Monthly Archives: May 2011

Haulin’ water

So, yesterday I mentioned that we set the first 4 posts for the bee yard.  To make them semi-permanent, I wanted them anchored in concrete.  The property that we own is raw land so we do not yet have water available on site.  To mix the concrete, of course, we needed water.  I hated the idea of hauling water especially since we didn’t have any sort of official water carrier.  Still, without it, we were dead in the…uh…water.  So, we decided on two water sources.  First, we had a five gallon bucket that had a seal-able lid that worked very well.  Knowing that would not be enough, we also filled a 30 gallon plastic tote half way full of water.

This is next on my list of stuff to get at Tractor Supply!

We (meaning me) should have known better but in my haste to get out there, I decided to press on.  Half way full won’t slosh too much, right?  I mean, I put a cover on it.  No problems, right?  Yeah, wrong.  It’s gets even funnier.  In addition to all that water, I had 320 pounds of concrete and 50 pounds of gravel…oh yeah, and four 4x4s as well as all of the stuff we normally take out there.  We were packed solid and ready for anything.

So, I slowly start down the driveway.  Our house is on a steep hill so we didn’t even get out of our driveway before the water sloshed out and all over the back.  Remeber all that stuff I had back there?  Yeah.  I figured at that point that we are already wet…it can’t get worse, right?  Wrong.

The interstate part of the trip was smooth as you might expect.  But, we go from interstate to a 2-lane paved road.  Also not so bad.  It’s when we went from paved road to “paved” road that things got worse.  Emily and I had a “discussion” about the whole thing.  During that “discussion”, I decided that it would be better for her to drive so we switched places…you can sort of see the tone of our dialogue.

Emily and me "discussing" in the back of the van

Anyhow, we finally made it, missing only a few gallons.  I dug the first hole and went to get the first bag of concrete.  You know, concrete comes in paper bags.  Do you know what happens to paper bags when they meet water?  Nothing good I can tell you.

Anyhow, I quickly learned new and creative ways to carry the concrete and all ended well in that regard.  See, no worries, right?  Not so much.  I am now the proud driver of the van until the mildew smell gets out of the back end.  I hope it doesn’t get too hot the next few days.  I may not survive!

The beginning of our bee farm

We bought a piece of property a few months ago.  There are lots of reasons we bought the place including it’s beauty, it’s size, etc.  One of the big reasons, however, was to have a place to move the bees.  You may recall that I had a bit of trouble last summer during the harvest.  It was after that event that I decided that we needed a place out somewhere where the bees could be away from people.  “The event” was probably a once in a lifetime thing (I hope) but I can’t take the chance.

Aren’t these daisies pretty?   They are everywhere in the hay field…

Our new place is outside of Charleston in the country so, of course, there is a potential for bears to be around.  If you remember your Winnie the Pooh, bears tend to like honey.  A determined bear cannot really be stopped, but a good electric fence will dissuade all but the most determined bears from messing with the bee hives.  So, the beginning of our bee farm has to be a good electric fence.

We found a nice sunny spot on the property away from where we plan to do most of our other messing around.  Emily, the kids and I laid out what is to become our first bee yard at the new place.  We set 4 corner posts in concrete.  Being thrifty as I am, we decided to hand dig the fence post holes.  When I put our fence in for the dog, I ran into all sorts of roots and rocks but the digging at the bee yard was easy…apart from the fact that we had to dig 3 foot deep holes.  It was warm and humid so we took turns digging.  Abigail and Isaac both wanted to help so I was happy to oblige…and they earned their supper for sure!  Really, the kids were great and a big help.  Let’s hope they will help with the bees too!

So, we will let the posts set up this week and add the rest of the supports, posts, wire, etc next weekend if all goes well.  After digging the holes, we are committed so the bee farm is officially underway!  Who knew a few fence posts would make me so excited!?!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a funny story about our posts!

Milkshake mania!

My company recently bought a restaurant in South Charleston, WV which will soon be converted into office space.  As a part of the process, all of the restaurant equipment has to be sold so remodeling can begin.  This was a fairly large, well known, established restaurant so there is a ton of stuff in the building.  Lots of restaurant folks have been through the place buying things they need but I was very fortunate to be among the first round of people to get a shot at a few things.  Let me introduce to you my new best friend…

That’s right…in my kitchen, as we speak, I have an industrial strength, commercial grade milkshake making beast!  This, my friends, is the Hamilton Beach 94900 which is capable of bringing frozen goodness and delight to men, women and children alike!  The price was right and karma was with us so we scored a gem!

