Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bee Day

It’s been quite the day – but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Angel Food Ministries

The day started out early. I linked up with my Brother in Christ (BiC) T at just a little after oh-dark-thirty and we drove an hour to a church in another (obviously) town. This church was an Angel Food Ministries distribution center or hub or something – I’m new at this so I don’t have all the terms down pat. Angel Food Ministries is a way to provide an outreach to the community in the form of very inexpensive food. There is a set menu folks sign up for and pay $30 about a month in advance. This $30 buys a lot of good quality food. On the stated day (today) they show up at a local church to pick up this huge box of food. But first T and I had to go to the distribution site, pick it up, and get it back to our church.

When we arrived, there was a semi-truck backed up to the front doors of the church and folks were unloading cases of food with military precision. There were 19 churches involved in this effort. As the cases of oranges came off the truck, the distro hub announcer would call off churches by name and tell them how many sacks of oranges they got. Something like, “First Baptist, 3 cases plus 2 sacks of oranges. Saint Pat’s, 4 cases even of oranges.” Each church would then move their food to their “pile”. Next came carrots, then pancake mix, then frozen things like meatloaf and so on. Once everyone was set and had all their items, church groups loaded their food into their vehicles and then took off to their own church where they would distribute it locally.

When we got back to our church with a van load of chow there were members waiting for us to help us break it down into individual boxes. Each individual who had purchased food would show up in about an hour and we wanted to have their boxes ready to go. If there are a lot of people buying boxes we would just set up an assembly line and as they come by each section, a volunteer puts the appropriate amount of food in their box – a bag of oranges, package of tortillas, four cans of refried beans, a frozen meatloaf and so on. As I said – there was a lot of food for $30.

Bee Day

As soon as the last customer picked up their food and left, T and I were off – to pick up our bees! Years ago my wife and I attended a one day class on bee keeping. We have some books and it is something we always wanted to do but never made the time for. Well T recently took a multi day class and when he told me he was “getting bees” I asked him to order me exactly what he was getting and I’d do it too.

Last week we got our bee hives, supers, smokers, bee hats and veils and assorted other goodies. I had to paint the boxes white and assemble some frames on which the bees will build honey comb. Today we went and picked up our bees. T thought we would each be getting a queen and about 350 bees. Yeah, right. We each ended up with 3,500 bees at least, I’d guess.

Anyway, we drove an hour in a different direction from out church to pick them up from “the Bee Man”. He had quite the operation going at his place today too because today was the day everyone had to come get their bees from him. They came in that little wooden and wire screen box you see up there and it was full – and heavy. The gal at the bee place told me to mix up some syrup of 4 pounds sugar and 2 quarts water to feed the bees. She said, “reach in the box, grab the queen (she was in a separate little box inside the larger one) and hook her box to a frame. Then dump the bees on her and the box. When they don’t all come out (and I kid you not about this part) bang the box on the corner to make them fall out.” T and I discussed this on the way home and I thought this might be a form of “bee keeper humor”. You know – get the new guy. Yeah…

That’s me in the bee get up. You will note that my head net is not tied securely to my body. Why bother – none of the bee guys at the Bee Man’s place were real concerned…

Everything went fine until… I banged the corner of the bee box. I heard a strange angry sound. See, bees buzz right? Well, there is buzzing and there is buzzing. I immediately recalled my buddy Jay telling me a couple years ago that you could hear when the bees are getting angry. He had given me some lessons in bee keeping also and let me help him a bit. Jay was very calm and his bees didn’t get angry. Jay was experienced. Jay didn’t BANG the bee box.

When I smacked the corner of that box the bees went from buzz to BUZZ! They started trying to sting me. No worries – I had “bee gear” on. Do you see those gloves? They are Mechanix gloves. They are mostly not leather. Bees stingers go right through them. I think I remained fairly calm while taking some hits to the hands. Then I noticed something I did not like. No sir, I did not like it at all. There were about 4 bees inside my head net. Be calm Joe. Be calm. I reached in to try and coax a bee out. What was I thinking? That opened the net wider – more bees came in. See, bees don’t like to be alone and they don’t like to see lonely bees – so several others joined their 4 brothers. The ones on my hand were stinging but these guys on my face were not. Okay, I’ll just walk away calmly, take off the head net, let the bees out, they will rejoin their brothers at the hive and …. OUCH! Sting to the chin. OUCH! Sting to the neck.

