Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's the honeybees knees...

I've always loved bees.  One summer when I was growing up I had to feed some of our horses in a pasture a ways from the house.  I enjoyed this chore even though I had quite a walk to get to them.  I didn't mind, as I had to walk through "a bee loud glade."  It took me forever to feed those horses, because as I was infatuated with the bees on the wildflowers.  Dad also allowed a beekeeper to set some hives on our property and nothing beat that giant pickle jar of honey we would get every year from the Parson's hives.

View from the dining room.  Notice the observation stump.
One cannot imagine the hope I had when my good friend, Heather,  told me her father was a beekeeper.  I called and asked if he needed anywhere to keep his hives.  He told me yes and that he would bring a couple out.  The happy dance I did after we hung up was unbeatable.  A few months later he and his son in law, Rob, brought up the hives.  I had a perfect spot planned far from the house.  He informed me a better spot was right off our yard.  What! Really?  I was skeptical as the roar from inside the hives bespoke of some very angry bees.  Gerald, the beekeeper assured me that they were not aggressive and the spot would work fine.  It turns out it is the perfect spot as we can see the hives right out our dining room windows.
Neon pollen?

I was tentative at first, but that soon dissipated.  It wasn't long before I rolled a good sitting stump next to the hives.  It is the perfect place to sit, enjoy a cup of morning coffee, and watch the bees go about their business.  Ella does not agree.  After a curious dog incident, she keeps her distance.  It is interesting what you can observe from two little hives.  Late this fall, when nothing I could see was blooming, one of the hives found some crazy neon pollen.  Their little legs glowed.  It only lasted a week.  It was obvious they didn't share their secret spot with the other hive.

The bees have been an excellent addition to our gardens.  (Ella may dispute that claim).  Especially in the fall when we get to enjoy the spoils.  I did learn there is also no stickier situation than extracting that honey.  Gerald gave us a honeycomb to play with.   It proved to be an interesting experience. 

I am thankful for the opportunity to have the hives and to be able to observe them.  There is nothing better than honey from your own hives, except maybe sharing honey from my hives with family and friends.

Old-Fashioned Honey Bread

1 1/2 c. Water                                       2T. Sugar
8 oz. cottage cheese                              2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 c. honey                                          5 c. flour
1/4 c. butter                                          3 t. salt
2 c. whole-wheat flour                          1 egg

Heat water, cottage cheese, honey and 1/4 c. butter until warm.  Combine warm liquid, whole-wheat flour, sugar, yeast, 2 c. flour, salt, and egg in a large bowl.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.  By hand stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.  Knead dough on a well floured surface until smooth.  Place in greased bowl, turn to coat.  Cover, let rise in a warm place until double in size (45-60 minutes).  Punch down and divide into two loaves.  Let rise again for 45-60 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans and brush with honey butter.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We interrupt this gardening blog for some winter fun...

Ok, I haven't written lately.  Last weekend I had the joy of hosting my sister and her family.  It was a blast.  I worked hard to keep my title as Cool Aunt Bonnie. 

We went swimming at the beautiful Deadwood Recreation Center.  It is a perfect place to take kids.  We went sledding several times.  The girls wanted to go by themselves, but I had to say no, as our sled run was solid ice.  We tried our hand at snowshoeing, thanks to South Dakota Game Fish and Parks letting me borrow snowshoes for free!  They did a great job for their first time on snowshoes.  Taylor's goal was to make it to the swing.  Once she got there she found out it tends not to swing when stuck in 3 feet of snow.  We made a beautiful snowfort.  The girls were game for anything, and I think we hit about everything you could do. 

We got to watch their dad, Tyler, auctioneer at the St. Onge auctioneer competion on the internet.  He did a great job and it was fun to watch.

Have you ever seen a better snowfort?
In the house we played old maid, dominoes, and hide & seek.  When the day was over I read Old Mother West Wind to Sierra and Taylor, just like I used to to Becky and Jim when they were little.  I believe a good time was had by all. 

