Wednesday, October 5, 2011


We have a bee hive. It’s a three story contraption of cream and pale blue wooden boxes.
The straw around the boxes has to be removed. But not before we get our protective gear!

There is a little hole at the bottom of the stack where the bees crawl in and out of. The hive sits sheltered under the thick branches of large Cyprus pines bordering our back yard. It faces the morning sun. Perfect. The sun wakes up the bees and they crawl out of their little boxes and go pollen gathering. The operative word in the last sentence is ‘sun’. When it is grey, miserable, cold and raining…. nada. No bee action. Instead the bees remain in their hive and consume the honey that they have made the previous summer. And we have not had too much sun yet. So on the days when the sun is shining brightly, it is a pleasure to stand beside a fruit tree that is covered in fragrant blossoms, and listen to the intense buzzing of these clever little insects. The bees dance around the petals, rest in the little flowers and gather up heavy loads of powdery pollen. Without this sunshine waltz, we will not have beautiful fruit and vegetables.
We have no idea how to manage our hive. So we asked young Kieran (helpful sales assistant) at the farm co-op (big farm shop with lots of toys for farmers! I guess you could say its “Bunnings for Farmers”). Of course he knew a beekeeper and gave us the name and address of said gentleman. I called Mr Beeman when we got home. He was happy to chat about bees and said we should come and see him next time we were in town as he was hard of hearing and didn’t want to chat on the phone. No problem. So the next time we went to town, we called in to Mr Beeman’s place. Greeting us at the front door were twin picture frames; one with a Collingwood Grand Final Certificate for 2010, and one with a Geelong Grand Final Certificate for 2009. The AFL Grand Final which was played on Saturday was going to be a thriller, especially in Mr Beeman’s house! (Geelong won, just for the record!)
We were taken into Mr Beeman’s man cave in the back yard. If Frans thought he had a big shed, then he needs to engage in some ‘shed envy’. This was a SHED! However… one had to walk very gingerly between old bits of farm equipment, rusty chain saws, fox and rabbit traps (yes, illegal now, but the metal is worth something…), piles of cut and uncut wood, empty milk cartons, bottles of old rusty nails, old newspapers, old heaters and fans, tools hanging from every rafter…….. and then some. Buried towards the rear of the shed was a homemade pot belly stove with a very rusty, precariously positioned chimney pointing out of the top of the shed. Heat was pumping out furiously from the stove and the metal  chimney pipe.  Beeman proudly told us he had welded three car tyre rims together to make his ‘central heating’ system. This man is talented. Oh… I forgot to mention, that besides being hard of hearing, Mr Beeman has no front teeth, bless him. Stationed in front of the pot belly was an aubergine coloured leather couch, a film of grime coating it for protection. On the shed wall was a smallish flat screen tv, tuned to an afternoon soap opera.  I think it was Days of our lives or something similar. (They’re all the same aren’t they?!)

He was expecting us, and had done some prep work. He shuffled around his available space and gathered a few bee keeping ‘must haves’. He kindly explained what we needed for our bees. We were also shown his innovative heater that he uses to extract the honey from the combs. It is a commercial fridge with a glass door and three light globes inside it. When the globes are turned on, the fridge heats up to a comfortable 120 degrees and the honey starts to melt. Now let me draw your attention to a sticker on the front of the fridge door. It says “Hygiene is important”. Somehow I think that Mr Beeman believes this sticker acts as a germ barrier. Peeking inside the fridge was interesting to say the least. Gloopy brown honey sitting in a sawn off cardboard milk carton didn’t really look that appetising. Bottles of gathered honey were strewn carelessly about the grubby workshop.
We were told by our new bee guru, that the honey we buy in the supermarkets has been watered down so that it can be squeezed out of the nozzles of the plastic bottles sold there. Not only that, but don’t believe the fact that you’re buying Red gum honey. Apparently there are not enough red gums in Australia to attract the bees of the so called ‘red gum honey’ variety. Where does it come from then? Who knows… We are all being duped. So the advice we left with was to buy your honey from a farmers market and get to know your honey provider. Soon we hope to shorten the supply chain in our own honey consumption and enjoy our own honey. In the meantime, what is more delicious than a slice of toast in the morning with a thick smear of local honey!
We are richer for bumping into Mr Beeman. What he has forgotten about bees, we still need to learn. He has become a part of our farm tapestry. We continue weave new experiences into our journey.

Farm roundup for the week:
Frans sorted out my sprinklers (again) in the greenhouse. We use dam water in our vegetable gardens and greenhouse and the little spray nozzles get blocked quite often. It requires getting up close to the nozzles (preferably with the tap switched OFF) and removing the little sprays. The best way to unblock the sprays is to put them in your mouth and blow. Then spit… spit… Dam water is not as clean as rain water….
Workplace health and saftey..... mmm.....
Something is eating my basil seedlings. Not happy Jan! I brought the punnet into the house so I could sneak up to it last night with a torch and see if there are any creepy crawlies hiding in the soil. I haven’t spotted anything yet. I will win this battle! I intend to make great big quantities of basil pesto in about 8 weeks, and no little critter is going to stop me. I hope!
See the little chopped off stems? Wish I could see what it is!
I have finally planted up the last of the vegie garden beds. In an attempt at being ‘green’ I have used tree branches that were pruned from our fruit trees to act as stakes for the upcoming bean and pea crops. Ingenious? No, just trying to save a buck. Now I hope for some lovely sunny days, frost free nights and a little rain here and there.
This was the plan. Sort of worked.....

Nothing as satisfying on turning on the sprinklers once all the seeds are planted.

Asparagusaurus Rex!
Where did THIS monster come from?! It was sliced finely and sauteed with some garlic in lovely olive oil and added to some left over fussili pasta and peas. Delish!

Rhubarb... a matter of personal taste. Not bad if you slice it, add it to a little water and castor sugar. Boil till soft. Then mix with apples for a nice crumble. Or top your morning muesli and yoghurt with a dollop of the rhubarb stew. Frans is still considering this garden delight...... The jury is still out.
This lovely vine is growing on the east side of the house. It has a beautiful fragrance. Anyone know what it is?
At the end of the day. No, it's not Friday afternoon. It's Tuesday! The pub is open for round one....
The Birregurra Festival
Each year, the little town of Birregurra or Birre as it is called locally, holds a two day festival. Food and craft stalls will fill the main street. Well, there is only one street. Sara and I have taken the plunge and have booked ourselves a spot. We purchased a gazebo awning, some tables and took out the obligatory public liability insurance. I have been making bits and pieces, carding up product and getting organised. We hope to sell some of our stuff to big girls and little girls who like beautiful things. This is our first venture into the ‘market’ scene. Once we start producing our own fruit and vegies, we hope to sell the excess at the local markets. This is the plan…. I will update our Etsy store again after the market and hopefully we can continue our little crafty endeavours there.

Filigree rings....

Some of the stuff we'll sell on our stall. And in the middle at the bottom is my friend Eugenia who came from Melbourne for the day to help!

Rose quartz, moonstone, crystal, jet, Swarovski pearls.....

Every time we go to town (Colac), we always see something interesting. Today we spotted this groovy touring set up. It has a big trailer at the back for the little Jeep. Imaging a trip around Australia in this..... mmm..... awsome!


  1. Ami, that gorgeous pink climbing vine is a clematis. Beautiful flowers!

  2. Best use for rhubarb - mix with strawberries (add a little sugar) and make a pie or a crumble - delicious!