Extraction Day

“Yaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! There’s a bee!”

About the same time, I (DM) felt a bee coming in for the kill on my head.   Time to skedaddle to the house.

Off in the distance, my daughter and law and grandson were having their own encounter with some pissed off bees.

“There’s one on my finger!”

He stung me!

Wailing….

Running…

Laughing..

(More wailing)  Grandson is 6, turned out he had been eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich.)

(We’d just stopped extracting honey, 15 minutes before…)

My younger sister wanted me to give her a quick tour of the apiary  (honey bee set up) so I’d given her, my bee suit.  We got within 20 feet of the hive and I gave her some simple instructions, on just how to open the lid and peek inside where I’d installed a feeder.  What I hadn’t counted on , was the bees (as a whole) were agitated.  Where normally, I can get within 10 feet of the hives without a suit, if I stay off to the side, At this point, even 50 feet away w/ a peanut butter and honey sandwich was too close.  In all fairness to me, I had no idea he had that sandwich.

I need to back up….

My day had started at 4 AM.   I’d invited 2 grand kids to help me extract honey. I’d pulled all of the honey supers off the hive earlier in the week, so as not to deal with bees.  Had the set up  on our front porch/ well away from the hives…  Everything (the uncapping, the new extractor, the filtering ) worked flawlessly for the first couple of hours, then gradually,  a couple of honey bees showed up.

Their numbers increased exponentially..

(You’ve heard of the waggle dance, right?)

Within 10 minutes, 2 had become several dozen, then hundred/ so we stopped.

Few minutes later there were thousands  of honey bees flying/ crawling, and foraging on everything.

It was really quite fascinating.

There’s a reason bee keepers have a designated room to extract honey with a door on it.  I won’t be extracting on the front porch ever again. 🙂

It was almost dark last night before it was doable to  finish draining the extractor into the filters.  By then, most of the bees had returned to the hives.

I asked my 6 year old grandson a few minutes later after we’d iced his finger, if he was still interested in helping me with the honey bees some other time.  He smiled a shy smile and nodded his head yes.  I wouldn’t have blamed him if he didn’t.

As my sister was getting ready to leave yesterday, she said, “What an awesome morning. What a great experience for your grand kids!”  

The sound of laughter was still playing in my head as I went to bed last night.

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Update the next day…

Ended up with exactly 80 pounds of apple/ wildflower honey,  raw, unpasteurized ,  and straight from the beehive:

 

 

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More is better, right?

It’s human nature to want to post pictures of our success, like when we’re on vacation, or our glamour photos, when we have a good peach crop etc.:

Do you want to know the truth when it comes to growing a good peach in Iowa?

I do not have a clue. 

That was just random dumb luck.

I stuck those trees in the ground a couple of years ago, and low and behold, got some beautiful peaches this seasons.

Now when it comes to growing potatoes, I have to tell you a story. Typically, I would plant potatoes around Good Friday and call it good. This season the potatoes I planted on Good Friday, in my raised beds did not do so well. I even went out of my way to cover them with some well composted cow manure.

More is better right?

Not in this case.

The potatoes in the raised beds have a bad case of scab this season. Still edible but definitely not something I would take to the fair. Having said, that I wanted to post a few pictures of my scab covered potatoes. because to me, they are a metaphor for life.

Pictures of my 2020 case of scab:

 

When  (not if) you get a case of scab make potato salad.

 

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Breakfast

Steamed freshly dug potatoes, garden fresh green beans,  3 small onions, with some bacon bits sprinkled over the top.  Smothered in butter, salt and peppered.  Dark roast coffee (black/ no sugar)  and 2 farm fresh eggs (over easy.)  The freshness of these eggs can be measured in minutes. (minutes from when they were laid until making it to my plate).

That’s what’s on my breakfast menu again this morning, and has been the past month, while the garden is growing.

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One of my strongest memories growing up,  related to my grandma (my dad’s mom) was her asking me in her German accent, was “Doggie, do you suppose you can bring me a few new potatoes when they are ready from your garden?” 

