Category Archives: Honey

Childs Play

It’s been a busy week around here (with lovely summer weather I might add) and thus left little time for reading or writing. I did however manage to put together this fun little post from some pictures I had previously taken.

Before we get to the fun and games I will mention our two big accomplishments this week. The first was getting the other three hives of honey harvested. We were blessed with a wonderful harvest this year with the four hives yielding more than 40 quarts of beautiful, delicious honey.

The second was getting the garlic cleaned and sorted. You may remember that we had a small crop this year (somewhere around 400 bulbs) so cleaning and sorting went much quicker than in years past. I spent about 2 hours on each of two consecutive evenings clipping and cleaning. As I worked I sorted the larger bulbs that we will use for seed from the smaller ones. When all was done we ended up with about 160 seed bulbs that we will plant this fall. I expect they will yield between 1000 and 1200 plants. Perfect!

Let The Games Begin

While looking at some of the photos I have taken recently a couple of childhood games came to mind.

Hide and Seek

It seems we often find ourselves searching for fruits and vegetables amongst the foliage.

The grapes are only visible by pushing the leaves aside.

Likewise with pumpkins and squash

And melons.

Peek-a-Boo

The other game we play a lot is peek-a-boo.

This sunflower was peeking at me between the corn stalks

And the Black-eyed Susan’s were peeking out from under the spruce tree.

Frogs love to play peek-a-boo!

and even the full moon this month was peeking out from behind the clouds.

Thanks for playing and have a great weekend!

Now tell me do you have a favorite childhood game?

Yesterday’s Harvest

From the garden we harvested green beans, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers.

From one hive we harvested 8 frames of honey and wax. Now the bees are cleaning up the frames.

Honey is our oldest hen. She turned 7 this spring.

From the coop we collected 11 eggs. Only 8 of them made it home though. It seems that Ranger learned a new trick. He figured out how to steal eggs out of the egg basket. They didn’t break until he stepped on them. I’m not sure why he decided to take them – either he thought he had found a new toy or he was telling us he wanted to eat. Crazy Dog! LOL!

My Thoughts About Bee Keeping and Honey

We started our bee keeping ventures in 2013 and to date it has been the most frustrating farming activity we do. Hive losses are heartbreaking and we have had many. Probably our worst experience was when the bees we ordered did not even make it to our farm alive. You can read about that here. If you read that article you may understand when I say that bee keeping is also one of the most thrilling and rewarding activities that we do. Capturing swarms, observing the bees while they forage and pollenate our crops, harvesting honey and wax all make this so.

As with everything we do our bee keeping efforts are done on a small scale. We often use the word boutique to describe our farm. Since we started bee keeping we have maintained at least one hive and at times had as many as seven hives. Each year we have harvested honey and for the last 4 or so years we have harvested and processed our own wax as well. If you are interested in learning how I filter bees wax you can  read about that here.

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Beekeeping has given me a whole new understanding and appreciation of honey. Most of my life I have used store bought honey and never thought much about it. The color and flavor were pretty consistent. Honey was just honey. It wasn’t until we started harvesting our own honey that I realized that honey is not just honey. In fact we have yet to have any two honey harvests where the honey tasted the same.

When people find out that we are beekeepers they often have many questions. Below are some of the points I make when talking about bees and honey.

  • Each honey harvest is (should be) a wonderfully, unique blend of nectars and pollen from various plants that have been in season.
  • The color and flavor of honey should vary between harvests.
  • Mono cropping, the practice of moving bee hives to a particular location where a specific crop is in blossom in order for the bees to pollinate that crop, may be detrimental to bee health. (how well would you fare if you only ate one food for the majority of your life?)
  • Feeding bees sugar syrup is probably not good for the bees.
  • Local honey may or may not be effective as a treatment for allergies depending on what the bees were foraging to make their honey.
  • In the U.S. honey suppliers are required to put their address on the honey label. Buying honey that has a local address does not necessarily mean you are buying honey that was produced locally.
  • Raw honey is honey that has not been heated above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Honey can be stored at room temperature and has an indefinite shelf life.
  • Honey might crystalize but it is still good.
  • Honey that has crystalized can be turned into liquid again by slowly heating the jar in a pan of water. Do not microwave!
  • Because the honey may crystalize and you may want to heat it to make it liquid again do not buy honey in plastic bottles.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about honey bees or honey? Leave me a comment and I will be sure to get back to you.

Thanks for reading and have a great day! 🙂

 

 

 

Our Harvest Picnic

Sunday we invited friends and family to the farm for a picnic. While many of those invited could not make it for various reasons everyone who came seemed to have a great time.

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My husband added some seasonal decorations to welcome our guests.

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The bees wasted no time finding the sunflowers he picked.

 

The chickens roaming around, pecking and scratching, added to the ambience.

