Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Serious Redneck Moment

    Being a college educated, non drinker, non smoker, and non chewer, and still being in possession of most of my teeth, I'm not inclined to think of myself as a redneck.  I do have to admit that I have an affection for firearms and fiddle music, but I still think I don't fit the general profile.  However, this afternoon I had a serious redneck moment.

    It all began with something new I'm doing at the bee store.  I bought some thymol crystals on line as an additive to the sugar syrup I feed my honeybees.  Thymol is a substance the extract from thyme essetial oil so it is a sort of herbal extract.  A small amount of thymol added to the sugar syrup will prevent both mold and fermentation and is likely to kill a troublesome fungal parasite called nosema.  The problem is that thymol isn't water soluble.  The thymol crystals need to be dissolved in alcohol as a pre-mix before it can be added to the sugar syrup. Given a choice of using rubbing alcohol or something like vodka or everclear, I opted for the everclear (151 proof grain alcohol) as being less harmful to the bees.  This put me in the uncomfortable position of having to visit our local Washington State Liquor Store to purchase 151 proof Everclear.  Since I'm making up the pre-mix for sale in our store I needed to buy several bottles.

     I visited the local liquor store at about 3:00 p.m and purchased two fifths of 151 proof Everclear.  On my way home I stopped by the post office to send off a few mail order packages.  When I got back into my beater cargo van and tried to start it, the shift lever came off in my hand.  I felt like I was back in one of  those old slapstick comedies where the driver hands the steering wheel to the passenger.  My efforts to reinstall the shift lever were not successful so I decided to just walk home and call someone more mechanically inclined to help.  The key is stuck in the ignition because I can't shift the van back into park and I can't lock up the van with my only key inside.  As I was getting ready to walk away, it occured to me that it probably wasn't a good idea to leave two fifths of Everclear on the floorboards of an unlocked van.  So I set off for home with my two fifths of everclear in a brown paper bag tucked under my arm.  I was halfway home before the irony of the situation hit me.  Here I was walking home with two fifths of Everclear because my old beater van broke down on the way home from the liquor store. I would call that a serious redneck moment.

     An hour later a good friend reinstalled the shift lever and the cargo van is mobile once again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shearing Photos

          So we finally have some photos of the goat shearing. I'm not sure what happened to the actual "before" picture so we will have to make do with  the closest thing we have to that.
       Here we have the "after" photo with Black Jack looking quite a bit smaller, but no worse for wear. I'm not very fast, but I managed to get the fleece off without any blood being spilt.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shearing Time

      I finally got around to goat shearing today.  Linda helped restrain Black Jack so I could concentrate on shearing and avoid an inadvertant amputation.  I find the goats to be a bit more difficult to shear than a sheep.  Not that I am any expert on shearing, but the sheep I have done have always been more cooperative.  I use hand shears and I'm not very fast . Black Jack was not cooperative at all and I finally had to resort to tying his legs together.  Lance was very sympathetic to Black Jack's pain and started singing a lullaby to him to try to calm him down.  Due to my delay in shearing him some of Black Jack's fleece had started to felt.  Between the felted fleece and Jack Black's attitude it took me a couple of hours to get him sheared but we finally got through it.  He finally began to accept his fate when we were about 80 percent finished. After two hours on my knees I could barely walk. As a result White Jack got a reprieve on getting sheared today. Luna's contribution to the shearing was that of official photographer

     Previous to the shearing, Black Jack had been the dominant goat. After shearing he looked about half the size he did before shearing.  When I put Black Jack back into the pen, White Jack immediately began to assert his dominance.  He'll be the big goat for another few days.  Once I get White Jack sheared, they will be on equal terms again.

     I don't like washing and carding fibers that felt easily so last year I took my pygora goat fiber to Gretchen's Woolen Mill, a local custom carding business. I had her blend it 50:50 with wool and I was really happy with the results.  The blended fiber has the softness of the pygora and the memory of wool.  I did a couple of tam hats from the wool/pygora blend and they turned out well. I'm always amazed at how you can take something that is dirty and smells bad when it comes off the animal and turn it into something wonderful. Shearing is a big hassle but the end result is worth some trouble.  Also I think the grandkids really enjoy getting a hat that comes from a goat they know. 

    I spent the morning watching Lance and Luna while Rachel worked at the bee store. We took care of the animals, built a fire, collected eggs, and generally had a good time. They were really excited when they saw that our peas are starting to come up.  They also helped me with the mole traps. They drew the line at helping me with the bees. They watched a movie while I opened a few hives. I think our high temperature today was in the high sixties so I was able to take a few hives down to the bottom board.

   I'm having technical difficulties getting the pictures out of Linda's camera so Black Jack's before and after pictures will have to wait a day or so.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lemon Pie Followup

    Last weekend my grand daughter, Madelynn, spent the weekend with us.  On Sunday afternoon Madelynn and I made two lemon blender pies as featured in an earlier blog.  I like them, but I realize that they are a bit tart for some folks.  We took one of the pies to Madelynn's family when we took her home that evening and I gave the other one to a good friend, Quinten Williams.   He gave me some feedback on the pie tonight.  He gave a piece of the pie to his 6 year old stepdaughter.  Upon tasting the pie she exclaimed, "Why did you buy this?"  Quinten explained to her that I had made the pie.  She then stated, "He should have had his wife make it."