Honey Extraction by Catherine Evans :: 16th August 2010

Yesterday was the day we decided to extract our honey from the hive! We had already fitted a clearer board between the 2 supers on the hive to clear the top one (with the honey in) of bees, so were able to remove the frames quickly and efficiently. We then placed 2 packs of fondant in the empty super to feed the bees – we had noticed that they had already been uncapping sealed cells of honey as the weather has been so unsettled. Phase 1 completed successfully we were on a high!

 

Sandra had collected a honey extractor from LDBKA so we thought we were ready to go. Using a heated bread knife we carefully uncapped the first 4 frames and placed them, as instructed, in the extractor. Following instructions we slowly turned one way, then turned the frames around and turned again, this time a little quicker. What a disappointment – only about a teacup full of honey in the bottom of the extractor! Closer inspection of the frames showed lots of crystallised honey that was never going to be spun out. After some discussion we resorted to plan B – cutting out the honey from the frames and extraction by melting – the wax floats on top of the honey and can be skimmed off! We managed to pot 9 large and 5 small jars by this method so are relatively pleased! However we now need to rebuild 9 frames and return them to the hive, which I think is going to be more complex than we originally imagined – watch this space!

Extra Touches by Catherine Evans :: 09th August 2010

I am always looking for new ideas to enhance my guests stay with us and recently whilst staying at Millstream Cottage in Dunster we were given cookies in a jar in our room. So now cookies are on offer on the Broome Park Farm tea tray! Although I am going to have to refine my cookie making technique as most of the cookies I’ve made today are too big to fit in the jar!!

An update on the bees – we have had to requeen the hive so fingers crossed the new queen will have settled in by the time we hope to extract some honey at the weekend.

Combining is now in full swing – although repairs were necessary over the weekend – John is busy as long as the weather is fine! We also have 6 baby chicks – photos soon as I am too scared of the mother hen to get too near at the moment! John says she’s a sweetheart but not to me!

Pure Nostalgia by Catherine Evans :: 28th July 2010

I have been extravagant this week and treated myself to a traditional cake stand – the photo doesn’t really show off the stand to full effect – each plate is a different floral pattern, resulting in a nostalgic look. I also bought 16m of bunting – I’m not sure why, except it is so pretty! So next time guests come to stay their homemade cakes may be served on my new cake stand! The cakes featured in this photo are fruity flapjacks, made with jumbo oats and Alpen; gooey chocolate brownies; lemon and raisin drizzle bars and my favourite – traditional gingerbread. My great aunt used to make this so it really is nostalgic – she also made beautiful shortbread biscuits with ground rice in – I must see if my mother still has the recipe.

Garden Harvest by Catherine Evans :: 16th July 2010

Although the weather has taken a turn for the worst, the garden definitely appreciates the rain. I have picked this bowl of raspberries this morning and they are absolutely gorgeous – plump and juicy – delicious with warm toffee waffles and icecream! I will probably freeze some too, ready to make jam later in the year. I have also harvested my first courgettes and gherkins – although I am not sure what to do with them! The mange tout have also cropped really well – we can’t eat them quick enough!

Elderflowers Galore by Catherine Evans :: 10th July 2010

There has been so much blossom this year and all the hedgerows have been stunning – beautiful white clouds for weeks on end. Last week I managed to make some elderflower cordial – one of my favourite summer drinks – ad elderflower champagne. This is only the second time I have made champagne and I am a bit wary as 2 bottles exploded last time and the plastic bottles expanded until almost twice their original size! This year’s brew doesn’t look so fizzy so fingers craossed – it will be ready to drink in 8 days time!!

Bee Swarm by Catherine Evans :: 28th June 2010

Having muddled along for several weeks with the bees I had a message to say Michael was coming to mark the queen – neither Sandra nor I had been able to spot her! He duly arrived yesterday morning and we opened the hive. Michael was immediately concerned about the number of bees! No queen – she had swarmed – probably only on Saturday, due to the hot weather and the number of bees in the hive. John was dispatched to trawl the hedgerows to see if he could find them – they initially only fly upto 100 metres, until the scout bees find a suitable home – but to no avail. There is a new queen cell in the hive which will hatch out in about a week, then it will be 2 weeks before the new queen starts laying eggs again – Michael will then return to mark her!

The gardens in the photo are at Orleton House which open in aid of the National Garden scheme – the final open weekend is 24-25th July – do go along – it is well worth a visit.

Haymaking by Catherine Evans :: 25th June 2010

Haymaking at Broome Park Farm

Haymaking at Broome Park Farm

The weather has been perfect for haymaking and today the team are baling here at Broome Park. This field is being made into small rectangular bales – these are easily handled and very popular with horse owners and smallholders who don’t have the machinery to feed the big round bales that are often seen. The beautiful hot weather has allowed us to make more hay than usual – often we have to make silage when the weather is unpredictable and it certainly doesn’t smell as sweet as freshly made hay!

