Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Every Day is Earth Day."

-Posted by Isaac

Happy Earth Day everyone!

"But every day is Earth Day." says miss Maizy Barnes.
Maizy enlightened us to this fact yesterday at breakfast.

This year in central Ohio, Earth Day starts with a cold rain. A rain which continues through the morning. Can't work bees (or don't want to), might as well blog.
That's ok, as soon as it breaks the bees don't have far to forage.

Awesome deadnettle this year

We had our annual pilgrimage to Chillicothe this last weekend.
Earth Gathering 2015:

Last year I blogged about this eclectic little festival.
The music is rich, awesome, fun and fantastic. And so are the people.
My neighbor this year was the talented Crystal Summers of Rising Phoenix Glass:

I stood entranced much of the day as Crystal made her art.
She distracted from honey sales!

A week and a half ago the weather was lovely. We took an Earth Day camping trip a little bit pre Earth Day.
Destination- Carter Caves, Kentucky.
I thought I would show you some "earthy" photos from that trip.

The hiking was beautiful, but not always easy. My brother Justin brought his kids along so we had eight children running through the woods, crawling through the caves and generally making a loud and chaotic commune with nature.

Head counts were often and necessary.

Baby's first cave:

The climbing was fun and easy. Or should I say "bouldering" for you purists?

And what goes better with camping than honey and cheese sticks?

I know:

This wonderful brew was made with Honeyrun honey, courtesy of Phil the engineer and hobby brewer.  Thanks Phil!

But nothing harder. There are no liquor sales in Carter Co. Kentucky.
Apparently their Kentucky honey is hard enough:

Ok for us. For lots of hiking, climbing and balancing acts, honey bodes better than alcohol anyway.


We were very (very!) thankful to have Aunt Becky along to help with the kids. 

How does she stay so fit? Well, it's not a plan at the gym. Nor is it yoga, pilates, spinning class or any of that craziness. I'd like to think she owes her fitness to us. To running our kids around. She should thank us.

But I suspect more credit is due Mother Nature and her chosen occupation.
See this field? At the end of one of those long weedless rows of garlic is a pink speck. Someone is way out there wearing pink overalls, pushing a wheel hoe.
That's Becky.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

-posted by Jayne

Today I share a simple recipe that is fun for kids to put together, and a nice little after school treat.  It's heavy on peanut butter, but you're sneaking in some protein via beans mashed together with all the decadent peanut butter and honey goodness.  Mason and I whipped it up in about 15 mins, and we chose to use our food processor to bring everything together quickly.

1 can (15 oz) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup honey
1 TB vanilla
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups oats (I used old-fashioned oats)

1.  Combine beans, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a food processor.  Pulse until smooth and creamy.  
2.  Add oats.  You can pulse this in the food processor if your food processor is big enough.  If not, simply mix them together in a bowl.  
3.  Using your fingers, shape mixture into balls.
4.  Store in the refrigerator.  We chose to freeze the majority of them, pulling one or two of them out to enjoy each day.

Makes approximately 50 peanut butter balls.
Recipe adapted from Iowa State University Extension Calendar,


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do Beekeepers Stress Out?

-Posted by Isaac

The answer is yes.
The busy season is upon us. Warm days have come and there's a million things to do. I remember my dad always becoming a bit antsy at the beginning of planting season. Even when things are going well, when seed and fertilizer and planters are ready, when machinery holds up, even then, you've still got mother nature to contend with. Rain, mud, wind and late frosts all play havoc with the schedule. A million things to do and a very limited time to do them. There's a lot on the line!

In our case the bees are needing attention. Winter clean up and yard prep, light hives to feed, heavy hives to equalize, apple pollination prep, nucs to make, splits to make, queens to produce, queens to order... and just hope they arrive on time.
It's planting season for bees! The clock is ticking, the girls will be swarming soon.

Swarming soon? Yes! Not all, but most are looking great:

We were able to keep 75% alive this winter. A complete turnaround from last year. 300 or so, looking strong, looking healthy and threatening to swarm in April if I don't get on the ball.