She liked to steam them with the skin still on, along with onions and green beans

I was her favorite grandchild she said.  Found out later, she said the same thing to my cousin Carol. 🙂

Several of my favorite memories of her are tied to food and drink.

When I was  about 17, after the Christmas eve church service, I got a flat tire.  Biting subzero temperatures,  no gloves or hat.  I remember feeling like my fingers were on fire while I tried to undo the nuts on the tire.  By the time I got to the family Christmas party at grandma’s my head felt like it was about to explode.   She took one look at me, took me over to her kitchen cupboard, said she had something that would fix me right up.  Poured me a little shot of Rock and Rye.

Never had it in my life.

Heck, up until that time in my life, I’d never tasted a drop of alcohol..period.

Let’s just say it worked. 🙂

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Do you have any strong memories growing up with a grandparent, or an older person who’s now gone that are tied to food?

Would love to hear them!

Remember, I love details.   DM

 

 

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Got a call this afternoon…

My cell phone rang this afternoon.  Looked like it could be a local cell phone so I answered.

Good thing I did.

“Hi Doug.  This is Pam Davis.   Someone suggested I give you a call.  We have a swarm of bees in a tree at our house, and I wondered if you’d  be interested in trying to catch them?”

I thought about it for all of 2 seconds.

“Sure, I’m interested.  I need to watch a couple of video’s on Youtube, just to make sure I know what I’m doing, then I’ll be over…”

 

When I got there an hour later this is what I saw:

The bees were about 9 feet off the ground.

Depending on where bees cluster, if they’re on the end of a small branch, you can take a pruning sheers to the branch and drop the whole cluster into a waiting box.  In this case however, that was not an option.  I ended up carrying a cardboard box with me up the ladder, then gently  grabbing/ brushing hand fulls of bees  right into the box.  Then I transferred them into a waiting nuc box

There were tens of thousands of bees, no way in the world, was I going to attempt to try to find the queen…either she was in the box or still on the branch with several hundred stragglers.

After I did all that I could do, according to what I’d watched, the best thing was to leave the bees to themselves until later in the day. If the queen is in the box, then the remaining bees will find their way to her.

Sure enough, an hour after I got home, the homeowner texted me and said, all of the remaining bees had come out of the tree and were either in the box or clustered on the side…

Sweet!

Here’s what I saw when I went back this evening:

I put the whole box into a large cardboard box/ taped it shut and put it in the cab. 🙂

Boy have I gotten a lot more relaxed around honey bees.   The more I understand the less I am afraid. (Isn’t that a life lesson?)

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Just finished transferring the swarm into their new home….we shall see.

Hopefully they will be all settled in, in the morning.

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Show and tell

Show and tell is one of my favorite memories (and activities, in elementary school)  Did you do that when you were in school?

On that note, I wanted to do a quick show and tell.

My sister Karen  is former restaurant owner/ cook/ baker and all around foodie.  She sent home a loaf of sour dough rye bread earlier in the week. I’d ground her some fresh rye and wheat flour for her a few weeks ago so this was a thank you loaf.

When I cut into that loaf of sour dough rye  Thursday lunch, I knew I needed wanted more.

Oh my.

The texture was  so soft,

and moist.

Big dabble of butter…

and coffee.

I made a meal out of just that.

Right then and there I  shot Karen a text,  and told her she needed to teach me how to build make that recipe.

She sent me  a  link:

https://www.butterforall.com/traditional-cooking-traditional-living/how-to-bake-the-perfect-sourdough-boule-in-your-dutch-oven/

Several things I liked about that recipe, in addition to  the taste.  It uses a “stretch and fold” technique (instead of kneading), so there is a lot less mess.  I’d never heard of it before, have you?

Another thing that struck me yesterday was the pace of putting this loaf together in the kitchen.  Lots of flexibility in how many times I needed to  “stretch and fold.”  (Recipe said I could get away with as few as twice, but Karen said she’d done it 8 times the day before.

The longer you take, the more the sourdough interacts with the dough.  I could really feel the change over the course of the afternoon…

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There is definitely an art to bread making.

