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  • Bee Diary: August, 2011

    Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Checked the honey supers this morning.  On the two package colonies that I do not intend to overwinter, we have approximately four full honey supers.  That is, we have for harvest the amount of honey they would have needed for the winter, close to 200 pounds.  Figure that 40 pounds is not recoverable due to drips, stuck on honey comb even after extraction then that should leave around 16o pounds to harvest.

    If we chose to sell it at, say $7 a pound, that would create around a $1,ooo in sales after keeping some back for own use and gifts.  After the bee packages at $60 each and amortizing the honey extractor, supers and hive boxes, syrup, hive tools, smoker, pollen, queen excluders, honey jars, top and bottom boards and telescoping covers, we’d still be in the red for the first three years.  Don’t know what we’ll do with it this year, probably give away a lot again.  It’s good for barter and gifts for sure.

    Artemis Hives has produced honey two years in a row now, an artisanal honey created by bees aided by the beekeeper, me, and the bee equipment and harvest partner, Kate.

    Looking at the gardening year in total we will have a good, not great honey harvest, a good potato harvest, leeks, beets, chard, beans and possibly a decent tomato crop.  Kate has good success with her zucchinis and the decorative gourds have bloomed but produced no fruit yet.  The gardening and beekeeping year will wind down in September, just in time for us to finish our cruise preparations.  Caring for gardens and bees requires a lot of face time with the plants and hives, visits to nurseries, attendance at Hobby Bee Keeper meetings, not to mention all the work of harvesting and putting food by.

    I’m at the point in the year when my enthusiasm has run out a while ago and the only thing that keeps me active now is the need to finish, to harvest.  When it’s done, it’s over for the year.


  • And Yet More Planting

    Beltane                                                           Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Cherokee Trail of Tears.  Hutterite.  Soup beans and green beans.  Vidalia onions from sets grown in Georgia.  Purple passion and white asparagus.  Three varieties of tomatoes.  Golden beets.  Pretty much the last of this year’s non-succession planting.  Mark’s been a big help, letting Kate and I focus on the things we do best.  One or two things remain: cucumber, gourds, but they’re delayed right now.  So Artemis Hives and Gardens has all the bees in their colonies, early and post-frost vegetables plants in the ground and daffodils and tulips and our magnolia providing color.  The fruit tree’s buds have swollen; the currants have fully leafed out; the quince has its bright red flowers; the gooseberry plants are in a new home with more sun and Kate has planted shade lovers in the spots where the gooseberries were.

    Left to figure out.  What crop(s) to grow in the hydroponics during the summer.  How to take good care of the fruit trees and their produce.  Succession dates for the rest of the growing season.  Mulching and pruning.  Weeding.

    My object list for my Thursday early evening Love, Sex and Scandal tour:  Venus figurine, The Singer Su Hsia0-Hsia0, Theseus Killing the Centaur, Bacchante and Satyr,  Mlle. Lange as Danae, Lucretia, The Little Girl, The Living Room.  This group wanted edgy.  This tour will qualify.

    Late to bed last night, a great day today so I planted in the am, but I still need to do Latin.  Not so easy with a fuzzy head.  Probably nap time.

  • Nix Still Comes Down…Geesh

    Imbolc                                                       Waning Bridgit Moon

    This has been a nix two-day event.  The Woolly’s, for the first time I recall, canceled.  Too little parking around Charlie Haislet’s condo.

    The days events scattered around me, I never quite got traction, feel a little down.  Nothing bad, just wheels spinning.  Don’t like it.

    The snow-blower, which needs a tune-up, chugged, coughed and sputtered, but worked long enough to blow the snow off the sidewalk.  I was glad.  This was too heavy for a shoveling session.

    Kate and I do plan to join the Y here after I get back from Blue Cloud.  I’m after a personal trainer to get a resistance work out going again, plus I’m going to do my first Pilates and attend a bodyflow class that uses a combination of Tai-Chi, yoga and Pilates.  Sounds fun to me.  I’m deconditioned right now when it comes to muscle mass, so shoveling the walk would have hurt.  My aerobic conditioning is fine, no heart attack likely, but a lot of back and shoulder ache.  Looking forward to getting back to resistance work.

