Sunday, May 31, 2009

One things leads to another...

Have you ever started out working on one project and then it grew to another and to another and so on? Well, that is the kitchen for me today. I started out working on the countertop, just trying to find it! I had made strawberry jam and bread yesterday and the kitchen was still little out of control. Add to that the fact that we have had ants this week and you can see how it was due a good cleaning.

So, I started with the counter and got everything washed, dried, and was putting the last bit up when the cabinet door fell off. I opened the tool drawer and discovered it was cluttered and I couldn't find my screwdriver. I finally found it, but only after cleaning the drawer.

While I am on the floor watching Don repair the cabinet (there is one good thing that came from this!), I decided to clean it out and restore some semblance of order in it. However, in order to find places for some of the things in there, I had to clean the next cabinet. But, wait! It needed cleaning, too. So, I did.

As I opened the silverware drawer to put up an item I found in the cabinet (how did a spoon get there?), I realized I needed to wash all the trays and sort through all the junque that had been added there. Who needs two year old taco sauce?? And when in the world did we eat at KFC last and end up with hand wipes?? Hmmm...

Three hours later, I had clean cabinets, three full trash bags, one box of random items for donation, and very clean cabinets and drawers. The bread and jam? Well, we ate it because we didn't have any place to store it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bee business

Having lost 19 hives this month from an unexpected freeze, we set out this morning to replace some of the foundation in the 8 hives we will be replacing bees in on Tuesday. It was a wonderful day to go visit Beverly at Miller Bee Supply and to have breakfast out -- a double treat!

When we arrived, Beverly was as thrilled to see us as we were to see her and Presley. Ends up, they have experienced unexpected growth, now having more than 17 employees. This is wonderful for many reasons; they are a family business, started by Presley's daddy who was a cabinet maker and bee keeper; they are a local business and are hiring local folks who have lost textile jobs to overseas markets; the money they make stays here; and they are just nice folks who work hard and have earned their success. That being said, there is a downside. They are just big enough now that the Federal Government (OSHA) is now interested in their business. Yeppers; for all the talk about local businesses and entreprenualship, the Feds have found a way to make life difficult for the little guy. Beverly shared with us that some of the changes they had to make only had a three-day window. Being a small business, she and Presley manage all the affairs of the business as well as work physically, either building, shipping, or waiting on customers, 10-12 hours a day. Why can't the Feds stay out of these small family businesses and focus more on the CEOs who are earning millions instead of a family business?

But, on the positive side, isn't it wonderful, too, that there are more beekeepers? Given that there has been such a decline in bee populations, it is great to see more people getting into beekeeping. Einstein said, "Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

Bees are the most fascinating insect. They are masters as teamwork; they understand cause and effect; and they are committed to one goal -- keeping the queen and her brood chambers cared for. Whilst being a queen bee isn't all it is cracked up to be -- they live in the dark all their lives except for ONE mating flight from which they lay all their eggs for up to nine years -- bees, as a whole, are most interesting to watch. They are curious and will note anything that is added or moved in their space. They are good indicators of weather as they go to the hive should the weather be due to change, regardless of what the weatherman says. Honey is a natural antibiotic and will cure a burn. And, honey never goes bad. It will keep for centuries!

And, while I can't get Don to paint the hive purple to match the barns, we have eight nice hives ready for the gals when they come. Oh, yeah, did I mean the best part of beekeeping is that the hive is nearly all female?? Gotta love 'em!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Living locally

Yesterday my friend Peggy and I went to the Harvest Table in Meadowview for lunch. The idea of the restaurant is simple: eat and shop locally. Based on the Barbara Kingsolver book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the concept was how to focus on local farmers and how to support one's local economy.

I was interested in this for lots of reasons. First, I don't shop at Wal-Mart unless I just have to do so. Wal-Mart's founder, Sam Walton, touted "American Made" in his early commercials. However, now Wal-Mart's importation of Chinese goods is larger than the USA gross national products Scary, isn't it?

Another reason I am interested is that Don and I have talked about doing this same thing in our little community in Northwestern North Carolina. Our local general store is empty after the owners retired. We think this seems a good fit for our region. Open a general store with local goods and a small deli -- sandwiches and such -- that will open only for the 'season.' We have a lot of tourists and summer folk. Having a small business that offered local goods would appeal to these folks who love this region for its uniqueness and isolation. Offering music on Friday and Saturdays along with a farmer's market would only enhance this project.

As so, as we sat in the restaurant, I thought of how we could make this same thing happen in our area. I believe we can. What would it take? Courage to do it.

In the meantime, I continue to ponder and weed the flower beds and care for our flock and herd.