Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter Feeding: Bees Looking Strong!

It's nearly 60 degrees this afternoon so we took advantage of the beautiful weather to open the hives and put in sugar pies and pollen patties. This is the time of year the queen begins laying Spring bees so the hive needs enough food to make it through until the early nectar flow.

Lots of bees were flying and one aggressive little gal stung me through my pants. Hopefully, I didn't get enough venom to get much reaction. We'll see. My fault for wearing black. She probably thought I was a bear.

We went in just long enugh to feed, but a cursory look showed both hives looking very strong -- lots of bees and very active. There were also many dead bees in the snow in front of the hives, but that's not unusual this time of year. The winter bees will begin dying off and be replaced by the Spring bees. Sometimes they will even be bringing in pollen this time of year, but we didn't see any today. A few weeks ago there were several bees bringing in bright orange pollen on a warm day.

Now if they just continue doing well we will have two surviving colonies come Spring which we can hopefully divide. St. Rita, St. Valentine, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ambrose, and Sr. Lucia of Fatima please pray for our little apiary. Keep our bees strong and healthy!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Surviving without Treatments: Lessons from Wild Bees

First thing to do. Put same colors together.
And we'll separate the hives more.
I'm reading an article in the February American Bee Journal about raising bees without chemical treatment. It's interesting and I want to try some of the suggestions in the article, although I doubt our bee yard qualifies as being in a "remote" location even though we're only a mile from the George Washington National Forest. We're also a mile from Woodstock where several beekeepers have their hives. Nevertheless, some of the suggestions seem like they would apply across the board. The article by bee researcher, Dr. Tom Seeley from Cornell, gave this advice:
If you are in a remote place, the following suggestions could work for you -- that's what I'm trying with my bees now.  
First, disperse your hives or diversify them: paint the hives differennt colors, put them aiming at different directions. This way you minimize the number of bees drifting between the hives and lessen the spread of disease, especially mites and viruses.

The Big Snow and the Bees

It's too cold for the bees to be out and about, but the weather is above freezing and surprisingly some of them will check out the weather on the front porch when temps are in the upper 40s. They were actually flying a few weeks ago when the temperature got above 50 degrees and a few were even bringing in bright orange pollen.

After our big snowstorm I decided yesterday to treck out to the hives and clear the entrances. The snow was up to nearly the top of the bottom box covering the entrance which is at the base. They will be glad not to be trapped when the temperatures go up a little. Meanwhile, the rest of the snow is offering some insulation so we don't mind and I didn't clear it away.
Our two feet of snow pretty much covered the bottom box. That will
give the bees a little insulation from the cold.

Hmm...bees are trapped by the snow.
I cleared off the landing board and the sun will soon
melt the snow blocking the opening. 

All the girls are inside staying warm and keeping the Queen happy
(at least we hope that's the case). 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What's for Dinner? Turkey Alfredo -- Sort of....

Well, I am dealing with lots of holiday leftovers. and yesterday I decided to work on the turkey. It was leftover from Thanksgiving but was in the freezer and I took it out to make turkey soup. But I still had a lot of the white and dark meat separate from the carcass that I didn't want to put in the soup. What to do?

Hmm...why not a sort of Alfredo. So here it is.

Alfredo noodles if you have them or spaghetti or just about any noodle even Ramen would do, enough to serve 2-4. I used regular thin spaghetti because that's what I had on hand.

Three cups of cut up turkey meat
1/2 onion chopped
3 large mushrooms chopped
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup light cream
2 eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

(Set water on to boil and add spaghetti while you are making the Alfredo Sauce.)

 Cook onion and mushrooms in butter. Add turkey meat and heat through. Remove from heat while you mix up Alfredo Sauce.

Alfredo Sauce: In a microwavable bowl heat cream until warm but not hot enough to cook the eggs. Beat the eggs and add to the warm cream with the parmesan cheese (I used the Kraft powdered because it's what I had on hand. Fresh would be better.) Mix well. Return turkey mixture to heat and add Alfredo mixture. Cook about five or six minutes until sauce thickens. Serve over spaghetti. Serves 2-4.


Ordinary Duties as We Return to Ordinary Time

The past few days I've found myself immersed in the ordinary duties of family life. After a week of a dozen house guests coming and going, I've been changing beds, doing laundry, putting away the punch bowl and party plates, cleaning out the refrigerator and making soup and freezer dishes from leftovers, picking up stray toys (I keep a stash for the grandchildren), and generally "redding up" as my West Virginia husband always says.