    So, I’m gonna workout then roast a chicken with garlic cloves under its skin and onions on the inside.  These are our garlic and onions, still useful this far into the season.  I’m also going to use some canned beans from 2007.  A little bulgur and we’ll have a meal.

  • Harvest

    Fall                                      New (Harvest) Moon

    Second round of apiguard in the parent and the divide.  The top box on the package colony has gotten heavier, but I plan to feed them some more as I will do to the parent once the apiguard comes off in two weeks.  Sometime in early November I’ll get out the cardboard wraps and cover the hives for winter.  That will pretty much finish bee work for the year until late February or early March.  I’ve given away honey and plan to give away more.  Part of the fun.

    A quick walk through the vegetable garden shows kale and swiss chard looking good, a few rogue onions that escaped the harvest, plenty of carrots, beets and butternut squash.  The harvest is 2010-10-04_0351not yet over and will go on until the ground threatens to become hard.

    While I drove through the countryside on my way back to Lafayette on Monday, I passed field after field of corn and beans, some harvested, some not, about half and half.  Seeing those scenes put me right back at home, especially the corn fields.  Here’s a field near Peru, Indiana with the combine spilling corn into a tractor trailer for transport either to a corn bin, grain dryer or even straight to the grain elevators, all depending on the price and moisture content of the corn.

    Indiana is no longer home, Minnesota is, but Indiana has a large section of my heart, the chamber of childhood and early young adulthood, a room full of corn fields, basketball, small towns, a baby sister and brother, county fairs and James Whitcomb Riley poems.  I was glad to be there the last few days and to walk again in the part of my heart filled there so long ago.

    We move now toward Samhain, Summer’s End.  Blessed be.

  • Extra Work Raises Grade

    Lughnasa                                 Waxing Artemis Moon

    Up early and out in the garden.  This is the way I like it, working in the garden before and during sunrise, a coolness, some damp lingering from the night, stillness carrying only the softest of sounds, the earth friable and eager, weeds willing to come up and the garden’s purpose easy to discern.

    Kate worked on in the orchard, going back over intensive weeding of a week ago and pulling up sprouts and rhizomes, making the place just that more inhospitable for the weedy plants.  With a second load of mulch we’ll have this place looking ship-shape heading into fall.

    A few grasses have begun to turn brown and there’s a slight hint of autumn in the morning air, a certain clarity and crispness.

    After inspecting the garden again yesterday, I’m moving my grade from a B- to a B+.  Why?  I did three plantings of beets, greens, carrots and beans.  Now the second planting has come to maturity after many other plants finished their summer and gave up their yield.  We have a good crop of young beets, a lot of juicy carrots, plenty of greens and enough beans for a couple more freezer bags at least.  This planting weekly or so for a while, creates a series of gardens, all in the same place.  We even have a number of Cherokee Purple tomato plants which I did not plant.  They are volunteers from last year’s tomatoes.

    Add to these the onions, garlic, greens, beans, beets and various fruits already harvested we have a good gardening year, not a great one, but a good one.

    Plus those potatoes are still in the ground, the raspberries have begun to fruit and the fennel and leeks look good.  All in all, not bad.  I said at the beginning of the growing season that I saw this as a consolidation year, a year when we make sure we can care for what we have.  A week ago I would have said we hadn’t even met that mark, but now I believe we have.  Caring for the orchard, the vegetable garden and the new plantings from last year in there, managing the bees and getting ready for the honey harvest, plus pruning out and restoration in the perennial flower beds.

    This advance is mostly thanks to Kate’s back surgery and her hip surgery.  She can now care for the garden, too, as she has in the past and it requires the both of us, what we have now.  Getting back to normal speed.

  • Another Northern Summer Day

    Summer                             Full Strawberry Moon

    The full strawberry moon, evocative.  Our strawberries have wound down  for this season, but we enjoyed them while they ripened.  I had blueberries on cereal this morning, blueberries from our patch.  Finished the  planting for a third harvest:  beans, spinach, swiss chard, beets:  golden and detroit red and carrots.

    Kate has been picking  currants like a woman possessed.  She has I don’t know how many and won’t rest until all five bushes are clean.  That’s a lot of currants.  Last year I couldn’t even spell currant and now I have more than I know what to do with.

