Tag Archives: harvest

Celebrating

orchard walk

kicking things off with a wander through the orchard

Last-last weekend was our annual Harvest Party — the seventh one, and now a bona-fide tradition here at the Ranch! Each year, after our harvest and market season is over, we round up a bunch of friends for an afternoon of celebration (and potlucking and farm-touring and homebrew-tasting and campfiring and…) We say it every year, but this year’s party really was the best one yet!

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Left: friends Paula, Tony, and Adolfo. Right: Mikail (in his BH Ranch t-shirt!) and Phyllis 

My dear friend Antonio De Lucci  took these gorgeous photos of the festivities, and I’m so glad he did — I never manage to snap enough! He perfectly captured the afternoon, drenched in golden sunlight.

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polaroids

And look, real honest-to-goodness Polaroids! At left: the tipi presides over the gathering (with a giant woodpile at the ready for campfire time when it gets dark). Right: yes, we really did haul out the gigantic vintage punch bowl for pear-pomegranate punch, made with our own pear juice. Who says you can’t be fancy just because you’re out in the orchard?

tom

Tom, leading the tour

Punch bowls aside — the orchard, of course, is the real star of the party! Everybody finds a glass of something and heads out for a tour before dinner.  I always feel like the farm just loves having all these people wandering around, admiring the Arkansas Black apples still on the trees, tasting grapes under the arbor, and taking turns to duck into the little wine cellar.

winecellar

And then it’s time for dinner — a fabulous potluck! One of the things I love most about this party is that it’s a rare opportunity to bring together all our friends from various spheres… farmers, musicians, beekeepers, radio DJs, artists, teachers, foragers, endurance runners, and homesteaders all sit down together with homemade food and drink, and it’s such fun to see all the unexpected connections and conversations that come up!

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Somehow, no matter how many people show up, there’s always the perfect number of haybales to sit on, and the big table magically expands to fit every last delicious dish.

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 Above: our neighbour Elizabeth brought pear marmalade and pear butter that she made from our fruit!

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Clockwise from left: photographer Antonio De Lucci; heirloom-variety table grapes under the arbor; last rays of sun in the orchard.

T and J

A sweet photo of my dad and me (with an impressive array of home-brewed libations on the table — in addition to the pot-luck, there’s always a hearty brew-luck going on!)

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Come dusk, I did manage to get out my camera and snap a few photos of the campfire. Marshmallows appear, Tom produces a bundle of fresh pear twigs perfect for toasting sticks, and everyone gathers around the crackling flames as the crisp chill of a fall evening settles in.

night

It’s been another marvelous season, with great farmer’s market days, wonderful customers and friends, some of the most beautiful fruit we’ve ever grown, and yet another fantastic party to celebrate it all! Thanks to all of you for supporting our “little family farm that could” — we’re so grateful to have you as our community. Wishing you all a bright and beautiful Autumn!

Many thanks to Antonio De Lucci for the photos! Check out more of his work at antoniodelucci.com.

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Filed under around the farm, autumn, foto friday

Honey Harvest — part 1

It’s that long-awaited time of year — the honey harvest! Tomorrow we’ll be up to our elbows (quite literally) in sticky delicious honey, but before the fun can start, there’s work to do… namely, collecting our haul!

The honey we’ll be extracting is in the shallower boxes, called “supers,” on top of the hives. Collecting them would be easy, except for one small problem: they’re full of bees! Since we of course don’t want to take the bees back home with us, we start by asking them politely to surrender the honey and head on out of the supers…. well, more or less.

We do get a bit of help in the communication department — see the black-topped little boxes on the hives above? They’re called “fume boards.” (Appealing, I know.) Inside is a sheet of cloth, which we’ve drizzled with a super-stinky solution that the bees absolutely loathe the smell of. Trust me, it’s nasty; I wish I had smell-o-vision here, except that I wouldn’t want to inflict upon you the horrid stench of bubblegum-meets-rotting-socks! A highly disturbing combination, and one which sends the bees running as quick as they can in the opposite direction — downward into the hive and away from the honey box. There are a few other methods of accomplishing the same goal, but they usually involve one-way “escape” doors that the bees have to navigate. These work, but they can take days, and there are always plenty of unlucky bees that don’t quite get the idea. We’ve found the “smelly” trick to be by far the simplest and easiest.

Even so, the exodus takes a bit of time; the usual suggestion is two or three minutes, but we find it takes a bit longer for everyone to find their way out. And we’re happy to cool our heels in the shade for a few extra minutes… and maybe a few minutes more:

photos by PB

Then it’s just a simple matter of loading the boxes into the truck and bringing them back to the Honey House. (Well, you usually have to stop for an ice cream somewhere along the way — it’s part of the deal.)

We’ll have photos of the spectacularly messy Part 2 soon — stay tuned!

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Filed under beekeeping, homestead how-to, honey, summer