Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Beginnings

For several years now, this yearning to be a flower farmer has slowly grown.
It started as an I like flowers to Food for the pollinators! to Ohmygosh! Flower fields are the best! to Hey, look! A cut-flower class! to ALL THE CLASSES! ALL THE BOOKS! to I need a truck bed full of flowers! to where I am now. 
Bam. Truck of dreams, right there. Floret Flowers is a huge inspiration for me.
All this under my belt and buzzing around in my brain, and my sister and her boyfriend announce their engagement. 

What does every wedding need? What costs an arm and a leg and your soul and your first born child and the tears of a crocodile? 

I feel like Chekov running down the hallway of the Enterprise shouting, 'I CAN DO ZAT!' and then I whip out every seed catalog and cut flower book and resource that I have looking like an overeager puppy that found the best stick in the world. We most certainly can do this. 
And then I started planning. 

What did I get myself into? 
It's one thing to put a seedling into the ground and cut the blooms whenever it's ready. 
It's another matter entirely when you're trying to have all the blooms by a certain date. 
So to the spread sheets I went, plugging in all the information I thought I needed to plan this whole thing out. That was a long, brain draining afternoon. But it's done, and now all I have to do is reference my handy dandy spreadsheet to know when I need to have things seeded and all the other information that I'll need to have for planting, growing, harvesting, and special treatment requirements. Just to name a few. :P 
I'll try to figure out how to share it with you so you don't have to try to create your own from scratch.
I just had one problem. The greenhouse that I found (brand new, in the box) on Craigslist that I was able to talk down to $600, is still in the box. Yeah, I jumped on that deal, but we haven't had the time, energy, or cooperative weather to get it up. So there it sits. Still in the box.  We're starting to get the site prepped, but it will take time. But according to my master sheet, I needed to get some things started in early February. Did I mention that the greenhouse is still in the box? I don't have a good place to get things started. Thankfully, my boss is letting me use some space in the greenhouse at work until I get mine up and running. I'm up to 4 seed flats now. :P Just wait until I start up-potting them into larger containers. I will slowly take over! 

One of the things that my sister :really: wanted was Bunny Tails grass. It looks really cool in arrangements, but do you know how weird it felt to be seeding grass? In a greenhouse? On purpose? 
And I'm just blown away at how tiny some of the seeds are. They're so itty-bitty that they are in tubes or teeny plastic bags INSIDE the seed packets. It's amazing how much growing power is contained in such a tiny vessel.
In spite of the hyperventilating that has happened, the seeds are in fact growing. Just like they should. 
When I finished my master list, I had to have some serious pep talks. 
Why do I have so many flowers on the list?!? 
Because you have no idea what you're doing, so you're covering your bases.
Oh yeah... 
If something doesn't work, then something else will probably be available. 
:deep breath:
You know, we're going to be drowning in flowers if all of these work.
Oy vey...

Seed Sources:

So this is me. Jumping in with both feet. 
I'll keep you updated as things keep growing. Next up will hopefully be about either the greenhouse or flower field prep! 

Until next time! 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sheltered or Hardened Off?

(I've had this in drafts for a while now. The idea was there, but the words weren't quite right. After sitting on it and eventually revising it, it was as ready as it would be for sharing with the world.)

As I was bundled up trying to stay warm at the chef's garden the other day by working with some baby greens in the hoop house, a thought came to me, and it was a rather profound one at that especially considering that it was coming from tending to little lettuces: Being overly sheltered while growing up is the same as not getting hardened off. I'll explain. 

Plants that are started in a greenhouse absolutely need to be hardened off otherwise they fade and wilt when exposed to the full power of the sun, wind, and rain. They don't know how to stand on their own feet because they haven't had to. You give them the best opportunity to thrive by starting them indoors with climate control, mild temperatures, and (filtered) sunlight - all conducive to maximum growing potential. All too soon, they outgrow their pots and might even become gangly if kept inside for too long. It's high time for the baby plants to HARDEN OFF.

