Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grandpa's 89th Birthday
Grandpa makes a point to the Wiitala sisters.

A loader full of corn
A warm, calm evening - perfect for husking corn.

After the husks were removed the corn was put in boiling water for one minute, then sliced off the cobs and bagged. We got about 40 bags = 10 gallons of corn for the freezer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

David and Deanna throwing firewood into the basement. No more wheelbarrowing.

Marja and I made five more Finnish taytekakkua for Mik and Jeni's reception.

At the reception.

After all the honey was bottled I brought the pails, wax cappings, etc. out to the beeyard to let the bees clean up the residue. When they're through, nothing is even sticky anymore.

Kalevi enjoying one of the six chickens he and Veikko caught outside the fence. I had brushed up against the fence with my brush mower and didn't notice until too late that it actually ripped a hole in the fence. The young chickens saw their opportunity to explore the world out there and found out that the things that keep the predators away are actually predators themselves. It was my own fault and I didn't begrudge the dogs an honest meal. They ate until they were stuffed and then laid down guarding their next course.

Fall Apples at the Wiitala Farm

I have many childhood memories here. My grandparents only spoke Finnish so I wasn't able to communicate that well with them, but there remains a rich treasury of sounds, sights and smells. Grandpa used to sit out in front of the house in the evening chewing tobacco and watching the traffic pass by. I remembers seeing liquid manure coming out of cow for the first time in the old barn. I liked eating sugar lumps out of the green sugar bowl. We didn't have sugar lumps at home. When I was twelve years old I beat grandpa in arm wrestling, which for a man who had been proud of his strength throughout his life, was stunning. I think he challenged me later beat me though. There was an old privy and with Montgomery Wards catalog for TP. The cows were very big and kind of scarey, particularly when they mooed.

Aunt Tuovi and Marja

All the pasture needs is a few cows.

Uncle Reino tore down the old barn but replaced it with a smaller structure in keeping with the simple design and spirit of the old one. I remember playing in the haybales in the old one.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The World's Fanciest Burn Barrel

Grandpa built it in his garage. He turns 89 this month. The cylinder is at least 1/8" steel.
The barrel has a rain lid and a screen lid to keep burning paper from flying off. It has a steel channel air draft to provide combustion air to the bottom of the barrel. The unit rotates on the stand to allow the ashes to be easily dumped into a wheelbarrow, or piled for later disposal.

Grandma following the installation process.

A full moon over the pines. It always reminds me of the full moon that we saw the evening before Mikael was born.

Our sauna, built by a spring, with a loft above.

A caterpillar infestation in red pines, fortunately not a severe one. Most people have little use for these critters after the bad outbreak of forest tent caterpillars a few years ago, but I had to admire these guys. Not much else can eat pine needles, and they really are beautiful.

Flying ants swarm in on warm calm afternoons in late August and early September. We saw some of these at Agate Beach and watched seagulls catching them in the air like swallows.

An excellent year for blackberries. We've gotten several gallons from this patch. They make the world's best jam.

Goldenrod gets blamed for allegies that it doesn't cause. It is pollinated by insects, not by the wind. Honeybees love it.

The seventh annual Jeffers High School XC invitational held at the Kilpela farm. It was a gorgeous warm day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Extracting Honey

Had quite a time getting the bees out of the supers (boxes). I made a mistake the previous night of taking the supers off and setting them on top of the hives, hoping that the bees would leave and go back in the hives. Unfortunately the morning was very warm and humid and by the time I got to the hives there were more bees in the supers than there had been the night before. There were more bees in the air than I'd ever seen in my beeyard. I had the bright idea of loading the supers onto my truck and taking a ride with the tailgate down to lose the bees, but as soon as I got back home they were swarming into the truck again. I wound up smoking the bees heavily and then rushing the supers into our basement. Fortunately the remaining bees congregated on the window of the basement door.

A frame of capped honey. A full super weighs about 60 pounds.

Uncapping the honey before putting the frame into the extractor.

David and Jonathn provided the manpower to turn the crank. As the cage spins, the honey flies off onto the walls of the tank. The boys worked very hard. Fortunately it was cool in the basement. We could never have done this outside because we would have been mobbed by bees.

We got about 12-13 gallons of honey. I got 4 stings in all, one one each hand while pulling out frames the night before, one on the foot while going out to inspect the supers after dark ( a bee in the grass) and finally, after all the work was done, while stepping into our pond for a swim - I got stung on the big toe. The bees frequent the edges of the pond to gather water for their hives. Bee stings hurt, but I suspect they confer some benefit as well.