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Category: Homestead Skills (page 1 of 2)

Candy Board for the Bees

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It is that time of year to put a candy board to make sure the bees do not starve during the winter.

This is a simple process. What you need to do is dissolve the sugar in the least amount of water possible and then cook it to remove most of the water. some just use water while others add vinegar and other stuff. I just do the vinegar and sugar. You heat up the mixture to a hard candy temperature and then pour into a mold. Some make boards like I have while others just use baking pans to pour the mixture into. The foil in the middle is a hole for the bees to crawl into to get the sugar. I made enough for two to three hive but one can double this recipe to make more.

Recipe:

5 lbs. sugar

1/2 quart water

1 Tablespoon vinegar

Prepare molds by spray, covering lightly with oil or covering with parchment paper. I just pour on these bee boards.  Put the on a flat, heat proof surface.

Measure the water and vinegar into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Pour in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.

After the sugar dissolves put the heat to medium high and stop stirring. Insert a candy thermometer into the pot. Boil until the thermometer reads 250º degrees. F.

Remove from the heat and carefully pour into your molds. Allow for it to cool completely and then store between wax paper until you put on the hive.

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Quail and Sweet Potaotes

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It occurred to me the other day that I had not seen any quail for a while around this farm. This is one the areas of primary range for the Bobwhite quail so I like to keep some areas for them. There have been reports of declines in numbers for this bird. These are delicate birds  need a variety of habitats. Today I looked outside of one window and noticed some around the carport. Elated I went to grab the camera but when I got back they were nowhere to be seen.

What do I do to help with habitat management

Nesting Cover

They like clumps of grass. Native prairie grasses with their clump-type growth form are ideal nest cover . They need clumps they can walk to but give overhead protection.

Brood Cover

Most quail dye during the brood period. Quail chick need to be able to move at ground level but still have overhead concealment and a variety of green plants or plant parts within pecking reach.  This is about two to three inches high. The ground cover needs to be very open with greens to also attract all types of insects they will eat. Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects are most of their diet for the first three weeks. This is why burned areas and just till areas are popular with the quail. The area I saw the quail I had just cleaned out  the day before. The garden area is next to the row of wild plum bushes giving cover.

Prescribed Burning

I do not do a while lot of burning but I just might burn the acre I am not using for agriculture. It is mostly grassland. Burning make me nervous so I will likely not do it but I have years ago done so.

Disking and Mowing

I just might do a path mow in the grassland area to give the birds an easy travel route. I am still in the process of deciding where a good place for a feeder would be. You want it accessible but in an area safe.

Legume Seeding

I am preparing the area of the garden for legume planting.  Korean lespedeza, ladino clover, white clover, red clover, and subterranean clover and alfalfa. These can be broad cast seeded in the winter.

Half Cutting and Shrub Planting

I have planted hedge rows in areas around my property for birds. In the future I plant to do half-cutting of cedar and other plants to create a living bush pile. You do this by cutting a tree 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through leaving a hinge of bark attached so that the tree falls. Hedging laying  is an old fence method used in europe to keep livestock in and has the added advantage of serving as a habitat for birds.

 

Sweet Potatoes

Learning to grow sweet potatos and potatoes are important for growing vegetables for calories.  I suggest everyone with a garden grow a few to have the skills needed to grow them.

My sweet potatoes were harvested yesterday and are now in the curing stage. Now the best harvest this year but with the potaotes I should have almost enough for the year. The soil was still very moist so the soil stayed on. When they get dryer I will clean them better.  I put them in a cloth bag in the car port to help the starches form into sugars.  As soon as they are dry enough to clean I will clean them better and bring insde to finish curing to avoid frost damage. If you live in an area that freezes you will want to harvest before a hard freeze. This can damage the potatoes if frozen and decay from frozen vines can affect the potatoes.

Curing can be done in 10 to 14 day.  It is best to have them in a warm area. The temperature should be around 80-85 F with high humility.  Afte curing you can put them in a cooler area with lower humility. 

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Buffalo Grass, Fall flowers and Garden Weed Contol

 

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I added some planters this year with mums still in their pots. I plant to plant them in the garden before it get too cold or bring them inside and plant them in the spring.  Someday I hope to have an inviting front porch.