There are two options here: plunk 'em in the ground hoping for the best or prepare them for what the great outdoors have in store by acclimating them to those conditions instead of shocking them with everything all at once.

Seeing the same light bulb that I did? How many people just cannot handle what life throws at them, don't know what to do with themselves once on their own, or long for the childhood glory days?

Yes, we want to protect those in our care; we can give them the best start we possibly can. But will your children be ready to stand strong against the headwinds? How do you harden yourself off let alone teach someone else? How do you remain sensitive to others even when you find yourself too hardened? 

Just a bunch of thoughts and questions from the chef's garden. I don't have answers (I'm as single as they come and the only littles I have to harden off are baby plants), and the plants I talk to certainly don't have anything to say. We would have a very different problem if they started talking back. :P 

Until next time,

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Gardener's Garden

Happy New Year!
And I can't think of a better time to dust off the old blog a bit. Actually, a lot. 
Long time, no blog; and I have some updating to do. I'll give you the cliff notes version. 

I finished school in June. Yay! 
Started working full time at the chef's garden that I had my internship at. Yay!
My social life saw a revival. Yay!
Sewed like crazy because I had markets, bazaars, and fairs for my booth. :gasp: Yes, I was a vendor at multiple events this past season. Yay!
Psst, you can keep up with those adventures on my sewing blog. ;) 

And I have a legitimate excuse for ignoring this little digital space.
You know the saying, "The cobbler's children are barefoot"? 
I'd like to add to it. "The gardener's garden is abandoned." 
I went to school to learn how to farm and garden. My garden should be :amazing:
Well, the garden that I work at is well cared for.
Mine, on the other hand, gets very little time dedicated to it. It's weedy, in desperate need of regular watering, and in need of just getting actually finished. I know, a garden is never 'finished,' but I would like to have the basic design and parameters of the space established, and I could just put in plants and garden around it. That would be kind of nice. 
In the summer of '16, we finally bit the dust and built raised beds. We put down weed block because we started finding baby MORNING GLORY. Not cool. At all. I was mad, and upset, and frustrated that I spend all my precious little time digging those things out. So we built the beds. 
It wasn't in time for the summer garden that year, but it was just in time for the fall garden. We took some wire and cut it to the width of the beds, and bought some frost blanket. That was also just in time for one of our snowier, colder winters. 
And that was the first time we had broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, carrots, parsnips, and garlic. Actually, it was my first overwintered garden at home. I call that a success. 

By next the next spring, the overwintered things were all done, and summer plants put in. I loved the minimal effort in getting the beds ready, and the timed drip irrigation, and the noticeable lack of weeding that needed to be done. Compared to everywhere else on the property, it was nice to not have to worry about the vegetable garden for once.

By the end of this summer, I quickly realized that the summer veggies weren't going to be done in time to get the fall/winter crops in, so we made a few more boxes to expand the area. Slowly we will build the full garden plan. Baby steps. :nods:

One of my goals for this year is to set up better infrastructure the areas that we've developed to make our daily routines easier. The blueberries, strawberries, herb garden, orchard, etc.. This year we could get a better handle on the weed pressure, be better about mulching and suppression, installing timed irrigation so we don't have to water everything by hand, etc... We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we'll just keep chipping away at it.  
I have some more fun and exciting things and developments to share with you this year, so hopefully I can get around to updating more often. :D 

Until next time!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fire and Steel and Explosive Gases, Oh My!

This last term at school was a little different - my last required class was online (and boringly easy), and the other two classes had nothing to do with horticulture and were pretty much as opposite to each other as they could be: dancing and welding. 

You already know how much I love dancing, so I don't need to go into detail about that (except to say that swing dancing is my favorite thing ever). But welding... That world was (and still is) completely foreign and unlike anything I had ever done before. 

I picked up the textbook which reads more like a manual than anything else. If you want a dull horror story, you can read this. It will tell you everything that can go wrong while welding and say it in such a matter of fact way that you have to do a double-take to make sure that you read it right.

