Friday, July 29, 2011

Donna's hibiscus flowers continue to go bonkers.


We distilled a gallon of REALLY nice mountain mint hydrosol today. The plants really like this hot weather, they are very pungent and potent. Cool wet weather seems to make for wimpy herbs.

I do not mess around when I harvest herbs. This is all that's left of the mountain mint plant. I promise you, it will grow back lusher, fuller, and more beautiful than ever. You can almost never cut back herbs too far.

The woody mint stems I save for my bunny. He loves them!

Donna, Maggie, and two friends shucked, cut and froze 16 dozen ears of GMO-free corn from
Our farm neighbors, Twin Girls Garden.

The yield: 33 pints corn and 8.5 quarts sopa de elote (Mexican corn soup)

Donna continues to work her booty off weeding and mulching the flowerbeds -no small feat in this humidity. Her perennial hibiscus are blooming, and look amazing!

And look at the size of these rosehips! Will be amazing in tea, jam or sauce.

We harvested our garlic. It will dry, then it can be trimmed, cleaned, stored and used.

Baby watermelon!!

We distilled a new hydrosol -bee balm. So far it's INCREDIBLE! really interesting, fabulously strong... Wild and pungent. We will give it a day or two to rest and mellow, and play with it. It has a lot of wonderful medicinal and aromatherapy properties.

And then.... Maggie's legendary mess-making tendencies kicked it. I was working on cleaning out our drying shed. We store packing peanuts in there, but last winter a raccoon got in and made a HUGE mess and they all have to be thrown away. I loaded a bunch in a box and carried them halfway across the farm to the trash.... Not realizing I was leaving a trail of peanuts the whole way behind me.

Lets just say... There is no good or easy way to clean up packing peanuts off wet grass.

My young nephew helped me pick up peanuts (as well as John and Donna), and then he helped me check the bees! He suited up and got right in there and enjoyed the process. He was great!

Dante enjoying the day's veggie harvest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Honestly...we like to think we are pretty tough. We iowans deal with tornadoes. Thunderstorms, ice storms, and blizzards. It's over 100 in the summers at times, and below 0 in the winters. We dress accordingly, make snide comments and jokes, and mostly deal with it. But when any one particular weather pattern drags on too long, well... Some of us start to get a little narky about it.

Today it was 103, with heat index of 125. At those temps, you just sweat. You sweat indoors. You sweat in the shade. You sweat standing still. And if you try to, you know... Move around and do stuff? You're just gonna be soaked.

And the problem is... The air is so humid, the sweating doesn't actually cool your body properly. You gotta be very careful about heatstroke.

It's been super humid/hot for a couple of weeks now, and we are OVER it. And the worst part is...August isn't even here! That's when we tend to get the worst of the heat and humidity.

The garden, frankly, is loving it. We've had just enough rain at all the right times, and the plants are going all crazy and jungle-like.

This zucchini both terrifies and impresses me. It's already as big as a softball and the FLOWER IS STILL
SHOWING. Which, I'm assuming, means it grew that large in a day or two. No wonder people always have those baseball-bat sized zucchini to give away....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our hive at Prairieland Herbs is acting very strangely. First... It swarmed, a few weeks ago. The queen took off with half the workers and a load of honey, despite being in an excellent location with plenty of room in the hive.

Then a few days ago we discovered that the hive -which successfully requeened itself after the first queen left -was making new queen cells. LOTS of them.

So yesterday was all about bees.

We assembled several new hives and lots of new wooden frames (we are thinking maybe the black plastic frames in the original hive are displeasing the Queen), and set up two new hive locations (shown here).

We removed as many of the black plastic frames as possible from the original hive.

And replaced them with wooden ones.

Next I removed the frames with queen cells, and placed them each in a new empty hive, with a frame of honey. There were about 8 queen cells on each frame. I was very careful not to remove the existing queen!

Then, I drove across the road to Picket Fence Creamery.

The hive we have over there is doing really well!

The girls were really interested in the goings-on.

REALLY interested!!

I took two frames with baby bees from
This hive....

And put them in the other two new hives with queens/honey. This is a sort of risky thing which may or may not work, but it's all an experiment (Zan, I hope I did it all right!!)

Now we will feed all these new hives and keep checking them for signs that the queens are all doing their jobs. I guess that's all we can do!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So, we go to market and, despite the forecast being for sunny and hot weather.... It RAINED all morning.

We don't DO markets in the rain, because it ruins our products! (plus it's miserable!)

We are sitting there, miserably watching all our products getting wetter and wetter, when a market volunteer came by and told us a funky storm cell, with high winds, might be coming in. He didn't have to tell us twice...We packed up our goods. Fortunately farmwagon was parked nearby. We couldn't leave -there's no cars allowed during market hours, so we just wandered the market getting rained on. (the storm threatened, but never appeared... But still, better safe than sorry!)

This dedicated band of street musicians moved into the parking ramp, so they could still play without getting soaked.

They had a washtub bass.... It sounded amazing!!

The market is always interesting and fun, even on miserable days :)