But before you get too jealous, let me take you back to its beginnings.  Mainly, it was gross.  The sanitary status of the machine was questionable.  In fact, there was still a chocolate chip and gooey icecream on the impeller when I received “the Beast”.  After much Mean Green and elbow grease, the milkshake machine was made whole again.

So, we have made several milkshakes with this thing and it is so much nicer to use than a blender.  It’s  faster to set up, faster to clean, faster to produce a milkshake and it makes smoother milkshakes hands down.  I love the new milkshake machine and I think it is a hit with the family too!

It’s gouda stuff!

I was wandering through the grocery store the other day (which is really the only way I ever experience the grocery store) when I passed by the cheese area.  A certain joy overtook me as I saw that delectable red wax wheel covering, what I remembered to be, the cheese of the gods.  When I was a kid, my parents used to get a wheel of gouda cheese every now and then.  My brother and I waited patiently as mom and dad unwrapped the cellophane and sliced through the wax to cut out our wedges.  It was a bit of a delicacy when I was growing up so we got a fairly small piece each time so we could make it last several days.  I remember enjoying that whole experience so much.

That was supper one night

So, I bought a small wheel of gouda cheese the other day and did the routine, opening the wrapper, cutting the wax, doing all the stuff like when I was a kid.  You know what?  It was almost as good as I remember.  My tastes are probably a little more exotic now than they were when I was a kid but I think my “taste memory”  kicked in and made it taste far better than it really was.

Now I am no longer bound by rules of sharing or making it last or even letting anyone know I even bought the stuff.  It’s weird maybe, but I wanted to sort of keep it to myself a little.  Isn’t that weird?  Anyhow, I plowed through that wheel all by myself.  It was the first I had in a long time and was just sort of cool.  I think I will buy another wheel of gouda cheese though, and this time, I may just share small slivers with the kids.  We may try to make it last and talk about how special gouda cheese is.  I think my kids need to develop a “taste memory”.  I don’t know if they will ever have the love affair with gouda that I do, but I can try!  After all, not too many other foods can describe themselves…it’sa gouda!

Anyone else have a “taste memory” for something from when you were a kid?

Dirt Road People

We have started talking to some of the folks who live around our property in the woods and they are absolutely wonderful people.  One neighbor and I were talking about the view from atop our mountain.  He talked with a sparkle in his eye about when he first came to the ridge.  One view and he said that he felt like he could never leave.  It’s funny but that is pretty much the exact same reaction I had.  There is something about that ridge that leaves me in awe.

The view is incredible for sure but there is something else that makes it special.  Driving up there is a lesson in roads.  We start on interstate, do a little time on nice paved roads, then move on to a “paved” road, and finally dirt.  Our road is not dirty or sort of like dirt.  It is plain and simple a dirt road.  When I was a kid, there were lots of dirt roads around home.  Lots of people lived on some dirt road or another.  It seems like most of those dirt roads have since been paved and I think the pavement took a little something away from those roads.

Dirt roads are a different world.  Maybe it’s about being someplace simpler or maybe it’s reminiscent of old times.  Of course, maybe I just like playing in the dirt.  Either way, part of what makes our ridge special is that dusty old dirt road.

The neighbor and I were talking about how the world works and he said something along the lines of, “it doesn’t matter what happens ‘out there’.  We are just dirt road people and things just make sense up here.”  I am sure that is a paraphrase but it’s the absolute truth.  Regardless of what happens, “out there”, dirt roads just make a lot of things make sense.  While we are not full-blooded dirt road people yet, I like to think that a big part of my heart is up on our ridge and that I have a “dirt road person” inside of me ready to bloom!

Our woods

We spent our time at the property on Saturday walking in the woods.  Our plan was to walk more of the property line as we still haven’t seen the entire place.  We did hike the better part of the boundary and discovered all sorts of excellent things!  Except for the constant chatter of kids, the sounds of the woods were magnificent.  Actually, the chatter wasn’t so bad either as the kids were having fun.

When I was a kid, hiking in the woods was not high on my list of fun.  I played in the woods a lot but plain old hiking wasn’t good for me.  I was so surprised that Isaac and Abigail walked the entire 2 miles in the woods with only a small handful of complaints.  Incredible!

We did walk the better part of the lower edge of the place and saw all sorts of beautiful flowers and animal tracks of all sorts.  There were too many deer tracks to even keep track of but the kids tried to identify every print they came across.

That's Abigail's finger...she's the brave one

We spooked a turkey and saw the biggest centipede the kids had ever seen.  We found just a little bit of poison ivy and a lot of slippery moss.  Squirrels barked and birds announced our path through the woods.  All around us was noise but it felt like silence.  It was marvelous walking in our woods and this weekend was the reason we bought the place!  I am absolutely positive that my blood pressure is still lowered because of it!