Sunday, August 29, 2010

mo' honey

yup, i harvested more honey.  this time from the front hive, also known as hive number two.  how much?  55 pounds even.  as every good market seller should, i made sure to test the product.  

all i've got to say is, "may i have some more please"?
now to bottle, label and transport to market.
no not all of it, a good bit stays home.  i'm not that crazy!

honey totals for 2010 (so far...)
hive one - 87lbs
hive two - 95lbs
most excellent

i placed (re-placed depending on how you look at it) two supers full with frames with fresh wax foundation on hive number one.  my bees do not like the plastic frames.  they want the real thing so i give it to them.  i don't blame them.
note to all beekeepers - give your bees what they want.  the rewards are worth the investment.   
they are busy flying and working quite steadily like happy bee creatures do.  in fact they had filled all supers and frames before i arrived in for this latest harvest.  with no available frames, the bees had gone forward, built their own comb structure and filled the top feeder with capped honey.  i harvested just at space was waning.  i left the top feeder honey comb as it was.  it will provide food for the bees so they might feed themselves and/or new brood with the goods.   looks like i'll have to check in on them more often.  healthy bees are productive, speedy bees.

the back hive, hive number one, is in need of frames so i've got to spend some time today cleaning out those frames i just harvested from, load them in supers and place them on the hive.  we've had real dry weather as of late but the activity has not slowed.  i hope that by the end of the day all will be dandy in hippychick bee-landy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

honey honey hippychick honey

- the real deal - 
all natural raw and unprocessed honey from organically raised honey bees

anticipating the bottling

spilled honey in refection 
- simply beautiful -

mild tingly sweet alive - hippychick's dreamy kraut

all i can say is wow!  and a big big thank you

never did this hippychick dream that the process of introducing the great, wondrous and yummy universe of living raw sauerkraut to folk at the bastrop producers market could be so much fun.

i wondered and worried that the goods might not be appreciated for the great good that they are.  cabbages somehow live in the bad rap universe for some - i was on a mission to turn that around.

the good news is...

the good folk of the market have informed me that there is no need to worry - folks are eating the stuffs up including myself. i have started a new habit of enjoying kraut for early morning breaking fast.  yup hippychick eats kraut for breakfast - what can i say.

i like the zing!  and it tastes darn good!  what more do you want?

granted the group i'm working with are folk who care about their food, food sources, their own health and local economies.  how the kraut would fly in a larger community has yet to be tested.  nonetheless...

i spent a bit of time at the bastrop producers market saturday last sharing samples with the good folk of the market.   i was there, for the purposes of my own product research.  the sauerkrauts had been on the shelf for a few weeks and i was curious to learn how folks felt about the product and how/if i could improve and/or modify the product to better please folk.  turns out, so far anyway,  that folk enjoy each of the products just the way they are.  now that is really good news

here's how the day went.  i set out the goods.

 - raw easy being green kraut - 
organic green cabbage, organic green peppers, organic sea salt, coriander seed and celery seed.
- raw ultra-violet jumping juniper kraut - 
organic red cabbage, organic onions, organic sea salt, fresh ginger, caraway seed, coriander seed and juniper berries.
- raw cabbage 'n' carrot kraut - 
organic green cabbage, organic carrots, organic sea salt, caraway seed, coriander seed and celery seed.
at start, many folks looked me in the eye apologetically and said
"i am not really a sauerkraut person"
i was not discouraged.  i was there to listen.
i gave them a taste and imagine my pleasure when the next words heard were

"wow!  this is sauerkraut - ooh that's good!"  

or the

"can i try that cool looking ultra-violet ginger kraut next?" 

or the

"wow this tingles on my tongue, ooh feels good!" 

and my favorite
"you're going to keep this coming at the market i hope" 

well the answer is

yes indeed! i will keep the hippychick kraut coming.  

it is my pleasure to share with you my healthy, raw, organic living product.
let's keep this enjoyable eating experience going!

so come on by the bastrop producers market for
hippychick's living fermented goodie goods!

tuesday through friday 11am to 7pm
saturday 9am to 6pm
sunday 1pm to 6pm
monday rest day

977 Hwy 71
bastrop, texas 
between FM20 and Hwy2

Monday, August 2, 2010

makin' lemonaide from hot hot lemons

ooh mama it is feeling like texas.
today will be day two of triple digit heat.  

