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Featured, How To

10 critical steps to prepare your bees for winter

September 22, 2014

A Critical Checklist In Preparing Your Hives For Winter

What separates beekeepers is their attention to detail.  You can quickly tell if a beekeeper is going to be successful in the honey business based on their attention to small, ever-so-slight nuances that need to be done.  You'll notice the beekeeper that has all the frames lined up with equal spacing, or the special marks that designate the front and back of a frame, super, and inner cover.  These little details are important.  Of major importance for the beekeeper is the preparation for winter.  That being said, it is important to take care of a few higher order items with your bees as we get into the month of October in the midwest. 

1. Check your hives and make sure you have a laying queen.  You should have some brood in your hive.

2. Check the size of your colony and remove any supers you have added that didn’t get filled. If you have some frames that have honey stores on them, simple set the frames next to the hive for a day or two and let the bees clean them and store the honey in the remaining space. 

3. Check the amount of honey your hive has stored.  If your deeps are light, you need to start feeding your bees heavy syrup.

4. Reduce your hive entrances.  It is that time of year when mice and other unwanted critters are looking for a nice winter home. 

5. Clean the area around your hives.  Don’t allow weeds and piles to become perfect walkways for critters to visit your hives.

6. Make sure you have an inner cover in your hive to add a little insulation.

7. Secure your outer cover (lid).  Nothing can be more devastating than the exposure of the entire hive to the elements during winter.

8.  If you have an open field or unobstructed area for your bees, you may want to consider a wind break to keep winds from whipping through the hives ventilation areas.

9. Maximize your sun exposure by turning your hives to face the southern sun

10. Keep a journal of what you did to winterize your hives.  If something works well or needs changed you will know when and what you did next year. 

Events, Featured

Hay Rides by Emily Fowler

September 22, 2014

Hay Rides

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I love the way the air feels and smells, and the trees are more beautiful than in any time of year. One of my favorite fall activities is  a good,  old-fashioned hay ride. Every year my aunt and uncle would host a family gathering out at their place, and we would have a hay ride. Everyone looked forward to it, all in till one year. We were rolling along in the woods, then all of a sudden two of are wagon tires fell into an old creek bed that was beside the trail that we were taking. I guess that my uncle didn’t realize until it was too late. The wagon started to tip over. Everyone started yelling as loud as they could, trying to get him stop, (he was in one of those closed off tractors) but it was too late. All the hay bales started to slide down onto all the great aunts, who were sitting down at the bottom off the wagon with their heads in the weeds. I was at the top, clutching the wagon’s sides, and hoping that I would not slide down and crush one of my great aunts. All us kids considered the wagons tipping over on to its side huge fun, but my pregnant mother and the great aunts thought otherwise. Since the tipping of the wagon, almost all of my relatives have avoided the hay rides, so year after year, fewer and fewer people joined us for the fun, so after a while, my aunt and uncle cancelled the whole  thing. We were very disappointed, until Dad, with the help of some friends fixed up an old Farmall H tractor and an old hay wagon. We were so excited. We didn’t know what to expect ether, for everyone knows what to expect on Uncle David’s hay rides (dunking us in the pond, people jumping out of bushes trying to scare us), but on this next hay ride with Dad behind the weal, who knows what could happen!! 