The magic is in the details, and yes, while I love to add my touch to a recipe, I did try to stick pretty closely to the blueprint recipe this time around.

Any thoughts about bread making, interacting with your siblings, the pace of life, things you enjoy doing in your free time, favorite foods,  etc.?

Feel a nap coming on.  Take care. DM

Sourdough rye baked in a dutch oven

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Had to send them packing

Six laying hens are the perfect number to keep us supplied with eggs.

When things got weird this past March and eggs were in short supply, I decided to keep a dozen hens.  Then added another 6 to the mix because so many people were asking to buy eggs.  Well, that worked well until the past couple of weeks, then suddenly the eggs were starting to pile up in the frig.  Hated to keep pestering my regular egg customers to see if they needed any eggs,  which I did do, so yesterday I let it be known on Facebook, we had a dozen laying hens that needed a new home.  By last night, they were all gone.

Now we’re back to 6, plus the rooster.

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I spotted a broody hen on the nest yesterday.

Have you ever heard of one?

Sticker to the first person who tells me what that is (without cheating and looking it up on Google) 😉

She was still on the nest when I got home from work, so I took a can of red spray paint and painted her tail.  I can’t tell one chicken from another, so I’m  hoping I didn’t accidentally send her packing last night when I was catching chickens in the dark.

I’ll know more in an hour.

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We have guests with us currently whom we haven’t seen in 30 years.  We met them when we lived in West Milford New Jersey.   They reached out to us a month ago, when they were making plans to visit Mount Rushmore. Since we were just an hour  out of the way on their route, they asked if they could spend the night.

Absolutely.

It has been good to catch up on life.

Any of you have any plans to travel any time soon?    If you’re ever in our neck of the woods, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Well, I can hear our guests stirring so I better call this a wrap.

Any thoughts on supply and demand, broody hens, vacations, friends you haven’t seen for a while, living on the East Coast, or whatever else is on your mind?

Sounds like today is going to be a cooker.

Glad I have the day off.

Take care. DM

Update 45 minutes later…good news!   The broody hen is still  here. 🙂  I didn’t accidentally grab her in the dark when I was catching chickens.  Life is good.

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Tribute to the Creggan White Hare

To all of you that love your freedom…

 

Creggan White Hare

[Verse 1]
In the lowlands of Creggan there lives a white hare
As swift as the swallow that flies through the air
You may tramp the world over but none to compare
To the pride of old Creggan, that bonnie white hare

[Verse 2]
One clear autumn morning, as you will suppose
Oh, the red golden sun o’er the green mountain rose
Barney Conway came down and he did declare
“This day I’ll put an end to the bonnie white hare!”

[Verse 3]
So he searched through the lowlands and down through the glens
All among the wild ditches where the white hare had ends
Till at last coming down o’er the heather so fair
From behind the wild thistle out jumps the white hare

[Verse 4]
“Bang! Bang!” went his guns and his dogs he slipped too
As swift as the wind o’er the green mountain flew
But his dogs soon came back and it made Barney sigh
For he knew that the white hare had bid him goodbye

[Verse 5]
And we’re some jolly sportsmen down here from Pomeroy
From Cookstown, Dungannon, and likewise the Moy
“With our pedigree greyhounds we’ve travelled from far
And we’ve come down to Creggan in our fine motor car.”

[Verse 6]
Well into the lowlands these huntsmen did go
In search of the white hare they’d look high and low
Till at last Barney Conway from a bog bank so rare
Shouted out to the huntsmen: “There lies the white hare!”

[Verse 7]
So they called up their greyhounds from off the green lea
And Barney and the huntsmen all jumped high with glee
It was there on the bog bank all gathered around
Seven dogs and nine men did that poor hare surround

[Verse 8]
Oh no wonder the white hare did tremble with fear
As she stood on her hind legs she would raise her big ears
As she stood on her hind legs with one gallant spring
She jumped over the greyhounds and broke through the ring

[Verse 9]
Well that chase it went on, it was a beautiful view
As swift as the wind o’er the green mountain flew
But those pedigree greyhounds they didn’t run far
They came back and went home in their fine motor car

[Verse 10]
Then there came another man and you all know him well
His name was Mick Kelly with the Bonnie Black Bell
“Oh in search of the white hare today I’ll have fun
I’ll bet fifty to one my Black Bell of her turn.”

