Sunday, December 23, 2012

Honey Sweetened Eggnog

We've been enjoying eggnog around here on a daily basis, which proves that you really don't have to be throwing a Holiday party to partake in this wonderful indulgent drink.  I searched all the eggnog cartons at our local Kroger and could not find one that didn't have corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.  So why not make it ourselves?  We have a plentiful supply of farm fresh eggs, as well as honey, so why not a honey sweetened eggnog?  I found a recipe on pinterest that looked good, and changed the method of cooking the eggs so that I can assure we are safe from Salmonella.  I use a similar method to the one I use when cooking the eggs and milk for homemade ice cream.  Very simple, and great results!  

Here's what you need:

3 cups milk
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup honey (or more if you like it sweeter!)
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional:
Cloves, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon

Directions:  Whisk together the 2 eggs, plus 1 yolk and the 1 tsp. cornstarch.  In a saucepan, combine 1 and a 1/2 cups of milk with this mixture, heating over medium heat.  Monitor your heat temperature with a thermometer, stirring constantly until it reaches a temp of 160 degrees.  This will destroy any Salmonella bacteria, and will allow the mixture to firmly coat a metal spoon.  

Remove the saucepan from heat and allow to cool, until around 100 degrees.  At this time, add the honey, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and if you would like, add a vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and any other spices you might enjoy.  If you don't have any of those on hand, the nutmeg is really all you need, in my opinion.

Allow the spices to "marry" the rest of the ingredients, then add the rest of the milk (1.5 cups) and your eggnog is ready to enjoy!  It can be enjoyed warm or cold.  We prefer it cold, so I usually place it in the fridge overnight, and the next day it is ready to go.  No alcohol needed for me, but of course you can enjoy it with a bit of rum or bourbon if you like.


Friday, December 21, 2012

DIY: Holiday Ice Lanterns

Making your own Ice Lantern is very easy!  These can be used to hold candles or as a wine bottle cooler for a party.  They make great centerpieces, or lovely adornments for a walkway on a cold winter day.  Here's what you need:

1.  Two containers.  These can be glass containers: one that nests inside the other, or plastic or wax cardboard containers that are left from milk jugs, orange juice cartons, pasta sauce containers, etc.  Just make sure there is at least an inch or more between the two containers as they are nesting.

2.  Greenery or foliage of some sort (boxwoods, fir, or spruce are best), as well as cranberries, mini pinecones, or other bright, decorative materials.

3. Water

4.  Tape, to keep the interior nesting container from floating up and rising.

5.  A freezer

This wine cooler container was made using a milk jug
and a pasta sauce container.  When the glass container
was removed it fit a wine bottle perfectly!

Directions:  
1.  Freeze about an inch of water in the bottom of your exterior container.  This will form the base.
2.  After the base is frozen, place your interior container on top of the ice, and secure it in place with tape.
3.  Add your decorative materials around the sides of the interior container.  Fill the rest of the area between the two containers with water.  Much of the decorative materials will float to the top... this is okay.
4.  Freeze the containers again, usually at least 12 hours until it is set.

Hot water allows the interior container to slide right out.

5.  To remove the interior container after the ice has frozen, remove the tape and fill the interior container with hot water.  This will melt enough of the ice around it to allow it slide out.  I used a glass pasta sauce jar for the wine coolers, and a half pint mason jar for the candle holders.  I also used two pyrex glass baking dishes for a floating candle lantern.  Exterior containers I tried included a square cardboard orange juice container (seen above), a milk jug, and a glass baking dish.  All worked equally well.  


 6.  Remove the exterior container by running hot water over the outside of the dish.  Then find a pretty bowl to set your ice lantern in (so it won't melt all over the place).

Below is the ice lantern I made using the two glass baking dishes.  I can't wait until we have enough snow on the ground to line a walkway with these lanterns.
Using a floating candle ensures the candle will not tip over as the water melts.


