Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FIBER FINDS

I wanted to share some of the cool things I picked up at the Shepherds Harvest Fiber Festival.  I haven't been motivated to use the weavette yet since I'm just getting over being sick but I couldn't resist spinning some new yarn.

I spent hours wandering around the fiber festival looking for romney wool because I had read that it was the best fiber for new spinners but out of all the vendors only one person was selling it and unfortunately it's not roving :(  I bought it anyway but have yet to try it out.  I'm thinking I need to prep it a bit before using it because there are bits of hay throughout the fiber.  Once I figure out what to do I'll probably attempt to color it.


I hunted forever and finally found a niddy noddy.  I learned the hard way that this tool is pretty necessary.  I wrapped my spun fiber around a book and then couldn't get it off.   With the niddy noddy I know just how much yarn I'm wrapping and won't have trouble removing it.


I also found a small weaving square.  I really really really wanted it and after many failed online searches I am happy to have found it at the festival.  Now I just have to figure out how to use it.  Should be simple.


One of my best finds didn't come from the fiber festival but I wanted to share it anyway.  I was browsing at the Yarnery on Grand and found some polwarth wool top.  I'd not read anything about polwarth but the label on the fiber said it was a long fiber which is best for new spinners so I bought it.  I'm soooooo happy that I did because, so far, it is the best fiber I have spun with.  I tried the Merino Wool after having such a great experience with the BFL but the Merino made me want to give up on spinning.  It was horrible.  I'm sure the wool is awesome for someone but it wasn't for me.  I later read that the Merino fibers are too short for new spinners and often lead to failure.  Now that I have the polwarth I am back to my spinning addiction :)  NOTE TO TERESA: this is the one I mentioned sending you if you'd like to try it.


If anyone is interested in learning to spin and feel like I do, that the wheel is way too expensive to begin with, I suggest picking up the book "respect the spindle."  I took a short spinning class but I found the book to be a much better teacher.  



Monday, May 14, 2012

MINNESOTA SHEPHERDS HARVEST

We hit the great Shepherds Harvest Fiber Festival over Mother's Day weekend.  Lots and lots of fun things too see; angora rabbits & goats, llama, alpaca, and sheep.  We ate fried pickles dipped in horseraddish sauce and fried walleye.  The Shepherds Harvest and the State Fair are the only two places I'll eat fried anything. LOL!

Here is Aiyana learning how to spin.


One of the many angora rabbits.  This one is a french angora just like our bugs.  I never let buggsies coat get that thick though which is why I don't have much angora to knit with.

Lots of fiber supplies.


Middy enjoying the animals.


How sad is this.  I've dreamed of having an alpaca farm and yet I can't tell you if this is an alpaca or a llama.  That's ok though.  After learning about all the work involved with these little creatures I won't be buying livestock anytime soon.




This is called skirting.  I'm not entirely sure what that means since we missed the demo but there was a sign on the side that said "skirting."  My fiber lingo, unfortunately, is very limited but... I'll get there some day.


I'll blog about what I purchased next : )  Lots of fun stuff.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

MASON BEE?

I was so excited to find this itty bitty bee in my garden working really hard on one of my bamboo poles that I'm using to stake my raspberry bush.  I immediately thought it was a mason bee.  Some of the other bamboo poles in the raspberry patch have mud plugged holes already (possibly from last year).  Anyway... I took some pix and a video to show my daughter Maya but when she saw the video she insisted that it wasn't a mason bee.  She thinks it looks like a wasp but the video is a little deceiving when it comes to seeing the bees size.  It was really tiny, about the size of my fingernail.  I don't think any wasps are that size.  Are there wasps that size????



video

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MUST MAKE DO

I figured if I can't have honeybees right now it doesn't mean I can't have another type of bee.  According to my beekeeping friend Dave  it is a little late in the season to get going with Mason Bees so I'm going to give bumble bees a try.  A while back, after my beekeeping course, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to try keeping bumble bees.  She's always had a fascinating relationship with bumbles.  When she and I took a class at a local nature center 14 years ago we learned the difference between bees, wasps and hornets, which ones are aggressive and which ones aren't, etc... After that time she's always handled bumble bees.  She mostly likes to stroke their backs when they are busy working a flower.  Since she is so brave and had a real interest we ordered Marla Spivak's book: Befriending Bumble Bees.




