Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

January 31, 2010

Beekeeping class finale

Well, I've decided that there is one definitive rule in beekeeping....
It's all relative!

Seriously, the guy last Tuesday told us all the things that we "needed" to do and "how" we needed to do it; here's the catch, two thirds of it was in direct conflict with the things we were told that we "needed" to do and "how" we needed to do them by the guest the previous Tuesday. I do have to say, however, that the guy this last Tuesday when asked "Why?" to certain parts had specific reasons and studies that proved it or at least supported his point of view. He was an extension agent with Idaho and actually studies these things after all.

So, now we are at the point of deciding what and how we are planning on doing this. As one might expect there are quite a few decisions to be made and, at this point, not a lot of time to make them. I mean, we're not rushed by any means but there are decisions that need to be made within the next month at the longest.

For instance, what type of hives do we want to set up? We've pretty well decided that we want to stay traditional and use Langstroth hives ; they're readily available and have a large basis of information to pull from which will be particularly useful for beginning beekeepers like us. The biggest issue I have with respect to the hive styles is the materials that I choose to have them made from. Typically they are plain pine boxes that are painted on the outside and left plain on the inside. This is more cost effective to start off, but will require more time and money later in maintenance to scrap, clean and repaint them, and can also decrease the movement of moisture through the box walls. As the bees fan the fresh honey in order to lower its moisture level to the correct amount, that moisture needs to be able to leave the hive. This isn't normally a problem, but it is part of what causes hive box paint jobs to weather quickly. The best solution to eliminating, or at least greatly reducing the maintenance dilemma as well as to solving the need to paint at all, is to invest in a more quality hive body. Some I have found are made of cedar or cypress. Both of these woods will wear well when exposed to wet outdoor conditions and will not require paints at all. This is the direction I am currently leaning.

The other, and probably more obvious, decision that we'll need to make is what kind of dang bees to get? There are many sorts of production bees that can be gotten, and on top of that a selection of queens to be made too. I don't have all the information yet that I'll need to make that decision, but we are doing our due diligence. Any suggestions, experiences or opinions are not only welcomed but needed! I know from my initial post on the bees that there are a good number of you out there looking into starting your own hives as well? I hope you'll share your research and opinions with me? If you've taken the time to write a post on your experiences leave a comment with a link or send me over an email and I'd be happy to check it out and post a link to your place as well. The blogging world has so much to offer us all in the way of collaboration I'd hate to see us all have to do all the work on our own!

Right now that's about all I have on the bees, but there'll be more for sure.
Till next time,
Best to you all!

Cwap.... I habba code.

yeb, I got one. I habba full on code. wunny nose, sneezes, copfs... da works.
I pinished da beekeeping cwass doh, and learned some weally good stupp. Hopfuwwy I can share it wit you soon.
welp... back to the sack! **ahhhh.... choooo!**
~scuse me~

January 25, 2010

A loss tonight

Just a quick note. More for the record than for anything else.

Tonight one of our hens needed to be put down. I don't use the more technical work "cull" because while I don't keep them as pets,don't name them and even though I know that they're a part of our "farm" as an integral working animal, because of our size and the personal nature of their keeping requirements they're more than just livestock.

This particular hen was the smallest of the flock but seemed to get along just fine on her own. Last month, a little after Christmas, I found her sitting in a corner alone looking not well at all. She was brought inside our garage where the temperature is more moderate and where I could keep a better eye on and take special care of her. I gave her warm mash, fresh water with cider vinegar and kept her warm with a lamp but she stayed unhealthy. It finally got to the point where she couldn't roost, and had a hard time standing.

Tonight I put her down to end her suffering. As I said, I don't really see my hens as pets, but as their steward I feel a responsibility to do everything in my power to give them a chance to recoup. I'm sure there are some more efforts that could have been taken, but I feel that I took reasonable steps.
Best to you all.

As an aside... tomorrow is the second and final night of the beekeeping class. I look forward to it and thought I may be able to take advantage of the experts there on all of our behalf's. If any of you have any particular questions that I can pass along for you, leave a comment tonight or tomorrow and I'll do my best to get an answer.


January 21, 2010

Want to hear the latest "Buzz"

There’s a good bit of "Buzz" going on here on the homestead. A~ and I have been kicking around the idea of dipping our fingers into the honey pool and making the commitment that is beekeeping. It’s an idea that we’ve been bouncing around between us for about a year and we’re currently taking a class from our local extension service to learn the basics of the biology, management and legal concerns regarding beekeeping to help us decide to help us on our way... because we've decided! We're getting bees!!

