Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Projects and Goals

Yesterday, Mark and I put together a list of the projects and goals that we have for 2014. We put them on two separate posters to hang in the house and check off as we go...but thought we'd share them here as well. As you can see, we have a VERY busy year ahead of us. I don't know that we'll be able to check off each one of these, but we can sure try!



Visit Lehmans and Chittenango (if possible)
Fix the pipes under the kitchen sink
Clean out the cellar
Remove all unused wires (phone etc.)
Assess the knob and tube wiring situation
Weather proof/caulk etc.
Build food storage shelving
Doors/knobs and latches
Lock on back door
New keys/keyrings for everyone
Attic – access, usable space?
Have chimney inspected – wood stove options
Install wood stove???
Little bedroom upstairs – sewing/craft room and teacher prep area
All bedrooms need curtains (make?)
Remove all wallpaper
Paint/decorate – room by room, as we can
Gut our closet
Redo all wood floors
Downstairs bath
-New flooring (pennies?)
-New cabinet(s)
-Wallpaper
-Paint and d├ęcor
Upstairs bath
-Refinish tub
-Rehang curtain
-Remove wallpaper
-Paint
-Tile (wall and maybe floor)
-Storage options
-Litter/cat food
-Towel racks (hooks/shelves)
-Heat source
-Vent
-Mirror
-Toilet seat
Fridge/Freezer
Dishwasher/Stove(?)
Fix banister/upstairs half wall
Mount potato cutter
Coat hooks
Hang candlelier/Lighting options
Build seed starter area
Parlor (remove closet, once sewing room is complete)
Little Buddy hose/tank
Barn
-Pasture hay rack(s)
-Finish siding
-Make 4 doors (two loft, two main)
-Clean out pasture
-Redo pen doors
-Redo hay racks
-Lighting/lantern hooks
-Always have plenty of hay in loft
-Paint (pressure wash?)
-Clean out/hose down inside
-“est…” sign for pasture side
-Food shelter/deck
Garden
-Order new seeds
-Build tomato cages
-Build a few arches/creative ways to stake
-Fix strawberry garden
-Redo containers
-Stake smaller plants/bushes
-Grapes/arbors
-Retainer walls?
-Bee garden (Cora)
-Shed for mowers/lawn tools?
-Greenhouse
Yard
-Cut remaining pines
-Cut back brush
-Clean up flower gardens
-Finish parking area (clear brush/lay rock)
-Retain blackcaps
-Plant trees in Narnia (buy maples???)
-Harvest pecans – plant new pecan tree
Misc.
Clean grill
Fix rider mowing
New tires for mower cart
Fix/sharpen blades for all mowers
Buy another pitch fork
Turn all compost bins, before barn clean out.
Clean gutters
Snake drain under driveway (options?)
Fill dirt around septic
Fix sewer drain pipes
Repaint/fix front deck
Display bench for front porch
Close off/weatherproof dining room door.
Survey land?
Tap maples
Clotheslines
Make dish detergent
MASTER FOOD PRESERVATION
Bird sanctuary area – see through birdhouse
Deck – at least get estimate
Fence – at least get estimate
Clean garage and Carport (siding on carport??)
Light in garage attic/shelving and bench
Fix garage door opener
Purchase extra propane (options?)
Animals
-Shearing equipment/class
-BEES
--Hives, bees, observation hive
-Order more layers and meat birds
-Donkey (just kidding)
-Castrate sheep (not kidding)
-Vet checks and meds
-Minerals – PVC pipe feeders
-Chicken Tractor and turkey pen
Rainbarrels

Whew - now that's a list! I can't wait until this time next year to see what we've been able to complete.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Just in time for Christmas

Oh boy! I'm going to be in trouble if I don't write a post soon, so I figured I would sit myself down at this WAY TOO EARLY hour of 6 AM and write.