Maya, my daughter, caught a bunch of bumbles initially but we were unsure in our ability to determine which ones were queens so she'd always let them go.  Well, since I'm bee-less I've decided to give the bumbles another try. With bumbles I won't have to worry about swarm management and worried neighbors, I'll just be able to still enjoy having a relationship with bees.

Now all I need is a bumble bee to show up.  They are late this year.

Wish me luck! :D

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

THE PROCESS OF MOVING HIVES

I thought this was cool.  Jim at Natures Nectar talks about moving our hives, explaining his process. The hive in the picture was our 2nd year hive :)

Natures Nectar: Moving Hives

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BYE BYE HIVES :(

We said goodbye to our hives yesterday.  It was actually pretty sad.  I didn't care so much about the yellow hive but I was really attached to the pink one (the one you see being carried away).  That was my very first hive after I took the U of M beekeeping course and we've managed to get it through two winters and this was our third spring having them, they were also our mild tempered and happy bees.  My husband said I looked pitiful, like a lost child watching them from the window being carried away.We discussed just keeping the one hive because they really were a great bunch of bees to have but we just couldn't get past the possibility that, even if we managed them well, they could swarm again and next time it might not turn out so great.  I kept having visions of them swarming during one of the neighbors many dusk til dawn lawn parties.

Hubby and I are already discussing other options.  We have a couple friends that live in the country and we might approach them about keeping our bees.  One of them has wanted to have bees but wasn't so sure she wanted to do the management part of it, so we're thinking she might be a good option.  Otherwise, we do plan on moving so we might wait until then to get another hive, we'll see.

For now, Jim at Natures Nectar took our babies away.  I feel good that he was the one to take them since he's the guy I orginally purchased my packages from.  Who better to have our hives than the man I bought them from, right? 

So anyway...a couple pictures to share:

Jim getting the hives ready to be hauled away.



and then carrying my favorite one out.


Middy (my middle child) is pretty mad at me.  She loves the bees.  We have spent every day since spring of 2010 checking them out each morning, watching them fly in and out throughout the day (aside from winter).  I didn't realize she had grown as attached as I did.  She kept trying to think of reasons they didn't have to go.  She thinks people around us should "suck it up and get with the program." lol!  She's already asking when we can get some more.  I guess her nagging will get me moving on finding someone to let us keep them on their property.

Did I ever mention how much I hate living in the city?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

TO PIERCE OR NOT TO PIERCE...THAT IS THE QUESTION

I recently took my 16 year old to get her nose pierced.  The response to having actually allowed my teenage daughter to pierce any part of her face other than her ears is quite interesting.  I'm the cool mother to  my daughters friends and those working at the piercing shop but among other mothers whose teen daughters now want their noses pierced after seeing my daughter, I'm not so awesome.

I remember my own mother had rules about such things.  I wasn't allowed to pierce or tattoo anything, I wasn't even allowed to wax my eyebrows or dye my hair, but that's a whole other topic.  I got my first tattoo when I was 18 and managed to hide it from mom until I was 21.  I got my nose pierced when I was 26 and displayed it proudly (it took me that long to stop fearing the wrath of my mother).  I decided when my children came along that I'd be a little bit more open minded.  I would never sign for a tattoo but I think nose piercings are really cute (and luckily not permanent).


video


I also like ear piercings.  In my husbands culture babies get their ears pierced within 3 days of birth.  Since  midwives and OB/Gyn's aren't really accustomed to that practice I had my oldest child's ears pierced down in Mexico by a family friend when she was 6 weeks old.  Our second child had her ears pierced at 8 weeks old by our pediatrician.  When our last child came along I had decided I'd let her decide if and when she wanted her ears pierced.  Well, shortly after turning five she said she wanted earrings like her big sisters.  I made her wait until she received her vaccines and told her if she could take the pain of the vaccine then I'd let her get her ears pierced.  So, she took the three shots like a trooper and we got her ears pierced.  She did NOT take the ear pain experience like a trooper but she loves her earrings and made me promise she'd never have to take them out :)


As for my 16 year old...

