23 May 2009

You Can Never Tell with Bees....

...but the wrong sort of bees these were not. They swarmed in Gran’s orchard between the barns, a matter of feet really from the nesting box. So out comes sister Steph with the sugar water for the hive and I put up the ladder (for Steph of course, I was the Photographer). We found more of Gramp’s beekeeping gear in the barn and Sis donned it beautifully. And we said things like, "Tut-tut looks like rain", and "The important bee to deceive is the Queen Bee" and "I think the bees suspect something" and "You don't look like a little black rain cloud".

Up the ladder with dull pruners (the sharp ones were at my house, oops) she went and the cardboard box for transporting the swarm to the hive with her. Well, let me tell you that dull pruners are never a good choice and box-propped-on-lower-branches-to catch-swarm, even less, compounded by wobbly, old, wooden, orchard ladder…..snap!, ugh!, fwap, thump, BUZZZZZZZZZZZ…….Photographer ducks, beekeeper flies from branches to the ground!
Then we remember: swarming bees don’t sting or anyway, unlikely. It just so happens, that standing in the midst of bees amuck, feels a tad disconcerting. But we managed to rally.
When we discover: Success! The swarm, though perhaps a bit discombobulated, is in the box (or mostly so).

Around the side of the barn comes Pop from the garden. He encourages the victory and lends a hand to the finishing touches. The swarm is emptied into the hive and the loose bees gather themselves before settling down.

Some tried to escape but we know their secrets, their little ways and now we will make them our slaves to produce honey (sinister laugh)-our indentured servants to fly from blossom to bloom collecting pollen for our good- shhh, they don’t even know it!

19 May 2009

Kitchen Garden Tomatoes

This year's kitchen garden begins with four varieties of tomatoes. I planted Chocolate Cherry, Super Marzano, Korlick, and Stupice. We got the plants from Auntie Stephie.
My aunt, Stephie took over growing and selling tomato plants after Great Gramps died two summers ago. Like Gramps before, she supplies our tomato plants every year. I like to pick them fresh off the vine and sprinkle them with salt and eat them. My mama teases me that she will leave a shaker in the garden under a cloche for me.

Both Stupice and Korlick are early growing tomatoes with smallish fruit. Stupice is cold tolerant.
Super Marzano is a Roma type fruit growing 5in long. Rich in pectin it's great for sauces and pastes. It tastes so good. Best grown on trellises because it's a climber!
Chocolate Cherry is a new variety for us and we're looking forward to eating it.

14 May 2009

Oh, So Conventional....No, Really.

‘Everyone’s a critic’- so they say….whomever they are….they’re right.

It’s no Sunday picnic when you’re riding the weirdsmobile. Less fun if you’re driving it. When there’s no charted course for the unorthodox journey you embark upon, explanation to concerned bystanders is almost fruitless given that parts of said journey are yet to be writ.

How can you relieve the worries of a populace whose thinking has been so badly damaged by conventional wisdom (which isn’t very wisdom-y (note: I make up new words)) that we have abandoned the truly innate knowledge of the Creator. But for the learned scholar, an intellectual, a psychologist, or the university study recently published, we don’t dare depart from the road most traveled which incidentally is the same widely trodden path that the former mentioned authorities walk, so we can conclude their information is merely recycled twentieth century humanism -the religion of man.

Hey! Who said you could make decisions on your own? There are highly trained and paid experts to tell you what will improve your life. Don’t look to Granny- it’s a wonder her kids survived or that she endured her husband. Common sense was once actually common knowledge.

From the top- ‘parts of said journey are yet to be writ’- funny thing, what we do as a family has been documented triumphantly for generations too numerous to count, yet for the masses it is no more than risky business.

Part I- Some Simple Deductions
Our expedition begins in 1991 when my husband and I were first married and living in a two bedroom apartment with commercial grade, moss green, looped carpet. I was standing by the dresser, Mike near the closet. The subject: the educating of our not yet conceived offspring. Public or private school? No agreement. What next? No children.
Jump ahead nearly nine years and the same couple is now blessed with a child (heavenly chorus, please); a daughter born seven weeks too soon. But she turns out to be quite bright. None of the physical ills she was expected to developed plague her. Quite the reverse, she was gently leafing through the pages of books by twelve months and humming measures of recognizable tunes by fifteen. Wow! She hasn’t even been to play-group. The baby hangs out primarily with an intimate circle of family and dear friends. The parents realize the value in the development of her budding gray matter. Everyday is a day of discovery, research, scholarship and baby becomes pre-schooler.
three years down- and the looming black cloud of kindergarten haunts us when girl number two emerges to the stage.
Silly second born delightfully different! Not so much the academic achiever her predecessor but at nine months she knows a first-rate punch line and apperently understands the concept of playing dressup and what to do with a baby doll (she introduced these things to her decorous older sister). She is physically aware of her space and her body. She observes things our-now-three-year-old would never have seen. Baby seems equipped with a baloney-detector. Yah, she perceives drivel and I see her little eyebrow shift and sense her leeriness. A whole new style of learning, of understanding, of intelligence, and of needs. Ugh. And yet, Ahhh.
The parents have discovered just what could be accomplished at home and likewise what never need be. Parents have been arranging their childrens education for years. History encourages us that with common sense, generational experience, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, our 'unconventional' road is rather the opposite.

Part II......hmm. The last scene took months to ponder. Stay tuned for the next installment.

13 May 2009

A Pasture Improvement- Miniature Herefords

The miniature Hereford is a lowline variety of the standard sized breed of the same name. Standards weigh from 900 to 2,000 pounds and stand 51 to 54 inches. But a miniature only weighs about 700 to 1,000 pounds. A bovine is classified miniature by frame measuring 38 to 43 inches from the hip. The mini Hereford was developed in the 1960’s in Texas.

Cattle are a herd of cows all together. Cattle are from the family bovidae which means cloven hooves and genus Bos meaning ruminant quadruped (cud chewing, four-legged animal). A female bovine is a cow; a male, a bull; a castrated male, a steer. A calf is a baby. A heifer is a young cow that has not yet calved. And that’s what we’ve added to our pasture.

Her name is Miss Mini Moo and she’s about two years old so she can be bred for calving next spring. She is our primary stock for a miniature herd.
Miniature Herefords are easy to take care of because: they have a docile/sweet temper, less pasture needed, make great pets, easier on fences (mama loves that), and they’re great reproducers. I love miniature Herefords because Number 1: they have good looks; Number 2, they are friendly and lovable.

12 May 2009

Found: Lost Dog

I’ve got two news. The bad news is that I lost Spot. The good news is that I found him again.

Spot is a spaniel. He is my friend. He was in my stocking years and years ago when I was three. I grew up with Spot. He’s been practically half way around the world! Canada and Idaho, shopping and the library.

In September [2008] I lost him at the Fair. We were there showing turkeys. We stayed in the trailer. We couldn’t find him. I felt very bad because he was a special friend. I prayed for him and put up a sign to have somebody help me find him. I cried hard. Then in the springtime [2009] my friend Bet found him in the trailer hiding behind the pillows. God answered my prayer to keep Spot safe. I didn't know I would have Spot again but while he was missing I learned to love God more than Spot. Cause you can’t love an animal or a thing more than God, because God made earth and everything and even the person who made Spot. And God knew before I was ever born that I would have a special friend.

My friend Spot has been through a lot of trouble.