Many are even working on new foundation. Quite impressive considering the cool nights.

All this makes me think I may have been a bit over zealous with the protein. But they were loving it! I couldn't deny my girls... they're spoiled rotten.

 I experimented with the home bees. Which is preferred, artificial pollen or the real thing?

I couldn't see a preference for one or the other. The bees are crazy about both.

And Baby Eden was just fascinated. She's fascinated by all things out-of-doors.

Much protein involves much water. Daily, the girls are bellied up to the puddle in the wheelbarrow.

This week and last, the willows have bloomed. 
I took this shot yesterday, coming home from an out-yard. I love our willows.

And so, now, the protein bucket on the picnic table is simply ignored.
The girls are hauling in the good stuff. The real stuff.


All this protein means the bees are building. We need to accommodate!
Here, Maggie arranges frames for nucs and splits. Basically we're making room for bee growth.

Bee Heaven.
I get a kick out of our home yard. Most of these will soon be in the apples.

Or Bee Hell? Guess it depends on your outlook.

Of course not every minute is filled with bees.
The warm weather means it's time once again for some riding. Four kids, aged one to seven, means we all have our different speeds and wheels.

And some Sunday kite flying goes well with the steady spring breezes.

Finally, we can enjoy the clubhouse and swings.
Mom and Dad get their turn when the two oldest are off to school.

But Bridger still has a couple years before starting his scholarly endeavors. Until then, he'll enjoy the sunny mornings with Mom and work on his zip-lining.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My trip to Portlandia

-posted by Jayne

Sometimes it's just too busy to get that blog post done.   I told Isaac two weeks ago that I would do a blog.  He knows I don't like being nagged, so thankfully- he's left me alone.

First, a few pictures from my trip to Portland, Oregon.   Have you been there?  Have you watched Portlandia?  This little skit pretty much sums it up (And often reminds me of the attitude at the Columbus Farmer's Markets):

Such a dynamic city- I am fortunate to have a best friend (since Kindergarten!) that lives there and happily welcomes me to visit.  As a mother of 4 young kids, it certainly is nice to wake up every morning as a guest in someone else's house and have someone cook you a made-from-scratch breakfast, complete with freshly ground and brewed coffee.

Portland has beautiful wall art on the sides of many of it's buildings.  Simply not enough time to see it all.  Here was my favorite:

When I am away, I love to hit up the local farmer's markets and stores to see how beekeepers in that area market their products.  I found a beautiful handmade candle label.

And of course, a crowded honey tent (the samples drew them in).  They had blackberry honey, raspberry honey, and even carrot honey (which didn't taste that spectacular to be honest.)  The blackberry honey was very good, and I brought some back for Isaac to sample.

I got some new ideas and inspirations for new soap scents.  I really must start experimenting with clay more often.

But my favorite part was the abundance of spring flowers.  Cherry trees in bloom!

Lots of daffodils and tulips.  For the most part, the people of Portland really take pride in beautiful landscaping.  

When I returned to Ohio, things were still dull, brown and gray.  But Maizy was undeterred.  On the first warm day, she insisted we plant this "garden" in our sandbox.

We got busy planting some seeds for our real garden.  Lettuce, spinach, kale, even some tomatoes and peppers.  I am so thankful my kids like to help me play in the dirt!

Maizy has also been helping us clean pollen.  

And serving as our new training manager.  "Now Bridger, this is how you put your hair net on!"

Pollen cleaning superstars!

Isaac took Maizy to the Westfall Father Daughter Dance.  Check out that tie.

We promise we'll start posting about bees again here soon.  Isaac has been really busy checking out hives, and has been very happy with their health and vitality.  I'll let him fill you in on that in the next blog post.  But for now- some upcoming dates of interest:

Saturday April 11th at 9:30 am, I will be hosting a talk at the Rhoad's Garden Center in Circleville about creating a bee-friendly garden.

Saturday, April 18th, we will be at Chillicothe's annual Earth Gathering.  Come see us there!