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This has been a week of firsts…

April 25, 2010

As mentioned in last week’s blog, I got my first ever bee sting, and thankfully didn’t go in to anaphylactic shock, or have any allergic reaction. It’s very uncommon but is a question to consider when taking up bee keeping if you’ve never been stung before. Good news is, I’m safe and can honestly say it wasn’t that bad at all.

Having recovered from the trauma of being stung, we resumed our first hive inspection of the year on Thursday and disassembled the whole hive frame by frame, carefully looking for the Queen. As you’d expect we found her on the 35th frame out of the 36 we inspected, typical!

Our inspection concluded good vital signs for the colony; Queen is present and laying, the colony has plenty of stores of honey and sufficient space for the massive population explosion taking place. We will inspect weekly now through until August.

During our inspection one of the wooden frames full of capped honey snapped and had to be replaced. Unexpectedly this let to our first attempt at extraction which we carried out by hand and as a result harvested our first ever jar of Heatherhurst Grange honey. Wow I’ve never tasted anything like it in my life, it can only be described in appearance as liquid gold, tasting like the nectar of the gods. Bees are so clever.

Other firsts this week saw the arrival of our first web enquiry from our new site, and our first sale of a whole pig which came from a telephone referral, to fulfil an urgent last minute order for a rugby club hog roast which took place yesterday evening at Farnham Royals. Due to the urgency of the order and the fact that our next litter aren’t ready for another 3 weeks we supplied a pig from our affiliated breeder, Graham and Tracey at Wildcroft Rare Breeds on the Hogs Back, at Puttenham. Their pigs are from the same rare breed stock as ours, and are kept and fed in-keeping with our ethos and principles using the same feeds and techniques.

The hog roast was a roaring success, cooked on a traditional spit over a fire pit and the Gloucester Old Spot went down a storm, and as a result we’ve been asked to do the same for another event in May.

Having been a guest at many hog roasts over the years, normally as a novelty showpiece with a commercial pig cooked in a portable gas powered oven for convenience, it was a real pleasure to see a true rare breed that had been reared slowly and with care, prepared and cooked traditionally and slowly over a fire pit as it would have been done in bygone days, and the result far outweighed the effort, the taste was out of this world!

This week of firsts has included some seminal moments that have shown huge reward for all the work we put in over the winter, and have given us a real sense of satisfaction, but as one week ends, another begins with a whole set of new challenges to overcome.

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