Friday, June 24, 2016

Bee Keeping - a quick peek

On a warm day, the beekeeper unwraps the hive - box of bees- he’s brought to show children at the local branch of the library.

8-10 frames usually make up a "super". Beekeepers have different ideas about how much space and what shapes the hive should be for easy extraction of honey and to help the bees keep the hive healthy.

A frame directs the bees where to store the honey they make. Only female bees, also known as worker bees, make honey. When bees start to seal in the honey that means it is at its highest nutritional value and the right amount of evaporation, about 16%. Besides mating duties, drone bees help worker bees by using their wings to cool down the hive and create evaporation. They have another job, which is to help protect the hive from harm. However, drones, noted by their big eyes and body, do not have stingers and can only repel a predator by distracting or threatening, not by actually attacking.

The beekeeper smokes the hive, which calms the bees. Bees that have sufficient supplies of nectar from the surrounding area tend to be calmer.

Then he safely harvests the honey. Using a warm wide-bladed knife, he scraps off the caps and release the honey from the comb. The color and flavor of the honey depends on the flora the bees have been using as their resource within two mile radius.

During summer, the frame can be returned to the hive for the bees to refill. He leaves a little to encourage them to work on that area.
Bees tend to overproduce so harvesting doesn’t hurt them as long as enough honey is left for them to eat throughout the winter.
Honey isn’t the only product bees produce. Beeswax, propolis, which is a red or brown substance from tree buds used to seal the honey in the cells, are all marketable. Also pollen and royal jelly are valuable in the health food industry.
The decrease of bees in recent years has been effected by hives have difficulty with mite infestation, northern bee hobbyists buying southern bees that don't winter well, wild fields are often mown instead of left fallow, fewer hedge rows, and the fact that crops are often treated with herbicides that kill of the wild flowers and weeds they used to feed on.
You can help bees by planting wildflowers or leaving fields fallow. It's a sweet thing to do.
Hope you have a honey of a summer. Until next month,

Mary Allen                                                           

Sunday, June 19, 2016

They Did It! -- A Midwest Graduation Story

Senior Photo Shoot
It seems like yesterday when the judge declared these boys ours. Who am I kidding? It seems like yesterday when I got the phone call from the social worker asking, "Can you take in a set of twins today?"

Isaiah came home from the NICU first. A month later Isaac joined him. They started out as preemies, red and scrawny, and barely able to take a tiny one-ounce bottle. And look at them now. All grown up.
Senior Class Trip to Chicago
School was no small feat. Struggling with autism and other disabilities made it a challenge. But between public school, then home school, and back to public school and vocational school for high school, they made it through.

Title photo featured in an article I wrote for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
And we are grateful.

Isaiah and Isaac, Class of 2016
And so, we celebrated!

Jumping in with a classmate
Hot Dogs and Nachos!
Their Sunday School teacher made their favorite: chocolate cake(s)! I thought she did a fabulous job.

Of course, Mom proudly displayed their Special Olympics medals and awards.

To earn a medal in Special Olympics, you have to place first, second or third. They were always winners in my book, of course, but I sure am proud of all those medals!

The best part of the whole party was being with family.

The Akins Clan
The boys were thrilled that their sister came from Arkansas.

Isaiah, Melissa, Isaac
The boys had beautiful handmade gifts from their Sunday School teacher as well. As if making the cakes wasn't enough! She's a very special lady. We're keeping her.

Opening Gifts
All in all, it was a great party. But the really great part was how happy the boys were that day, surrounded by people who love and believe in them.

Senior Picture

I hope peeking in on our happiness made you smile. I know it means a lot to me to share it with you, and makes me smile, too.

Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism, and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats are attentive editors.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Poultry Time, and I'm Feather-Headed with Delight About It!

I don't yet have bats in my befry, but you might say I have chickens in my attic. In other words, I'm not nuts, but I might be a little bit crazy for adding to a busy summer by starting another batch of chicks. We no longer raise beef, pork, or dairy goats, but I would feel like a farmer gone totally adrift without my chickens. So, since my hens are getting well past their prime, it's time to get another batch of a dozen chicks. Under my red heat lamp in the photo I have a variety of what will be heavy (in body) layers.

I choose among the heavy breeds that are known to do well in very cold climes. Even so, once winter arrives, I'll keep them in a snug coop with a heat lamp, hoping to spare their combs and toes. In this year's batch are Buff Orpingtons, Silver-Laced Wyandottes, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Ameraucanas, and Black Australorps. I wanted to try a Welsummer or two, but I was too late to order those. I love the Orpingtons and Australorps for their gentle nature, and I never go without them. The Wyandottes are regal, and I enjoy the Ameraucanas for their very beautiful variety of colors and their green and blue eggs! Who can resist a basketful of eggs in beautiful shades of brown, tan, white, blue, and green?

If you're interested in heavy, cold-tolerant breeds, here's a site that lists the top twenty choices:

Now these ladies and the gent roosting on top of the fence instead of inside of it are my guests. My son and daughter-in-law just inherited a young flock from their friends who were moving, and since they aren't quite set up for them yet, the whole gang is hanging out at my house for a couple weeks. They're quickly learning to "rule the roost", so to speak.

My grandchildren are enamored of the chickens. They always ask to go see the "bawk-bawks" and to throw them a handful of feed or some dandelion greens and clover. What a great way to get them involved and develop the little farmer in each child!

Have you any baby critters at your place this year?
Feeling feather-headed with delight~
Naomi Musch

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Wisconsin State Parks - Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge State Park is one of those places where you really have to want it to go back in and see it. And it's worth it if you like nature and wicked cool geological features to LOOK at--people are no longer allowed on the arch for good reasons. :) I've been here in summer and fall. I would recommend visiting sometime when mosquitoes aren't real active, because it's a mile trail from the parking lot to actually get to the bridge. It's a fairly easy trail, but narrow, and inclines.

