Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our First Honey Harvest!

Honey Bears filled with Honey Girl Farm honey!!
SWEEEEEET...the first jars of honey fresh out of the hive! My bees survived the winter, they flourished all summer pollinating my garden AND creating this beautiful golden honey!
Special thanks to my brother Jim who had a logo designed for me. I am still working on the best way to place the logo on the labels and the type of labels...still a work in process.
The plain jar version
I tried using some of the plain jars too. I think with the fancy logo I really don't need the honey bear. I think the label should be round too. Any thoughts?

You might notice that in front of the barn are three horses. These represent Jimmy, Major, and Topper. They are to be used for therapy horses. If I was to sell the honey-all of that money would go to help fund the travel costs and other expenses for the horses. Everything about Honey Girl Farm and Gardens is in remembrance of my dad. I haven't figured out how to combine the two yet...so for now..you might get some honey in your Christmas stocking!

Sadly, Jimmy-the horse named for my dad-has died. Jimmy lived 6 short months. He was a dwarf and suddenly wasn't gaining weight and his front legs appeared to be getting weaker.  I am very shocked and saddened by the loss of Jimmy. Jimmy was to be the "star of the show" and help me build a legacy in honor of my dad. 

Jimmy -RIP little guy!
Jimmy was able to visit the Afton/Lakeland library for a story time visit with a group of children. Jimmy had a great time getting brushed and standing nicely during story time! Then we went and visited an old friend of my dads. I am happy Jimmy was able to leave me with such wonderful memories of doing what we had set out to do-although it was a very short time. 

Jimmy died on a Monday November 4th and that Wednesday-November 6th was the first birthday of my dad's that he would not be here to celebrate.  The grandkids decided that GGPa needed Jimmy with him in heaven for that first birthday without us. I hope they shared a piece of heavenly birthday cake!

Remember that those that have left this earth will always live within our hearts!
Love ya pops...I hope heaven is treating you and Jimmy well!

P.S. Nice lady at Office Max I hope you read my blog and enjoy the honey!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

These Legs Are Made for Walking!

Jimmy with the farrier and Jeanne-first visit
We met the farrier about 3 1/2 weeks ago and he took Jimmy's shoes off. It is so difficult when every horse owner you meet has a different opinion on what to do. What feed to feed them. When to vaccinate them. Shoes or no shoes! So much information for a new horse owner!!

Most miniature horses aren't shoed because the are not being ridden nor are they racing. In fact even with people with large horses are choosing the natural way for horses. Jimmy was shoed to help fix his crooked legs. The problem was that the nails started to press into the hoof and was making them very soft. The adhesive used to keep the shoes on (because his hoof is so tiny they couldn't be nailed in like with the big horses) was making his hooves very soft. It was very to similar to when a woman gets false  finger nails on and when they are removed the real finger nail is really soft and pliable....same thing on Jimmy's hooves.

My new friend Jeanne recommended Back to Nature Hoof Care located in Houlton, WI. I love that farriers make house calls! He looked at the shoes and recommended taking them off because the hooves were getting so soft. Jeanne was worried that the shoes were too heavy for his legs. It was a tough decision for me because the breeder and the farrier in North Carolina had a good explanation as to why they should be left on...ARGH!! I had to go with the people that would be helping me care for Jimmy...shoes off!

They did seem to be heavy on his legs. He wasn't running around like he had been when he had his little casts on. I know his legs were weak because the casts were just removed but....Scott carefully removed all of the adhesive as Jeanne held Jimmy on her lap. Jimmy was so good. Scott talked Jimmy through his procedure and explained to all of us what was happening. Removing shoes and trimming hooves is stinky business...literally....pew!

Over the past 3 1/2 weeks Jimmy's legs appear to be getting stronger. When he first got here he could not walk around the trail with the other horses. Now he can!! Scott came back last night and trimmed both Topper and Jimmy again. Jimmy showed even more improvement. Tonight when we walked him on the trail he didn't pull back and he even tried to run! His knees still tip in a bit but hopefully this gets better. He might need a little leg wrap for our library and care center visits!

