Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apples and honey and ticks, oh my!

    The college had a three day break - do not ask why, I never understand these mid term breaks.  My husband and I spent some time tagging the apple trees on the farm.  We were also tagging the crab apples, but realized that all but possibly two were ornamental and not as important as we thought for a crop.
    We drove the truck all over the pasture, tying pink surveyor's tape to the  branches of the apples tree. Now, come mid/late winter, when we need to prune, we can hone in on the correct trees and get moving.  Pruning time will come just as we are very busy with the Spring musical production of Carousel - a gorgeous monster of a show - so we want to be as efficient as possible.  As we tagged, we tasted.  Some of the apples are good, some fabulous, and a couple were just blah.  There are twenty-six trees, if we do not count the rogues that have self planted.  All need pruning, and tending.  They have scab and are not beautiful to look at, but a couple years of attention and I
think we will have decent crops.
    Many of the apples have already come down in the wind, but some are still tightly on the trees.  Tree #25 turned out, to our delight, to be a Granny Smith.  These are the backbone of my "family famous" apple pie, so we had to grab some to bake up this weekend.  I shinnied up the tree and tossed the fruit to my husband, scraping my arms in the process, but altogether thrilled.  I had forgotten how much I love tree climbing.
    When we got home, I felt something tickling my chest, and looked down to see a deer tick climbing out of my bra.  Ick. Mashed him to a pulp (after taking him off my chest).  Later that evening I was sitting at the computer, and realized my eyelid was really sore.  I rubbed a finger over it, and felt something rough, so I thought I had unwittingly scratched it while in the tree.  I asked my husband to take a look, and he did.  Then he said,  "It's not a scratch.  Don't ask.  Close your eye."  Then he proceeded to try and pull a deer tick off my eyelid.  It did not come off.  We went to get tweezers, first putting some Vaseline on it, hoping it would back out. Ha! no luck!  So my husband grabbed that little sucker with the tweezers, and pulled.  Nothing.  Pulled again.  Nope.  It liked where it was and was going to stay put.  It took sever tugs, a great deal of pain, and the lost of a chunk of skin to remove that beast, but he finally succumbed.
     Earlier in the day we had decided to harvest the honey from the second hive.  The blue hive has always been interesting - heavier on the propolis, lighter on the harvest.  This year it was also very heavy on the propolis (this is the glue like substance the bees make from sap to fill any holes and keep out drafts - very sticky and nearly impossible to get out of clothing). We pulled the covers and checked the super and found nothing.  The bees had drawn out the comb (built out the cells meant to hold the honey) but there was no honey at all.  The hive sits about 3 feet away from the flower hive, and the only difference it there is a branch from a pine tree shading the top of the blue hive. Next Spring we are going to move this hive.  There are several places on the property where we could put it, or we can find a place on the farm.  The advantage of the farm is there are so many flowers and they will help pollinate as we get started planting.  The disadvantages include: bears and needing to protect the bees from them; distance from the house for processing; and finding a place that will not interfere accidentally with the livestock.
   So this weekend I have been harvesting the honey from the flower hive.  It is quite a lot, and oh, so delicious!  I am doing the "scrape and crush method" as this allows me to harvest the wax after the honey has dripped out.