And of course I couldn't let this post get by without a shameless plug for some of the floating candles we have for sale in our Etsy shop:

Rustic Floating Star (as seen above)
Set of 12 Small Floating Stars
Floating Flowers with Bee

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!  Merry Christmas from everyone at Honeyrun Farm!
-posted by Jayne

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CCD, Catching Swarms, Russian Bees, and White Boxes: More Beekeeping Questions Answered

  1. -Posted by Isaac
    Our Candle Pouring Station
    I like to start these dark December days pouring candle wax and listening to the alternative station. Yesterday I heard an awesome song that stuck in my head the rest of the morning.  Some of the lyrics went like this:
    It's better to feel pain   --  than nothing at all...
    The opposite of love   --  is indifference...
    Do you know the one? Well you might. Much to my chagrin I came to find out that my little discovery, a song I planned to learn and try singing for Jayne or whoever, has already gone mainstream. I heard it again last night watching football with Dad. It was background music in a commercial selling baseball gloves or something. Funny how your perspective can change. Maybe I won't learn it now. Oh well, I still I got a day of nostalgia out of that song. 
    We'll try to keep our beekeeping practices from mainstreaming. Size and efficiency in modern beekeeping, as with all modern agriculture, has no doubt brought higher production. But higher production is only a silver lining. There are also big black clouds concerning food production. I'm sure many of our blog readers are well aware of this. Julie Scordato touched on this in her question:


    "Can you give us an update on colony collapse disorder? Is it still bad? Are changing practices helping? Should we still be worried? What have you seen locally regarding this?"
    Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has not been in the headlines as much as it was in 2007 and 2008 but it's still a problem and research into the multitude of various causes has yet to come up with a definitive answer. Some bigger migratory beekeepers claim that keeping their bees away from row crop agriculture (corn, soybeans...) has helped colony health. On our small operation, we do lose bees (15% last winter) we've not seen anything like the CCD symptoms. Mites continue to be our nemesis. And I think this holds for other local beekeepers (those whom I have confidence in, anyway.) There are a few large beekeepers in northern Ohio and I haven't heard much in the way of CCD complaints from them either.

    Andrew Scordato writes:

    "There were lots of swarms this year that Isaac was able to collect. With beekeeping full time, do you have a goal number of hives you want, or is the sky the limit?"

    One of our "swarm catcher" boxes we use in the Spring
  2. I think about this all the time, Andrew. The market for local honey at present seems endless, so we continue to grow with hives and equipment. I'm building enough woodenware to reach a goal of 300 hives this year. We'll decide from there. There's a point where your practices are compromised as well as time with family and other obligations. Right now, I tend to babysit the hives more then I probably need to. We can definitely increase from our present 230. How many more... who knows?
    Little Molly Scordato writes:  "Will you ever consider hybridizing with Russian honeybees for hardiness to weather and parasites? Aren't the russian bees notorious for sussing out and destroying certain hive parasites that the Italian bees tend to tolerate at their own peril?"

    I bought 30 Russian queens a couple years ago and noticed a few things good and bad:

    -The bees don't accept the queen as readily.
    -They don't seem to make as much honey.
    -They seem to weather the winter better, but not at a significantly higher survival rate then the Italians.
    -They don't eat as much honey in the winter, but seem to build up very slow in the spring.

    I need to try a new batch this year. For me, the jury is still out on the Russians, but thanks for the reminder.
  3. Our bees are a healthy mix of Italians, Carniolan, and Russians.
    See the little queen cage in the center?  The bees will eat the candy plug,
    releasing their royal highness. 

    Marci writes, 
    "Why are most bee boxes white?"
    I've wondered this myself. Maybe white reflects light best in the Summer, thus keeping a hive cool. I suspect it has more to do with the cheap and plentiful supply of white paint.
  4. Honeyrun Farm Boxes - a little bit of white, purple, green, gray, and
    whatever color of exterior paint we find on sale at the hardware store.
    Leah asks,
    "How many times can you harvest honey from one hive in a year? I know you have Spring, Summer and Fall honey. But maybe you keep some hives for Spring harvest, some for Fall etc."
    This all depends on weather and location. Of our 21 bee yard locations, only six are close enough to groves of Black Locust trees that we can harvest Spring honey and confidently call it Black Locust honey. If it's a year like 2010 where God smiles down on bees, you can pull honey from a single hive in all three seasons. There was just an abundance of nectar and sunshine. A rainy, cold year like 2011 means you're lucky to have any honey at all. For the most part, you can depend on almost all hives producing a Summer crop with the Spring and Fall honey being kind of hit or miss and having a lot to do with the abundance of nectar producing plants in the vicinity of the yard.

