Go, me!

I finished item 87 on my 101 Things list: Update Route66motels.com and fix any messed-up links.

My next big goal is to finish item 2: Finish reading Prose Works. I’m pretty close, but I haven’t had time to read much lately because I’ve been so busy with work and bees and a dozen other projects. I’m hoping I’ll have some time to study this weekend.

Emily

Puppies!

OK, so they’re not exactly puppies — they’re more like world-weary retired prizefighters trying to retrain for new careers — but the Washington Post has a set of very sweet slideshows about Michael Vick’s pit bulls and the people who are helping them learn how to live like normal dogs. Unless you are a totally callous jerk, they will probably make you cry, but go take a look anyway.

Emily

Bison

We went up to the Tallgrass Prairie this afternoon with Ron’s parents. This was the first time we actually saw the bison herd while we were there. They were close enough to the road for me to get some pictures, which I’ll post as soon as I get a hand free to Photoshop them. A baby crossed the road right in front of us. Its mother had to follow it to get it to move, because it wanted to stop right in the middle of the road and look around. I bought Jamie a Folkmanis bee puppet at the gift shop. I wanted to get him a bison puppet, but they didn’t have one.

While we were up in that part of the state, we had some terrific chicken-fried steak for lunch at Jump’s Roller Inn in Fairfax.

We’re going out to put supers on our hives at Nuyaka and Living Kitchen tomorrow, and then we’re taking Larry and Phyllis to Van’s Pig Stand.

Emily

Crazy busy

OK … in the past 24 hours, I have rendered about 3/4 of a pound of beeswax, harvested peppermint, dehydrated peppermint, crushed peppermint for tea, packaged tea into small baggies, and bought materials to make beeswax lip balm and hand lotion. I’m hoping to make a batch of each in the next half-hour before Ron’s parents — who are in from Illinois this weekend — come to pick me up for dinner.

I would like to note, for the record, that I have great in-laws. Being longtime farmers, Larry and Phyllis did not hold it against me when they walked in this afternoon to find every surface in the kitchen (and most of the surfaces in the living room) covered with cucumbers, tomatoes, jars of honey, beeswax-covered containers, pickles, dehydrator parts, mint leaves, beekeeping equipment, canning jars, and various other objects that might lead the average urbanite to believe that I hadn’t cleaned the house since the Carter administration.

Larry and Phyllis recognized at a glance that we are simply in the middle of a very productive season, and the hyperactive-FFA-convention-on-speed look should in no way be considered a reflection on my housekeeping skills, because every single bit of apparent clutter is actually a critical part of some project that has to be done right this minute because Mother Nature says so.

Emily

UPDATE: I made peppermint lip balm before Larry and Phyllis got here. It turned out so well that I gave Phyllis a little container of it to try. We went out to Las Americas for dinner (tripas tacos … mmmm) and then headed over to the fairgrounds to watch part of a horse show and wander around the buildings for a little while. When I got back, I dried the rest of the peppermint and made a double batch of natural honey lip balm and two kinds of hand lotion. The lip balm turned out really well. The lotion is nice, but it’s a pretty unappealing color, so I won’t be selling any. We’re going out for chicken-fried steak and visiting the Tallgrass Prairie tomorrow, which should be fun.

The perils of bird netting

We put bird netting over the blackberries this summer to protect them from avian marauders. We do this every year. It’s never been a problem before, but for some reason, it’s causing problems for small creatures this year. A few days ago, a black swallowtail butterfly had gotten caught under the netting, and I wound up having to cut a big hole to free it. This evening, I was checking on my sunflowers when I heard a whirring noise nearby and discovered a pretty little female hummingbird trapped between the netting and the brambles. As I pulled the netting taut so I could tear a hole in it to free my tiny captive, she got scared, darted back toward the fence, and found her way out.

