Thursday, March 28, 2013

Intro To Natural Beekeeeping

a brave volunteer getting ready to install the swarm
a future beekeeper listens attentively
tapping the swarm out of the box into their new hive

Our first Intro to Natural Beekeeping class was a success!  The weather was gorgeous and the turnout of eleven students was perfect for an intimate setting.  The bees were amazingly docile.  We were fortunate enough to have a swarm land on our coyote brush the day before the class (WOW!) so the students had the opportunity to install the swarm into the new hive.  Everyone was enthusiastic and engaged with lots of questions.  We definitely learned that three hours is not enough time to cover all the material.  The next time we offer this class it will be five hours or longer with a nice break for lunch.  Thank you to all who came out.  We enjoyed spending the day together sharing, connecting, and learning about bees!

Therefore go, my People's Hive, go into all the gardens...
Go and give the children 
some nourishing sandwiches, 
and give the grown ups wellbeing in body and mind.
Go and remind everyone of the necessity of work,  
the gentleness of unity, 
the beauty of devotion, 
the prosperity 
of countless families.  
Go and fill every fireside with honey and happiness.
Mella fluunt tibi.  -Abbe Warre

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Is Here

Spring has arrived in all her glory with a multitude of signs, from the light showers to the abundance of eggs  to the bulging bellies and udders of the animals.  The pullets have graduated to hen status, we have been finding little nests here and there.  The latest nest was filled with bright blue eggs from the flighty americauna who refuses to stay with the flock.  

Ginger's udder has been forming.  When she runs up and down the hill her udder sways back and forth.  

We have been avidly reading Calving the Cow and Care of the Calf, by Eddie Straiton, which has been said to be the best book on the subject with hundreds of color photos. 
Preparing for a calf in early May has got us scurrying to gather and build last minute necessities.  

There has also been some exciting activity in the apiary.  We have split one of our Warre hives to create an artificial swarm with the hopes that the hive will hatch a new queen.   In anticipation of the Intro to Natural Beekeeping class coming up this weekend we have also built an observation hive.  The lull of winter is certainly over, there is lots going on and so much to do.  Here we go....Happy Spring everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bamboo: Alternative Source of Livestock Feed

For about a year now we have been getting nice big bundles of bamboo trimmings from a friend who grows lots of this wonderful plant in his permaculture garden.  He frequently harvests the poles for building, cutting off the leafy bits and baling them up for us to feed to our livestock.  Bamboo is after all a grass, which is quite high in protein, up to four times as high as other fodder grasses.  The species we have been using are mainly clumping timber (Bambusa oldhamii) and golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea).  In Asia, farmers have been feeding their livestock bamboo for hundreds of years.  For us, this is a free and nutritious supplement for our animals.  As the price of alfalfa (and feed in general) is steadily rising, feeding bamboo is one more way we can cut our feed costs.  We have planted several types of clumping bamboo in the hopes that we can produce a small quantity on our own property.  As our knowledge of permaculture design grows we are also planning on planting part of our hillside with quantities of forage trees.  The ultimate goal is to grow as much feed as we can on our small holding. 

The real question about the bamboo they like it.  YES!  The goats and cow strip the poles clean, leaving us with thin branches to use in the garden as stakes or in our hugelkultur mounds. We have even used the leftover branches for mulch. 

Bamboo is versatile with many uses and quite easy to grow.  Just be sure you research how to grow it (or better yet, contain it) before you begin!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The latest Kraut: Cortido

This month for our homemade food co-op I am making medicinal krauts to trade with the other members.  I have been making a nourishing sea kraut for awhile now with green cabbage, ginger, burdock root, and kombu and dulse seaweeds.  I decided to try something refreshing and new this time...cortido!  This Latin American spicy kraut is delicious as a side with almost anything, especially fish tacos, tamales, empenadas, pupusas, you get the picture.  

This version has only a few simple ingredients; chopped green cabbage, shredded carrots, seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced onions, oregano-fresh or dried, sea salt, and filtered water. The oregano in our garden is looking pretty lush right now and was calling to be added into the mix..

fresh oregano
Following any basic recipe for making fermented kraut will work. This is a great way to get into the fresh, green spirit of spring (and those jalapenos will get your blood moving)!  I'm excited to taste how this new version turns out.