    Spring, Summer, and Fall Honey
  5. Katie asked a question that really got me thinking:
    "What about beekeeping is most rewarding?"

    Happiest after a big honey harvest
    The short answer is pulling honey-- seeing my labor come to fruition, and knowing I don't have to go looking for a "real job" to put food on the table. The deeper answer is my general fascination with bees and their place and our own place in the world. Sounds cliche, huh? If you end up keeping bees you'll notice that you're more in tune with what's going on outside, what's growing, what's blooming, the temperature, the sun, the rain, the wind etc... You'll notice what the farmers are doing, where certain crops are, where tree lines, fence rows, woods, streams and set-aside areas are... what's being sprayed and planted, what's being plowed under, what's being built...
    In general, you become more aware. I like this.
    She also asks,
    "What advice would you offer someone interested in getting started?"
    Prepare yourself for broadening horizons, great high peaks of joy and mystery and reward. Brace yourself for deep valleys of death, depression and worry.
    And join a bee club.  Scioto Valley Beekeepers, our local club, is offering a beekeeping class this coming April, if you feel so inclined.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Questions - Beekeeping

-Posted by Isaac

Well, I had said my next post was going to be about the wax rendering process, but this, Jayne's genius idea of making some blog posts by answering questions, takes precedent. No, I'm serious... it really is genius.   It gives some future ideas for posts, plus it lets us have a little dialog with you guys. Please don't hesitate to ask more or comment. Though I'm not, I love feeling like an "expert."

So here are three questions we had concerning bees:
Stacey Shehin asks,

"Is it OK to leave 3 supers on top of the bottom two brood boxes over the winter (i.e., 5 supers total)? Is that too many to have on a hive over the winter?"
Hives should weigh over 60 lbs going into winter
It's perfectly fine to leave on as many supers as you want over the winter. That's just more food for the bees. Typically I take everything off, leaving just the two brood boxes if I feel that there is enough honey in there to support the bees through the cold months. If they're light in September (below 40 lbs), I'll feed sugar syrup and protein patties. If they're light in October, I'll leave supers on as you're doing. It's healthier to let the bees eat their own honey rather then syrup. Plenty of honey left on in the Fall, usually results in a strong colony in April and a super Spring honey crop in June.

Kim Benson had kind of a tough question:

"This is our first season with a bee hive. We looked at them 10 days ago and noticed several dead brood with a tiny hole in the cap. What could cause this? We saw a few mites and a few hive beetles, which we are taking care of. Any thoughts would be appreciated." 

It's hard to really make a definitive call on this without seeing the hive. If your population is good and over 90% of the brood looks healthy I'd say you're ok. Truthfully, my first thought was that you've got an American Foulbrood problem, but with this, you would have noticed a putrid smell. The tiny holes in dead, sunken brood cells are a symptom of this. Mites and hive beetles are in most all hives, and it's a numbers game with these guys as to your level of concern.
American foulbrood
Mites- The real scurge of beekeeping           
It's tough your first year because you haven't seen a whole lot of cases of this or that... you're still gaining experience (as am I!). At any rate, in December it's too late to do much or to worry much. Take a look on a warm day in February and see what you've got. Dead or alive, you've learned something... start from there. Hope springs eternal in beekeeping.

