as per our usual practice, and we were SO lucky we did! Literally less than a half an hour later we had gale-storm weather! Lightning less than a half mile away, crazy winds, and white caps! It lasted less than an hour and the rest of the trip was beautiful and warm – perfect for lots of swimming!

Perfect for a swim!

There were many more AWEsome moments, but the final one I’ll leave oh with was FOOD! We had two great fish meals thanks to my dad, MIL, and hubby but the crowning jewel was my mom’s full on Thanksgiving dinner on our final night!!! We were far too busy filling our bellies with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and chicken to take a picture but it was truly an experience.

Bass, Walleye, and Northern

I think you can understand why “awe” is my 2019 BWCA word.

I hope you’re inspired to head out on a trip of your own! Check out our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA) for some great sunset videos as well as a series on how to successfully prep for your own Boundary Waters adventure! Make sure to follow us on Instagram as well for daily updates on all our fun @the.mn.homestead.

Happy trails!

Boundary Waters – here we come!

One of my very favorite parts of every year is almost here – our annual BWCA trip! I find myself running very short on time this week as we prep for the journey, so this week’s post is simply some of my favorite pictures from last year’s trip.

My YouTube video this week will be BW prep so if you’re interested in going in the future, make sure to check it out this coming Friday (link below)! You can also follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead to see more of our BW and homesteading adventures.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

wildlife on the homestead

We have a new neighbor/friend on the homestead! I’m not sure, but I think her name is Bessie.

Hi Bessie!

The last few weeks, we’ve woken up to a deer nibbling the trees outside our window. Not every day, but quite frequently. And over the last two weekends, she’s been spending time all around the cabin, including lounging in the dilapidated old shed that my husband just can’t quite part with.

Yesterday morning, I was watching her from across the yard and noticed that between sneaking glances at me, she was also peeking back toward the meadow. Several minutes later, a fawn appeared!

Hello Bessie’s baby!

Any new life is amazing, and I get so excited every time I see a new little one, but I was in for a real treat yesterday – she ran straight to mama and started suckling! The fawn’s tail was wagging with such incredible joy I thought it might pop off. The quality is poor, but I was able to get a quick video with my phone.

It was just too cute for words.

After breakfast, I took off for the woods and some wild berry picking. On my way to one of our largest raspberry patches, I cross along the edge of our meadow. As I came down the path and entered the meadow, a big commotion rose up from the middle – mama wild turkey and six or seven of her poults. Wild turkeys are my FAAAAVORITE up north animal, so I almost died with excitement. They rose up and flew to the far edge, roosting up in the trees.

All in all, a particularly satisfying wildlife weekend. I came across two other fawns and saw mama turkey once more over the weekend, as well as numerous other deer, rabbits, sand hill cranes, hawks, and countless other lovelies.

I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can spend the majority of my time in the woods and meadows with these lovely creatures. Can’t wait for next weekend!

Make sure you’re getting in on all our wildlife adventures and other homestead fun by subscribing to our Youtube channel (link below) and following us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead (link also below)!

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.mn.homestead/

planning the rest of the summer

As we ate dinner in our loft a few nights ago, looking up at our newly completed ceiling, we took some time to think through the rest of the summer and early fall.

Arguably the biggest interior project is done, and looking great!

Though it’s just the middle of July and it feels like we have ages to get things done before the cold, time is limited for us as we only have weekends at the homestead for now.

Order number one is making sure we have our cabin livable for winter, which means finishing the walls, the floor, and getting the wood stove in. Because we may run short on time, we’re likely not going to hook up our plumbing, even though it’s ready, as we don’t want pipes to freeze. With our deep-well hand pump (check out our YouTube channel to learn more) we’ll have access to fresh water all year.

Second order of business is taking care of the orchard. We have fence posts drilled around 3 of four sides, but the rest need to go in and the fence itself needs to go up. We’re putting hog wire on the bottom to keep out little critters, then barbed wire above to keep out the deer.

Our fence posts are about 8 feet above ground

The other main items on the to-do list are cabinets and counters along with our actual stove so we can be organized and cook.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exhausting, but very enjoyable and fulfilling several months down the road ahead.

Stay in touch with us via our Youtube channel (link below) and follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead for all our cabin-building and homesteading adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

how to spend a rainy July 4th (cabin update)

Happy Independence Day! A lovely time to celebrate all we have and all the sacrifices that have been made to obtain it.

In theory, also a great day to spend time relaxing with family. This year, we planned for my parents to come to the homestead for a day relaxing on the lake not far from us, wandering the woods, and enjoying some great barbecue. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans.

Not long after my parents arrived, a huge storm rolled in. After tossing around some ideas for fun (Games? My mom and husband hate them. Go into town? Wanted to spend time with just the family. Go mudding in the rain? My parents didn’t have a change of clothes and had a long drive to their cabin), my parents were kind enough to offer their services as construction workers for the day!

The exterior is just waiting on the porch, siding, and a finished roof!

They’ve given us plenty of help already (on the cabin, planting the orchard, hive inspections, and more) so we were extremely grateful to once again benefit from their work.

Mom and I spent time working on the first floor walls, while dad and Jeff worked on the ceiling. Along with time spent staining, cutting, and hammering, lots of jokes and great stories were thrown about.

Mom’s and my finished project!

