Be true to who you are…..

And the family name you bear……

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Spoonful Of Honey...

Takes a while to get....

Did you know that it takes 560 bees their entire life
 just to make a pound of honey?

In our hives we use medium size boxes. The first three boxes are the official "hive"
Here the bees store their honey for winter and raise all the new bees needed to keep the hive alive. Any box above and beyond the three are called supers, a super is where you will find our honey.  After we have inspected the hive and made sure all lower boxes are filled for the coming winter we bring the rest to the house.

Most of our frames were bare when we started out this year.  This means there was no pulled wax for the bees to fill so they had to make their own.  You sacrifice seven pounds of honey for every pound of wax the bees have to make.  In other words we lost a lot of honey because the girls had to set up house.
In spite of this we still managed to bring in two and a half boxes of honey.  We were careful not to crush the comb so the girls can reuse it next year.

(above) the frame has drawn wax, you can see empty comb on the top row.
the rest of the rows of comb are filled with honey and capped. 
Andrews’ job was to slice off the cap, being careful not to squish the comb under it.  (Below) he did a great job. The honey was kept warm by the fire.  It began to flow as soon as the cap was removed.

(below) the cap is being strained for honey too.

If this had been a real documentary, someone would have thought
to take pictures of the inside of the extractor.
Instead it was just sticky, old us trying to snap shots and jar honey.
So you are just going to have to use your imagination.
Basically the frames fit down inside the extractor and it works like the spin cycle on your washing machine. Our extractor is a manual. 
He cranks the handle and the force pulls the honey to the outside edge.
It then runs to the bottom.  In the bottom is a spigot, the honey is drained from there.  I was surprised at how well it worked.  When I hear "manual" I really hear "lots o' work" but it was easy and worked fast.

doesn't he have a great smile?

He said I had ENOUGH pictures....

And then, he really got sick of pictures....

Normally he'd get his mouth slapped for that but today I am pretty confident that if I were to do so, as sticky as I was, my hand would be permanently stuck to his tongue and that would be a tad awkward....

The next step was Grace, who managed to escape all the pictures, 
drains the honey into a bucket and carries it to Beth.
Beth then strains it through cheese cloth to remove 
bee wings, legs, shards of wax and whatever else they left laying around on the frame. (yes ma'am. I said that)

we only got a half gallon of dark out of the whole five gallons!
dark honey for commercial growers isn't as desireable.  It can only be sold as
honey for baking, not table honey and it brings a lower price.
For us it will be used for baking and we are so thankful to have it we really don't care.  The honey pictured is table grade. 

My job, after the jar was full was to wipe it down
(no small feat)  and seal it. 
(below) some of the jars waiting to be hauled to storage.

After that the only thing required is to EAT it!!
Our family goes through between a half gallon and a gallon of honey
every month. So this year we didn't have enough to sell
but next year, if the Lord sends the flowers, 
we will be in business! We are all looking forward to it.
For now the ladies are snuggled safely in
waiting patiently for spring so they can start it all over again.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Taking Dominion.....

When the Lord created Adam, He gave the earth to him with the 
command to subdue and have dominion over it. 
What we learn from scriptures is that Adam, through sin, then turned the earth
over to Satan and things became hard... very hard.

One thing that didn't change, however, was the command of
subduing and taking dominion.
When we moved here three years ago, that command took
on a new meaning in a very physical way.

I love our property.  We have sixty acres, forty of it wooded.....
I love our trees, I love the seclusion.  
Cows, on the other hand, cannot live on trees alone. =) 
Our family has spent the past three years cutting trees, building fences and 
seeding pastures.  Leaving trees to keep our seclusion but 
opening spaces for the cattle to graze.
It is a blessing because the results have been beautiful. Yet, at times it
is exhausting as our task is still far from over.  I once told the boys
"Just think, when your children are born, this will all be clear and they will
have it easy."   To which Drew promptly replies "Na~ah! I'm going to buy 
at least thirty for them to clear just because it'll be good for them!" =)

One day in June, while we were cleaning out the holler next to the house, 
Shane pulled me up the hill saying "Come here, I want to show you something."
As we stood on the hill, he reminded me of a child at Christmas.  Excitedly he 
pointed out a perfect spot for a pond and how the natural curve of the holler 
would give it a beautiful shape. As we talked, the children, one by one, set
down their chainsaw or took off their gloves and joined us on the hill.

That day it was decided ~ we would sell our pontoon boat
 and use the money to build our pond. We mapped out a
place for a dock and possibly a gazebo.  We decided what size john 
boat it would hold and then took the rest of the day off!
I am not sure what made them happier, the thought of growing
 their own catfish or the idea that we no longer had to cut trees in this area.
A dozer would be needed and could make light work where it had been heavy.

Shane hired Charlie.  To explain our relationship with Charlie and his 
little wife Carole would take a complete blog post for itself.
Short to say we love them to pieces!
And Charlie, well, Charlie makes dozer work look easy.
I didn't get anything done while he was here.
Just stood at the fence watching him transform our hillside.

The pond will be deep and steep on the dyke side. 
 More shallow and gradual on the opposite side.

The dyke is wide enough to drive across, 
allowing easier access to the back side of the pasture from the barn.
just take it slow over the spillway.