Between sparks, slag, extreme heat (to the tune of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit), exploding concrete, scorching hot metal, equipment that costs more than my car is worth, gas that is highly combustible and at high pressures... it was all rather intense to say the least. My brain wasn't sure how to process all of that. 
This handy chart would have been useful for the first day of class. I had no idea what the instructor was talking about when he was throwing out all these acronyms in the lecture. 
Exploding concrete? Oy. 
I had to psych myself up for each class. I had already been up early for work, and then to drive across town to school for a late evening class was exhausting. Thankfully, my dad was taking the class with me. We'd stop for Chipotle on the way to class, eat dinner, then start welding. 
The welding booths were hot (I couldn't imagine doing this class during warmer weather), sparks were flying everywhere, you can only see through the tiny window in your helmet, picking up welding sticks with bulky gloves took some serious patience with yourself. 

At the beginning of the term, we were all handed a check-off list of the different welds that we were to work on during class. Once I got over my initial terror of holding the welding torch, things went rather smoothly, and, for me, quickly. I practically flew through the list while others were still trying to bead a straight line. My dad thinks that it's because of all my sewing that I have a steady hand. I have no idea why. 
I just want to add this before going any further: welders have quite the fashion sense. :P Heavy, rough leather jackets, hats in the strangest fabric prints, stiff canvas pants, leather boots, and you can't forget the safety glasses and welding mask. Actually, you're not even allowed in the machine shop without safety glasses on - I'm sure it's an insurance thing, but seriously, there's the possibility for heavy flying things hitting you in the head. At least protect your eyes, kid. 
We started with stick welding, then moved to wire feed, and the graduated to bigger wire feed. That's about as far as most the class got through their lists. Since I finished early, I got to play with oxyfuel welding (the chunkier cousin of TIG welding), oxyfuel torch, and a plasma torch (which was super cool because you can cut a lot of metal really fast and there's sparks everywhere, and I was covered in steel flecks). 

We had the option to do a project in class if we so desired. I had no idea what to make. So to pinterest I went. I narrowed it down to two possibilities: a necklace hanging tree or cattails for the kidney bean of a pond in my herb garden. I headed to the repurposing store to see what I could find. I honestly had no idea what I was looking for, but the owner was super helpful, and I found some steel leaves that someone had hammered out. With that, I knew that I would be doing the tree. I then wandered through the aisles of Home Depot (now I know how my dad and brother feel in the craft store) until I found metal rods. 

Because the metal rods were thin enough, I was able to cut and lay everything out at home with the tools that we have. This is what I came up with
And I used all the pieces within 45 minutes of starting. We had from 6:30-9:50 to weld. My tree looked rather poorly pruned, so the next week, I brought in more branches and leaves.
The finished result:
The log round is from a maple tree that fell on the fence during one of the storms this winter. How nice of the tree to get to a level that we can reach it. :P 

Because I finished the tree much faster than anticipated, I also figure out how to do the cattails since the instructor showed me how to use the cutting torch. My cutting lines are rather jagged, but I didn't feel inclined to smooth them out - it's just going out in the garden... 
They look like I stuck swords in the ground.Now to just figure out how to get in in a stone... Hmm... 
The class certainly felt over my head at the beginning, now I feel like I could pick up a welder and melt metal whenever I need to. I guess the class did what it was supposed to. ;) Do I feel inclined to pursue more classes in this field? Not really. It's not a world that I'm necessarily drawn to, but it is good to know how to wield a welder. 

