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!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just another Marathon Sunday... Powered by Honeyrun

-posted by Jayne

This past Sunday, Isaac competed in the Columbus marathon.  Another early morning for the Barnes Family.  This is the first time I attempted to take all 3 kids to watch one of Isaac's marathons, and I can say it wouldn't have been very successful without the help of my sister-in-law Becky, and friends Kristen and Shannon to assist me.  Trekking through the crowds (18,000 runners, and all their fans) with three young children at 6:30 a.m. is not exactly an easy task.  

One of our "jobs" while Isaac is running is to meet him somewhere around mile 13 to give him a 'shot' of honey.  It provides a nice little energy boost to help him through the rest of the marathon.  Since I had Bridger strapped to my chest, Kristen had the important duty of holding and delivering the honey.
 "Here he comes!  Hold out the honey, Kristen!"
   The funny thing is, Isaac was so distracted, talking to the runner next to him, he completely missed us.  Luckily Kristen chased him down and he was able to get his shot of honey.

Here is Isaac around mile 26.  
And because these pictures are a little blurry (taken with my iphone), I had to go out to our clothesline tonight to get a shot of his marathon jersey.  Yes, that's right, he's sponsored by Honeyrun Farm!!

Yes, sometimes I leave my laundry hanging out overnight.

Isaac finished with a time of 2:42:59.  30th place out of 5477 marathoners.  Not bad for an aging beekeeper.  
Summer honey... the choice of elite marathon runners!

Friday, October 19, 2012

October Recreation

-Posted by Isaac

Did you know that tulip poplar honey doesn't granulate? I didn't, but that's what the "experts" say. I hope they're right because I just bottled a lot of it and put it in the cold part of the honey house. We've got another bottling tank on its way (larger) and I wanted to get this one cleaned out and switched to Spring honey for the Christmas rush.

Last weekend was so pleasant. Perfect October weather. On Saturday evening Jayne and I got to leave the kids at Grandma's and attend a wedding reception at Clippers Stadium (Huntington Field). They opened the glass overhead doors and we sat at big round tables in the cool night air overlooking the field. What struck us as funny was the company we randomly chose, as there were no seating arrangements. Clockwise from my left, the careers went like this:
General Practice Doctor - Dermatologist - Investment Banker - Banker - Chemistry Professor -  Material Chemist - General Practice Doctor - Radiologist - Beekeeper - Beekeeper
Ha Ha... Jayne said sometimes you just have to gloat a little...

On Sunday it was just too nice to pass up a hike. You can see that the last of the goldenrod and purple aster is still in bloom.
"A flower for you, Mommy"

The Circleville Pumpkin Show, "Greatest Free Show on Earth," came to town this week:

Somehow it never ends up being much of a free show.
My princess on a white horse
 I think it's the greatest people watching show on Earth... between observations of food choice and food consumption and watching other dads hi-fiving their kids on the rides.
"How do I make this thing turn right?"
 Lindsay's Bakery always draws a crowd:
Is this what happened to the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?
Of course all of Pickaway County shuts down for the Pumpkin Show. Jayne spent two days helping out in the Junior Women's booth selling pumpkin pie and Honeyrun Farm honey among other things. And no school means plenty of time to practice archery with Daddy.
The Outlaws of Sherwood
 And lots of racing:
Boogity, boogity, boogity!
 Will I ever get around to the rest of the goldenrod honey?

Whoa! Who put that sticker there?  Liberal bees with their socialist agenda have no place in my Dad's backyard (Romney - Ryan  country).
Apparently these bees have been happy with the last four years.
I just hope that they are fiscally conservative with their honey.
Winter is coming!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Honey and Random Business

-Posted By Isaac

Back from Big Sky Country and we seem to be firing on all cylinders. I can't help but wish the engine was bigger though... after seeing some of the commercial beekeeping out there!

I guess the most relevant thing going on is the goldenrod/ aster honey. I've spent this somewhat cold week pulling honey and feeding bees in the gorgeous October sunshine. You really can't beat Fall beekeeping.  It's beautiful out, there is a bit less honey so the pace is not as frantic, and you rarely sweat clear through your shirt and jeans like in the middle of July.

 You can see the brilliant orange/ yellow comb made when the bees are on goldenrod.

I pulled about 2000 pounds this week and we'll cross our fingers for another 2000 lbs or so in the weeks to come.

Our worker Ryan stays busy in the honey house.
(At least while I'm looking.)
 The goldenrod bloom is pretty much over but the white aster has come on strong this year. This gives the Fall honey a distinct minty taste that mixes with the mellow butterscotch taste of the goldenrod.
White Aster
Other random business:
 A week ago Dan Williams, our bee club president tipped me off about a big beekeeper up north who had a bunch of boxes for sale.
I, of course, couldn't pass up a good deal...
So now we have a barn full of winter work. Whew... what a relief. I wouldn't want to take it easy or anything!
"Daddy, just take the picture so I can go to school."

