Friday, July 30, 2021

Bees, Food and Honey Harvest!

It was dusk on Wednesday evening when we arrived at the house in Abbott to look at the bee situation there. The lady is a friend of Dean's - or her husband was. She is a widow now and is worried about the bees and the fact that she can't get a plumber out to look at her water leak because of the bees swarming right around that area.

Sherry did, indeed, find the bees and they were gentle ones.
This bee retrieval should not be too difficult.
Dean and Sherry will follow up with her on when to come get the bees.

It was after 10:00 by the time we were back at the ranch and Louis Dean had a nice campfire waiting on me. We did some 'Front Porch Sitting' before going to bed that night.

Gazing into a campfire can certainly relax you and make you sleepy!

I woke up Thursday morning and Louis Dean was shelling purple hulled peas with the same diligence he uses when he shells pecans.

He's been staying busy with mowing and gardening, organizing and doing one small poject after the other. Keeps him out of trouble! He takes plenty of water breaks so he doesn't get too hot!

Thursday night Dean and Sherry came down for dinner. This starts off our weekend since Sherry is off on Fridays.
I cooked a pot of the peas that were as fresh from the garden as it's possible to be.
Baked potatoes in the big crockpot and the peas in a smaller one. I also made up a tray of pepper poppers using cream cheese and shredded cheddar as the filling seasoned with a sprinkle of Slap Ya Moma Cajun seasoning.

We love this stuff!

It was a late dinner and then we were all off to bed as Friday was an early morning for us.
I was asleep by midnight but awake from 3:00 AM and finally got up at 6:00!

Once you suit up, you can't get to your face!
That didn't stop Dean from getting one last sip of coffee before we headed for the apiary.

I was so excited I even put on some make up for the occasion! 

Early morning before the bees are awake or right before dark when they are all in from the day's foraging - these are two of the best times to do bee work.
You can see the red roof of the camper cabin back in the distance.

Love all the wildflowers!

We worked our way around the bee yard, starting with Hive #6 first.
This was our most productive hive this year and the only one with a super full of honey.

We had put 'Ross Rounds' on this hive but the bees totally ignored them.


This is what they are SUPPOSED to look like!


It's a good idea and we will try again next year.

Sherry keeps a notebook with a section for each hive making notes after inspecting and working it.
We only have 6 hives - we lost one hive to wax moths recently - so we take a personal interest in each one.
Beekeepers with a large number of hives are more impersonal as they have too many to take copious notes on like we are doing. This is one way we are documenting our bee adventures.
We may need to add another notebook for our hive removal adventures!

We ended up with 10 frames heavy with golden honey to harvest this year.

All the equipment is set up in Sherry's kitchen.
Last year it was a much bigger operation!
We used plastic on the floor and this year opted for cardboard. MUCH better!

This is like a perfect frame of honey!

The first step is to decap it......rake off the top layer of wax.

And this is how you do it!

Next you spin the frames - three at a time - in the extractor.
We have a hand cranked one. 
Spin. Stop. Turn the frames around and spin them again
This slings the honey off of both sides of the frames.

Then open the honey gate and pour it our in a busket with a strainer on top.

The strainer filters out all the wax particles as well as bee wings, legs and such.

At last you pour the filtered honey up in the jars!

Pure honey gold!!

We ended up with around 40 pounds of honey - that's a little over 4 gallons.
Last year we produced 15 gallons so this was not a normal year for honey harvests.
Still, any harvest is better than no harvest.

Sherry served a cold cut tray with deli meats and cheeses, olives, onions, sliced tomatoes and crackers for our lunch. Plus we sampled the honey. Delicious!
We taste tested it compared to a bottle of last year's honey - and proclaimed 2021 even better!
The coloring of the honey is about the same which stands to reason since they eat pretty much the same kind of flowers each year. We are planting more wildflowers and roses, clover, trumpet vines and honeysuckle all with the bees in mind.

We took the frames out to the shade trees not far from the apiary for the bees to clean then up.
There's still a good little bit of honey in them so the bees will take that back to the hive and they will build up another supply of honey which we will leave in the hives for them to winter on.

