Tag Archiv: apples

State of things

Summer 2014 July Aug 059

Apple trees:  Only some bore fruit this first year. The ones that did had one or two apples, except our champion tree with more than a dozen. Resulting apple cobbler was priced at $70 a plate, but maybe it was only $60.

Bees: Despite the failure of the Let the Boys Become Men campaign, and my subsequent involvement in beekeeping (due mainly to my ability to read) we are still glad we got our bees. If they can survive the winter, we’ll be sittin pretty for next year. If they don’t, well, we’ll re-evaluate.

Misty (the pony who arrived with a “staying for one year only,” guarantee) has had her chances of staying around here upped mightily. We had an actual horse person come and work with Boy one. They were happy with what he was already doing and gave him some help going forward. (Strike one success for the Boys Become Men Campaign.) The clincher was a show by a Canadian folk singer (Marie-Lynn Hammond) that I went to last weekend. I bought a CD about horses called, Hoofbeats. I thought I bought it for the kids (who are absolutely crazy about it) only I am in love with it too. (Honestly, if you love horses, kids, or good storytelling, you would love this CD.) There is some kind of magic floating around in the music because I’m starting to feel lucky when I see Misty in the field instead of wondering how many pounds she’d dress out at for the freezer.

The other animals are all happy. Chickens are laying billions of eggs. Currently, 1103 to wash on the counter. 31 little meat chicks are growing like weeds. We’re down to one chicken left in the freezer, so I am pretty happy to see them getting ready to address the situation. Until then, I’m scratching my head for recipes to hide tongue, heart and liver in. They seem to be most of what’s left in the meat section. I thought I’d done it with a stir fry the other day, but later Boy one got to shivering, telling me he knew there was liver, he just knew it.

Maybe you had a little, I said, but less than half of that meat was liver.

Mine was all liver. I could tell by the smoothness on the outside.

Statistically, that’s just not very likely, I said. Anyway, heart meat is kind of smooth on the outside too, so I doubt you could tell the difference.

His eyes bulged out and his lips trembled a little bit. Cocky boy whispered, you’re not joking are you.

Hmm – not joking, but feeling pretty good.

Lastly, the cats are failures. There are a lot of little somebody’s moving in for the winter to the space between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor.  If, for example, you sit quietly writing during the middle of the day, they run over your head, in and out for hours. Does marvels for the peace and concentration.

Honey Bees


This past weekend we took the plunge. I took the boys to a bee keeping class an hour away. It was scheduled to be three hours long. It went longer. At the two hour mark, I offered to leave early and get the rest of the information to review at home. There were no other children there. At ten, Boy two was deemed the youngest student the classes had seen. I don’t think they were flush with a history of thirteen year olds either.

I wondered if the boys would be intimidated by the six or so other adults.  In things like getting cookies or choosing seats, they were. The minute things turned to bees, they didn’t even remember the other people were in the room. Boy two was raising his hand, asking questions, and offering his own ideas. I tried to kick him quiet with my toe, but before my foot touched him, it turns out he was saying the right answer.

When our delightful fourth generation, all organic bee keeper and teacher, took us out to open up a hive and look at the bees, Boy two was actually dancing. Boy one was motionless, watching every move she made.

If you want to go now, we can, said Boy one when I asked.

No way, said Boy two. I’m not missing anything. This is awesome.

Which probably makes you think there were bells and whistles instead of an off the cuff, slightly meandering, but very experienced beekeeper in her sixties. Boy two jiggled his foot and fiddled with knick knacks. Whenever there was a chance to walk around, both were up and moving. We went to the class with my provisos about not a done deal. If the bees seemed too complicated, the class too long, the whole thing too much work, anything, we could go home and call it a day.

We were the last to leave. We left with a book, equipment, and two hives to paint and set up in preparation for our bees which will arrive mid-June. For the way home, Boy two was squished in the back seat with hive parts beside him, at his feet, and on his lap. Boy one was in similar straights in the front. The car was peaceful; the boys content.

I know I don’t show it like Boy two, said Boy one. But I’m really, really excited about this. Thanks for taking us to the class today.

I smiled relieved that I was right. It was his intent look, I’d been watching all afternoon, not his polite one.

The bees are a win-win in my mind. In the best case scenario, the kids love it, we get honey, they get money, and my apple trees get pollinated. In the worst case scenario, we try it, the bees don’t work for us to upkeep, so we stop with the hope that in a small way, we added to the honey bee population on the farm.

I’ve already started looking at recipes if we make it until the honey comes.

Grace. Latest Installment

Purple flowers

After a 4.5 hour drive home from my grandparents, the girls and I arrived home stiff, a little hungry, weary, and grumpy, to find that the apple trees I ordered had finally arrived. If I wanted help, it was time to pick up our order. After lunch and another hour in the car, we had nine trees.

Once upon a time, apple trees lived happily on bedrock in the middle of our pasture, but according to the internet, nowhere on our property met the many qualifications required for ideal planting of apple trees. Nervous, I’ve been waiting for the trees to arrive for weeks now. The weather was pleasant. I tried to be joyful, but voices were in my ears.

“Not enough drainage here.”

“Soil’s not good enough here.”

“Here’s too close to that tree.”

Were these sounds just my fear or were they the last ditch attempts of the robed wizards of appledom to save us from doom?

“We chose the best of what we had. We just want to try,” I squeaked back.

“That’s a lot of money gone when they all die,” came the reply. I pictured somber head shaking.

Planting was a team effort (minus Boy one who was away). I was tense, but my hands were full of life whispering maybe. The voices couldn’t ruin it all, it was fun. Still, they kept the joy of the trees from trumping the weariness of the morning. I headed into the house irritated that there was no way to have dinner made on time. The war of apple hope vs. no apple fear raged on.

The kids had taken off a little earlier. “She’s here! She’s here,” rang out, as I approached. I was escorted up to the girls’ room. A bedspread refashioned as tablecloth, covered the table (made of two stools with a large book bridging the middle gap) the tea kettle sat in the middle. Miniature teacups were all around, except my favorite mug sat at my place. Everyone sat on the floor except me, who was given a bean bag. A plate of crackers and raisins was on the table. “Surprise!” they said.

Girl one put a tiara designed for me on my head, Girl two handed me a bracelet made from all of the new beads they just received from their great grandmother. Boy two handed me a card, “Happy Early Mother’s Day,” it said (in beautiful cursive writing).

I could remember lots of clipped directions and signs that mother’s fuse was growing shorter through the day. I couldn’t remember very many reasons for a surprise, early Mother’s Day celebration.

My tea was served bag in. I smiled. They jumped up and down to give one last surprise. What delighted me most about it was how much I would have hated it, had I not known that they expected me to like it. With love, messy, incorrect, unstable and misdirected, they won me over.

In case you only see ripped up boxes, tape and mess, this is actually a newly designed kitten play maze, with love from the younger three. :)

In case you only see ripped up boxes, tape and mess, this is actually a kitten play maze, designed to be left in the middle of floors everywhere, with love from the younger three. :)