Ericka Hill asked an interesting question:

Have you discovered whether individual bees have personalities? That is, can you have a relationship with them or are they sort of....anonymous?
I laughed upon first reading this question, but the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me. It's really a great question, Ericka, and there are many levels to it. In short, yes, I have noticed that individual bees have personalities. I notice it any time I've got one old prickly worker bee buzzing loud and hitting my veil for an extended time. You'll be working a hive and she's at it. Ten minutes later, two hives down the line, the same old girl is still at it, and everybody else is just going about their business quietly buzzing in and out. I'd say this really is a personality. And if I grow tired of the nuisance, our relationship is pretty short-lived.
A bee's "personality" varies with age and genetics. A young nurse bee, less then two weeks old is going to be very docile, almost sweet. As she ages and becomes an older forager, she grows wise to the ways of the world and becomes a bit meaner, more protective.
A "young'un"
Keep in mind that the personalities of all these bees stem from a single mother - the queen. If a certain hive has an angry old bitty for a queen, all the daughters are going to be somewhat angry and bittyish. Thus making this hive aggressive and not fun to work with. It's amazing how requeening can improve a hive's demeanor.
Mean or sweet, it's a joy to work in the hives. I'll keep your question in mind the next time I'm in the bees. I'll try to actually observe some other personality traits aside from the few individual bees heckling me. 




Friday, November 30, 2012

More questions answered: Creamed Honey and Honey Sticks

-Posted by Jayne

Our give-a-way last week has provided a lot of great ideas for blog posts.  We've decided to answer a few questions here and there, rather than writing a book in one long blog post.  Here are a few more of the "easy" ones that I can answer.  I'm going to leave the more technical beekeeping questions for Isaac.

Ianna writes, "I've tried and loved all sorts of liquid honey, but only just recently just tried (aka devoured) some opaque, buttery honey. It wasn't crystallised, it was just buttery smooooth! How is that made? What's the difference (outside the obvious :) between that opaque buttery honey and liquid honey?"

Good question!  I believe what you are refering to is "Creamed Honey."  There is also a product called "Honey Butter" which is butter mixed with honey, but it sounds more like you had Creamed Honey.  This product is very similar to our "Naturally Granulated Honey," but very different in one regard.  Creamed honey is made by using a "seed" which is really just another creamed honey that has a specific type of smooth granulation.  All honey will granulate, but depending on the type of honey (what nectar it is from), it has different sizes of granules.  Here you see some lighter early Summer honey with a pretty fine granulation:
 And here you see some late Summer honey that has not quite granulated completely.  It is still a bit more runny and smooth.  We have sold both as "Naturally Granulated Honey," since we don't do anything to it... just let the honey sit and get more creamy and solid.  BUT.. if we were to make creamed honey, we would start with about a pound of the "seed" honey, and add it to about 12 lbs. of liquid honey, and mix it in our Kitchenaid Mixer for about 5 minutes.  Then, you put it in your jars and store it at a temp of about 56 degrees for a week or so.  Wah-la!  Creamed honey!  If you wanted to try this yourself, you can google "How to make creamed honey" and come up with similar recipes.
Come to think of it... that would make a wonderful Christmas present!  Buy a large jug of honey, a pound of creamed honey, and you can make your friends and family a wonderful "homemade" gift!

And one more question for today.  
Jen asks, "Is it easy to make honey sticks?"


It would be fun to tell you we use a little dropper to
get the honey in the stick... but I don't think it would be
very believeable!
Actually, yes it is!  For us, at least....
We don't actually put the honey into the little stick ourselves.  This requires a machine that costs about $18,000 dollars (or so we've heard).  We have found a company that allows us to send them our honey, and they put it in the little sticks for us (for a fee, of course).  We know other beekeepers who just buy the sticks from the company and re-sell them, but we are really proud to have our own honey in the sticks, so we actually feel it is worth it to send our honey to them so we can have our own Honeyrun Farm honey sticks.  So aside from lifting a 60 lb. bucket onto the counter at the post office, the task is really pretty easy.  Who am I kidding, I always make our post master Ron lift the bucket for me.  Thanks Ron.  

If you'd like to come see us this weekend, we are selling at the Worthington Winter Market on Saturday from 10-1, and at the North Market Holiday Show from 8-5 on Saturday and from 12-5 on Sunday.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And the winner is.... (drumroll, please)

#1 !!  Julie Scordato, please step up and claim your prize!!!