by Emily Fowler

Featured, Recipes

Pumpkin Puree

September 21, 2014

Pumpkin Puree Recipe

There really isn’t anything that says October quite like the use of pumpkin in the kitchen.  Commercially, we see pumpkin flavor in everything.  Pumpkin has taken center stage at dinner.  You can get pumpkin, soups, breads, ravioli, almost anything you want.  But, in reality we really like our pumpkin as a dessert.  The way pumpkin blends with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon can be amazing if we keep ourselves involved in the process.  Many of the recipes we see call for canned pumpkin, and that’s fine, but pumpkins are a natural, abundant food we can ill afford to not readily use.  More than that, pumpkins are a low calorie (until we combine a fair amount of natural honey with it)vegetable with no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins.  According to the USDA National Nutrient data base, 100g of pumpkin provides 246% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.  The natural eaters can bRaw Pumpkine heard gasping at those of you using canned pumpkin.  The preparation of natural pumpkin couldn’t be easier.  After selecting a pie pumpkin (not one of the large jack-o-lantern type pumpkins), simply take out your potato peeler and peel the thin, shiny, orange outer layer off the pumpkin.  At this point, you can cut the pumpkin in half (the stem should break off, so you don’t have to cut through it) and take out all the seeds and fibrous strands.  Save the seeds for later!  I don’t even cut the smaller pumpkins again.  I just place them in a crockpot and allow them to cook on low overnight.  In the morning you can use a hand blender to cream the well-cooked pumpkin to the consistency of your choosing.  As you do you might want to add a few taste enhancing ingredients.  I’ve found that two (2) small pie pumpkins will yield about 4- 4.5 cups of fresh pumpkin puree.  To that, I add the following. 


  •   1/4 cup apple juice
  •   1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  •   1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  •   1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (preservative)
  •   1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  I typically don’t add any sweetener until I know the purpose of the pumpkin puree.  I typically use about ¾ cup of honey or a cup of brown sugar for a sweet desert or pie.


While your pumpkin is cooking overnight, I would suggest taking the seeds you scraped out of the pumpkin, rinsing them (get all the orange fibrous stuff off of them) and placing them in a bowl of salt water (water should easily cover the seeds and use a teaspoon of salt for every 2 cups of water) overnight.  In the morning you can drain thePumpkin Seeds water off the seeds, place them on a drying sheet in your dehydrated and have a healthy snack by the end of the day that packs more protein per 100g than cheese.

Featured, How To

The Abundant Farm Fall Watercolor Card Project

September 21, 2014

Abundant Farm watercolor card project

by Anna Fowler

What I like about this particular fall themed card is that it is quick and easy to make.  It probably takes me about 5 minutes to create a few of these (I normally do around 5 when I sit down, because I already have all my stuff out.)  Alright let’s get started, first you’ll need:

Stamp pad (black)

Leaf shaped stampCard Necessities




Watercolors (green, red, orange, yellow, and brown)

  1. First take your card and unfold it with the front side up.


  1. Then take your pencil and make a wavy branch-like line up at an angle from the edge, till you’re about ¾ of the way through your paper.

Center Line of Fall Card

  1.  When your branch is drawn you may stamp the leaves along each edge.  I wouldn’t be too particular about where you put the leaves, because it looks more real if you have some leaves overlapping and/or irregularly spaced.

Fall Card Stamp

  1.  Once the leaves are in place, erase the “branch” (because the watercolors won’t completely cover the line).Branch For Fall Card


  1.  Now you can mix the water into the paint…remember, the more water the lighter the color.  Before I put the color on the leaves I normally dip my brush in plain water and skim over a leaf (I usually go outside the edge of the leaf), this is done to let the color spread further than it would have.

Where to Paint

  1.   Next you can finally add the color, yay!  Take a color of your choice and with a brush spread it lightly over the leaf (again I don’t follow the bounds of the leaf).  If you have more leaves than colors then I would suggest you darken/lighten your pigments or, for example, paint one leaf yellow and add green streaks to it for variety.

Sample Painted Leaf

  1.  After your leaves are dry enough not to bleed then it’s time to paint the branch.  Make sure your brush is dry enough not to drip, then run it back and forth across the brown pigment.  Then run the brush in between your rows of leaves to the tip (you want your branch to be fairly dark and wavy). Tip:   Try to make your branch thicker at the bottom and smaller at the tip. 

Finished Fall Card

Good you’ve completed your card!  Just put it somewhere out of the way to let it dry before then you use it!   I hope this worked out for you, even though it looks time consuming because once you try it you’ll see it’s very simple.

 Thanks for reading!