Weekend Bits


Busy–and fun–weekend here! Friday night, Morgan and I went to see my cousin’s wife, Sheryl, sing in a local community show. Local community shows are the best. People who are the real deal and have the guts and the talent to get up on a stage–and sing for nothing. It was a lot of fun.

Madison’s (my cousin’s son) lovely girlfriend Amanda (left), Sheryl, and Morgan-about-to-turn-16 on the right, after the show.

Today, I went to my first beekeeping class. It was confusing and overwhelming. Supers and broods and mites and extractors and excluders and who knows what else. I don’t understand this beekeeping thing, but I want to do it. Next year. In a new wave of restraint, I have decided to actually learn and prepare before jumping headfirst into my latest greatest farm activity. Bees are particularly confusing, so I’m giving myself a year for the information to sink in. I figure if I keep reading about it, and keep going to beekeeping class, it will all make sense eventually.

SarahGrace (some of you know her from the CITR forum) went to bee class with me. I stopped at her farm first to meet her lovely cows.

SarahGrace with beautiful Bessie (the milker).

Buttercup, the ADORABLE calf.

Man, I love cows.

In future news, I signed up for an all-day “Agritourism” workshop in Morgantown. Agritourism is “a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates supplemental income for the owner.” It encompasses a lot of things, but specifically in relation to my goals, it includes on-farm cooking classes and farm stays, along with other events I’m interested in hosting here. I have lots of ideas for the studio–farm stays in the future–but in the short-term, cooking/baking, cheesemaking, soapmaking workshops and more, as well as renting the studio for family/company parties, meetings, and even weddings. (Wedding on the farm! The studio is perfect for that with the multi-level deck overlooking the pastures. I can so see a wedding there.) With the hard road and close interstate access I have here (8 miles)–and a picturesque farm setting, this farm is particularly suited to so many agritourism opportunities, and I want and need to pursue them to keep myself float. The agritourism workshop is an all-day workshop on February 29, part of (and in advance of) the West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Would love to attend the rest of the conference, but I can’t afford the money or the time away from the farm. I’ll go in one day (agritourism workshop only), feeding and watering the animals at o’dark-thirty then back in the evening. (Morgantown is about three hours away.) I won’t even have a second to see Weston while I’m in Morgantown. (Bummer.) My cousin Mark is going to attend with me–and do the driving. (He’s a champ!) It’s a great opportunity for me to learn about organizing, managing, and marketing agritourism on my farm. We’re all signed up. I CAN’T WAIT TO GO!


  1. yvonnem says:

    It all sounds great, Suzanne!

    So, are you planning a great big Sweet 16 Party? :snoopy:

    Happy Birthday, Morgan! :heart:

  2. Hengal says:

    The workshop sounds really great Suzanne – I’m envious. I’ve been searching our area for Agritourism information and development ideas myself. Not quite sure exactly what I want to offer, but the passion to do something is sure there. So excited to see what you do with your new farm – the possibilities and the opportunities are endless! :snoopy:

  3. sheepsclothing says:

    Buttercup is amazingly cute. Those ears! Those eyes! Oh my goodness.

  4. cndymkr says:


    Your site was mentioned here at the Dinner Garden page. LOVE IT!!

  5. Yvette says:

    I’ve been learning as much as I can about bee-keeping, too, over the past couple of years. It will be a while before I have my own, but I want to be prepared. Top-bar hive-keeping eliminates the need for most of the “stuff”…no supers or queen excluders or frames or pricey honey-extracting equipment. The Langstroth folks generally seem distrustful of TBHs, but they’ve been around for eons longer. For me, the most important thing is to be able to manage a hive by myself, without lifting 80-lb boxes of upset bees, so, this automatically excludes a lang hive for me.

    I bet you’ll be an awesome beek! I can’t wait to hear your honey bee stories!

  6. TeaCup says:

    The celery thing also showed up in the Frugal Village forums recently too.

    I hope you have a GREAT time at your conferences and I’m sure you’ll learn lots.

    The calf is adorable, if I had > 1 acre, instead of less, I’d want a cow, but now even a goat would be a stretch I think?

    I want to come & be your first guest! Let me know when you’re ready. I need to go to VA/the D.C. area to research an article, it really doesn’t do to make an editor wait forever, does it? Hopefully, when you think you’ll be ready, I’ll be able to come.

    Blessed be —


  7. holstein woman says:

    Sounds wonderful, congrats.