Using the True Random Number Generator at Random.org, response #1 was chosen as the winner to our $25.00 gift certificate, with free shipping!  Julie, it is time to peruse our shop and decide what you would like.  (And really... does #1 EVER win??)  Feel free to post your acceptance speech in the comments section, Julie.  Just don't rub it in to the losers too bad.

Now we have some insightful questions to answer from our blog readers.  Here are just a few quick answers to a few:

65 Roses for Marcia asked:  "Can you bring some honey for me if you are coming for thanksgiving? And what is your very favorite kind of honey out of all the types you produce??"

Our Answer:  Our honey is now for sale in 2 locations in Holmes County, Marcia!  Country Craft Cupboard- in Berlin, and the Walnut Creek Flea Market (this is the one located near Cherry Ridge, towards Sugarcreek).  Our favorite kind of honey is Spring honey, due to it's light delicate nature, however we use Summer Honey more often in cooking.  We actually have a 2 lb. jar of Spring, Summer, and Fall on our kitchen table at all times.  

Spring honey is our favorite... because it is light and delicate,
but also because it is rare.  We hate to see it sell out!
And Cappywanna asks:  "I have seen whole pieces of honeycomb sold at farmers markets and such- what would you do with a whole comb? just shove it in your mouth and chew? mmm..."
Comb can be chewed, spread on toast, spooned into tea, eaten with cheese,
peanut butter and honey sandwiches... the possibilities are endless!

Yes, indeed... shove it in your mouth and chew!  You can even eat the wax, although many prefer to chew the comb until the honey is gone, then spit out the wax.  Old-timers say that comb honey was the first chewing gum.  It was a treat for kids (and still is today), and also great for spreading on toast.  Some people prefer comb because it guarantees that the honey is raw.  If it was heated, the comb would melt!  

Thanks again for all the great questions!  We will answer more in upcoming posts!

-posted by Jayne

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Great Honey Give-a-Way!

***This contest has ended.  Thanks for all who participated!***

We're giving away a $25.00 gift certificate to our online store at www.honeyrunfarm.etsy.com!  Enough of us blabbing on and on about beekeeping and our children and such.  You really follow this blog on the off chance that you might win something free eventually, right?

Well, here's the deal.  Leave a comment below asking us a question.  It can be any question, but preferably something insightful and intriguing that you always wondered about beekeeping or beekeepers or bees.  Some examples could be:

-How on earth did you get into this?
-What is a varroa mite?
-Why are honey storage boxes called 'supers'?
-Why can't babies eat honey under the age of 1?
-Why does honey granulate?
-Why are most bee boxes white?

See how many good questions I came up with in just a few seconds?

If you don't have any good ideas, you can ask boring, lazy questions like:
-What color are your socks?
-Why doesn't Isaac wash his bee suit more often?
-Do you ever get stung by a bee?
You get the idea.  Any question will do.  We'll try to answer the good ones in upcoming blog posts.

We will choose the winner via a random number generator.  Contest ends on Cyber Monday, November 26th at 8 pm EST.  We will post the winner here, and notify them by email, so if you choose to post anonymously you will need to leave an email address in the comments section as well.  Contest is open to anyone in the United States, even family members, close friends, and those we bribe to visit and read our blog.  (Sorry, no international contestants, please... due to shipping limitations). Good luck!

And here is a sampling of what a $25.00 gift card could get you: (we pay the shipping, by the way)

5 lb jug of Summer Honey (yes, just $25!)

25 of these bad boys...  

6 bars of soap (okay so @4.50 each we know that's 27.00,
but we'll give you the $2 difference).

100 Lavender Infused Honeysticks
Thanks for stopping by!  Now let's see some insightful questions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We Need Closet Space!

