Wednesday, February 06, 2008

thanks for the support

i really appreciate everyones compassionate responses to milk and honey. our trouble is a family affair. there has been no true resolution. i have to carry on as status quo in hopes that a resolution will be revealed.

in an effort to take my mind off the fiasco at hand we went to visit the local bee keeper. his name is thomas davidson. he came recommended by the president of the national apiary society. he has 150 working hives and sells his honey all over the ozark area.

i brought the entire family to see his shop. he was very cool. the kids explored. he had a little show and tell. we talked for quite a while. he climbed his pulpit and pontificated about the perils of insecticides. he offered natural solutions to all of the problems that he experienced. it was very interesting seeing an elderly man railing about how mainstream honey production has been poisoning us. he was preaching like this before he knew that i was part of the choir.

a breath of fresh air amidst the treacle of my past few days.

i am very excited to get bees. there are many risks but integrating this into our life is a natural step. we already use a ridiculous amount of honey and plan to use much more. our hope is to use honey in all of our preserving efforts that would normally require sugar. Putting it up with Honey by Susan Geiskopf is tabitha's latest book purchase. i estimate that we will use ten to twelve gallons of honey per year. we already use about four.

the newly discovered bread recipe from an old copy of The Tassajara Bread Book takes a cup of honey for four loaves of bread. that is a twice per week task keeping this ravenous family in bread. yearly that is 6.5 gallons of honey alone.

tabitha wants to plant some concord grape vines and transplant our wild black raspberries to our northern property line. adding a soaker hose from the strawberry raised bed will provide the whole addition with water.

we need to offset one of our largest expenditures of jelly. not only is bonne maman raspberry jelly crazy expensive but it is imported from france. the carbon footprint on that single staple is huge. if we exclude that jelly, making our goal of a daily meal within 100 miles likely by default. we eat a ton of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around here.

during summer we also plan a weekly meal of the 100 foot challenge type.

once our garden starts to come on it should be be fairly easy. the hard part will be to make the meals exciting enough to post about them.

we plan early canning of as much of our garden as possible. the new baby will arrive in late summer and putting things up for winter will slow to a snails pace.

i also plan to build a solar dehydrator that tabitha found. i hope that tabitha doesn't expect me to build it as scantily clad as the guy in the link. overlooking the racy photos, this is a great design. i'll probably add a P.V. powered fan for more air movement. the humidity in the ozarks makes it hard to dehydrate foods. this will be how i plan to store much of our summer bounty after the baby arrives.


pablo said...

You might look for A Book of Bees: and how to keep them by Sue Hubbell. She lived for many years in the Ozarks and made her living by selling honey.

I've read all of her books, some several times.

Ed Abbey said...

I am the son of a beekeeper so I grew up around bees. I always have about five pounds in my house at any given times.

Perhaps the best use for honey is replacing it 3/4 cup honey to 1 cup sugar in cookie recipes. You end up with chocolate chip cookies that are soft and chewy days after they were baked and if you pop them into a microwave for a few seconds, they are exactly like fresh baked. I'll never go back to granulated sugar.

tansy said...

boy, he is ripped though, isn't he?! heh

i only dry in an electric dryer because of the humidity. i hope to try the car method this summer though.

good luck on the bees! i can't wait to hear about them. our beekeeping equipment just arrived from kelley's bees yesterday.

jenny said...

Like your family, we go through quite a lot of jelly in our house, too! I also liked Maman's raspberry jelly until I started making my own and have been since 2004 or so.. I can't remember the last time we have bought jelly from the stores. I started out with strawberry jams and rhubarb jams, moved on to marmalades and pear and apple butters and since moving to our current place and discovering blackberries, mulberries and wild grapes on the property, I make berry jellies! I now make a mixture I call crazy berry jelly. Uses both the last of the mulberries and the start of the blackberries and then I add in the juice of strawberries and I can't keep it in the jars long enough! We go through 2 or 3 pints a month! Tastes better than maman's and I'll never go back!

Lots of bee keepers here where we live and we buy our honey from them. They sell it in quart jars for $6 which is far far cheaper than the stores, plus I am helping to support the country neighbors. Don't feel the need to keep our own hives. How much does honey go for around your part?

I have been lurking about your blog for quite some time and I admire your family's tenacity to do what you're doing. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

jayedee said...

welp, i like my men real thank you!

just wanted you to know that i'm still sending positive thoughts and prayers your way.

keep the faith!

Madeline said...

We are trying bees at our farm, for the second time. The first time, bees didn't survive the mites, using natural preventative methods. This time, though they aren't producing enough honey yet for us to eat it, they are surviving - after almost a year. It is impoprtant to get more bees out there, with so many disappearing. I want to get that book you have about preserving with honey. Sounds great.

Moonwaves said...

Oh my, all that honey and you haven't even mentioned what you might need for making mead! (which is a wonderful drink I've heard, no personal experience of course!).

I've wanted a solar dehydrator since I saw this one on It's Not Easy Being Green last summer:
These guys do lots of wonderful things using pallets which makes me long to be able to work with wood. Sigh. It's on the list of things to learn.

Danielle said...

Yeah, those were some pretty racy dehydrator photos. lol

Jim read between the lines and said it was family not town. As someone else mentioned, keep the faith. The mantra, "And this too shall pass" helps a lot, too, in my experience.

I start my beginning beekeeper's class on Tuesday evening, and my nuc's on order. I'm very excited. It'll be fun to hear about your journey.

Woody said...

Karl...glad to hear you are going to work bees. We too use a ton of honey. I just think it's so cool that something that is so soothing on burns can taste sooo good.


Aurora said...

Honey is a huge chunk of our food bill. We would also love to have bees someday. First we need the homestead. :)

tansy said...

btw, does it count on the 100 foot diet if your garden, orchard and barns are more than 100 feet away from your house?

just ignore me, i'm feeling feisty today.

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