The State Fair winner is… ok, not me. I was tickled pink that we earned some awards in several of our entered categories, but we didn’t win the whole shebang. The type-A in me must ask, why? Luckily, the judges provide their judging cards as feedback for your score. Good news: the bees are doing their job – we scored 100% on taste and color. Bad news: the beekeeper is the problem – we got ding-ed for inconsistent bottle filling and presence of wax and pollen. Actually none of this is bad news. The fact that I don’t nail a precise fill in each bottle doesn’t bother me – we hand-fill. There are going to be minor fluctuations. And as for wax and pollen, that’s a function of how little we filter our honey. It’s also what gives local honey the appeal to allergy sufferers wanting to mitigate their symptoms with all natural treatment. So even though our ribbons weren’t blue, we won some awards and learned a good bit about honey judging.
We also walked the other agricultural exhibits with a keener eye towards what we might like to incorporate at the farm. Did you see the grand champion black sheep? Seriously, cutest thing ever (although I did miss the pygmy goat costume contest.) In lieu of the poultry exhibits this year (due to avian flu concerns) the high school FFA groups had an impressive display of chicken coops behind Dorton Arena. I was genuinely tempted by one of them that had an integrated gutter/rain barrel system. Great ingenuity from the younger generation – thank you for the ideas. We will be using some of them!
I left with some professional affirmation that our bees have good taste. In retrospect I knew that, because I eat the stuff all the time. But accolades for the girls are nice too. I would hang the ribbons on their hives but they aren’t into recognition. The days are getting shorter and food sources fewer. Winter is a challenging time and they are focusing all their efforts on survival. We are helping out by offering homemade essential oil treats as we get ready to close the hives until spring. We have taken great care to make sure they have their own food, friends for warmth, and a draft-free house. What more does anyone need?