-Posted by Isaac

Dan Grant was at one time the biggest beekeeper in the state. 2000 hives, pollinating everything from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, winters in Georgia, summers in Wisconsin some years, honey production by the semi load. He lives in Circleville and has since settled down to an easy couple hundred hives. He must feel like he has a lot of time on his hands because he likes to come out and talk.
Dan talks a lot.
As he talks, I've learned to keep working at whatever I'm doing and keep an ear out for Dan's precious nuggets of wisdom. Sometimes it's hard to sift through all the B.S.  Sometimes that's all there is.
This time he caught me out working on the latest project:
 And something he said rang true: "If you have some land and you happen to keep bees, you might as well put down four posts on the corners and build a roof over the whole damn thing. Even then, you'll have to buy land and add on."
Beekeeping requires equipment (sometimes called junk) and lots of space to put it. I've got the big barn jammed full of honey supers, the honey house full of honey. The extracting equipment, bottling supplies, packing materials, wax, oils, tanks, melters, trucks and trailers have to find a place somewhere.
This winter involves building on. This addition to the big barn got done this week, and a big annex to the honey house is coming soon.

 As always, we find a way to do it cheap. These are windows and doors from Grandmother Barnes' house that burned down ten years ago. The metal came from some big barn doors that got ripped off in a wind storm three years ago. All but $50 of lumber was salvaged from old barn wood.
Thing is, I'm already regretting not putting in a big overhead door. I guess I'm too cheap.
Now we can buy bulk and get that elusive reduced rate with our bottling supplies.

What child labor laws?
 The week stayed sunny and slowly warmed. By Friday the temp had hit 50 degrees and the bees rejoiced with a few hours of flight.
Mason welcomed these bees by throwing acorns at them.

By Saturday it had hit a balmy 54 degrees and we were able to sneak in our second unexpected November market. The pre-Thanksgiving crowd didn't disappoint.  I saw many North Market regulars who I won't see again for the next five months. I'll miss you! You guys can still stock up inside at the Greener Grocer.

I think my next post will be about the wax rendering process and what we do with it. From comb to cappings wax to candles.
Or to chewing gum... whatever suits your taste.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Mom... Can I Have a Bowl of Bee Pollen?"

-posted by Jayne

My daughter asked me this last week while we were eating a pretty typical lunch... peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some carrots, and milk.  

"You want a bowl of bee pollen for lunch?"  I asked, kind of chuckling to myself about her nonchalance in asking this question.

"Mmm-hmm."  She responded.

"Okay..."  I said, as I filled a bowl with about 3 Tablespoons of pollen and handed it to her.

I went back to cleaning the counter and doing dishes, when Mason said, "Mom, I did not get a bowl of bee pollen for lunch."

"You want a bowl of pollen, too?"  I asked.
"Yes."
"Okay, one more bowl of bee pollen, coming right up."

I love it that our kids find this as completely normal.  I'm pretty sure there aren't many other 3 and 4 year olds eating bowls of pollen along with their sandwiches for lunch.  Somebody please tell me when this will backfire and they start calling us weird hippie beekeeper parents?

I have a lot of great blog post ideas running through my head, but for lack of time, I will give you one quick and easy craft project we tried this week.  Wax Dipped Leaves!  Did you know that dipping leaves in beeswax preserves their color, and creates beautiful garlands for your Thanksgiving decorations?  Of course they won't last forever, but they will last long enough for you to enjoy the colors of fall a bit longer.


You will need:

About 1 lb. beeswax
A variety of colorful leaves
A double boiler, with a container you plan to use only for melting beeswax
Wax or Candy Thermometer
A string and some thread, if you'd like to string your leaves.
Newspaper or an old sheet to cover your work area

Directions:

1.  Melt your beeswax using a double boiler- a small saucepan containing the beeswax, sitting inside a larger pan of water. Melting beeswax over direct heat is very dangerous, as hot beeswax is flammable and can ignite. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your wax. Stainless steel is recommended since copper, brass, and iron can change the color of the wax, making it look dull.

2.  When the beeswax has reached 150-160 degrees and has completely melted, you are ready to begin dipping.  Quickly and steadily dip your leaves down and up out of the beeswax.  DO NOT hold the leaf in for a long period of time, or the wax will coat the leaf completely and you won't be able to see the color of the leaves through the yellow wax. 