This is my portion and Sherry got the same amount.
We just divide it right down the middle.
To make it simpler, we poured it all up in quart jars and we can rebottle into smaller ones later for selling or gift giving.

We were completely finished by noon - and since I had been awake since 3:00 AM,
I came in and took a nice 4-hour long nap in the girl bunk!

Tomorrow we will finish up our bee work with putting the frames back in the supers and treating all of them for hive beetles.

Honey Harvest 2021 is DONE!
Now plans are afoot for buying more supers and brood boxes to enlarge our apiary!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Country Things......

 It was early afternoon when Louis Dean and I left the city and headed for the ranch.
He drives the Big White Truck but I am the designated navigator and, believe you me, it is a job!

"Stay right in your lane. NO! This lane that you WERE in! You are going to tuen left up here. NO!  Do NOT get in the right hand lane! Watch that truck! STAY in YOUR lane. Turn here. I SAID TURN. Too late......"
And all this starts at the very corner of the street where we live! As in three houses up to the stop sign where he turned RIGHT instead of left to get to the highway. So I gave him directions to 114 instead of 183.

I was so relieved and so exhausted by the time we got to the end of our time on I20 and just a mile or two from I35 that I suggested we stop for a late lunch!

He was more than agreeable!

See my crown??
I loved every single drop of that margarita!
We were at Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen and I usually order the veggie plate.

The salad alone filled me up!

So I took the rest with me and had it for lunch today.

Louis Dean goes off the deep end with his chicken fried steak and EXTRA gravy!

Thank goodness Louis Dean can pretty much drive on his own from I35 to the place where the road forks near Hillsboro and I napped most of the way there.

One stop at the rest area and then we drove it on in to the ranch.

The moment we drive through the the gate is one of my favorite moments of all.
We have the whole visit ahead of us!
As long as we have been coming out here, Dean and Sherry have kept their gate painted red, white and blue for the Texas flag.

We have two big gates like this now that Louis Dean has fenced in the front 'yard.'
I'm thinking of painting them like this one come fall and cooler weather.
It was arounf 6:00 when we arrived and it takes us an hour or so to unload and put up - less than that on this trip since we are not staying but a week and didn't have a lot to bring down here.
I normally leave the beds all made up with fresh linens - but not last time.
Since the girl bunk was undone anyway, Louis Dean came right in and fixed the toilet connection - which is underneath the bunk. Then I made up both the girl bunk and the big bed, we had a glass of wine and watched the stars while we chatted on the front deck for a few minutes and then I took a shower and went to bed. LOVE that we have a real working shower now!!
What a lovely feeling stretching out under clean fresh sheets! Makes me wish I would change my bed linens every morning. Nearly! But that's way too much trouble!

First thing Tuesday morning I was preparing our medicine for a month. 
This right here reminds me how fast Life is spinning away.
Seems like I just did this chore!
Thankful for the medicine we need to keep going.

It was later in the morning when I took my coffee out to check the gardens.
I lost a really nice cantaloupe that I should have  cut last time we were here but I thought it needed another week. I didn't want to lose this one so I plucked it from the garden and cut it open for breakfast.

While it wasn't the very best one I've ever eaten - it was good!!

 I am going to have to shell up these purple hull peas to cook tomorrow!
There's still more out t here waiting to be picked!

My one project on Tuesday was recovering the seat of this chair using a pair of jeans from my brother in law, Charlie! This makes a good place for Louis Dean to sit and put his shoes on. Who knew we would use a chair in the bathroom so much??

Sherry called me right before she got off work and played a joke on me!
I had planned my entire day around and looked forward to the bee meeting and especially meeting up with Rosey for dinner before that at El Conquistador in Bellmead.
I answered the phone and Sherry said, "I'm just too tired to go to the meeting tonight!"
I immediately prepared my voice as I replied, "Are you?"
For a brief second or two - I was SO disappointed and did NOT want to make her feel any worse than she did.