I’m just so thankful for our Thanksgiving success. I find this day a bit stressful, just because there are so many pieces of the puzzle that have to come together, perfectly, to be a success. I ended the day feeling extremely proud. Proud of where we have been in life and how that has morphed us into who we are now. Proud of the food that we served, which is getting more and more local each year. Not just local, but homegrown. Imagine a day where nearly all the meal is grown here. Yum.

We started the morning with two turkeys to cook, along with all of the other dishes that were our responsibility (we share the responsibility and ask that everyone attending bring a dish). We started one early and were amazed at how quickly and beautifully the birds cooked. We were able to get them both cooked and rested before everyone arrived. We made sweet potatoes/candied yams, using real sweet potatoes, our own honey and local maple syrup. We whipped up some deviled eggs, using eggs from our beautiful birds, even though their laying has significantly dropped off, for the winter. We saved up a dozen and shared them with our family and friends. The coleslaw was not grown here, but hopefully next year(?) – we did, however, shred the cabbage and carrots and made the sauce. The fruit salad was all canned (boo), but it was pineapple, cherries and mandarin oranges, so unless we change up the salad, I don’t think there will be any way around this one. Oh, and the stuffed dates – delicious! A childhood memory that I just love. We take dried dates and stuff them with various cream cheeses. One plain, one with nuts, and the other with maraschino cherries. SO SO good! Next came the desserts apple, pumpkin, key lime and pecan pies, cherry crisp and my cousin, Rhett, brought banana pudding (using my Nana’s recipe). I look forward to the year that we will be using our own apples for the apple pie, but this year we had to settle on growing just the pumpkin and pecans. Something that I changed up this year, instead of using Crisco for the pie crust, we used local, organic lard, from a local Mennonite farmer. WHAT A DIFFERENCE that made. Seriously! I’ve never had my pie crust roll out so beautifully. It glided across the surface. I know I sound like a crust geek, but seriously! It was awesome! I will never go back to Crisco. Plus…who doesn’t like the hint of bacon smell when you are baking pies?! The pecan pie, was probably the best pecan pie I’ve ever eaten. Those pies were delicious and I am so proud. But I couldn’t have done any of this, without my team of helpers. Mark, Cora, Drake and even Gage were so helpful that day. They helped me keep my sanity, rolled up their sleeves to wash, cut, clean out, whatever I asked. Thankful. Yet another thing to be thankful for – after a heart attack and a pacemaker installation, my dad joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. He’s healthy and looking good. It was a wonderful day of laughing and enjoying the company. It was such a successful day.
 

Beautiful, homegrown pie pumpkins.

We went ahead and cooked all the pumpkins and made puree out of all of them. We are ready to make several more pies.


That's a lot of pumpkin!

My girl, Cora. She was so helpful that day! She made the decorations on the wall, behind her shoulder and she kept me on task with making the food...and she's cute!

Mark's favorite job of peeling, coring and slicing the apples for the apple pie. After the kids had their fill, the remaining peels went out to the birds. They thought it was a Thanksgiving miracle!

Yams in the crockpot, in the back, and date stuffing in the bowls in the front!

Look at that bird! GORGEOUS!

A little salt, pepper, butter on the outside and onion and celery on the inside...that's all these birds really needed, so tender and juicy on their own. Totally worth raising them!

Seriously look at that crust! Mmm mmm MMM!

Pumpkin and pecan pies - so so good!

Family sitting around the table...Have I mentioned how much I love my dining room? I love that we can have this many people for a sit down meal and be comfortable.

The dessert table!
I'm so happy about that day. It was a good feeling to look around the table and see the food, family and friends. It was good.I look forward to hosting next year as well.
We do Christmas breakfast and dinner at our house too - but since my brother also hosts a Christmas event, we have fewer people attending. We've found it's just too hard for us to do too much running around on Christmas...and we have a very awesome Christmas Eve tradition that I look so forward to each year. More on that in a bit.
With the holidays come so many other exciting things - kids concerts, Mark's room decor, Christmas lights and more. Here is just a glimpse at some of the reasons that I haven't posted in so long...
We redecorated Mark's bulletin board at school. We went with the winter wonderland theme, to reflect the craziness that is outside right now. Isn't the "fireplace" cute?

