Sunday, 1 December 2013

They're Back

I don't know how they know but all hunting season there was not a deer to be found.
I was going to move my camera to another spot but when I removed the chip this is what I found.
A rare daytime picture.

Next weekend on the other side of the field

It is good to see them back again.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Winter has arrived at Many Hues Acres

This is what greeted us this morning.

Bees have been wrapped to keep the warmth in.
The Bees peeking out to see what we're up to.
Nessie is deep into the snow & getting tired at this point.
A bit on the cool side
After 15 mins of heat

Leah got to try out her bunny boots.
First time ever no cold feet.

Monday, 18 November 2013


These pictures are a little dated now, I forgot they existed! This was during our Autumn Olive harvest, during the rain.

Funnily enough, the particular tree we're harvesting in this picture is still loaded with berries, weeks after we picked. They're still edible, and if anything they're sweeter then ever. Looks like we'll wait a little longer next year befor harvesting!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Deformed Wings

If you look closely, you'll see two bees with deformed wings in this picture. Apparently, this is a Varroa spread disease that affects the bees wings. Very interesting to see.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dry shed for the tractor

We don't need any hard hats! Chainsaw will take that post down to size no problem.

Hey look! A place for that window that we've had for 15 years! Hurray!

Telling the boys what's what.

We need that roof done now!

Shingles on, back wall up, ramp constructed. Bring on winter!!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

It was an apple weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is always applesauce weekend in the Hughes household.

That being said, we've missed it for a couple years... So we had to play catch up.

An apple peeling/coring device makes life so much easier. We peel and core all of our apples that go into applesauce. We've learned to never use Wealthy apples again (we burnt some of our sauce for the first time EVER)

Every family does thier sauce differently. Some years the apples are so good you don't even need to add sugar. Some years, we spice it up. This year, we added some sugar and our favorite spices (try cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, any mixture you like!)

Peeling and coring the apples might mean a bit less applesauce, but it does let us make apple jelly!

Our recipe is a little vague.. We pile all of the peels/cores in a pot, and every 9 inches gets 15 cups of water added to the pot. We bring to the boil, and then let it sit overnight.

The next morning, we strain out the pulp/skin/seeds, and measure the resulting liquid. It feels.. well, slimy. I guess that's the pectin and sugars! For every 5 cups of liquid, you add 7 cups of sugar and use 1 package of pectin.

We had 35 cups of juice, so we tossed in 49 cups (?!!?) of sugar, and 7 packs of pectin. Follow these steps:

1. Add pectin to liquid, bring to a boil
2. Add your sugar, all of it, all at once. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute
3. Skim off foam (it's edible it just looks gross), and jar.
4. Incorporate the most amazing jam you've ever had into every day of your life.

Our haul was 60 jars of jelly, and about 36 jars of applesauce. Yay thanksgiving!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Autumn Olive Jam Recipe

So, Mitchell found a rather tasty Autumn Olive bush, and we really got into the harvest.

I figure we got about a quarter bushel.

Now, every recipe I could find online accounted for about 8 cups, or 9 cups of berries. You had to add 1, or 2 cups of water to simmer the berries in. Strain out the seeds and pulp, put it back on the stove with pectin, boil, add sugar, boil hard and can.

Being the Hughes family, we decided to wing it. I couldn't see an 1880's housewife carefully measuring her harvest and cooking accordingly, there had to be a better way.

We washed all of the berries, removing any leaves or little bugs that had come for the ride. We threw them all into a pot, and added about 1/8th of the total volume of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 min.

Then we strained out the seeds and pulp.

It was at this point that I decided to take a leaf out of David Lebovitz's book. In his Red Currant recipe, he measures the resulting pulp after straining, adds equal amounts of sugar, boils it up and cans it. While that's perfectly appropriate for red currants, which are high in pectin, we weren't sure that was the case with these Autumn Olives.

Weighing the pulp gave us 5lbs, 11 ounces of juice. We plopped it back on the stove with 2 containers of pectin (better safe then sorry), and brought that to a boil. Then we added 5lbs, 11 ounces of sugar, and brought it back to a rolling boil for 1 min.


We ended up with 14 jars of jam that looked very similar to ketchup, and tasted somewhat like a white currant or cranberry. Most wild berries tend to have a generic 'berry' flavour like this.

Keep in mind! Lycopene isn't water soluable, so you might notice that your jam 'seperates' into a clear/white and red layers. This is perfectly normal, and your jam hasn't spoiled! Just mix it in and go on eating it, you're fine.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Autumn Olive Trees

We found a very neat little berry up at the property. This particular bush is right by our front driveway! I made sure to get a picture because the berries were such a neat colour. Where else can you find all of the colours of Autumn in one little bush?

