Category Archives: Uncategorized

Filtering Bees Wax

This post was originally published in 2016.

IMG_1313
Honey Comb Inside A Warre’ Top Bar Bee Hive.

To clean the bees wax that we harvest with the honey from our hives I have seen and read about several methods. I first tried what I thought would be the easiest, which involved boiling the wax in water, allowing it to cool and then scraping all of the non-wax particles off the bottom of the hardened wax, it was exactly the way I would render lard or tallow. I was not happy with the results of this method for cleaning wax. I found that scraping the particles off the hardened wax was difficult, and it took several times repeating the whole process to get the wax as clean as I wanted it. The wax also lost it’s sweet bees wax fragrance.

I next decided to try one of the filtering method that I read about. I will start by saying that all of the pans and utensils that I use when working with wax are dedicated to working with wax. Once it is there the wax is extremely difficult if not impossible to wash off.

IMG_1331

I always start by rinsing the wax. Today my husband did this for me. The wax was in a five gallon bucket that has small holes drilled in the bottom. He took it outside and ran water from the garden hose though it until it seemed like most of the honey was rinsed out. I then just let it drip for a while.

There are two important things I will point out about rinsing the wax. The first one is never rinse the wax in the house. Beeswax is a very hard substance, its melting point is about 147 degrees Fahrenheit. A drain clogged with beeswax could be a very expensive fix.  The second is that once the wax is rinsed and drained as much as possible, it should be cleaned or filtered right away. If it is not possible to filter it within a few hours, I freeze the wax. The reason for this is that the wet wax will grow mold. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way last year and ended up throwing away quite a bit of wax.

IMG_1329

To melt the beeswax I use a double boiler or two old pans that stack together (again they are only used for this purpose). I put water in the bottom pan and the wax in the top pan. I heat the water and let it boil the water until the wax is melted.

IMG_1338When the wax is completely melted the non-wax particles can be filtered out. To do this I use a strainer lined with several layers of cheese cloth.

The strainer fits nicely into this old ceramic crockpot insert that I picked up cheaply at a Salvation Army thrift store. I pour the wax through the cheese cloth into the ceramic pot and then pour the filtered wax into some of my soap molds.

IMG_1340

As the wax hardens it looks like this.

IMG_1341

When it is taken out of the mold it looks like this. Some of the bars may still have some dark spots in the and will go through one more cycle of melt and filter.

 

IMG_1342

While I always use news paper on the counter, when working with wax, I have learned that the finished bars should not be placed directly on the newspaper because the ink will transfer from the paper to the wax.

I have read that one pound of beeswax holds 22 pounds of honey. These numbers are very close to the amounts of honey that we harvested and the wax that I filtered. Most of this wax will be used to make my balms and some may be used to make candles.

Not to have any of this valuable wax go to waste, we have begun using the cheese cloth, that is now coated with a wax film, as fire starter in the fire place. It works wonderfully.

Thanks for reading. ☺

This Season On Chicken TV

Chicken TV – has become a spring/summer past time for us. That’s what we call the time we spend sitting in our camp chairs near the chicken coop watching the chickens as they peck and scratch and do what chickens do. It’s usually the last half hour or so before the chickens go in for the night. It really can be quite entertaining especially when they are young.

Our Buff Orpingtons are the friendliest of the four breeds that we have and Honey one of our oldest hens will usually sit on my husbands lap. Last year some of buffs that we raised as chicks would also sit on our laps or climb on our shoulders while we sat and watched the group.

This year we have decided not to get attached to the buffs that we are raising since we intend to butcher them before long. We didn’t hold or pet them even when they were  adorable little balls of fluff.

Saturday evening my husband got out my chair and put it near the chicken coop. He then asked for my camera and told me to sit down. I sat in my chair and before long I had chickens on my lap.

IMG_2629

“Close your eyes,” my husband warned me, “they will peck your eyes.”

IMG_2631

So while I sat there with my eyes closed, my husband snapped pictures and counted as each of the young buffs landed on me.

IMG_2638

Within about two minutes I played roost to all 10 young buffs and had become the star of Chicken TV.

My husband knew this was going to happen because he had the same experience the night before when I was not with him.

I don’t mind one or two chickens sitting on me but this was way too much, so he helped me clear them off and the he went about teaching them to use the ramp to get into the coop.  They were just about there but one just couldn’t resist saying a special good night to him.

