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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bee Season and Updates

What is that?



Is that honey?



No, it's just a beeswax/avocado oil mix for sealing my new bee hive (and all this time you thought I've been resting on my laurels).  I've been busy!


I built myself a Warre hive, which was easier to do than the bee boat, as Steve calls it.*  Today I sealed it, for next week (Wednesday, to be precise) the bees will be here!

I have a busy week next week.  On Monday, I go pay for the half hog I ordered.  On Tuesday and Wednesday the fence guys will be here building me two new fences.  They are going to finish (they had better**) just in time for me to set up the hive and run over to Ruhl Bee in Gladstone to go get the bees.  The fence company is really squeaking it in, because the spot I'd earmarked for the hive before the fence blew down was right by the fence. If the fence timing was a canal, and the bees' arrival was a boat, you would hear a lot of screeching as it scraped by, that's how close we are.

Then Thursday I drive down to Mt Angel Meat Co., in Mt. Angel, Oregon to watch my hog half get cut up.  I am unusually excited about this partly because I'm going to learn how it's done, and partly because I am getting fresh pork belly which I will salt cure and smoke for my own bacon.  Finding sugar free bacon has been something of a holy grail, so I'll add it to the list of pork products I have to produce for myself. Actually, it's a pretty short list: sugar and seed free sausage and now sugar and seed free bacon.  Probably the best thing about this pork is that it was reared on a 400 acre farm on grass with the occasional vegetable and fruit thrown in.  It had a happy life with only one bad day, which is what we've been looking for.

This past Monday I was lucky enough to go morel hunting with my friend Rae and her husband. I've decided that R-A-E stands for Really Accurate Eyesight, because just a little while after telling me the story of how last year she spotted the first morel from the car going twenty miles an hour down the hill, she did it again.  You wouldn't know what a hell of a trick this is unless you've spent all your mushroom hunting time walking slowly with your eyes down, scanning, scanning, scanning and still coming up with nothing.  She's amazing. We (that's an editorial we- I didn't find anything) only got five, so it would seem we were a little early.  As I said, I didn't find any myself, but at least now I know what I'm looking for and where to look, so I learned something.  We also found an old King bolete, so know I know what they look like too, but wrong season for them.  Plus, it was a lovely day to tromp in the woods. And then Rae's hubby spotted a grouse and pointed it out, which I had never seen before; now I also know what a grouse looks like.  I can see why they call it a prairie chicken.

The garden has been agonizingly slow going this spring; I think I was too early and it's been too cold.  All the more argument for a hoop house or green house.  The weather is heating up to the seventies and low eighties this weekend, so maybe stuff will take off now. It's been really frustrating, though.  I have herbs and cucurbits starting to come up; they should be ready to put in the ground (probably under cover) next month.  I also have sweet potato pips started on the island in the kitchen.  Those are going in the wire baskets which we've moved to the deck.  That should be a good and hot environment for them.

Maybe I should try okra on the deck...hmmm...

*In reality, it's called a Kenya top bar hive.
** They told me it would take one and a half days.

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