Do you think Hon's going to notice? I really didn't intend on going so far with this project. My intention had been to pry the top of that half wall off to take a peek down inside and see what we'd be dealing with when it came time to move it. I shouldn't have ignored hearing the, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger," mantra going on in my head. You see, that's where the washer and dryer were located until this past weekend when my friend Christen's husband and her brother came over and moved the water and electric lines for them to the back of the kitchen. You know Christen, she's the goat lady down the road that gave me the big bucket of persimmons this past fall. Anyway, Jason and Levi did a fantastic job of moving that stuff and it's just so hard to wait to do some other things in the kitchen now.
While Young'un was eating lunch I got a hammer and screwdriver from the garage, figuring I would take that innocent peek. I pried off the trim and then started on the top board. Then there was another board that I had to take off that was glued and nailed to 2x4 framing boards. GAK! All of those layers were making it impossible for me to take the peek so I asked Eldest to go back to the garage and get me my crowbar. I thought I would sort of gently pry off the drywall on the sides so I could take that peek and quench my curiosity, nailing it back in place afterwards, Hon none the wiser. I know he had said we were going to wait until later in the summer to finally do any major kitchen renovating, but...well...curiosity, you know.
Anyway, Eldest got the crowbar for me and then disappeared after telling me I had better leave it alone or I'm going to make a big mess. *pft* Teenagers. I figured I've got this. So, there I went...carefully prying the drywall off. It was going great...until I pulled a little too hard and the stuff bent and broke. Who knew drywall was so fragile, right?! I stood there kind of stunned, crowbar in hand, wondering what I should do next. I tried to stick the drywall back up, but all it did was flop back down, breaking more, me mumbling a bit of a Scooby Doo "rut-row." At that point I turned to Young'un and said, "Do you think dad is going to notice?" Youngun's response being, "Uh-huh." I told him we'll need to come up with a plausible story that he'll believe. In the end we decided it would be best to not say a thing and just go about our business. Maybe he won't notice...and if he does, maybe he won't say anything. If he does, we figured we'd tell him the wall has always been like that and we just hadn't noticed because of the washer and dryer having been on that wall for so long. He may believe it. Weirder things have happened.
I figured that was the end of it. I couldn't really see inside, even with a flashlight, on account of all the framing and spiderwebs, so I figured I'd just wait. Well, I couldn't do it. Waiting was making me twitch with curiosity. Next thing I knew I took my crowbar and pried the rest of the wallboard off. It's like I was channeling Chip Gains of Fixer Upper...his love of demo days fueling my fire. If I wasn't pulling drywall off I was yanking it off with the crowbar. If I had a full wall of it I'd probably have tried running through it in merriment. When I stopped to really survey my work what I had was a big pile of drywall pieces crumbling around me and a bunch of spider webs, insulation, and a few big bleach bottles that were stuck inside the wall. Bleach bottles? There was an extra piece of pipe that was used for the dryer vent and some old newspapers jammed up in cracks, too. Thankfully no snakes. Seeing those in there would probably have sent me over the edge. Lots of mouse partying evidently had been going on in that wall, but no snakes.
I bagged the drywall pieces and had Eldest take them to the garage. Then he and I took all the wood I was able to pry off outside and set it on the patio...which I suppose in hindsight I should move because all of it laying there will only be an indicator to Hon that something potentially wicked may have been going on before he even gets in the door.
I've cleaned up my mess best I can, and I'm actually quite happy with the work that I accomplished. I'd have done more, but I figure I've seen what's there and then some, and now I should consult with Hon before removing the dryer vent...and then there's the little bit having to do with Jason coming back to cap off those electric and water lines under the kitchen. See, I do think about some of this stuff before it reeeeally gets out of hand. Besides, I may have learned to do a lot over the years, but plumbing and electric aren't included.
So, there you have it folks. My little peek of curiosity turned into a little bit more than I had bargained for. I think I'm going to have a hard time waiting until later this summer to do a little bit here and a little bit there when it comes to our kitchen. I have plans - BIG plans. In the meantime, I've hidden my little crowbar and a few other tools in case Hon had the same idea. Who knows what else in this kitchen will peek my curiosity as the months head into warmer weather. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the look on Hon's face when he gets home...but of course we didn't do anything. The wall has been like that. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
We have a front door neighbor...okay, so they're kind of down the street, left at the intersection and up the hill neighbors...but I can still see them if I walk out the house and down the drive to get the mail, so technically they're within eyeshot neighbors, but neighbors nonetheless. Anway, we'll call these neighbors the Andreadis's. That's their last name, after all. I had met Christen Andreadis a few years ago while playing Welcome Wagon when they moved to our little area of the community. Then last year her husband Jason came over to ask some questions about the farmers market while I was pulling weeds out of the walkway. We talked a bit and then life went on.