Have I mentioned that I'm hot for teacher??? Look at that handsome man!
Oh! On a side note, with all of the cold weather that we've been having (single digits!), our house is SO cold. We've been trying to come up with creative ways to stay warm. We actually found this beautiful wood door, in the attic of the garage. It was made for this spot, a doorway between our living and dining rooms. What makes this nice is that it cuts down on the drafts. We close all the doors in the living room (to the parlor, to our room and both doors leading to the dining room) and it traps some of our body heat in here. It's not perfect, but certainly better than last year!

While Mark's was in the attic, he found these old shutters - how neat are these!?

This is how I go to bed most nights! Not very glamorous, but certainly warmer than without the toasty warm hat :-) What you can't see is the electric blanket, under the comforter. WARM!

Here's me and Cora at Drake's holiday concert! See, I told you she is cute.

Drake had a holiday concert - Look how grown up he is, handsome. We are so proud that he has stuck with flute for this long.

Our tree is decorated for Christmas! Here's me and Mark :-)

Last year, we went with a real tree and between that and strep throat, I was miserable with allergies. So this year, we decided to go back to our "fake" tree. It's really beautiful though. I love going through the ornaments each year and remembering why we have them, who they were for, who we received them from etc.

Told you it's a winter wonderland around here. This is the field behind the house, Each branch and blade is covered with ice. COLD!

Cold, but beautiful! I love seasons, I really do...but the single digits have to go!

Each year, we do this. It's a drive through Christmas light display. It is so nice. We turn on Christmas music and drive through, looking at the lights and scenes. If you weren't in the spirit of Christmas before driving through, you would be after!
It looks like some exciting things are on the horizon for us. I'll post more about this in the future, once I have more details. But let me just say that our future looks bright.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Home Grown Thanksgiving...Partially.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that we raised turkeys for the first time this year. This past Saturday, we got them in to be processed at a (fairly) local processor. We ended up with one bird at nearly 11 pounds and the other nearly 12, for a total of 22 pounds of bird. I liked the company that we went with. They are actually FDA approved and if we chose to, we could sell the birds to consumers - but we know that these are just for our consumption. It is a little strange to see just two turkeys outside, rather than four - but I think the remaining two seem a little calmer.
So tonight, we will be prepping them to be the centerpiece at our Thanksgiving dinner. We are hosting our family and some friends. Both birds will be the main part of the meal - but additionally we are proud to say that we grew the pumpkins for the pumpkin pie, grew the pecans for the pecan pie,  and raised the birds who laid the eggs for our deviled eggs. What a delicious, somewhat homegrown Thanksgiving meal this will be! I believe we will have somewhere between 16 and 18 people here for the meal. So much love in our dining room.
EXCITING! (...and busy...did I mention busy? Ok, enough blogging - time to get back to cleaning and cooking!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Turkey Time

Well the decision has been made. The two turkeys that will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner (although not in a way that they would necessarily enjoy) will be processed the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. We have a local (ish) processing center and they had an open appointment for that Saturday - it was meant to be! I've heard of this facility through a couple different people (including a respected organic farmer) which makes me feel more comfortable. I want to make sure that we didn't raise them humanely just to have them tortured in the last few moments of life. I get that it is still death and I'm not naive to think it is this beautiful, sterile, painless process for anyone involved - but I don't want it to be a terrifying nightmare either. I've enjoyed having the birds and hope that Loner and Mama Bird (the two remaining birds) like each other enough to breed and make more for our farm. We'd consider selling some birds if that was the case. Raising them, processing (or getting them processed) and selling to neighbors/family. It might be another way for us to raise some money around here...or just another food source for our family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hunker Down and Plan for the Future