 

As summer nears it’s end Black Eyed Susans, Hibiscus and Phlox continue to adorn the farm.

When we host guests this time of year we like to make it a harvest party that includes foods from our garden. Included in yesterdays meal was potato salad – with homegrown potatoes, celery and chives along with our farm fresh eggs; apple crisp – with apples from our trees; pickled garlic scapes  https://donteatitsoap.com/2017/06/15/a-year-in-growing-garlic-part-viii-garlic-scapes/ ; and my garlic and dill chip dip https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/08/14/simple-and-fun-recipes/ . We also had fresh lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes to top the burgers which were made with locally raised grass fed beef.

While I took many pictures of the scenery before our guests arrived I somehow forgot to take pictures our guests and the activities they enjoyed.IMG_3200Trooper played in the pond early in the day, but later on some of our young guests enjoyed catching perch in the pond and building sand castles on the beach.

I also neglected to get photos of my brother-in-law flying his remote control airplanes. He brought two planes and was able to use the path which we keep mowed around our back field as a runway. He also brought equipment that enabled him to allow others to participate. It’s called buddy boxing. To really explain buddy boxing you probably need someone who understands technology better than I do, but since I’m the one writing I’ll tell you my simplified understanding of how it works. Two transmitters or controllers are linked together and set to operate the plane. The student’s controller is allowed to operate the plane unless the teacher feels the plane is in trouble at which point the teacher has the ability to override the student’s system and take control of the plane.

I think this is a great way to be able to teach kids, or even adults, who want to learn to fly remote controlled planes without having to worry about damaging the plane or endangering objects, people or pets on the ground. Pete was certainly a great teacher and the kids had a great time flying the planes.

Other activities included greeting everyone with hugs, catching up with friends and family, most of whom we haven’t seen in a year or more, my husband gave garden tours and showed off the huge, mammoth sunflower which came up as a volunteer this year. “If it’s not the biggest sunflower you’ve ever seen I’ll give your money back,” he told people. Maybe he should have charged because everyone agreed that it was the biggest they had ever seen.

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While it wasn’t a homegrown water melon, it was among the produce that our grandson (and future farmer) Jackson, enjoyed. He also got excited about watching the chickens eat corn on the cob.

Some guests left with garlic and some with honey and several left with regrets about having to leave so early and hopes of returning soon. It was a great day filled with friends, family, food and love and we are grateful for all those who visited.

Unfortunately we were so busy and having such a great time that we forgot to hold one of our planned events. The rock picking contest. Participants were to be given a milk crate, shown to one of two areas that have been plowed this summer and told fill their crate with as many rocks as possible.  Cash prizes were to be awarded. Oh well guess we will be picking up rocks this week. 😉

Okay, I’m just kidding about the rock picking contest, but we will be picking up rocks this week. Have a great day.

 

Two New Soap Recipes- The Results Are In

In April I posted about the two new soap recipes that I had made. One was made with   dandelions infused in the water and oil. Honey was also added. The second was made with maple sap and maple sugar sand. https://donteatitsoap.com/2017/04/29/two-new-soap-recipes/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

My husband and I have now sampled both of these soaps and we are extremely happy with the results.

The dandelion soap, which I am now calling Sweet Dandelion, has a deep golden color to it. I used this soap before my husband and fell in love with it. “Silky” was the term I thought of when I felt the lather on my skin and though it rinses off well it leaves my skin feeling soft. I did not share my thoughts with my husband before he used it. Once he had showered with it I asked what he though. “Good lather, smooth, and rinses off well, I like it!” were his comments. I then shared my thoughts and we agreed my description “silky” translated to his use of the word smooth.

A few days later one of my sisters (J.B.) stopped by so I gave her a sample bar. I told her what it was and asked for her opinion. She said she would try it the following morning. Around 9:00 a.m. the following morning J.B. called me. She loved this soap. She agreed with our descriptions of silky and smooth and told me she would like two more bars.

After my husband mentioned several times that he wished I could make another batch of the dandelion soap I found myself walking our back field in search of dandelions. By this time the dandelions which had blanketed our property a few weeks earlier were now few and far between. I was able to collect a couple cups of dandelion blossoms. I used half to make a tea-type infusion, which I put in the freezer, and the other half are infusing in oil as I write. I will be able to make one more batch of Sweet Dandelion soap between now and next spring.

We were also pleased with the maple soap which I have decided to call MMMaple Soap. I am not surprised that maple sugar sand which is made up mostly of calcium salts and malic acid seems to have dissolved, nor am I surprised that this soap has incredible lather since sugars added to soap have that effect. I do have some of the sap that we saved for this recipe in the freezer yet so I will also be able to make this recipe one more time before next spring.

Anyone interested in purchasing either of these soaps may contact me by email at ruth20012001@yahoo.com and put soap in the subject line.