I’ll have to figure out a safer way to protect my blackberry crop from birds next year. I like berries, but I like hummingbirds and butterflies more, and I don’t want to endanger the pretty little creatures that are coming to pollinate my sunflowers. (Come to think of it, maybe that’s the problem: We didn’t have sunflowers behind the fence the past two years, so we probably didn’t have a lot of butterflies and hummingbirds back there.)

In other garden news, there’s a big, fat toad hanging out under the cucumber and tomato vines. I suspect it’s stuffing itself with mosquitoes, which like to hide in the cool shade under those big cucumber leaves.

Emily

Adventures in Podcasting

Here’s another one I can cross off the 101 Things list:

72. Experiment with Podcasting.

I created a Podcast about our latest adventures in beekeeping. For some reason, the “play” link doesn’t seem to want to do anything (possibly because of high Web traffic?) but the download link works just fine.

If you have trouble getting the Podcast, I also uploaded the movie to YouTube:

Not bad for a girl who still listens to Neil Diamond on vinyl, eh? 😉

Emily

Folk Thursday: Emma Jane Pendleton

This isn’t a YouTube video, so I can’t embed the link, but click here to see a Soundslides show featuring Emma Jane Pendleton performing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” the song that won her first place in the Patsy Montana National Yodeling Championship.

Emma Jane’s achievement earned her some ink in the Tulsa World yesterday; you can read the story here. Her little sister, Marina, took second place in the contest.

The girls are also accomplished fiddlers who perform frequently in the Tulsa area. Here’s a video of them performing at the National Fiddler Hall of Fame gala earlier this spring:

If you’re in the area and want to catch one of their shows, you can find a list of upcoming performances here.

I happen to know that in addition to being talented musicians, the Pendleton girls are very bright, very funny, and very helpful — just the sort of kids you’d want to see in the spotlight.

At least one of them has excellent taste in blogs, too. 😉

Emily

Cucumbers and honey

 

We harvested, extracted, and bottled honey today. I have tons of video of the process, but it will be a while before I get it all edited and spliced together into something resembling a coherent Podcast. We harvested 10 frames. The photo above shows the first six frames’ worth of honey. The new extractor worked very well. Every surface in our house seems to be coated with honey at the moment, but it’s worth it.

I’ve spent a lot of time working in the kitchen lately, processing things I’ve harvested from the garden. Last night, I made a batch of pickles:

This pickle recipe is a slight variation on one my mom’s friend Dana gave her. I’ll post it later.

All the cucumbers that had gotten too big and ripe to use for pickles wound up being turned into relish. I don’t normally eat much relish, but I think this stuff is straight-up awesome. I made the recipe up as I went along, based on three or four recipes I’d seen online and a few of my own ideas about what I’d like on a hot dog.

Here’s the recipe:

 

Emily’s Pickle Relish

About six large or 10 small pickling cucumbers, quartered, with seeds removed
Two large red onions, peeled and quartered
Three bell peppers, cored and quartered
Five ribs of celery, washed and trimmed
1 c. cider vinegar
2 c. water
1/3 c. pickling salt
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. mustard seed
1 tbsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. celery seed
1 tsp. cloves, crushed
1 head garlic, peeled and pressed

Place vegetables in food processor and chop finely. Place chopped vegetables in colander and let drain for an hour or so.

 

Place remaining ingredients in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to keep sugar from burning. Stir and boil liquid until its volume decreases by about a third. Remove from heat. (You could probably shorten the cooking time here by simply using less water to start with.)

 

Place drained vegetables in a large bowl. Stir syrup into vegetables. Pack in small jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Makes about six pints.

After all our hard work the past couple of days, we rewarded ourselves tonight with a trip to the Performing Arts Center downtown to see The Phantom of the Opera. I’d already seen Phantom two or three times in St. Louis, but Ron had never seen it. The performers were all really good, and even Ron — who normally hates Andrew Lloyd Webber — enjoyed it. 

Hope your day was as good as mine.

Emily