so far the creatures have been doing well.  a good great number of the chickenychicas are moulting.  bunbun is placed in the shade and comforted by his very own whirling fan while the kitty creatures and myself seek shelter in the shaded parts of the homestead place.  

i am busy on project this morn in hopes of moving the project on to the next phase later this afternoon.  moving the project on would make time for honey extraction of the frames from hive one and honey pulling from hive two but all in good time.  first things first.  

i had an interesting live active culture bread experience here just the other day.  i set out a jar partially filled with an organic flour and water mix.  no yeast was added just the flour and water.  i let the mix set for a few days, feeding a bit more flour and water each day until naturally formed culture bubbles were witnessed.  the bubbles were present day three, a sure sign that natural yeasts and bacteria were captured and in process of turning the flour and water into a lovely sourdough starter.  or so i thought.  

as the days passed, the starter began to smell cheesy-ish but looked fine.  there was no mold growth, nothing looked odd in color, everything seemed good.  i thought hmmpfh,  that must be what bastroptown yeast smells like.  five days in, i decided to make bread as it was bubbling real good and the homestead bread stores were down.  

again, while rising, i sensed the cheese-ish smell.  cheddar cheese i thought or rather cheddar like.  interesting.  and sure enough once baked and sliced there was a deep cheese flavor to the loaf.  deep enough to fool anyone who might not know it was a cheese-less organic loaf.  so i got to wondering which got me to searching for what might be going on.  i was sure it was something that magically occurred in the fermentation process.  i was not sure what the magic was until i came upon the following. 
Salt rising (or salt risen) bread is bread in which the main rising agent is a bacterium Clostridium perfringens , which leavens the bread along with lactobacillus and other wild microbes, as opposed to mainly yeast or baking soda. It is thought that the salt used in the starter is used to suppress yeast growth and provide an environment more conducive to the C. perfringens bacterium, allowing the flavors from the bacterial metabolic products to predominate over the more typical yeast and lactobacillus flavors; in situations where reduced salt might be necessary, similar yeast suppression results can be achieved by adding a Campden tablet to the starter mixture. Another assumption regarding the name is chunks of rock salt were heated and used to provide a warm, stable temperature in which to incubate a "starter" overnight for the C.perfringens to grow.

Salt rising bread is made from wheat flour, with a starter consisting of a liquid (water or milk), either corn, potatoes, or wheat, and some other minor ingredients. The starter distinguishes itself from a sourdough starter by working best with an incubation period of 6-16 hours at temperatures ranging from 38-45° C (98-113° F); a sourdough starter will usually work best at or below room temperature. The resulting bread is of a dense crumb and favorable cheese-like flavor. The exact origin of this bread is unknown, but evidence suggests that it was well known throughout Scotland and Ireland during the mid- to late-1600s. Currently, the tradition is kept alive by relatively few individuals and bakeries that tend to be clustered in the mid to eastern United States. 
i believe the lack of a.c. in our hot hot temps helped to create a most excellent growing environment for the microbes and yeasts to grow. interesting fact though is that i used no salt nor campden tablet. the process happened all on it's own.

i put to jar another experiment just yesterday. this round is a mix of organic buckwheat flour, organic bread flour (wheat) and water. already it's bubbling. i wonder if it too will produce the cheese effect. all we can do is watch and wait. one thing for sure is that the temperatures are cooperating. i wonder what the yeasts and microbes will do next?

moral of this cheesy bread story...

it may feel hot for you.
it may feel the perfect temperature for others.

so when it's hot and your hankering for something cheesy put a mix of flour, water and time together and see if you too are able 
to make cheesy lemonaide from some hot hot lemons. or rather yeasts and microbes if you dare.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

ooh this could be cool... 2o1o honey harvest two!

future fullterbys feeding on a gone to seed parsnip plant

an interesting day so far...

a profitable day so far...

a sweet sweet day so far...

i had been a bit concerned for the out back honeybee hive the past few days.  i was not seeing the same great numbers of bees setting off for flight as i had in previous weeks and it got me to wondering.