This past spring that all changed when Daisy gave birth to two ewe lambs, Sunny and Flower. After several years of having an abundance of milk, she didn't have enough for both of them. I wasn't keen on using powdered milk replacer and remembered Jason saying they had goats, so Young'un and I took a walk up to their place to see if they possibly had any milk I could give to our girls.
Over the months of getting milk for Sunny and Flower via the goat lady (that would be Christen and how I have her listed in my cell phone contacts), I found her to be quite a fun and interesting young woman. We have common interests that expand past each of us having husbands, three children, and small farms. For example, persimmons. Yes. You read that right, persimmons.
Honestly, I had never seen one until a few months ago when she mentioned she had a tree and brought a few over that weren't quite ripe yet. I had never given them a thought. I know I had seen the name, but like so many other things since moving here, I hadn't ever thought I'd actually get face-to-face with one. That's when my persimmon fascination began.
Did you know an unripe persimmon tastes, to put it politely, horribly bitter? Well, it does. Don't ask me how I know. I'm sure you can figure it out, and I don't mean like when I asked Kid to test the electric fence for five bucks to see if it was working. Here's the thing, when the skins on them are soft as a baby's satiny cheek, when the insides are mushy squishy, they're ripe. They're also one of the yummiest things Mother Nature has given us, so it's weird I don't see more of them around. The first time I bit into a ripe one I thought of something along the lines of a tomato texture...but the flavor is one I can't describe. It doesn't match up with other fruits I've had, and it definitely doesn't taste like chicken. It's just a flavor all to itself. I just had to go on a recipe quest to see what I can do with the little marvels.
I haven't really found a whole lot of recipes for persimmons, but what I've found and tried so far has been wonderful. You know I'm a genuine bonafide choc-a-holic. Well, I found and tweaked till I made it mine a chocolate persimmon recipe that is spectacular. Truly. It's raining out. If I made those muffins and put one out on the patio today the rain would stop, the clouds would part, the sun would shine, and angels would sing. Truly. No joke. They're that spectacular.
I've even made persimmon jam. It reminds me of the lovely flower blossom jellies Eldest makes in the spring for the farmers market. The jam has a lightly sweet taste. I enjoy putting it on my toast when I want some sweet without a strong flavor to follow. It's like a highlight to the bread.
Yesterday while I was lost in making apple butter, I was thinking it would be nice to make some more muffins and jam this week. I asked Christen if she by chance had any left and she said she'd go look. I didn't think after the wind we had days ago there would be many if any at all. While I was at Boy Scouts last night with Kid and Young'un I had a message from Christen that she left a bucket of them on the patio. I was excited to know they were waiting there for me. Eldest was home, so I asked him to take them inside. When I got to the door, excited to see the little orange beauties, he was waiting for me. He said, "Mom, do you know how heavy a five-gallon bucket of persimmons is?" Why no, I have no idea, but I gather heavier than I would have imagined. Then again, it doesn't take a whole lot of pulp, weight-wise, to make the muffins. Eldest told me he had to put it up on the counter to keep the dogs from getting in them because they would have eaten every one if they were left on the floor. I forgot to tell him persimmons are a magnet; there's few animals around that won't go diving under a persimmon tree to get to those goodies. Shoot, I'd join them in the dive! I walked into the kitchen and there it was...a five-gallon bucket full. FIVE GALLONS. When I saw the bucket they were in I couldn't help but laugh because of the slogan on it. Yeah. Let's do this!
So, there you have it, folks. My persimmon connection. Thank you, Christen, for the persimmon introduction. I'm still amazed at how many of those little buggers come off of one tree. There's a little one next to Christen's big one just waiting for spring transplant at our farm. I may not have many grow on it next year, but knowing it will be out there with my expanding fruit tree grove is exciting! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Our farm produce has been Certified Naturally Grown for five months, officially since receiving our yearly inspection and certificate this past May. Our poultry is also part of the program, needing the yearly inspection completed, which I hope to get a fellow farmer over here for uber soon. Next year we'll be pulling our apiary into it. We raise our bees naturally and have since they came here last year. Baby steps, you know? Since I've been quiet for months, having stories busting to get out, I've decided to start with this one and then move on into another that wants to be told tomorrow.