Jimmy is a cute little dwarf but I was not prepared for the extra worry there is with a dwarf horse. I am worried about his potentially shortened life span. We will just love Jimmy for as long as we have him. Hopefully he will bring joy to those we visit-even if it is just for a little while. We are looking to get Pet Partners registered in 6 months.

On another note, yesterday I wrote about keeping your eyes open for signs from those in heaven....and the poem Amy sent me. Well last summer I had told dad about a wild flower called "Pussy Toes" I had always thought they were weeds. Well I found a patch of it growing in the shape of a heart. I should have taken the picture sooner but I hope you can still see the heart.
Antennaria "Pussy Toes" I think my dad left this for me!
Remember to hug those you love and keep those in heaven...always in your heart! ~ Kathi

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Honey, Veggies, Chickens, and Eggs!

I love the feeling of growing and harvesting my own vegetables and other "foodstuff!" 
Here is just a sample of my cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. The front plate is honeycomb from the bees. The fresh eggs are amazing and we are getting 6 eggs a day. My garden that dad walked  through with me last summer is a peaceful place for me to be. I feel him all around me in my garden. I see the cucumbers and they remind me of the pickles I made for him last summer. I see the chickens and hear him chuckling that Mike built me a chicken coop! 

Veggies, eggs, and honey!

Nothing like fresh eggs!

Our lovable chickens that produce those delicious eggs!

We were busy picking the pumpkins that grew from the seeds from dad's pumpkins and are making a  great fall centerpiece with some of them. 

We are going through an organizational restructure at work and I was pretty sad about it. In fact I woke up early thinking about the changes. I hadn't seen the cardinals in awhile but there he was this morning outside my bedroom patio door chirping away. The cardinal reminds me of my dad so it cheered me up this morning. Look for those signs from love ones that you have lost.  Ironically my daughter Amy sent this poem to me today...was perfect for the morning...

As I sit in heaven
And watch you everyday
I try to let you know with signs
I never went away
I hear you when you're laughing
And watch you as you sleep 
I even place my arms around you
To calm you as you weep
I see you wish the days away
Begging to have me home
So I try to send you signs
So you know you are not alone
Don't feel guilty that you have 
Life that was denied to me
Heaven is truly beautiful
Just you wait and see
So live your life, laugh again
Enjoy yourself, be free
Then I know with every breath you take
You'll be taking one for me. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Beautiful October Sunday

Dad's Dahlias

It was a beautiful day today. Sunny and no wind. I was busy getting the garden cleaned up. There was a light frost on the ground this morning-a sign to get the rest of the vegetables picked. We had watermelons, pumpkins, eggplant, cantaloupe, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and more!

We didn't  grow the largest pumpkins this year-I think I planted them
too late. But we did get some cute ones and they were still fun 
to pick.  Thanks to my friend, LeeAnn, we have some adorable
Jack Be Little Pumpkins!!
Not the biggest pumpkin!

We had some "new" friends come over to help us work with the horses. Kathy, Sid, and their grandchildren. They put the harnesses on the horses and walked them down the trails in the yard. After a nice walk, we groomed the horses. It was a perfect day for a BBQ and we had some delicious burgers, a great salad, and scrumptious brownies!! If anyone wants to come and work with the horses give me a call. It is important to socialize them to get them ready for their therapy visits!

Yesterday we got all of the footings in place for the garden shed. Mike and I mixed all of the cement and poured the  footings before it started to rain. I am SO excited for the shed. I will be able to keep all of my beekeeping supplies and garden tools close to the garden!

I "met" a lady on line that forwarded me some therapy training information. She has a miniature dwarf named JJ. He needed emergency colic surgery last night. I feel like I have a special connection with Joyce because she named JJ after her Aunt and Uncle that passed away...and you know I named Jimmy after my dad. It may seem silly to name an animal after a loved one but it is crazy the peace that it brings to you and keeps the person nearer to you somehow. So keep little JJ in your prayers.

Off to do algebra homework.....give hugs to those you love and keep them always in your heart.

Saturday, October 12, 2013



and h..ere....s    Jimmy!


I have been so busy that I haven't added to my blog in waaay too long. I have many pictures I have taken to update my blog with and to tell the story of my dad's garden. It has been a busy summer moving the plants from dad's garden to my yard. Last week we finally transplanted the miniature pussy willow tree that Amanda had given to my dad last year. He carefully planted it outside and this spring we were so happy to see that it had made it through the winter.