It all started last year during our Master Gardener class. One of our fellow classmates kept bees and was a great advocate of it. We, being the avid gardeners that we are, are of course aware of the issues facing our beloved bees and are horrified by the idea that they could one day leave us for good. We’ve also recognized the need for the increased pollination and a homegrown sugar source on our backyard farm. It didn’t take too much advocating by our classmate to make me start thinking about it. The funny part was that I never thought A~ would go for it, potentially stinging flying insects being encouraged to make a home in our yard and all, but it was her that first broached the subject. In fact, she said that she really wants to have them; go figure…will I ever fully understand this wonderful woman? Apparently she's always secretly wanted to keep them and never shared it. So now, prepended onto our every growing to-do list, is the acquisition, set-up and populating of two hives.

Life has again proven that is will lead us in the direction we need to go if we allow it too. After we'd begun talking about it in a very cursory way last year, we met the fellow classmate that was such a good advocate to us. Then, as we thought about it more over the fall and winter months, suddenly we got an email about the class that we're currently taking. (Yes, the class came to us...) Then, last month, after our accident, the physical therapist that we're going to turns out to be quite the homesteader too and had just last year started keeping bees; he was another great advocate. In fact, even as soon as Tuesday, when we had our first class, the "signs" continued. In the class was a really nice local woman who is also a Master Gardener and a pretty serious homesteader/prepper as well whom we met last year at our Master Gardener Conference. As it turns out, she also started keeping bees last year and was a great resource to talk with. Even our M.G. instructor from last year was in the class and we talked about trying to set some hives up at the Botanical Center. (Need to line up those volunteer hours for next year you know.)
It all came together to make us feel really comfortable about doing what we've been really wanting to anyway.

I don't have a lot of details yet, but as always, I'd love to hear what you have in the way of experience and advice. And of course, more details will be shared when I have them.

Best to you all... now I'm gonna Buzz off till later.

January 18, 2010

Our long talks

This weekend A~ and I made our annual trek through the desert, following the trail forged by pioneers of the past making their way to California in search of riches and GOLD. We too went in search of riches and gold... in Wendover Nevada! For those not "in the know" (Which is most likely like 92.4% of you.) Wendover is our local point across the Nevada border where A~ and I have made a tradition of going for one night together for our anniversary. Well, the gold escaped us... but I think I was able to score some riches after all.

The drive out to Wendover takes us usually about a hour and half each way. It's not a scenic drive per se, but it's one that kind of grows on you after a while. The west desert is sparse to say the least, but in a strange sort of way it kind of takes on different faces with the different seasons. Before this trip the fog has been very heavy here for days and even weeks on and off, so the sparse desert was transformed into a beautifully frosted wonderland. Every blade of grass, every head of tumbleweed and every bunch of sage was covered in a beautiful while halo of frost. Besides the scenery, I have another favorite part of our drive out there; our long talks. It's almost become a sort of tradition with us. While we drive out we tend to fall into and out of good radio station reception and that void has been filled with some great conversations.

Perhaps it's the time of year. I mean it is right after the new year and our thoughts of goals and resolutions are on our mind. Maybe it's truly just the void of entertainment that gets us going, I don't know? The fact is, though, that on these drives A~ and I have had some great long talks. We sometimes bounce from topic to topic, or other times we really zero in and hash out an idea in detail. The point is that we take a regularly scheduled break from the world, we spend time with each other and get to talk and listen without the rush of the world around us. I treasure those times. And I learn a lot about her too. Sometimes it's just a small thing, sometimes she or I will really let go of how we feel about something, but it always brings us closer.

So then, as I said, I did end up with some riches after all. A rich conversation and a great weekend with my very best friend! The actual date may not be for a few more days, but thank you for the last 8 yrs together honey. looking forward to many more!!

January 10, 2010

A new year... a new start

Ah, 2010 is here, snuck up on us, but here it is nonetheless.

Since I started this blog I've always been pretty dutiful about having a well thought out list of goals and aspirations for each new year. This year I don't. Well, to be honest, with the way our year ended; accident, Thanksgiving, visiting relatives, Christmas, work deadlines and a New Year, all lined up bing bang boom, I didn't have a chance to really reflect on what I wanted to do in 2010.

I did manage to pull a few ideas out of my hat though, so let me lay them on you:

• I want to complete my greenhouse evolution. By evolution I mean progressing it from being the mere shelter from the elements that it currently is, to a functioning respite for tender plants to hold over, if not all winter, at least through the fall and early winter and into the new year of 2011. I'll need to bulk up on the thermal mass, provide proper shelves and work spaces and find a way to generate some sort of supplemental light and heat for the winter. Good news is that I have all summer to do it so the prospects are promising.

