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Posts Tagged ‘Pearl Market’

Bigfoot bee yard June 2015

Above: Littlefoot – a new bee yard established Spring 2015 in Frio County. The Mesquite tree in the background on the left was struck by lightning several weeks ago. Luckily, it did not fall towards the hives because that’s been one of the highest productivity yards this year so far!

It has been the strangest spring ever in many ways. We’ve had plentiful rain filling up empty stock tanks and raising lake levels and things are greener at the end of June than I’ve seen it in the twenty years I’ve lived here. What a spring. Over all the bees are doing well and honey making is happening in bits and pieces. While some yards are heavy with activity, other yards are doing next to nothing. That’s why we spread out our 170 hives…just in case. Below is a look at some gorgeous honey we are letting sit on the hives a little longer so the bees can continue drying it. Lots of moisture this year! We have pulled just a fraction of what the bees made and with the timing (if it is just right), Mark just told me at lunch there is a chance we may get some Mesquite Honey this year after many years of going without one of our all-time favorites – woo! hoo! Seriously, I love that honey for it smooth, smokiness. Let’s hope it happens after all.

Almost ready to harvest

So. The major shift in focus. What is it? Well, if you follow any of our other social media platforms, then you already know. This coming weekend is OUR LAST WEEKEND AT PEARL. Yep. This is a 2012 photo I snapped in September, just a few months after we had been accepted as a vendor at the Pearl Farmers Market. What an amazing and exciting and exhausting 35 months we have had! 🙂

New location for Pearl Farmers Market

With each year since we formally established GBR, the business has picked up and the opportunities have also. Last year when Mark was elected President of the Pearl Farmers Market Association, we had no idea the amount of time and energy it would take and what it would take out of us both. We planned on longer hours and some hard work but it has been more like what we planned for and then multiplied by 20. We have learned so much at market and have made so many friends amongst our fellow vendors as well as our customers, but the time had come to make a change. Not only are we physically exhausted doing both weekend markets on top of a very full 5-day work week, but we are just not as young as we were and the pace is insane but maybe that’s just us because that’s how we work. We give it our all. You know we lived and breathed bees and somewhere along the way, market out-weighed bees in terms of workload. There are so many projects we want to pursue but haven’t had time to carry out the work. There are so many exciting new products we want to roll out but there’s prototypes, testing, packaging, marketing – there hasn’t been enough hours for us to do any of that the way we want to so now we re-focus.

Improve the process for making our popular Creamed Honey. Done.

Ready for ordering and  purchase - yummy!!!!

Begin making the new beeswax products we’ve been meaning to try – like extra tall Bee-Day Candles. Done.

New at the Bee Ranch - extra tall Bee-Day candles

Brainstorm and plan out the next chapter of GBR – not just new classes and new products but also some down time for resting, returning to church and seeing more of our family members. Done.

Planning the next chapter

It feels good to take some steps to focus on what we want to do and where we want to do it. More of GBR at the Bee Ranch. We’ll still do occasional shows but the primary focus will be right here at the home we love so much and have spent so little time enjoying. We hope you stay with us and see what is next for us. One of the exciting goals I have for myself is a return to this beloved Bee Blog of ours that has been neglected like many other things we hold dear. Here’s to a new chapter! Or Version 2.0 as a friend put it.

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Farmers Market - adapting to extremely cold temps

Today it was in the low 30s when we were at the Pearl Farmers Market. After I checked the weather app when we started setting up for market, I told myself not to look again because I did not want to know it felt like 24 degrees. COLD to us! But we made it work after having a year to freeze at market and now we do things like pack a lot of hot beverages, load up the kerosene heater, keep the honey samplers near the warmth so dispensing is doable, bring rain gear just in case (and two blankets for wrapping around us), etc. Six hours on your feet out at market is tiring even after two years. We love it but it does wear us out sometimes. So we are especially thankful for customers who show up in support of everyone who made it. And we are thankful for fellow vendors who braved the weather with us so the shoppers may have a bit of variety in shopping. Mark continues to lead the market association membership – continues to learn also. He’s getting pretty good researching Robert’s Rules in my opinion. He has such patience with things like that. It does take a lot more of his time than we anticipated but it’s important to both of us and he wants to do the best he can. I’m so proud of him!

Speaking of time, we decided that since we have limited time, we would have to change up what and how we do things. So, out with big nuc sales for others and in with spending that time with our own bees. So far, we are liking this decision a lot. About this time of the year, we’d be heading or making plans to head to Florida to see family and to pick up nucs for our customers. It was stressful and yielded little profit. Mark did it to help other people. What it did to our bees, however, was not worth it this year we decided. Our own hives typically got a big neglected as Mark focused almost all his attention on caring for and growing those nuc hives in anticipation of customer pick-up late March. And you know what? Sometimes a few unpleasant incidents with people are just enough to signal a change is needed. So – take a look at one of our hives so far.

Thriving bees

This was a couple of weeks ago and is typical of how our hives are looking. This is a huge improvement over past years. A strong hive such as this resulted from Mark’s constant checking on them during winter months, especially towards the end of winter now. This is a critical time for the bees because things are starting to bloom out but not yet abundantly what with all the up-and-down weather we’ve had. So, the queens are laying more so that’s more bees and that means more mouths to feed. If we didn’t have to check our hives and they ran out of food at this point of winter, then some bees or hives may not make it and that’d put us back a bit. That is what used to happen when we sold bees to others and we are thrilled to see what we can do with our own girls this year since Mark can devote his focus on them. So exciting!