With things turning from Summer, to somewhat skipping Fall and heading straight into Winter (we've already had snow!), there aren't a lot of updates to share with all of you. Our chickens continue to give us eggs, but have slowed, with the shorter days and colder weather. The animals are all doing well. We borrowed Zero, an alpine buck, to freshen our ladies. Zero was on loan from the farm farm that bought Herb, Fauna and Blanche from us. If I haven't mentioned that farm, that family, before, I should. They are wonderful people. They have a ton of kids, a combination of natural and adopted (including a number of special needs adoptions). They are so helpful to us, letting us borrow Zero, at no cost... I believe he got to Mabel and Ethel...and unfortunately goats can be escape artists and I worry that he got to Flora (she has a bad leg, and I worry about her being pregnant), and the angoras (does the world need more angora/alpine crosses?). These animals aren't our pets (although we treat them as kindly and lovingly as our pets), they are here for purpose. We need to figure out a better solution for when we have a visiting buck...separate pasture maybe? We continue to work to figure things out.
It is getting close to Thanksgiving, which means two of our four turkeys are short-timers. The question has been asked if it will be difficult to let them go. My response is that, it's never going to be easy to process animals. They are living creatures, they have faces and personalities. We weren't brought up raising our own food...but am I going to let those feelings stop me from enjoying home-grown turkey come Thanksgiving....no! The purpose of those two turkeys was food. They were meant to be eaten and that's what will happen. We have discussed the option of taking them somewhere to be processed. I think that will be the option we choose. Rather than doing the processing ourselves. Time and, I'm not going to lie, emotions, may keep us from doing it. But it must be done.
I was asked if I ever feel down about the limited comments made to this blog. I really don't. It's mostly for us to keep a log of what is going on around here. To keep track of our lessons learned or to be able to look back and see where we were, compared to where we are (so glad we aren't ghetto apartment dwellers any longer). So while I hope that this blog grows and it'd be nice to get additional readers, I'm happy to just have this space...to remember.
....and speaking of growing...Mark and I are trying to figure out what our future looks like here. We are happy with where we are, for the moment, but are always looking to improve. We have oh so many projects that need to be completed around here (the barn, the coops, the parking area etc etc) and we will continue to make those spaces what we want. It's just difficult to find times when we are blessed with both the time and money to complete these tasks. Our focus was lost for a bit last year, but now we've refocused. Once we have some of the major tasks completed, we plan on paying our knowledge forward. So what does that mean?? Well, the plan, at this time, is to transition this place into a learning center. We'd like to start developing lesson plans, to create a variety of classes for children, adults and families. Learning anything from processing chickens to knitting a hat. In addition, we can use the learning space to create a little shop to help support the farm....eventually selling goat's milk and honey soaps, lotions a lip balm...other honey products, including pollen and candles and hopefully some fiber items. I also see this space as a way to support some friends of Fresh Egg's...showcasing our friends talents, referring to farms that have helped us (Spruce Hill, for angoras and Marushka Farm, for sheep etc) and develop a list if resources for services, for people just starting out (county extension offices, quality feed and hay providers, livestock processing places and shearers etc). I've been working on building a website (separate from this blogspot space) and we are going to be launching (hopefully) in a year or so. We'll be taking this time to plan, build out the class list, locate educators (for topics for the "learn with us" series) and finishing the property to make it a safe and pretty space for visitors. In addition to classes (something that lasts for a few hours), we've talked about adding week-long 1/2 day or full day "camps" for school age kids, along with "Fresh Egg's To Go" lesson plans to cater to the needs of our local schools to meet their core curriculum standards and finally, work with some homeschooling networks to offer classes to meet their curriculum needs. It's all a work in progress and we know things could change, but as long as there is interest, we believe we have the skills to make it a success. It would be great to do this to help supplement our income and to help those that are just like us, wanting to learn some of the skills, that generations before us survived on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thieves!

