Honey Honey Honey!

Do you know the feeling of anticipation for something you’ve waited a very long time for? Something you’ve dreamed about and knew would come your way, but sometimes the wait was excruciating? You may have had moments, during the wait, when you doubted that the dream would ever actually be fulfilled.

Oh, but when the dream becomes the reality it is so wonderful, like the first crisp day of Fall after a long stretch of unseasonably hot weather. That’s how I’ve felt in recent weeks as we harvested honey from hives we’ve been tending for four years.

While all the credit should go to the bees, who are amazing insects, I will give oodles of credit to my husband and step-daughter. They have both worked many hours with the bees to keep strong queens in the hives, and kept all hives healthy and well supplied with pollen and nectar.

We recently had our first harvest in four years, and it paid off, accumulating 160 pounds of honey from two hives. The photos below show the stages of the process.

First must remove all the bees from the frames, then load them onto the truck for transport to the garage.

A handy tool to remove the caps so the honey can be extracted

Four frames at a time can fit in the extractor

Once the extractor is turned on it spins the honey out of the frames in about 10 minutes

Open the tap and remove honey from the extractor

The honey is strained to remove excess comb

The final step is bottling the honey

We will be selling some of the honey and have packaged it to sell in half pound, pound, 2 pound and 2.6 pound quantities. All profits (yeah, right!) will be reinvested into sustaining the bees for the future of all mankind. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing some raw, pure, unfiltered Vermont honey.

1/2 pound for $5.00
1 pound for $10.00
2 pounds for $18.00
2.6 pounds for $24.00

Life on the Bike Trail

I am sad to say I have not been for a bike ride on the Kingdom Trails yet this year.

Between work, the oh so wet weather in April and May (and some of June) and interests in other things like boating and golf and gardening, I have just been too busy.

However, last weekend was NEMBAFEST here in Burke, VT ~ which means it was one of the biggest bike weekends on the trails, which do pass right in front of our house. The White School trail passes through our property and so it is not uncommon for us to see bikers passing by.

This year, since we had company and were planning a family barbecue, I knew I would be around the house all day so I decided to count the number of bikers who passed through on Saturday. I used my little chalkboard to keep the tally throughout the day.

As we sat on the deck, visiting with our guests and counting bikers, my husband had the brilliant idea to ‘honor’ the 500th biker that passed. Everyone was in agreement and so we watched and waited. When the 500th biker came around the corner we all started to hoot and holler and yell for her to stop.

I think our yelling scared her a bit – she thought we were yelling because she was going the wrong way or had run over something. We assured her that we were simply entertaining ourselves and she graciously posed for pictures. Here she is with my landowner husband.

We hadn’t really planned this adventure so didn’t have a big prize for her, but we did sent her on her way with an ice cold Corona. I think she was appreciative – and very relieved that she hadn’t actually broken any biking rules.

By days end we had a total of 585 bikers pass by and we enjoyed every single one of them.

Just another day of fun and adventure on Sweetwater Lane.

First Trail Ride of the Season

Woohoo! It sure felt great to get out on the bike and ride the trails last weekend.

Kingdom Trails have opened for the 2015 season and they are in great shape. The trails are in much better shape than I am. But that’s okay. I’m a girl with goals.

Let’s just say I’ve been lax all winter. Sure I’ve done some yoga. And some more yoga. But mostly I did work, and reading, and watching television, and work, and reading.

Let’s just say my biking muscles are not exactly ready to tackle Moose Alley. My mind is in the right place, though, and I am ready to get in shape for this biking season.
Trail ride 1
This is a tiny hill I’m climbing, but on day one, after a lax winter, even the tiny hills seem mountainous.

My goal is to conquer the big hills. My other goal is to drop one pant size (or two). I will start small. Conquer the tiny hills, drop one pant size.

There are a few wonderful things about riding the bike trails.

1. You are out in nature. Fresh air, plenty of trees, sunshine, a breeze. . .
White School

2. The exercise you’re getting is always different. Up a hill, down a hill, through a field, through the woods, past your neighbors, over some roots and rocks, across a bridge. . .diversity!

3. Despite what the parking areas all over town look like on any given weekend, the trails are pretty darn quiet. Rarely do we encounter many other riders. An occasional one or two here or there, but for the most part, when we ride we see very few other riders. (Of course, we do try to avoid riding on weekends throughout the summer).

4. There is usually something interesting to see, somewhere along the route. On this first day we discovered what must be a coyote feeding area. There was a great deal of sign of a deer carcass and along the trail coyote scat.
DSCN1641 - Copy
We also saw our first butterflies of the season and visited with some neighbors who were out planting trees.

If you’re looking for some exercise why not explore mountain biking. It’s accessible to most everyone and is a most enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Snowshoe Trek

I am officially on vacation for about 10 days.

In honor of my vacation the weather has warmed up and it is feeling oh so much like spring.

With temperatures nearing 40 degrees, the sun shining, and blue skies, what better way to celebrate than with a snowshoe trek through the woods.

This time we headed out on the Pete’s Pond Loop.

