Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spring Flow.

 I spent the morning collecting honey from one of the hives. When the supers are full of capped honey they are ready for extraction but before I could can take the honey up to the pole barn I've got to remove the bees from them. 

This can be done in a number of ways

* Using a bee escape of some sort - Porter, Canadian etc.

* Using a 'fume' board' to drive the bees down into the brood nest

 but I use a combo of :

* Brushing the bees from each individual comb 

* Using my leaf blower to blow the bees off the frames.


There are two main types of extractors - the tangential and the radial.  I use a hand crank "Mann Lake"  stainless steel tangential extractor which holds three frames of honey upright, at right angles to the radii and the honey is extracted from only one side at a time.

Some of these extractors have a double sided cage and this swings through 90 degrees if the direction of the motor is reversed. But with my set up the  frames have to be turned by hand. I extract half the honey from the first side, turn and extract all the honey from the second, turn again and fully extract the first side. It gets to bee a little sticky.  I've also got an old tin extractors that was in the old school house when we bought the on the place.
 After extracting the spring flow I replace the supers on the hives for the bees to clean and refill.

 I strain the honey directly from the extractor and
 store it in honey buckets a HONEY GATE set into the side of a bucket at its lower edge. It is no fun to try pouring honey into jars or ladling it with a soup ladle!!   


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Right Here In River City

"Idle hands are the Devil's playground." it is an old expression - a proverb - whether biblical or not. It was stated in The Music Man...

The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill is singing about "Trouble, oh you got trouble."  Well I'm always looking to avoid any trouble.  So,  I got started on my next building project. 

I've got some salvaged barn beams and cedar poles that I trimmed up when I was in the timber cutting fire wood.

Two days of work later and the beams are up.

Some decking next.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fishing with Family

 The other morning I drove out to the cabin to pick up my sister Alana.  We loaded up the gear and hit the trout stream.  First stop Big Mill.  Lots of trout in the stream but they didn't seem to be interested.  So,  we went to Rolli world for a litte large mouth bass action.  Alana set the hook like a champ and within just a matter of minutes she landed two bass and a blue gill.  We finished up on little mill and I caught four nice brown trout.  While Alana caught a chub and a bunch of crawdads.

 Today the teacher became the student... Beau out fished me in a big way.  He caught seven different species of fish.  Large mouth, Small mouth and Rock bass, Crappie, Blue gill, Sun fish and trout.

Me on the other hand.  A Sunfish, Chub and this Grass bass.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You've Got To See This!

"You've got to see this!" is the call I heard from Susie, this morning.  I was horrified to see a large swath of bare stems loaded with nasty black caterpillars.  My first thought was I've got to get rid of these things.  But, first I had Beau run a quick id.  He came up with the mourning cloak.

One of a number of Iowa butterfly species that overwinter as adults. They spend the winter frozen in "cryo-preservation"  in tree cavities, beneath loose tree bark or in unheated buildings. Virtually anywhere they can fit into, to protect them from winter winds and keep them out of the view of birds and squirrels, will do as a hibernaculum (an overwintering den).
The caterpillars seldom move far from being in contact with one of their siblings. If disturbed on a branch, the mass of caterpillars will shake and vibrate in unison, thus, presumably, startling or frightening a potential predator. The bristling spines covering the caterpillars are another good deterrent to predators.

If the group's voracious appetite should happen to exceed the leaf capacity of the small tree or shrub on which they're feasting, they will march off together in a follow-the-leader fashion and seek greener pastures. By mid-June the caterpillars can be full grown. Because of the variability of the onset of spring in Iowa, the dates when the first batch of catepillars will mature varies a lot.

When they've reached full size the caterpillars go "walkies"; that is, they leave the host plant where they've been feeding in search of a site to pupate. Like most caterpillars, they seek to distance themselves from the site where they were last feeding and pooping, as this evidence will be apparent to potential predators. "Don't pupate where you last pooped", seems to be the rule! They may travel some distance, 10-50 yards, to find a safe site, usually beneath some kind of overhang, such as larger branches in the wild or under the eaves of buildings in cities.

And this is what they'll look like  as adults.

I'm glad I didn't freak out and go for the insecticidal spray.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday Morning at Lake Michigan

Had a great morning walking along the shore line at lake michigan
gathered a few stones for projects

 mermaid with beach oats for eyes
 beach glass
drift wood structure.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Friday evening tour around the yard.

Frog on the rim of rosmary.

Lavender, Japanese Maple, hot tub  and polebarn

 golden conifers and blueberries
 upper gardens

maxine in front of the future lavender garden.

shot from the lower garden.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sky Watch at the Top of the World

 Yesterday as sunset approached we met up with Joanie and Marty at "The Top of the World" at Rolliworld.  Mart had cooked up a great batch of almond and spiced chicken.  While Susie baked up some Almond cupcakes with strawberry, peach filling with white chocolate icing.  In honor of the strawberry moon.

The planet Venus made a slow transit across the face of the sun, the last such passing that will be visible from Earth for 105 years.

Mart made a pinhole paddle and I dug up this old pair of  suntanning goggles from back in the 70's.

Transits of Venus happen in pairs, eight years apart, with more than a century between cycles. During Tuesday's pass, Venus took the form of a small black dot slowly shifting across the northern hemisphere of the sun

 Full Strawberry Moon – June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon.

 Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

Later after the sun set we all placed our bets on which spot on the horizon the Strawberry moon would rise.

Wood Chuck

I've been breaking in the new saw the past few days.  Here's a load of mixed hard wood: Red Elm, Hickory, Walnut, Wild Cherry and Cedar.

The traditional view is that the best firewood is from hardwood tree species. In some regions, the hardest species available are oak or maple.  A given volume of oak or maple has almost twice the energy content of and produces a longer-lasting fire and hotter bed of charcoal than soft species such as poplar, or willow, so fewer cords would be needed.

Any dry hardwood will work well, but for keeping your chimney clean stay away from pine or other pine type trees that have a heavy pitch/sap content. oak has been a favorite because it is a very dense hot burning wood, that cuts and splits easily. with time you will learn to get a good hot fire burning and then adjust your damper to control the air to give a hot yet long burning fire. birch also burns well but because it is a less dense wood will burn faster (a good fire starter). where efficiency is concerned any hard wood that is dry and you can get it cheap or free, that's what you might want to go for. when  I also used elm and boxelder, but they are hard to cut and split. they burn fine once you get it dry though.

But let me offer another take. You will need to run your stove at high output for only two or three months in winter. In spring and fall, you won’t need as much heat or especially long-lasting fires, so you can burn softer wood species during milder weather. Plus, softwood fires don’t overheat the house if you just need to take the chill off in the morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Limestone, a good choice

 A sturdy natural stone, limestone makes a good choice for paving because it's durable, attractive and capable of withstanding thousands of years of traffic. The pyramids at Gaza are constructed from limestone. Lay limestone paving on a clear day when no rain is forecast and the ground is dry.

The prep work takes much longer than laying the stone, but the right prep means your pavers won't sink into the soil.

Last year we removed the prairie patch that separated the upper raised bed garden from the lower raised beds.  We've constructed a limestone wall on the lower end and a split rail fence on the upper end. 

Place the stones one at a time, fitting them close together like puzzle pieces.

 Not tebowing... just alittle recovery time.