I know you're wondering, "Hey Sharon, what is Certified Naturally Grown? I don't know what that means." Well, pull up your chair because it's time you know. In a nutshell and from the world of Sharon, it's our farm raising what we enjoy raising without using synthetic chemicals. No synthetic insecticides or herbicides. No synthetic fungicides or fertilizers, either. Nope. None. We also say heck no to chemically treated seeds and a wooooah Nelly no way Jose to genetically modified seeds. Many times I'll say we're, "Organic by definition, not by government association." I like the standards we follow through the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) program. I feel it's a better fit with our family farm. First off, as much as I'd like to be able to actually tell folks we're "organic" and use the organic logo without having the hounds of government descend on me, we just can't afford the price tag. CNG is an affordable option for us to stand up and say, "Hey, we're here and this is what we do...," and we do it with the backing of a great organization where we keep each other in line, in check, and following the standards set out for us, some of those standards trumping the USDA in my opinion.
Okay, now that I've said that, and you're on the seat of your chair, I see that question on your face. You're saying, "Yeah, but if you're keeping each other in line, whose to say you won't let each other slide by?!" Well, that's where you have to understand we work together as an organization, making sure each other is following the standards. Just because we don't have an inspection by an official government person doesn't make us any less credible. In fact, the person that was here earlier in the year to inspect our gardens won't be here next year. It'll be someone else. We can't have the same person inspect two years in a row. I can assure you when I'm asked to inspect someone's CNG farm I'll be making sure they are doing what they should be doing. When I sign my name to that inspection form it will be there because I see what is supposed to be. If you go to the CNG website to look at a copy of an inspection form or any documentation that I've signed you'll know it's there because I am an honest person. I have no qualms about calling someone out about this. Oh, yeah, that brings up another point...CNG has what they call transparency when it comes to every one of their producers. You can see the paperwork on-line from the application we fill out to the inspections we perform.
When I asked a good friend of mine if she is going to consider joining CNG she said no, that she doesn't feel it's necessary. She is an honest person who would never lead her customers on. I get that. Truly. She's awesome and I know everything she does is what I do and she's spot on with what she tells her customers. However, I know others that say they're doing what we do and then squirt Round-Up around their plants to keep the weeds down. GAH! I won't even get into the pink coated corn seeds. Kind of makes me woozy.
Our poultry ~ the chickens, ducks, and geese ~ are fed a USDA Organic feed. According to CNG, the feed doesn't have to be from the USDA Organic program. It can be purchased from a non-GMO producer or mill that will sign paperwork that states they follow the growing standards for their product of not using GMOs or synthetic chemicals. Sadly I haven't found a one around here that can state that fact, so I buy Organic feed from a feed store. That feed costs me $35 for 35 lbs. Yikes, you bet'cha that's a lot of money! Non-organic feed at that particular store costs less than $13 for a 50 lb. bag. What? You want to know why do we pay that huge difference in price? Well, that's an easy one. We do it because we care. We care for not only our family but yours, too. Yes, our chicken eggs cost you a little more money than others in the area. So do the ones with the Organic label at Wal-Mart...and theirs are still more money than ours. We have duck eggs, too, which I don't ever see at the grocery.
So, there you have it folks. I could go on about being Certified Naturally Grown and why we are thrilled to be a part of the CNG family, but you look like you're ready to to get up, stretch your legs, and go put that fishing pole you've been holding on to over in the pond. I am in the middle of roasting pumpkins for pies, anyway, and the timer is about to go off, so I need to get back to that. Just remember...as the ducks and geese swim around you...as you much on that lettuce I'll be serving up with supper...it's all good. It's Certified Naturally Grown. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Imagine this ~ You walk down into the cellar to turn the water on that leads to the barn. No big deal. Just minding your own business. You're even whistling. You turn the water on, turn around to walk back upstairs, happen to glance down, and there...on the floor...is a snake. Yup. You heard me. A snake. A giant, humongous...okay, so it was a baby...but it was a snake. Great way to start a morning.
