Friday, 5 July 2013

Work In Progress


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It’s summer, it started today Smile

On the left, the cherry vodka is starting to take on some colour. 

The blackcurrants are from friends in exchange for some cherries and are destined for blackcurrant jelly.

The little bottle has some vanilla pod in vodka.  I read a post on the Homesteading / Survivalism  Facebook page on making it and thought I’d give it a go.

And finally the bottle on the right is the start of walnut wine.  This is a wine, brandy and green walnut concoction which if left to mature turns out a bit like sweet sherry.

The Hay Harvest 2013


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The hay has been done and is in the barn: Three days of shifting hay bales, not all mine I must add.  There are three groups of us who get our hay cut at the same time and we then help each other to bring it in and store it. 

This year I had nigh on 300 bales but not all are usable.  The weather has been strange as I’m sure I’ve previously said and for the first time since I’ve been here, there was standing water down the middle of most of my hayfield and that’s even with the hay being cut nearly a month later than usual.

But I have a hayloft full of hay, around 240 bales thanks to some wonderful friends.  All the doors are open beneath the hayloft to help make sure it stays cool and, should any of the bale be slightly damp help dry them.  The bales have been stacked no more than 4 high and only one bale wide, (across, two bales lengthwise), and a gap of 50cm between each of the stacks.  The batteries have been changed in the smoke alarms and I’m now just going to be a bit paranoid for the next month or so as the barn is part of my house and I sleep right next to the barn!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

I’ve Bee-n Busy!

Sorry for the terrible pun but I just couldn’t resist it.
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I’ve been taking bee-keeping lessons on and off for the last few years.  I’d finally got round to getting my hives but thought I’d missed the boat this year to go and collect a swarm.  However, I received an e-mail from a friend who said she knew of someone who had come down to a holiday home and discovered a bee’s nest between a window and its shutters and did I know of anyone who could remove it.
Well, I’d only held a frame of bees once but luckily one of the members of the local bee group I’m with, (Martyn), had been to assist in the removal of one of these nests and was eager to have a go himself.  I wanted bees so despite the distance away the bees were we decided we’d remove them.
The bees had built their combs over the handle of the shutters so we couldn’t get at the nest from the outside but the window was  really easy to get at from the inside.
We tentatively opened the window and applied some smoke.  Some of the flying bees came into the room but most of the bees remained on the comb and Martyn then cut the comb to size and detached it from the window.  We attached the comb to the frames with elastic bands and placed the combs and as many bees as we could collect into the Langstroth hive I’d brought along.  Considering we were in effect destroying their home, the bees were remarkably good tempered, something I’m really happy about.
We then had to do something we’d rather not have had to do.  We had to abandon and destroy the bees that hadn’t stayed with the comb.  Normally we would have left the hive for a day or two and collected it a following evening when hopefully most of the flying bees would have gone back onto the comb.  Unfortunately, one of the occupants of the house suffers from anaphylactic shock from bee stings and because of that we had to remove the bees as soon as possible.
But I am now a bee-keeper and there should be more bee posts to follow.  Smile