A friend of mine had asked me to join a women's writing group after I told her how I could see some sort of story in Jimmy the little horse with casts! The group has been amazing. It feels more like grief counseling and joyous wonder all wrapped into one! Some people turn to writing to express their loss but of course it isn't all just about that. One lady wrote a book called "Thin Places" after a death in her family and it is amazing. I will tell you more about the books as the months go on....and I promise I will be here!!

The garden was wonderful this summer. I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Africa so it was out of control when I returned but we still had a decent harvest. I am already planning what I want to grow next year! This morning we ate some cantaloupe that I grew. Dad's Dahlias are blooming beautifully as did his Calla Lillies. The strangest thing happened when I transplanted dad's little tree...I could see and feel his hands touching that same soil AND the love he felt as he planted it. It was so comforting and so sad all that the same time!

We also brought home the miniature horses! The picture above is Jimmy. Well, his full name is "Always in Your Heart"-Jimmy. My dad and I shared a moment when he was giving me a one of his favorite artist prints...I just started to cry and said I didn't want him to leave me...and he said, "Kuff, I will always be in your heart." I am so happy that we shared that moment because it is what has become my guiding principle in ways. He is always in my heart so I always feel him close.

Mike and I went to North Carolina to pick up three miniature horses. Their names are Major, Topper, and of course Jimmy. We camped in a KOA on our way back so that the horses didn't have to spend 17 hours on the move. It was an adventure to say the least! Once I got home I was really lost at what to do next. I found a new friend, Pat, right down the road that has miniature horses...We both have lived here 27 years and I never knew she was there! She in turn put in me in touch with a lady named Jeanne that has miniature horses and has a dwarf horse!! Dwarfs are basically special needs horses. I didn't know that about Jimmy when I agreed to purchase him. How could I turn my back on a horse I named after my dad??? So stayed tuned for the trials and tribulations of raising a dwarf miniature horse!!

I need to harvest the honey soon...so stay tuned for that adventure.
Blessings to all. Be sure to reach out to those you love and haven't seen in a while...and always give lots of hugs! Until next time......

Monday, May 13, 2013


Dad's amaryllis in full bloom with four flowers

The weather was slightly chilly and windy on Saturday but it was time to get moving on dad's garden. The crocus were no longer blooming but the grape hyacinths were in full bloom, the tulips were ready to pop, and the hostas were peeking out of the soil. Our goal was to get the center garden cleaned out and rototilled so that mom could plant grass seed if she wanted to (I am still working on the sod idea.)

Mom was working so it was the first time I went into the house by myself since dad died. When mom was working he would usually be either in the backyard weeding or in the basement watching TV. Often I like to just pretend he is in the basement but I couldn't do that on Saturday. Messing with dad's garden...yikes....he didn't like anyone  messing with his plants.
Plants in bags in Tanzania

When it started to sleet on me I was sure it was a sign that he wanted me to be careful with all of his plants. He was pretty meticulous about getting them potted perfectly. However, when we visited Tanzania he saw how the garden stores just potted the plants in left over bags. He must have had the same idea because he had lots of bags saved. He also had a lot of pots too!
Nathan back for another load of compost

Michael, Nathan, Isabella, and Faith came to help. GGpa would be so proud that Nathan hauled away the entire compost pile by himself. It hadn't decomposed much so it was better suited for the Ramsey County composting site.
Compost pile all cleaned up!
It was cute....Nathan asked Mike when he would be done with the pile. Mike replied, "When you feel you have done a job to be proud of, then you are done." He looks pretty proud of his accomplishment!

There were old bushes to dig up and get rid of but there were many awesome flowers. Daisies, peonies, foxglove, hens and chicks, crocus, tulips, irises, allium, and many more!!
Bella picking rocks and Faith moving all of the plants. 
Michael saving one of gramp's tulips
We decided to dig up everything we could from the center garden and then move it to a "parking lot" garden in my yard. That was Sunday's job. To get all 200 plants replanted! Keep in mind-there are more plants to clean up after this center garden!!

