Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doin' chores. a cookin' and a feedin'.

"The dog is a barkin´ and the floor needs a scrubbin´ One needs a spankin´ and one needs a huggin´" ...just kidding. None's on the way, I just like Loretta. Lynn, that is.

But I have been a cookin' lately. Because I feel like it for a change, because rhubarb is in season, because Mark's too busy to do it, and because we haven't fired up the furnace since April and it's coooold.
Mark and Sam picked 40 pounds of rhubarb at a neighbor's place. It's for eating and selling at the market. I've made 2 batches of cobbler so far. Here's a link to the recipe I've been using, but I never fully follow a recipe so I substituted buttermilk for the cream (because I didn't have any) and doubled the fruit. Used whole wheat flour, didn't use the food processor, didn't roll out the dough and cut flower-shaped biscuits, forgot to add the egg yolks at the right step, didn't chill the dough. Turned out lovely. I highly recommendational it.
We also traded with our milkman: some of our rhubarb for a big bag of organic spinach. With mushrooms, garlic, and scrambled eggs, it is one of my favorite suppers.

And last night I decided to go for the gusto. I'd always wanted to try cheese grits with shrimp so I decided to make it myself. I'm not sure what it was supposed to taste or look like, but I was cool with it. I didn't follow a recipe for that either but looked at a few and winged it. Grits, cheese, bacon, and shrimp: I think you're gonna' be OK with that combo.

We've also been a workin' and a feedin'. This morning Mark got another swarm call so it was all hands on deck. Sam always helps with the market in the morning before school (and occasionally gets scolded for being 'late for work') and this morning the girls and I had to pick up the slack on the feeding. Mark usually makes the calf's morning bottle but Lily and I took care of it while Aggie fed the coon dog. Somebody got a new toy yesterday! Silly coon dog.
And the swarm from this morning has been combined with the swarm from Saturday to make one larger hive. You know, in case anybody was wondering.
Now git back to work, Sara!


Camp Papa said...

Any dish including grits is off to a good start, but I had no idea you could buy 'em in PA.

Wouldn't there be bee-wars if you combine swarms? Do both of them have their own queens?

Sara said...

Camp Papa! How did you know I was wondering about you this very morning?

My embarrassing (not really) grits confession is that they were quick grits instead of the 'real grits.' But that was bc our grocery store didn't have 'real.'

As for the bee wars, Mark's method is to put each swarm into its own hive body, then stack one on the other with newspaper between the hive bodies. By the time they chew through to one another, I guess they're acquainted enough to not battle to the death.
I know he said that the first swarm had a small, unmated queen. I haven't asked him about the second swarm or how that works out. I'm pretty sure they kill extra queens. I know in the observation hive, they had many queen cells ready to hatch but once Mark put a purchased mated queen in with them they destroyed all those cells they'd made.
Seems like a waste to me! But I guess they know what they're doing.

Camp Papa said...

Thanks for the explanation about the bees. Maybe Mark should offer tours of his operation in addition to the market.

As for my long absence from the comments list, I'm always lurking (reading every post) on my iphone, even when we're in the mountains. I love your writing and your sensibilities.

Becky said...

I'm with CP--I love the explanations of how things run around there. But a question about the swarm calls--are these like swarms of bees that have escaped from someone's beekeeping operation? Or are they wild? Can you tell how ignorant I am?

honeypiehorse said...

Work your fingers to the bone what do you get? bony fingers! (Chris Christophersen)

Amy said...

I have NEVER had rhubarb before. Is that weird? And man oh man, I am really wanting some cheese grits now--that sounds so yummy! You definitely can't get them here--quick or any other variety!

I don't know how you have to do all you do, girl! And you work outside the home as well? Dang. I have to go lie down now.

Annette said...

I'm glad to see "my" calf is looking so good!

We always grew rhubarb on the farm and I miss it. But I never made my own. Mom used to make rhubarb custard pies and one of my cousins used to make strawberry rhubarb pie. Me? I like it just boiled in a bowl with lots and lots of sugar. (For those unfamiliar with rhubarb, it's naturally very sour.)

Sara said...

I need Mark to get on here and do some 'splainin' about these bees. If you think I can talk a blue streak about bees, you should get him started!

He amazes me with all the obscure bee facts and terminology he knows. And he's only been doing this 5 or 6 years, self taught thru books & trial and error.
He was absolutely giddy last night after checking all his hives and finding that they were strong, healthy, un-swarmed, and making honey. He said, "I think I've finally got it!" And then we roughly figured how many dollars it took to get to this point.... :)

As I understand it, the bees swarm once they've become too many and need more space. They could be wild or they could be from someone's hive where the beekeeper didn't add space (we've been there) in a timely manner before the bees got overcrowded. Mid May is the big time around here.
So the bees take matters into their own hands, follow a newly minted queen out into the wild and wait in that bunch while scouts go out looking for a new home.
It's neat to me how they're sort of docile in that swarm mode. They'll just hang in that bunch. Plus it is just so neat to see in person.
The tricky part, IMO, about getting the swarms is to find the queen in that pile of bees. If you get her in the box, your chances are very good that the bees will stay in there with her instead of vacating. So it's important to spot her and catch her, but to an unpracticed eye, she is super hard to spot. I have trouble finding her in the observation hive let alone in a swarm.
If you don't find her, or accidentally smash her, I think you're pretty much out of luck with trying to keep the swarm around. I'd have to ask Mark on that though.
There's just so much to know and I don't even know half of it. Very fascinating. You have this seemingly humble little insect with a vast beautiful complex life right under our noses. I love it!

honeypiehorse, rockin' the Chris Christopherson. sweet. The Highwaymen albums are the soundtrack to our roadtrips. ridiculous but true.

Amy, we shall have to remedy this rhubarb and grits situation! the rhubarb *is* tart like the tartest green apple but so tasty. we found too that you can eat it raw with lots of sugar (and vanilla if ya like) Oh! and since you're down under in the land of poisonous things, you would appreciate the fact that the leaves are poisonous. only eat the stalks! ;)

Annette, 'SweatPea'( we said that's his name but I just call him 'Baby' as in babytalking 'Come on Baby, what a good Baby, etc.' just ask Skye, she'll tell you.) is turning into a real cow finally, bucking against the bottle and sucking down his milk like a champ.

Annette said...

I dunno if he's going to appreciate EITHER name once he gets all grown up. ;-)