Thursday, April 18, 2013

Struggles in Beekeeping

Last Spring I was ecstatic that my hive survived a cold, long, winter in Maine!  After a year of searching for my queen I FINALLY spotted her.  I was beginning to doubt others when they said “you’ll know it when you see her.”  They were right, she’s much bigger then the worker bees and her wings are smaller as pictured above.  About a month later she swarmed with a bunch of her buddies. I was bummed but I moved on as they did.  The hive re-queened and seemed to have plenty of honey to make it through winter.

Trying to be “all natural” I didn’t not treat my hive for mites.  Mistake # 199 in beekeeping 101 for this chicka.  This Spring I discovered I had lost my hive probably due to mites.

LESSON LEARNED!  Since I don’t give up real easy I have another nuke coming in May.  Earlier this week I picked up the makings for a new hive and CB has started to assemble it.  Last year I was lean on supplies and found myself in a pickle on a Sunday when my bees swarmed.  This year and in the future I WILL be prepared in the event I need another set up.

Since there was a lot of honey leftover I attempted to try and extract some of it by hand but that was an epic failure and one heck of a mess.  I called the local bee place but they don’t extract until June.  I must admit I can’t stand relying on someone else for things!  My plan is to sweet talk Maine Man into building me one or maybe I will purchase an inexpensive extractor if I must.  Any thoughts or suggestions on that from any bee peeps would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chemistry 101

FG made her first batch of soap last month.  She called it “Mint Magic”.  It came out better then the batch I made.  I am still a novice at soap making but since getting over my fear of the lye I finally welcomed her to join along.  It’s kind of like using a pressure cooker for the first time.  Scared as hell but once you’ve done it a couple times you feel more comfortable.

The kids like doing hands-on projects, so do I!  There is so much more then “book work” when it comes to schooling.  Don’t get me wrong, we do spend a decent about of time with our nose in the books.  Actually, we love books!  My son hated reading when he was in school.  Since we started homeschooling and he gets to read about topics he is most interested in he says it’s one of his favorite parts of the day.

This year we are way ahead of schedule and should be done most everything next month.  We are skipping April vacation with our eye on the prize.  The school year will be finished with some field trips including a trip to Boston via train.

The kids and their friends submitted applications to the Common Ground Fair to become part of the youth vendors.  We are looking forward to hearing back so that we can start making products.  FG and her friend plan to make and sell lip balm, soaps, lotions, and body spray.  CB and his cousins plan to make products of woods such as coasters and bird houses.  I am really hoping all works out for them, it will be a great experience for all and we have until September to prepare.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts to ponder…

By no means have I ever considered ourselves “preppers”. Not really sure what we would be labeled as. I don’t consider us as hobby farmers because we truly farm for food not just for fun. A while back we had some company and they asked if we came from farming families. Neither of us did, and I proudly exclaimed without even giving it much thought that we were first generation farmers.

Reading the news of the banks flopping in Europe, threats of nuclear war from North Korea, damn Monsanto who is working really hard to taint our entire food system, and the bee colony collapse disorder gives me ANXIETY! I’m thinking that maybe the “preppers” are pretty smart peeps.

Another issue that REALLY bothers me is the recent crisis in obtaining ammunition and reloading supplies. So the government buys it all up, there is less supply, and now when it is available people are hoarding. That is just one commodity that is in short supply…I have not doubt that there will be more to follow.

With all that gloom and doom I have no immediate plans in building a bunker but I am motivated to dabble a little more in canning this summer. I have only canned fruits, vegetables, and broth but I’m interested in learning to can meats, beans, and soup.

What are some of your goals and ambitions in light of recent times?