Sunday, February 26, 2017

(Feb 27) Enjoying the New Year

Been a while since I've posted. Amazing how quickly time flies by. The weather has been unseasonably warm. We've had a number of days in the 80s here in February! We did get down to almost freezing this past weekend though. I will say, it's odd to see mosquitos buzzing around with fur coats on! lol

We finished (for the most part) our Tiny House this past Fall. We're still going to re-work the water lines coming into the house but that will likely come when we build a pump house. We're OK with bringing in our own water at this point. We pretty much have it down to about 15 gallons per day, including showers. I did re-install the DC pump and a new 12v deep-cycle battery under the sink to have running water there in the kitchen. I keep reminding myself that carrying 40 lb jugs of water is good exercise!

House with the door painted

We have also changed the storage up a bit in the living area. We took down our metal Elfa shelves and put in another cabinet from IKEA. I know a lot of people really liked the wire baskets but this will be more practical for our daily needs. It fit perfectly in the spot we had and I think it looks great. This unit will serve as a bar and various storage including bedding. It's 96" tall. The 2 sections are now 15" wide and 24" wide. Both are 24" deep. We've still got some lighting and a shelf to install in the bar but it's looking good so far! :) Here are some updated photos.

Looking from the door in

Bathroom and cabinet area

Here's a nice picture of the West wall. Not sure if I had posted once since we re-worked the window and door trim.

View from the kitchen towards the living/sleeping area. 

We went out to an open-house event for the supplier (Texas Bee Supply) of our honey bees this weekend and picked up our hive kits. Our bees won't be in until late March or April but we're really excited to make some progress. We also got a great tour of their sister company, Desert Creek Honey. Amazing the amount of honey that 5000 hives can produce! We were both so impressed with the owner, Mr. Shook, when he came out to our local beekeepers meeting that we were glad to support him in his new business venture of selling beekeeping supplies. It's great too, to find an honest honey supplier in your own area. Many honeys purchased from a grocery store that claimed to be local, raw honey were actually a blend of foreign (mainly Chinese) honey as well as corn syrup, thus negating the health benefit of consuming products with a bit of pollen from your area. The people from Desert Creek Honey were upfront and honest about where all of their honey comes from. You should give them a try. Great products. The creamed jalapeno honey spread is excellent on fresh cornbread!! :) (No, I didn't get as much as one free bottle of honey for my endorsement. I really like the people and their products!)

Sunday found us painting these and putting the swarm box that we built up in a tree to entice some swarming bees to take up residence. I think Kim and I are both going to enjoy being beekeepers. Everyone we've dealt with so far has been really nice, just like the Tiny House community we've become part of.

We attended a bee biology class recently, taught by Ryan at the Trinity Valley Beekeeper's Association. They (the bees) are absolutely fascinating. The queen can lay 2000+ eggs per day for life off of one mating flight but can't feed herself. Female bees do absolutely all of the work in a hive, from the day they hatch 'til the day they die. Male bees (drones) are pretty much good for one thing, breeding to a queen, hopefully from another hive. If successful, they die immediately. If unsuccessful, they are all kicked out of the hive in the fall to starve to death. Since they (the drones) do no other work, it would be impractical for the hive to support them through the winter. After all, the queen can produce more drones at will in the Spring by deciding whether to fertilize the eggs she's laying or not. Fertilized eggs hatch as female workers. Un-fertilized eggs hatch as drones. If the queen slows down her egg production, her daughters gang up on her and either kill her or they conspire to produce a new queen who will do it for them! It's a no-nonsense species. All business, all the time. Something to respect in that. :)

Honey bee collecting nectar (to make honey) and pollen (to feed baby bees)

If you find that a swarm of bees has left their hive and taken up in a tree or bush on your property, take the time to call a local bee club. They will likely have someone available to come and rescue the bees. Everyone wins! The bees are very docile at this stage and are easy to handle so there's actually no danger of them attacking you. Their bellies are full of honey and they're just looking for a new home. :)

Swarm of honey bees waiting to decide on where their new home will be!

We got a nice series of showers on Sunday evening, also. Not sure there is anything better than a Sunday snuggled up with your wife, watching movies and listening to the rain fall on the cabin you built in the woods. I'm very grateful for Kim and all we've accomplished together over the past 10 years. :) Here's to you, Sweetie!

I'm working on a system to start propagating Chili Pequin pepper plants out on our new property. These are a great little pepper that packs a punch, up to 30x hotter than a Jalapeno. We have a number of plants at our house in Arlington but I've not had any luck in getting them to come up from seed here in the woods. After some research that I should have done in the first place, I find that the seeds have a very tough outer cover and have to get some assistance to germinate. The most popular way is to pass the seeds through a bird. Most likely a Mockingbird. The stomach acid helps thin the casing around the seed as it passes through. Also, they need very warm soil (80°-90°) and very little of it to get started. Preferably less than 1/4" covering them as they germinate.  If you come to any of the Tiny House events at our place in the future, remember to ask me. I'll be glad to give you some start seeds. :)

So - I'm going to get a starter set and soak my pepper seeds in a bleach water solution (preferred method of softening the seeds. You can also use battery acid. NO JOKE!). These guys are tough! They are the only native pepper plant to the United States, growing wild throughout the central and South Texas regions down throughout Mexico, thriving in a mix of sun and shade. Since there are no hybrids, they all have the potential to propagate. They do take a long time each year to get around to their 1st crop, often taking 150 days or more. Thus the reason to start them inside in the winter, if you can keep the soil warm.

More pics next time of the bee hives and an update on the local deer. We're really hoping that we have a number of fawns this Spring. Most of the does we've seen look pregnant. Very Exciting!!

See ya then!


  1. Hi Jay and Kim so glad to see your post today! I really like your new cabinet! I must go back through your posts as Ive forgotten do you have a murphy bed? Or maybe its a loft? Thanks for all your sharing. Reading as its raining on the bay in San Diego and yes I'm still dreaming of living on land! Thanks again

    1. Robyn, Thanks! I've gotten lazy about writing lately! We have a fold out sleeper sofa by American Leather. It's not perfect but it's the best we found after a couple of years of looking! Wishing you luck on finding your dream location!

  2. Your tiny house is beautiful! Every time I lug my vacuum up and down the stairs, or clean my hard wood floors, I wish for a smaller home. Now that we are empty nesters, and my husband is only months away from retirement, tiny is looking pretty good. I'd love more outside time, only we get about 7 months of winter...

    Essie Reed @ Valley Home Improvement

    1. Thanks, Randy! I'm sure we will appreciate the simplicity of our house as we get older as well as the financial relief it will offer. All completed, our expectation is that our TOTAL YEARLY housing cost (since we will have no mortgage) will be about $1,000 ($80/mo). That will be insurance, taxes and utilities! We're pretty exited about the prospect. We pick up our first set of bees this week and have other coming throughout the month. That will allow us the tax exemption that will bring the property taxes on the house and the land down under $300/yr. :)