The Status of the Honeybees

It was in the 50’s yesterday, so I went and checked on the honeybees.  I like chronicling them on  RiverCliff Cottage because it will remind me next year what I did wrong or right.  Doesn’t technology rock?

I’m embarrassed at how bad my efforts to sustain them through the extreme cold temperatures look. The bubble wrap is hanging down…the tarp is pulled back and looks nasty.  However, my bees are alive so I’m pretty much over feeling silly about it.

I always say my bees are mean, but I’ll let you decide.  When I recorded this, there weren’t a great many bees out but there were a few.  I was in a short sleeve t-shirt, no veil, etc, and they never threatened me.   They are just busy being bees.

I forget they are deaf so you’ll hear me chatting with them on the link below.   And now, allow me to introduce you to Mendota’s very own Rock Star Bees!






Driving to Mendota On Nordyke

We got up early this morning and decided to run to Sam’s Club.  Our forecast has been right-on-the-mark with the extreme temperatures but snow has been more miss than hit.    I didn’t even think of snow as we left.    It was a surprise when we got to town and this occurred within minutes. …and it was a slippery bit of snow.  This was the Walmart/Sam’s Club parking lot.

Walmart in the Snow

We grabbed a few things and headed back to Mendota.     Mendota is located in “Poor Valley” and you must travel downward to get here from Bristol or Abingdon.   We drove on Nordyke Road which twists and turns.  I’m always amused when I hear newcomers talk about Nordyke in the winter…they should have seen it before it was improved many years ago.  I barely remember it, but no one used it in bad weather.

Speaking of bad weather and our extremely cold temperatures, my sister, Pat, has this thing figured out. There has been a mix-up. Obviously we have been mistakenly given Michigan’s weather, while her son, Cory, has Virginia’s weather where he lives in Texas. I believe there are plans in place at the end of next week for Texas to return Virginia’s weather; and we will, of course, ship Michigan’s right back where it belongs.

It’s pretty driving down Nordyke…I had the camera and took some pictures.

Nordyke in Snow

Another…some of these pictures are blurry on the left side because we were moving when I snapped them…

Nordyke in Snow 2

Lots of frozen water falls..really pretty this time of year.

Ice on Nordyke

After a few miles, the land levels.  Here’s the Nordyke Creek as that leveling occurs.

Nordyke Creek

Nordyke Creek flows into the North Fork.  I took this from the truck while stopped on the Nordyke Bridge.

North Fork at the Bridge

Stopped at one of the Swinging Bridges to look around.

Swinging Bridge Mendota Virginia

Gray, dreary and really pretty at the same time.

North Fork at Swinging Bridge

Another taken from the bridge…facing the opposite direction. The Barker family had a mill at this location near the turn of the century.

North Fork at the Bridge

And now…home. This was taken in front of the house.

In Front of House

Our cats, which normally stay out a great deal of the time, have been mostly “in” for days.   Boredom has set in.  Mike yelled at Sam the Cat for playing in the dog’s water bowl. Within minutes, he was elsewhere up to his naughty business.  He’s not drinking; he’s tossing water around.

Sam and the Commode


Taterhead Update

Do you remember when I planted my Yukon Gold potatoes? Mike had his knee replaced on April 1, and I went out to the raised beds and just stuck the potatoes in the dirt about five days later. I posted about that here. I basically stuck 72 potatoes in the ground and left them alone.

I was so excited that they actually grew.

Yukon Gold Potatoes Rule

And got huge…

Taterhead May 23

I worried that I’d have beautiful plants with no potatoes. I tested this theory a few weeks ago and found one potato. Whew! Was I relieved!

Friday I decided to get some of the potatoes out of the garden for some rosemary potatoes. I pulled up one plant, and look what I found…I’m not even sure I got all the potatoes off the plant!

Yukon Gold MasterPieces

They were so good…so sweet and buttery…but I could easily have 300 pounds of potatoes from those four raised beds! Yikes! What in the world will I do with all of these potatoes?? Taterhead!!

It is a good year for growing things here in Mendota, Virginia. I picked cherries last week and made some yummy cherry pie filling by mixing sugar, flour and cinnamon in with the cherries. I used part of it and froze part of it. I could have gotten more cherries but have you ever pitted cherries? That is were the term “it’s the pits” must come from.

Cherry Pie Filling

And finally, look what happens when you are a lazy gardener…right in the corner of that potato patch sat a rotting pumpkin. I moved it after its insides fell out, but it left a little something behind.

Pumpkin GoneWild

Can’t wait to see what kind of pumpkin this is!! Hope you had a lovely Father’s Day!


The Bees

Not too long ago…just a few months ago…it was this.

lots of bees

Tonight, there are nine hives near our house that have not one single bee that is alive.