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January Recap

 January could be summed up with snow and cold. It really forced us to slow down, hunker down, and wait until things thawed. Actually, it was a much needed breather even if it all was quite the hassle to do anything in 12-18" of snow: barn chores, haul water out to the animals, and taking longer to bundle up to head outside. It was frigid, but it was gorgeous. 
 Of course, Jubilee loved every moment of it. ;) 
 Through the years and as I've been outside more and more, I've found that I love all the seasons for different reasons and how they create a rhythm to life. Winter is a time of rest to brace for the hectic pace of spring, the dragging through summer, and a reprieve after the scurrying through autumn. There is always something to complain about with each season, but each season also has a beauty that the other seasons don't have. I recently discovered 'Winter Song' by Emily Smith, and the lyrics are rather fitting. It encompasses hygge (hue-gah) - embracing each season for what it is. 
"So we'll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by"
 "With carols sung, the trees been taken down
We've passed a dram and the bells no longer sound
Snowdrops rise with promise of the spring
There's talk and wonder
At what the year might bring"
 "The blackbird starts to thicken up her nest
While the early lamb, he takes a snowy step
But the north wind's grip it tightens with his chill
And holds the buds closed against their will"
  "So we'll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by"

Until next time!

Making Chevre

This school term certainly got off to a rocky start, but now that I'm getting into the swing of things, I wanted to share some of what I've been working on. In my writing class, I've been trying to do papers on farm stuffs so that I could share it with you as well! (and get double usage out of each writing session :P). Last week's assignment was to guide someone through a procedure. I scribbled out some ideas, but they were all much more involved than a two page ordeal. Then, in the sanctum of idea generation - the shower, I thought of cheese. One, because I'm totally addicted to cheese. Two, because why not? So here you go. 

Making Your Own Cheese

To some, the thought of fermenting and culturing dairy products is daunting if not dangerous. While some cheeses are more difficult to make, many simple ‘farm house’ cheese can be made at home with just a handful of ingredients, some basic equipment, and patience. This is going to focus on chevre: a soft, goat’s milk cheese.
To get started, you will need to gather the following:
-          1 gallon of goat milk
-          1 packet of chevre starter cultures (resources listed below).
o    Note: If you purchase more than you are going to use for just one recipe, then you will need to put the extra packets in the freezer to put the cultures into a cold-induced stasis.
o   Another note: Different cheeses are made from different cultures, so you will want to make sure that the starter is for chevre cheese specifically.
-          Stainless steel stockpot with lid
-          A non-reactive whisk (stainless steel or silicon are fine, plastic is not recommended)
-          A large towel
-          Candy thermometer (make sure that it is calibrated correctly!)
-          Plastic strainer large enough to hold a gallon of milk
-          Giant bowl
-          Cheese cloth (can be purchased at most health food stores, online, or homesteading stores)
To get things started, you want to make sure that your cooking equipment is sterilized. When culturing any food, you only want the beneficial bacteria to be present in the product and not harmful pathogens. You can do this by simply putting your stockpot and whisk in the dishwasher and using the ‘sterilizing’ setting. After doing this, you can put the towel into the dryer to warm it up if you want (this is not necessary unless it is chilly in the house; you will see how the towel is used later).
                Once the dishes are retrieved from the dishwasher, you put the milk into the stockpot and slowly warm it up on the stove and slowly stir it constantly. If you raise the temperature too fast, the milk will curdle. Use the thermometer to keep an eye on how warm the milk is; the goal temperature is 85-86°F. After the milk reaches the desired temperature, turn off the stove heat and add in the packet of starter cultures. Whisk gently for approximately two minutes to allow the cultures to become rehydrated and incorporated throughout the milk.
Next, place the lid on the stockpot, wrap the entire thing with the towel, and place it on a quiet corner of the counter where it will not be in the way of your other culinary activities. By wrapping the stockpot with a towel, it will keep the milk at a temperature where the cultures can be active and doing their job: fermenting the milk. Let the milk sit in its miniature sauna for 12-18 hours. The next day, you can tell if the cheese is ready by slightly tilting the stockpot to reveal the solid, fatty mass of white (curds) and a yellow fluid (whey). The longer you allow the cultures to do their work, the more strongly flavored the cheese will be. 
You have almost accomplished your cheese-making task! You just need to get the actual cheese out of its protein whey bath. To separate the two parts of the cheese, you can do this in two different ways.
1.       If you want to save the whey for another use (chickens love whey), then you strain the whey into a very large bowl. To do this, place an inverted Tupperware container inside the bowl, prop the colander on top of the Tupperware, line the strainer with cheesecloth, and then gently pour in the cheese (curds and whey).
2.       If whey is of no importance to you at the moment, you can line your giant bowl with cheesecloth, gently dump the cheese into it, pull up the sides of the cheesecloth and tie them into a knot, and hang it bag over the sink to let the liquid separate. You can hang it over the sink faucet if you would like.
Let the cheese strain for another 12 hours. The longer the cheese is allowed to hang, the drier the cheese will be. Any longer than 12 hours, the cheese will be crumbly. You can experiment by adding in different herbs and seasonings to flavor your creation if you so desire (or if the cheese even lasts that long). You can also try milk from different breeds of goats; the flavor and pungent qualities of the milk varies from breed to breed.
You now have the tools to get you started on cheese-making adventures. After getting comfortable with this process, you just might become addicted to the process as this Amazon reviewer discovered.

