Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You’re Busted Lady!…Not!

white aster aster

so yesterday i played nanny/granny to dylan all day. at 3 we went to meet lily and evan, and breven and brodie, as dylan had not seen them for awhile. after letting them all play awhile,  i brought dylan to his house and lily came home with me for for some private mama time. when i brought her home around 6 i was itching to be outside some more. lily and i had worked on closing up most of the ventilation holes on the hives and blocking the wind from the underneath sides. it has been getting so cool at nite. well, i decided to just drive out west of town and see what i could see. i soon spied some lovely native aster growing. now the bees LOVE asters, and i thought cool, think i will stop and dig some up to transplant. so i get out and get my shovel (i always carry a shovel lol)  and was happily digging an aster up, when a county police car pulls up behind me with his lights on! he gets out and asks me what i am doing. i tell him i am digging up a native aster. he looks at me weird, talks in his shoulder microphone and then asks me again what i am doing, but this time with a look of confusion. i say”i am digging up a native aster to transplant into my yard. i am a beekeeper and i just thought i would bring my bees home a present as they love asters.” he still looks a bit confused, but talks in his shoulder mic again and then says, well for me to be careful as it is a busy road, and he gets in his cruiser and departs! afterwards, while driving back to town it occured to me why he had shown up lights ablazing…. without thinking about it i had chose to go digging within site of the guard towers of our local prison! i wonder if they thought i was going to dig a tunnel?! lol hmmmm wonder what they will think tomorrow when my friend val and i go just a bit further up that hill to harvest sunchokes!!!lol

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I bet you can guess one thing i harvested yesterday!


this is rumbley checking it out,


wisteria and earl were interested too…


patrick star snagged a leaf to roll on….


as did rose marie…


but she was soon joined by dandelion, violet joy and earl….


she tried to escape to the bed with it, but hyacinth bouquet followed her…


then hyacinth went to check out violet joys leaf.

if you guessed catnip, you would be right!!lol the one really great thing about all the rains and cooler temps as i have been able to get numerous cuttings from some of the herbs! i adore using catnip for the children and myself and as you can see, it meets with the kitties approval also!!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Wonderful Surprise! Angelica!


the right side of the pic is a plant i was really hoping would show up! angelica! i like to stick to working with herbs that are either indigenous to my area or those easily grown here in central illinois.  to the left of the angelica is black cohosh, which is a native species here. i had planted these angelica seeds in this spot, near the black cohosh, way back last spring. well we had such torrential rains on and off all spring and i never saw a thing growing where the angelica was planted, aside from some grass, that i thought they had washed away. imagine my surprise and delight when they finally appeared within the last month! i have always wanted to grow angelica. such a lovely name, and such a history of culinary and medicinal uses angelica has. anti-inflammatory properties, lowers fevers and acts as an expectorant, digestive disorders and bowel complaints are some of the medicinal uses for angelica. for culinary purposes the stems may be candied, cooked with rhubarb, tart fruits and berries to reduce acidity.  and many other lovely way. plus the leaves and seeds are aromatic and may be used in pot-pourris.

such a weird year weather wise, with much more rain than usual, and much cooler temps also. hopefully these plants will overwinter well and i can transplant them to a couple spots in my gardens next spring! i have been quite alot of second flush blooms with these wetter, and cooler days also. i had some echinacea, beebalm, st. john’s wort, verbenas, feverfews, etc put out some lovely second displays of flowers recently!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hive Check Up 9/26/2009 and visit from Alexis!

Well, it rained this morning, and is still overcast. Not an ideal day for checking hives, but.. I have delayed this inspection for 2 weeks, and needed to see where things are at. Got everything laid out. My notebook, camera, hive tool, smoker, shredded aspen for smoker fuel (way too wet to use leaves), and the tool i use to hang on the side of the hives, after opened, to place frames on.


