My Immunotherapy Journey - Diagnosis and Prognosis

The allergist, a soft spoken older man,  called me in to discuss my results. After rehashing the events of the day that landed me in his office I was waiting for him to tell me that I would have to give up beekeeping. But, the most unexpected thing happened, he said “I wouldn’t expect you to stop caring for bees if you don’t want to”. What?! Not at all what I was expecting to hear! He relayed to me that immunotherapy for venom has been in practice in North America for over 70 years with very good results! Multiple shots of small amounts of bee venom would be injected into my arm once a week for several months to build immunity. He said it could take a few years of therapy but immunity is very possible! 

I was elated! Sign me up! 

 

 

28BA49E5-FAA7-4721-AC63-EF8E2F9CD50D.JPG

That’s me, weeks before my reaction, blissfully unaware! ❤️🐝 

My Immunotherapy Journey 🐝🤞

After 5 years of beekeeping and countless stings I very suddenly became severely allergic to my sweet honey bees 🐝😥. It was a very scary near death experience that if not for my fast acting, level headed sons I believe I would not be alive today.  If you’re interested in reading about the fatal beekeeping mistakes I made that contributed to the terrifying experience I will post it here soon.

That’s me, the fearless beekeeper on the ground surrounded by my very worried family and paramedics. 

DD98086F-3FA6-4BD0-B587-1E5B176E6AF1.JPG

A few days after the experience I visited my family Dr., she gave a prescription for an Epi-Pen and made me promise her that I wouldn’t visit my hives alone or without the Epi-Pen until I recieved allergy testing. 

 

A46F635A-5C5E-4988-8DCA-11B913A545B7.JPG

But in the height of the season the work must carry on! My husband Andrew along with my oldest son Myles both suited up to get busy in the hives, one week after my allergic reaction. My third son Julius, peeking out from behind, drove the tractor and was prepared to chauffeur me back to the house should anything go awry! That day was uneventful, no one was stung, we hauled in loads of delicious ripe honey!

 

We finished the season together, several weeks later, each time my anxiety was lessneed.  I did get stung once on the finger and had no reaction, I had a sense that I wasn’t truly allergic to my bees and that experience in August was a one off. Allergy testing for Honey bees had been scheduled for January 2018.

 Beautiful frame of capped Honey 🍯 

Beautiful frame of capped Honey 🍯 

My Immunotherapy Journey; The Allergy Test

The allergy challenge was scheduled for January 31st 2018 at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health. Maybe I was in denial, naive or just a hopeless optimist but I really felt that my test would be negative. Even after my near death experience I just wouldn’t let my mind go to the “what if” place of being allergic. I wasn’t going to allow myself to think about what I would do if my beloved little ladies could potentially threaten my life. So with that I started the testing knowing in my heart that I would not, could not have a positive result. For the purpose of the allergy challenge I was tested for 5 different stinging bees. The Honeybee, Wasp, Bald Faced Hornet, White Faced Hornet and Yellow Jacket.  The allergy technician listened intently to my story of being a 5th year Beekeeper and the details of the experience that led to me sitting in front of her at the clinic. She informed me that they see beekeepers all the time who have developed allergies and the importance of being accurately diagnosed. Yeah, yeah, not me though. 

 

68347AC2-517A-408C-8FFF-CF33B52A0D08.JPG

Pen marks indicate where each of the tiny pinpricks of venom were placed on my arm.  

 

The allergy technician sent me back to the waiting area for 15 minutes to allow the venom an opportunity to sink in and possibly react...

I’m not a very patient person and can rarely keep a secret, so I snuck into the bathroom to get a good look at my arm, which had become noticeably itchy under my long sleeved shirt.

 

 Honeybee venom bump was bump number two ☝️  

Honeybee venom bump was bump number two ☝️  

All of the bumps looked slightly irritated to me after 8-10 minutes, itchy and warm. The honeybee venom, the only allergen I really cared about didn’t seem any more or less raised than the others.  

I pulled my sleeve back down and returned to the waiting area feeling pretty confident that the odds were in my favour for a negative allergy result. Another 5 minutes passed and the technician called me back in to read my result. I smiled confidently at her as I pulled my sleeve back up to reveal arm. She glanced at it and laughed, “well we knew this was the case didn’t we!” she said. 

 

33A04040-15CB-4A8C-974A-8387D6F0D6F5.JPG

A large welt, the size of a twonie with surrounding red irritated borders had developed in the 5 minutes since I snuck a peek in the restroom. 😭

 

I faked a laugh along with the tech as if I too knew what the outcome would be. Inside I was crushed. I was sent back to the waiting area where the Allergist would call me shortly to discuss my options. My options?! I was reeling as I sat there, completely shocked and betrayed by my own optimism. How did this happen? How did I not know this was the reality? How can I be allergic to honeybees? I’m trying to save them, I’ve grown to love them and I’ve got huge plans for my future which revolves around the bees! My passion has become beekeeping and I don’t want to imagine not following my dreams. I sat there, deep breathing, willing myself not to cry. It seemed like an eternity until the Dr. called my name. 

To be continued...🐝

Giving Jam as Gifts and 4 other homemade ways to use Jam and Jelly this Holiday Season

Homemade Jam and Jelly ready for giving to hostesses, friends, teaches or co-workers.  