Starter cultures:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Homesteading with Health Issues

We all have our own reasons that drive our homesteading passion. Some to become self-sufficient. Some want to have that glorious moment of storing up their own bounty. Some want the higher quality product that can't be found in the store. Some seek the freedom (I use that term loosely) from society's daily grind.  Some night have even just happened upon the lifestyle. Others do so because they have health issues.

Many that I've talked to (or stalked on blogs) have used their land and garden as a place to grow their own food because it's the cheapest option. Food can be used to find health (or at least a lessening of symptoms). The problem, though, is that fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and herbs are not cheap, but if you have the space, you can do it yourself for less than it would cost at the store (in theory anyway). As someone with a chronic illness, the lure of being able to do something for yourself can be thrilling to say the least. There's something that's within your control, right? Wrong. Anyone that has spent any time on a farm or in a garden will tell you that there is always something running amok or it's one problem after another. But you really want to do this. And do it successfully. So here's a quick list of some suggestions that can help you when you're homesteading with health problems.

1. Only take on as much as you can handle

I know that you feel like you want to do everything. I'm in the same boat. I want to have a lush garden, a productive orchard, prolific berries, buzzing honeybees, all the meat animals to supply us for all our meat-y needs, dairy goats, sheep for wool (and to be able to spin all that!), soap making, cheese making, meat processing, all the herbs I could ever need just outside the door, raising elk, a u-pick flower farm, and more. Hey, a girl can dream, right? Ooh, throw in a livestock guardian dog in there too!
Please pace yourself (I'm preaching to myself here too).
Whenever you add a new aspect to the farm, you inevitably have a learning curve to go with it. If you have a chronic illness, there's only so much your brain and body can handle. Instead of diving in full force, try just a trial run at a small scale. This way, you don't invest as much time, money, or energy into something that might not be for you. Another option would be to tag along and learn from a mentor who's entrenched in your interest. You can get a feel for what is to be expected and decide if it will fit with your limitations.

2. Set yourself up for success

Learn as much as you can from other sources before throwing yourself into the fire. Make sure that you have all the supplies you need before you dive into the project (I guarantee you will need to make an emergency run to the farm store though - it's how life works). Or really think through the entire process and where the hangups might be.
For our family garden, we've never been all that proficient. Yeah, we've had plants that survived in spite of our best attempts to kill them, but at the end of the year, you look at how much effort you put into something and see what you got out of it... Not the best use of energy, resources, or time. This year after spending hours pulling up the morning glory that appeared (that was a frustrating discovery), we finally threw in the towel, laid out weed block, made cedar raised beds, and installed drip irrigation with a timer. The summer garden was for naught this year, but the fall garden is right on schedule. With the raised beds, we have a limited space that requires weeding and can be weeded easily. The timer and drip means we don't have to spend all day watering (okay, I might be exaggerating the time requirements there just a little). It's taken us years to get to this point, but I'm really excited about what all we can do with the space now.

