Apiary Update

When I suggested to my wife in December, I was “starting to feel a stirring” to get into  honeybees…I prefaced my newfound interest by promising  I would not spend money we did not have. 😉

(I’m learning)

There is definitely a knack  to dreaming dreams and not letting money (or the lack thereof) from stifling ones ability to plan.

I got a little cash for Christmas, so I used that to pay for the six week beginning beekeeping class offered through a local community college ($35)

Out in my wood shop, I had some 1 by 12 pine boards just sitting around, got on-line and found some Do It Yourself plans for building the hive boxes.

Mid February,  I met with a woman who wanted to learn how to prune apple trees.  She spent the morning with me pruning, and over the course of our time together, shared, she herself had a small apiary, and if I did get honeybees, I was more than welcome to use her honey extracting equipment come August…

In addition to the cash from Christmas, I had a small reserve of petty cash from people who have tipped me  over  the  past year….normally, that is my coffee fund (Starbucks/ french roast/ beans/ not ground) but feeling as strongly as I do about getting a bee hive (or two), I decided to dip into that.

I did some work last Fall for a local electrician who offered to sell me one of his nucs this spring  (A Nuc is a new bee colony with 3 to 5 frames of bee larva, eggs, etc).  It is a great way to get a jump-start on raising a new colony.

So after totaling up what  two complete hive boxes, frames, smoker, gloves, bee hat, hive tools, bees would cost, the total came to $900.00.  I created a go-fund-me site a few weeks ago with a $1000 target goal.  (Go-fund-me and all of their related fees costs just under 10% of what you raise, so I figured, by the time I paid the fees, if $1000 came in, I would be set, and still live within my budget.

So yesterday, I sold some free range eggs to  someone locally. Our four free range hens have found their egg laying groove again.  They are laying more than we can eat, so I have started to sell them on a limited basis.

The four hens have  not cost us a cent since before Christmas.  100% of their daily food intake has been coming in from  foraging.  I do not have an electric water heater for them this winter either (normally that runs $30 a month in electricity), and when you’re watching pennies, $30 is not chump change….Instead, I use two plastic coffee cans and make sure they have access to fresh water a couple of times a day…birds in the wild, if there is no water, will eat snow, and I’ve noticed the hens are doing that as well.

I am selling the free range eggs for $2.50 a dozen….so when I went out into the shop yesterday to get the $5.00 for the two dozen eggs…this is what I saw:

To date,  counting yesterday’s gift, $370 has come in..which will pay for all of my initial gear, and the forty  frames for one hive…enough to get started.

I have kept my promise.

I have not spent $ we do not have.

Lest you think I am a mooch, I/ we, have also been on the giving end of the equation, multiple times over the years.

I have a very detached attitude about money.  I can give it away and receive it with equal grace.


Some of my best employee’s over the years, have been men who had the “opportunity” to spend a little time in the pokey.

Dave was one of those men. He and I were talking about life behind bars one afternoon. He’d been in the Cook County Jail more than once.

We got onto the topic of making jail house  hooch.

I love learning about stuff like that.

It’s not about getting a buzz  for me as much as discovering  how something works.

As Dave put it, “When you’re behind bars, you have a lot of time on your hands   This is just one more thing to do to break up  your  day.”


Making home made hooch runs in my family.  Can’t say anyone is  currently is doing it, as far as I know, but when my grandpa was a young man during the prohibition, it was a family affair.

Before my grandpa passed away,   My son John and I stopped by his  house  with a  tape recorder.  I  wanted to record him  retelling the stories I’d heard  growing up.

One of  my favorite stories was about he and his brother making moonshine.  (Found out later their dad (my great grandfather) was also in on the operation.)  There were 8 boys in the family, and apparently the still was  hidden in a hog feeder.  I asked grandpa to tell me the story again..for the first time ever, he gave me the recipe 😉

You take a hundred pounds of sugar,  a bushel of Rye.  let it soak for a week.  Put it on the stove, bring it to a boil.  In  the lid you have a hole to let the steam out.  Attach  a coil of  tube to the hole .  Put the end of the tube in the jug.  That’s all there is to it.


When I think about  alcohol  (now) the first  thing  that comes to my mind  is “ Who is in Control?”

The booze or me?

There is nothing innately evil about alcohol  in itself.

It is what it is.

I probably have 3 or 4  servings of  alcohol   a years.

My struggles are  in other areas.

I don’t believe you have to completely abstain to be in good standing with The Almighty.

You live long enough and you discover,  alcohol has a mind of it’s own.

Just ask someone who’s addicted .

That’s why  early in our marriage my wife and I  decided we would not drink unless we were in the company of each other.

(Or immediate family).

Stopping @ the bar after work for a couple of beers is a great way to undermine your marriage.

If you really want to  be  radical,  next time you’re out with your friends   order  ice water with lemon…

…or coffee (black) :-)

It messes with people’s minds.

Besides,  alcohol makes me sleepy.

Apple Harvest

little girl eating apple

Well, apple picking time has arrived  full force.

( I could really use your help Kristina for the next month!)

My goal this past week has been to pick 12 crates of apples each night after work.

The volume of fruit this season is overwhelming, but I have to start somewhere.

Everything is two weeks early.

And multiple varieties are ready at the same time.



I thought I had a lead on a used apple washing machine this past week, but found out  too late.  A new set up is several thousand dollars which I simply can not justify.  Neither do I have time to hand wash 25,000 apples, so once things slow down this winter, I am giving serious thought to fabricating my own set up from scratch.

My days  the past several weeks have been so packed between my real job building houses, the harvest table business that seems to be taking off, and now the apple harvest, I haven’t had time to read or comment on many of your blogs as much as I would like to.

I did place an order with Visti-prints and had 5 of my photos turned into post cards…(let me know if you’d like to purchase some..they are $.50 each or (5) for $2.00.  (just leave me a comment and I will be in touch via e-mail)

Here are  a couple of the pictures:

brainards Oaks

Sunrise West of Mom and Dad’s



gingergold 2010crop 004

Ginger Golds

Tell me something about apples and your life.  (It could be a memory of going to a favorite orchard when you were little, an apple recipe, a variety you like and why,), It just has to have some connection (however small) with apples. 😉

Thanks for reading along! DM