But, she didn't let me suffer long and started laughing!!
We look forward to meeting up with Rosey every month.
It's a real treat to get to visit with her!
Notice I had another 'margarita day' again??
I ordered on the rocks since we had a meeting to get to and a frozen one takes me forever to drink!

Sherry and I split the potato nachos......

and guacamole for the table.
SOOOO good!!!!

Rosey got a half order of nacho supreme......
and eveything was absolutely delicious!!

We had a good bee meeting and I even won a door prize!

I hung this up along with some of my other bee things.

We are glampers - a step up from camping but still.......
So you see the fancy white fluffy stuff stuck up there to cover the plastic trash bags I have poked in along the top to keep most of the bugs and spiders out? Bet you can't guess what it is!

When we had the septic tank put in 4 years ago, we had to buy sewer cloth to lay down on top of it.
I still have a huge roll of it - so I stuffed it up there like bridal tulle!
Talk about redeeming things!!! I love that!

Well, Sherry and I are about to leave and drop Dean off to teach his karate class and then we are driving to Abbott, Texas (not that far) to see about another bee removal.
This poor lady has bees in the house under her roof - by the looks of the photos she sent us.
We are taking our suits and equipment to do an inspection and evaulate our ability to help her.
She has already paid hundreds of dollars to 'professionals' and the bees remain.

Another BEE Adventure!


I will close this journal entry with a prayer.
No matter how wonderful our lives are - everyone has burdens and sorrows.
God knows this and hears our heart.

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Great July Weekend With Summer Dee!!

 I have loved the time with Summer!
She's the daughter of my youth and the joy of my heart.
There's only 15 years difference in our ages so now we not only mother and daughter, but also best friends. Win! WIN!!!

She's going to stay here at the house while we are at the ranch this week and then in west Texas next week. The July heat has arrived and in 100+ degrees, my flowers would not last long without a daily drink of water.

We will be visiting Chandy and her family next week and I have been shopping for things to fix up her guest bedroom and bath. Speaking of 'fixing up' - that's exactly what they bought! A Fixer' Upper!! And they are doing an amazing job of it, too!

Summer found some things on a site called 'Offer Up' so we drove over to Dallas to pick them up.

On our way back, we stopped at a TJ Max and I found all the other things I wanted to get and then some! Like this sunflower bag!

And these!!! They are already hanging on my oven handle!

Oh! The coffee!!! That Brown Sugar Bourbon smells devine!!!
I'm not going to use the Pumpkin Spice one until September First - a mere 36 days away!

Love me some tea!
We stopped at QT while we were out and I ran in to get a super large tea for us to split since we already had our now empty insulated glasses - remember we are BIG gulpers!
The only tea (other than plain and I seldon EVER drink PLAIN!) was Black Mango!
Perfect! Poor Summer wasn't expecting that! Taste exploded in her mouth but she slowly got acquainted with it - especially as the ice melted and diluted it some!
After her double take at the first swallow, she said, "I should have KNOWN you wouldn't get plain tea!!"

I couldn't resist these tasty little crackers!

Frangrances for everyday and a special bottle of Sunflowers!
I'm all set to do spread a ton of sunflower decorations around here come August when I get back home.

We found all the bedding including 4 pillows and some towels and even a special candle for Chandy's guestroom! Summer and I stayed in touch with her as we shopped the store to make sure she liked what we were picking out!

This is what we picked up in Dallas!
Will use these as bedside tables.

And I bought this old weathers door for $20 and they delivered it!
Louis Dean will hang this up as a headboard for the bed.
I may sand it up a bit and possibly wipe on a universal stain to give it some gray shading since that's their color scheme. 

You can see the gray walls in this pic of Chandy. 
She was about to go out and paint the window trim outside.

Last night we watched a late movie together - Mr. Rogers.
The water gun on the table is for the cats!
Speaking of.....they will not be going with us to the ranch today.
Amber and the family came over and picked them up yesterday.
The kids will get to enjoy them for a couple of weeks before they go back to school.
Amber and Mike seem to get just as big a kick out them as the kids, though.

So now I need to close this journal entry and get dressed.
The truck is already loaded and we are about to head South on the Interstate!!