In honor of Grandma Hyde I had a jar full of lemon drops.  That went over well with everyone. Ella's favorite part was sitting under Haley's chair during meals.   Kelly loved playing hide-and-go-seek.  I enjoyed the sledding.  Kelly and I really enjoyed their visit.  I can't wait to go visit Becky in March.

A tired group after a long day of playing in the snow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I promised you a rose garden...

      My husband has infinitely more confidence in my ability as a gardener than I have in myself.  He challenges me in areas I would never endeavor on my own. The rose garden would be one of those gauntlets that he threw down to push my gardening skills. 
My rose garden.
           It all started about 4 years ago I when I began building a retaining wall between the front of our cabin and the road, to aid with drainage.  I love building things with rocks.  It is nothing for my husband to look out the window and see me wandering down our road with a wheelbarrow laden with giant stones.  I never ask for help, it is the challenge that draws me.  Funny thing is I could spend all day moving a stone twice my size, but I stomp like a spoiled child at the very thought of digging a post hole. 
Anyway, back to the story.  I was working on this retaining wall because water from the road was draining into our yard.  I managed to sweet talk my husband into driving his skid steer along the rocky road leading to our house.  We picked up small boulders that appeared after we had some work done on the road.  I was in heaven.  Soon we had a nice wall up. 
Kelly's "blueprint" for the perfect rose garden. 
That is me in the sweater.
          That is when my husband started thinking that it was the perfect place for a rose bed.  A rose bed?  Um, those are for professional gardeners.  People with patience and logic; neither are my strongest suite.  Kelly didn’t understand my fears, or ignored them.  Since he’s my husband, I’m guessing he ignored them.  Before I know it, he has a carefully and artistically constructed  "blueprint", there is a truckload of compost delivered, and I’m helping him dig post holes on July 4th in 90 degree temperatures.  Please see the above reference to my love for digging post holes.  Once my husband gets his mind set on something there is no stopping him.  He is sure it was his best idea ever.  I’m a bit cynical.  Roses are supposed to be temperamental. 
My reservations quickly disappeared when we went to Jolly Lane (my absolute favorite nursery) to buy the roses.  Suddenly I found myself in a world of brilliant colors, dark green leaves, and scents that were intoxicating.  Four roses later I was hooked for life.   

William Baffin
Perennials have dash, but roses have personality.  I have the Yellow Topaz.  She (I will not tell you what I really call her and it isn’t Yellow Topaz) is merciless if you dare come within her reach.  Her thorns instill fear.  My husband’s prize is Morden Sunrise Shrub.  Of course I can’t get it to grow.  The little bugger has been 4 inches tall since I got her 4 years ago.  He has high hopes, while I hope she just makes it through another winter.   
The infamous Yellow Topaz
My mom gave me a Harison’s Yellow that belonged to my Great Aunt Clara.  For Mother’s Day I gave her a Theresa Bugnet that I have found to be virtually Bonnie proof.  My William Baffin is the first to meet me in the spring.  The Westerland we picked out has a scent that is out of this world, closely followed by Vavoom.  The Champlain never lets me down.  I used to have one in Lead and our dog, Ezra, was infatuated with it.  He ate the flowers and would pull it up whenever I wasn’t looking.  It was years before he succeeded in killing that one. 

Morden Blush
         Four years and twelve roses later I’m addicted.  I can honestly say roses have taught me to be a bit more patient and logical.  For example, patience has to be learned when you have a Yellow Topaz with thorns like a viper’s teeth.  I dread when I have to wrap her up for the winter and free her in the spring. She is not thankful for the care.  One becomes more logical when you fall in love with a rose for zone 5 and you are zone 3, you’d better be figuring out how to protect the heck out of it in the winter.

"This is the best idea ever!"
    I may not be the best rose gardener, but they are still alive.  When I remember to fertilized them they even flourish.  I have become an ardent composter, especially with bannanas and coffee grounds.  They are good for roses you know.  Yeah, I have to admit it may have been my husband’s best idea ever.