Depressed? You bet. There is a great deal of money and heart in our bees. However, we’re on the search for new bees. We’re hoping to get bees that have wintered in Virginia.

While we’ve talked to people in Roanoke whose bees survived, we’ve been told that our story is not uncommon throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. We need our bees. When we get them, we’re moving them closer to the house in a spot that we think will be better with morning sun, evening shade and a wind barrier. If this doesn’t work….I don’t even want to think about that.


Daily Mendota July 26

Before anything else…check out the North Fork of the Holston River this morning which runs in front of the house.   This was the view this morning following last night’s rain.  That girl is muddy!

 A blog reader asked, in a roundabout way, why I’m doing this blogging thing.  Well….it is way more fun than cleaning house.   Actually, it’s an answer to a question I’ve heard many times…”why do you live there?”   I can’t articulate a single answer so in writing this blog, I’m hoping to respond.   So many good reasons…

Speaking of the blog…you may now “follow” RiverCliff Cottage by subscribing on the buttton to the right of this post.   Also, if you have left a comment, thank you!!    Please continue, and if you have not, please do so.   I love your comments–especially when you share what you are doing or if my thought reminded you of a thought…and so on.    If you wish to share a picture that supports a topic, please send along.  It would be fun to see what you are doing. 

For everyone who comments between now and Monday, July 30,  you will be included in the  random draw for this DISHTOWEL!!!   Very expensive…almost $2.00!!     Please comment as anyone…everyone…can use a dishtowel!!  I’ll announce the winner on the Monday evening post which will appear about 10 pm.   So exciting!   Pleeze don’t make me beg….if I can’t give a dishtowel away, I’m sunk!!

We are still up to our necks in Kandy Korn.   Last night, while I froze corn, I pleaded and begged made a suggestion that Mike make a “corn run” and drop off a few ears here and there.   It’s garden wars…turn your head and we’ll leave some squash on your doorstep!   He hung it on our neighbors’ doors!   Today, I ran up the road to Don and Molly Kiser’s and left a few ears in their barn which I felt allowed me to steal a couple of their tomatoes.  See how it works!

However, I’m getting some unwelcome help on getting rid of the corn.   I know who it is based on the evidence…

Rocky Raccoon!!!     He has forgotten how nice I was to him two winters ago when he was cold and hungry and I gave him peanut butter sandwiches.    Just look at this…

See the chewed up ears between all the baby gourds that have volunteered because I didn’t hoe the garden.   

I asked Luckie about helping me out…maybe going out and giving the raccoons a good barking tonight…she was waiting on me to take her for a trip around the Mendota Loop (Swinging Bridge to Mendota Road to Barn Rock to Swinging Bridge). 

 After the loop Luckie said “see my cute little paw in this picture…you can kiss it but I’m not chasing your ‘coons.    I’m retired!”  

This week is a busy week…especially since I laid around all day yesterday and did nothing.  Mt. Vernon UMC’s VBS starts Sunday, and I am so excited about it but there is quite a bit of work involved.  On Saturday, I get to decorate the church like a farm which is going to be fun!    We’re “Farming the Fruits of the Spirit”…a great reason to find a use for my burlap since the burlap curtain project failed so miserably (see here), stack up straw bails, set up a Fruits of the Spirit Fruit Stand inside the “Spirit Corral.”   You get the’s going to be a blast!!     Check out Mt. Vernon’s Facebook page for all the scoop

Finally, I’ve had some company show up.  Look at these pals….

Because of the work these little guys have created, VBS, and my extremely filthy house, I will not be posting again until Sunday night. 




It’s Freezing in July!

Our corn is in!  We are so excited.  We are terrible at growing corn.  It usually doesn’t even germinate or the crows get it before it has a chance. 

This year, no one was more surprised than Mike and me when the corn came up.  We planted Kandy Korn, a sweet hybrid that has been around along time.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you may remember when it looked like this…

Believe it or not, today it looks like this!

 I just noticed that one of the ears looks a little rotten.  Sorry. 

The financial news says that corn will be expensive this year and will result in higher food prices.  I’m sure I’ll be buying lots of things that have corn in them and will suffer with everyone else, but I won’t have to buy corn.  I’m freezing it!

I have some gadgets to help me in the process…my favorite is this…

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System

This FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer came from Sam’s Club.   I love it!

Look at the corn I’ve froze!  So what if it’s not carefully stacked…

So far, I’ve put up about 60 ears of corn.  I’m now removing it from the cob and freezing it for soups.  

While I had the mess out, I also picked a few green peppers. They grow so easily in our garden. I have a book on organic cooking and it says that bell peppers are among the vegetables with the highest amount of residual pesticide.  Not my peppers!