I actually like to fold laundry. Since my children were young I've made it practice to pray for those who will wear the clothes, sleep in the beds, use the towels, etc. Today I've also been praying to St. Anthony that all the items in the Camp Kreitzer lost and found will return to their rightful owners.

I find ordinary tasks soothing and a comfort. They remind me that amidst a world gone mad, a blessed family life can continue. As I straightened the family room I thought of all the evenings we gathered for night prayers and had an expanded "decade" of the rosary as everyone offered Mary a bouquet of flowers and a Hail Mary. To hear sweet little voices saying, "I give Mary a bouquet of blue bonnets" or violets, daffodils, tulips, roses, etc. reminded me of the little children of Fatima gathering wildflowers in the Cova. When we were finished Mary had quite a profusion of flowers around her virtual Camp Kreitzer shrine.

As I clear
off the dining room table (except for the puzzle still in process) I think of the birthday tea for two granddaughters using their great great grandmother's (my dad's mom's) hand-painted luncheon dishes. I'm sure she used them when she had her bridge club over although there are only seven sets left. Perhaps one got broken or lost or strayed. I also think of all the games played around that table -- and I don't mean video games. We learned a new word game (I can't recall the name) that involved giving clues but it was much less chaotic than Outburst or Password and even the middle school kids could play. It was lots of fun and lent itself well to large teams. The children's wilder games were relegated to the sunporch to separate their raucous laughter from the old ears of grandparents used to a quiet life.

What a lovely holiday! I'm never sorry to return to the more ordered and less chaotic routine of our "ordinary time," but there's always a twinge when everybody is gone. How blessed we are that our "empty nest" didn't last long. Our first grandchild arrived when our youngest hit double digits. I was missing babies when that little one filled my arms and they've never been empty for long since then. I don't really understand the grandparents who say, "Better you than me," when I tell them I'm expecting our 24th grandchild. I generally respond, "How can there be too many flowers in Grandma's garden?"

Every one of our precious grandchildren is unique and special: the "wild things," the calm, the dancing princesses, the musicians, the writers, the gamesters, the runners, the soccer and basketball players. Each one brings joy to our hearts and every night when Larry and I pray our rosary each of our five children and their families gets a special decade with offerings for their individual needs.

Ordinary time here is generally a peaceful time (although we are fortunate to have a family nearby who visits often) but I confess that I'm happy that Easter comes early this year because I always look forward to the return of my favorite people in the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Thrifty Cook: Lots of Leftovers; I'm in my Glory!

I love leftovers. They represent a challenge to the thrifty cook who wants to present them in a new way that makes them a special meal unto themselves.

Holidays provide a real opportunity to make the old new and fresh.

Tonight I had a lot to work with: the Christmas ham, Texas "caviar" made by my daughter-in-law which is a combination of black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, onions, etc. and rice from the parmesan chicken with rice. (I always make enough rice to feed an army.) Now, what can I do with these?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Best Way to Prepare for Christmas? Spend Time with Grandchildren

Of course! If you want to see the true meaning of Christmas, look at the season through the eyes of a child (or two). We had a sleepover with two little munchkins who helped decorate our tree, watched two movies about St. Nicholas and St. Patrick, slept peacefully all night, and woke up to go to Mass and then breakfast with Santa. At home, Anya practiced her bike riding -- she is now an independent rider and both girls spent the entire afternoon creating the Playdough (or "Pluto" as Bianca puts it) Bakery. Yummy cookies, whoppers, and even cannoli.  I was surprised Bianca even knew the word. My cookie cutters got a tremendous workout which they rarely get from making cookies.

Getting ready for bed. Good thing there are extra toothbrushes at Gramma's when visitors forget theirs.

Sleepy time.

Breakfast with Santa -- Bianca wants a violin (????) for Christmas. Where did that idea come from?

Anya just wants "stuff."

Now this is the lap that granddaughters prefer to Santa's. 
Time to dye the play dough or "pluto" as Bianca calls it.

And the little proprietor of the Pluto Bakery has lots of yummy treats to offer.

We talked about making gingerbread boys, but the play dough substitutes look like the real thing!

We are getting ready for dinner now and our sleepover is coming to an end, but we expect to have another next week when out of town cousins arrive. Neither of the girls wanted to leave and begged for another night at Gramma and Paka's house. It was tempting, but the, as they say, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.