After a lovely day working, we’re able to look back on a day of great work but also of great fun. It’s nice to have family you can count on – for a helping hand, for a fun day, and for a lifetime of love.

Thanks Mom and Paps! Happy Independence Day to all!

Don’t forget to check out our Youtube channel (link below) and follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead for more cabin updates and other homesteading adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

orchard update

Our orchard has been fully planted for about a month now (check out our YouTube video for more! https://youtu.be/wbBzHcKw6BI) and we have some exciting developments already!

We purchased trees that are a few years old in the hopes we’d have fruit fairly soon, and guess what – we already do! Our lovely apple trees (4 out of the 6) have apples and one each of our plum and cherry trees are fruiting too!

Toka Plums and Bali Cherries

Because we want our trees to focus on building out their roots and getting strong and healthy overall, we’ve been plucking the fruit, but I’m thrilled to see that they’re growing successfully so soon!

Honey Crisp, Haralson, and Frost Bite apples

I’m eagerly awaiting further fruit updates and look forward to the future deliciousness we’ll enjoy in the coming years as I spend time making all my favorites – jams, jellies, crisps, and more! I’ll be sure to share all my favorite recipes with you.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel (link below) and follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead for orchard updates and other homesteading adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

river time for Father’s Day

It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine an enjoyable weekend can take place away from the homestead, but weekends like this past one remind me that there actually are other beautiful and peaceful places.

It’s hard to imagine any place more beautiful than this!

Last Friday, hubby and I started our usual journey north toward the homestead, but about two-thirds of the way there we took a jog to the east to celebrate Father’s Day with my parents at their cabin.

They have a beautiful place about an hour east of us. Rather than on a river like us, their cabin is on a lovely, smaller lake, perfect for pontoon rides and dinners on the deck. There are, however, several rivers nearby, perfect for a day in the canoe.

Brother in the stern, dad in the bow

Saturday was an idyllic river day – abundant sun, 70 degrees, a light breeze to deter the bugs, and not another person in sight. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Mom chose her kayak

For a few lazy, peaceful hours we paddled down the river, stopping to point out an eagle, enjoying the bubbles escaping from a muscle buried in the sand, and listening to the sounds of the trees, the birds, and the water.

It’s hard to envision a lovelier day, and definitely not possible to spend it with better people. Happy Father’s Day Paps, and happy (almost) summer all!

Don’t miss our other camping and homesteading adventures by subscribing to our channel on YouTube (link below) and following us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

6 years of marriage

Hubby and I have been married for six years! It’s amazing how our wedding day feels like it was a few weeks ago, and also a few decades ago. Every day with him by my side is wonderful, whether it’s a day of relaxation, an adventure, or a ho-hum work day.

First look!

When we first met close to 8 years ago, we realized we both love to be outside and “up north”. We’d both spent our childhoods in the north woods, running about in nature, being dirty all day, and smelling like a campfire at night. The funny thing, though, was how very different our up north pastimes were.

For him, up north was LOUD. Four wheelers, tractors, big trucks, guns, and the like. His time was filled in mud pits, on shooting ranges on the back forty, and running wheelers through the trails.

Hubby’s Oliver tractor sure can get through anything!

For me, up north was the opposite – peace and tranquility on the lakes of the Boundary Waters, swaying in the top branches of a tree reading a book, and running through the fields pretending I was on the Oregon trail.

A stunning dawn over the lake in the BWCA.

As our relationship progressed, we began to join each other on our childhood adventures. It turns out that (unsurprisingly) hubby is 100% cut out for paddling and portaging through the BWCA. Surprisingly, it turns out I can manage to hit the broad side of a barn with my M&P handgun (ok, I’m a lot better than that, but that sounded good).

Now, 6 years in, we spend our homesteading weekends on the wheeler watering our orchard (check out our YouTube video last week – “orchard checkup – watering time”), running hard through the mud, but also relaxing in the meadow at the end of the day with only the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees.

We’ve found a perfect balance of the noise and the quiet, and we now have a whole new version of up north – our homestead.

Happy anniversary Jeff! I love you.

Make sure you check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel (link below) and follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead for more fun and adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA

prepping for wild berry season

I am eagerly awaiting the beginning of July – our wild blueberries are peeking out and will be ready to pluck soon!

With that in mind, I’ve spent the last few days emptying out the berry freezer of the final harvest from last year. I need to make use of them to free up space!

I found that I only have blueberries and chokecherries left, so I’m making some more chokecherry wine and will be doing lots of blueberry baking!

My husband has a favorite bumbleberry crumble that I usually make with blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, so I switched it up last night for dessert and made a blueberry only crumble. He’ll be jealous, but I’ll share the recipe with you!

Recipe:

3 cups berries

3 T sugar

Mix well

***

1 cup flour

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

.5 t cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

3/4 cup butter

Mix well

***

Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 5 – 10 minutes to crisp up.

Pour the berry mixture over the bottom and crumble the rest of the oat mixture on top. Bake 30-40 minutes until the berry juices are bubbling up.

Top with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

My chokecherry wine is started as well. I’m ready for this year’s berries!

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @the.mn.homestead and subscribe to our channel on YouTube (link below) for more fun and delicious homesteading adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB3wWjfjOOzZVXC6YKUVwGA