Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Post From Jaysus

Hey, Y'all. Jaysus here... Some of you may know me and some of you may think you know me and hopefully you have been following my adventures on Facebook over the last two years. Facebook is the brain child of someone who thinks he's god, and in his infinite wisdom he decided to ban me from his site as though there isn't someone on this planet named Jaysus X Christ. The bastard didn't even ask me to prove I am who I claim to be. I could have faxed him my drivers license or my birth certificate, even though I was born before Hawaii was a state...

Anyway, my followers should not weep because I possessed enough soundness of mind to archive all my posts on a blog. You can also find me on Google+ as JaysysX Christ. So feel free to drop by for my daily post (except on the Sabbath.) Remember, you too can become a Jaysus Freak!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Since so many of you find the things I do in the world of beekeeping to be fascinating, I'll give you another glimpse into that world. Besides keeping bees and harvesting and bottling their honey there is the side business of the wax. I've written about the wax before and about how I always bring a small bucket with me when I work the bees because they like to build wax structures where they shouldn't. I cut that wax away and render it, but there is another opportunity to garner wax and it happens during the honey rendering process.

Bees store honey in combs and once they get ti dry enough they cap it with wax to keep moisture from getting into the cured honey. It's like how your grandmother put paraffin on the jars to preserve her jams and jelly. This wax gets cut or scrapped away to expose the honey in the comb and then the comb goes into a centrifuge to spin the honey out of the comb. The wax that was uncapped gets to drain and residual honey into a bucket.

Also while the wax comb is in the centrifuge small bits of wax breaks off and gets suspended in the honey. This wax gets filtered out before the honey goes into settling tanks or buckets.

The photo above is much smaller scale than what I work on. After letting the residual honey get filtered out there is still a little honey left that is stuck to the bits of wax. This is when I take the wax outside and let the bees clean it up. In the end I end up with about four pounds of wax flakes that looks like dry oatmeal.

This wax is pretty clean at this point, however there are foreign things mixed in that need to be filtered out such as bee parts. Next I stuff this wax into used stockings and melt it. The wax melts through the mesh and the nasty stuff is left inside the stocking which gets thrown away. This is when I pour the wax into forms and let it cool and harden.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I haven't done a Sick Day post in ages and I know they are supposed to run on the first Monday of the month, but lately I've been breaking all my blog rules. Anyway, what is going on with all the Rat Bastard Douche Bags on the roads these days who refuse to use their blinkers, or if you prefer, their directionals. I know one should never trust an on-coming car with their blinkers on, but I miss the courtesy, and the forethought of intent when someone uses their directionals.

I find the worse offenders can be found at the intersection of Marlin and Business HWY 101 by Les Schwab, drivers coming toward Astoria over the Old Youngs Bay Bridge where they can choose to go to Onley Ave or towards the high school. The round-about is another unused blinker zone. 16th and Jerome is another hotspot. I mean, wake up douche bags! It only takes a flick of the wrist and it turns itself off.

While I'm on this subject, I think it's time people to check their head lights. It seems one out of every five cars have a head light out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Taste of Honey

Darev asked if there is a difference in the differing varieties of honey. Yes, there is. Though my some of the differences are subtle in most multi-floral varieties, the differences really stand out when when you get into the mono-cultural varieties.

Here on the coast the honey gets darker as the season progresses. Maple honey is very clear with a very crisp taste. Blackberry honey is golden and more robust and when you get to late season nectars such as knotweed and aster the color can be a darker red with a very rich taste. Oddly the taste of knotweed honey is unpredictable from year to year. Sometimes it is tasty and sometimes it is not.

In the valley there is a seed crop called meadowfoam, and the the honey from that is an acquired taste. Most people don't like it so beekeepers will often add vanilla to make it taste better. I'm not big on the idea of flavor enhancement, but I've tasted this honey with and without flavoring and the flavored version is much more palatable.

Most beekeepers that collect honey from areas where either carrots or queen-Ann's-lace grows try to get the honey off the hive before these plants bloom. The taste of this variety is absolutely disgusting.

There are a few really dark /rich honeys such as buckwheat. There are honeys that are rich and milky white like manuka honey. I have several people ask me every year where they can find poison oak honey.

One thing I've noticed is difference that is present from year to year, especially if I have a sample from a dry year in comparison with a wet year. We had a particularly dry year two years ago. No rain means less nectar, so the bees were taking nectar from anywhere they could find it, meaning plants they find difficult to work. Plumb flowers have a very thick nectar and the bees have a hard time drinking it up. It's like drinking water through a straw in comparison with drinking a thick shake through a straw. Bees are all about efficiency and easy is more efficient. When they can gather more with less effort, that's the way they like it.

