Archive | October 2016

Happy Halloween – WARNING: content may be offensive to some viewers

I like to dress the dogs up for Halloween.  I know they probably don’t like it.  Frank probably doesnt’ mind much – he will do pretty much anything – except come when you call him.  Oh, and no nail trims please.  I do lots of stuff for them and I don’t like some of it all that much either.  Mostly yelling COME HERE, scooping poop, and fishing disgusting things out of Frank’s mouth.  So they owe me, right?

Here is the Halloween picture from years back.

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Zack, Nimble and Angus probably didn’t like dressing up either, but they all survived a bit longer.  Just until they were 16 or 17 years old.  They only had to endure for a minute while I took the picture….and the hour it took to get them dressed and posed.  All for my entertainment. PETA didn’t catch me that time.

This year with a new generation of dogs, I thought it would go just as well.  Not so much.  Either I am not the dog trainer or not the photographer I used to be.  Or Frank and Mark aren’t as patient as the eye rolling angel, the bitchy witch and the devil were.

We call Frank (among many other names) Lion Heart so it was easy to decided he would be a lion.  Mark would be a sheep.  Wolf in sheep’s clothes.  Lion lays down with the lamb.  All good, right?

I could have ordered both costumes online, but I didn’t want to spend 50 bucks for a photo op.  So instead I went to the craft store with a handful of coupons and got some faux fur.  I can’t sew a button on but why let that stop me?

It only took 3-4 hours of cutting and sticky Velcro.  The “lamb wool” shed so much it looked like it snowed in the kitchen.  (Thank god the honey project was downstairs.) Each dog had to try their costume on a few times during costruction for fitting.  Mark was skeptical, but Frank actually climbed in his dog bed in his partially compete lion suit and tried to nap.

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Done.

Friday afternoon was warm and sunny.  Perfect for their Halloween photo shoot.

Wolf in sheep’s clothes didn’t like his costume.  Or was so embarrassed he wouldn’t look at the camera.

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Apparently Frank DID like the costume – quite a bit.

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What?  You said lay down with the sheep right?

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No one seems to be having fun – but they all humored me.  And it was just for a minute.

Thanks boys. Happy Halloween – your my treat every day!

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593 or 296

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Facebook annoys me by reminding me how many days since I last posted on my author page.

A lot ok?

It’s partially because I started bypassing the author page and posting my blog posts direct to my personal Facebook page.  It’s partly that I hate to even have both personal and author pages and a blog.  But now I do.  And there are blog subscribers that aren’t on Facebook and pictures and stories that are on one Facebook page and not the other and it’s just a big mess that I don’t want to have to bother to fix.

I also don’t like to be told what to do.  So stop shaming me, Facebook.

593 days, ok! Don’t judge. 296 for the blog.  So that’s more realistic.  But I HATE the word blog.  What else to call it…the writin’ place?  Place of musings?  I sort of like that.

Where to start after taking that long off? With a boring explanation?  See top of page- got that covered. With the 68 drafts I have stored here at the Place of Musings? Some of them are almost finished but aren’t  good and some are incoherent ramblings I’m not sure I even wrote.

How about where I left off – which was in the midst of a travelogue on last winters road trip(s).  I doubt anyone cared that much then and less now.  But I have to get it down. To sum up and promise to write regularly now (fingers crossed behind back) I’m going to go to Jimmy Buffett.  I like his writing.  In the beginning of his book “A Pirate Looks at 50″, he sums up his life using a format from Catholic school where the students had to report what they did over summer in 400 words or less.

I grew up Catholic too.  Please forgive me …it has been 593 or 296 days… oh no that’s confession something else.

I’m no where near the writer Jimmy is so it might take me less or way more than 400 words to sum up what’s happened since Jan 4th 2016 -When I was RV camping in the rain on the coast of California and bravely declaring IM STAYING.  Here goes…The last 296 days in 400 words or less.

Changed our minds.  Not staying. Left the next morning. Mud slide closes Hwy one on way to LA.  Go around. Park RV in storage.   Fly LAX to MSP.   My beloved station wagon in Florida gets totaled–hitting both a Mercedes and Bentley. Go big or go home girls!  Bring different car to Florida/visit.  Back to MN.  Rollo buys cars and trucks to replenish his collection-too many to remember 1975 Jeep, 1979 Scout (oh wait I bought that one)  We taste some Minnesota winter. Get small breed  puppy I said I’d never have cause I don’t like little dogs.  Fly back to LA with puppy under first class seat.  Pick up RV and come home via my beloved California Coast and across Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota. Camp in some of the most beautiful boondock sites on the planet.  Rollo diagnosed with rotator cuff/biceps injury.  Put off surgery till 2016 paving season ends. Get new bees. Paving season starts. Obsess over bigger dog. Consider trying different breed.  Disregard.  Obsess about border collies.  Get second dog-border collie of course. Fall in love with little dog.  I take herding lessons.  Rollo works really hard. Vacation in Montana and Idaho. Fence pasture.  Get sheep. Harvest honey…. whew.