  • did i have too many supers on the hive?  
  • were the supers full/empty/in bad shape?  
  • did i miss a swarm?  
  • is my queen in good shape?  
  • is my queen home? 
  • have the wax moths struck again?
  • is there another problem i'm not guessing at in the works?
  • could it possibly be harvest time?  oh please oh please fingers crossed
well there is no better way in finding out than to take a good look inside i thought so this very morning, i got to it.

i put on my new "bees cannot climb right in this veil" bee veil and jacket.  i put on a pair of thick jeans. i put on my rubber boots and gloves and i was on my way.  i got the smoker smoking.  i gathered my tools.  i set up a large swath of heavy weight plastic and a single empty super for the placement of hive parts while working.

the hive was sealed tight.  these bees were serious about keeping things airtight and secure from the elements and from unwanted visitors which might include me, the homestead beekeeper.  upon my first view in, i knew the deal.  happily, it was time for this season's second honey harvest.  amazing what a bit of healthy "keep the blooms blooming" rain will do for your colonies. outside of the frames being full of honey, the colony looked great.  they were all busy and possibly keeping tight inside in order to keep cool. 

super by super i pulled full frames out while transferring yet uncapped honey frames and brood frames (brood are future baby bees tended by nurse bees) into supers that would be returned to the hive structure.  there were several moments when i got a bit too close to the queen and the guard bees got right to business.  i took a few hits to the thigh which in light of my recent stings put me at caution.  i rubbed out the stingers and kept working.  calm and slow, calm and slow.

side note - for those who know about or do not know about my recent bee sting events
i had my recently prescribed epi-pen in the house and at the ready with mr. man also at the ready to help me out in case i got fearful or woozy but lucky for all of us, none of the pesky symptoms showed face.  i was ready at any time to step aside and administer the pen's goods if necessary as survival is an action i very much believe in.  the good news is that even with four stings - three to the front of my thigh and one in the rear - all is well. 
fyi - jeans are not thick enough to keep oneself from being stung.  next time, more layers, thicker layers, damned be the heat!  protection matters.
back to the honey collection report.  the key is to stay calm at all times.  the bees know when you are stressed and they will act up.  if you remain calm and move with a slow steady pace, you have a pretty good chance that the bees too will remain calm.  long story short - i pulled honey, the bees played mostly nice and all is well.

the bees are in great health. woohooo! the population is not for want as i feared, in fact, the population is booming as evidenced by the brood frames in hive which means that our queen is strong.  knowing my bees are strong healthy bees cheers me to no end.  something you might not know about my bees is that i, as keeper, use no chemicals or medications on my bees.  i purchased my two colonies from an aviary that practices organic chemical free beekeeping, has always practiced organic chemical free beekeeping and preaches the importance of doing so for the long term health of honeybees and for long term survival of the honeybee.  i will continue to raise my bees as such with joy and care and that's that.

back to the harvest.  the harvest is good.  the harvest is heavy.  i have not uncapped and extracted the load quite yet but i imagine this mid-summer harvest will prove at least as strong as the spring harvest's happy 50lbs.  and this is just one hive.  i'll not go into the front hive for a few days as projects outside of the farming universe need finishing first.

that said, the full mid-summer honey report is yet to come.

the timing of this harvest is perfect as the honey stores remaining at the bastrop producers market are quite slim.  sales are good, real good and this harvest will certainly fill our little slice of shelf space without a stitch.

one detail i have noticed is that my honeybees very much dislike the black plastic frames.  they avoid them like the plague and turn to them sometimes not at all and sometimes as last ditch effort.  but for the most part, they ignore them.  so i as keeper, want them gone.  this means building more frames and fitting them with natural beeswax.  i've got the parts to do so.  it's now up to me to make the time and get it done.  i think, for now anyway, i'll have enough frames to keep the bees busy with the frames i'll return once extracted.  the frames will return with either fresh wax foundation or as spun frames ready for bee cleanup.

the cleanup frames (those extracted but not fitted with fresh foundation) provide the bees with a natural food source and a base foundation that they will "clean up" and build upon for future honey stores.  the fresh frames will be those that might have experienced a bit too much stress in the extractor and prove in need of new and better supported structure.  honey is heavy.  you don't want your frames falling apart in the hive or upon removal from the hive as either situation could prove most messy and troublesome for both the bees and the keeper.

until i extract, i won't really know the condition of the currently pulled frames.  for now the honey frames lay quietly in two large plastic totes with covers.  i hope i hope i hope, to extract in the morrow.

until then folks - happy day to ya!

summer days n' chickenyways

chickenychica's relaxing in the big run
time for a bit to eat in a shaded space
rooroo with his adorable chickenychicas scratching about