Friday, October 31, 2008


I'll come back to the bee fun tomorrow because I have so much to say and y'all are giving me an excuse to drone on and on by asking questions.

But. . .

Today, we are going to a haunted house, and making popcorn balls and gingerbread cookies. Last night we carved the pumpkins. Then, K experimented with nighttime photography with some fiery results.

We had more time for experiments than the beginning of our day suggested. My hometown has a thing about changing holidays for convenience. At the beginning of the week, trick-or-treating was scheduled for Thursday night because of the football game on Friday. Thursday, early a.m., found me frantically trying to finish costumes and homemade treats. When I finished and delivered the payroll later in the day, I found that the school decided they would rather a few children miss the ballgame and not have the candy-crazed children in the classroom on Friday, so the town changed trick-or-treating to Friday. I agree. Let the parents handle the children drugged with artificial colors and flavors.

Yes, my natural foods obsession interferes with Halloween. I let the children go to a few houses for the fun of the see and be seen moments of Halloween costuming fun, but then they can trade their artificial candy for some non-toxic varieties. They may choose to eat a few yucky things and I let them, but honestly, my children choose natural treats most of the time because they just taste better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Inquiring Minds

Zilla needs more information than I thought would be interesting in yesterday's post. Who knew that honey could be so fascinating? Nevertheless, here goes.

An Account of what I Know About Honey

Honey is the by-product of the bee's harvest of pollen and nectar so it stands to reason that the product would reflect the inputs. From a beekeeper's point of view there are two basic harvests, spring and fall. Spring/summer honey is generally a lighter color and has a lighter flavor (here is a picture of spring honey), whereas fall honey is darker and more strongly flavored (I'm looking for jar and will post it as soon as possible). Most commercial honey is either spring/summer honey or a mix of the two. Honey is graded for color and the lighter honey is always rated higher.

Some commercial and small farm honey claims to be clover honey or citrus honey and they may well be, but I've found that I can't really control where my bees forage. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough. I've seen lavender honey and apple blossom honey advertised, but I remain skeptical. In order to achieve fair labeling, a bee keeper would have to add honey supers exactly when the blooming is the most prevalent species available and remove them immediately after pollination or when the blooms begin to wane. They would also have to know that the bees only sought nectar in that orchard or field and didn't go to the next field for a little basil, sunflower, or oak tree pollination. Managing all this is more than a little difficult. So I wouldn't pay extra for an exotic honey unless you have tasted it first and find the claims to be true. With all that nay-saying, I do have to say that I can taste subtle differences in honey. As we harvest frames, I can generally tell whether the honey is clover inspired or fruit tree inspired, but I have tasted a lot of honey over many years. As far as seasonal variances, you don't need acute taste buds. The differences are dramatic.

Now, natural medicine advocates say that if you have fall or spring allergies, take a teaspoon of local, raw honey from the season each day. So, if you are allergic to fall, take a teaspoon of fall honey each day and the following fall you should have fewer symptoms. Go find a local apiary, get some raw, wildflower honey, and be beealthy. You also get that feel good sensation for supporting a local, small farmer. Why does the honey have to be raw and local?

Raw honey is minimally processed - no heat and minimal filtering. As my brother says, "Give me some of that honey with the legs and wings in it." Honestly, you don't want bee parts in your honey, but you should try to find natural honey in its bee produced perfection. Finding local honey is just as important as finding raw honey, not for the carbon saved, but for the health benefits. If you live in Mississippi and you have spring allergies you aren't reacting to almond blossoms or California wildflower blossoms, you are reacting to pecan, oak, or Mississippi wildflowers. Dose accordingly.

Bon Appetit

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Honey Harvest

One of the things I've been doing when I haven't been writing is harvesting honey. Actually, we harvested about a month ago, but we returned some of the extracted comb to the hive for a fall flow. I know it doesn't seem logical to those of you who are already shivering, but we are in the prime of goldenrod and fall flower season. We'll slip these fall supers off at the end of November when the temperatures start dropping in earnest.

This last hive check will give us an idea of which hives will need a little extra help in winter and which hives have all the honey and pollen they need until the spring. We don't count individual bees, but we do like to have a general idea of bee population going into the winter. Once the weather turns cold, we won't pop the tops.

Anyway, honey harvest is a family production. There is a job for every person. Honey supers have to be removed, jars have to be sterilized, cappings have to be removed, the extractor has to be spun, comb honey has to be cut and jarred, and jars have to be filled and sealed. Our goal was to be finished in one day. We weren't, though we were incredibly more efficient.

Confession. I still have a pot of comb and cappings that need cleaning sitting on my kitchen cabinet. Perhaps today will be the day I tackle it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Goober Peas

Sittin' by the roadside
On a sunny day
Chattin' with my mess mates
Passin' time away
Lyin' in the shadows

Underneath the trees

Goodness, how delicious

Eatin' goober peas

Peas, peas, peas, peas

Eatin' goober peas

Peas, peas, peas, peas

Eatin' goober peas

Peanuts have been harvested in our area. The green, non-cured, peanuts are great for boiling and are an oh so delicious salty treat. Yum! Yum!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

No Excuses

Thanks to my little sister who called and suggested the pear entry was getting stale, Melanie for de-lurking to inspire me with all the nice things she says about me, and Zilla who is ever encouraging via email, I am finally posting something.


Just kidding. I'll give you a brief update on activities here, then I'll go into detail in separate posts.

We've harvested gallons of honey, driven countless miles to get Princess to ballet practice and Nutcracker rehearsals, and spent many hours schooling.

I've read several good books and a couple of not so good books, knitted a jacket, a vest, and have completed half of another sweater, and started on the madness that will be Christmas card season.

My husband has completed one two week trip and leaves for another two week trip Tuesday at 3 a.m. so herding AWOL cattle is beginning to be old hat.

This doesn't begin to paint an accurate picture, as there are a lot of funny stories and interesting tidbits embedded in this madness I like to call normal life. I'll try to be more regular. Maybe I need more fiber.