Monday, December 29, 2014

May your days be merry and bright.

Did you make it to the last Worthington Winter Market of the year?  If so, you were treated with the talented voices from an amazing mens choir.

And a very cool display from our favorite Bison man from Ohio Bison Farm.

Which somehow managed to find it's way under our very own Christmas tree!  A gift from Isaac and I to each other. 

We've been enjoying the sounds and splendor of the season...

The week of Christmas allows us some extra time to enjoy the flexibility of being self-employed.  We even managed a trip to the Columbus Museum of Art with our extended family to see their LEGO exhibit.

Don't touch, Grandpa!

We took some time out there for a little art of our own...

 And of course a lunch at our favorite hot spot in Columbus, Sarefino's at The North Market.

And the biggest present of all:  time with family, playing on our new swing set.  Daddy builds the "club house" in the background.

We're getting ready to ring in the new year.  Eden can't wait!  

The best to you and yours as we round out 2014 and welcome in 2015.  May it be healthy and sweet as honey.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Honeyrun Farm's Christmas Gift Guide

-posted by Jayne

I know we're getting down to the end of the Holiday gift buying frenzy... but many of you are still wondering what to get those special people in your life.  I thought I might offer up a quick list of some of my favorite things I have received in the past, along with some things I will be gifting this year.  If you've already completed your shopping, you can always keep these ideas handy for birthdays and future Christmas gifts.

For the Gardener:

The A.M. Leonard Classic Stainless Steel Soil Knife
I received one of these for Christmas several years back and I love it!  It is extremely strong and won't bend back or break in areas of tough clay soil.  The side of the knife has a serrated edge to help cut off unwanted side shoots from trees or shrubs, and the bright orange handle really helps me because I am always losing my trowels.  I actually had to buy a second one because I lost it for a few weeks, but now I am happy to have two (I found it again!).

You could always pair this with a nice bar of Gardener's soap from Honeyrun Farm (wink).

For the Kids:

Handmade toys from Mountain Craft Shop Co.
We stumbled upon this fellow beekeeper/woodcrafter at the Bob Evans Festival in Rio Grande, Ohio, this past fall.  They have a wonderful collection of old-timey toys that are handmade in West Virginia.  They are really reasonably priced and in my personal experience, wooden toys like these last much longer than the plastic junk available in most department stores these days (I sound like such a curmudgeon).  My favorite is the walking duck toy (only 13.95) but my kids really love the Jacob's ladder.  We're giving one of the pop guns as a gift this year for my 4 year old nephew and I know it will be a hit because I can't get my own kids to stop playing with it.

For the Beekeeper:  

Every true hardworking beekeeper will go through equipment over the course of a year.  Isaac wears holes through his gloves and needs them replaced at least once a year.  I am not going to spoil any gift ideas here, but some logical gifts for beekeepers are beekeeping gloves, honey-B-healthy, or a magazine subscription to Bee Culture or American Beekeeping Journal.  For the aspiring beekeeper, why not give the gift of a beekeeping class?  For our local readers, the Scioto Valley Beekeepers offer a class each Spring, and now is the time to sign up.  The cost is $50 and includes a workbook, instructional materials, and a one year membership in the club.

For the the Locavore:

For those who like to eat locally- A gift subscription to Edible Columbus.
This is a great magazine that continually inspires new ways to source local food, prepare meals with local ingredients, and tells us more about the farmers and producers in central Ohio.  Every foodie who aspires to eat locally would love having it delivered to their doorstep.  The  past issue featured an article about my good friend Rachel Najjar and her farm, Prairie Field Farm.  She is so talented!

These are just a few ideas, and as you know, we have a lot of gift options with our honey products in our Etsy store.  This year some of our most popular new items have been the lip balms and salves, paired with a small soap and honey.  We now offer a variety package of 8 jars, each 2 oz of honey.  This includes Spring, Summer, Fall, Buckwheat, Tulip Poplar, Lemon Verbena Infused, Lavender Infused, and a Chunk Honey (pictured below).  

Another customer asked us to make a gift package featuring two honey jars and 10 bundled honeysticks.

There is still time to get these items shipped out.  We plan to close our online store on Sunday Dec. 21st, as we head up north to spend time with Family.  We will re-open the store on Dec. 25th.

Have a wonderful holiday season and thank-you for all the continued support of our business!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Merry Christmas to All...