Oh, and the park is really off the beaten path--ten miles off State Highway 23 on a windy county road. The good news is, there is lots of great stuff in the area for nature lovers, so visiting this State Park can be part of a trip that includes the Bababoo Hills State Recreation Area, and all things Baraboo, such as Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey circus stuff and the International Crane Foundation.

Three people near rock arch
The park is small, with a couple of trails, picnic tables and pit toilet, No other amenities, I don't think even water or a pump, so be prepared for that. Here's a map. And a historic photo right from the website, from 1920. I really do have photos from one of our visits, but I'm too lazy to dig through our photo albums and scan one. 

For information, contact:
Natural Bridge State Park
E7792 County Road C
North Freedoom WI 53951

Sunday, June 5, 2016

One Small Community Changing the World

Our little church, St.Peter Lutheran, the only church in Toeterville, Iowa (the town is small compared to church membership), accomplished an incredible feat.

On April 8-9, 2016, they amassed 715 volunteers to meet the initial goal of 100,000 meals for the charitable organization devoted to saving lives in the world's most needy regions


Instead of 100,000 meals, these folks packed 132, 191, and if they hadn't run out of boxes, the number would have increased.

The actual "pack" occurred in the former Carpenter, IA school gymnasium. the Feed My Starving Children semi arrived the night before.

Some volunteered for the set-up, some for the clean-up.

But everyone wanted to get in on the action!

And when the set-up was complete, 

They showed up in droves. 

At the end of the day, as they say, "a good time was had by all." 

And best of all, we made a difference in this tired old world. It's the midwestern way. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Visiting Cleveland? Words and Phrases to Know

Pop not soda.
People used to claim my father had a Cleveland accent. I never could figure that out but there are some unique to Cleveland and Ohio words and phrases that might be helpful to the visitor.

Let's start with "Wait 30 minutes and the weather will change." We are located on the shores of Lake Erie. It does strange things to our weather sometimes. In winter we get the "lake effect snow" which usually means that open water on the lake in winter will insure that the eastern suburbs get an extra measure of snow. Of course if the wind direction changes a bit all of the rest of us will be under its influence. In July you won't have to worry about snow but weather can get very cool or very hot. It will be a different temperature along the shore than further inland--usually cooler. If it starts to rain, well, wait 30 minutes. It will likely change.

One of the more distinctive differences in our language is the term "pop" when we mean soda. If you ask for a soda someone will want to know what kind of ice cream you want in it. A soda to us is ice cream, chocolate (or other flavoring) syrup, and carbonated water with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

All of the action for the main part of the RNC convention this July will take place at the Q. That's short for Quicken Loans Arena where King James reigns (Lebron James). When the Cavaliers aren't playing, the Monsters (our hockey team) or the Gladiators (our indoor football team) play. We used to call the ballpark the Jake (Jacobs Field) but Progressive Insurance bought naming rights and no one has been able to come up with a clever nickname since. The Tribe is the nickname for the Indians baseball team.

If you are wearing Nikes, Adidas, New Balance, or any other brand for that matter, someone may compliment you on your tennis shoes rather than sneakers.

A sweeper is another name for vacuum cleaner.

The RTA usually refers to a bus. If someone says take the Rapid, it means one of the east-west Rapid Transit trains that run into town and end at the Terminal Tower which was originally called the Cleveland Union Terminal. Don't ask for the subway. It's a sore subject.

The Mall
There's the Flats, an area down by the river with restaurants and bars and the Mall, which is a big outdoor area centered around the Fountain of Eternal Life which is supposed to be a memorial to veterans and a sculpture to celebrate peace.

The Emerald Necklace refers to our MetroParks system, park land that surrounds the city.

While some may call it the burning river, the name Cuyahoga actually means crooked river. Just behind the Tower City complex is Collision Bend. Have a look and try to image (if there are none there at the time) large ore freighters making that turn.

Another bend that's a bit dangerous is Dead Man's Curve on I-90 on the east side of town. No worries if you are visiting in the summer. It's much more dangerous in the winter.

There's no mistaking this city on the lake. It is oddly wonderful.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Parents Do the Darndest Things

by Connie Cortright

What do you think this picture is about? It's a picture from the 20s or 30s, but what does your imagination come up with for a caption?

I can't for the life of me figure out why any parent would build a cage for a child suspended out of an apartment window.

Possible options?

Punishment? What would a Child Protective Services agent say about this today?

The only way to get the baby to have some fresh air? Maybe the apartment was so crowded that putting him outside would get him out from underfoot.

It's cooler to sleep in the cage than in a hot apartment? Remember this would be prior to the use of air conditioners.

After doing a bit of research online, I found that the middle option above was the correct answer - fresh air. This contraption was patented in 1922 by Emma Read of Spokane, Washington to allow the parents, who lived on the 22nd floor in a New York apartment, a place to give the baby some fresh air.

It was argued back then that fresh air - especially cold air - would help the child build up an immunity to the common cold. These cages were suspended out of windows to allow parents, who had no backyard, to give their babies that opportunity.

Babies were placed in the cages for nap times or play times during the day. In my mind, any mother who could put her baby in one of these cages high above the sidewalk, without a terrible feeling in her gut, wasn't a very good mother. Maybe after doctors and psychologists told her that it was good for the baby often enough, she'd be able to do it and ignore her subconscious. I'd like to ask my daughters-in-law if they could put their precious children in one of these.

Needless to say, this idea was on the list as one the worst 50 inventions in US history.  I hate to think how many accidents happened before the end of the 30s when these were banned. How horrible.

Have you have ever heard about these cages before?

Information taken from Brief and Bizarre History of the Baby Cage


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