Now you're wondering what I did with that big (yes, I know it was a baby, but still, a snake) thing. Well, first I let out a pitiful yelp and then I'm sure there was a look of disgust on my face. After that I sprang into action, emptying some stuff out of one of those plastic Sterlite containers. I figured by the time I did that it would have disappeared into the bowels of the cellar, but nooooo, it was still there. I inverted the container on the snake and then I really began hollering. "Elllldessssst, snaaaaaaaake!" "Somebody...anybody up there??? Snaaaaake!" "Hellooooooo? There's a snake down here!" Finally Eldest came down. I don't think he believed me at first. Well I sure showed him! Literally! I had no idea what kind it was, but I knew it was colorful and I also know that can be good or bad. He looked at it through it's plastic prison and said he thought it was a Milk Snake, but he can't see the head, and he didn't want to find out it was a Copperhead the hard way, and by that I mean taking the container off and it getting away.
Shortly after Eldest joined me in the cellar, Young'un showed up. Then Hon came down. All we needed was Kid and it would have been a family affair. Hon found something to slide under the snake so it was safe in the container and he could get a better look at it. He said it's a Milk Snake, but I still had doubts. For a baby it sure was mad, shaking it's little tail around the way it was. Eldest showed me a picture of a Milk Snake and a Copperhead, pointing out the difference in their heads, so I had to finally admit they were right.
After the family rescued me from my ordeal I got to thinking. It's a baby...in the cellar... Hmmmmm, there have to be others. Right? I mean, snakes lay eggS, as in more than one, and this was just one. That one thought had me running up the stairs without a glance back. They could all fend for themselves, I was out of there! I do believe I also told Eldest he can turn the water off and on in the cellar now because I'm not doing it. I can't imagine how we ended up with a baby snake in the basement at this time of year. I know they're down there when it's warmer because sadly I've found skins in some old canning jars and stuff, but now is just weird. Hon said a female snake must have laid eggs in the basement and the heat from the boiler had them hatching out early. Okay, but what am I supposed to do with it? It's winter. We still have a good 5 inches of snow on the ground. It's not like I could have the kids take it outside.
Hon thought we could call the pet store and ask if they wanted it. However, Eldest said we can't. He said even though it was in the basement it's considered a wild animal and snakes caught in the wild can't be sold. I had no idea. Did you? He went on-line and read to us what he was talking about, and clearly the pet shop angle was out.
So, there you have it, folks. I am now the caretaker of a baby Milk Snake that is sitting on my kitchen counter in a smaller Sterlite container until it warms up or I figure out what to do with it. As much as snakes give me the heebie jeebies I just can't put the poor baby outside to freeze...and there is no way in the world I'm putting him back down in the cellar. I'm still having issue wrapping my head around the fact that the rest of the family is down there somewhere. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Have you ever had a smell in your house that just won't quit? Well, that's what I'm dealing with...although it's a dead smell...and I can't find it. Thankfully the smell is in the cellar. Sadly I go down there numerous times a day.
It all started on Monday when I went to the cellar for canning jars. This gal Kid knows is doing a fundraiser and had asked around for jar donations. Rarely being one to say no to a kid's fundraiser, I said I'd happily give her a dozen along with some extras to have painted for myself. Anyway...I'm kind of getting off track. I went to the basement for the jars I've used over the past few months and as I was looking through the boxes I found a totally creepy snake skin. Yep, that's right...a snake skin...in with some of my canning jars. *shudder* Needless to say I was not impressed.
Suddenly I had numerous questions rattling through my head...the most important being where is the snake now? Is it living in a box? Will I find it before it finds me? Is it Anaconda-sized, just waiting to swallow me hole, with my family profiting from the Lifetime (or SiFi) movie deal that'll arise from it? We watched a television program earlier this week about a man that wanted to be swallowed by an Anaconda. Yuck. The issue of where the mystery snake went has made me put a plan of action together where I ask the kids to go down there for anything I need that I know they'll be able to find. There's a lot of stuff in the cellar.
Now you're wondering where the smell comes into the story, I bet. All this talk about a snake, but not the smell. Well, next to the snake skin was a dead mouse. Again, yuck. I got it and the snake skin out of the box and threw them in the woods, by the way. Problem is, on Tuesday when I went into the cellar there was this light odorifus odor of dead mouse lingering in the air. I know I threw the one outside that I had found, so where is this smell coming from? Hopefully not anywhere near wherever the snake is.