-Posted by Isaac

The Great 2014 Honey House Fire has been cleaned up.
New wall, new window, new water lines, a coat rack, and in place of the stove, my old stump teaching podium.

Who runs water lines on the room-side of the wall?
A good plumber would drill holes in the wall studs then meticulously cut, place and glue the lines through the wall.
I'm not a good plumber. As it turns out, this prevented the honey house from going up it smoke.
A miracle, as Jayne stated-- yes.
This could also be called Slacker Serendipity.

So we're trying to have ourselves a merry December in spite of the fact that Christmas is quickly approaching. Jayne is busy beyond belief with Etsy orders and I'm mostly trying to stay out of the way.
One of the things I do this time of year is deliver "rent honey." We have 29 out yards (10 to 20 hives) on other people's land and this entitles them to honey or money, whether they want it or not.

About a third of the rent honey
For about a week I get to play the role of Santa Claus.

One small complication in the rent honey this year was the two bee yards in Holmes County. That's a long way to deliver!
Instead of a special trip, we took the whole family north for an Amish country Thanksgiving.

There, we had the pleasure of helping out with the harvest.

A little different than what we see in Pickaway County.

Grandpa said this wagon was done in record time.

Back home, it was time to find a Christmas tree.
Here's some more Slacker Serendipity. About ten years ago we planted a bunch of trees in a wet 10 acre corner of a bottomland field. The government paid for it... and continues to pay to keep it out of production. (Your tax dollars at work!)
Some of those trees happened to be evergreens. So for the last five or six years, Christmas has been taken care of.

"Can we hurry this up, Dad? It's cold!"

Is it legal to cut government sponsored trees?

We try not to ask these hard questions.

The same day the tree went up, we also managed a few Christmas lights.
And I do mean a few.
Thanks to a mismatch and strand malfunction, pictured below is our awesome light display outside the past several nights:

And  To All a Bah Humbug Night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

She Keeps the Home Fires Burnin'

-posted by Jayne

What an exciting past week it has been.  We've been absent from the blog for a little while, but for good reason.  Let me give you a little re-cap.

First, Isaac left last Friday to travel to Philadelphia, PA to run a marathon.

Finished with a time of 2:42:15.  A pace of 6:12.  Not a bad time for an old man who turned 39 on Friday.  Happy birthday old man!

I was left to hold down the fort all by myself.  Have you ever heard the song by Ronnie Milsap, "She keeps the home fires burnin"?  We heat our home with wood, so quite literally, I was keeping the home fires burning.

I took all 4 kids to Pizza Hut all by myself, and I was pretty proud of that.

Thanks to BOOK IT! we all get to eat greasy pizza again.

I got everything packed up for market Friday night, and only made a few minor messes when one of our valves malfunctioned.  Nothin' serious.

Not my fault!  Valve malfunction!

And then I almost burned down the honey house.  No, seriously.  There were at least 8 firemen, a sheriff, two large fire trucks, and several family members that came to my aid.  But the honey house is still standing.  So the story has a happy ending.  Isaac was traveling back from Philly when I snapped this picture.  I thought about texting it to him, but then I decided that wouldn't be very nice.

Thank-you Williamsport Volunteer Fire Dept!
The crate that caused it all.  Do you like your bee pollen... uh... toasted?

So I'll do my best to re-cap what happened.  I was in the honey house with our daughter Eden, working at putting the farmer's market "stuff" away.  Mostly just crates filled with honey, soap, and candles.  We have a stove right at the entrance to the honey house, where we commonly set things like crates.  (In hindsight:  STUPID!)  I had one or two crates setting there all weekend.  I was just finishing putting things away when Eden started to get fussy.  So I decided to take her in the house and put her to bed so I could come finish up without her.  I must have moved one of the crates back on the stove (I don't even remember doing this).  It bumped the knob on the stove.  And when I returned 30 minutes later, I found the honey house filled with smoke, and water rushing down from the ceiling.   I had no clue where the water was coming from.  We don't have a sprinkler system, and although it was raining outside, there was much more water coming down than a leak could cause.   I ran back in the house and called 911.  The older three kids were happily watching TV and Eden was asleep.  I went back out in the honey house to try to find the source of the fire.  I called my father in law and brother in law, and they rushed over.  