3.  Allow the leaf to drip over the container for a few seconds before laying it aside to dry completely.

4.  When you have finished dipping all the leaves, string them together with a needle and thread and hang in a beautiful location.  That's it!


Make sure your kids wear old clothing and understand
the dangers of working with hot wax!

Another fun project I attempted was making floating beeswax candles out of acorn caps.  This worked really well, except the oak tree right outside our honey house has acorns with curly, ruffled edges, that just happen to be flammable.  Good thing they were floating in a bowl of water, right?  I am still looking for some large acorn caps that will not pose a fire hazard.  I used tea light wicks for these candles.  I do not plan to sell these, but if you wanted to buy some, I have seen them for sale in other shops on Etsy.  What a fun centerpiece for Thanksgiving!

Floating beeswax candles in acorn caps

I have a ton of other beeswax craft projects running through my mind right now.  As the weather gets colder I long for opportunities to engage my crafty side.  Can you believe it is November already??
Go out and collect some leaves for this project before they all blow away!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ok, All Good

-Posted by Isaac

Jayne said I sounded too depressed in that last post. I needed to be more upbeat. "Why don't you reread that and tell me what you think," she said.
 Of course that invoked the response you might expect from a beekeeper in November: "I'm just telling it like it is, Honey, ...and maybe that's just how I feel... and I think it was pretty well written, thank you..."

So upon rereading, I think she's right. 
The weather really isn't all that bad, and hearing more stories about the Hurricane Sandy aftermath on the east coast, my little rainy day problems seem pretty quaint. The sun came out, I got a few runs in, I feel much better. And it's not the end of everything. In fact, yesterday marked the beginning of the Worthington Winter Market, now up at the Worthington Mall.


Thank you to Jamie, market master and farmer with Wayward Seed for the prime real estate! We're in the center of everything, right on the corner. 
What a wonderful turnout it was. I saw many many new faces and quite a few of the core regulars. You left me feeling upbeat and enthusiastic and a part of something-- this whole localvore movement happening in Columbus. Thank you!
I got to spend three hours savoring the aromas of Silver Bridge Coffee right across the walkway, and Lucky Cat Bakery sent me home with an awesome loaf of sourdough rye. 


While I was having fun, Jayne was having her own fun, I suppose. She gave a marketing talk at the Ohio State Beekeepers Fall meeting in Reynoldsburg. Last year we both did this, but I can imagine it was better received with her alone. For one, she's better looking and well spoken. Plus she didn't have me there to interrupt and carry on with beekeeping blah blah blah that has nothing to do with marketing honey.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The End. Of Everything.

-Posted by Isaac

We've had six days of no sun and it's beginning to wear on me. Not that I should complain. At least our house isn't floating into the Atlantic Ocean. We've still got electric, still got the warm stove.

I used to be spoiled and much worse. When I lived in Colorado we'd routinely have two straight weeks of brilliant blue skies and sun on the shimmering mountains. Then a cloud would pass over, it might get cold for about three minutes and I along with other complaining ski bums would let our frustrations be known. My weather sensibilities have both matured and dulled living here in the Midwest. I've come to find out that to make it here comfortably a person has to be a lot tougher and a bit more stupid. (Maizy says, "We don't say stupid!"
Just take it as it comes, stand there in the cold rain and chew your cud.

That's why Romney and Obama spend all their time here campaigning. They know we'll show up to vote, by God, rain, sleet or snow. We just can't decide on who or what...

Well, the depressing title of this post reflects my mood right now. (Particularly after last week's awesome warm days.) The joys of Summer and Fall are coming to a close. Here are a few recent shots of the last of...

The last Summer market
The last picnic at Deer Creek
The last leafy soccer game
The last pull of Fall honey
 Incidentally I found out something funny about this bee yard up near London. It happens to be on land that was recently acquired by Bill Gates. Yes, that Bill Gates. Apparently he's in the buying up land, they're-not-making-any-more-of-it business much like Ted Turner. This farm was bought for $10,000 an acre! What a tycoon. So now I've got to somehow give Mr. Microsoft his 24 pounds of rent honey. Oh bother.

