Thursday, September 30, 2010

Outdoor Skills Class - September 2010

Throughout my absurdly frantic work days, I feel the longing to be out in Nature.  To be part of the rhythm of the universe, not our man-made bastardized version of reality, but to really be a part of the natural world.  That is, after all, what this MooseBoots journey is all about.  This is about my growing awareness and longing to be, not what we have been told we must be but, part of the Universe or, if you prefer, Everything.  It is the reason we started with our monthly outdoors skills class.

This month, the class took a new tactic for learning.  We had multiple tasks that need to get accomplished - cut vegetables, getting cooking water, building a fire, gathering firewood, and finish the woodshed.  The overall common thread was for the kids to cook soup for lunch and to serve the adults.  Adults were not supposed to interfere ... just assist only as needed.

The kids did a great job preparing the soup.  It was a delicious vegetable soup made from things that each family brought.  The adults sat in the wigwam while the kids filled bowls and handed them out.  Several people, Wendy included, thought to bring bread, too.  It was so good to be in the woods for that short time and the weather cooperated nicely.

After lunch, the kids played a game for a bit.  Then, we were shown how to sharpen a knife.  This served a a stark lesson for me.  I had read about sharpening a knife, but had not tried it.  During the class, we simply followed the steps I already knew, but had not tried.  The reminder it that you can read, but that does not give you any experience.  Big, Little Sister and I took advantage of the opportunity to try a new skill.

Knowledge gained, but not used, is useless.  The cosmic slap was a bit of a wake-up call to not sit still ... learn something, try it, own it.  It is always easier to have someone show you how to do something, but my path requires something faster, and frankly a bit less costly.  While I am often frustrated by the languorous pace of this MooseBoots path, I need to bear in mind that it is in my power to speed it or simply savor the delicious new things that come my way.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Queen Is Dead ... Long Live The Queen

If you have been following along on my MooseBoots journey, you know that many of my learning experiences begin with failure.  (If you have not been reading along, we'll wait while you catch up.)  These failures, life's little unexpected twists, provide much more fertile soil for growing wisdom and learning, as frustrating as they are.

You also know that this was my first year with bees.  And while I have read a few books and spoken with a few people, I still rely on my instinct, intuition, and observation to help me along.  Since early on, I knew there was a problem, but ....  Then, I re-queened, but ... the hive is clearly dead.

I checked in recently and found a vast wasteland.  Dead bees litter the floor of the hive.  The honey stores are gone.  There are no eggs or larva.  Only a few dozen bees remain.  I do not know what went wrong, or when.  Obviously, I re-queened too late for any effect.

All that remains is to clean it up and try again next year.  My MooseBoots path will continue.  I will learn what I can from this and move on.  I am sorry, Bees, I have failed you.  Please, offer me guidance and insight so that I can work with you next year with more beneficial results for us all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Black Cherry Jelly

I have been making a conscious effort to note the season ... when are the different berries ripening, what is blooming, what could I forage today.  This path, my MooseBoots journey, includes many indigenous skills such as tanning, hunting, and foraging.  I have been waiting patiently for the Black Cherries in the back yard to ripen.

Now, our Black Cherry tree does not produce delicious cherries that can be enjoyed right off of the tree.  Ours are a bit bitter.  So, this year, I thought I would try making Black Cherry jelly.  Nobody in the house was much interested, but ....

I carefully harvested cherries.  OK, I used the roof rake to knock them out of the tree into a sheet of plastic.  I only sustained a minor scratch in the process.  Still no interest ... who will help me harvest the Black Cherries?

 I brought them into the house and washed them.  Nope, no interest ... who will help we wash the cherries?

I painstakingly crushed them to extract the juice.  Now ... no interest ... who will help we crush the cherries?

I poured the juice through cheesecloth to separate out the chunks and into the pan to boil.  Anyone ... nope ...who will help we boil the cherries?  I added some sugar and let it boil down, until it was just right and then poured it into a jelly jar.

I sat in the refrigerator for a few days setting up.  Then, I put some of the thick jelly on a bagel.  It looked so good ... my mouth watered.  Who will help me eat this Black Cherry jelly?  One bite .... YUCK!  It is still bitter.  Of course, my philosophy is, and has been, that when you make something or take its life, you must eat it.  So, I finished the bagel.

I am pretty sure that there will not be anyone accompanying me on this particular leg of my MooseBoots path.  Maybe I need to spend a bit more time in Nature's Garden and see what Sam has to say.  I may just end up leaving the cherries for the birds, who seem to really enjoy them.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Queen Me

5My MooseBoots path sometimes takes unexpected turns for the worst.  As excited as I am about the bees, they are not doing well.  It was able to figure out that my hive had gone queen-less.  I don't know how it happened, it just did.  Of course, the real red flag was a dramatic drop in the number of bees.

So, I called around and found an apiary that had one last queen.  I promptly picked her up and installed the cage in the hive.  This all happened about 3 weeks ago.  I am waiting to see if the hive will recover.  I look in the window everyday.  I am really nervous how few bees there are.  Perhaps, I re-queened too late.  We will see.  Of course, if the hive does not survive this year, I will try again next ... I am still on the waiting list for New England raised bees.

These type of set-backs only reinforces that I have much to learn.  Really, is that not what life is all about?  My MooseBoots path continues....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What A Fun-Gi!

My journey, my MooseBoots path has provided a new lesson today.  It is about patience and letting nature run its course.  Lately, the lessons are about life and death.  What more is there when it comes to important stuff?  No, kids, your cell phones, facebook, clothing, hairdos, and favorite celebrities are not really important in the big scheme of things.  We have mushrooms!

Wayyyy back in June 2009, we inoculated several oak logs with shiitake mushroom spore.  Today, this is what we saw.

The funny thing is that I had given up on them.  I planned to cut the logs up this fall to burn.  Just in a nick of time ... poof ... mushrooms.  Perhaps, Gramzilla came by to offer some assistance in her new form.  (If so, could you please help the bees, too.  Thanks, Gramzilla.)  Being a newbie, however, I do not know the proper time, or method, to pick them.  So, any of you more experienced people, feel free to chime in.  I am thinking that I would also like to learn how to collect spore to seed new logs for future years.  Feel free to share if you have done that before, too.

So, this week, the universe has taught me a little about growth and a bit about dying.  Really, are they not a part of the whole process that we call life.  My MooseBoots journey has benefited, by having opportunities for personal development, by both events.