So I mentioned (in my Honey post, about our extraction party) how we noticed that our bees were being robbed. Bees from surrounding hives were taking advantage of weakness in our hive and robbing them blind, leaving them honeyless for the winter. It didn't help that we took seven pounds from them - but better us get some than those nasty thieves! We assumed this was most certainly a death sentence for our colony. It still might be, they might be done for, but we are trying to take a stand against those bees. So how can you help a colony that is under attack???
Lessons we've learned:
1) Entrance Reducer: we did not have an entrance reducer on our hive - we had left the entire width of the hive open, leaving roughly 18 inches of space that the guard bees have to defend. It's just too hard for a hive that is already in jeopardy. Our hive kit came with a wooden entrance reducer that allows us to select various sizes of entrance - we chose the smallest size, approximately an inch, thus giving the guard bees a significantly smaller space to defend.
2) FEED!: we need to replace that honey that they've lost. It's not as simple as giving them back their honey (plus, we want to enjoy the fruits of their labor)...so we need to give them a replacement food source. The easiest way to give them instant food is making a 2:1 sugar/water mix. We put 4 cups of sugar in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and dissolved the sugar. Once the mixture cooled a bit, we poured it into a ziplock bag and took it to the hive. We added a super on top of the hive and placed the baggie of sugar water on top of the frames below. We jabbed a few holes into the bag, so the bees can access that food and hopefully calm them down a bit.
3) Continued Feeding: Since we don't have an actual "feeder" we ordered a hive component that is specifically for feeding (to replace the baggie, a more permanent/reusable option) - hopefully that will arrive shortly. Additionally, we need to find a food source that isn't just sugar/water. Bees need a well balanced diet too, while they may survive on carbs (like we would with bread and water), they won't be as healthy as they could be. We've found a couple of recipes - I'm not sure what the best option would be.
We are thinking of doing something like this for the water:
:: 5 cups water
:: 2 1/2 pounds of sugar
:: 1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as an emulsifier)
:: 15 drops spearmint oil
:: 15 drops lemongrass oil
Additionally, they need a protein source. I've been looking online and I think we are going to try something like this:
Makes 6 (1 lb) patties:
3/4 C. pollen
2 1/2 C. hot water
5 1/2 C. sugar
6 1/3 C. brewer's yeast
Perhaps add some Vitamin C to the mix? I'm not sure. But we should be able to mix this into a thick substance and roll it into patties. We can put one on the hive and save the rest in the freezer, until we need it.
We want strong, survival of the fittest bees - we want to help them come along, but they should be able survive without medication etc.
We'll let you know how things go and if they survive the winter then we'll be looking for a strong hive for next year. If they don't make it, we'll know that we gave them a fighting chance and will start again with a new colony (or three!).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cora's Egg Salad

So this family...we're big fans of egg salad sandwiches, and now that we have eggs galore, we thought we'd make up a batch of Cora's famous egg salad. We let our kids find and try out recipes and this one just stuck - it's so so good.
We took 18 of our farm fresh eggs and boiled them up - we increased this recipe by 1/2 and it was gone by the next day!!! YUM!!

Ingredients:
½ C. Mayonnaise
1 ½ tbsp Dill
1 Small Chopped Onion
1 ½ Tbsp Chopped Pickles
1 ½ Tbsp Mustard
½ tsp Pepper
¼ tsp Salt
12 Eggs

Directions:
Hard boil the eggs. While you are waiting for the eggs, mix all other ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Once eggs are hard boiled, peel and chop eggs into small bits. Add eggs to mayo mix. You can eat right away, but it’s even better the next day.