A family friend informed us that these were called Russian Olives, and that we should get rid of them before they took over.

As it turns out, a little research reveals these to be Autumn Olives! The May 2013 edition of Cottage Life tells us that they're found throughout Southern Ontario, and are nutritious and delicious, best used in smoothies, yogurt, or in jams and jellies.

A bit of further research told us that these trees are considered invasive, which explains why we were told to destroy them. I'm so glad that we didn't, even though our argument was that the multi-toned berries were quite pretty. I don't know why it didn't occur to us that they could be edible as well.

Autumn Olives are a fantastic source of Lycopene, that wonderful carotenoid that medical science has us scrambling to eat tomatoes for. Medical science hasn't quite narrowed down what Lycopene is most useful for, as the main food that contains it is tomatoes, which contain an abundance of other vitamins that might be doing the 'health' for us. Honestly though? Both tomatoes and Autumn olives are ripe at the end of the year, just before heading into winter. Nature must be telling us something.

All of the advice that I could find online advised us to try multiple bushes, as they have varying levels of tartness due to the tannins the berries contain. Dad and I found this was quite true, and we seem to have at least 2 bushes that are 'wow' tasting up by the shed.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Peaches are finally ready...September

Well I know that it's getting into apple season but we've just been finishing up with our ripe peaches. Our peach tree is on a south wall that doesn't get much sun. Actually only about 4 hours a day. I planted it as an experiment because it's up against a brick wall. The theory is that the wall will retain the heat when the sun hits it and then the bricks radiate heat beyond the time that the sun is on it. It also is very protected against the winter winds and early spring rains. It takes a lot longer for the peaches to ripen but we get enough peaches to make it all worth while.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Varroa sugar treatment

As mentioned previously, our hives have Varroa mites and as a family we've decided that we're not going to chemically treat our bees. If we loose our hives then we'll just start over. 

There is a powdered sugar treatment that we've decided to try along with using foundation-less frames. This is our first time so it was all hands on deck again to observe. 

The theory is that you sprinkle powdered sugar throughout the hive and the bees will work to clean themselves & rid themselves of the mite. The mites also find the sugar slippery, loose their grip & fall off. This treatment is also used in conjunction with a bottom mite board. It's a screened bottom so that the mites fall through the screen onto a bottom board that is coated with something sticky. They get suck to the bottom board & cannot get back up into the hive. We have no idea how successful this will be but it's worth the try so I've taken a video of our process.
Sorry...I've tried to upload the video of the process but after 3 days of it working through it's process...I just cancelled it. So no video until I can figure out a faster process.


These are a couple of pics just after we were done. The bees started to beard on the front of the hives. Probably getting used to the new screen board bottoms.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Varroa have arrived...

Back at the hives this past weekend to remove a drone frame that was found in the honey supers. After the removal & shaking the bees off in front of the hive, we noticed all the Varroa mites on the frame. They started coming out of the cells after sitting for a bit.

Can you see the tiny red dots...that's Varroa. They attack the drone bees the most because of their size. They're the biggest to the queen of course.

This is just another view of the comb. This is a foundation-less frame that we put in the hive. Our goal is to let the bees build all their own comb. They like to build comb & it helps with the maintenance of the bees. Over time the bees will reduce in size & hopefully they will be of less value to the Varroa, along with being stronger bees. 

As a group, we have decided that we are NOT going to chemically treat our bees. We don't want any chemicals building up in our hives, bees or wax & therefore we have an uphill battle to climb. We have a plan of attack that we will document on the our blog. Stay tuned to see if we are successful...if not, we start again. But sustainable mite control is all we can progress with.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Virgin Honey

This is our first honey harvest ever!! The jar of honey on the left is our very first batch of raw...liquid gold. The jar of honey on the right is honey harvested just 2 weeks after the first batch. Amazing how in just 2 weeks time, the honey has changed colour dramatically. It tastes like the best honey I've ever had. I know I'm bias but I know that there were no chemical treatments of anything near our hives & I also know that we didn't treat our bees for any diseases. It's 100% as pure as we can get it. A true GIFT of nature.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Honey Harvest

This past long weekend was all about honey for my family. It's a little earlier than what we had read...most seem to harvest in mid-August. But we had the weekend & everyone was home so it was the best time for all of us. It was a perfect weekend. The weather was a little overcast and a little cooler than usual. Just right for us having to wear the bee suits.

This was our first time & we had been watching video's and reading up on the process all week. All a little nervous but comfort comes in numbers. Annie & Mitchell took all the photo's and were very calm considering that they didn't have suits on. Nobody got stung. A very successful day indeed.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Backwoods Bunkie - Soffeting almost done!

We're experts! 
Tight fit all around

Complicated angles aren't too complicated

Well spent weekend

Hope we remember how it's done for next time...