IMG_2640

Removing A Splinter

Usually when one of us gets a splinter we first try tweezers to pull it out, but usually it is far enough beneath the skin that it can not be reached with the tweezers, so we sterilize a needle and perform minor surgery, digging a hole into the skin and poking around until we can fish the foreign object out.

A few weeks ago when I ended up with a wood splinter in the palm of my hand the first thing I did was ignore it. I was busy and didn’t feel like dealing with it. It wasn’t painful and I remembered my husband saying, “wood will always work it’s way out.” The following day it was still there. It still wasn’t painful, but after my husband asked me a couple of times if I had gotten it out yet, I decided I better try.

Instead of the usual means I thought I would try something that I had only read about – honey. I have read that honey will draw a splinter out. Since I was busy that day and did not have time to sit around with honey on my hand, I decided it would have to be covered. I put a small dab of honey on a band aid and put it over the splinter. I then put on a latex glove so I could go about my tasks without losing the band aid. Within a half hour I began feeling pain in the area of the splinter. It wasn’t severe pain, but when something touched that area of my hand it felt like, I don’t know, I guess it felt like there was a splinter in it.

After about an hour, when I removed the glove, the band aid wanted to come off too. I lifted one end and saw the area was now red and weeping a bit. The honey was apparently doing something. I took that band aid off and put another dab of honey on a second band aid and covered the area again. It was difficult to keep the band aid in place on the palm of my hand, and after about another hour that one, too, was ready to come off. The area was still red, and as I pressed on the area where the splinter had gone into my hand clear liquid came out along with the whole splinter.

Out of habit I thought I better clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide to prevent infection. Interestingly when I poured the peroxide over the area it ran off like water. There was absolutely no bubbling. I knew that honey was said to be antibacterial, and I believed that it was, but up until that time I had no proof. The redness gradually went away and my hand healed nicely.

Please don’t ask me how or why this works, I can only testify that it worked for me. 🙂

A Year In Growing Garlic (Part VII)

IMG_2617

If you planted garlic last fall, as we did, by now you should be seeing vigorous green top growth. How vigorous can depend on many things. Variety of garlic you planted, clove size that was planted and soil conditions are all major factors. If You are not seeing vigorous green growth you will probably need to add some nitrogen fertilizer to give it a boost. It is recommended that nitrogen only be given up until the time that the bulbs start forming. This article explains that bulbs start forming around the time the ground temperature reaches around 60 degrees. http://greyduckgarlic.com/Southern_Garlic_Grower_Guide.html  Another article I read said that bulbs start forming around Memorial day. That article I’m assuming was referring to growing garlic in a cooler, northern climate like ours.

This time of year it is also important to make sure that garlic is getting enough water. This year our problem has been too much water, since we have had “April showers” in January, February, March, April and the first part of May. Although our garlic has shown signs of being stressed with some yellowing of the leaves, due to too much water, we are optimistic that we will have a decent crop.

It is recommended that garlic receive 1 inch of water a week during dry periods up until about two weeks before harvest. At this time we have no intention of watering the garlic anytime soon.

Keeping garlic weeded is the other chore that needs to be done from now until harvest. “Weed early, weed often” seems to be a garlic growers mantra as I seen it written in more then one article that I’ve read about growing garlic. Last week my husband and I spent several hours on two separate days weeding the garlic. Weeding garlic is something that needs to be done by hand, especially if it is planted with several rows close together, like our is.  At this point the weeds were still small and with the ground being wet the weeds came out easily. I believe this is the reason for the “weed early” advice. As bulb formation begins making sure the garlic weed free is even more important, as garlic that is crowded by weeds or roots of weeds will produce smaller bulbs. I do expect that we will be on our hands and knees weeding the garlic a couple more times before harvest. 🙂

 

 

Bird Identification

Our farm is home to all kinds of different species of wildlife many of which my husband and I can identify by sight or sound. Occasionally something that we are not familiar with grabs our attention and we search our reference books and the internet to try to identify it.

IMG_1722

For the last two years this bird has lived in the area somewhere around our pond. We would often see it feeding on the edges of the pond. If we got to close it would usually fly up into a nearby tree. I have yet to see it this year.

After looking through our bird book and looking at various websites my best guess is that it is a Bittern.  I would love to hear from anyone who could possibly confirm this or make another positive I.D.

IMG_1750