Sunday, July 20, 2014

Polyface Farm Field Day

Yesterday I participated in a field day at Polyface Farms in Virginia.  The Salatins have become adept at marketing their version of sustainable meat production through books that Joel Salatin writes, speaking tours, and events on farm.  During yesterday's visit, the animals seemed content, living in a low-stress environment, doing what they liked to do, with access to light and fresh air.

The trick is, the Salatins raise animals in an ethical way and still turn a good profit, by using their land to "stack functions".  They also lease land to run animals on, they don't own all the land they use.  An example of stacking functions is running broiler chickens on the same land that cows just came through, since different bugs and parasites affect these species...the birds are able to glean protien from the cow patties and "clean up" after the cows.  

The weather was lovely and the rain held off til the end of the day.  All in all, great to see the things I have read about this farm in person.

Turkeys
Small apiary with electric netting for bears
The Raken House: Chickens stir the deep bedding under the rabbits to mix in the manure and keep it fresh until the young rabbits go out to pasture.
Rabbits on Pasture.  Daniel Salatin has bred a very hardy line of rabbits.
Burly Ass Trellis
Cornish Cross Broiler Shelters moving across pasture, cleaning up after the cows (eating parasites and bugs in the cow patties).  
Cornish Cross shelter with simple gravity watering system
Chick Brooder
Khaki Campbell Ducks under Paw Paw Trees.

Hoop House 30' x 120'
Kitchen Garden


Eggmobile

Cattle

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunflowers About To Pop

Mammoth sunflowers along fence
First year asparagus bed with herbs and calendula in between

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How To Move a Beehive, Summer Radicchio, and Little Chicken Buddies

This has been a big week.  I slimmed down my apiary by selling 2 splits.  2 of my chickens went to live at Garden Dreams and I sold 3 more, and I came up with a delicious sauteed radicchio recipe.

14 week old Delaware and Silver Laced Wyandotte join the Garden Dreams' Flock.  They are sticking together.

How to Move a Beehive:

Day before, strap the hive tightly together with a rachet strap.  Close any top entrance, either by using a ventilated inner cover/moving screen, or positioning the outer cover so it blocks the top entrance in the inner cover before strapping down.

At night once all bees are in for the night, cover the entrance with window screen.  Staple into place, use duct tape or force in snugly in a V shape.

Move in early morning (or at night but only if you can clearly see what you are doing!)  Place the hives facing the cab of the truck, in the bed of a truck.  Do not move beehives inside of a car and do not move when temperatures are below 50 degrees, as the bees will try to cluster inside the hive and may get jostled out of the cluster by the bumping about! Secure the hives in the truck bed.  Drive carefully to the new location.

Once in the new location, leave them alone for a few hours to relax as they will be grumpy from the jostling drive.  Make sure they have ventilation with a screened bottom board/screened entrance.  When you are ready to remove the screen over entrance, do so and quickly stuff some grass in the hole.  Use a bit of smoke to back them off from the entrance before removing screen.  Don't force the grass in so tightly that the bees can't remove it with a bit of work.  Then, place a branch not blocking the entrance, but in front of it, so bees have to maneuver around it as they exit.  This will cause them to reorient.  They will likely do this anyways because of all the new landmarks.  

These steps have worked for me moving hives about 3.5 miles away and farther.  I have moved both at night and in the early morning. Moving closer than 3 miles may cause the bees to return to the old hive site.


Split strapped together with ratchet strap.
Once the bees have all returned for the evening, the bit of screen is used to cover the entrance.   

Sauted Radicchio:

Quarter the radicchio head and then halve or quarter those sections.  Leave the core intact to hold the sections together.  Toss with a olive oil, cider or red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, a bit of honey.  Saute in a covered pan, flipping the sections to get color on each side.  Yum.

Palla Rossa Radicchio
Ready for the saute pan

Friday, June 13, 2014

How Things are Growing

Plants are a-growin' here at home.  What have we here....
My Sweet Bay Magnolia by Jason's Studio
The Chicken Arena
Two Apple Trees Growing Well

Gray Dogwood and Potted Herbs
A View of the Sheet Mulched Garden Beds
Garden Beds

King of The Mountain


3 Peas in a Pod

Raspberry Row




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Space for Bee Equipment

Yesterday, Jason and I cleaned out the basement room where we brooded the chicks and turned it into my new beekeepin' studio/garden storage spot.  I am very pleased to finally have a space dedicated totally to storing garden tools and building bee boxes.  Hooray for dedicated space!

My new bee space!  Where once we brooded chicks, bee boxes will now be built.
Bee building studio in the daylight.  
How I build my frames: a strip of foundation gives the bees something to build off of. 
I use medium frames
I am attempting to be better about labeling my frames with the year they go in the hive so I can rotate out old brood comb once it gets too funky.