• Last year we made a goal of 1500 pounds of food from our yard. Because of a terrible bout of squash bugs and perhaps just a little over exuberance in our estimates we came in short of that with a mere 810 pounds. (I of course say that very facetiously, I'm way way happy with 810 pounds. Who wouldn't be?) This year, I think that very realistically we should be able to get to 1000 pounds. So that is goal number two.

• Getting back to basics. A lot changed this year for A~ and I. She started working part-time (this was planned for next year but the right opportunity presented itself so we acted on it) and it really threw us both out of whack. I knew I depended on her as my partner, but I had no real idea of HOW dependant I was on her. We really struggled throughout the year to find our balance and to be able to maintain our lives the way that we had worked into them. Because we had some extra money for the first time in a long while it was really easy for us to fall into some habits that we hadn't had before because we were so conscious of our income. Eating out more often than we wanted to and not effectively using all the food we were able to grow, not keeping up with making our own organic cleaners and not making the most use of the time we did have available because we were just feeling hectic we welcomed the chance to relax. This year A~ and I want to re-ground and get back to our basics. Time to re-group.

• Finally, now that we've been able to get a new computer up and running, I want to get a little more consistent with my posts. I really needed to give myself a break last year after blogging for a couple of years I was getting to a point where I was losing focus on what was important to me. Not that you're not important to me of course, but family time... isn't that really what it's all about? I began to feel like I "owed you" a post on a daily basis. I don't know what made me think that I was so fascinating or important that I would need to be constantly updating the world, but I did. I'm now nearing the end of my third year blogging and what I want to do this year is to concentrate on being more consistent and regular with the things that I say and to try to keep the posts interesting and informative. Rather than quantity, I want to focus on quality. On this note I also have some other interesting ideas that I want to pursue, but details of those will have to wait a little longer until I know for sure what I can do.

I think that about does it for what I can think of. The goals are more modest this year, and I think to a certain degree a little more ambiguous than I've given in the past, but I'm happy with them. I'm looking forward to a good year 2010 and I hope you'll accept my invitation to go through it together.

All the best to you all...

January 6, 2010

A very late Christmas update.

Just a quickie post here. It's about time I cleared up this handmade Christmas present wait don't you think. By the way, I loved the Cheese and Machete guesses... Classic!
Well, seeing as how our youngest little "Mountaineer" is 12 and our oldest 14 I figured I've run the course on handmade wooden toys, cool as they may be. So this year, I broke out the heavy artillery!
Knives!! Real ones, full tang, cold steel tempered (best I could), shaped and sharped by hand.The boys loved em!
I've made one of the sheaths as well. I have the leather for the other two, but need to finish them. Anyone interested in the process before I get started on them? I'd have no problem taking a few pics and sharing. The leather work is easy enough and the process could be used for a lot of things.
This picture gives a better look close in at the blade. I engraved the initial with the help of a dremel tool. Looking closely you can still see some of the tooling marks and scratches. I think they give it the handmade look though so they're staying!

Guess what I got from A~ and her brother? They pitched in and gave me this lifetime quality safety razor and a package of refills. No more plastic in the land fills for me!! Yeah...Sustainable personal hygiene!!A~'s brother is really knowledgeable about them and recommended this one to her for me as a good quality starter set-up. Maybe one day I can pass it down to my kids. Funny isn't it? You never think in terms of durability any more. Oh, and guys, the shave is very nice. I haven't cut myself yet, which I'm told is a hazard when you first start with these, but I love the lavender soap that G~ (the brother in law) got me. Smells great and shaves very well!

And my sweet wife and awesome kids got me this baby to "take the garden to the next level"!This summer I will officially become a local weather station for my own record. The garden journal will be all the more detailed for it.Needless to say, I have lots of new experiments in mind for that baby!! Bwah ha ha... can't you just hear my evil laugh now?

More to come soon.
Till then!

January 4, 2010

Just Checking in.

Hi all,
Just wanted to take a second to say Happy new year and to let you know I'm not just flaky and not following up on the Christmas gifts question or anything but lots has been going on.

First of all we finally got a new desktop computer. For those that have followed this blog for any time at all you've probably heard me complaining about the sluggish and horribly slow computer that we had. Well, that problem has been remedied. I have lots to share, but alas, I have no photo editing software, and second I've not yet installed all the files or software that is necessary. Bear with me, I'll ping you with something before the weeks out, I promise.

Secondly, I have a Security + (Network security) exam that I need to take for work so much time is needed for study. The next month or so will be slow for me, but I have lots of plans and news so I'll bring you up to speed on all of that soon too.

Hope the new year finds you all well and I look forward to a great 2010.
Peace and hope to you all!