APRIL 2019!!

Tomatoes and peppers

More germinated 🌶

Tractor service manual!

Service manual

The service manual for my tractor came in today. I got it used for $65 which is a deal as the book is $350 or so!

Wowzers.... don’t look at the light!

We are using the grow light today as it is dull and grey and raining outside. The forecast is the same for the next two days. As a result there is not much sunlight shining onto the seedlings. The blue light is what the plants require for growing, while the red light is for flower and fruit production when they are older. We are running the blue spectrum for now. The blue LEDs cast a blue color on everything nearby. It gives you a funny sensation when you look at the light. After a minute or two my eyes got sore and I started to get a headache... but i couldn’t look away.... bluuuuelight.... mmmm doooonuts

🤪

Planted more seeds!!!!

Started 60 more plants today. A mixture of fruit and vegetables.

Broccoli, rutabagas, beets,  cucumbers,  zucchini,  watermelon,  cantaloupe and honeydew melon. 

We have germination!!

10 or so seeds germinated already.  It is hard to believe they have sprouted so quickly.   The germinating heat pad is really speeding things up!

We all need to eat...

Whether it is fish,  animals, plants or insects all living things require some type of nutrition in order to survive.

Bees are no different. Bees require nectar from flowers and the nectar becomes honey. The bees store the honey that they will later eat.

In the spring time,  as the weather improves,  the bees become more active and can be seen flying around the outside of the hive.  The worker bees also continue to remove any dead bees from the hive. Kind of a spring cleaning.

At this time of year however there are not any flowers out so the bees still require the stored honey to survive.  I would suspect the cache of honey is getting low as we had a pretty long winter.  Although we did not harvest any honey in the fall there was not a surplus of honey as it was their first year.  

My wife made up a sugar water solution today for them. After 2.5 quarts of water is brought to a boil reduce the heat to low and slowly add 5 pounds of sugar.  Keep the heat on low but don’t keep it boiling as you add the sugar.  Keep stirring as you add the sugar.  Once all the sugar has been added allow the mix to cool down.

Fill up your hive feeder with the room temperature sugar water solution. Store the rest in a clean jar in the refrigerator. A hive will drink a whole mason jar full of the sweet solution in a day.  Be sure to fill it back up.  When they are only drinking less than half the jar a day you could stop feeding as they will by then have a natural source. 

Hive entrance feeder. Accepts regular mason jars.

Canada’s west coast

I had to go to British Columbia for several days for work.  I usually fly into Calgary and spend 4 hours or so driving to BC through the rockies. It is always an incredibly scenic trip through the Kootenays. 

On the road again

The Kootenays

Beautiful horses on the drive from Alberta to BC

Bighorn sheep

Jack and the beanstalk

I have said it before but it is worth saying again, when seeds germinate I think of it as little miracles!

We planted seeds in this tray about 8 or 9 days ago. I couldn’t believe how fast they grew! I was away for part of the time and my wife took care of them.  Water, sunlight and some loving and presto!  We will be trasnplanting them possibly later today.

Incredible growth!

Tarps are off! Spring has sprung!

Duck pen

We removed the tarps on the duck pen today. The ducks seemed very happy about it.  I got the feeling they were saying “what took you soooo long”. Less than a week ago however we got 15 cm of snow and before that it was -15 over night and very windy. They probably forgot about that.

Knife needs a little cleaning

As you may have read in earlier posts I always carry a pocket knife.  I have a small collection but there are a few that I like and carry more than other ones.  The picture below shows my favourite one taken apart. It is made by CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool) and is a great knife but it’s not opening smoothly anymore.  I was very surprised to see that it uses two very small ball bearings instead of washers on either side of the blade attachment.  I’m going to clean the parts, oil lightly and re-assemble. I think that will fix the problem.

Fixing my favourite pocket knife

Smallest bearing I’ve seen!!

Beeeeeeeeez

There has been alot of activity around the bee hive lately. They survived the winter and the warmer temperature today had them just a buzzing!  

I purchased a new hive yesterday at Country Fields Beekeeping Supplies in Waverly Nova Scotia. These guys are great to deal with, very knowledgeable and have everything you need at their shop.  I also paid for the ”nuc” I ordered a few months ago. A nuc is basically a new colony of bees.  You get four frames of bees, approx 2500 bees per frame,  and a established healthy queen. The nucs will be ready for pickup early June. When I get the new colony they will need a new hive to make home.  I will be assembling it later this week hopefully.

New “Super” assembled

New hive assembled

My wife and I put the new lower section of the hive together a few days ago. We are now ready for the new bees when we get the call. 

I am keeping the newly built section inside untill the new colony of bees get here. We don’t want any hornets/wasps taking up residence.