We do nothing to our peppers and they grow all season. We will be picking peppers until the first hard frost. Hmmm…I just noticed that I didn’t wash the peppers before I took the picture above. Sorry.  My father’s voice is in my head saying…”a little dirt never hurt anyone. “

So after I washed them…I chopped them up. Here they are…

I will use these in meatloaf and soup recipes.  I’ll use some that are in larger pieces in fahitas.  They freeze well for these uses.    Look at the wooden chopping block that the peppers are lying on.   Mike made that for me out of leftover materials from a church pew he shortened so we could get it in the house.   A Bristol church replaced their pews and for a very little bit of money, we bought the old ones.    People sat on that bench, found Jesus on that bench, sang hymns on that bench…and now it resides in my kitchen.  I call it my Madonna chopping block since it has reinvented itself.  I hope it lives on a long time. 

Back to peppers…they look a little strange after vacuum sealing….

My mother told me that during the Great Depression, the people in Mendota were not hungry.  Relatives would visit her parent’s home, Will and Eva Sproles, just to eat the good food.   She said she didn’t have nice underwear or pretty clothes and her family did not have coffee or sugar.  However, because they had land supporting a few livestock for milk and meat, a large garden, and put forth the required hard work…they continued to eat well. 

I’ve never forgotten Mom’s words.    She would tell us that while she worked so hard at making sure her own family had plenty to eat.  She worked all of the time.   It makes me feel good to sit at the table on a cold winter day and realize that we grew and preserved some portion of the food ourselves.  And I think of Mom.  


Daily Mendota July 15

In church today, we recognized Mrs. Faust’s 75th birthday.  She spoke of how grateful she was to live today when things are easier than when she was born 75 years ago.  When she was born, she was a “blue” baby so she was bundled up and placed in the cookstove’s oven to keep warm.   No bathrooms, no phones, no A/C.    Yikes.   Things have changed a lot.   I like simple living with the ammenities.  

On Swinging Bridge Road in Mendota,  until about six months ago, we could only get internet via dial up or satellite.  Satellite was marginally better than dial-up, and it was almost $80 per month.  When we had problems–and there were numerous problems–I spoke with an off-shore call center in India.   However, because we have a direct view of the Mendota Fire Tower, we now get our internet from a local source (at half the price). 

It is faster, and  I like working with folks from Grundy, Virginia.    I think Mike calls “Joe” if he has questions, and if “Joe” has questions about whether the power is off on this side of Clinch Mountain, he calls Mike.    It works.

I want to show you just how direct we are from the Mendota Fire Tower to my house.  My niece took this picture from the base of the tower.  

That’s me down there inside the house with my laptop!

Here’s Lacy’s picture of the firetower.  Lacy is my niece, and  she has a magical eye. 

I’m glad the Mendota Fire Tower has been repurposed and put to good use.  I always want to see it on top of the mountain when I sit on my porch.  When I was a little girl, Landon Carrier was the fire warden for the Mendota Fire Tower.  He was a big man and I wondered about how he got up the steps?   We visited the Fire Tower one day and he gave me a Coke.  I immediately loved him. 

Can you imagine how hot it was up there on top of Clinch Mountain during August?   On a clear day, he told us he could see into five states.  

Back on the ground, I’m going to try and get my pantry together tomorrow.  It will be so nice to have this done!





One of my friends who reads this blog is Diane Malcom.  Diane commented about country living being the best.  She’s right.   There’s living…and then there’s living in the country!

Sometimes, however, there are inconveniences.  Power outages are one inconvenience.   We have storms in the forecast this evening, and I saw Appalachian Power’s trucks in the area earlier today.   Usually Mike and I are in the group without power.  I can recite AEP’s phone number from memory!!   Following last week’s June 29 storm where so many folks in our area were affected, we were not.     (Well, there was a six-hour outage, but one that small doesn’t even count!)    Just up the river about a mile on Barnrock Road,  folks did not have power for several days.    There’s no public water in this area, so when the power is off, there is also no water.   Miserable.

Before we had a generator, if there was a storm forecast, we’d run water in the bathtub, fill plastic bottles and the teakettle, and hurry around doing all of the things that required power.  People in the country are very attuned to weather, and it’s our nature to prepare. 

A few years back, we set money aside for a full-house generator.  It was installled the winter of 2010.   The generator was installed on one day and went into use for a 36-hour period the very next day.  Talk about luck!   You will never hear me brag about a car, and I own no fine jewelry–no diamond ring in my possession.   However,  I will tell you that I kept that generator box in Mike’s shop for weeks beyond what was necessary, as I wanted to make sure everyone who came in saw it.   We were playing Rook around that time, and I could not wait for my friends to see that Generac box.  Just so proud.    Can anyone relate?   The generator is up there at the top of my list of  favorite things.