That’s 199 words.  But I’m caught up.  For now.

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Fate of the Rebel Queen

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The reign of the rebel queen has ended.  Too short, but sweet.

We started beekeeping last summer.  Without much success in that our single hive died out over the winter. What was successful was a pretty nice honey harvest.  We had some help from a “bee guy” who brought a shiny stainless steel separator and spun the honey out of the comb in about 10 minutes.  It went into a really nice clean bucket with a filtered spigot. Easy breezy $450 plus shipping. I don’t know if that includes the bucket.

This spring we decided to try again. We attended the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.  This was the first classroom Rollo has been in since 1983.  He sat in the front row this time. He even asked a question.

“Being this is a honey beekeeping conference, why is there no honey out on the coffee/snack bar?”

The man has priorities.

We learned a lot. We learned how to hive a new package.  That’s what they call moving about 4000 angry bees from a screen box  into the hive.  We learned how to release their queen – she travels in a separate “first class” small screen cage.    We heard about feeding, and box rotation, mites, and wintering in 3 deep hives.  This system allows for more honey left over winter to feed the bees = We learned our bees probably died of starvation while we feasted on honey.

We decided to try it.  We picked up two packages in Hackensack Mn.  8000 angry bees rode home in the bathroom of the RV.

Once home,  we prepared to hive the packages. Spritzing them with a sugar water solution is supposed to appease them. This makes sense to me being quite appeased by sugar myself.  Rollo spritzed, shook and dumped his 4000 bees into the first hive.  About 1000 were flying around when he oh-so-carefully lowered the virgin queen’s cage deep into the hive.  She is supposed to STEP out with dignity and elegance to greet her subjects, then spend a few days decorating the new digs before making her mating flight. Rollo very carefully pulled back the screen door of her cage, having been warned it could snap back and behead her. We waited a split second….and she  shot out of the little cage and flew straight up out of the hive. And away, we guessed.  Our mouths hung open for a minute – oops forgot the sugar water part.

My turn.  I DRENCHED my queen and floated her out into her subjects.  Not graceful and dignified, but she sure didn’t fly away and thankfully she didn’t drown either.

Not knowing what else to do, we closed both hives and went to have some whiskey and talk about getting a new queen.

We were advised to wait a few days.  She might make it back to the hive, but probably not.  She might be found on the ground nearby with a cluster of bees surrounding her, but probably not.  Watch for eggs in the hive for a few days just to be sure she’s gone, we were told,  then order a new queen.

Within a week, eggs appeared in the Hive of the Rebel Queen, as we had christened it.   More eggs than in MY hive….of the soggy queen.  In fact, the Rebel outperformed the other lady all summer. She was first to need a second brood box, and a third.  Her’s was the only hive to need the queen separator and the honey boxes.  She achieved all of this  with benign neglect on our part as summer got busier.  We checked semi-regularly to be sure there was enough nectar and pollen and eggs and baby bees. But we didn’t remember our lessons about box rotation….or mites.  We checked for mites once.  None. Checked the boxes last week…and the Rebel Queen was gone.  Some of her loyal subjects lay dead around the outside of the hive.  Outrage. I assumed the mosquito spraying helicopter killed them. But I checked the surviving box and the mite load was high…We can’t be sure so I am going to assume she saw a mite or two and decided to move on.

I want to believe the Rebel Queen still flies. Somewhere.

The good news (I thought) was that she left behind her liquid gold treasure. Now to harvest it.

“Well,” said Pooh,

“what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

~ A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh

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I was Pooh with 13 frames of honey in a wheelbarrow ready to start extracting. By hand.

I have spent the last two days scratching wax out of the frames with a fork, metal spatula and my fingers.  Then straining it though jelly strainer bags or cheesecloth tied and nailed to the cabinets to suspend it over bowls, buckets and jars.

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Here is what I learned.

1.Honey is sticky. I am sticky.  The floor is sticky. Wax flecks are stuck to everything.

2.  I am clumsy. Clumsy and sticky means wax gets in the honey.

3. $450 plus shipping is not really that bad.

4. The moment Pooh talks about?  The nameless one before you start eating or separating the honey?

That’s the best part. But still…

I offer you Rebel Queen Honey.  I don’t think I can sell it because

A. You couldn’t afford. If I added up the cost of 8000 angry bees, hives and other paraphernalia, trip to Hackensack, bee class, jars, cheesecloth and two days with my feet stuck to the floor…trust me you couldn’t afford it.

B. I don’t have a license -or even know if I need one.

But I can take a donation towards a separator. However, you will have to sign a release that you will not hold me responsible for…anything.  Although I filtered it, Rebel Queen honey is not guaranteed to be free of wax bits, bee parts, swear words, or sudden urges to fly away.