Saturday, January 25, 2014


An actual morning-after photo
There is a scene in both 'Edward Scissorhands" and "The Truman Show" of morning in a perfectly symmetrical suburban neighborhood where all the husbands come out of their houses and are kissed goodbye by their wives and then go off to work, all at the same time. That is sort of what it's like in my neighborhood the morning after it snows. Except all the husbands leave the house to fire up their snow blowers and commence clearing their driveways and sidewalks.

Except S.D. and I. We are the holdouts in this neighborhood of crisply-edged driveways. We still shovel. Even though it takes longer, even though it may not be as pretty, we still shovel because, well, I like to, SD isn't so sure that he likes it but he's not going to buy a snowblower. We also, coincidentally, have the longest driveway, and being on a large corner lot, the longest stretch of sidewalk.

This confluence of maximum clearable surface, the time difference inherent in snow shoveling vs snow blowing, and the kindness of neighbors, often makes the hour after the snow ends a bit of a race. You see, our neighbors, all 6 snowblowing enthusiasts that they are, are also extremely nice, and helpful, and we can shovel only so fast.

All shoveling here.
It is with this in mind that with every snow storm I am tormented by a variation of that suburban perfect morning. All the husbands come out of their houses, fire up their snowblowers, clear their driveways and sidewalks, and then, in one synchronized swivel, aim for our sidewalks and driveway.

Meanwhile S.D. and I have been innocently, and leisurely shoveling, enjoying the crisp air, the clean sound of the shovel slicing through powder, the muscular flick of the wrist that flows the snow over the ever-growing bank, when suddenly there is a offer of "Do you need any help?", the revving of a gas engine and boom, all the snow is gone.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Price of Honey

The Jar Of Honey
There are two ways to set the price of an item. One is based on supply and demand, the other is based on the cost to produce.

Honey, like other agricultural products is priced via supply and demand. As such it's priced relatively high, the supply being limited in regards to demand. If however you were to price honey, especially our little jar of honey, based on production cost, it would be worth more than it's weight in gold.

Yes we now have honey! No more bees, but one entire frame of honey.  During the recent January thaw we checked our bees only to discover that they had frozen to death. Most likely because there were not enough of them to maintain the 70 degrees necessary for survival. They did have plenty of stored honey so that wasn't the problem. They just couldn't stay warm enough to get to it.

The frame with honeycomb
And so as we were cleaning up the hive, shaking the dead bees and scraping the propolis  we decided to try our hand at harvesting a little honey.

Honey harvesting is described as a simple process of removing the wax cappings off the honey combs and extracting the honey using a centrifugal abstracter, basically a bucket onto which you load the frames and spin them around until the honey flows out the spout at he bottom. We didn't have an abstracter but we did have time and since we were only going to harvest one frame we figured we could tilt the frame up and let the honey drip down.

Cappings removed and
the drip begins
Two weeks later, it's still dripping, and S.D. has ordered an extractor.  So far we have one half a jar of the best honey ever!  I don't want to do the math but considering the cost of the hive, two packages of bees, an extra queen and all of the beekeeping stuff we needed, the cost of this little jar of honey is more than enough to make it one of the most expensive items, per pound, in our entire house.