It was warm enough to check the sugar syrup feeders in the hives today. One hive is not eating too much  while the other hive too two pints again in two days. I added two quarts this time. The vinegar really is keeping the mold away from the jars and the bees still really like the syrup. I will keep checking their intake until it starts freezing and will then put sugar boards and leave the hives alone the until late winter on a warm day.

Getting the Vegetable garden ready for the winter can be an arduous undertaking. Especially if the weeds get out of control like they did in my garden. As I mentioned before I plan on using landscaping fabric next year to keep up. I cleaned up two rows and piled some debris to burn later. It can be helpful to burn squash and other plant remains to help reduce insect populations. After cleaning up two thirty foot roll I decided I better get the Buffalo grass plugs planted. 

This became more difficult that I had planned. I figured I would just cut the sod off the soil and plant the expensive plugs. I was not happy with the amount of grass roots left over so I decided to dig up an areas instead. My rotortiller would had done a smooth job but I just did not feel it was worth it for such a small area. So now I have buffalo grass planted and I am hoping for the best.  Buffalo grass spreads by stolons and seed and,  if it grows as well as I hope since it is a native grass, I hope to be able to start taking plugs from the small area next year.
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I finished with the grass I decided to enjoy the fall flowers. It is great to have so many flower still flowering.  The Chrysanthemums fell over too much weight but sill look pretty.

 

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As I turned the corner of the flower bed I notice how much the Mexican Evening Primrose had spread. I because worried about having another wayward plant on my property. I like easy to care  for plants. I looked at the label and it said can become invasive. Invasive! Oh NO! After reviewing the plant I remembered it is native to the central grasslands. So this perennial plant may spread a lot in the flower bed but likely will only spread on my property in areas that will work well.  Just as the vinca minor (non native) is sometimes a problem in garden beds it has not spread elsewhere. 

 

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Autumn Feeding of Honey Bees

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It was a weird concept for me to feed my bees in the fall and winter. I had been taught my a professional beekeeper to just leave the two brood boxes for the bees in winter. Here in Kansas we have winters and periods of no pollen or nectar. Your bees will starve if you do not feed them unless you are able to really get them to stockpile the brood boxes. So I have begun to feed my bees.

We are starting to feed a syrup and later will put a candy board on top of the hive  just before it really starts to freeze. Mr. Gadget made a board to put the jars on so we can feed them without opening up and exposing the hive. It has four holes to put four jars in.  I used to measure the sugar and water to make the syrup but now just fill the jar 1/2 full of sugar and fill with warm water. This makes a good syrup and save the time and hassle of measurements. This year I started to add vinegar to help keep the mold from forming in the jar. I am hoping it works as well as others say it does.

Yesterday I went in to take up the mite away strips. My hives look really good with bees on every frames just working away. At the same time I checked the hive beetle traps. I found the hive beetles were hiding under the traps. I might have to come up with a way to stop that.  I was still getting some in the traps.

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Honey of A Year and Comparison of Two Bee Races.

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This is the first year of harvesting honey from these new hives. The Italians produced a decent amount of honey while the Carniolans had two frames to give. Italians tend to create an earlier brood than the Carniolans giving them the advantage of faster honey production in the spring. In the future, I am hoping this tendency of the Carniolans will bestow on us an early summer harvest in July plus a summer harvest in September. Still, I saw a major difference in the two harvests this year.

Conversely, other beekeepers have mentioned a July harvest would be lighter in color and, consequently, it was. Nevertheless, I am still partial to the late harvest more robust flavor.

In August or when the blooming of most plants producing nectar and pollen ends (periods of dearth) the Italians will begin reducing brood while the Carniolans will keep going strong until September. This means the Italians will have an average population into winter while the Carniolans will have a much stronger hive for the winter. Lower hive population means less ability to keep warm. Many other beekeepers praise the Carniolans in this area for that reason. I also wonder, since Carniolans tend to have higher numbers in the fall, this might help them keep the hive beetles in check better. I plan to keep track to see if I notice a difference, but I have already noticed more beetles in the Italian hive when I did a treatment. In the fall, the beetles tend to achieve overtaking hives in this area. I am working to prevent this.

 Another difference between the two subspecies is the Italians tend to collect less in cooler and overcast weather. The Carniolans keep going with regular activity in this condition. I am hoping the Carniolans, after being established, will out produce the Italians next year.