 On Sunday, Green Been Delivery had their customer appreciation lunch at Blendon Woods Metro Park. I served up cut-comb honey and talked bees.
Yum! Summer Comb.
 There was a lot of sword fighting, but no real injuries as far as I could tell.

On Wednesday, Jayne took up a rather large order for the Greener Grocer market bag. (Thanks, Colleen!) This program must be a real hit. Every time a market bag order comes it seems to have doubled in size.
Sorry Jayne, - blurred picture
 At some point this week we decided that the cold nights were just too cold. It was time to fire up the stove. Problem- a mischievous crawling little boy. I found some old barn wood and put together a Bridger keep-out fence. Now we're ready for winter.
Let's kick the tires'n light the fires, lil Bridge!
On a final note, Jayne and my sister Becky from Dangling Carrot Farm went over to my brother's house to watch the vice presidential debates last night. A reporter from NPR was there to do a story on our politically dysfunctional family. It hit the press this morning. I thought you might be interested.
Me... no, not interested. I put the kids to bed and extracted honey for another hour. Hey, somebody's got to keep this country running while you all debate.
Joe Six Pack needs his honey!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reminiscing the Past.

I looked up this old video to show to a new friend, and I am amazed at how many things have changed in just a little over 3 years (and yet how much is still the same).  A new baby, 125 more hives, and Isaac has 'retired' from teaching to pursue beekeeping full-time.  I can't believe how much my baby Mason has grown up, and little Maizy too.  The only thing that could use some improvement is our musical skills.  Maybe in 3 more years....

Either way, enjoy the flashback from the past.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Last Best Place

-posted by Jayne

Montana is known as "The Last Best Place."  I agree.  Sorry, Ohio.  You're pretty nice and all but Montana still wins my heart.  If it weren't for all the wonderful people who live in Ohio (our family and friends, and all our great customers), we would be living near Missoula, MT.  You may remember some past posts about our time spent living in Montana.  This one, about Isaac's job with a commercial beekeeper, and this one, about my time spent at the PEAS Farm (Program in Ecological Agriculture and Sustainability) while studying at the University of Montana.  If you have been following our blog, you know Montana is near and dear to our hearts, and will understand why we took a vacation to the last best place.  So I apologize if this post looks more like a family photo album than a beekeeping blog, but who doesn't love looking at pictures of the mountains? 

Isaac and Bridger (our very own cabbage patch kid) at the PEAS farm in Missoula.
Bridger's first hike to the top of Mt. Sentinal.  It was very smokey
in Missoula, due to wildfires in Idaho.
Bridger spent most of his hiking time asleep on Isaac's back.

Little Bridger posing in front of a sign about his namesake, Jim Bridger.

Just before he begins his ascent up Mt. Sentinal.
We always knew he'd be a little mountain man.
 If you're wondering why the pictures are so focused on our youngest child, it's because Mason and Maizy spent the week with Grandma and Grandpa, up in Holmes County.  When we returned home and asked Mason if he would rather go along with us next time, or stay at Grandma's again he said, "Both!"  I explained you just couldn't do both, but he couldn't quite wrap his head around why that wouldn't work.  Maizy didn't hesitate:  "Go to Grandma's!"
Sunshine Apiary in Columbus, MT
No vacation is complete without some touring of other beekeeping operations and sampling of the local honey.  We stumbled upon Sunshine Apiary, a large operation in Columbus Montana.  Judging from the amount of flatbed trucks on their lot, we assume they have 1,000's of hives and do a great deal of pollination work.  We bought some honey from them back in 2007 and still have a few jars left to enjoy.  We also purchased some Prairie Sunshine honey from Victor, MT.  We are pretty sure it was knapweed honey, also known as star thistle honey, which is an invasive weed in Montana.  It creates such a delightful honey, I can't imagine many beekeepers mind it too much.  We packed this honey in our suitcase and brought it home, and after just 3 days, there was only an inch left. 
Our souvenir honey from MT, only 3 days after
we returned and almost gone!
 So we have been busy playing "catch-up" after our 5 days away (too short!).  Fall is one of our busiest seasons and I'm not sure how we managed a vacation... but I'm sure glad we did.  Now there is a lot of Fall honey to start pulling from the hives and extracting.  We also notice customers like to "stock-up" for winter, and seem to eat more honey as the cold weather approaches.  So it's back to work... bottling honey for your evening tea!