The trickiest part of the whole process is boiling/peeling fresh eggs. Did you know that the eggs that you get from the store are usually a week or two old? The bonus about older eggs is that they are easier to peel. Since our eggs are just a couple days old - if we were to boil our eggs the standard way, it would be hard to peel and we'd lose a lot of the whites, since they'd peel off with the shell. So I searched the interwebs to find the perfect way to boil fresh eggs and found it HERE!! Let me tell you - it worked! Our eggs came out beautiful - beautiful enough to use for deviled eggs! I'll never go back to the old way!
Enjoy!

Friday, October 4, 2013

HONEY!

Part of what we are doing here at Fresh Egg's Farm is not only learning for ourselves, but sharing with others. It's so neat to open our home up to people that are interested in beekeeping themselves or just want to learn about the process. This past Sunday we had our first ever Honey Extraction Party!!! Including our family, we had about 20 people here, all seated around our dining room table (so happy our dining room can fit all those people!) - listening and learning. We brought out our gear and broke down a beeless hive. We talked about some of the problems that bees/hives/colonies can have, in general, and problems we've had specifically with our bees.
If you've read this blog or followed along on Facebook, you've seen some of the problems we've experienced with our bees...we started this Spring with two hives, two nuks - a "nuk" is a five frame mini-hive. Essentially, we purchased two somewhat existing hives in order to give them a head start - they were to have a working queen, brood (bee babies), built out frames and we were to add them to a 10-frame hive and start from there. We had started with what we called "the good hive" and "the bad hive". Needless to say the bad hive had a failure to launch. We tried to feed them, add bees and requeen and nothing seemed to work for them...and one day, they completely collapsed. Within a two week period we went from "maybe they have a chance" to dead, gone, robbed (by other bees). It was sad, but at least we had this other hive, the good hive, that seemed to be going gangbusters. They took advantage of the Spring honey/nectar flow and built out some of their hive with honey, instead of brood. They were strong. It was fascinating to watch the front of their hive - always bustling with activity. Just a couple of weeks prior to the extraction party, we pulled out these beautiful capped frames. The super (the top honey storage box that contains short frames, which makes for easier handling and extraction) was FILLED with honey, so much so that we put on another box, just in case. There were many deep frames that were filled with honey too. When I talked to the leader of our beekeeping club, he estimated that there would be 20-25 pounds of honey in the super and about 9 pounds of honey PER FRAME of the deeps that we had. He suggested that we pull out 4 of them and extract the honey out. Doing that kind of math, my eyes turned golden at the thought that we might be pulling 50-60 POUNDS of honey off this hive. What an amazing extraction party that would be - we'd have plenty of honey to harvest, store for ourselves, share with others and perhaps even sell.
I went home and put on a bee escape - which is essentially a board that has a circle on the top and a maze of sorts on the bottom - the bees are able to crawl down, but can't figure out their way back up (in theory). We went the next morning to pull off the super and those 4 deep frames and were disappointed. The bee escape seemed to work - many of the bees were out of the super and the job of pulling off those frames was fairly easy - but as we started to work through the super, we noticed that the frames weren't fully capped, as they had been. Almost like the bees had started to break into their honey storage already - which didn't make sense. This honey was just meant as reserves and shouldn't be touch unless the bees have gone through their winter storage below and are in desperate need of honey.
As we started to go through the deep - we noticed how light it was, each frame we pulled out was nearly empty. WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!? We were saddened and confused and oh...no...we were having an extraction party the next day and what if we had NO honey to share. We watched the front of the hive to see if we could see something, a clue as to what was going on. After closer inspection, we noticed strange behavior - there seemed to be a wrestling match on the"landing pad" of the hive. Bees were literally pinning each other down and throwing each other down and kicking some of the bees out of the hive. Our hive was being robbed. Jerks. Apparently there is a strong colony (maybe a feral one??) nearby and found our hive, that since they we are a newer hive (weaker hive), the stronger colony decided to take advantage of this "free honey source" and attached our hive. Ugh. Heartbreak. At this point, I don't think there is anything we could do. It's so late in the season to try to requeen (did I mention that the queen is gone from this hive too). We've learned some valuable lessons from beekeeping this year. I know some things that we'll do different next year. Yes, we've already decided that there will be a next year. We enjoy the bees. And now, more than ever, we realize how fragile these beautiful pollinators are. We plan on expanding our hives and building out three hives/colonies for next year (at least that is the plan).
We debated not having the party - but then thought, no, this happened for a reason. This is a way to share the message about how fragile bees are, to talk about the importance of these pollinators for our food. Without bees, we don't eat.
So friends, old and new, and even some strangers, who became friends, came to our home, on a rainy Sunday afternoon and talked animals, birds and bees (get your mind out of the gutter :-) ).
Here are some photos from the day:
Talking about the frames and breaking down the hive.

