Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesdays - The Harvest Season




Honey bees were the reason my grandfather bought a farm.  He was keeping bees in the city, extracting honey in a former school building in the suburbs of Detroit and the neighbors were unhappy.  Even before the farmhouse was modernized, he built a new concrete block building to set up a "Honey House" and extracting room.  These photos are the original set up, a single steam heated vibrating uncapping knife, a rotating resting rack, and a 50 frame woodman extractor.  There were a couple of generations of wax melters in this set up.  When we moved from shipping in 5-gallon cans to 55 gallon barrels a larger holding tank was installed.  

After my grandfather retired, we remodeled, installing an automated uncapping machine, and a second larger extractor.  Then a couple of years before I finished school and left home, a major remodel with a new floor, a"warming room" added on behind, an improved layout, shifted from steam to hot water, and a massive wax melter.  

I worked in that space for half-a-dozen summers.  Late July, early August were the usual start to our harvest season.  Sometimes earlier in July, if the honey flow was strong or if cash flow was needed.  I learned a lot about work in that space, working through pain and fatigue to get done, what needs to be done.  As farmers, our income for the year was generated in two short months.  We couldn't start much earlier, we needed to finish before the weather started to get colder (the warming room helped, we could leave the hive-boxes sit in 90(f) degree heat for a day or two when things got cold outside.) 

I can't find photos of the later years, after the update, or remodel.  I think it had just become a place of work, at the most intensely busy time of the year, and we didn't document it.  That is a shame.  I was working between those two windows, when I heard that Elvis was dead.  

15 comments:

  1. These are incredible photos! What treasures. Our memories are so fascinating, the fact that you picture yourself between those two windows when you found out about Elvis. I was a grade-schooler when JFK was shot. I remember exactly where I was in the crosswalk on my way home from school when I found out. I vividly remember the crossing guard’s face.

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    1. I am so glad I scanned all of the slides. We almost always had the radio playing when we were working. I was a little young on JFK was shot, I remember the first moon landing and moon walk.

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  2. I was driving a 1969 Blue VW Bug down Madison Ave. in Fair Oaks California when I heard Elvis had "left the building."
    I wasn't really a fan, but it's funny how memories stick to us.

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    1. I wasn't a fan, but he was an icon

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  3. That is so cool you have these memories and pictures. So I'm assuming he sold the honey? A lady here in Bucks County makes he own honey and it's delish!!! I could just eat it by the teaspoon.

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    1. We sold, lots and lots and lots of it. Someplace there is a photo of barrels of it sitting outside one summer when we ran out of storage space

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  4. What great memories. You learned something that few people know anything about.

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    1. More than I really want to know. My first job, 50 years ago

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  5. There was a Honey House in the small town I grew up in. I was there once in the summer. SO HOT inside and the honey aroma was absolutely overwhelming. But I sure loved the honey they produced there!

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  6. Such great photos! You were so good to have them scanned!

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    1. I should buy a movie scanner, I have 8mm movies from my father and my mother's father.

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  7. It's good to have the photos. I know little about the production of honey, so that was interesting.

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    1. The bees do the hard part, the beekeepers try to keep the girls happy.

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  8. My brother is tending bees for the first time and it looks like he will be getting some honey soon.

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