I had figured *pft* the bait trap did it's job. I can handle the smell of one little mouse...although if I could find it and get rid of it that would be better...but the snake... Since Tuesday the smell has increased from the smell of one dead mouse to the smell of one dead mouse and all of it's minions. For all I know it could be the snake, the mouse, and it's minions. The smell is that stinky.
I had hoped last night when Hon went down in the cellar to unplug the outside Christmas lights that he would notice and oh...I don't know...maybe look for the air de-freshener, but he didn't say a word. I'm wondering if his head is completely stuffed up from a cold. I've had Eldest go down there and turn the water to the barn on and off for me. Still, not a word. They're making me feel like it's all in my head, when it's actually all in my nose.
How long does it take for a decaying mouse and it's minions to dissipate? Possibly a snake? I'm rooting for the snake, personally. If I reach into a container or box for something and pull up a snake instead, trust me, you'll know. That's because the scream coming from my lungs will cut through air and travel distances only dreamed of.
Since we're in the midst of the holiday season, what traditions do you enjoy with your family and friends? Is there something you look forward to every year? I don't know about you, but the first Saturday in December is one that I always look forward to. That's because it's the Westerville Christmas Spectacular. It's also because my nephew Matt is a part of the production as a dancer. That's him over there in the picture wearing the red and black outfit, by the way. Notice how he effortlessly picks up that young girl and keeps on keeping on. Yep...that's my nephew, alright! You rock, Matt!!
The Westerville Christmas Spectacular has been around for I have no idea how many years, but we've been enjoying it since we moved here to Ohio. It's been a lot of fun watching the dancers as they grow up on that stage. We may only see them once a year (besides Matt, of course), and we may not personally know each other, but I recognize the changes. It amazes me when I see a little girl carrying a bear around, so unsure of herself and then five years later dancing with amazing grace and confidence.
I can only imagine all of the work that goes into a production like this, and our family appreciates every bit of it. Each year a Westerville charity organization or family in need is chosen to help as a way to give back to the community, and that is an added bonus to this amazing show. To me, helping out is a given any time of year, but for it to coincide with a fun event like this is an added bonus.
From dancing penguins and elves to dolls and reindeer, this is a great performance! Let me tell you, though, it's so good that it's hard for me to contain myself in my seat! I've done good over the years tapping my toes and doing a little hopefully unnoticed seat wiggle dancing, but I'm afraid one of these days I'll be jumping up to dance the Elf Lean. Yep. I can see it now...
So folks, what do you enjoy doing this time of year? I don't mean the rushing around stuff where you feel the need to get all of the decorations up, the presents bought, and everything just so. Relax! Do you bake cookies? String popcorn? Support your community in some way? Cozy up in front of the fire or at the table and play board games? Don't forget the hot chocolate and marshmallows! There are so many fun activities going on! Pick one...something you haven't done before, even. Make some memories. You'll be glad you did.
Next weekend I'll be at the Adena Mansion in Chillicothe to help with their Breakfast with Santa event. That's a new one for me, maybe even a new tradition. Who knows...but I will tell you I plan on having a great time and enjoying myself. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy time with family and friends. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a need to do the Elf Lean again. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
This morning I woke up to one of my favorite ewes, Crystal, doing what she does best...yelling at me to get out there and feed her. You'd think with thick brick walls surrounding me I wouldn't hear it, but her hollering would probably penetrate Ft. Knox. That, however, is just the beginning of the story...and actually has nothing to do with what I now call "the joyride."
So there I was, walking out to the pond pasture to get the geese out while listening to Crystal yammering at me, and I heard a weird noise. At first I thought it was just the wind in the trees. It made me stop and listen, though, because it was sort of like an engine idling. Huh, weird.
After I let the geese out for their morning flight around the farm and back I noticed the sound was still there. Hmmmmm, that's weird. It wasn't coming from the trees, but from just down the street. I figured it must be hunters parking on our side yard again without asking if it was okay. They ask, we're okay with it. They don't ask and it's just plain rude. Anyway, I took a walk over to the road and when I glanced down there I saw a big 18 wheeler grain hauler truck that had been parked in the neighbor's field for the past few weeks. The engine was running and the lights were on. I didn't appreciate the big dents in the soft ground from it or the ones it was making from resting there for who knows how long. What to do...what to do... I know, go get Hon. He can talk to the person this time after we find him.
