9/24/10

Pear Butter

















































Pear Butter:
5 or 6 pounds of small to medium sized pears
3 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of cinnamon
3 teaspoons of lemon juice


Core, peel, and slice pears; place in a large stockpot and add 1 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until soft. Drain off water and purée pear slices in a food processor. Combine pear purée, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice together in large pot and cook over medium to high heat until thickened, stirring continuously. Using normal canning preparations, (wash jars and lids, keep them in hot water until ready to fill) ladle mixture into jars, then process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Makes approximately 4 pints, depending on the size of the pears.

Happy weekend, everybody!

9/20/10

Lengthening Shadows

The evening sun through the kitchen window.

A sure sign for me that Fall is on it's way is the decrease in our hours of daily sunlight ... the sunrises are getting later and sunsets are getting earlier.  I seem to notice this now more than ever- when I worked outside the home and off the farm my day was ruled by a clock, but now my life ruled by the sun- time to rise and get busy is just before daybreak, when the animals are also awakening and starting to stir. Time to call it a day and head inside for the evening is when the last rays of light peek over the tops of the trees behind the barn. One thing that has always fascinated me about this time of year is the phenomenon known as autumnal equinox, where the earth tilts to a different angle in it's orbit, moving our Northern Hemisphere away from the sun and causing the sun to appear to be in a little off-center in the sky... making the shadows lengthen and become more noticeable than in the summertime when the sun always seems to be right overhead.
I've kept my camera close at hand this week, trying to capture some of the shadows I've noticed that seem to be suddenly appearing out of nowhere....








 























Have you noticed any longer shadows on the ground lately? 
What's a sure sign for you that Fall is on the way?
Happy Monday, everybody!

9/14/10

For the love of a Honey bee

So many of you asked bee-related questions in the comments of my Liquid Gold post a couple of weeks ago that instead of answering them all individually, I thought I would do another post dedicated to the wonderful honey bee.... I think the more you learn about these fascinating little creatures the more you will appreciate not only the honey you eat but what the honey bee (and all pollinators, for that matter) means to our plants and us.

 First, I'll answer the questions my bloggy friends asked:
Will you be getting more bees? Yes, but not until spring of next year... with winter coming on it's not a good time to be starting a new hive with young bees, unless we come across a swarm of bees in need of a home, but even then we will have to "feed" them through the winter because they will have no established honey supply. So, we will wait... *sigh*
What do you do with the beeswax? There are many wonderful things I could do with it, like homemade candles, soap, lip balm.... however, when we helped Dad with his hive, he preferred to leave the comb intact and put the frames back in the hives for the bees clean out, which in turn helps the bees by giving them an already-made foundation for storing more honey.
What are you going to do with all that honey? Well.... *sheepish grin* Actually it's all gone except for just a little bit.... we made a "Fresh Honey" sign and put it at the end of our driveway, and sold over 7 gallons in less than 2 weeks! The remaining honey is for us and our family and friends to enjoy.


 And now, some amazing facts about honey bees:
  • Many people are intimidated by bees of any kind, but what makes a honey bee special (and very non-aggressive)- it knows it must use it's stinger sparingly... a honey bee can only sting once, then it dies.
  •  A colony of honey bees in early spring has 10,000-15,000 bees.  A colony of honey bees in summer has 50-60,000 bees.
  • A normal colony of honey bees contains only one Queen who may lay 2,000 eggs per day during her busy season
  • There may be 50,000 or more "Worker" bees (females) in a colony who do all the work. These are the bees you see out gathering pollen and working in your plants and flower gardens, as well as cleaning the inside of the hive and tending to the Queen. The male bee is known as a "Drone", and there will be usually only a few hundred or less of them in a hive... a drone has no other function in life other than to mate with a queen and then die. Leftover drones that remain in the hive as cold weather approaches are literally run out of the hive by female worker bees who cannot afford to feed the drones from their precious honey supply during winter.
  • It requires 10,000 worker bees to gather a pound of honey.
  • Bees fly the equivalent of more than twice around the world to gather a pound of honey.
  • The average lifespan of a Worker bee during the working season is about 4 to 6 weeks, and she spends it all working for the good of the hive. When she can no longer fly to collect pollen or nectar, she will leave and die outside the hive.
  • Bees remove the excess moisture from nectar by rapidly fanning their wings over the open cells in the hive.
  •  Honey varies in color from white through golden to dark brown and usually the darker the color the stronger the flavor.
  • Honey is one of the safest food - most harmful bacteria cannot live in honey for any length of time.  
And one final tidbit of honey bee trivia: Can you name a famous actor who was also a beekeeper?


*Henry Fonda*


Hope this has made you fall in love with the Honeybee!
Happy Tuesday, everybody!

9/10/10

In a perfect world....



Every sunrise would be this amazing.
(Click to enlarge.)



 Happy Friday, everyone!!

9/2/10

Some End-of-Summer Smiles

A crystal-clear blue sky at the end of August can only mean one thing-
Fall is on the way!
That's sure to bring a smile after the long hot summer we've had.
Here's a few more smiles.....






Sheep enjoying the shade. 







A barn full of hay for the winter ahead.
(Yes, the second cutting was a success!) 

 







 
Remember our Morning Visitor?
She's back, this time with two little ones in tow. 








 

A fuzzy-bottomed action photo. *Squeeeal*







A good washing of the bed linens and drying them outside make them smell so good...
 





Finding Ruthie's new... uhhhh... spot.... 
 
 






A few days ago, a tree up the road from us fell across power lines knocking out the electricity and taking the phone (and internet) lines with it. The utility crew had the power back on in a few hours, but the phone company? Well, let's just say they were in no big hurry.
After going through some blogging withdrawals, it's gooood to be back online. Big smile and a Happy Thursday, everyone!