Wax Fabric Wraps

Well, today is a sick day. Just enough under the weather to not be able to process numbers at work and after sleeping a full 12 hours, lazing around for the better part of the day I have just enough energy to attempt a long awaited project. Wax and pine resin fabric food wraps.

I have been intrigued for some time but just got the pine resin powder in this week. I think this looks fairly simple, even if a bit groggy.  Here goes the first attempt!

I got the instructions from Mommypotamus. I loved it when I saw it.

I used her ratio for different sized sheets of fabric but used coconut oil instead of Jojoba. No special reason other than it is what I had in my home making soap/balms arsenal. It seems to have worked just fine:

8×8 Sheet
2 teaspoons grated, packed beeswax
2 teaspoons powdered pine resin
1/2 teaspoon jojoba oil
11×11 Sheet
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated, packed beeswax
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon powdered pine resin
1 teaspoon jojoba oil
14×14 Sheet
1 tablespoon plus 2.5 teaspoons grated, packed beeswax
1 tablespoon plus 2.5 teaspoons powdered pine resin
2.5 teaspoons jojoba oil

I made a 9×9 sheet and used the same ratio as the 8×8, still worked. I mixed the ingredients per sheet in a saucer, mashed them with my fingers and sprinkled them on each sheet.

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As for lumping on the fabric when heated, just heat it more. The pine resin takes longer than the wax to liquefy. Have some patience, for all of 10 minutes, OK?  Used a wide craft brush to even the  melted oils over the fabric, holding one edge in place with a wooden skewer as they want to stick to the brush.

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I then hung the fabric over a make shift clothes line. I happen to have an antique indoor retractable clothes line. You just never know when these things will come in handy! I love old stuff. Some string and a couple of nails works too.

These dried by the time the next batch was out of the oven. They are tacky, as they should be, and my house smells like a bad car freshener, but it’s all good considering the nifty little things that they are.  (The plant on the window sill is turmeric. Whether it ever produces anything or not, it is a nice house plant.)

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They cling well but leave a film on my hands at the moment. If that doesn’t go away I will reheat them and add another piece of fabric on top and press out the excess oils into the next batch. It’s enough for today.***ended up reheating with double fabric to absorb the excess, ended up with twice the wraps, very neat.

If we had to keep all of our waste in our own back yard, we would do better at reusing and recycling (or you could just bury it like our grandfathers did… I am still digging up surprises in the garden yearly. Archaeological dig anyone?!).

Anyway, one more way to eliminate waste and a fun afternoon.

 

 

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Fresh Beginnings

As with every new year we settle down and rethink our plans for the upcoming year on the homestead. What can we expand, what should be dropped, what new projects can we take on?

This year sees us re-certifying our kitchen to allow us to go back full force to canning and making our much loved chicken pot pie and rhubarb rosemary BBQ sauce. We have applied to be part of a local craft fair in November 2018 so plans for that are under way. The raising of chickens is being expanded as are the bees. We have been experimenting with the brewing of honey mead and have come up with a very nice fruit flavored mead we hope to continue and expand on.

Our newest and most exciting project this year is creating a Saturday morning farmers market here on the homestead. We have our seeds ordered for early vegetables and are also doing an early batch of chickens. They should be ready just in time for the first market weekend.

To top off the plans is our application to the Future Farmers Program that should be able to assist us to become full fledged farmers. We are currently working on a rough business plan. To this point we have been working off our lists and personal drive but the time has come to get official and narrow down a 5 year plan to get us to our goals.

 

From all of this we can tell you it is never too late to make your life into what you dream of. From a couple of “almost old timers”, make a plan, be flexible and look for your local resources. If at first your plan doesn’t work, take a break and look at it with fresh eyes and enthusiasm and try again.

What else are you doing but living your life?

 

Bee Sting Remedy

 

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Honey comb variations from the hives…and a spoon, the best first sampling of the harvest.

It’s honey harvest time. After taking in 15 frames from 2 hives and being ever so proud of not getting stung, I figured that was enough for one day.

Pride is a dangerous and vindictive thing.

We filled two empty hive boxes sitting on the kitchen table, covered them with a towel for the night, figuring we would get to the straining in the morning. The cuttings and scrapings went into a couple of large bowls that we covered in plastic to contain any remaining bees that got swamped in the honey.

It is also garlic harvest time so that occupied the rest of our day and evening, then off to bed we went.

With the morning came the realization that I had not in fact gotten all of the bees off of the frames. First it was one crawling on the table, OK take her outside…then is was one on the floor, and a couple on the table cloth…time to look inside the boxes. They are persistent little things when it comes to their honey stores.

The boxes and bowls quickly went to the deck where we patiently flicked honey covered bees onto plates to have a chance at survival. I was completely unaware that a few lovelies had fallen to the deck floor and were quietly walking around, drying off and getting adventurous.

I have no idea why I am so slow to learn that open legged  pants have no place around bee work. One wayward bee ended up inside my pants.(Ending up pantless is becoming a regular bee experience for me; faster than small talk and a drink, let me tell you!)Running inside and discarding my pants in the kitchen and quickly making my way to the bathroom to end my pain with this: HOT COMPRESS. It’s like magic (or science…meh, whatever).

