Monday, July 28, 2014

Aquaponics: Take One!

Our plans for fish farming have been in the works for a very long time now.  We've been dreaming, studying and gathering information for a couple of years.  We are really excited to be finally taking steps to bring our visions of this project into action. 

In the four years we have been working this land we have dabbled in all sorts of endeavors; natural beekeeping, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, varieties of perennials, drought tolerant edibles, the standard fruit and vegis, and our family cow.  With a little bit of experience behind us, we are refining our efforts to grow specifically what WE love to eat, which happens to include a good amount of fish!

In this set-up we used standard food grade IBC containers which had been functioning on the farm as containers for rainwater catchment. We are also using a large sump tank on the bottom as a water reservoir. There is a ton to be said about researching aquaponics set-ups. In a nutshell, our main source for a "how to" guide was Murray Hallam's Aquaponics Made Easy.   

As of this week the system we've been working on is ready. We just added about fifty fish, some babies and some breeders.  The fish are being fed a combination of what we have on hand; spent grain, garden vegis, insects and mosquito larvae.  

Tilapia are our fish of choice. They are warm water fish which grow to a large size quickly and they are adaptable and tasty.  The babies, called fry, take anywhere from six months to a year to mature.  The breeders are sexually mature and if all goes as planned, should  mate and produce more fry keeping the system functioning in a closed loop.

Adding our own fresh fish to equation feels like it might just make our homegrown diet complete. Exciting and lots of potential!  We will be reporting back to you all with the results including successes and failures, so stay tuned for more about this project.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Year Four: Reflection and Readiness

July marks four years of our lives spent creating Soul Flower Farm. We have gone through many changes learning so much in a short amount of time. On good days there is no where we would rather be. We are certainly blessed to be surrounded by overwhelming serenity, beauty and an amazing view. Most of the time the sun is shining and the weather is sweet!  Of course we have our fair share of challenging days where we are questioning what the heck*#*!!, this is really hard work! But as in any aspect of life, hardship and ease come hand in hand. We wouldn't be strong  (or alive for that matter) if it were any different.  

So now that we know we can grow our own food, raise some livestock, put up stores for winter, and all the good stuff that comes with this lifestyle, it seems only logical the next step would be expansion.  With reflection on these last four years of exertion, production and growth, we stand with complete openness and readiness.  Readiness to give back, to be of service in a way that really matters, in a way that is tangible.  We don't know yet what it will look like but our intentions and the dreams in our hearts are waiting for the opportunity to manifest.  

"The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others."
Mahatma Ghandi

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Babies!

Well, I'm finally getting around to posting these pics.  The summer kids arrived a few weeks ago.  All three are adorable as can be and that mischievous goat spirit runs through them all as we watch them run, jump, twist, play, and investigate this new world of theirs.

Maydaisy, our old timer, has had three sets of triplets in the past and this year gave birth to one enormous girl who we named Violet.  Willow, Maydaisy's daughter from last year, had twins Hemlock (boy) and Rue (girl).

My do they hey grow up fast!  They are already nibbling alfalfa and vegis along the Mamas.  The kids have had a great start getting 100% access to their Momma's milk for the first few weeks.  It's time to start the regular nightly separation and morning goat milking routine. 
Babies always add a special feeling of warmth to the farm.  It's great to have them back again!