Black and White Pigs by Catherine Evans :: 14th June 2010

I have 2 more piglets, both are Gloucester Old Spot crosses but as you can see 1 is all white and 1 is all black!! The white one I have called Crinkle as she has a crinkley ear and the black one is Blaze as he has a white stripe down his face. The are a bit nervous and scatter at the smallest noise – the only time they are still is when they are eating.

The bees are doing well – we check them every weekend and they are drawing out the foundation in the Super and starting to fill it with honey. The only problem is we haven’t yet spotted the queen but as there is plenty of brood we know she is busy!

Astley Vineyard by Catherine Evans :: 02nd June 2010

Today I have enjoyed a visit to Astley Vineyards, about 10 miles from us in Worcestershire but definitely a hidden gem. The Vineyard produces award winning wines and is endorsed by inclusion in Rick Stein’s Food Guide. The latest award being a Silver Medal in The Decanter World Wine Awards 2010 for Veritas 2007. Customers are encouraged to visit the vineyard shop for a free tasting and a leisurely stroll around the vineyard and beautiful valley surroundings – I shall certainly be recommending a visit to guests in the future!

Naturally I couldn’t come away empty handed – as shown in the photo – my particular favourite being the Late Harvest dessert wine made from Siegerrebe grapes.

A Great Day Out by Catherine Evans :: 30th May 2010

Yesterday I persuaded John to take a rare day off and we headed to Oxford to watch our daughter row in the Oxford 8s. After all the glorious weather Becky had booked a punt to take us on the River Cherwell – it was raining all day – even the chap at the boathouse said we didn’t have to go just because we had booked! Not to be deterred we continued – it was very peaceful – eating our picnic in the rain on the punt! Next stop was the Thames where we watched Becky and her team head for the start of the race. Eventually they floated past, having ‘bumped’ early in the race and not needing to row further! They were very pleased with the result and we had enjoyed our day out.

The Bees have Arrived by Catherine Evans :: 26th May 2010

Great excitement – Michael arrived with a hive of bees on Sunday morning. Fortunately I had just finished serving breakfast so I quickly donned my suit and strolled up the paddock to show him their new home. He quickly unloaded the hive, complete with super – in his shirt sleeves! The guests thought they could see an angel in the field!

Later on Sunday afternoon my friend, Sandra, arrived so we could have a proper look at the bees. Gingerly we removed the super and surveyed the mass of bees inside the hive, all working happily. That was enough for our first foray into the world of beekeeping! We are hoping to open the hive again this evening to see if we can find the queen!

Spring is here by Catherine Evans :: 17th May 2010

The harsh winter played havoc with Richard’s swing seat so it has been undergoing some major repairs. However on Sunday it was returned to its idylic location over looking Neen Savage. The cows all look pleased to see it back!

Sunday was also my first attempt at real beekeeping – a neighbour rang to say there was a swarm so I rang someone else! Fortunately Elizabeth was happy to come and collect it so I donned my suit and went along to learn. It was a great experience, not easy  – as the bees had all clustered around a gatepost in a hawthorn hedge. It took over an hour of coaxing to get them into Elizabeth’s travelling box and away!

Bee Keeping by Catherine Evans :: 08th May 2010

My new life as a beekeeper came a step closer when I attended the practical session run by LDBKA. Unfortunately the weather was a bit changeable but the bees behaved impecably and my suit got its first outing! The next step is my own hive which should be arriving towards the end of May. This will consist of a new queen and nucleus of bees and the aim will be to build up their numbers so they are strong enough to survive the  winter and hopefully extract some honey this season – that will be very dependant on the weather!

St. George's Day by Catherine Evans :: 25th April 2010

Yesterday I celebrated St. George’s Day in Leintwardine, at The Sun Inn, one of the few remaining ‘Parlour Pubs’ in England. We started by dancing in procession from one end of town to the other, behind St George and the Dragon – although the horse didn’t like the music! After the heroic St George had slayed the Dragon and supped a celebratory glass of Hobsons ale we danced outside the pub. The glorious weather and friendly landlord made for a fabulous afternoon. Hopefully this will become an annual event in our Dance calender.

A Cats Life by Catherine Evans :: 19th April 2010

The cat has certainly been enjoying the beautiful Spring weather of late! I caught Toffee cat-napping on the bench yesterday afternoon. The last of our ewes has finally lambed – resulting in 4 doubles, 1 single and an adopted lamb joining our small flock. Unfotunately one ewe lost her lamb but John was able to get an orphan lamb from a neghbour and hopefully our ewe will raise it as her own.

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