(above)The opposite side of the pond and the gradual slope. 
I should have taken a picture with someone standing in the bottom.
These pictures do not show the depth or width as it ought.
(Pictured below) the slag piles have been burned
 and thanks to the Autumn rains it is filling.

Filling up and muddy!  We are so excited to start
growing our own catfish and bass next year!
Also, because I can hardly contain myself ~ Shane and I were standing
at the fence looking at the pond
and I said " a pond that pretty requires a weeping willow"
 he answers "Sure, it'll be a great place for snakes to hide."
I punch his arm "I'll take that as a yes, and...." (proceed cautiously here)
 "It could use a Brandywine crab-apple..." silence...
 Shane does NOT like crab-apple trees and I have wanted a
 Brandywine for at least six years or better..
"Well then, woman, you'd better get one ordered."
At first I doubted my ears but then it sunk in and I took that as a yes too!
I ordered one the next day and have kept my mouth shut.
I'm not taking any chances on him changing his mind
after the warm and fuzzy of the moment wore off! =)

 I know it's sinful to wish your life away, but come on April, I can't wait to get that tree planted.
I love the rose shaped flowers!
I'll continue to post pictures as the pond fills and the landscaping takes place!

*disclaimer, the pictures of the Brandywines are not mine..sigh, they were taken by someone else who 
is already blessed to have one and posted pictures on the internet. 
Thank you, whoever you are for helping to feed my addiction....

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I looked out the window and

What did I see? Popcorn, and not even from an apricot tree! No, instead it was hanging in the house.... all over the house. Last year we left the popcorn to dry on the stalk (it worked well when we grew it in Idaho) but a monsoon rain came and made all of it mold. This year, in October, as soon as it was ready we walked the rows, plucking ears and hung them in the house to dry.  Cody came home from work and asked if it wasn't a little early to start decorating for Thanksgiving? I almost smacked him, did he really think I would hang five hundred ears of corn in my house for decoration?

 The first step when the ears are dry is to shell the corn.  Our corn sheller is old but works perfectly, the cobs came out clean. Next year however, we will build a box for it. The bowl is just to small to catch it all.

 After it is shelled we need to winnow it. For this a fan was set up outside.

Working in small amounts, we slowly poured the corn from one bowl to another. This allowed the light weight chaff to blow away.

 You can see the chaff on the ground around the bowl.

The kernels are pretty.

and they grind perfectly to make cornbread.

There is no better popcorn than fresh from the cob.

But Zac judges popcorn on how well it flies.....

guess we passed there too!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Across Generations..

When Shane and I were married 22 yrs (really??) ago.  I was blessed with a mother-in-law who was willing to take me under her wing and teach me how to manage a large family.  She had eight children and I was certain I would have twelve so there was MUCH to be learned..

Back then there was no internet.  One could not learn any skill or access any recipe she wanted with the click of a mouse.   No, instead I was given a great gift of many hours spent in her kitchen gleaning as she had done from the generations before her. Little did I know then that our time of tutoring would be so short.  We would lose her to cancer in 1999 with my girls never having known her.


Through out the summer the girls and I do a lot of canning.  The apple pie filling is always my favorite. This year, as we were placing the last batch of jars in the cooker, Bethany pushed back a strand of hair from her face and looking around exclaimed "This kitchen will never recover from this. I think this is the messiest batch yet!"   The three of us had a good laugh and sat to take a break.    On the table lay the recipe for our pie filling.  Grace leaned over and picked it up... "Momma, your recipe is so old and tattered, you could recopy it you know, and make it look better."  I slowly took it from her, staring at the familiar handwriting, and instantly the tears welled.

For in my hand I held Great Grandma Walters recipe, copied in Grandma Mabel's handwriting and scarred from 22 years of use in my family.  In my hand I held a bridge for several generations of beautiful women that never had the privilege of meeting each other.  The recipe bore my history as well... There was the year I decided 10 cups of water took entirely too long to thicken and changed it to seven, only to find that those gals knew what they were doing and I was left scrubbing thick, sticky goo out of the bottom of my pan... and also the year when I was chasing four tiny boys around my kitchen and somehow in the process I set the recipe too close to the burner, nearly burning it to ashes.... It also held the splatters from years past as the chubby fingers of my little girls now graceful and skilled would handle the card leaving behind smears of love and smudges of memories.

No.. I shook my head.  "Somethings are meant to be kept, Gracie." But looking at it I knew she was right. The writing was fading. The fold tearing apart.
After all, Shell, we are talking about a piece of paper. Come on lady!

So.. today, I took my daughters hands, I told them of the lives of these two women, we walked across that bridge and then we made it our own.

 I now have two cards. A crisp fresh card tucked in the box right next to my old one. Both written by beautiful ladies who share the same middle name.  And just maybe, years from now, if the Lord wills that I should live. I will open my recipe box and as I pull out a tattered old recipe, the one bearing those memories that are yet to come, perhaps my granddaughter will say "Granny, this old card is so tattered why don't you recopy it and make it look better?" After I share with her the history of all the beautiful women of her past, I will reach in my desk drawer, pull out a fresh crisp card and ask her to do just that.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Forget the Needle, Find the Pig

With a pretty good ice storm heading our way, the boys and I spent Wednesday morning strawing the animals.. the pigs made good use of their ration... can you see them?

how about now....

or now.....

I had to show Gub last... his color gives him away a little more....

all in all I think they gave new meaning to pigs in a blanket! =)