Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chickens and Bees and Pot Bellied Pigs, OH MY!

June 18, 2011

We woke up super early, ugh! It’s hard to sleep in when you’re in an unfamiliar bed and when your 12-year-old son is kicking you all night. The hotel here has a deal with Denny’s right next door to give discounted breakfasts to guests. I’m not a huge Denny’s fan, but that seemed to be our only option. The service was super slow, it took 20 minutes just to get our waters to us. They forgot Emma’s order, dribblers, and forgot Collin’s turkey bacon. The rest of us got our food together, but it still took a long time for it to arrive, but the time Collin’s turkey bacon and Emma’s dribblers were ready, the rest of us were totally finished eating. Everyone has eaten at Denny’s so I won’t describe our food or post pictures of it.

The pool looked really inviting so we went for a looooooooooong swim and Collin took a nap before hopping in the car for a 5 hour drive to St. George, UT where we’re staying with Russ and Nancy, friends of ours from Cambridge, U.K. I planned to sleep in the car. I got a lot of work done last night, but didn’t get into bed until 2:30 a.m. and slept really fitfully. Our drive through Arizona and Utah was full of stunning scenery with all the red rocks and bright blue sky.

We stopped in Kanab at a grocery store and ate a picnic in a gazebo next to a church. Russ and Nancy live in Diamond Valley, about 20 minutes north of St. George. All the streets in their neighborhood have semi-precious stones as names. Russ and Nancy have chickens and beehives. They get a dozen and half eggs per week from the chickens and have a freezer full of chickens for eating. Their honey is amazing! We all stood in the garden and picked fresh peas off the vine and ate them. They were really sweet and crunchy, even Emma (our vegetable hater) loved them. They also have a small orchard with apricot, apple, and cherry trees. They yard is filled with wildflowers and gorgeous rose bushes. 

Russ and Nancy made fry bread for dinner with turkey chili and all the fixings. They were absolutely delicious and kicked the Navajo taco's butt that I had in Tuba City, Arizona. Russ made the dough from scratch and fried each one. I piled my fry bread high with chili, cheddar cheese, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, and sour cream. The fry bread was hot and chewy and crispy on the edges. Russ got the recipe from a kindergarten cookbook which a Navajo girl in his class had contributed. For dessert, Nancy made loads of chocolate covered strawberries which we completely pigged out on. Afterwards, the kids watched a movie while the parents chatted into the night. Everyone else went to bed and Nancy and I stayed up chatting for a few hours until Alex got out of bed a few too many times. 

June 19, 2011

Russ and Nancy made malted waffles for breakfast along with fresh scrambled eggs from their chickens. Everything was scrumptious. The waffle batter had to raise for an hour before being made into waffles by a professional grade Belgian waffle maker. The following toppings were available: fake syrup, real maple syrup, butter, homemade raspberry freezer jam, fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries, and honey from their own bees. We stuffed ourselves with gorgeous food made by fellow foodies. 

Alex and Rosie spent the time following Emma around and telling her all sorts of interesting tidbits about their lives. Nancy and I took their Havannese dog, Penny for a walk around the neighborhood. Penny only likes to do her business on really nice gravel, no common dirt, grass, or weeds for her. On the walk we saw several horses, a goat, chickens, lots of dogs running loose, and even a potbellied pig. Nancy has mastered the skill of staring down big scary dogs so they leave her and Penny alone. We also passed a bunker that a very conservative guy built and stocked with guns and food. When he moved away, he tried to get his 10 kids to dig the bunker out of the ground, but was unsuccessful.

Aidan and Ian practiced piano on Russ and Nancy's beautiful black baby grand Yamaha. 

Russ gave us a very thorough explanation of the beekeeping process. Russ and Nancy have 4 colonies of bees which adds up to 100s of thousands of bees. Russ put himself on the police call list for when people call 911 in a panic about "killer" bees on their property. They have chosen to raise their bees organically by not using pesticides and not feeding them high fructose corn syrup. Russ is into getting feral swarms and helping them adapt to a new queen. Russ has also constructed his own bee vacuum tp help transfer bees from hive to hive or wild environments. In one of his beekeeping exploits, Russ was trying to put a box on one of his hive to catch the honey from his very first hive. His experience in his own words:

"My first colony, big strong hive and go out there to check on it and wanted to put a box on there to catch the fall flow. They just started rising up, (honey I tasted was from the meanies) they put out alarm pheremones, I swear I could smell it. I put on my suit and feel them stinging me through my socks, I hurried nd put the hive back together. I ran away. I went out there to put the box on, I didn’t even light my smoker. They were waiting for me and they were getting my ankles and I ran around screaming, I can hear several chasing me. Horses bucking, The chickens started squawking, killed 3 chickens, they probably had heartattack. Chickens get scared easily. Counted 30 stings on ankles, couldn’t put my socks and shoes on. I bought some rainboots, if I every work on that hive, I put on all my gear. I would love to transport them to Pine Valley wearing beesuit so they can be by wildflowers."