Anyway, the dry year we had two years ago produced a very tasty honey. It was richer than most years because the bees worked plants they would normally pass up. This year I notice since we had a very rainy early summer most of out plants were two weeks late and the honey is a little darker. The taste is good and much more robust that clover honey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Honey's In

I extracted honey yesterday. It's a job Ive come to dread and I've been putting it off, but every week I have several people ask me when the honey will be ready.

Extracting honey involves a hand crank centrifuge. I'd love to have a motorized one, but I can't justify the expense in my small scale operation.

Extracting honey involves everything getting sticky. As careful as one might be, and even taking the precaution of laying down a tarp, the floors along the path to the sink get sticky. Mopping the floor helps but what it really does is thins out the stickiness. I need to mop the floor every day for a couple days to remove it all.

When it is all over my shoulder is aching from turning the crank. My lower back is aching from carrying empty boxes of frames. My clothing and skin is sticky, but I have several buckets of honey settling, waiting to be bottled.

For me this year the yield was far less than years past; about 40 gallons less. This year was considered to be a poor year by most beekeepers in the Pacific Northwest I will be able to supply. All the rain we had in June and July had the bees socked in. Rather than gathering nectar, they were eating their nectar because it was too wet to fly. Add to that I kept fewer colonies this year.

Next I have to bottle the honey and then label and sell it. Then I can call it a season. I hope I'll break even this year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Why I Won't Eat Salmon

I've touched upon this topic many times over the last few years, but my last post here got me thinking more on the subject.

1. A lot of salmon that is sold is farm salmon. This is where they keep salmon in large net pens and feed them pellets that are chocked with antibiotics and color additives so as to alter the color of the fish from the anemic paleness that farm fish have by their nature to an artificial health pink color of the wild variety.

2. Fish living in net pens have a lot of waste that goes to the floor beneath their net pens and the tides will move and stir their waste which the fish will often re-consume either through their mouths or their gills.

3. Hatcheries are ruining the wild stock. Just because a salmon is fortunate enough to make it past the predators and the gill nets and can slither into the weirs of the hatchery doesn't make it a superior fish. Hatcheries are not at the head waters of a stream. They interrupt the journey sometimes by miles. They capture female fish and squeeze out their eggs into buckets and then they squeeze the males and their sperm goes into fertilize the eggs. There is no regard for natural selection where a female can accept or reject a mate. Fish know the desirable traits for a mate; just like how humans qualify an appropriate mate. All these sperm and eggs are mixed together like a genetic lottery and a weaker fish can be produced from this random pairing. Rather than nature adding strength, humans are breading the fish for random results.

4. Salmon are call an androgynous fish, not because they have hermaphroditic sexual assignments, but rather because they live in fresh and salt water. The problem is that when when salmon return to fresh water to mate and end their lives they stop eating and their flesh goes through changes as their purpose becomes totally dedicated to reproduction. This change alters the flavor of the fish. Ocean caught salmon have a different taste that they do when they return to the fresh water. I can only describe it as (to me) unpleasant and "perfumy", but anglers think that if the fish is still bright in color that it's as good as ocean caught; it's not. As soon as the salinity in the salmons environment drops so does its flavor. It is beginning to decompose for death.

5. A salmon returning to spawn does not eat. The only reason they seem to bite on a lure is because it is in their space and pissing them off which is hardly a noble way to catch a fish.

In conclusion, I don't think most humans want to save the salmon because they are an integral part of the health of our environment, but rather because they are a natural resource up for mass consumption. Why must there always be a hidden agenda when something needs to be protected or preserved? It is usually more about stopping things than it is about altering our behavior to save something that is endangered. It is like the animals we want to protect are only poster children and marketing tools for people that claim to be environmentalist.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Fish in a Barrell

We went to Youngs River Falls on Friday for my wife's photo assignment. Now that I am no longer a tourist here I normally don't visit this sort of spot very often. We once rode our horses from our house to the falls by riding on logging roads over the hills east of the Lewis and Clark Valley.

On this trip we were surprised to see lots of salmon trying to jump up the falls. These falls are probably 40 feet high and there is no way for a salmon to ever ascend to the stream above. The pool below the falls was teaming with fish and where there are fish there are people fishing them.

Back when I used to fish there was a thing known as a dead line which was usually a cable stretched above a river which was the line where you were not allowed to fish. It usually was by a fish ladder where fish congregated in mass. Though there is no fish ladder at these falls it seemed a bit unsportsmanlike-like to be fishing in this spot. The fish could go no farther and they couldn't retreat back down the river. It seemed most fish were being foul-hooked and from where I was I couldn't tell if they were releasing those fish or not. It just didn't seem fair. Itg was like fishing in a hatchery.