Random Musings on Eating and Food-waste

I could not help but think of Mr. Wu, from HBO’s series Deadwood. In the series, Mr. Wu was the go-to guy for disposing of unwanted bodies. Mr. Wu would feed the corpses to his pigs – the pigs would leave nearly nothing behind.

I was standing on the back steps of the house, watching two of our hounds have a mid-day snack; they each had half of a rabbit head. Three of our four dogs eat a raw diet (the fourth dog has digestive issues and requires a higher fiber, lower fat diet than what is provided by raw). Throughout the winter months, we tend to have issues with rabbits. It has not been particularly bad this winter; we have actually only had the live-trap out for a brief time in January. The one and only rabbit caught this winter was from in January; humanely dispatched, it hung in the garage – frozen – until this past weekend when I quartered it up for the hounds.

A dinner, a breakfast and a mid-day snack – the rabbit was completely consumed. Fur, nails, teeth, muscle and bone — all consumed. Standing on the steps, listening to the hounds crunch away on nearly frozen bones is a strange sound. Aside from my amusing thought of corpses being thrown to Mr. Wu’s pigs, a second thought occurred to me: these dogs certainly do not demand better taste; a third thought was that humans (Americans?), in general, waste a huge amount of edible food. Now, I am not going to start eating rabbit fur, nails, teeth, all their bones and the like, not am I going to try eating the bones the next time we have chicken legs. I think being more aware of how much food is going into the trash or into the compost pile might be a starting point for more people. I am aware of our food-waste situation – we compost most non-animal remnants; in the summer, fish parts will make their way into the center of a working compost pile. For some folks, it may just come down to portion control – less food on the plate, will result in both less food in the trash, and perhaps a smaller waistline.

wax melter

Change of topic now…

On the bee front, I took my day off yesterday, and built the wax melter. I decided against using the heat sinks from the Compaq, instead, I picked up a sheet of aluminum from a local hardware store (along with some nifty brass corners and a piano hinge). I bent the aluminum (seen the next photo) so the liquid wax will flow down into a catch vessel. I still need to get wax molds, but that can wait; we still have snow on the ground, and I have no bees (until April 10).

wax melter

Early Riser Sunday


We got a jump on the day; a 4:00 AM jump. The hound (his name is Rudy) we are fostering for a rescue, has had back issues (slipped disc). We have been taking him to a chiropractor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. We missed our appointment yesterday – Melissa, my wife, has been fighting a cold. The good doctor said he could squeeze us in today. There was a caveat to today, however – it had to be either at 7:45 AM or after 4:00 PM in St. Paul. We are in the Duluth, MN area, and St. Paul is roughly 2.1/2 hours south of here. We picked the morning run.

Because we left for St. Paul so early, we return home before lunch time. Melissa headed up to power nap, and I set to work cooking lunch. Portobello-onion-pepperjack-cheese bison burgers with sweet potato fries. It turned out very nicely. Melissa went and continued to power nap with the hounds after lunch.

wax melting device

I did manage to accomplish a little bee related work. I sketched my wax melter idea and began work on it. I built the lid (I guess that is what I will call it). It is basically a wood frame with a piece of plate glass for the sun to shine through. I sealed the piece of glass in place with a messy bead of aquarium sealer I happened to have laying around. A coat of sealer and a glass cleaning, and my lid will be complete. I just need to build the vessel or rest of the box that will house the metal grate and wet reservoir; probably do that tomorrow.


Nearly forgot to the mention the bread; The Bread: Part II. Successful run of making bread this evening. Turned out much better than last night.

An Insipid Saturday

"It tastes strange.", the wife said. I would agree, the fresh loaf of bread, minutes from the oven, had an off taste. It did not rise properly, either. It kept rising, then falling, rising and then falling; not enough gluten, is my guess.

I chalked it up to just being part of a ho-hum Saturday. Do not get me wrong, it was a very nice day weather-wise; there was a bit of sun and a lot of snow melted; many birds visited the bird feeders. My general sense of insipidness started yesterday at work; I will not go into detail.