The last hurrah for the bees
This was a picture from several weeks ago but I don't think there will be any more happy honey super clean-outs for our home yard bees.


The last hay ride
Hopefully not the last bonfire.

The last of the outdoor coop
Yes, even the chickens move inside for the winter, cooped up in the barn out of the wind. For now they're still pecking around looking for the last bugs of Fall, but it won't be long. The weather has changed and like it or not, bees, chickens, people, we all have to face the music.

Or get the heck outta here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preserving the Harvest

-posted by Jayne

There is a catchy little song (written by a friend of ours) that goes something like this;

"We'd eat what we can, and what we couldn't eat we'd can, and what we can we eat all winter long..." 
For me, canning is a compulsive act.  I watched my mother can spaghetti sauce, chili soup, green beans, peaches, and pears every summer while I was growing up.  Canning is just "what we do", so even when there is no energy left in the body, and no time left in the day, I still somehow find a way to can what I can.  
This week, I canned tomato juice.
Canning in October is pretty wonderful because the weather outside is cool, meaning the steaming kettles and canner on the stove don't bring our house above the 100 degree mark (we don't have AC).  
I get a lot of questions about my strainer, so I thought I would post some pictures of the process.  Hot, just-boiled tomatoes from the orange bowl go in the top of the strainer.  Maizy turns the crank, and the skin and rind come out the side, while the juice and pulp land in the pan below.  It's great that the kids can help, and although it does drip a little it still makes the job quick and easy.  


Next up:  Pears.  I use the exact same strainer to make "pearsauce."  Really, I don't understand why more people don't make pearsauce.  We are blessed with a beautiful old pear tree in our yard, and some years they are simply AMAZING.  And this is one of those years!   Unfortunately the tree is over 40 feet tall, and I can't reach most of the beauties.  

To make pearsauce, I simply boil the cut and quartered pears on the stovetop until they are soft, and pass them through the strainer.  Seeds, stems, and peels come out the side, while the pearsauce falls through into the pan.


Bridger really loves helping me gather pears.  And I love that my little 11 month old is learning that food comes from the earth~ not the store.  You can simply crawl on the ground and find something amazing to eat!!


A few weeks ago we picked apples at a friend's orchard.  Look at how thick they were hanging from the tree!  I am still making applesauce and other goodies from these yellow delicious apples.

 Yes, indeed, that is a truck load of apples!

Each Fall we break out the cider press and have a little 'pressing party'.  I freeze the cider in small batches and then pull one small batch out of the freezer every week, thaw it, and enjoy warm cider all winter long.  Here you see my sister-in-laws Adrienne and Becky, and my niece and nephew Owen and Olivia (among the other children) helping to throw the apples in the hopper.  

Here is a sampling of some of this year's canning:
L-R: Pizza sauce, tomato juice, peaches, and wild black raspberry jam

 Pumpkin and squash are also a regular staple around here this time of year.  I never buy pumpkin at the store... it seems pointless when cooking up pumpkin and squash is so simple.  Two years ago I posted about how to cook pumpkin, since many of my friends had never done that before.  I keep it in the fridge, and what I can't use I simply freeze for later.  This week, we've made Pumpkin Smoothies, Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Bars, and hopefully some Pumpkin Granola later today.  You can tell it is Fall, because I am in "cooking mode" and actually have time to do this sort of thing!

Ohio is blessed with an abundant variety of local produce!  And indeed, I realize it would save me time if I simply bought my tomato juice, applesauce, cider, and pumpkin at the store, but the whole process of food preservation is a part of the cycle of the seasons for me.  It's time to stock up, get ready for winter, and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather with our family.

We will be at the North Market and The Worthington Market for our final outdoor Saturday markets of the season.  It has been so warm here in Ohio that it doesn't seem possible that the summer market season is nearing completion.  Don't worry though, we will be at the Worthington Winter Market every Saturday November - December, and every other Saturday January through February.
Hope to see you there!