3. Organize like your life depends on it

You might only have a certain amount of time before your body says, 'Enough for today.' Instead of running around getting all your materials assembled or animal feed pulled together or whatever you might have going on, set up systems that make everything easily accessible and found. Keep animal feed in bins or barrels. Have tools all lined up in the same spot nearby where you will be using them. Have files in your desk for each category that your farm needs be it equipment/tractor, veterinary contact info and notes, garden plans and resources, animal information, etc. It will take some time to get this all set up, but in the end, your brain and body will thank you. And you won't have to spend all the your time scrounging around looking for that one piece of paper. ;)

4. Many hands make light work

Do you have friends that want to experience the farm life but don't have the land? Bring 'em on board. You can host volunteer work days in exchange for some product or produce from your farm (many folks would be just fine with a hearty meal). Get the whole family involved in whatever capacity that they are capable. If chicken dander kick off asthma or allergies for some, they can be on the watering crew.

5. Make things easier for your body

Use those tools ergonomically correct. You don't have to prove to yourself that you can lift those heavy bags - let the wheel barrow do the work for you. Use a work bench. Make sure that you stay hydrated. Electrolytes are your friend. Keep your skin protected. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed. This ties into #2.

6. Do things at your own pace

Don't over do it. This speaks for itself, and I can't stress that enough. If your body is screaming at you to stop, then stop. You'll pay for it later if you push your body beyond the limits. If that means only getting a couple of trees pruned or only a single bed planted or only one goat's hooves trimmed, then so be it. You can just keep chipping away at things as you can.

7. Don't kick yourself for not doing everything

As much as I wish I was Wonderwoman, I'm not. You might wish you could be doing more or think that you're not doing enough. Silence those negative thoughts right now; shove them out the door, and don't let them back in. I know that to-do list is every increasing and changing in priority, but you're doing the best you can with the time and energy that you have. You're juggling doctor appointments, family and social life, and all the crazy farm adventures. You've got a lot on your plate, and you're taking things as they come. Everyone is on their own unique path towards health and in their homesteading journey.

8. Let something go

You have a very full plate on your hands, and something new comes up. Be it a new symptom, a new phase of life, a family emergency, you just can't handle juggle anything anymore and something's got to give. Now this one is super hard because it's so closely tied into #1 and #7. You want to do everything but you hold yourself back. When holding yourself back, you feel like you should be doing more. But there are times when even holding yourself back is still too much. Even maintaining the status quo might be too much and make you reach your breaking point. Some friends of mine just had to sell some of their dairy goats because the family's health was needing more attention than they could give. I hurts and it's hard to say goodbye to furry friends that you've bonded with for so long, but making sure that the new home is perfect and maybe nearby so you could pop in every now and again to say 'hi' could help ease some of the sadness.

Do you have any other ideas to add to the list? If so, comment below! We all could use tips and tricks to help us along the road.

Until next time!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Catching up from Spring Term

Where to begin? It certainly has felt like another looong term, but I survived. ;) Here's some shots to get you up to speed. This is a text and picture heavy post, so here we go. 
Special dance for a guest caller that came to the area

Practicum harvest

Turkey poult
This picture has a bit of a story with it... It all started with my car not starting when I was running late to class. Phooey. Thankfully, I had another car option to get to class. I didn't have time to deal with the problem until the next day after classes.  
It took all afternoon, but I finally managed to orchestrate a tow truck that was 'approved' by the insurance company to get my car to the mechanic. They took one look at it, and said that the only problem was some corrosion on the battery terminal. Seriously?! I looked at that and didn't think that it was that bad. Apparently so. $40, a bunch of phone calls, and an afternoon later, my car was doing just fine. Thankfully, everything worked out well, but it was still a hassle. My classmate the next day asked what was wrong with my car, and after explaining my tale of woe, she said 'Well, was the mechanic cute at least?' 'Uh... yeah...' '!!! When's the next time you get to see him?' "I don't know; next oil change maybe?' The next week, apparently word got around about the 'cute mechanic' and some others were asking if I had asked him out yet. 'Nope.' 'Well, when's your next oil change?' 'A long while.' And this is after I was already convinced that my car was playing match maker because she kept coming up with all these random little things that needed to be checked. :face palm:  