Here's a deep frame, with foundation only.

Notice the deep gouges in the wax? This isn't good - I'm not sure if this is from the robbing activity or if something else is happening. That a question for beekeeping club.

Uncle Dave and Cousin Rhett - checking out the frames.

My girl, Lissa. See the mess that something made on that frame. Frustrating.

Josh holding up a frame of foundation only and another frame that has comb and honey. Definitely a surprising difference in weight.

Lissa, modeling the capped honey frame vs foundation only frame.

Mark - making sure that the extraction is put together correctly. In the forefront, you can see some of hive tools, including our beloved smoker.

Super Model! I should have put this on and modeled my lovely beekeeping attire, but it was hot and frankly - I know it isn't a good look for me. LOL
 
Mark, modeling his classy member only/london fog 80's style jacket that he wears for beekeeping. SEXY!

Our beekeeping club has three different ways to uncap the cells - a heat gun, a heat knife and a standard serrated. They wanted us to test which way we liked best. This is me demonstrating the heat gun - it worked well. It uncapped without too much damage to the cells. The con: it's nice to have some cappings - why? it offers a nice taste of honey (kinda like wax bottles from when we were kids) and it you'd like to make candles etc. it provides you with a collection of wax to save up. It also uses electricity and our goal is to minimize our electricity usage. So while this is a good option, we probably won't utilize it.

A nice view of the heat gun uncapping.

Almost ready for the extractor.

Mark using the heat knife. This seems to be somewhat of the standard these days. We aren't fans. It doesn't really add anything to the experience for us. It cuts similar to the standard knife and if we needed heat, we could place the standard knife in warm water in between cutting.

Mark using the standard knife. Our favorite. It's natural. It's non-electric. It does the job.

Asking if anyone else wants to try uncapping - Emily (our new friend and photographer - THANKS EMILY!!!!) was the first taker.

Beautiful job Emily!

Look at those wax caps just rolling down the frame. MMMM!

We collected the wax cappings in a bowl and shared with everyone around the table.

Lissa digging in and uncapping.

Here's a look inside the extractor - bits of wax stuck on the sides - but if you look at all that golden liquid on the bottom - that is PURE, RAW, AS LOCAL AS YOU CAN GET HONEY!!!! From our backyard!!!!!!

Another honey picture! Look at that rich, golden color. Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?? This is such an excited sight to us.

The bottom of the extractor has a gate on it - it allows us to easily pour the honey out of the extractor and strain it through two levels of strainer. If you are doing this on your own - make sure that the bucket you pour into is a food grade bucket.

This picture, excites me, makes me proud, makes me hungry :-) I love watching the honey flow out. It's just gorgeous!

Our new friends Emily and Little D :-) Modeling our takeway honey bears. He was so excited to have his very own bear filled with honey. CUTE!!!!
SO where did we end up? We got just over 7 pounds of honey. Not the 50-60 pounds that we could have had, but still seven more pounds of backyard honey than we had last year. Everyone that came to the party got one of these two ounce bears to take home and these are the leftovers. We figured we'd give one to each neighbor and have honey for us. I am thankful to the bees that worked so hard for this honey. I'm thankful for the roomful of friends and family that came and shared this experience with us. I look forward to next year!!!!!!