Thursday, June 30, 2016

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...drinking waaay more coffee than what I'd consider 'normal' for me, but I've been needing it, y'all!
...slowly trying to scrape together a little normalcy between out-of-town and out-of-state family visiting, rescheduled playdates, irrigation crews, the second visit from the shower glass installers, and the upcoming 4th of July holiday.
...feeling thankful that we're still pulling together breakfasts, lunches, and dinners this week after missing our usual trip to the grocery store.

...loving how much reading is going on this summer, independent of any pressure or suggestions from Mama.
...eyeballing this new-to-me novel and a new read-aloud book for me to share with the Littles, wondering if I should maybe jump on the summer reading bandwagon, projects and chores be damned!

...noticing a little red, white, and blue creeping into the early weekend gearing-up- snacks, shirts, and now toes!
...dreading the arrival of the 100's in our forecast... summer is definitely not my favorite season (also note to self: get chicken mister ready).
...thinking Mama and Daddy might make it a point to join the kids in/on the blow-up water slide this weekend!

...relishing the quiet times of play here and there when I can sneak in and catch my kiddos together for the last summer before they're both in school, imagining some plot or adventure and getting along while they're at it.

Right now I'm bidding farewell to June with a glass of iced coffee, bug spray strategically positioned by every exit, and a maturing farmer's tan from all the projects that have been pulling us outside despite ourselves... and although summer is truly my least-favorite season, I'm not finding it hard to find things that are pretty great about it so far.

Happy last day of June!

Friday, June 24, 2016


This morning I had one major goal: extract the honey from the honeycomb we collected during our "swarm" removal yesterday. I'd heard just about everyone in my beekeepers' meetings tell an extraction story involving cut comb and pantyhose, so we got out first thing and bought a pack of 10 pairs of knee-highs, then while the kiddos ate lunch Mama gathered supplies.

Bucket for collecting honey-drowned bees? Check.

Tweezers for said collection? Check.

Pantyhose? Check.

Wide-mouthed funnel for holding pantyhose open? Check.

Five-gallon bucket 2/3 full of cut comb? Check and check.

I had to set everything up on the floor, because I couldn't reach over the edge of the 5-gallon bucket and work the cut comb down inside it when it was up on the counter!

I worked over the comb, tweezing bees and pulling out chunks to stuff down inside my selected knee-high for about twenty minutes, but I soon realized I must be missing a crucial piece to this method of extraction. Not only is it ridiculously tedious to fill the stocking from the toe up, but in about five seconds the entire stocking was entirely sticky. For me that added up to flakes of wax and debris sticking all over the outside of the stocking while I worked to stuff comb inside the stocking, which then completely defeats the purpose of using the stocking as a filter in the first place!

I only filled one knee-high before abandoning the process to brainstorm a more efficient way to get this job done.

(Also, ewww, it just looks gross.)

I liked the idea of the fine mesh of the stocking as the filter medium, I just didn't like how ridiculous it was to stuff the dang thing. I looked around my kitchen and came up with a plan.

I stretched a stocking over a small colander, fitted it into the rack for my stacking mugs, and put the whole thing inside my largest Pyrex mixing bowl. Now I could pile up the comb much more quickly without exposing every surface of the stocking to the debris I was trying to keep out of the honey.

After that small change the whole sticky process was a breeze. I was able to put three or four times more comb per stocking than I had managed by stuffing the thing, and it was way easier!

My final stroke of genius was deciding to move the whole dripping assembly to the back of my car so the natural summer heat would thin the honey without killing the good enzymes we all love, allowing the honey to drain from the comb that much quicker.

All I had to do was close up the back to protect them from pests and robbing bees, and they didn't even have to be covered!

I'm about halfway through the process right now and I already have over half a gallon of honey jarred up!

Gratitude doesn't even begin to describe it. Bees are amazing!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My First Cutout

I was called to accompany my beekeeping mentor to collect a swarm under the eve of a local church this afternoon. I was so excited. I packed up my gear, dropped the kids off at a friend's house to play, and headed out.

When I got there and spotted the bees, they looked like such a wimpy swarm, but then I thought maybe a small swarm would be good for me, for my first time anyway. BUT- do you see that small line of bees on the left side of this picture? Kinda all lined up at the roof line? Yeah, those are guard bees. Guard bees guarding a crack in the eve. They'd only be doing that if there was something to protect up under the eves.


It wasn't a swarm.

It was a big, established, old hive full of bees and honey. Lots and lots of honey. When we popped the wooden panel off the eve, honey rained down all over us. Lucky for me I have the smallest hands, so I got to do the extraction (and I'm not being sarcastic, it was awesome).

After 2 hours we finally got most of it cleaned out and most of the bees sucked up with the BeeVac, and after a very sticky ride home our 3rd hive was installed.

I have no idea if we got the queen, so this hive may not stick around.

It was totally worth the experience though.

The experience, and the honey.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicken Joe

I know the heat makes everyone crabby, edgy, irritable. It's happening to my kids. It's happening to my bees. If I'm being honest, it's happening to me, too.

It's also happening to my little backyard flock.

Almost every day when I make the rounds I catch my hens pecking each other or chasing each other or even fighting. It's just part of their nature and the fact that- for the immediate future anyway- they're confined to their run.

What I can't stand, though, is my rooster feeling the need to fight. He's always been an alpha, and an aggressive one at that... but I've always been able to navigate his general territory without becoming a target. That is, until recently.

Lately I can't set a foot past the threshold of their gate without him puffing up and charging me. I observed how he dominated the hens (grabbing a hen and holding her down until said bird submitted) and I've been doing that with Joe whenever he thinks he's going to come at me. He'll struggle for a sec, then calm down, and I'll hold him and talk to him and soothe him, then let him go right by my feet and for about five minutes we're cool. But that's about all I get. My methods are just not sinking in with this one.

Add to that his almost-2-inch-long spurs and I've kinda got a situation on my hands. If they were all way out on a pasture somewhere, he would be an asset for keeping the ladies safe from predators... but they're not way out in a field somewhere... and I'm not a threat to them.

Something has got to give... and at this point I'm wondering if he's just gotta go.

It's a pity though- he really does to a good job looking after them when they get to be out, and he's a beautiful bird... but he's a friggin' jerk y'all.

I wonder if there is a trick to raising/having a gentle rooster?

I guess I'd better figure it out, because there's no sense in me getting rid of the roo I have now only to replace him with one that turns out just as bad!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Longest Day

Today we will celebrate the official start of Summer, and it feels like it. The sun is rising on it's longest day in a humid haze, and I find myself full of gratitude for our overworked air conditioners!

Iced coffee, popsicles, time with the blow-up water slide, and dinner on the grill... that's the way to manage the kickoff to this season!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Recital

So the week leading up to all our travels was very busy, not just because of the travel prep but also because the day before Mama left for Vegas the kiddos had their big dance recital.

Family came in from out of town, make-up was donned, hair was slicked down, and fluffy sparkly feathery stuff was everywhere.

They were great.

Photos and videos weren't allowed, but I was sneaky enough to catch them just before their tap number with my cell phone camera... it was adorable.

Look at those serious stage eyebrows!

They worked so hard and did so well. It was a great show.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Visiting :: Las Vegas

My Mama and I got out of town for a couple nights this week to finally fulfill a promise I made to her nine years ago: I was going to take her to see Le Reve. Three days, two nights, no gambling... just sight-seeing, hole-in-the-wall seeking, and show-going.

We had a great time.

Did I already say we had a great time?

We had a great time.