Mike rototilling so that Granny can plant some grass!
A couple of years ago my dad wanted me to bring his deer to my house. He has had these deer in his yard for as long as I can remember! Taking them from his yard just seemed wrong because they were something he loved. Dad and Mom would take turns painting them throughout the years.  Then when he got sick he said, "Kuff we got to get those deer to your house" then he would explain how Mike would have to get a log and roll the deer on them across the yard so that we didn't break them. Then in the hospital, after they told him he wasn't going to beat the cancer, he said, "Kathleen, don't forget to get those deer in your yard." They were really important to him and he wanted them to be enjoyed. SO..the center garden needed cleaning so that we could move the deer too!
The deer before we rototilled. 

The kids were excited to show Granny how hard they had worked to clean up the yard but it was getting late so they couldn't stay. When mom got home she was surprised how much we had accomplished but there were also tears for dad's missing garden. There was joy too, knowing that the plants would be carefully replanted in my yard and for years to come they would be shared with my sisters, the grandkids, and anyone else that wanted a piece of "Riley's Garden."
Some of the plants ready for moving

Sunday my sister Jamie and her husband Lyle went over and did MORE work! They dug up bushes and cleaned up some of our left over mess. It isn't done yet! You're always in our heart Pops...and your plants will be in all of our gardens too!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Crazy May and Busy Days!

What a crazy start to May! This is the snow that we woke up to the morning of May 2nd. The trees were weeping with heavy, wet snow on them. But in the grand scheme of life-a little snow in May is nothing to weep about.

So this was the snow on May 2nd!

We had a busy weekend. On Saturday Mike, me, and the Mike Jr. family all participated in the Run for the Roses 5K to benefit the "This Old Horse Organization." It was a wet, muddy run but I finished my first 5K (well I walked some)!! It was a fantastic event.  We sipped on non-alcoholic Mint Juleps...the drink of choice at the Kentucky Derby! Some runners donned fancy hats. This was the first year of the run so expect even more fun next year!! Check out This Old Horse!

Mom and dad always watched the Kentucky Derby together so I went over to mom's house and watched the derby.

Sunday I did some more horsing around with Nathan. We went to groom Joey of the Half Pint Horse Foundation. Joey would be visiting some senior friends and needed to be cleaned up. I arrived a little early so thank goodness for youtube. I needed a refresher on how to put the halter on. We got Joey all brushed and sort of ready to go. Once Allison got there we vacuumed him and washed his hooves. He is so precious and laid his head in Nathan's lap.
Nathan with Joey
The afternoon was beautiful and it was time to start working to move dad's garden. Bittersweet to say the least. I could hear his voice and see him walking through his garden and pointing out all of his flowers to me. It was easy to tell that his last day's in the garden must have been hard for him. He has so many plants and so many beds to weed. The crocus were in full bloom, the grape hyacinths were popping up, as were the tulip leaves. There were irises everywhere and Lyle helped dig them up with the pitch fork.  We carefully removed the leaves uncovering emerging plants.
Lyle, my brother-in-law, and my sister Jamie

Mom looking for that Big Daddy Hosta
More bagging and potting in the days to come. Sure wish Pops was here to play in his yard with us!
After some digging, potting, and of course tears...it was time to head home. And look what greeted me!
Another of dad's amaryllis was blooming. Wendy said when she noticed that only two flowers had bloomed so far..she said it reminded her of me and my dad. I like that. 

Dad's amaryllis
Sunday night was time to get the two new packages of bees into their new hives! Nathan was my photographer. 
The new hives ready for bees

Spraying the bees with sugar water to slow them down

The bees were successfully installed into their new hives. I will leave them bee (no pun intended ha, ha) for a few days so that they can get acclimated and start making the honeycomb so that the queen can get laying eggs!

Speaking of eggs...the last chore of the day was to round up the chickens and gather the eggs! Until next time....don't forget to tell those you love just how much you love them!
Nathan with one of our hens-love you Nathan! What a great help he was today. 

Beautiful brown eggs

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Crazy Week!

It's hard to prepare garden beds when they look like this!