[Verse 11]
Five turns the hare got then from Bonnie Black Bell
And the sixth one was given around John Haughey’s well
It was there we lost sight of the hare and the dog
And then ten minutes later came o’er the black bog

[Verse 12]
Well that chase it went on it was great for to see
The white hare and the black dog both roamed light and free
Till she travelled to Esker where she knew the lands well
And to Bonnie Black Nella there soon bid farewell

[Verse 13]
Oh and now to conclude and to finish this rhyme
I hope you’ll forgive me for singing all this while
If there’s any amongst you in Carrick more fair
Please drink up a health to that bonnie white hare.

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Current Events (locally)

One of my honey bee mentors  reached out to me last week with an offer.

He said he had an extra nuc (new colony of bees) that he would be willing to trade  for some apples come fall.

(We have a small apple orchard as many of you know):

Sunday afternoon we hit  the road  to pick up the bees.

I told my wife as we were returning home with those bees sitting in the back seat of our car, (in a cardboard box, taped shut with packaging tape,)   funny how things change.    The first time I brought home bees, it was the whole hive. 10,000 pissed off honey bees in the back of my pickup in 2 large wooden boxes, (70 pounds?) at dusk no less.

When I got home that night, I backed up to the hive stand, bear hugged those two hives and ever so carefully set them down on the stand.  Felt like I was hugging a bomb. Just 3/4 inches of wood between me and 10,000 stingers. Raw fear in my throat.  Nobody around but myself.  I remember thinking, What in the heck did I get myself into???   In the end, I pulled it off. I didn’t get stung.

Flash forward 3 years…

Transporting bees now in the back seat of our car, in a cardboard box.

No worries 🙂

 

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Mrs DM likes to shop at discount and 2nd hand stores.   There was a book on the kitchen counter this week she’d picked for me.  It was called Plain and Happy Living  written by an Amish woman.

I asked her to read me the introduction, while I was washing dishes,  just to get a feel for the book.

The following jumped out at me while she was reading:

    “Because of their frugality and self-sufficiency, they are in may ways insulated from the crises  which so often disrupt modern society.”

I would have to say, that sentence takes on a whole new level of meaning  to me with the current disruptions many of you are facing.

I’m not Amish.

(No kidding).

But it has felt like we’ve marched to the beat of a different drummer all those years we had little ones in the house, right up until the present.

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Thursday night, the 2nd pair of Berkshire pigs get to meet their maker.  Local butcher is scheduled to come out and do the initial work, then I’ll be hanging the halves in the walk in cooler.  Saturday morning it’s all hands on deck to cut/ grind and wrap  500 pounds of fresh pork.

That’s a wrap of  local news.

Take care, DM

 

 

 

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Hardening

I picked up a nuc of honey bees a month ago.  (A nuc is short hand for a new colony of honey bees, ie, nucleus) .

In talking with the owner about overwintering  bees,  he told me something very interesting.  He manages several hundred hives, has been doing  this for 40 plus years, is constantly experimenting, talking with other bee keepers, etc, etc. so when he’s talking, I am  listening.

Of all of the colonies, the hardiest and most robust bees come spring  he’s noticed this year were the ones  in a more open area (vs. enclosed/ really sheltered yards).

His comment reminded me of something my father used to say about raising cattle.   “The healthiest cattle are those with minimal shelter. The cattle in the sheds, tend to get pneumonia.”

Photo compliments of Google

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I think this process is constantly happening, not just in nature, but in our personal lives as well.

What do you think?

 

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I want you to be thinking…

I want you to be thinking how you would answer the question, “What is your most prized  physical possession, and why?  The answer to that question, may change over the course of our lives, so there is that.

Not right this second.  I am going to write  a post  and answer  that question myself in a couple of days.

Would love to hear your response.

Are you game?

(And finally, if you absolutely can’t limit your answer to one thing, I’ll let you have two).

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