  8. emeraldsunshine says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I really enjoy attending workshops – even when I already know a lot about the subject. It’s always neat to hear other people’s ideas and what they’re doing in the area!

  9. FarmGrammy says:

    Hey, I think you are 90% of the way to Agritourism! And all the lovely acres. I would come and visit if you could stand the teen aged grandkid with no SLOW or STOP on her control set. She could romp and I could sit on the deck and drink peach tea and learn to make soap!! Now.. why didn’t you do this before?

    You could host a photo journalism class as well, or just turn people loose on the hillsides and then look at the pics at the end of the day. Go for it! Do the bees later. :chicken: :sheepjump: :sheep:

  10. wildman says:

    Suzanne- when you get your bees make sure you get Sunoco bees and not Esso bees!!


  11. SarahGrace says:

    It was a good day yesterday. All the bee information was a bit overwhelming, but my interest is still there! Glad you got to meet my Bo-Bo’s, Suzanne. Hope I didn’t talk your ears off too much in the car! 🙂 Enjoy the workshop and I hope it’s all the information you need. Happy Sweet Sixteen to Morgan!

  12. Diane says:

    Thanks for shareing how the bee keeping class went. And it sounds like something our club should look into before getting an operating a hive. At the very least see if the bee keeper who is donating it will take the time to teach us.

    You are well on your way to Agritourism. I never knew there was such a thing. Who knew what people are doing with their farms like that. Its a good thing. Love you are going to use the studio in those ways. I can see a wedding happening at your farm. 🙂

  13. Rah says:

    Suzanne, you have had an incredible set of challenges the last few months, and you’re forging ahead, full steam, with a positive attitude. Know that there are a lot of us out here cheerleading. You are an awesome woman!

  14. Julia says:

    Yes Bessie and Buttercup are beautiful. But I noticed SarahGrace’s beautiful sweater. Did you by chance knit it yourself, SarahGrace?

  15. wormlady says:

    When I attended an extension thing on beekeeping a few years ago, the guy said since hives die off so easily now, an awful lot of folks have quit, so there’s an awful lot of beekeeping equipment sitting unused in barns around here, so don’t buy new. In Roane County.
    And I don’t know if it’s too late for this year, but someone was saying a couple weeks ago that there’s plenty of scholarship money to be had for that conference. I forget who’s paying her way, but don’t assume you have to have cash.
    I don’t know if you prefer working with kids or adults, but if you don’t mind kids, there’s lots of money to be had for farm camp. Parents pay money so their kids do your chores. Then they rave once they’re home that they just sat in a field one day and it was wonderful.

  16. CarrieJ says:

    You learn. You do. And we WILL come.

  17. SarahGrace says:

    Julia, thank you for the compliments. No I did not knit the sweater. I bought it a few years ago, but I can’t remember where. Most likely it was from Sam’s or Kohls.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Love the kids farm camp idea! Thanks!

      Re used equipment, would be happy to have it. I’ll definitely be asking around, though I’m not planning to start till next year, so not in too big of a rush about equipment. I plan to do top bar hives, though, and most of the older beekeepers have the other kind.

  18. Estella says:

    I am sure you will be able to understand the bees. My husband kept bees for a number of years and I absorbed some of the knowledge without even trying.

  19. wildcat says:

    I love that you are being so SMART about your new farm. Studying and really thinking about things, before jumping in. I think I am just about the opposite of you. You tend to jump right in and learn as you go. I am the one who reads about it and dreams and plans, and then never actually does it. I’m working on that. LOL Anyway, I can’t wait to see what you do with the farm. It’s such a beautiful place! :yes:

  20. Flowerpower says:

    At my shop downtown the building next door to me has bees in the wall. Something is apparently afoot with these bees too as I find them all over my central AC and heat unit. Looks like some sort of fuzzy growth. I do think bee keeping would be neat and I do love honey. Shame so many are dying now as we need them.
    Good looking cows there!

  21. Zusiqu says:

    Post # 5 referred to Top Bar Hives. I mentioned them also on another one of your posts.


  22. bonita says:

    Buttercup and Bessie are two good-looking cows. GB would be beautiful, too, if she could soften the evil eye she has going, the little devil. All the bovine beauty notwithstanding, any holsteins around. . . for my money they are the archetypal dairy cow.

    sometimes I submit a comment and the ghosts in the machine vaporize it. . . just wondering if this is an intermittent problem at this end, or at yours. . .

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