The first hive I decided to check was the pink hive.


oh and yes, there is lots of overgrown raspberry vines, etc. creeping amongst the hives.

when i opened the honey super (the top box) i didn’t see much activity on the inner cover, nor on the top of the frames

HPIM5631 HPIM5632

I started pulling out these honey frames to see how things were looking. the first frame i took out is actually number 10 as i work from right to left on this hive (as i have the table i work on to the right of the hive). hmmm not much going on with number 10 frame, a bit of  of capped honey on the back side


ninth frame had a bit more capped on both sides and more nectar.


the eighth frame (below) had a bit more going on. you can see some capped honey and more nectar both sides of the frame.


the seventh frame (both of next two pics) had even more capped honey and nectar both sides.



and the sixth frame (below looked good)


the fifth, fourth,third second and first kind of were just like if you looked at the above pics in reverse. the bees generally work the middle frames first and then work out to the sides . so this honey box looked the right way, but, for the really great nectar flow we have had, one would hope for more. our weather has been so rainy this year, i am sure that alot of days, especially with the morning rains, the plants had their nectar washed out. on the bright pretty days, the bees have been gathering lots of nectar, but i am sure have been storing a great lot of it in the brood box areas (the bottom two boxes). the brood box honey is the first source of food for the bees, and days when they are forced to stay in and eat but not gather, depletes their stores and these are the frames the bees first refill before going up to the honey supers to store. so while it doesn’t look like i will be able to harvest another full super box of honey from this hive, before winter, the fact that there is this many nearly full frames, encourages me to think that the girls are still a couple steps ahead. so i am fine with this hive right now. i don’t bother to get down in the brood boxes, at this time, as i am building a new box to replace the very bottom box of this hive right now. after it is put together and painted i will bothering this hive enough next weekend swapping the new brood box for the old. when i first started beekeeping i started with used equipment and that old brood box on this hive is pretty beat up around the edges with chunks of wood out etc. i want to snug up things a bit for the girls with the new box.

so off to the yellow hives inspection. a few more bees active in this hives honey super.


not much going on except some nectar storage on the first frame


most of the frames in this hives honey super looked like this. lots of nectar, but not alot of capped honey.



so same thing as the pink hive. the rains are effecting the everything and i might end up with about 10 more frames of honey between the two hives. i will let you know when i do my final harvest and get the bees snugged for winter.

i keep these cool rocks on my behive lids. my grandson evan painted them for me a couple years back.


last night my darling 11 year old granddaughter alexis. we had alot of fun! this is grandpa and her at the video store. they wrestled the whole way through the store!


big herbal and honey hugs to each of you who visit comfrey cottages!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thinking About Mead, Herbal Vinegar……

Yesterday was an exhausting day. My grandson Evan had a terrible injury happen. He was at his dad’s visiting and jumped off something in the yard and landed on some pipe and layed open his upper part of the front of his left leg. My daughter got a phone call saying he was being rushed to the emergency department in another town. So she came and got me. To make a long story short, this town was having a festival and a parade and the way we entered town we couldn’t get to the hospital. Even after explaining our dilemma to one of the police at the roadblock, he wouldn’t let us across. I mean, we could see the hospital, but with the thousands of people there, not even a place to just park and walk across through the parade. After finding a parking place about a mile away, we started walking through the crush of people. When I spied a parade official in a golf cart and rushed over and begged a ride from him. Thank heavens he did give us a lift and while Evan did have a deep wound, 15 stitches and a couple hours later, we did get to bring him home.

So today, my hubby and I went over to Iowa to a flea market, and I was so happy to just get away for awhile and pretty excited about a few finds.


These beautiful decanters were a real find! I got all six for a measly $2.00! My hubby asked what I was going to do with them and I said, well maybe mead, maybe herbal vinegars, maybe elderberry wine….


the two bigger jars I got for .50 each and the others were in a freebie pile. Now I don’t know about you, but I love to find jars, recycle jars, etc, etc. because there is ALWAYS some thing to put in a jar!


Then I found a really cool herb book for $2. This one is entitled Hints and Pinches. A concise Compendium of Herbs, Spices, and Aromatics with Illustrative Recipes and Asides on Relishes, Chutneys, and Other Such Concerns by Eugene Walters. A very cool and fun herbie type book. Collecting herb books is a great passion so always thrilled to find a new one!


Next find were some gorgeous hankies! I like to make tussie mussies with them!


