Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bee Expo, More Snow, Thinking About Tapping

With the grey, snowy weather outside, I have been sitting at the dining room table watching birds at the feeder and knitting or spinning.  GroverCarter likes to sit with me.

We have had a week of grey days and snowy skies.  I almost didn't attend the Bee Expo in Parkersburg on Saturday because they were forecasting snow all day, but only about 2".  It is an hour + drive each way and most of it on 2 lane rural highway and country roads, so it was really no problem and I am glad I attended.  I took several classes (well short hour long seminars) and spent money on items I need to extract honey.  We had already ordered a 2 frame honey extractor on line the day before, but I needed lots of other items and I was able to get them all in this one place.  Then my extractor arrived by UPS yesterday.  This is a view looking down inside it from the top.  I have placed two frames in it.  It is basically a stainless steel "can" with a revolving basket inside.  Two frames are placed into the basket once the wax caps are removed from the honey cells, the lid is placed on the extractor and you crank the handle (which you can see on the right side of the photo).  This spins the frames and the centrifugal force flings the honey out of the frames.  It collects in the bottom of the extractor where there is an opening with a "honey gate" .  Once the extractor is full of honey, you place a 5 gallon bucket with a filter in it under the honey gate and let the honey flow into the bucket, from which you can then bottle the honey.  Pretty simple, right?  I hope to find out in June.

So Saturday's snow fall was really only a couple inches, but we probably got another 3" on Sunday and then 2 more on Monday.  The temps have hovered right around the freezing mark during the day though, so the snow has been thick and heavy.  The dogs and I have managed to get out for our walks every day and I even ventured up the hill into the woods a couple days.  It is hard going in heavy wet snow, especially uphill.  But it is good for all of us.

Pileated Woodpecker
I mentioned sitting at the table in the dining room watching the birds.   I have bird feeders on a big maple tree just off the deck.  We get lots of cardinals, nuthatches, tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers  and red-bellied woodpeckers, as well as the occasional blue-jay.  This year, I have twice seen a bird I have never observed at the feeder, though there are many of them in our woods, a pileated woodpecker!  I was so surprised the first time I saw this guy sitting under the feeder eating seed off the ground.  I was unable to get his photo since my camera was across the room and I was sure he would see me through the glass door and fly away as soon as I moved (which he did).  But the other day he was back!  And my camera was near to hand so I was able to get his photo.  While he was under the tree all the other little birds who sit under the feeder made themselves scarce.  It was great seeing this fellow so close up.  Usually they are in flight when I see them.  They have a very distinctive way of flying.  

By Sunday, the forecast is calling for warmer temps, so we are thinking of setting out some maple taps this Saturday.  If we get a good run of sap on Sunday, I can boil down the first batch of the season on Monday.  It would be nice to have some fresh maple syrup to take to Florida with me next week.  I hope we have better weather for syrup season this year than last year.  We need a long spell of cold nights and days above freezing and some sunshine would help as well.  Tomorrow I need to clean everything that has been stored away since last year, buckets, pans, utensils, etc.  The batteries for the cordless drills are already on the chargers to drill the tap holes.  

As for fiber pursuits, I finished a hat I was knitting and will post a photo of it once I have sent it off to the recipient.  I have also spun up some of my hand dyed alpaca/wool roving that I dyed last spring.  It is in purples, blues and teal and I love it.  I spun up 2 ounces and decided to spin another 2 ounces so I can knit myself a hat.  I wasn't sure I could make do with the144 yards I got from the first 2 ounces.  It really is a nice yarn.  Photo next time.  I still have a shawl on my needles and a just-started sock.  I will likely take the socks with me to work on in Florida next week.  Something that does not require a lot of concentration.

Rowdy enjoys a nice cool spot.


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