IMG_1004.JPG

Every holiday season I give Jams and Jellies to friends, family, hostesses,  teachers, co-workers, neighbours and more as gifts. A homemade gift of food is a personal and useful gift for the recipient. Making a gift basket complete with all of the items needed for a gourmet treat is even more special and appreciated. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate homemade Jams or Jellies as gifts.

  1. Choose a jam that pairs well with cheese such as Peach-Jalapeño, add some artisan crackers and a great quality cheese and wrap in an attractive basket, tray or bin. 
  2. Give a Jam that goes with breakfast like Fresh Peach, Strawberry or Grape Jelly, add English Muffins, a gourmet nut spread and place it all in a festive basket, Christmas Holiday Breakfast Basket!
  3. Pick up a brick of cream cheese, some water crackers and a jar of Savory Jelly like Red Pepper, Rhubarb - Jalapeño or Peach -Jalapeño, wrap the items in cellophane on a holiday plate with a wide spreading knife and wrap with a bright ribbon. Give as a hostess gift to serve as an appetizer. 
IMG_1033.JPG

 

And 4 More ways to use homemade preserves this Holiday Season!

1.  Make an appetizer platter with gourmet meats, a variety of cheeses, grapes, crackers and Red Pepper Jelly And Peach Jalapeño Jelly.

2. Fill mini tart shells with a variety of different jams for a homemade old fashioned holiday treat!  Fill each mini tart shell with a different flavour of sweet homemade jam, bake at 350 for approximately 12minutes. 

FFA61288-DC8C-4476-8ED8-CBA8C28D3E6F.JPG

Jam Filled Mini Tarts for a hostess, coworkers or a quick homemade holiday treat

3. Top a wheel of Brie with a unique flavour such as Christmas Jam and bake for 20 mins in a 325 degree oven. Serve with a variety of crackers.  

4. Make Christmas cookies or squares! Strawberry Jam filled Linzer Cookies, my all time favourite holiday cookie! 

Canning 101 - Making Cooked Jam

Making cooked jam is a pretty exact science, unlike other types of cooking where a dash of this or a pinch of that doesn’t change the overall result, “jamming” must be done precisely in order to achieve the shelf stable preserved product. Cooked Jams also contain a lot, ALOT of sugar. This tends to put some people off of Jams and Jellies, that’s ok. In my house we use the sweet and delicious spread rather sparingly, it sweetens up toast with the summer memory of Fresh Peaches or spices up crackers and cheese with strangely addictive Rhubarb-Jalapeño flavours. In order to safely and properly preserve fruit in jam or jelly form, sugar is a must.  There are low sugar options and sugar alternative options but I don’t make those! 

All cooked Jams and Jellies follow the same cooking instructions. Regardless of the recipe for fruit, the method never deviates. 

IMG_1031.JPG
  1. Place the exactly  measured and prepared fruit into a heavy bottom deep stock-pot.
  2. Add one pouch of either Certo Powder or Bernardin Powder. I don’t ever use liquid because my Grandma didn’t and I have no experience with it. 
  3. Over high heat stir with a long handled wooden spoon. 
  4. Stir continuously until the fruit begins to boil.
  5. Add all of the sugar the recipe calls for. Measured exactly.
  6. Stir continuously to incorporate all of the sugar, keep stirring while the mixture returns to a boil. 
  7. Once the fruit mixture has returned to a hard boil (one that cannot be stirred down), STOP stirring, set a 1 minute timer.  Let it boil hard without stirring for a full minute.
  8. Turn off the heat as soon as the minute is up. Set a 5 minute timer and begin stirring again.  
  9. For the next 5 minutes stir the fruit continuously. Sometimes there may be foam that collects on the surface of the jam, gently skim that off and set aside in a dish for eating on toast while the jars are in the water bath. 
  10. After 5 minutes the jam or jelly is ready to be filled into the prepared jars. 

For instructions on preparing jars and two -piece lids and filling jars click here.

For instructions on water bath canning click here

 200 Jars of Peach -Jalapeño Jelly I made for a customer to give employees at their company Christmas event in 2016. 

200 Jars of Peach -Jalapeño Jelly I made for a customer to give employees at their company Christmas event in 2016. 

Hello, World!

Christmas Jam

Christmas Jam

Giving a gift of homemade Jam whether made by you or purchased from here is a special and unique way of showing people you care about that you made a thoughtful choice for them rather than an item that is mass produced.  Food as gifts is also practical and useful.

Read More

Jam Recipes

Did you like a recipe that you found here? If so please consider making a small donation to our farm. Your donation helps  me to continue to share well tested recipes, tips and instructions on canning successfully! Thank you.

 
Donate
IMG_1008.JPG

Start Where You Are

Welcome to our life here on King’s Heritage Farm! I’ve been encouraged for awhile now to share what I know about homesteading, subsistence farming, working on and off the farm, raising kids, married life and balancing it all but I’ve been reluctant because I didn’t know where to begin! Well, today I said to myself, quit worrying about beginning at the beginning and just start where you are! 

So this will be the beginning of sharing the daily goings on of our life, how and why we do what we do, trials and mistakes, triumphs and success. I am by no means an expert, I’ve just made so many mistakes that I’ve learned how to do this better and smarter. The great thing about mistakes is it gives an opportunity to reflect and try something else, they also make great stories to laugh with family and friends over!

 So welcome to where we are!

IMG_0997.JPG