Yesterday she says "if I'd known this piercing was so high maintenance I wouldn't have done it" (referring to the number of times she has to clean it every day).  I guess we'll see how long it lasts :D



Thursday, May 3, 2012

ANOTHER SWARM BRINGS MORE STINGS

Today our second hive swarmed. We really didn't anticipate this one. Our neighbor came by around 1 pm to tell us that our hive was swarming and it was in her backyard AGAIN! I don't know what it is about her yard that they love so much but they do. I ran over to see where it landed and this time it was attached to a tree trunk about 7 feet from the ground smack in the middle of her backyard. I told her that I'd get someone to remove it right away.

Well, I made the usual round of calls and not a single beekeeper could come out to get the swarm. One beekeeper was nice enough to walk me through the process so the hubby and I decided we would retrieve it and keep the bees in a box until someone came to get them. Just before we set out to get the swarm I made a call to the MN Hobby Beekeepers Association to see who might want the bees once I boxed them up and a member told me that he had a list and would make calls. I got a call from a beekeeper that wanted to remove the swarm himself (it was his first time), so he came right over. Unfortunately, being a newbie at swarm removal, he wasn't quite sure what to do so he placed his hive body below the tree, climbed the ladder, and shook the thick branch. Bees didn't exactly fall into the box, they sorta tumbled and then started flying. This fiasco went on for about a dozen more tree shakes and each shake would create lots of angry bees, lots of flying, and an eventual return to the tree. The guy finally left and planned a return in a few hours.

In the meantime my hubby and I were talking to the neighbors about 20 feet from the swarm. The swarm had mostly calmed itself but one lone bee came flying over and hovered above my husbands head (thanks to his black hair the bees are really really attracted to him.) He tried walking further away but it followed and stung him right on the eyelid. Needless to say, my husband was NOT happy. He has had his fill of bee stings lately and right now I'm not really sure what he's thinking about our little insects. (the first picture is at urgent care.  I made my hubby go in to see if the doctor could at least give him something for the swelling.  He swells pretty awful when he is stung and I was afraid it would put pressure on his eye.  The doctor agreed and prescribed prednisone but now my goofy husband won't take it.)


(This second picture was taken 2 hours after the doctor visit.  He still won't take the meds nor will he take anymore benadryl. He's a glutton for punishment I guess).



On top of that, my neighbors were feeling a little put off as well. It turned out that both they and I have been thinking the same thing: what if our bees swarmed one day, none of us notice, and they let the dogs out to play? What if no one notices the swarm sitting on our fence, or on their table, or in the bush next to the house and they bring their 3 yr old granddaughter outside to run around? I live my life according to the Golden Rule so my neighbors weren't really thinking anything that I hadn't thought myself. They didn't tell me to get rid of my bees but I know I have to think about it. We do plan on a move to the country soon so we may just have to hold off on the beekeeping until we have more land.

About three hours later the beekeeper returned to try once again to remove the swarm (some of the bees were already in the hive body from his previous visit). This time he used his bee brush to scoop them up and dump them into the hive body. Once he felt he scooped enough he sat and waited but again, the bees that were flying kept returning to the tree and not the hive. He decided to take home the thousands he scooped up and left the chunk on the tree behind. We have no way of knowing if the queen was in the hive body or in the tree since it seemed the bees were divided on where they wanted to stay. All I know for sure is I hope the bees find their way back to my hive or else leave because if they don't I'm afraid they'll end up being exterminated in the morning :(


We did get some honey out of it all.  The guy who retrieved the swarm was a little confused by me.  He couldn't understand why someone would keep bees without the need or desire for honey.  I tried to explain to him that honey would be awesome but it really wasn't what drove me to keep bees but he just couldn't wrap his mind around that so when he returned the second time he brought me this big jar of honey and said, as he handed me the jar "this is why you become a beekeeper." 


I still don't agree with him but... lol!