Hon took a walk down the road and found the truck was empty. Then we got to thinking the driver must be hunting. It's not the first time someone has seen a deer and decided to plunk themselves in our side yard and see if they can get it. Honestly, we were kind of irritated.
Since I was smart and had my smartphone with me, I Googled the truck company and gave them a call. Okay, so I thought it was the right company. Come to find out the trucking company on the side of the truck has the exact same name as the one I called, only the latter having no clue what I was talking about. Poor man. He must have thought I was a genuine strawberry blonde for calling, which I am, but he said he'd check into it and see what he could find out for us.
In the meantime, Hon decided to turn off the truck engine and lights because it had been at least a couple of hours and the thing was still sitting there running. After prowling around the woods for the driver and coming up with nothing my stomach was really growling so we decided to call it a morning with the mess and go eat. Okay, so Hon made me eggs...I Googled the company again and came up with the correct truck company.
As it's Sunday I left a message, the company calling back within a very short time though. Being the woman I am, I let Hon get the call. Sometimes it's better to have him handle the weird situations and give me a break. Come to find out the truck owner was a bit surprised to put it mildly that his truck was in our side yard because he's had it sitting down the road in the farmer's field for the past two weeks. He also wasn't happy when Hon told him that a big part of the truck cab's front driver side bumper-type thing was missing. There are some big swerve marks in the road where the truck about took a telephone pole out, too, but clearly that damage must have been done somewhere else on the road because we didn't see the missing truck part.
Here's what I don't get...why in the world would you leave the keys to your rig in it? I know we live out in the county, but crime and plain 'ole idiocracy happens everywhere. We've had our share of less than stellar folks coming to call over the past almost seven years. Shoot, whether I've lived in a city, the suburbs, or the country I've never left my keys in a vehicle. Someone might come across it and decide to...oh, I don't know...take it.
So there you have it folks. I'm glad we were able to track down the truck's owner. I'm also happy we'll have it out of the side yard soon. I'm hoping whoever decided to take his truck for a joyride feels horribly bad this morning...for both their wrong doing and for the major hangover they're probably suffering from. I can't imagine from the swerves in the road and skirting the muddy ditch, not to mention the big hunk of truck missing, that they did this sober. Oh, and as for the man I spoke to at the other trucking company, I did call him back to let him know I located the correct trucking company so he wasn't continuing to help us solve the mystery. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Every once in a while I like to get out of here, enjoy time with friends sans family, and then head on back to whatever awaits me. I know, you're shocked. You don't understand. Why in the world would I ever want to leave this little slice of paradise just shy of heaven? Well, I see it as a period of rejuvenation. It's amazing what a few hours away will do to my psyche. It doesn't happen often. You may include knitting with friends once a week, maybe a trip to the grocery store or the farmers market as away time, but I don't. I'm talking about a roll the windows down because the air conditioning doesn't work right, turn up the pop-type country music, don't call me for stupid stuff like, "Can I eat a Hot Pocket," and get on down the road for an afternoon of friend visiting...or whatever is on my agenda. It really does me some good to get out of here so I can come back bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to face whatever havoc has happened while I was gone.
Yesterday I went to visit my friends George and Jerry, who live in the big city of Cincinnati. You see, George bought Jerry a picker for Christmas and offered to let me give it a workout with a still dirty after washing three times fleece I bought while I was in Maryland this past May. Oh yes, I went to a big fleece show in Maryland, and didn't even tell you about that one. Man oh man, was that a blast! Uber rejuvenation time since I hadn't been away in way too many years. Anyway, for those of you don't know what a picker is, it's this equipment that can cost, well, I'll just leave it at an arm and a leg to be polite, and does a fantastic job removing vegetation and other various splodgy matter from fleece. It's also a dangerous piece of equipment because it has these stainless steel nails that are on the top and bottom of it that the fleece moves through as the arm of it is swung back and forth. It's also a piece of equipment that kind of freaks George out because of the dangerocity of it...even though he bought the thing. The picker has warning stickers all over it, and George gave me the skinny on the do's and don'ts of it, but still, he's a little jumpy when it's in use. Even so, I was up for the challenge. Besides, it wasn't like trying to hang curtains using screws and a hammer. It was fun.
