Did you know that today is National IPA Day? Well it is. This should remove all doubt that congress spends its time wisely on only the most weighty of matters.
OK, enough with the distractions. I really came here to talk about the garden. It’s August and the bounty is beginning to roll in. Yes, I know other parts of the country are way ahead of us but we aren’t called the “high” desert for nothing. The first of our tomatoes are gracing the dinner plates, as are the first cucumbers.
Yesterday I finished drying the last of two boxes of peaches so today I went back to picking raspberries. Talk about bounty! I picked four quarts just today and in total I think we are approaching 20 quarts in the freezer now, to be used later for jam and those delectable raspberry tarts my wife makes.
The late season berries are in full bloom and the bees and I shared much common space today if not common goals. I love working amongst the berry plants listening to the hum of bees all around. A few late laying chickens were sounding off in the background but chickens just don’t get harmony. I guess now that I think about it, it was kind of like an orchestra because something had the ravens all fired up and they were whirling over top the snag in the field behind, “cawing” like crazy. They usually only do that whey they are running off the adult Red Tail Hawks so they can eat their young, but it seems a little late in the season for that. Atop it all was the booming sound of thunder. We actually got rain today – its not called the high “desert” for nothing – rain is always welcome and the thunderstorm that delivered it was still banging up against the mountains and sending its deep bass sounds out across the land. An odd mixture of sounds but strikingly peaceful none the less.
The raspberries remind me of so many things while I’m out there crawling among the canes. Wheat and barley harvest in eastern Washington for one. Just like the grain we cut, you have to get it while its there or it will be gone and the raspberries are the same. I fondly remember Frank calling down to the basement (where I slept) from atop the stairs each morning – “It’s daylight in the swamps Mr. Ronnie, time to get up.” A fond memory now but I knew he was lying because daylight was usually still a hour away and I never did figure out where the swamps were.
The raspberries spoke to me of other things too. I always leave berries. A man should never live such that he requires the maximum. By leaving some you never feel as if its a problem to share. Or, as in biblical times, when the widows and orphans used to come to the fields and glean food. That’s actually quite the commentary itself on modern times. For the past fifteen years or so we have made offers to more people than I can count, to come pick berries – all they want. In all that time there has been just one single person who took advantage of our offer. Kind of reminds me of the “Little Red Hen” story. If after growing them we also pick the berries, people are more than happy to take them picked and presented in a nice container, but if they have to pick the berries themselves – no way. For those of you young enough to be unfamiliar with the story of the Little Red Hen (because its highly unlikely they teach it in school anymore) I have provided a link so you can learn this simple, but important lesson. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/stories/fairytale/littleredhen/story/
The second link is the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper, just in case you need a refresher on that one too.
Now for a sweeter story. This morning I took advantage of the cooler temps, fired up my smoker and threw on my gear for a trip to the bee yard. Though a bit early to harvest honey, I was anxious to see the kind of progress they were making. The first two hives were disappointing, no honey at all, with one hive possibly just getting started. The third hive however has a solid 5 frames of honey and they are busy making more. CHEERS!!
The fourth hive is the champ though. It is different than the others as it is made up of three medium supers (boxes) instead of a deep and two mediums. In other words they don’t have as much space to work with. However, the top box is full of honey. As soon as the sun comes back, (I need it to activate an organic scent the bees don’t like which drives them down into the hive and off the honey frames I’m going to take) I’m going to take the entire box of honey. A new box will be put in its place and the bees will have the rest of the season to add to their winter stores. There could be around 20 to 25 pounds of honey in that one box.
The fifth hive is making good progress with a few frames of honey completed and there should be a nice harvest here later in the season. Hive six, which is the cranky old mean hive, has really gotten with it lately, (almost, but not quite, making up for their poor attitude) and in a few more weeks there will be a nice harvest to be had there as well.
Over all I’m pleased with the progress with the exception of the first two hives. Hopefully they will kick it into gear over the next month.
Tonight we are going to the county fair. I’m sorry but they are just not the same – so commercialized – but as we have become a society detached from the land I suppose I’m just showing my age and this is the way it has to be.
Tomorrow I will attempt to complete construction of a new bird netting framework to cover my grapes. If it works as well as I think, or even if it doesn’t, I will give you an update on what I think is a great idea I learned from a real old timer.
Now go grab a cold IPA and celebrate having a cold beer on a hot summer day!