This Week on the Farm 9/1
We had a very productive week last week. While our employees worked on hoeing in the direct seeded field I got the high tunnel mowed and prepped for tilling. This spring we grew lettuce in the high tunnel. After week 4 of our CSA season we stopped harvesting lettuce out of the tunnel because the plants were too old and were starting to bolt. With all of the other things on our to do list we ended up just letting the plants go to seed. That is a mistake I will not make again. When you mow the flower stalks down the seeds release and they really made me sneeze. I think it is worth spending an hour earlier in the season to mow everything down to avoid the sneezing fit caused by the seed pods.
Once I got the tunnel mowed we unhooked the ends that hold the plastic in place and then clamped the plastic to the outside hoop. By clamping the plastic we could flip the plastic ends up out of the way so Tyler could drive through the tunnel to till with our 3 pt tiller. Tilling in this particular structure is tricky business because there is not much head clearance and if you catch one of the hoops with the tiller you will actually bend two or three hoops out of position. This happened the first time we tried to till with the tractor and we ended up having to replace multiple hoops. But, this year it went off without a hitch. We are going to till the area again this week and then it will be ready for some late season plantings.
Some of you may recall a post early this season about our bees. This is the first year that we have had bees on the farm and we really feel that it improved fruit set on a lot of our crops. I think the best thing about having a hive was standing out in the fields and hearing the buzz of busy bees at work and knowing that your plants are being pollinated. The sound is especially loud in the tomatillos and tomatoes right now.
But the other awesome thing about bees is the honey! We harvested the first of our honey last week with the help of Susan Jentz, a CSA member and bee enthusiast. We started harvesting the honey around 4 pm on Wednesday. Since we were disturbing the bees to such an extreme, Susan used a smoker to calm the bees down. The brown contraption on the left of this photo is a bellows to keep the fire smoldering and keep up smoke production. It worked fairly well and Susan only got stung once that night.
After opening up the hive Susan removed the combs and we brought all of the combs back to our packing shed. While Susan was busy gathering the combs, Tyler and I cleaned and sterilized all of the equipment. We had one five gallon bucket with a strainer, a couple of knives, a straining bin, and the centrifuge container where you place the combs to spin the honey out.
The hardest part about the whole process was removing the layer of wax from the combs without destroying the combs underneath. You want to remove the wax so that the honey can be spun out, but leave the combs so that the bees can reuse the combs next year. If they are able to reuse the combs the following year they won’t have to spend time and energy building new combs and can instead start filling those combs with honey right away. So, less damage this year equals more honey next year.
Once the wax was removed we placed the combs in the centrifuge and cranked on the handle for ten minutes or so. All in all the honey harvest was rough on your shoulders. My favorite part was opening the valve on the bottom of the centrifuge and watching the honey drip out into the five gallon bucket. It was like liquid gold.
Our hive was particularly productive this year and we were able to pull about 55 to 60 pounds of honey off of it. This means that we have honey for sale! We are selling the honey in pound jars for $9 a jar or $8 a jar if you buy two or more. If you are interested in purchasing some of our honey email me your name, pick up site, and the number of pounds you would like to purchase. I will send a confirmation email to let you know if we still have honey available before you send out a check via snail mail. We will deliver the honey along with your CSA box as soon as we receive payment.
Do not miss out on this honey! I normally am not a honey lover, but this honey is amazing and I could probably eat a ridiculous amount in one sitting if I didn’t know any better!
*An additional note on the honey: We did not pasteurize our honey since we don’t have the equipment and we are not required to do so. This means that our honey is raw and will be labeled as such. Raw honey should not be consumed by infants under the age of one or by people who’s immune systems have been compromised.