    The whole garden, including the bees, has proved a bit much this year.  The longer season didn’t help, it got stuff off to an early start, ahead of me.  Plugging away though.  I’ll probably get back to even about time to put the sucker to bed for the winter.

    Hilo helped me plant, each hour with her more precious now that we know her days will wink out in the not too distant future.

  • Catching Up

    Summer’s Eve                                  Waxing Strawberry Moon

    More weeding along the fenceline.  It feels like I’ve beaten back both the weeds and revealed the now minimal amount of repair still required to bring the vegetable garden area back to where it began last fall.  I planted another round of beans, doing so at weekly intervals.  Took some photographs.  A full morning.

    Having put on sunscreen first today I don’t have that slightly queasy feel I got yesterday.  Us Celts have a delicate situation when it comes to sun.  We have fair skin and burn easily.  Might be why I’ve never liked the beach.

    Kate planted coleus and marigolds, did some weeding and put in some annual grasses.  All of this work is a little behind for us, but we’ve begun to catch up in the last few days.  I believe we’ll be on top of it by the end of the week.

    Greg, my Latin tutor, is in Portugal the next two weeks with his sweetheart, so the Latin will slow down.  We decided I needed to go back over the last two chapter’s sententia antiquae, ancient sentences, and work them carefully.  If I have time, I’ll go on to Chapter 20 which is, in fact, halfway through Wheelock’s 40 chapters.

  • Harvest and Preservation

    Lughnasa                      Waning Harvest Moon

    It changed.  The game.  After half-time most of the time, I expected to see showed up.  How about that 64 yard run by Peterson?  Wow.  Still, it concerned me that we didn’t get more pressure on Brady Quinn.  I’m looking forward to the analysis.

    Kate has made grape juice, a lot, from the grapes I picked this morning.  Next is jelly.  I have a role in the preservation process this week.  We discovered last year that gazpacho is a perfect canned soup.  When chilled, it tastes like it was made that day.  A great treat in the middle of winter, a summer vegetable soup.

    We also several Guatemalan blue squash.  They run about a foot and a half long and 7-8 inches wide.  Heavy, too.  Taste good.   We still have parsnips (next year), turnips, carrots and potatoes in the ground, probably a beet or two hanging around, too.  Above ground we have lettuce, beans, greens and some more tomatoes.  Kate’s put up 36 quarts of tomatoes so far.

    Kate also made use of our dehydrator.  Cucumber chips.  I know, but they taste wonderful.

    There’s a lot of room for improvement in next year’s garden, but we feel good about the production this year.  Next year we should get more fruit from our orchard.

  • Laying Food By

    78  bar rises 29.99  4mph N dew-point 56  sunrise 6:03 sunset 8:34  Lughnasa

    Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

    “The rest of the beans will dry on the plants!” Kate said yesterday, her brow perspiring from work over a hot pressure canner.  Yes, the beans produce and produce and produce.  Canned green beans now stock our larder, companions to the tomatoes, pickles, jams and assorted other 19th century farm food self lay-bys she has made.  The beans which dry on the plant will get picked after the plant itself dies and the pods begin to crack open a bit.

    Later, as the snow flies, we’ll take those pods and thresh them, pick out the dried beans and pop them in hermetic glass jars.  Soups and other bean dishes to follow.

    With the first harvest festival already past the garden goes into overdrive, testing the patience of even Kate, a long time canner and freezer.  Tomatoes and cucumbers have begun to pop out and ripen, the spaghetti squash has several fruits on the way, the peppers have begun the slow process of maturation and a second crop of beets has about six inches of greens up already.  This is when the sweat and the soil preparation and the weeding and pruning all begin to yield results.  A good time.

    The hemerocallis, likewise, are in their glory:  many shades of purple in the front, orange and reds and yellows in the back and in the park.  Of course, I wonder how the garden will look when the Woollies come in two weeks.  I can’t recall that week from years past, but I imagine the daylilies will still be blooming and perhaps the clematis bushes will have begun to flower. I forget to mention here the begonias and geraniums, the sturdy plants that overwinter in the basement, moving happily outside after the last frost.  They add color and texture to the garden.

    Up late today, so I’ve got to get to Heresy Moves West.  Bye for now.