More transplanting

I transplanted about 10 of the tomato and 4 pepper plants that seemed to be getting close to outgrowing their 2” peat pots we had them in. Shouldn’t be too long now and we can put them out into the greenhouse. The last frost date here is May 5-7th I think.

Started tilling the garden

Rear tine tillers

We bought this tiller used a few years ago. It is a husk-a-vorna errrr I mean Husqvarna. I didn’t winterize it and it started around the 7th pull and ran great... until it ran out of gas that is.  

The handles are fairly low which makes it uncomfortable when using it for any length of time.  Even with them adjusted as high as it can go its still not quite high enough.  That’s kind of odd as I’m not excessively tall. I think I will be drilling a new hole to adjust them to a comfortable height.

Thawing out the reduced sap

We had already reduced twenty or so  gallons of sap to about 2 gallons. We then froze the sap and planned to finish it  later.  

Several weeks have passed and our friend has time to show us how to properly boil down the last portion to get the proper end result... delicious syrup.

The boiling temperature of water is 212F at sea level.  You can’t really get the temperature above 212 for pure water without pressurizing it. The more sugar there is however the higher the boiling point becomes. You should reduce the sap outside on your ”stove” until the boiling point reaches 217F.  The rule is around 7F above the boiling point the sugar content, hence the specific gravity, is almost perfect for syrup. We poured the syrup through a very fine strainer and coffee filter and caught it in a smaller pot.  We brought the hot filtered sap inside to finish off on our cookstove.

Finishing off the syrup indoors

Finishing touches

After about 45 min of boiling the temperature reached 218-219F. Our friend that came over to help us finish the process brought an optical hydrometer.  He checked and the reading was 55 Brix. We want a sugar content of 66 Brix.  Too high and the sugar crystalizes and too low and mould will form on the syrup. Wow it sounds pretty touchy!

The sugar content changes quickly, within minutes it was 65.5. A second check and we got 0.5 point higher.

We were able to fill two 500mL bottles and a third about halfway.  Liquid gold! Lots of work for 1.3L of syrup... but wow is it good!

Pure maple syrup!

Emergency survival kit

I recently put together a survival kit together that I plan to leave in my truck.  I had most items already and only had to buy a few things.  It will store easily under the rear seat and be there incase something unexpected happens.

We had a pelican case that was no longer needed for what it was housing so I repurposed it! Pelican cases are tough, rugged,  durable, waterproof etc.

Inside the sturdy case (im2100 model) I packed alot of things, 43 or so actually.  I have to find a few more things that i know I have somewhere that would be good to have in an emergency situation.

Here is a list of what I packed so far...

2 clif bars, emergency whistle, bandana, fixed blade Ruko knife, flint and steel, emergency blankets x 2, large clear garbage bags x2, sharpie, Gerber folding knife, Bible, antibacterial soap, glow stick, Sawyer mini water filter, KI pills, tensor roll, water purification tablets, Ricola cough drops, AAA batteries x 3, Tylenol, Advil, Tylenol back, napkins, BIC lighter, First aid kit for 1-4, Police LED flashlight, Chameleon flash light, empty soup can, emergency candle, SAS survival guide, phone charger, Gorilla tape, trail marking tape,  50ft Paracord, wooden matches, and a signal mirror.

Pelican Storm im2100 case

Lemon tree!

We drove 2 hours today (each way) to pick up our lemon tree!  I am pretty excited.  I have been wanting to buy one for a few years and could never find one.  This one is 2 years old and it should flower this year but we need to not let it fruit.  The fruits will take alot of energy and the tree is pretty small at only 17” tall. The lady told us to pinch off any fruit that we see starting after the flowers bloom. The tree is self pollinating which is cool.  They typically grow 5-6 ft tall and we should be harvesting fruit by the third year. Who knew you could grow lemons in Nova Scotia!

Our Meyer’s lemon tree!!

Electric fence

We picked up an electric fence today at a feed supply store. I will try and install it tomorrow. We are installing it around our lemon tree errrrrrr I mean bee hive.  Bears have been known to trash hives and steal the honey even here in Nova Scotia!  Hopefully this fence will deter any bears (or people that have a sweet tooth) prior to harvesting day.

 

A 12V “Fencer”

A dozen fresh duck eggs ready to go!

New tires for the F150

New shoes for the truck

I got new tires today for our F150.  The OEM tires that came with it were quite wore out and bald in spots. I would have liked to get Goodyear Duratracs but they were almost double the price and funds are a little tight currently.  I may get a set of duratracs for winter possibly and keep these for spring summer and fall.  They are rated for winter as well so I may wait and see how they perform.  One thing for sure they are a million times better than what I had on the truck!