Tuesday November 26, 2013 | 09:27 AM

Happy Thanksgiving, Root readers! Are you looking forward to the holidays this year? I can hardly believe they are already here. Tomorrow, I will be volunteering with Wayside Food Programs helping prepare Thanksgiving meals for the less fortunate (my post about this will run on Thursday).

Also in the lineup, preparing for the holiday meal at my home. I am keeping it simple this year with friends bringing the turkey and vegetables, and only making the desserts and Cranberry Relish (an old Martha Stewart recipe). Every year I make Derby Pie (pecan pie with chocolate and whisky from a family friend in Kentucky) and try a new recipe – this year it’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Taking a cue from the piece I did with cheese expert Shannon Tallman on putting together a cheese plate, I picked up some wine and cheese from Whole Foods Market in Portland for guests to snack on. For those who want to kick it up a notch there will be ‘Ti Punch (see Portland Hunt & Alpine Club owner Andrew Volk’s recipe here from the piece we did on Bartlett’s Spirits of Maine Distillery). 

Stacked hay bales in the barn help prevent drafts.

Water heater on big cement block keeps water from freezing in the barn.

The chickens are tucked in the barn where I have lined up hay bales to help prevent drafts (thank you Sam and Don Lindgren for that valuable advice). The water heater (it is just warm enough to prevent the water from freezing) is plugged in (never leave it on when not home or overnight - it may mean getting up earlier to thaw the water, but that is better than an accident happening while you are sound asleep). The bee hives have been wrapped in tar paper (this helps insulate hives, especially those painted lighter colors), mouse guards have been attached (thanks to a tip from an “old timer” I saved money by pounding a small nail in the center of the smallest opening of each entrance reducer), and Homasote boards added (they absorb moisture from the hive and keep the hive warm and dry). This week I will pick up a candy board for one hive and weather-resistant polypropylene straps with a dual-gear ratchet tie down from The Honey Exchange in Portland for all three hives (I have found the ones from Lowe’s cost less, but break easier). Aside from checking to make sure they did not get knocked over after wind storms the hives will then be left alone till mid-January (around that time hopefully we will have a sunny day with temperatures above 40 so I can peak in to make sure all is well).

Wrapped hives (note the openings where bees can get out for cleansing flights) with large rocks and pieces of concrete holding down the outer covers.

Next week will be The Root’s first gift guide!! I am so excited to kick it off. The past few weeks have been spent finding things for every budget and personality with as many items from Maine as possible (there are some gems). Friends like Margaret Hathaway from Ten Apple Farm even contributed some tips. I will post one guide each day next week. And, the fun does not end there. We’ve got gingerbread houses (or farms!) to create and a Christmas tree farm to visit. Remember Felicia Buck and her amazing Cinnamon Rolls from up in Aroostook County? Well, I am heading back up there for a day of cookie making with her and her friends. Lot’s of recipes and fun pictures are sure to be had. There is so much more Root readers that I can hardly wait to share with you this holiday season.

Have a wonderful break and delicious holiday!

About this Blog

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About the Author

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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