I am up and moving. Not calmly. I’m glad T took no picture here. I am moving out and I take off the head net. Remember the part about bees liking company? Yeah…

I ran away from the hive thinking they would go back to protect their queen. I really should have known better. When you have the invader (in this case -me) on the run you chase him and keep hitting him – this is basic military strategy. When using this strategy, the former defender, now chaser-attacker (in this case - the bees must be wary of a baited attack. These bees knew I had nothing. Nothing. They were not concerned in the least about any “baited attack”. They chased with merry abandon. They stung me about seven or eight times on my now unprotected head and neck.

After he got done rolling on the ground with laughter (okay he wasn’t rolling, he was very calm and still) Brother T quietly put the feeder tray on the hive, filled it with syrup and place the top on. Then he came to check on me.

Well, we now know I am not allergic to bees!

I guess the deal now is to leave them alone for 3 days and then let the queen out of her little box. I’ll let y’all know if anything exciting or funny happens.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. - Isaiah 7:14 - 15
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Eggs L'Orange

I realize many of the readers have spent a good portion of time in the great outdoors. It is there, in God’s majestic spaces, that one can smell the smells, see the sights, hear the sounds – and yes, eat the food – that makes life just that much more special.

I used to camp about once a month with a group of friends and acquaintances and have fond memories of those times. I miss them. I particularly miss the special meals we would prepare and consume during our times away from the hustle and bustle.

One meal that sticks in my mind was my fabulous "Eggs L'Orange".
Picture a chilly morning around a bed of coals left over from the fire the night before and a small campfire creating new heat and light.

I passed out large navel oranges and had each camper cut them in half and eat each half as one would a grape fruit. So far, so good - curiosity was up, people were intrigued.

Next I gave everyone some farm fresh eggs and had them crack one egg into each half of the left over orange shell "bowl".

Scramble the egg in situ with a small twig.

Set the shells ever so carefully in the coals from last night’s fire.

Now, one of our party commenced to grumbling with the instructions to "crack your egg into your bowl". He basically wanted to be fed breakfast - the lazy sod. You see, we had a tradition whereby we would each take it in turn to purchase, bring and prepare a snack, a breakfast, lunch, or supper while we camped as a group every month. Most of the time, the designated cook would prepare the entire meal and call the hungry campers to the "kitchen" to eat when it was time. Sometimes (as for lunch) the cook would merely lay out a spread of sandwich stuff, fruit and cookies - perhaps some juice, and call everyone to come make their own. So I didn't think I was out of line having the folks "cook their own breakfast". I mean, this was NEW! This was EXCITING! This had the promise of something GRAND!

It was also something I had only read about in books and never actually practiced in person. Did I tell my sleepy, hungry campers this bit of news? Of course not! I entered into the game full of enthusiasm and encouragement. I had my game face on.

Well, the coals were not hot enough. It took a long time for the eggs to cook in those orange skins. More grumbling ensued and even my normally happy campers started to look askance at the cute little orange shell bowls/pots scattered about the ashes and coals.

This was the last day of the campout and some even started breaking down camp whilst patiently waiting for the eggs to cook. By and by, after some repositioning in the fire pit – the breakfast delicacies were ready. It was time to eat Eggs L’Orange!

We sat around the fire in a circle in our chairs, each balancing our hot, now blackened orange peel bowls on our laps. The eggs were baked. They were solid (we all agreed slimy eggs were a “no go”). The smell of oranges wafted into our nostrils. Our stomachs grumbled. And so, we dug in.

The texture was good but perhaps a bit too over done – rubbery even. I think we feared slimy eggs too much. The taste was… well… how do I describe it?

This wasn’t your Mamma’s scrambled eggs. No sir!

Fried egg and burnt oranges.

You know…those two tastes should probably never be together.

I finished mine – there had been a huge build up after all and I had promised everyone it would be delicious. I bravely soldiered on. I gamely choked breakfast down. I did not gag.

I think most of the others tossed their still full orange bowls into the fire and dug out some trail food snacks to tide themselves over until we got back to civilization.

Oh well – at least now we all new what we really thought about Eggs L’Orange.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America