In the end, George told me that Hog Island fleece I bought from Mt. Vernon through the Maryland Sheep and Wool show was the dirtiest fleece he'd ever seen when it came to the junk left in it even after it had been cleaned. Oh, I knew it was dirty...real dirty...but I also felt good about buying that particular fleece because the money I spent on it would go back to the upkeep of a heritage sheep breed at Mt. Vernon. I also figure that, although the fleece had gone through the picker three times, it could have gone through another three or ten times and still have stuff falling out of it. Even so, an amazingly nice fleece.
Now you're probably thinking I spent my whole time while I was visiting working hard. Nope. George worked on the fleece, too. I just so happened to bring along a couple of Icelandic fleeces. I figured it was a good time to see how the picker worked on those, too, since we don't coat our sheep. Jerry worked on the Icelandic fleece, and did a mighty fine job of it, too. George said he (Jerry, that is) likes to use the picker and I can see why. It really does a fantastic job at getting unwanted stuff out of fleece. It also pulls the fibers apart and fluffs them up so the fleece is like a fluffy cloud. Ahhhhhhhh.
So, there you have it, folks. I drove, I worked, I gossiped, and had an overall fantastic time with great friends. I even made it home just fine...after going the wrong way on the interstate and finding myself in Kentucky before being able to turning around, barely escaping a taxi and car collision in front of me, driving through a torrential downpour that was determined to follow me, and finding pickles and mustard on my burger. Thanks for the lovely afternoon, George and Jerry. I truly appreciate the use of the picker and your friendship. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I know what you've been doing...patiently sitting on the edge of your seat...waiting to find out if we brought home the queen in that swarm. Well, sadly, we didn't get the queen. Don't fret though, everything will be a-okay. Young'un's new hive is thriving and before you know it, a new queen will be ruling it.
You see, after we got home with the partial swarm and I voiced (okay, texted) my concern to Dan Williams about half of the swarm up and leaving in a cloud of, er, bees, I was afraid the queen was one of the bazillion that took off. I was also afraid the bees we did have would also take off not long after getting them situated in their new home, rendering our bee busting excursion a bust. He said what we needed to do is put a frame of brood from Young'un's established hive into the new hive because the bees wouldn't leave the babies whether there was a queen or not.
Truth be told, I was skeptical. I mean, why would a bunch of bees that were caught before they could head out with the rest of the swarm, stuck in a box that was duct taped and bungie corded together, drug across town in an un-airconditioned van, and then stuck in another box want to stick around and raise some other bees brood?
Anyway, I must admit, Dan was spot-on. The bees that were there stayed with the brood and took it upon themselves to raise them up. What good bees! Even though they stayed, we still didn't know yet if we had the queen. After a few days of letting the bees settle in we went to take a peek and see. Sadly, neither of us could find the queen. That wasn't unusual for us, though, because although we know the queen is in Young'un's established hive, we can't find her. She's a sneaky ruler.
We decided to wait a few days and then go back in the hive and see if we could find the queen. Again, we couldn't find her, but we did find something else. Queen cells. That's right, queen cells. We had heard about them when we took our beekeeping class, but now we were seeing them up close and personal. Come to find out, because the bees didn't have a queen, they decided to make their own. They also only did that because we took Dan's advice and stuck that frame of brood in there. What that means is the bees began making some queen cells, which are sort of weird longer cells that stick out further from the frame and remind me of a Morel mushroom. Then they selected some of the developing brood and placed them in those cells.
A few weeks from now we're expecting those potential queens to hatch out. I know, you're thinking lucky girls...being fed royal jelly...pampered...you know, a queen's life. Well, let me tell you, it's not going to be all you think once they hatch. That's because there are six queen cells...and only room for one queen. This is where the adage, "The strong will survive," comes into play. Only one queen will reign, while the others will have had a severely shortened lifespan. Sad, but that's the nature of the beast.
So, there you have it, folks. There's not a queen in the hive, but there will be. We're anxiously awaiting the day she hatches out and begins her reign...which I can only imagine is quite a job considering all those bees she has to keep in line. We're really enjoying our beekeeping experience and can't help but dream of the day when we get our first taste of sweet honey from Young'un's hives. Oh, and I've been stung once now. The perils of being the sidekick. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals haven't figured that out yet. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm called Mom. Life is a comedy and I plan on documenting it.