Rialian's Realm

Thoughts and Considerations

Honey has been bottled!

by rialian - February 8th, 2011

===Well, we might have lost the hive, but we did get some honey out of it.  About 44 pounds of honey.

===I think we will do far better this year.  Bees have been ordered, we will be putting in a windbreak (strawbales this year, plants growing nearby to grow into a hedge/windbreak…and I will be making a TBH with thicker wood.)

===And now, to the erranding!


by rialian - February 4th, 2011

===Looks like if I do cross-post, it will go to both DreamWidth and LiveJournal….not a big issue, but I would have liked to have some ability to pick and choose when i post from the WordPress on rialian.com.

Books I will eventually get…

by rialian - February 4th, 2011

The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism

===I have been hearing about this man’s work for a good while, and finally it has come out in English!  The German speaking people on the bee forum I most read (Natural Beekeeping Network have been abuzz about this man for a few years, and the tidbits I have gotten have been REALLY interesting.

Toward Saving the Honeybee

===Another one I have been meaning to get.  I have heard really good things about his work as well.

===Recently, I have been on a bit of a kick on reading about wood gassifier campstoves that produce bio-char, and getting more understanding of just how fire works.  I will write a bit more on that shortly, once I get the links organized.  What can I say…planning for Thresholds, also thinking on ways to improve my soil up here at Mithlond,…it has been winter and it has been cold….makes one think about stoves and fire, and the various uses of materials.  (I have my emergency cook stove/camping gear already….a wonderful rocket stove by StoveTec, which is an AMAZING stove….I no longer bring propane stoves with me to Thresholds because of it.)

Coffee and Tangents!

by rialian - February 3rd, 2011

===As some may know, the folks here at Mithlond like their coffee…to the point that we do intend to have tree or two in that greenhouse we are planning so that we have some slight production here .  We would not likely ever produce enough for our levels of consumption, but a ritual cup or two?  That would work.   We already have a tea camellia in the kitchen.  I am hopefully starting some Tumeric plants from some roots I have from an organic market.

===Oh, you might want to do something like this?  Here, have a link:
Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere

===It is a great book, by folks that know what they are doing, considering that their family has been doing this since 1892…In Connecticut. 

===Over the years, we have gotten….well, rather particular with our coffee.  We prefer the light roast, and we have found that we really like vacuum coffee pots:

The Vacuum Coffee Pot

Using a Siphon Coffee Maker

===I would say the best that we have found is the Nicro steel pots…We like the glass posts a lot, but sadly they are more fragile.  The Nicro steel filter is also probably the best design I have encountered.  The glass rods work reasonably well, but in terms of sheer simplicity and clean filtration those metal disks are amazing.  I do not like having to use cloth or paper filters.  The coffee does a fine job as a filter when you let it. (grins)  I also have a glass disk one that does a fine job as a filter.  I am not so fond of the glass rod filters…though they do work ok.

===I do recommend getting a good coffee grinder…not the electric blade-things, but a real burr grinder.  Really…it makes better coffee….

Association of Coffee Mill Enthusiasts (I had not realized there was an association for this…I should not be surprised, there are groups like this for typewriter fans (I have several, actually…)  We have two antique grinders that work rather well.  They do make new ones, that actually look pretty good…but I like my older tech….it looks better. (grins)

by rialian - February 2nd, 2011

===Well, the firewood did indeed come today.  They brought a bit more than last time, and I gifted them with a bottle of mead.  (I also paid them for the wood and delivery, of course….)(grins)

===The house is warm, there is a candle in the window burning, and all is well with the world.  Have a blessed evening.

by rialian - February 2nd, 2011

===First, a bit of interesting reading: The Hidden Imbolc

===Also, the Silver Elves have posted up a new letter:Magical Elven Love Letters

===So, what is Rialian up to today?  Well, doing a bit of cleaning up, waiting for the firewood folk to call to bring me another cord of wood. (it has been a cold winter.  I will definitely be stocking up for next year earlier so I can have this all stacked up proper and seasoning nicely for the next winter, rather than underestimating our needs.

===It has gotten sunny out, the snow and ice are melting…very pretty out, very wet…very bright.  The creek is now running, which is a wonderful sound to hear, and to see when I walk over to it.  I know it will got cold again, but it will soon be time to start the cooler-weather crops and do the makeshift coldframes (a few strawbales with some soil poured in the cavity formed, and a sheet of glass on top).  That area will then become where the closer-to-the-house garden will be.

===So, cleaning, a bit of research, practicing the dulcimer….and prepping the house for a small celebration of Imbolc.

Actually got out today!

by rialian - January 29th, 2011

===Well, I finished widening the dug out areas so I could drive out.  I found that I had to just keep moving and not stop, as there is a bit of ice under the snow in places.  It was quite do-able, but I think we might look at possibly lessening the incline at the opening to the main road sometime.  Build some nice stone walls on either side where it crosses the seasonal creek…so there is less worry about slipping into said crevase when coming back down. (chuckles)

Surviving the snow…

by rialian - January 28th, 2011

===Well, we got a bit over 8 inches of snow the other day.

===We also have a driveway over 1400 feet long.

===Guess what I have been doing rather than write to a blog? (grins)

Baking shortbread…

by rialian - January 21st, 2011

===I was made aware of/invited to a local SCA event, which has a potluck aspect.  So I am baking shortbread.  I have always really liked shortbread… it is remarkably easy to make; You cream one pound butter, cream in the sugar (a cup), then 4 cups sifted flour….knead that all up, put in your pans (I have a nice stoneware pie plate I use)…and cook at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

===Next on the agenda for the day:  Plotting out where the closer-to-the-house garden will be, and figuring out how I want to do the cold-frames for the early start of planting there.  I already have a general idea of what I want to do, which is to make a raised bed, and then place the (thinner) hinged frame on top of that, so that I get the early start aspect, then I can remove them when it gets warmer, then place them back on for winter gardening near the house.   I also am thinking on how to put a not-ugly protective fence to keep the local wildlife from eating the plants…(chuckles)

Bees and plans…

by rialian - January 20th, 2011

===Well, we did a slight bit better this year in terms of bees….I do get to harvest a fair bit of honey (I am guessing about 20-30 pounds).  Sadly, the bees in that hive all passed on.

===It looks like the really serious cold got them.  There was a tight cluster around the queen, and plenty of sealed comb above them.  (for those that are not quite familiar with bee dynamics, bees cluster in a ball around the queen and pretty much keep the cluster warm by shivering, to put in non-technical terms.In a Langstroth hive, the bees travel upwards in the hive over the winter months, and pretty much ignore anything even a frame or two over from them.  This cluster had plenty of food above them.

===So, back to the drawing board with the bees.  I am looking at retiring the old langs that my father gave me (they were old when he got them, and we brought them back up to reasonable snuff…but I thing new equipment and design is in order.  I am thinking of going back to a variant of the Top-Bar Hive, one that would allow for easy supering.  Also, I am thinking that it has to be thicker wood than usual.  What I might do is take some inspiration from the Lithuanian beekeepers, and have a semi bee-shed, where the hive resides.  I think thicker wood for the hive-body, and an outer case that would add air-space insulation to moderate temperature effects.

===The “bee-house stands”, as I am seeing them in my head, will have built-in legs bolted on….probably the width of garden timbers….hrm….

===Anyway, already looking to order my packages of bees, and make myself popular with the local post office this spring.

===Oh, one of my favorite sites (and one of the inspirations for what I am plotting in terms of hive design) Bee Natural