It’s a Generac, so I call her Genny. 

However, she’s a bit slutty.  Won’t do anything unless her boyfriend Wally tells her to.  

Wally Watermelon….

Genny thinks Wally is a gas!  Wally thinks Genny is a little square.

Wally isn’t really ours. He just stays here loafing around until Genny needs him.     At first his owner, Ferrellgas, frowned on his appearance. Eventually, however, they came to accept him, and I’ve even sent them pictures.

It’s all worth it…we have to keep the house comfortable for our pets. 

As I look at this picture, I feel a need to put a disclaimer…small print.   I’d change the font size here if I knew how!

Gracie is a beautiful dog, but she is also one dirty little dog.  I’ve been waiting until it’s cooler to bathe her as I’ll have to do it outside where she can stand on the rough pavement.   Her hindquarters are so weak that I’m fearful she would injure herself if groomed professionally.

I’m looking for a day with low humidity in the 80’s.   We have warm water outside so it won’t be shockingly cold.  I’ll bathe her and then drive her around on the golfcart until she dries enough to bring inside.  (She’s afraid of blow dryers.)  

Until then, she’s just stinkin’ and I don’t care.   



Mendota Daily July 6, 2012

Sam the Sinister Cat takes a moment from being mean and suns himself on the patio while I am working my tail off inside. (He’s allowed into the house where there is A/C — just won’t stay in…apparently, he’s a little devil!)


Rush Hour on Swinging Bridge Road

Happy Independence Day!  I am sneaking and writing this post on July 4 as we designated this a “project completion” day.  Mike is in the shop making toe molding for the guest house bedroom.  Just a few hours ago, I painted the baseboard in that bedroom, and I’m doing some additional taping in the dining room getting ready for him to paint and trim out all of my painting mistakes.   Hopefully, we’ll get the dining room done tonight.  Then…it’s on to the kitchen!

We’re as busy as beavers! 

As part of my weight loss plan, I’m walking three miles most every day.  Doing this and partially following a Weight Watchers program has resulted in my losing 9 pounds.  21 more to go to reach my goal. Yea!

Last week, I headed down river on Swinging Bridge Road.  Wow…here’s some traffic..two bikes!!!   It was rush hour on Swinging Bridge Road.

Whew!   With all the traffic, it’s time to get off the road.   We’ll visit Hoss’s Farm to check out the barnyard.

There are a lot of animals.  Here’s a photograph of the two rescue horses that arrived eight or nine weeks ago.    Their names are Carter (two years old) and Maggie (12 years old).   Since arriving, they have gained over 75 pounds.    As their ribs are disappearing, their trust is increasing.  Anyone who rescues an animal has a star in their crown and a place in my heart. 

Here’s Farm Girl Danielle.  Farm Girls come in all ages, and while much younger than me, we get along.   Love of animals and rural living supersedes age.   Her family moved to Mendota just 12 months ago, and they took to rural life immediately.  Danielle spends a lot of time in the barnyard.   She’d been busy with Maggie earlier.  Check out Maggie’s tail…

I love Maggie’s color, and the braid is just so fashionable.  All the horses in Mendota are wanting to braid their tails.   I had brought a treat for Maggie….some apple slices in a plastic bag.  Maggie likes loves ADORES apples.  Horses have very keen noses and she picked up on the apples immediately, even though they were in plastic.  She gave me a solid head butt to let me know she was interested.  Since Danielle knows I’m a little afraid of horses, she took the apples and asked Maggie if she’d like a taste.

Danielle:   Does Maggie want an apple?

Maggie:   Are you crazy???    Darn right Maggie wants an apple.  Maggie likes loves ADORES apples…Gimme those apples!!!

We fed Maggie some apple slices, and I slipped the bag in my back pocket as I went to say  hello to a pretty rooster named Pecker.  It’s an appropriate name, and he wears it well.  Very cocky.   See all of the chicken wire in the barn?  There are yards and yards of wire lining the chicken coop in this big barn to keep raccoons out.  There was a terrible attack last month resulting in the loss of 13 frizzle tails that belonged to Danielle’s mom, Lisa. 

I looked around and the plastic bag was missing.  Someone had taken it. 

Sneaky horse!  This was funny but it was serious!   We were afraid she’d eat the plastic bag and it could harm her.   However, Danielle got it back.  Here it is…

Ugh.  Want an apple slice?

Carter was standing by during all this.  We’ll talk to Carter on another time, but just so he won’t feel left out, here’s a picture of him smooching Danielle.

Hope you enjoyed visiting Hoss’s Farm with me.   We’ll go back in a few days and see Mason and Dixon, the two fainting goats.

Maybe I’ll have a post on the completed dining room soon!




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...