Showing posts from July, 2016

Preserving the Harvest

... This year, our adolescent pluot tree hit puberty.  The tree is still gangly and has a long way to grow, but for the first time it produced more than a plate-full of fruit.  With the bounty, Robb made pies.  I made jam. We sat in the back yard and gorged ourselves on fruit, fresh from the tree.  We invited friends over to pick fruit.  And eventually it all started to get away from us. Anyone sitting under the tree risked being clobbered with over-ripe fruit.  The lawn furniture was covered in sticky dried fruit pulp. The ground was littered with mushy fruit, which we threw at the hens.  The bees were drunk on fruit nectar. Clearly, we needed to get serious about not letting the harvest go to to waste.  A few weeks back, Robb ordered a dehydrator. We've been experimenting, trying to find the best method.  We've already realized that simply cutting the fruit in half isn't ideal. Our pluots are so juicy that large chunks of fruit take an eternity to dry.  I fired up the his

The Season's First Butterfly Hatches

... The entire life cycle of a butterfly is miraculous, but it's the final emergence that makes me want to cry happy tears.  Every. Single. Time.  Robb and I had been out cycling, and came back to discover that the first of our brood of butterflies had hatched. Her wings were fully unfurled by the time we found her.  I coaxed her onto my hand, and carried her over to flowers we knew Anise Swallowtail Butterflies fed on.  She was entirely uninterested in the verbena.  When I moved her over to the fennel (her host plant), she hopped right off my hand.   After a few minutes, she flew away.  Watching butterflies that we've nurtured fly off into the world is always a beautiful, magical experience.   Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go rinse my eyes, and find a handkerchief.   

How Not To Keep Bees

... One thing I've learned about keeping bees, is that a good beekeeper has to be prepared for any situation. And that's one of those things that's Easier Said Than Done. When I decided that I wanted to keep bees again (after a year-long break, where my schedule was just too hectic for bees), I put the word out among my friend, and almost instantly found myself in possession of a swarm of bees.  I thought I was ready for them, but I really wasn't. One of the tricky things about bringing home swarms, is that you're transporting the bees after sundown, and so you're installing them in your hive in the dark.  It's a bit late, perhaps you're tired or hungry, and under those circumstances it's easy to make mistakes.   When I was installing the bees in their new home, I somehow failed to put the correct number of frames inside my beehive.  I left open spaces.  I don't really remember why I did this. Perhaps the swarm was sitting


... This was the year that the pluot tree we planted burst with fruit. Previously, we had been thrilled to get a dozen or so fruits.  Now, we've got more fruit than we quite know how to manage.  I suspect I'll be making more jam this weekend.