I expected to find a much larger fire in the back of the honey house, but after I inspected the area: nothing.  I looked in another front area where we store honey supers in the summer:  nothing.  I was scared to go in where the water was rushing down because I thought that the combination of running water and electric and a fire might not be a good combination.  So I turned off the electric in the honey house.  I never saw any flames.

My brother and sister in law helped me figure out that the source of the fire was the stove.  And the water? The fire had gone up the wall, and caused the water pipe above to burst.  Nothing short of a miracle:  IT PUT OUT THE FIRE!  When I came out to find the honey house filled with smoke, the fire had already been put out by the spray of water from the pipe.  We could have lost the entire honey house.  The entire year's supply of honey, all the infrastructure, the soap, the pollen, the candles.  Countless hours of time and work that can't be replaced.  Yes, we have insurance, but it wouldn't have covered near what it was worth.

So you won't likely hear many people say they were "lucky" when they had a fire.  But I will say it.  We are so lucky the fire started beneath a water line, which burst and put out the fire.  Thank-you Lord.  

Here you see the damage caused by the stove fire.  Not pretty, but contained to one small area.

We didn't take a lot of pictures because when you are on the brink of destruction- you don't exactly want to remember it all.  The stove was pretty charred, and the walls covered with soot.  In just a few days, we had everything wiped clean and painted.  The honey house looks like new again.  Thank-you to our family and friends who pitched in to help us out.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to blog about this event, because it was so stressful.  But this is where we document the happenings on the farm, and this is a pretty big "happening."  So we move on.  

We celebrated a 3rd birthday with a combine cake...

Happy 3rd birthday Bridger!  The boy got his combine cake.

We managed 74 online orders over the past week.  Thank-you!  We are continually inspired and motivated by our loyal customers.

Eden loves to try to eat the starch packing peanuts, which makes our job packing up boxes even more challenging while she "assists" with our orders.  Even though it can be difficult to work with little fingers getting into everything, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I feel so grateful to do what I do, live where I live, raise these children with a husband who loves life, and create the products we make. 

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have plenty to be thankful for here at Honeyrun Farm.

Let this be a public service announcement:  Don't ever set anything on a stove-top!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

"I plan on building hives until it kills me."

-Posted by Isaac

Roll out the red carpet.

Yes, we're movie stars, albeit very short movies.
This appeared on PBS last Wednesday, 7:30 pm. Primetime, naturally! It was a segment on a show called "Broad and High" that profiles local businesses and Ohio happenings.
Hope you can enjoy this glimpse into fall honey production and a little look at life on the bee farm.

We met some wonderful hard working people through this. Many thanks to Jackie Shafer and cameraman Ryan of WOSU who spent two days out here getting that precious seven minutes. Wow!

What else is going on?
Well, we've been doing some construction.

With Captain Bridger at the helm

We've been getting ourselves ready for winter.

And of course we're getting the bees ready for winter.
This is the same yard you saw in the video. The honey came off at 70 degrees. The hive wraps are going on at 30 degrees.
The glory days are over.

Some of the lighter hives are getting fed already.

Most are heavy, but with populations this big I'm giving them a few patties to chew on anyway. This makes me feel better.

It's November. Wow!

I got the big home yard wrapped up on the last warm t shirt day we had. Maybe the last of the year?

It took a while.
Long enough require a pear picking break.

Maizy shows off her No-Hands technique
"Look Mom!"

"I love this job."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

If you need us, we'll be climbing trees in India...

-posted by Jayne

 Last week I was making a delivery to Celebrate Local in Easton.  Next door sits a Trader Joe's, and realizing that it had been about 10 years since I had been to Trader Joe's (I don't get out much), I thought I should go check it out.  Meandering into the honey section, I found this:

Wild Collected?  Whaaaat?

Now I am not one to publicly accuse a company of embellishing the truth... but I will say that if the "traditional bee hunters" deep within the forests of Central India are able to gather enough honey to sell it on the world market at 4.50 per 12 oz jar, then we are SERIOUSLY doing something wrong over here in Central Ohio.   

But rest assured all you eco-conscious consumers (such as myself)- the traditional bee hunters climb the trees rather than felling them, so no tree was harmed in the collection of the honey.  Unlike us evil Ohio beekeepers who (gasp) use harvested timber to create our manmade beehives.  If you need us, Isaac and I will be in India researching these traditional bee hunters and their methods, because we would love to be able to make a living by climbing trees, harvesting the honey with our bare hands, and selling it on the world market.  

