Showing posts from June, 2012


... Our plum tree is starting to ripen, and so this weekend I made our first batch of plum jam.  It tastes fantastic, and hopefully it will set to a nice texture.  For my own records, the recipe was as follows: One gallon bag of frozen windfall plums, with water to almost cover One trug-full of picked plums, some slightly under-ripe  Juice of three huge lemons Five pounds of white sugar A few tablespoons of pectin, tossed in at the end in a moment of panic, probably pointless I cut the plums roughly in thirds, and didn't bother trying to remove the pits.  I chucked the frozen plums in a big stockpot, and added enough water to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When the frozen plums were starting to soften, I added the fresh plums.  I cooked this until the whole thing got soft, and then fished out the pits.  At this point, I cursed myself for not buying a candy thermometer.  I added the sugar, and brought the whole thing to a boil.  I added the l

Sting, Day Two

... Forgive the boring-ness of this post.  This is for my own records, as much as anything else. The top photo was taken Sunday at 6pm.   I got stung on my leg on Saturday afternoon.  The welt is huge -- about nine inches tall and seven inches across.  It itches like mad. This is a localized reaction (meaning that it only affected the area where it occurred) and thus falls into the category of non-serious bee stings.  Nevertheless, it's driving me crazy.  I'm not sure why my feet look so dirty.  Grass stain from the garden, perhaps?  I'm a bit worried about the severity of the reaction, and if that indicates that I'm becoming more sensitized to bee stings.  I know that I got a full dose of venom from this sting.  I had a devil of a time digging the stinger out of my leg.

The Glamour of Beekeeping

... I think I need to buy beekeeping gaiters. I wear long pants and boots when I open up my beehives. Despite this, bees keep climbing up inside of my pants, getting trapped, and stinging me. This particular sting has produced a welt over five inches long. A few weeks back, the sting was lower on my left leg, and my ankle swelled up so badly that I could barely flex my foot.

A Few Days in the Life of a Beekeeper

... Wednesday Robb was out in the back yard, chatting over the fence with our neighbor when our QEII hive swarmed.  The air was filled with bees and noise and confusion.  The bees eventually settled in our neighbor's bottlebrush tree, in two large clusters. Robb attached a five gallon bucket to the end of one very long pole, and then attached out bee brush to the end of another pole.  Robb whacked a bunch of bees into the bucket, and he poured them into our handy-dandy swarm catching box.  Half an hour later, the bees were all back up in the tree. When I got home from work, I helped Robb knock those bees out of the tree, and pour them into the box.  We waited until dark, and carried them back to our yard.  This sounds simple, but this particular tree was so very dense that it was a huge challenge to maneuver any tools at all inside of the canopy.  Robb and I make a very good team. Friday While I was at work, the bees that had swarmed on Wednesday did it

Why, Butterfly?

I know I had some good reason for leaving the top off the butterfly rearing tank ajar. But, at the moment, when I have a transforming caterpillar tethered to my wall, I can't remember what I was thinking. I figure I'll let the caterpillar shed its skin and then I'll carefully cut it off the the wall.  I'm too worried about damaging the animal, while it is re-assembling its insides, to take any action right now. This is normal, right?  You all have caterpillars stuck to the walls of your house, don't you?

June Garden Update

... I find it very helpful to be able to refer back to the blog to compare how we're doing now with how things had been going.  So, here, for my own reference, are some garden notes.  The chickens are in the portable "tractor."  One of the hen house windows is propped open.  The Mimulus is in full bloom. The Saint Catherine's Lace is about to explode.  The Phacelia needs to be dead-headed, and is sprawling all over the place. The purple Russian Kale is still producing after being brutally cut back.  Lettuce seedlings are doing nothing.  Chard is finally starting to grow.  Strawberries are sulking. Dyer's Weld is about eight feet tall.  I realize that I don't know how to harvest any of my dyeplants. The chickory-like greens are gigantic, and the chickens finally decided that they are delicious.  Good thing, because they're too bitter for us.  The California Poppy is sprawling across the garden.  French Tarragon is doing fine.  Perennial Arugula is b