After our first trip to the late night ER, as we unfortunately came to realize W is allergic to bee stings, the doctor asked what we had done already. We had ensured the stingers were removed, put an ice pack on the swelling and W had taken an over the counter allergy medicine. Our instinct to treat swelling with cold was incorrect in this scenario. The bee venom deteriorates in the heat of a simple hot wet cloth. We are now the proud owners of double strength prescription Clariton, an Epi-pen and this simple knowledge.

A hot compress is the easiest method for those not allergic(me) to eliminate the pain. The swelling still happens but is much less and the pain is instantaneously gone.This really is all I care about as I am,beyond a doubt, a wimp about pain.

So next time a misguided bee goes all “Defender of the Realm” on you, just scrape out the stinger and get a hot compress on it as soon as possible.

It’s the price of honey, wide leg pants and short term memory issues (tuck pants into boots, got it… maybe).

Bee Garden

Now that the vegetables are planted and the first round of meat chickens completed there is time to focus on the development of the perennial bee garden. We started with 6 butterfly bushes and 6 catnip bushes in front of the bee hives to keep them from flying too low when they leave…then the idea grew.

The bed is 1000 square feet and is directly in front of the Beehive village. This does add a level of difficulty in planting. I have been doing most of it first thing in the morning (they seem to wake at 9 am) and even then I keep crouched low so I’m not in their way. You do not want to be the obstacle in their flight path. I have managed to wear only a head scarf and sun hat to keep the bees from getting stuck in my hair. It’s quite the crazy garden lady look but hey, whatever keeps me from squashing a Bee in my hair is a good thing. If I go out too late the full hood is needed, so I try not to.

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The hat options.

Friends have been contributing perennial seeds or divided plants and we have been collecting from perennial sales as they happen. That plus moving what was in the yard (chives, lavender, cone flowers…) and we are looking full (on paper).  Much to my chagrin the crows think that I am playing hide and seek with their food. Every time I plant seeds they clean them out…I have saved a good variety of seeds for next year and will start them inside, planting small plants instead.

The plan on paper:

Bee Garden plan
This thing lives in my pocket.

I had to research every plant for height and width, made a simple chart from short to tall and tried to figure out placement from that.

The flowers we have used are: Cherry trees(2), Bee Balm(3 varieties), Astilbe, Rose Cleome, Lavender(Hidcote and Munstead), Butterfly bush, Cat Nip, Poppies, Cone flowers(yellow and purple),Purple millet, Borage,  Phlox, Holly Hocks, Phalecia, Helenium, Goblin Blanket flowers, Onion Chives, Hyssop Anise, Arctic Fire Dianthus, and  Arabis Snowcap. We added in some annual seeds of Sun flowers(3 heights), Marigolds and Calendula. That’s 29-ish varieties so far. We are always open to more flowers for the bees, we will find a home for them.

The plot is divided into 4 quadrants with a walking path meeting in the center at a bee/bird bath. We have floated sponges in the water for the bees to rest on and not drown but the birds keep eating them and tossing them out. We are trying a wire and cork arrangement with copper fittings in the water to help prevent the green slim growth.

This year will be what it is (minus the eaten seeds) and we will develop the future as we see results, deciding if we like them or not. It’s nothing to look at yet; too much space between plants(will be bigger next year), weeds moving in over the missing seed spaces, the walkway needs to be brick edged and filled with mulch(cut down trees in the back 40 so have a huge pile in the side yard, also really pretty??), the water bath has settled with a wee lean to the right…just things to keep us busy really. It is started and as with any beginning there is learning and corrections to be done.

Something about believing you have a long wealth of future to work with makes planning a perennial garden fun. We will still be here, working this property, so there is no hurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bees in the house,their’s not mine.

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The new bees are in. Five nucs arrived in a field near us for pick up, after a short wait for everyone to get back inside the box, we were set for home. That was evening so they had to wait until morning to be transferred into their new homes.

The boxes consisted of 4 deep super frames full of bees, brood, honey and hopefully a queen(didn’t see any but I have full faith that one is there or they will make one).The bees are from Ontario and the queens are from Chili. Full inspection for hive beetle , done twice, confirms we are clear and safe. Each hive got a quart of 1:1 sugar water, a piece of pollen patty to boost their chances and where left to settle in.

Tomorrow after 2 days of settling in they will get a full inspection to see how they are doing.

Can you say honey overload??? We hope so.

New Hive Village

We have been building the new hives over the winter months and it was finally time to paint the roof shingles and assemble them on their stands. They are protected from the north winds, are south facing and level so there is a better chance of them building straight comb.

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We waited until dusk to move the one hive that made it through the winter. The second hive unfortunately starved to death when we got -30 winds for a couple of days. The hive was half filled with honey but it was too cold for them to move to the other side of the hive where the food was, poor little girls.

We are styling and ready for the five new nucs that are coming soon.

Now if they can just stop getting stuck in my hair,twice today was a bit much (I was painting the tops on the hives, so really it’s my own fault).

 

First Day Foraging

The bees found the crocus. It’s their first day really getting out and about.

Another couple of weeks and we have 5 new Nucs being delivered, so have been busy building new hives. The new and improved design is working out to be quite pretty. They just need the stands made for the 3 pairs of hives, then cap and seal the shingled tops.

Honey is a labor of love, pine and bee stings.