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Curling incense

In case you didn’t know it, today is the first day of the Lunar New Year! So happy Tet (Vietnamese New Year) to you if you are celebrating! I love that I have two cultures to draw from – so we get another new year kickoff! In honor of Tet, I made some quiet time this morning to reflect on our past, our present and what might be in our future and I am so thankful, so happy, and so excited about our continuing journey this coming year. We feel like it’s going to be a big, big year for our business as well as for our personal family life. There’s a saying that when your incense curls while burning, that means good things are happening so I was very happy to see our incense this morning. Good sign.

I took today off to just celebrate life and everything in it and to be with Mark and Tang. I sure miss them when I go off to work at the mill and they’re doing all sorts of work together. I do love getting reports and checkins but it’s not the same as being together. So today, I am very happy I get to just be with them as I was last Sunday when we went out to two bee yards to check on and feed the bees. And yes, they are used to all my gear.

Hanging out with the men

Do you need some help deciding if you should come check out the Pearl Farmers Market every Saturday morning? Have you been but thought, “Oh, been there, done that. Why should I go again?” Allow me to share with you why WE love to go…

We’ve got all these good-looking, good-smelling, good-for-your-environment beeswax products we like to share.

Candles candles and more candles

And these sweeties will be there tomorrow also.

Oh sweet heart ornaments

Then there’s the food we pick up so we can nourish our bodies. I made this last week and my brother told me I should have a restaurant (that’s a big compliment from him). I got the ingredients from fellow Pearl market vendors: big portabella mushroom from Kitchen Pride Mushroom, spinach from Springfield Farm, goat cheese from CKC Farms, cauliflower from Oak Hill Farms, egg from Wholesome Harvest Farm (right here in Seguin with us!).

Stuffed portabella

Ah finally, an update on our lovely, lovely Honey House – so close to being ready for final inspection! Holding back on the exclamation points but we are pretty excited, to say the least. When I get frustrated with the red tape businesses have to cut through just to get something like this done, all I have to do is to into the HH. All that negativity just disappears into thin air as I look around and visualize us all working in the space that will soon be completed. No more falling on top of each other. No more sticking to honeyed/waxed equipment that because there wasn’t enough room to pass by even with your gut sucked in (haha). No more hunting one room for tape, another room for a box and a third room for the products you need to ship. WOW. What are we going to do or think?? This will feel like a mansion to us! Well, actually it will be a mansion for our bee biz. It’s really tangible now. It’s really looking like a work space and we can’t wait to move in, get to work and have y’all over!

Mark and I check out the current progress of the HH

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Mark provides honey samples for customers

It’s another wrap on another busy weekend for GBR. We had a GREAT time at the Pearl – Mark and I worked it together and had a blast. Other vendors helped us with our single tent – we always have trouble! I told Mark we need to drill setting up and breaking down the tent. He said that’s a great idea…in our spare time, we’ll do that. haha Anyway, it was well-organized and people actually politely waited until the official start bell rang before making us work the money exchange. It was hot and humid which will make us really appreciate the fall and winter I bet. At one point when we had a breather, Mark relieved me and manned the booth solo so I could do a quick run around to see what we might want from other vendors. I wanted everything! But I stuck with only cucumbers, tomatoes and some awesome peaches. Mark later got us a very yummy gluten-free strawberry crepe. AWESOME.

Later, after we had a crazy spell of non-stop talking, honey-tasting and money-swapping, Mark and I looked at each other and wondered what time it was. We both thought it was past 11:00 a.m. It was 9:53 a.m. lol It was insanely busy compared to other similar events we’ve attended. We loved it. And at the end of the morning, another vendor asked us how we did and said it was sort of a slow day. WOW. We far exceeded our expectations so I can’t imagine what a “busy” day would have been. Next weekend we’re back bright and early and we’ll have the help of my sister – retail queen. We are thrilled to have Lan joining us when she can. So great when our family members get excited about what we’re doing and want to help. We appreciate it so much and we enjoy having them be a part of things. It’s so fun and exciting!

And finally a word about being a foodie. Are you a foodie? Do you know a foodie? Have you ever heard of the word foodie? 🙂 I’m a foodie and if you haven’t figured that out, then you just haven’t been through my full Flickr account, especially my food set. If you look up foodie, you typically find definitions around the idea that a foodie is a “particular class of aficionado of food and drink.” I don’t believe in snobbery so I define foodie as anyone who appreciates food – the fine art of creating something delicious, something good for you, something that just takes your breath away when you look at it. That’s me. I sometimes let my food get cold because I took too many pictures. 🙂 Anyway, all that to say we got a nice mention in today’s foodie article in the Seguin Gazette. Nice picture, double chin and wet hair from the downpour. But who cares?? We got some additional mention in the paper and that’s always nice. I do want to say one thing after reading it – here at GBR, we never decrystalize any honey in the microwave. When people ask about what to do about it, we always explain the hot-water-in-a-pot-with-a-lid-on-it method. Works but you must be patient. Microwaving is iffy – burning is quite easy to do and it’s just best if you don’t. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that we don’t use the microwave at all when it comes to honey. As a matter of fact, we don’t really have a problem with crystalized honey in this house. If you’ve read previous posts, you know what I do with crystalized honey! It’s the new “pearl cream” of the modern era!

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

GBR in the foodie section of the Seguin Gazette

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