Moreover, most beekeepers claim the Italians are more laid back while other claim Carniolans are more gentle. My Italians are aggressive while the Carniolans hive is more mellow. Go figure!

Compared to the Italians, the Carniolans tend to swarm. Once the queen begins laying they can run out of space in 60 days. This is something I will have to watch next year.

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Mariel’s Enchiladas

 

I had a potluck and had planned to bring something else by Mr. Gadget suggested Enchiladas. It was a good choice that went over well. I got this good freezer recipe I got a long time ago and had not made it in a long time. I forgot how good they were especially after changing it to more modern flavors.  Dipping tortillas in hot water instead of frying them helps keep the cholesterol and calorie count down and the dishwater one frying pan closer to completion.

Mariel’s Enchiladas

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon or Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper or a green pepper seeded and chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin

2 cans (8 ounces) tomato paste
2 cups beef broth or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water
Salt
1 1/4 pounds ground round or turkey
1 dozen corn or flour tortillas
Green onions, ripe olives, and cheddar cheese for garnish

 

Saute’ onion, garlic, and green pepper in olive oil until vegetables are limp.  Sprinkle flour, cumin, and chili powder into onion mixture and stir until blended. Combine tomato paste and beef stock into onion mix. Cook until smooth and thickened, stirring frequently.  Add salt to taste.

In a separate pan, cook ground round and one-fourth of the cooked sauce until meat is browned and crumbly.

Dip one tortilla in hot water for 5 seconds and drain.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons meat filling down the center of tortilla. Roll tortilla around filling and place flap side down. In a greased shallow casserole place filled enchiladas side by side.

Spoon the remaining three-fourths cooked sauce over the surface of the casserole.

Cool Enchiladas, cover and freeze.

To use:

Bake, uncovered, while still frozen, in a 375 degree F. Oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Scatter chopped green onions, chopped fine olives and grated Cheddar cheese over Enchiladas, before serving.

Serves 6.

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Another Day of Apple Canning

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Yesterday I spent most of the day canning some more apples. I made one of the family’s favorite Sweet and Spicy applesauce and tried a new recipe. The Red Hot apples is an interesting recipe made with red-hot candies, vinegar, water, and sugar.  Can’t wait to try it.

Today was mowing. I spent a few hours working on the mowing. Mowing with a push mowing is a lot of work when you are talking about  two acres.

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captureyour365- What I Eat

captureyour365          What I Eat

 

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To be honest this bowl of raisin bran is not what I usually eat but it sure tasted good this morning. I suppose that is what happens when you eat a breakfast late in the morning and hitting the lunch time.

Last night I made some Zesty Chicken Oregano (Kotopoulo Riganato tis Skaras) and Armenian Pita Bread- Bread Machine. I did not make it in the machine but as quick as I could make it in a making bowl. It was a nice change for the evening meal.  That recipe is so simple I should make it more offen.

I have been busy going to events the last two nights. Monday I went to Kansas State University to watch the Anna Marie Wytko is a wonderful Sax player.

Last night I went to the monthly Konza Bee Keepers Association. We had a presentation by  Dr. Viktor Chikan who work primary in research on  nanoparticles but in his spare time like to collect swarms and enjoys beekeeping.  He gave a humorous but informative talk on catching swarms using bait hives.

 

Have a great day!

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How And Why I Garden The Way I Do

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I answered a question yesterday on what two plants I would plant in my garden if I could only plant two. My choice was potatoes and sweet potatoes. It might seem like a really weird answer given all the knowledge of two nutritious vegetables such as tomatoes and kale are. They are also very delicious. However the are not very calorie and weight efficient crops. Of course, I am not taking about a garden for yummy vegetables but crops that can offer the total calories for a humans. It would likely lead to some nutrients deficiencies. No single vegetable or legume has all nine essential amino acids. Most will also experience appetite fatigue from eating the same every day. This is the reason I belive Americans weighted less before. We just did not have the choices we have now which helps us overeat. IMG_0721

It takes 15.7  100 sq ft. beds of potatoes to produce the 2,400 calories per day needed for the average person.  That is 1,600 square feet of growing space or 1/4 acre. I would think a lot of people do not have this much space. Still in some place if people worked together or found empty land to use they could grow their own.