April 22nd, 2013
Not only do I have to get these beds prepared but another bed is going around the perimeter AND I have to prepare for dad's garden. It figures that the spring I have so much to do...this is the weather we have!!
Though this feels unbelievable because I want dad's garden to be perfect-it doesn't compare to the crazy week in Boston!
We were in Boston this week for a friend's wedding but ended up being a part of the city's lock down! The wedding party couldn't get their tuxes. The rehearsal dinner was cancelled because the restaurant was closed- people couldn't get to work. No subways, no trains, and no taxis for a time. The streets were empty! Quincy Market was empty. It was amazing to see that all of Bostonians respected the lockdown and there was no complaining! My heart feels for the people of Boston and all of those that were injured in the Marathon Bombing. I couldn't get the images of those that died out of my mind.
The empty streets in downtown Boston
Quincy Market-Empty!
Once the suspects were off the streets-we were able to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers and weather in Boston!
A trio of spring containers
I love the use of the spruce with the pussy willows and the spring time flowers. I can't wait until our bulbs start blooming. This upcoming weekend maybe?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Honey Girl Farm?

Dude by Toni Thomas Photography
I think I should've called my blog Honey Girl Farms!

 I have heard about This Old Horse for a year now. A friend of mine at work is a horse lover and her friend, Nancy, had this great idea to have a "retirement home" for horses that couldn't work too hard anymore. Some of the horses were a part of We Can Ride an organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Some of the horses are retired Thoroughbred race horses, a few were mounted patrol horses, and their are others with other service related roles. Some horses work so hard all of their life for people that Nancy thought the horses deserved  a good life when they retired or semi-retired. The horses still love to interact with people just not as hard as they once did.

Saturday I finally visited Wishbone Ranch-the farm that Nancy bought for the This Old Horse Foundation. I met Dude, pictured above. Dude was once a part of a driving team. When his partner died, Dude could no longer work. Dude is also blind. Isn't he just gorgeous? I am going to volunteer to help at Wishbone Ranch and help care for the horses. There is so much work to be done that the foundation depends on volunteers to bring love and care to the horses. Some of the horses are still used for riding lessons. One of the perks of volunteering at the ranch is that you can earn riding lessons. I have always wanted to learn to ride.

As a 12 year old I read the book Gilda. She had a chestnut brown horse with a black mane and a white star. Lynn Whartman and I dreamed of having horses one day. Her Dad took us a couple of times to a riding stable in Stillwater so that we could get our horse fix. Several times over the years I would go horse back riding but nothing other than a trail ride. My granddaughters would also like to ride horses so this is one way to have horses in our life.
Joey of Half Pint Horse Foundation

Another way to have horses in our life is to get a mini horse of our own to be a part of the Half Pint Horse Foundation! Yep, I ordered me a miniature horse from Banks Miniature Horse Farm in North Carolina. That is right....Mike will be heading for the golf courses in North Carolina while I pick up my miniature horse! The horse will live with Joey and the other horses of the Half Pint Horse Foundation. He will be certified to visit patients and he will visit schools and libraries. The goal of Half Pint Horse Foundation is promote mental and physical healing, therapy, and education through interaction with miniature horses.

The goals of both foundations are to use horses to heal people and then to repay horses for the service they have given to others.

Because both foundations are dependent upon volunteers there are a couple of fundraisers. On May 4 This Old Horse will be holding a 5K at Wishbone Ranch. Half Pint Horse will be participating in the Humane Society Walk. On September 14th the Half Pint Horse Foundation will be hosting a big hoe down!! More on that later!

I had a picture of dad riding a horse that I wanted to post too...but I can't find the darn thing. So my mini horse isn't even born yet. Bill Banks will be giving me a call when he is born!! I will let you know.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Thyme seeds already sprouting!
It is so amazing that a tiny, little seed will just burst open and from it grows a wonderful, edible plant!
Tomato seedlings!
I sure hope the snow melts one of these days. I think that we were just spoiled last year and this isn't really out of the ordinary. I need to figure out exactly where dad's garden will go. His plants always came up about 2 weeks earlier than mine so I will need to get out in my yard right away and prepare the site. I want dad's plants to have a perfect new garden.