I’ve been out there many times on my bike, and gone around and around and around. It’s a beautiful ride and a beautiful snowshoe trail too, with incredible views.

snowshoe 4

snowshoe 10

snowshoe 8

We had to stop for a selfie – is it still a selfie if there are two of us in the picture?

snowshoe 12

And this time I didn’t get confused and keep going in circles!

snowshoe 9

I’m not sure if it was the map, or the fact that I was following my husband, who has a much more well developed sense of direction than I do.

We walked a ways out on Pete’s Pond to get a picture of the beaver dam. This is the same place I took some pictures last spring.

snowshoe 5

snowshoe 13

snowshoe 15

And finally, we return to Sweetwater Lane:

snowshoe 2

The Kingdom Trails

That title makes these trails sound like something that could be found in an empire and presided over by royalty.

Well, there are days when it feels like these trails are my dominion and I, the Queen, watch over all. Okay, that’s just a little fantasy of mine.

The Kingdom Trails are actually a network of trails through the Burke area designed for multiple uses. We use the trails year round.

Some of the trails are wider and easier going, utilizing the VAST trail system in places.

The rest are single track, which means narrow. This represents an easier area to negotiate. First of all the trail is smooth and obstruction free, and there is low grass next to it, as opposed to thorny berry bushes that grow across a lot of the trails and have a tendency to cause severe scratches and bleeding.

My husband and I joke that a bike ride on the trails is not complete until someone draws blood. It’s only a joke. Sort of.

Many of the trails look like this. This one is an easy traverse, but there are many with larger exposed roots on an uphill climb or on a corner. Or going uphill AND around a corner AND with a very narrow span between trees.

Sometimes there are stumps along the trail too. The other day I found one of those the hard way.

Bouncing along over a rooty path I came to sudden stop. Not good, because my bike stopped but I didn’t. After I untangled myself from the saplings and handlebars I said, “What the hell?” Looking around I discovered a small stump covered by ferns. My pedal had caught on it. I think we were on a trail called Nose Dive. How appropriate.

The trails are all named and that adds to the fun. You might imagine what a trail called Cupcake is like and you would be correct if you thought of it as an easy ride. Poundcake is a little more challenging – to ride and to eat – but both are pleasant. One of my favorites is Heaven’s Bench.

Besides the incredible views of mountains, rolling fields, and The Chapel, there is a meandering trail with few roots, but lots of switchbacks. Turning left is particularly challenging for me. I don’t know why. I can make all kinds of right hand turns, but when it comes to those lefts – not so good. The switchbacks give me the opportunity to practice.

If you see this sign you might want to heed the warning.
Or not. I rode it (a couple of years ago) and I’m still here.

Over the years I’ve noticed more and more bridges constructed on the trails.

I have mixed feelings about these bridges, which tend to be too narrow for my liking.

Many, like this one, are over water and that’s a good thing. It does make it easier to cross streams. However, I lack the confidence that I will maintain my balance across a two foot wide bridge that is four feet above the water and has rocks as a prelude to the lip you need to ‘jump’ to get on the dang bridge in the first place. A friend use to say “Speed is your friend,” when you’re mountain biking. I’m not so sure that is always true. I prefer to crab walk over some obstacles, bike between my legs. I like to say, “Safety first,” when mountain biking. Especially after diving over my handle bars so recently. Oh, yeah, and that broken ankle we won’t talk about now.

I do appreciate the bridges though. Some are less challenging and cover the mud and what I like to refer to as “mucky muck.” You know – the stuff you wouldn’t wade through under normal circumstances. It looks like this on a good day.

Here’s a bridge I can cross.

Another thing a rider needs to pay attention to when on these trails is the trees. There are a lot of them and some of them seem to call my name. The trick is to be aware of the span between trees on the single tracks. Sometimes it’s. . .tight. I have been known to get caught between two of them. There may be some trick to maneuvering through them, but I haven’t figured it out – yet.
Seriously. That’s a tight fit when you think of putting your handle bars through there. Both of them. At the same time. And I should point out that this trail, while single track, is smooth and relatively obstacle free. These trees you might get through easily.

There are a lot of riders younger than myself out there. Stop laughing.

My point is that they have created some interesting challenges for themselves. I don’t know why. Maybe they are a. inexperienced, b. have a high tolerance for pain, c. are nincompoops. Whatever. Here are some of their ‘interesting challenges’:

This is the trail called Kitchel. It’s kind of like the mountain biker’s version of a luge run. Fortunately there are no roots, but notice that it is mostly sand. Sand = slippery. Just so you know.

Clearly the person who propped that board on the end of that log has better balance than I do.

Yes, the intent is to ride the wall. Sideways. I don’t know. Maybe some day I’ll get a picture of someone actually doing that. I’ll let you know when I do.

THE WALL is accessed from the Mountain trails at Burke. You can take the chair lift. In the summer. They even have special racks to hold your bikes so you don’t have to. 🙂

Bottom line – it’s all good fun for any age. Kudos to The Kingdom Trails and their crew who do a fantastic job of maintaining them.