 

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I have enough land to grow my own and I am working on getting up to 8,000 sq feet or 80 beds for two people and 2,400 calories per day. In these beds I will grow 60% carbon and calorie crops (e.g.,  grains) This would amount to 40 beds. 30% would be high-calorie root crops (e.g., potatoes for maximum calories. This would be 24 beds. The remaining 10% will be vegetable crops (e.g. tomatoes, kale ) for vitamins and minerals. This would be 8 beds. I have not got even close to that amount but I am still getting practice growing different crops so if the time came and I had needed to grow enough to survive I would knowledge plus experience. 

 

 

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One Step Back But Two Steps Forward At Pairie Views

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As I sit here I am in shock. Somehow 2015 went by so fast it is difficult to comprehend. It was a year of some adventure and many failures. I have the need to reflex back on those falure but I am finding it very difficult.

“Fall seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” – Chinese Proverb
“Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never.” – Winston Churchill
“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

 

All of these quotes really mean they same.  No matter how many times you run into obstacles, what matters is you are able to overcome, one at a time.

A step is considered negative. It can be a weekend wasted watching T.V. , breaks in your routine, personal tragedies, injuries. Most, if not all people, think that you have to start over. That is a huge mistake in thinking. You need to move forward. Take that one or two steps ahead and you are still past where you were before.

If you expect perfection you have set yourself up for failure. It is the time now to not to start over but to continue forward two steps into the new year. If you were losing weight as I was and have gained a few pounds of the weight back just more forward.

My vegetable garden was a complete disaster in weed control. I live in prairie land and the land wants to continue nurturing the grasses and not the cabbage, carrots and tomatoes I so want. In between the vegetables grass sprout at an amazing rate. Most times getting me far behind in removing them before that choke out my vegetables. This year was no exception. With the added problem of a late winter and not letting my vegetables gain a foothold before summer weather they all struggled. This year is a new year and I will move two steps forward using a ground cover to prevent the prairie from moving back in.

I have enjoyed the variety of birds can Prairie Views home. My years of effort of creating habitats and food sources for birds have paid off. I have a number of cardinals searching for berries and other  seeds moving from bush to tree and then back to the bush. It is a lovely sight. With the cardinals are other native birds enjoying the feast and shelters my property has allowed them. Quails have enjoyed the wild plums and I see their coveys. Young quail also feed very heavily on insects and I hope improving their habitual will give me the added benefit of grasshopper control. It is a careful juggle between giving them areas and areas for my livestock feeding.

So you will not see a new years list from me. I will be stepping forward two steps at a time to continue my goals some of which fell short last year. I can only more forward but will not start over. They are listed below.

Sheep– I will get a new ram with the added idea to have dairy type sheep. I noticed that my Dropers might be excellent for milk production but mine are a flighty herd. Many adding Awassi ram  would word. If I am not able to get one then I might try a katahdin. This is another more common hair sheep breed. Sheep milk is great for cheese and it freezes very well.

Goat– We miss our goats and plan to add at least one doe if we can find someone who will breed her back. We do not have enough land to support a herd. Goat cheese is delicious.

Vegetable garden– Using fiber ground cover I plan to reduce the amount of weeding that takes too much of my time. I tried some with the tomatoes this year and it seemed to work well.

Windbreaks and Habitats-_ I have ordered some native plants seeds and I am deciding if I will order more Forest Service plants to add more bird habitats. I plan to transplant some of the wild plums that have sprouted to new areas to create more thickets and added windbreaks.

Food Forest I have been slowly adding new plants for this area. This year I will likely more forward to more wild and cider types of fruit trees. Apples and pears do well in this area but other type of fruits seem to struggle. Will more wild type of tress endure better. Food for thought.

Bees- One hive did really well while one struggles all year. I do not think it is strong enough to survive the winter. I will be adding another hive and most likely redoing the one.

Reading – I have not been reading as much this year. I need to continue reading the list .

Bucket lists– I had two bucket list that are lost from changing my blog site. They were reading 1001 books to read before you die and visit all of the National Parks. I will move forward on those.

Well in a few more hours it will be the New Year. Do you have plans to more forward?

 

 

 

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