Chickens are still laying eggs like crazy. The cold doesn't seem to be bothering them. I will be happy when I don't need to change the water out twice a day because it freezes. The water heater doesn't work when it gets too cold. I will be adding to the flock the first week of April. It would be nice to add a few ducks to the group. 

I am a little worried about the bees. They were on the top of the hive when I added the pollen patty. I am afraid that with them being on the top like that they won't be able to huddle and keep warm.  I will cross my fingers. I have two packages of bees that will be delivered mid-April. I will need to set up the new hives for them too. So much to do!

Until next time....

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Seeds are Sowed!

Seed starting pellets-look at how much they expand!

Well I finally got the seeds planted yesterday that need an early start. I am experimenting this year with the different kinds of peat pellets. It is amazing that one little tray can hold 5 cups of water! Look at how much the peat pellets expand!

The little trays are the Burpee brand. I have both the self watering and the ones you have to water.

I also am trying the Jiffy brand as well. The planting material seems more loamy feeling in the Jiffy brand. We will see which one works best. I put them all on the heating mats to speed up germination. The are in my dining room right now but once I put them under the lights I will need to find a better location.

Two varieties of Eggplants
I started two kinds of eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs.

All warming up on the heat mats
So everything I needed to start now for the vegetable garden is started. Next up, milkweed seeds for the Monarch Butterflies. I started a native garden two summers ago. At first it went against by gardening sense to leave common milkweed in my garden. The former "weed" in my garden is the milkweed that really attracts the monarch butterflies. I was able to find monarch eggs and then raise the caterpillars into butterflies. Monarch butterflies are losing their habitat. That will be another post.

Common milkweed

Yesterday I decided that I had been paying for my Ancestry.com account for long enough. I wanted to try one more time though to find my dad's grandpa. I knew that his name was Thomas Riley but I kept hitting road blocks. I also knew that my great grandma, Ann,  died shortly after giving birth to my grandpa. I was about to quit when I found a Thomas Riley! The person that had Thomas Riley in their family tree had a private account. I sent her an email thinking maybe I'd get a response.

She responded to my email, appropriately for a Riley, on St. Patrick's Day!! Turns out my grandpa lived with her family when she was a child. I found my Riley relatives! She is my dad's first cousin. She is my age.  We are going to meet after Easter. AND her name is Rose! How perfect for a girl blogging about gardening to find a Rose! I am excited to learn my Riley family history.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Another miniature day!

Harley(?), Faith, and Bella at Spike's Feed in Loretto

Today I took Bella and Faith to a seminar on miniature horses at Spike's Feed in Loretto. We  learned about the history of miniature horses, pasture, feeding, we watched them groom a horse, and then spent some time with the mini horse. Trainer Renee Bush presented and there was a special guest, Mary Sansevere. Mary has 5 children and all of them are involved in miniature horse shows and jumping events. Her husband is KQRS radio host and Pioneer Press columnist- Bob Sansevere. He told us that he went from being in front of the motor of a boat on Lake Minnetonka to riding in carts behind a miniature horse! He said he loves it.  I need him to talk to Mike! The event included gift bags for the kids, delicious treats, and prizes!

Sansevere's Mini horse with a Spike's employee
The Executive Director of The Half Pint Horse Foundation, Allison Polster invited us out to the barn to visit the therapy horses, Joey, Coal, and Cookie.
Faith brushing Cookie with the brush she won at the seminar
I am in love with the idea of using the miniature horses for therapy.  I am currently enrolled in the Pet Partners Therapy Program. The horses will be taken to nursing homes, libraries, schools, and they will also visit patients in the Allina Hospice program. Did you know they have therapy rabbits and guinea pigs too? Who knew...I thought only dogs were therapy animals!
Bella with Coal. She also won a brush and liked brushing the fuzzy mini!
The horses still have their wooly, winter coats on. It will be fun to see them after they are groomed.

To round out my miniature weekend-I got a really nice surprise in the mail today from a friend that follows my blog. Miniature pumpkin seeds-- "Jack Be Little." They will be fun to grow on a trellis in the garden. The grandchildren will love them. Thank you friend!

A nice surprise!

I am really off to plant my seeds! Have a great night and Happy St. Paddy's Day.