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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Collecting Manure, Bees and wax, Garlic, Mulberry Pruning

According to the Bureau of Meteorology the rain is on the way. We shall see.

The vineyard was in need of a splash of water and we used the opportunity to feed the vines with some seaweed and carp mix from Seasol. Although we drip watered for 2 hours it would be good to get some real rain to soak into the ground and give the vines a good drink.

As it is the pressure pump is playing up. It won't come to pressure it can't get more than 50% of the way. The suspicion is that the impeller may be loose or damaged. It will be dismantled in the morning now that everything has had a water. If it rains it will be even better if parts are needed to ordered. What do they say at The Survival Podcast - "two is one. one is none"

The morning was overcast but warm and we took the time to go to the pool and get some real exercise as opposed to just working hard. The water was beautifully refreshing.

Yesterday afternoon two hours were spent bent over putting cow poo into bags. Almost every spare bag was used as the cattle had been in that paddock for two weeks. This afternoon it took two trips in the tractor to bring it all to the top of the hill - over 27 bags.


Over coffee we read that it was a good time to prune Mulberry and force it to lay on a second crop. And so it was done. Conveniently the cattle were now on top of the hill and became the beneficiaries of the green leaves. Apparently it is very good for them. They must think so as they demolished the lot.

The sun finally came out making the weather even more oppressive but you can't keep a bee keeper down. The safety gear was donned and the smoker primed. Some more sugar and water was put into the feeder and just as well they aren't getting all that much nectar judging by the small amount of honey in the top super. However the brood chamber looks good and the hive is very active. The hive opening forced another batch of Small Hive Beetle into the death trap. A satisfying sight.

Before smoking
After smoking

Back in the kitchen it was time to perform another melting of the harvested wax from earlier in the year to get it even cleaner. It's a simple procees. Put some water in a container you don't plan to use for anything else. Put in the wax and heat gently until it melts. Pour it into an appropriately shaped container via a sieve to cool. The slower it cools the more time impurities have to settle out. Gavin Webber from Greening of Gavin was talking about Soy candles because of the cost of bee wax. Maybe his solution is to get a hive or two. Bee keepers don't get all that much for their wax when they swap it for new foundation. I'm sure it wouldn’t be that difficult do a deal for cash.

An old saucepan for wax melting, note the impurity in the top right quadrant

Plastic container for moulding and the filtered and slowly cooled cleaner wax
The finished product
An inspection of the garlic stands showed that two more varieties were ready for harvest. Allsun and Purple Glamour. These two had excellent sized bulbs. We usually grow six or seven varieties although sometimes up to a dozen. Each year is different for the varieties and some do better than others depending on the conditions. Our main variety is J&M named after the people from whom we sourced the original stock. Well now its not a main variety as it had a disastrous year. We will be lucky to get enough for seed stock. Hopefully J&M didn’t have the same experience and we can get some more.

Allsun and Purple Glamour

We have this little brick paved area in front of the cave which has a clear Perspex roof. It is used  to process grapes, Apples and Pears during all the messy operations as it is easily hosed out. It is also perfect for drying Garlic and Onions. They'll stay here for a week or so before having the roots and stems trimmed and the dirty outer rubbed off.

Purple Glamour


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