Saturday, August 29, 2009

Natural 'water dispenser'

Living in Karachi, we've learned not to drink tap water, if we want to avoid any stomack problems. Instead, we are drinking water from water dispenser, which has a huge mineral water bottle on the top. Water is one of the most wonderful blessings of Allah (swt), the taste of which is so refreshing as nothing else in this world!

In Latvia, we can drink water from the tap at home, without risking our health. However, we prefer once in a couple days to walk along with our mom to a 'natural water dispenser' in the nearby forest and fill our big 5 litres bottle with crystal clear spring water, which gushes forth directly from a mountain! Nearly all the village comes here for taking the drinking water, as the taste of this water is so much better than of that at home in taps. For their own convenience, the village people have constructed the outlet of this spring in the shape of a well, which has a pipe inside it with water coming directly from the mountain.

As soon as our mom fills the bottle with water, Hafsa is right there to ask for a drink. She loves the freezing cold taste of freshness! The water, which comes from this natural 'dispenser', is much colder than that we're getting from our refridgerated dispenser in Karachi! We're guessing that if this water is so cold even on the hottest of summer days, then the inside of the mountain must be freezing! Subhanallah!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The flower season is over...

When the summer turns to the side of the fall, the fruits of the fruit-trees are starting to ripe. This year, the harvest of apples and pears is going to be very abundant, as the branches of every tree are full of fruits. When the wind blows stronger, some of the fruits start falling down, so one of the daily duties of gardening becomes picking up those fallen fruits.

As we were picking up the fruits today, we heard a strange buzz around the pear-tree. Very many pears had fallend down, some of them even getting crushed by the fall, due to their ripeness and sweetness. When we went closer, it turned out that the buzz we heard was created by many honey-bees that were snacking on the fallen pears! What else left for the poor honey-bees to do, when the season of the flowers is getting over and they feel hungry? Since our garden neighbours, the honey-bee farmers, had taken out of their bee-hives all the honey they had so diligently collected throughout the summer, the bees looked for other options of filling their bellies.

When we showed to the honey-bee farmer these hungry bees, he said that it is usual for the bees to behave like this at this season. He said that just today he has filled into the bee-hives special sweet syrop, which is supposed to replace for the bees the honey during the winter season. In normal circumstances, during winter the bees feed on the honey they collect during summer, but if the honey gets removed from the bee-hives, it must be replaced by something else, which would keep the bees alive during the long winter season. Usually, the bees are running outside of their bee-hives up till the month of October. After that, they stay inside and feed on the sweet syrop the honey-bee farmer has palced in the bee-hive.

As we talked with the honey-bee farmer, we learned another interesting fact about the bees. It turns out that during the winter season, when the bees don't go outside from their bee-hives, they don't pass any... well... potty. Allah (swt) has created them in such a way that potty stays inside their bellies from October till March, which is the time, when they first come out of their bee-hives, Subhanallah!

As we watched the bees muching away on the pears, a hungry butterfly also joined the scene! Well, if the nectar of flowers is no longer available, then even the butterflies resort to fruits. :)

Family dinner

When we came this evening to Vecmamma's (grandmother's) garden, we witnessed a strange 'dinner party'. A whole clan of worms had come to have their evening meal to one of our beautiful cabbages! We saw that they've been enjoying quite well already, as the side of the cabbage leaf had a good size hole in it. Well, no other option was left for us than to pull out that head of cabbage and take it home for eating, as by tomorrow morning, the worms might have found their way to the rest of the cabbages as well. We don't need such 'after-meal-holes' in all of our cabbages, do we?

Friday, August 14, 2009

We passed under a rainbow!

Yesterday we had yet another great experience with rainbows. We were coming in train from Riga (the capital) back to our Vecmamma's (grandmother's) home, and so it happened that it was just the right weather for another rainbow. This time, however, the rainbow stretched over our train!!! We saw one end of it through the left side window of the train, while the other end - through the other side window! What a bright and beautiful rainbow it was! But the most exciting thing was to observe, how train was gradually moving closer and closer to the rainbow. Eventually, the train passed under the rainbow and we lost the visibility of it - can you believe that we actually were under a rainbow??? :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Honey-Bee Farming - Part 2

On another sunny day, when our garden neighbours were again working with their honey-bees, we asked them to tell us more about the work they are doing. This time, we had the chance to go closer to the open bee-hives and see, how the wodden frames, in which bees build the honey-combs and collect the honey, are placed inside the bee-hive.

In these pictures, you can see the one frame taken out from the bee-hive. The honey-combs in it are already sealed by the bees, which means that they have completed the work and this frame is 'ready' for taking out of the bee-hive. There are no bees on the frame, because uncle Valters has scared them away with that black smoke equipment he's holding in his hand.

The black smoke-box also has its own story to tell. The smoke in it comes from special burning material placed into it - the kind that the bees don't like. You can see the plastic bag of this special material in the picture. The black smoke-box has a hand-fan attached to it, with the help of which uncle Valters blows the smoke out of the box.

When the sealed honey-combs are successfully removed from the bee-hives, the bee-farmers get another set of equipment ready for removing the honey from the honey-combs. First of all, they use this special brush with iron teeth (the one with the red handle in the picture) for removing the seals from the honey combs. The seals are collected in a separate box, becoming a favourite treat of kids, who chew them to suck out of them the remains of honey.
When the seals are removed, they place the frames of honey-combs in a special round barrel-type of machine with the help of which the liquid honey gets removed from the frames. In the picture you can see that one frame is put along the side of this barrel. The barrel has the capacity of four frames alltogether.

In one of the pictures, Uzair is turning the handle, which is located at the side of the barrel. As Uzair turns the handle, the barrel starts spinning around, as a result of what the honey from the frames gets thrown out against the edges of the barrel and drips down to the bottom of it. If you turn the barrel long enough, all the honey will be thrown out of the frames (thanks to the centrifugal force), leaving the honey-combs completely empty.

Now, the barrel itself has a very special bottom part. It has a cone-like shape, which helps to direct and collect the honey to the very bottom of it. On the outer side of the barrel bottom, there is a small tap, through which the bee-farmers fill the liquid honey into containers, which have special steel nets on them for catching any remaining bits of honey-combs that might still be swimming in the honey. Thus, going through such procedure, the honey-bee farmers get clear and tasty liquid, which, as Allah (swt) says in the Quran, has in it healing for so many diseases. :)