A cool vintage serrater and a tea strainer (can we ever have too many?), were the next finds for cheap!


and while I don’t collect teddy bears, once in awhile one just calls out to me and says please give me a home. This little darling was honey colored, a handmade by a woman from my home area, and just $2, so I said sure sweet bear, I will take you home!lol

So … thinking about making meads, wines, herbal vinegars, tussie mussies, and filling jars with herbal goodness and feeling much more relaxed tonight!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages!

Friday, September 11, 2009

And The Winner Is…..


My sweet friend Rita! How fun! Rita and I have been friends for a few years now. We met on the Care2 network. Which btw, is a super place to champion a cause, learn new things, or make new friends! I am pretty excited for this fact also, Rita lives in Belgium, so my honey is going international! lol Well, congratulations my sweet Rita. I will get it in the mail as soon as you email me your address or you can send it through facebook inbox if you like!

I just love these giveaways, so I plan more in the future! All my dear readers are winners in my book! Big herbal and honey hugs to you all! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Finally The Honey Labels Are Made!

So it has been nearly a month since I havested honey and bottled some up. Due to all the family things, printer problems, problems finding proper paper here in our little town, etc. etc. I Have just today been able to properly work on the labels. What do you think?


I would have liked to put raw and organic on my label, but since the harvest is just going to be used by family and friends, I thought this was busy enough! If I were ever going to sell honey though, I would have to explore the laws on adding those two descriptive labels to see if I could qualify to use them. I don’t see why not as the honey is raw and organic, but who knows, and anyway, not an issue right now anyway!lol

So Lisa, aka Hootie, my dear sweet patient friend, the next stop is the post office to send you a properly labeled bottle as your prize in my blog giveaway last month! Sorry to be late dear! I am so very excited about this label! I just love the pic of the sweet bee and the comfrey flower! I am so excited in fact, that if any of you would like to leave a comment , I want to pick another name to give another bottle to!  Drawing Friday!

Thanks to all of you who have shown me such support and well wishes through all this! Big herbal and sticky honey hugs to you all!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hopping for Joy About Hops!

Oh I do so love learning about new herbs! Learning about the benefits of hops has been an adventure and such a joy! I never knew a thing about hops, except it was used in beer. Seems this herb has quite a history of other uses. I will share some of what I have learned with you all. So far, I have  several bottles of hops steeping in vodka for tinctures, some bottles full of olive oil and hops for use as just the oil or for blending into beeswax for salves, and also some jars of hops and my honey.


Identification was not hard with hops. And I found no “look alikes” to beware of. I am excited to work with this herb as I am mainly interested in working with herbs that are know as being generally safe. I will not going into detail about how to id the plant because if you are interested, that is something i am sure you all can figure out! I have been scouring my herbal books, online herbalist sites, etc . and of course, i always consult my mosby’s handbook of herbs and natural supplements, to be certain of any drug interactions. I suggest you do the same if you consider working with any herbs.

The tincture is going to be so helpful in so many ways. Insomnia (I have),  cramps or pain with  periods, (hops anti spasmodic qualities), anxiety or nervous tension (sedative qualities) , IBS, on a compress pad for varicose ulcers and other topical conditions (antiseptic qualities), and it has estrogenic action, which will help with all sorts of menopause related complaints. Also may be used as a gentle diuretic and for liver cleansing. These are just a few ways I have found to enjoy the qualities of hops as a tincture!

The hop infused honey was mentioned time and time again as excellent for bronchitis. Herbal honeys are a wonderful way to get the benefits of herbs into our children!

The hops infused oil will be used both as just the oil and infused into some of my beeswax to make salves. Hops has anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that will make it very useful for several members of my family.

The next things I will do is make an infusion of agave syrup and hops, for my daughter, who is a diabetic. thinking of the bronchitis bit, (which she seems to get every winter). will have to maybe refrigerate this as i can’t seem to find any info on the preservation qualities of agave syrup, although, hops has been used as an ingredient to help preserve things. Will keep you posted on that. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index and she does well with it.

And of course, I am drying some for sleep pillows;)

Well, that is what has been so far with the hops!

Remember folks, this blog is for linda and I’s own personal journal of our herbal journey. Research and research some more on your own herbal journeys;)

Herbal and Honey hugs to all of you who take time to stop in for a visit!