Thursday, January 26, 2012

"If I'm sittin... I'm knittin"

   That's what momma has been saying this month! She doesn't sit very often, but lately when she is sittin... shes-a-knittin. Once a week, we have been going to a cute little knitting store and learning how to spin wool, and now, knit with it. Well, not the wool we spun. The wool we spun had a few kinks and size differences due to passing it off from sister to sister to sister to mom.
Right off of the hand spinner!
   So, how did the spun wool, pictured above, turn into anything other than a mess? I'm not sure the proper terms for any of this, none of us do, but she used a cool thing to wrap it around its self and tied it a way we could undo it and wash it. We have not washed it yet... but are eager to try it. 

The cool thing she used to wrap it.
See the tightness and the unevenness? 

We're so proud of our little first timer! Love the Colors

Us+First knitting time = FUNNY!

   No words can describe our first knitting lesson. It was full of: "oops!" "lost a stitch" "is this suppose to look like this?" "my ridge isn't pretty at all" "what after that?" "it must be the needle size!" "can I do this next?" "ssshhhh, I'm concentrating!" 
  The important thing? We learned a simple knit stitch. Momma bought a pair of needles and a ball of yarn, and started a scarf. Right now, the scarf she started is over a foot long. Maybe pushing 2 feet.  
Mommy so proud!
Alyse trying it out
Not much talking during this! Me trying it out.
My little inch of stitches.

   We are keeping at it and will keep you posted on progress! 

Anna .V.                                                     


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Here is my newest venture in the farming business. I love my girls, every single one of them..... and boy are there a lot of them! Honey bees are amazing, and this past year I got my very first hive. At the beginning of winter I had 2 hive, sadly I lost one. But I'm very excited because last Tuesday I met a man who wanted to get out of the bee business, long story short, I got a great deal! A hive, 2 supers, and a strong colony of bees for $50. Yes siree, I was ready to do flips! Anyone who knows anything about beekeeping knows that it was a steal. Me and daddy went to get the hive and we even picked up another hive and super -no bees- for $25, that's not bad either. Last year me and my parents went though Wilkes County Beekeepers Association Short Course for beginners. I just tagged along because it was a real interest of mine and at the end of the class mom & dad took the test to be certified. I didn't do that part so I will be going through the course again this year. Now is the time to be getting all the beekeeping things ready for spring, and I have 2 hives lined up for me from some friends. The very first hive that I got was quite an experience. The bees had swarmed into an abandoned house and we had to cut them out of the walls! It was like nothing I had ever seen before and though I got stung about 8 times that day I was more than thrilled.
For the past couple of years I have participated in the 4-H beekeeping essay contest. This year is no exception, in fact this year I think I'm more excited than every to be doing it. I have been setting up interviews, contacting my mentors, and even doing things a bit differently. Luckily everyone is patient, thanks yall! Hopefully this year will be the year that my essay makes it to Nationals. The topic is on the results of honey bee pollination in my community. I've already begun working on it, it's due the 14th of Feb! Yikes!
I have done quite a bit with my honey bee venture this year. I started off with the class like I was telling you about, then I did a 4-H presentation on "The Secret Life of Honey Bees". After that there was the essay, then I went on to compete at State level with my presentation while dad brought home another swarm. When I got back from my trip I began working on a presentation for the Wilkes County Beekeepers Association that the president had asked me to do. It was a bit different than a 4-H presentation. A 4-H presentation is about 8 minutes long where as this one had to be around 45 minutes long! I think I made it to 35 minutes? Anyways it went very well, and so now I'm working on starting a beekeeping club through 4-H that I will help lead. Then I helped paint kids faces at Brushy Mountain Apple Festival to promote the beekeepers club. And of course, the essay.
I absolutely love beekeeping! It is something that everyone should try, since we got bee hives mom has warned all the kids to be very careful. Not because they might get stung, but because if they do get stung then they will kill one of the honeybees! =) Thankfully nothing terrible has happened, although the hives did almost get run over by the 4-wheeler... key word- ALMOST.
Here's some pictures, a little bit of everything! EnJoy!
I am really wishing I knew how to flip these pics right now! Anyways... this is Dad going into the swarm that I told you was inside the house. Really amazing right!?
Jeremy and Howard were such huge helps through this! Thanks yall! This was inside the house after the wall was partly taken down. 
Inside the wall we found comb 9 feet long and 3 feet wide! 

Here is a face that was painted at the Apple Fest. The honey bees were so cute! The kids loved them! 

 Here is the beginning of "A Day In The Beeyard" at Howard Blackburn's place during the short course. We got to help remove a swarm from a tree they had placed themselves in.
The bare hands you see are Mr. Howard's! It was cool to see him in there without gloves, said he's been stung so many times it doesn't matter anymore. 

 Jeremy and one of the other beekeepers about to cut the tree trunk.
The amount of comb and honey, as well as brood that we pulled out of the trunk was amazing, and in the next picture you can see all the honeybees darting around us. 

Mr. Howard, Jeremy and Dad cutting out comb.

 Mr. Howard taught me how to pick up a honey bee without getting stung!! 
Every beekeeper should know how to do that! 

This is Mr. Howard's beautiful apiary, I love it. 

Some of the tools we used that day with the bees covering them. 

And here is my wonderful daddy, without him I wouldn't have 2 hives running right now. He's a big help with the hauling and catching and setting up.

Gabby .V.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Welcome to our family farm. This year has been a wonderful and trying year for getting back into the farm lifestyle. A few years ago we had an up and going farm, several horses, goats, chickens, a donkey, a few dogs, some cats, and of course 7 children. Yes, you read it correctly. God called us into a different kind of life for awhile and now he has begun to move us into the simple farm life again. We currently have 3 acres of land and the beginnings of a dream coming true. This time around things are gonna be a little different, our farm will have more of a purpose. We have about 22 chickens, 2 turkeys, 4 dogs, 1 cat, 1/2 of a cow (will explain), 1 mini pot belly pig, 2 bee hives and 7 children. Our land is mostly hard, red dirt that has all the top soil removed because of our recent building. We put a home on the land that we acquired and then started praying for grass. To this day, we are still praying for grass. So, how do we have 1/2 a cow? We put a down payment on her and will get her later when we have the fencing up. She is a Jersey cow, about 3 years old and hopefully pregnant.
Little miss Rosemary will be our milking cow. We plan to use the knowledge we gained over the summer with the milk that we will get from her. On our kitchen blog you will see when Anna has begun to make buttermilk and cheese from some milk we have gotten. We are all excited to be able to learn how to milk her, and between all of us I'm sure that we will have no trouble milking her daily. Hopefully the calf will be a girl, if it is a boy then we are thinking about selling it. 
We just watched a film called Back To Eden ( ) that was really amazing. It shows how to use the land in the best ways and in the ways that God intended for us. We watched it Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon we were already trying it for ourselves. Here is what part of our front yard currently looks like, after watching the video it will make more sense to you. Along with the knowledge that we just learned about and the years we have had to grow in the 4-H gardening club we will be ready to have a great garden this year! 
 Our Backyard Garden Plot (before we watched the video and had already tilled it up)
 Me and Alyse about to roll the haybale out over the front yard.
 The lower side of the front yard with the first round of hay.
The upper part of the front yard with it's first layer of hay. 

After we rolled out the hay we spread it all out, sorry no pictured of that, and got it ready for the next step. We are very excited about the beginning of our farm! With all prayer and hard work then we will have a beautiful and established farm than can support us and maybe even fulfill another dream our family has. 

More to come later but let me leave with something a good friend told me, "The best life to live is a simple one." That seems perfect for our little farm. 

Gabby & The Venturinis