Monthly Archives: May 2008

Fresh pictures…

Here are Mom and Dad Finch (red-headed show off is the male 😉 and some of our about to be harvested cherries & apricots. The deep red cherries are Bings and the multi-colored are Princess / Royal somethings…. And finally, a peek inside the upper super of the hive.

When life gives you lemons…

From time to time we get questions from readers & friends about the goodies we make. Typical questions range from, “where do you get all that fruit?” to “how do you prepare the fruit for making the jams, jellies and liqueurs we get from you?”.

After much internal debate, we’ve decided to pull the covers back on a few of these deeply-held secrets and show you “how it’s done”. We realize we’re taking a big chance… some of you city slicker-types may be scared off by the ugly details, but that’s a chance we’ll all have to take.

Ready? Here goes:

Where lemons really come from:

Yup – Lemons come from Lemon-Cats
(no, we’re not making this up)

What happens to the lemons that aren’t quite ripe?

Good question: As shown here, the Queen Lemon-Cat places them under a layer of towels, then nests on the towels until she feels they’re ripe and ready for the next step. When they’re ripe, she gently removes them from the towel so the house-dude will see them.

And then what? House-dude moves them to the lemon spa.

I’m sorry, did you say, “the lemon spa?” What’s that?

It’s where lemons with potential are taken to de-stress, naturally.

Here is a group of lemons with potential, de-stressing and au natural…

(Note: It’s obvious why this group of lemons didn’t make the grade – they’re rather gloomy and desultory.)

Next, after they’ve had a chance to clean up, they’re brought back together…

We’re careful not to overcrowd them 🙂

Then they’re pampered until relaxed…

The rest of the production process is our secret, so now you know where lemons come from and how we make them ready for being part of our jams, jellies and liqueurs.

(This weekend we picked the remaining 30 lbs of the little buggers. Washed, then zested and squeezed them one by one. The zest went in to two gallons of limoncello and the 2 gals of juice were made into ice cubes for storage / use throughout the year in jams / jellies.)

The cherry tree is ready for harvest now, so Farmer Hal signing off.

Thanks for visiting, take care and write when you get work.


We’ve lost our Peepers :(

Not so long ago I posted about the red headed house finches nesting again in our backyard… mom-finch had sat on them diligently and they’d hatched right on time; dad-finch had done triple duty as hunter / gatherer for mom, egg-sitter when mom returned from her thrice-daily backyard laps, and as trumpeter for / defender of the new generation.

When I saw them last @ 4am this past Monday morning, they were huddled and waiting for daylight and breakfast. When I returned from Dad’s (in Oregon) yesterday afternoon, they were all gone… even mom and dad have left. My assumption is they were stolen by a jay or crow, though given the structure, it would have been difficult to take them without removing the entire nest, and the nest is still there.

I realize in the scheme of things, a nest full of baby finches isn’t much… but if you care about your local / home environment, it’s a loss… dad-finch was doing his beautiful “who’s your daddy?” song from nearly sun up to sun down and without his sound, the house is that much quieter 🙁

On the flip side of things, another pair of finches appear to be building a nest just down the way from this family, so apparently breeding season isn’t over just yet.

Film @ 11.

You may now reserve someTwoBigCats Honey…

Well, I thought we were done for the day when I wrote the last post, but… alas, brevity isn’t my strong suit 🙂

Over the past couple of months I’ve had many requests from friends & acquaintances to buy honey when it becomes available. To be candid, I’ve been more than a little skeptical of successfully producing an amount worthy of harvesting. Until last Saturday, that is. After completing my last check of the supers and seeing the work the TBC “B” Squad (Go Team, Go!) has done in such a short time… and watching their flying / activities around the hive, I’m pretty well convinced we’re on our way to a fairly productive first season.

I’ll need to confirm the rules & regulations for making honey available for sale, etc, but assuming that works out fine, you’re welcome to send me an email if you’d like a quart set aside for you when the honey flow hits late in the Summer or early Fall. I’ll put your name on the list (it exists already) and when we’re about to harvest, I’ll shoot you an email. My email address is located on my profile here at the TBC Blog – left hand side of the page.

As you can imagine, our honey is local to Campbell… actually, according to Mr. Carrier, the bees will have gathered pollen in a 3 mile radius of our house, so if you know where we live you can figure out what we’ve got growing around here. I’m certainly not an authority on honey, but here’s a post I’ve read about the (alleged) benefits of consuming local honey – I can’t confirm or deny its veracity or hooey-factor, so you’re on your own.

That’s it for now, thanks for visiting and write when you get work.


Joanne gets washed!

Last Saturday we went down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to hang out for awhile. As charter members – this is our 24th year of membership – we’ve watched the Aquarium change very significantly since its original opening. Back then, there were mainly static exhibits and a variety of tanks / marine life on display.

Today’s aquarium still includes those staples, but it also includes many interactive learning opportunities on a many subjects, ranging from identifying how and where the seafood / fish you eat is raised (farmed or wild), caught (trolled, longlines or hand-line) and / or eco-friendly / damaging to the environment to global environmental changes that result in sea life species now showing up in areas they’ve not been present in during “our” lifetime(s) – all of which are very easy to understand and appreciate. If you get a chance to visit the aquarium, please do, it’s great; if you don’t have a membership, just ask to use our guest passes and if they’re not out on loan, we’re glad to share.

Now, for the tagline photo:

Sometime since our last visit, the aquarium installed a great tidal change plexiglass water-shield thingie… so we got a shot of Joanne getting her 2nd shower of the day – You GO, dirty girl!

Voila! (or, if you’re musically inclined, Viola 🙂

That’s it for this post – I’ve got a few more things to post, so will close. Thanks for visiting and write when you get work.


Beekeeping ain’t for sissies!

Jusssst kidding… it’s actually a very low key activity 🙂 Without confirming by looking at my records (they’re not at hand at the moment), I think I’ve been involved / preparing for the bees for ~2 months now. Here are a few photos taken last Saturday while I was checking on the herd, uh, colony.

This 1st pic was taken just after I’d removed the lid from the top Brood Super (box) and was beginning to loosen the frames. Since they build comb fairly quickly, you’ll soon have frames connected to one another – making removal for inspection a royal pain in the knickers – if you don’t and if you don’t loosen it at least once a week.

The 2nd pic shows a frame that’s been removed from the super. The whitish area / material is comb that’s been freshly created. (I always assumed honeycomb was honey-colored, because that’s how I’d always seen it… not true, as it gets darker over time and re-use by the bees. So, whitish honeycomb = relatively newly created; darker comb = older. This brings up an interesting question that I’m not qualified to answer: which is better tasting / more healthy for humans? Can’t say, don’t know, but my guess is the aged because some of the honey properties may have saturated it over time.)

The 3rd picture is, well, me doing the mock macho-guy beekeeper dance 🙂

Looking back on my experience with the colony / hive @ this point in time, I think I would have waited another month to add the 2nd super… as the colony has begun “building up” to the 2nd story already and, in the process, not fully populating the lower frames with brood. I don’t think this is an actual issue to the bees – they’ll build comb / queen will lay eggs wherever they find room – but waiting until they’d fully filled the lower frames would have made it more esthetically pleasing to me, the beekeeper 😉

That’s it for now, thanks for stopping by and write when you get work!


Dr. Brian May

From our visit last week. Having been around Joanne and her woodcarving all these years, when I see Brian’s face like this, I think, “Gee, he’s got an interesting face for a caricature artist to work with.”

That aside, it’s pretty clear to see that he’s probably got a pretty strong impish side to him.

Rock on, Dr. Bri.