Anyway! Continuing on! My fun class for the term was kitchen herbs. I honestly didn't fully know what to expect from the class, but I knew I wanted to take it. I walk into class to find out that it was a cooking class! Booyah! We've been learning how to grow all this fantastic food, now it's time to learn how to use it! From mocktail sangria, branch dressing, melon mint salad, green bean radish and basil salad, warm maple rosemary sundaes, and much more. Can we have more classes where we eat our way through to earn credits? I guess that would involve going to cooking school. Never mind.

Even with work and classes, my sister, a friend, and I still managed to squeeze in a fun concert one evening. Djangophiles were fantastic, and they have my sister convinced that I need to learn to play the upright bass. To humor her, I looked up the prices for a bass... Yeah, not going to be doing that anytime soon. 
I brought in the peonies before it started raining. Love the giant, luscious blooms!

I can't resist the words: free plants

Moving meat chickens out to pasture

Needless to say, these shoes look like something you would find in an archaeological dig after I was through with them.

My red legion poppies started blooming on Memorial Day weekend. Rather fitting, I thought. 

After her yearly adventure where we don't see her for a couple of weeks, she showed up at the back door, wanted food and water, and then curled up in the nearby basket and slept. You crazy kitty. 
A local farm had early ripening blueberries. Nomnomnom! 
That's all for now! I'll post some pictures from work later.
Until next time! 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Somber Thanks

In Flanders Fields 
By Lietenant Colonel John McCrae
May 3, 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Red Legion Poppies in the garden that started blooming on Memorial Day weekend

Many thanks to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

Until next time, 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Another Bee Swarm

Two weeks ago, I had my first experience with catching a swarm
So we had Hive 1 (the original) and Hive 2 (the caught swarm). We were excited that our colony collection had doubled. Yay! 

Then, 2 weeks later (to the day) Hive 1 swarmed (seriously?!). Apparently the new, virgin queen is rebellious because she promptly left home after she hatched with all her besties to go on a road trip. 

Anna and I had just finished getting the shade cloth on the hoop house to protect the tender greens from the blazing sun that was going to make an appearance over the weekend, and I was getting things watered in and Anna got a text from the kitchen asking for more mustard greens stat. Friday afternoons in a kitchen with big events scheduled for the weekend needs a lot of produce, and they needed more than we had brought in earlier that morning. She headed off to fetch them their produce when she popped her head back in the greenhouse asking me for my opinion on the bees.  

We walked up to Hive 1, and sure enough they were pouring out of every nook and cranny of the hive and circling around. Deja vu anyone? Granted, the swarm was significantly smaller this time because the previous swarm had taken over half of Hive 1 with them.  
This time, Anna watched the bees to see where they went while I quickly harvested mustard greens and ran them into the kitchen. On my way back, it must have been apparent that I was in a hurry because it felt like everyone wanted to talk (since when did anyone want to talk to me?) Once back in the garden, Anna had already pulled together the equipment, suited up, and had the swarm in the blue bin. All my rushing for naught. 
This time, the sillies alighted on a branch just out of reach. Thankfully they weren't 40 feet up in the Doug firs, just a ladder's height in a wild fruit tree. ;) 

Welcome to your new home! :dump:
With how flighty this new queen is, we're going to commit regicide (gasp!) and bring in a new queen once one is available. Bee colony politics are certainly something else. 
Now we have Hive 1, Hive 2, and Hive 3. 
Little did I realize how much I'd be working with bees when I got the job. :P 

Until next time! 
And hopefully it won't be about catching :another: swarm. 
Sarah G