All posts by ruthsoaper

In Search Of Spring?

The calendar says that Spring has arrived, yet nature seems to be telling a different story. Even though we have been seeing Red Wing Black Birds for several weeks and my husband spotted the first Robin of the season about a week ago, the temperatures have mostly been below what is normal for this time of year in Michigan. I can’t help but wonder if the birds regret their early return.

Spring is my favorite season of the year so I went looking for the signs of Spring. Come along, I’ll show you what I found.

Even though we have had some very sunny days, some of the snow has yet to melt               in areas that are mostly shady.


The last of the ice melted from the pond on Sunday, March 18. It reached 50+ degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) that day but the temperatures have been nowhere near that since. IMG_3813

Today the temperature was around 40 Fahrenheit (about 4 Celsius) when we were at the farm; with the wind out of the North it felt much colder. Trooper didn’t mind stepping in the pond for a cold drink, but while I long to walk barefoot on the sand and dip my toes in the water, today I opted to keep on my wool socks and rubber boots.


A pair of ducks have also been enjoying the pond for the last two days. They may be looking for a place to build a nest and raise their young, but I am afraid that our pond would be much too busy for that. I am fairly certain that Scout and Trooper will make it clear that they are not welcome here. There are, however, plenty of neighboring ponds that will suit them just fine.


The daffodils have poked their heads up but seem to be in no hurry to expose their entire bodies to the cold temps. Who can blame them?


The bees have had several days over the winter when they were able to come out for a cleansing flight. It was during a brief warm spell in February that we discovered that four of our five hives were dead. 80% loss is the biggest winter loss we have experienced to date. The sole survivor was our Warre’ hive.

Even though the sun was out today the bees were not.


The sap flow has been intermittent. It flows (or should I say drips) on the warmer, sunny days, but many of the days have been just too cold for the sap to flow. While we can see the buds on the trees getting bigger they are not yet ready to open.

We will continue collecting sap and making syrup as long as the weather permits.


To me the most encouraging sign of spring was hearing the frogs singing. My husband  told me that he heard them for the first time yesterday. We didn’t hear them in the pond area but in this swampy area near the back of our farm.


I remember My Mom telling me that the frogs have to freeze three times before Spring is here to stay.  I am not really sure how that works. How long does the temperature have to be below freezing for a frog to “freeze”? Is it just when the temperature falls below freezing over night? or does it take a day or more of freezing temperatures? Has anyone ever heard this before? None-the-less I am always happy to hear the frogs singing, and I take this as a sure sign that spring is near.

Are you anxiously awaiting Spring? What do signs do you look for to know that Spring is near?

Hooked On Curlicues and More Hats

I started crocheting curlicues and I think I am hooked. (pun intended)


I made pony tail holders. These make me miss having little girls and putting fancy ponytails in their hair.

I made bookworms,



and this octopus that was a gift for my Grandson, Jackson.

These things work up very quickly and I love using the variegated color yarn for this.

I also found another hat pattern that I like. It was a free pattern that you can find at the following link.

I have made a two so far.


I have been using some of my yarn stash to make these, so finding complimentary colors that work is a challenge.

IMG_3796 (2)

This is my precious granddaughter Addy modeling the hat I made for her,


and my beautiful, great-niece, Kenzie wearing the hat (with curlicues) that I made for her. You can see more of this style hat in this post.

While crocheting all this has been lots of fun, I have to admit that I am really anxious for the nice weather to get here, when I will trade in my crochet hook for garden tools. Bring on spring!

Things I Have Learned About Raising Chickens – Don’t Put All of Your Eggs In One Basket

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Metaphorically I think this is great advice. I believe it is very important to have several ways to meet our needs and accomplish tasks or goals. When you hear this phrase you might immediately think of financial investing, but I don’t think the implications should be limited to saving or making money. This should also include things like heating the house, cooking a meal, and transportation; the list is endless.

On the other hand I am not convinced that this is always a best practice when going to the coop to collect eggs. While it makes sense that if you happen to drop one basket with all the eggs you stand to lose them all, carrying more than one basket with a couple eggs each seems like it could be even more risky. For example if you have the eggs split between two or more baskets when you return to the house and have to open the door you will probably try holding both or all of baskets with one hand. Now how safe are those eggs?

When we collect eggs we actually put them in more than one basket. Our egg basket(s) looks like this.



The reasons for the two baskets like this is the basket with the handle is easy to carry but we often have just a few eggs to collect and they roll around in the bottom of the larger basket. In the smaller basket with less room to roll the eggs are better protected. Crazy as it may seem, it works for us.

Whether you use one basket, several baskets or a basket inside of a basket, the important thing to remember is to use a basket. DON”T PUT EGGS IN YOUR POCKET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading.


Coming Clean – Aloe Soap With Yogurt

A while back I wrote about making  Aloe Soap with Yogurt  and since my husband and I have recently tested this soap I wanted to share our thoughts on it.

Before I do I find it necessary offer this prelude. When our daughters were growing up we had some pretty strict rules that they had to follow. These rules served several  purposes: help maintain order, live within a budget, teach the girls responsibility and self discipline… One of the rules was that their showers were limited to eight minutes. We generally find that eight minutes is an adequate amount of time for us to get in, wash, rinse and get out. We bought a kitchen timer to keep in their bathroom. They were required to set the timer for 8 minutes and when the timer went off they had to get out of the shower.  It was done on an honor system, but if my husband or I were around when they got in the shower we would occasionally set the timer in the kitchen for 8 minutes to see if they were cheating.

It’s been about two weeks now since I first showered with the new Aloe Soap . I was thrilled with the outcome. The lather was rich, bubbly and creamy, it rinsed off well and left my skin feeling soft and clean.

After I had used this soap for a few days I gave my husband a bar. I didn’t tell him what I thought of it. I just asked him to let me know what he thought. After his shower he told me that he loved the soap. Several (at least four  probably more like six) times throughout the day he repeated to me how much he loved the soap. “That lather is amazing.”

The following morning after breakfast my husband said, “I’m afraid to get in the shower.” His statement caught me off guard and I asked him why. “That soap feels so good I don’t think I will want to get out. I might stay in there for a couple hours until I use up the whole bar.”

“Oh, no!” I laughed. “Eight minutes.”

He said he had already considered finding the timer and setting it. (I’m sure none of the girls took it when they moved out.) He also had wondered, if he did set the timer, if he could/ would cheat.

I found this pretty funny and I thought it was a wonderful testimony for my soap, but knowing that the girls read my blog could I really I confess his temptation to them and the whole world?

He didn’t really get out the timer, and I don’t know whether he stuck to eight minute showers, but I did not notice his showers taking longer than normal. A few days ago he announced to me that the bar lasted him for six showers which is about average for him.

As you now know I did decide to “come clean” because even if the girls try to hold this over his/our head the worst they can do is razz him about it since they are now paying for their own hot water. Hmm, I wonder if they will use this soap.