But for now, we thought we'd introduce this new little fella to our line-up:  The 2 oz honey bear.

I am gonna come right out and say that I don't know who uses only 2 oz of honey.  But hey, it makes a cute little stocking stuffer, an addition to a gift basket, and a nice sample size to determine which kind of honey you like best.  Celebrate Local insisted- so we complied.

In other news, we are making lots and lots of candles this month.  They make great teacher gifts.  One clever customer ordered 55 eggs for some "egg-cellent" teachers for Christmas.  

Got any special requests?  Get them in now, because come December I will be in over my head packing up online orders.  

If anyone knows anything about how to get a hold of these traditional bee hunters in India.. please let me know.  Our kids have declared this honey to be the "best honey in the world."  (Thanks a lot kids)  Like I said, I think Isaac and I could learn a thing or two about this wild honey collection process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thoughts from the Combine

-Posted by Isaac

Things are winding down in the corn belt. The last of the honey is done, the bees are tucked in for winter. Sister Becky at Dangling Carrot had her last day of picking produce and shut her freezer off a couple days ago. She's now in Iowa visiting sister Molly.
Last Friday, Bridger, baby Eden and I had the pleasure of joining my brother in harvesting his very last few acres of 2014 corn. Justin drove the semi, hauling corn, so we didn't see him much. Grandpa Barnes drove the combine, and Aunt Adrienne drove the grain buggy.

Bridger just loves this. Every night before bed he now requests the "combine song." Somehow every night the song changes depending on my mood, but I always ask, "Was that good, Bridge?"
And he always says, "Yeah, that good."
So I guess I'm doing alright. I think he dreams combines.

What's at the end of the corn field?
Answer: A bean field.

Pickaway County
Excitement Central
When we lived in the mountains we had scenery but almost no production. (Well... skiing, hiking, running, and biking... production for the soul?)
Here in the flatlands it's all production and no scenery.

But there's more than enough in both places to keep your mind occupied. Just differently.
How am I going to fix that loose bearing?
Wonder what the Grice Rd. field is going to yield?

But not everyone is so riveted by bearings, hydraulic lines and crop yields. 

Here comes Aunt Adrienne pulling the grain buggy. 

This is all done on the move. Dad says it cuts 30% off the harvest time for a field when a grain buggy is involved. 
With a thousand acres or more you want to keep moving.

When I was a kid, and even in high school, everything was small.  The hopper on the combine would fill quickly. You would stop, pull out of the row and run to the end of the field to dump in little gravity wagons.
This thing holds about five times the volume of those little wagons:

How's that yield looking, Bridger?

Not bad!
207 bushels an acre in this field.

That's good, because the price of corn is way low.
It seems everybody in the country is yielding over 200.
Supply and demand.

At least this boy will be supplied with cheap corn flakes for another year.

On one end of the corn field we were able to catch a glimpse of Becky slaving away in her organic produce.

Come on, Becky...
Get yourself a combine. Get yourself a semi truck. A little Rush Limbaugh on the radio...

Get with the program!

Becky is about to enter vacation season.
As I said, her last weekend market is over and she has turned off her big walk-in cooler.
And I happen to use that big walk-in for bulk comb honey storage.
Oh boy... better get it cut up:

Most of it became chunk honey, but we still got 40 or 50 decent cut comb sections: 

(You can only find these at the markets. Not the groceries. Yet...)

Justin is finishing, Becky is finishing, and yes, we're finishing also.
Here is the last yard I pulled:

In the hills of Holmes County with the sun dropping and NPR's Folk Alley on the radio.
I love Sunday evening.

Tuesday morning Mr. Blair is hard at work extracting and Jayne is about to cut another batch of soap.

What is that black stuff?
Could that be???
Yes, I think it is!

Inspector Maizy

This honey comes from those 40 Amish country hives I blogged about a few months ago. The "Buckwheat Babies" started from early June package bees.
Almost 700 lbs of the dark stuff. These bees far surpassed my expectations.

Good fall season. 

Overall, a decent crop of rich goldenrod honey and more importantly, the bees are looking strong and healthy. Fat and happy, heavy and ready to go into a long winter cluster.
Their work is done for the year.
Our work goes on. This afternoon we started into placing mouse guards.

It just never ends for a bee farmer.