Thursday, October 9, 2014

I've Got the Sweet Stuff: Honey Harvest

We had an accidental honey harvest.

Mr. Chanclas went out to check the bees last week and found that they had built up honeycomb on the sides of the top bar box, which caused the combs (that hang down from the bars in a vertical fashion) to stick to the sides. When he tried to remove one of the top bars to examine the comb on it the whole comb pulled loose and fell into the bottom of the hive.

Uh-oh. This is probably when the bees started stinging him. He was wearing his bee veil, pants, and long-sleeves, so he was mostly protected. His wimpy gardening gloves (with the wrists cut off) were not up to the job, though. Upon later reflection, he decided that he should have walked away at that point, beefed up his bee protection, and come back a few minutes later to deal with the problem. But in the moment he was so worried about the hive that he just gritted his teeth and took his time removing the fallen comb from the hive.

I didn't know anything was up until he appeared at the house in a vile mood with a plate full of broken, honey-oozing comb (complete with bees buzzing around the top). Of course he didn't mention that he had just been stung a dozen times. That information came out later as his hands and wrists doubled in size. (Eye-rolling here.)

The upside of this whole event is that we got an unexpected honey harvest. We were not going to harvest for some time yet but the two combs that broke off provided us with three pints of new honey! And it is a beautiful, golden, delicious honey at that.

Chanclas was worried about his queen bee (genus Apis, not Homo sapiens) but he spotted her in the hive a few days later, undamaged and continuing with her work. Whew.

Extracting the honey from the comb in our kitchen was messy work. The kids were in charge of squashing live bees that fell on the kitchen floor. (Poor little buggers but it was all we could do.) Chanclas pushed the waxy honeycomb through a fine-mesh strainer to extract the honey into a bowl.

Then we took the remaining waxy comb blob and put it in a wide-mouth canning jar with only the metal ring screwed on top (without the metal seal). Then I took a second wide-mouth jar and used the metal ring to screw on a square of heavy-duty mesh fabric (intended for window screens and saved by me years ago for some then-unimagined project), which I then duct-taped to the first jar. Then I inverted the whole business and put it in the closet with the hot water heater, which is the warmest spot in the house. A few days later I went to pull out a mop and discovered another pint of golden goodness.

What a simple and effective solution! And free. I like free.

And, in case you are wondering, Mr. Chanclas' hands and wrists were back to normal size four days later. And he's wearing proper bee gloves now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ridiculous Household Hacks

Mr. Chanclas is the king of ridiculous household hacks. He once repaired a speaker in his car with a twig and two twist ties. Today I present Chanclas' Improvised Door Latch:

Last week the latch broke on the storm door that leads from our semi-enclosed workshop to the carport. This meant that the door would either hang open, inviting chickens inside to lay eggs amongst the workshop tools or poop on the rubber floor mats, or it would jam closed, preventing us from entering. This was a problem. So while we look for a replacement latch Mr. Chanclas rigged  this ridiculous, yet entirely functional, assembly. Knowing us, I wouldn't be too surprised if it is still in use six months from now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scavenged Wonders Never Cease

Is there no limit to what one can scavenge from the trash?

This is the question I am asking myself this week. It was bulky trash pickup in southwest Austin this week and I am astonished at what good stuff I found. Check this out:

I found a WORKING, gas-powered weed eater (Echo brand) and a WORKING, gas-powered Ryobi leaf-blower with several attachments.They even had gas in them. My first thought when I saw them on the curb was, "They must be broken." But there was something about the way they were carefully laid out that made me think maybe they weren't. So into the van they went and I brought them home. Mr. Chanclas rolled his eyes when I unloaded them but then I pulled the ripcord on the leaf blower and proceeded to blow all the leaves off of our enormous patio while he watched in wonder. It takes me over an hour to sweep that patio and now I can blow it off in five minutes. We didn't own a weed eater, either, which is maybe odd because we have a LOT of yard. Both items are things we needed but I didn't want to have to buy. So I waited. And waited. And they came to me. As things nearly always do. I just have to be patient.

I also picked up the two wood-and-iron patio chairs that you see in the above photo, as well as that white round thing. The white round thing is a Roomba, which is a robotic floor cleaner. The Roomba also came with a box full of all of its accessories (docking station, power cord, etc). I will probably sell the Roomba but it appears to work.

The Ryobi leaf blower with attachments.
Another interesting thing I found on the curb was this old wooden filing cabinet. I have been waiting patiently for a four-drawer filing cabinet to replace the two little metal ones I currently have. (And which I find to be unbearably ugly.) And who knew that wooden file cabinets even existed? I didn't.

The message printed on the back of the wooden filing cabinet

Side view of the cabinet.
I also picked up this basic Ikea bookcase. It matches some of the Ikea furniture in our house and goodness knows we are always needing more bookcases around here. Somebody painted the back panel bright red but I will either repaint it or tear it off.

Ikea bookcase and the back of the wooden filing cabinet
These were my main scores from this round of bulky trash pickup. The following morning I also scavenged some fence pickets, several metal T-posts, some pretty red brick pavers, a pair of concrete blocks, a full set of Rubbermaid car mats, and a large panel of new sheet rock (which I needed for some sheet rock repairs).

Scavenge on, my friends!