Nothing really extraordinary happened today, a little of this and a little of that taken care of. A trip to the coop for groceries, cooked dinner (baked pork chops with apples, onions and red peppers; home-fries and mixed veggies), completed assembly of one of the two hives. No photos, though. In sticking with the ho-hum day, I left the camera turned on and connected to the computer – the battery drained overnight. Adding a little salt to the wound…the charger is no where to be found. I ordered a replacement, but it will not be here for a week.

The hive boxes did turn out very nice. Solid stained a light green-gray. The larger deeps, I calculated, took 40 screws each. The supers took 24 screws each. Three supers, and two deeps – (2 * 40) + (3 * 24) = 152 screws. I can see why, when doing this on a larger scale, that it is more economical to use nails.

My idea of the day occurred when looking for tools in the garage. I noticed two pieces of plate glass – 8″ x 10″. They were replacement panes for windows we completely replaced with new vinyl framed windows last fall. I had been tossing the idea around of having a passive solar bees wax melter. The beekeeper I shadowed last year had such a device. I saw the panes and had an eureka moment. I dug around in the basement and found left over pieces of oak and walnut from my desk project. The basic idea is to have a box (in this case, it will be made of nifty pieces of hardwood) with a window which is pointed toward the sun. The wax is put onto mesh or a metal grate (in this case, two hard drive heat sinks from a Compaq server). I will probably put a piece of metal screen under this to catch any legs or wings that may be in the wax. As the wax melts, it will flow through this screen, more or less cleaned, into ingot molds or metal coffee can. I will try to post a sketch of this device when I get a chance.

Aesthetics and Assembling Hive Boxes


Often, I mull over how I plan to assemble something. When I was building a cherry and walnut desk for my study, I went so far as to design the entire piece of furniture in AutoCAD. I even wrote a Perl script that utilized the golden ratio to optimize the layout of the pieces of the wood that would comprise the top of the desk.

I started to assemble the boxes that will makeup my two hives. The boxes are made of select-grade Eastern pine; very few, if any knots; very nice lumber. If I was doing this on a larger scale, I would probably go for the commercial-grade boxes, but, at this point, I am not. People who have been into my office at my place of work may think that aesthetics are not important to me, and they would be correct…at work. My office is a mess with lots of papers in lots of stacks; I am constantly misplacing my timesheet.

It is not that do not take pride in my day-job; it is not that I do not enjoy being a programmer; it is simply different. Back to my hives — I have become fixated on the look of my hives; from the fasteners I intend to use on the finger joints, to the color of the hives, to whether I use a flat-topped telescoping cover or a pitched cover.

So far, the assembly of the boxes has been going nicely. I am gluing the finger joints and using temporary screws. Because I am a bit finicky with aesthetics – which includes the fasteners – I do not have enough of the temporary screws to use them permanently, and I do not want to use multiple flavors of screws or even a combination of nails and screws. Plus, I intend to use a solid color stain and staining over the screws would not be good; it would anger the bees when they moved into their new homes.

Of course, I will post the final photos of assembled, stained, and finish-fastened boxes, but I will this post at that..

Spring for a day


We awoke yesterday to a brisk morning; -13F (-25C). The car was stiff and air felt slightly damp. It was cold outside; it was 4:30 AM.

My wife had to be into work early and since we carpool and work at the same place, I was headed in with her.

My office has no windows and is technically underground (http://bit.ly/bbZlRx); a mid-morning meeting had me heading above ground to an office with windows; much to my surprise, the sun was out. The snow was also melting.

Getting into work early allowed us to leave early; 1:30 PM. It was now 32F (0C). Roads were wet; water was flowing in streets; several street crews were out unplugging frozen storm drains.


In the evening, while walking into Target, I realized I was walking on pavement, not snow, not ice, not slush, just slightly wet pavement.

This morning…it was yet, again, cold; -12F (-24C). Last night, with it being Spring for a day, I thought I would take a look-see at some of my beekeeping photos. The sun, the relative warmth (for us) – it was great; I am looking very forward to the growing season as well as the bee &amp honey season.