a sticky housewarming

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Oh boy have we had some real adventures getting these bees cozy here on the homefront…

Our buzzing nuke arrive Saturday afternoon, with some 60 other nukes of Canadian, naturally raised honeybees from about 3 hours west of us. The beekeeper delivered them in person and was on hand to answer questions and tell us all about his gentle approach to raising and breeding honeybees. We then took in a couple demonstrations of how to install the nukes into their new home. The nuke’s are actually 4 frames of brood (baby’s and larva), capped honey, nectar, pollen, bees and a queen of course. All of this is settled onto small traditional rectangle frames… which to be installed into a top bar hive, need to be (somewhat brutally) chopped and strung into position to accommodate their new sacred geometry housing.

This process was actually painfully traumatizing for us newbie beekeepers, as we had to literally chop cells of larva and babies in half, all the while new baby bee’s were being born on the frame! I understand that this is far more horrific for us humans than for the bees.

Our first task was opening the box and seeking out our queen, frame by frame. We found her pretty quickly, then moved onto the sticky job I described above, and finally moved the little colony into their stunning new top bar hive. We made a batch of energy boosting “bee tea” with dandelion petals, thyme, nettles and organic cane sugar, and started observing in awe.

Fascinating! What lovely creatures honeybee’s are.

We had our first swarm scare (like new parents) we have been hyper aware of what is normal, and what is alarming, and twice now we have found a buzzing crazy entrance way to the hive. Soon after, we realized (with the help of google) that this was not pre-swarm activity, and thankfully our bee’s were not rejecting their new home… rather it was baby bee flight school! OMG, imagine dozens and dozens of tiny new bee’s taking their maiden flight, all the while working bee’s are coming and going, bringing in huge bulging leg-fulls of bright yellow pollen!

Our garden is even more alive with this ever present group of gentle and beautiful pollinators! It’s hard to keep out of the hive, they are so engrossing. Isis and I have fallen so hard for these bees, I can’t believe it took me so long to make this move.

Anyone considering beekeeping I would strongly recommend exploring top bar hives and holistic bee guardianship. What a rewarding partner in diversity and food security bees are.

Here are a few lovely places on the web to explore: thequeenbeeproject backyardbees backyardhive biobees

honey-bee-busy

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We are all pretty excited about the 20 000 sum new girls we are going to have a round here!

Our nuc of honeybees arrives on Sunday, sourced from a holistic bee keeper in Vernon, this Canadian born Queen and her entourage will be nice and cozy in the lux top bar hive Dyl has been building them. Isis and I have been taking in as much bee education and hands on opportunities to learn as we can, and with the support of 3 of our local girl friends who are all taking on bee’s this year too… I think we are going to make a great home for our team of pollinators!

Isis was so busy yesterday broadcasting flower seeds (following again the bio-dynamic calender) all over the place! It’s too bad our bees have already missed all the cherry, plum, apple, and all the other fruit tree blossoms and we had to pinch all the blueberry flowers… but there will be so many more blossom to come!

… Just a short and sweet update, more to follow.

guilding + growing + buzzing

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What a great few weeks of progress on the garden front! Our starts have been going strong and have slowly been moving out into the yard and into cold frames. Dave (our new intern from down under) has been tirelessly moving earth, cleaning up pathways and edges, and prepping for our cob kitchen expansion (more on that soon, as we are hosting and offering a cob oven and cob bench workshop in the near future, with the help of our 3 local cob builders!)

Just yesterday we picked up 20 blueberry bushes from our local nursery: Against the Wind and left with a couple dozen asparagus crowns as well, which just happened to be the missing piece of the berry guild I have been designing! The honeyberry guild fills a small patch of ground that I had planted with annuals and 2 honey berries last year, I got no fruit from these  blue velvet, honey berry bushes. When I was  working with Adrienne Buckley (master food forest guru / plant encyclopedia) of Big Sky Permaculture last weekend at the Groundswell Design Practicum, he noted that like blueberries, you needed more than one variety to obtain a fruit harvest. Geez, a fact I won’t soon forget… anyway I came home with 2 additional and different varieties of honey-berries and yesterday we planted out this fun little guild: Here is the design which sits opposite a wire fence from my daughters flower and medicinal herb garden plot so there is actually a whole lot of pollinator attractants and medicine growing here too:

honey berry guild

Right after planting this guild I dashed up to the dojo for a fabulous afternoon of natural bee keeping with Christina of The Queens Bee Project! What a wonderful  way to spend a day, listening and learning from someone so impassioned and moved by the bees. We leaned a lot about top bar hives, and holistic approached to keeping bees, and using organic essential oil hydrosaul to prevent and treat disease. For the past 4 years I have been working on learning about bees and creating bee habitat while working towards becoming a bee guardian…. and now seems an ideal time to take the big step, for so many reasons: We have the plans for a top bar hive which Dyl  has the skill to assemble quickly, and we will revise the design based on Christina’s Kootenay ready design tweaks. 3 of my girlfriends locally are all venturing into the world of bee keeping this spring too, and we have a number of friends who have been doing it for some time to draw on for support. There is a new bee keeping network being creating right now in Castlegar, and our last intern for the season (who we are eagerly awaiting her arrival) is right now studying top bar bee keeping with Elise of ABC in Calgary (whom we adore, as she set me down this path 4 years ago now, when she participated in a local food event I organized back in Calgary). So it looks like we are all set for hosting bee’s here in just a few weeks! Eeeeeeee!

buzzing with excitement!

pig-in-a-day perfection

team pig

A big thank you to my tricycle acres team for helping make our pig in a day a success! Our butcher Ben and his wife did a fabulous job making the educational component of the workshop AMAZING, and Thanks to all of our 22 participants who learned along side of us, and enjoyed all the crazy owful I set forth for them to try.

Check out eatingwithSOLE for more details on the whole hog adventure! To read the story behind our little pig and the wee morning headcheese adventures * warning graphic images, the charcuterie and gleanings from the workshop.

THANKS AGAIN TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED AND PARTICIPATED, and the the VALLICAN WHOLE who’s mandated to teach rural life skills are totally in line with were we are going with this great community!

pig-in-a-day

pig in a day workshop

We are thrilled to be planning this exciting hands on butchery and charcuterie class next month in Vallican, with the help and support of The Vallican Whole Community Centre &
THE RURAL ALTERNATIVES RESEARCH AND TRAINING SOCIETY (RARTS).

Our team at tricycle acres has contributed our happy not-so-little pig, as well as some culinary skills to compliment Ben the backroad butcher and his mad meat skills to bring you a tasty skill building day of butchery and curing.

FYI* the pigs will be killed and hung BEFORE the class, so there will be none of that happening during our pig day, we will be working with 4 hung sides of pork.

Questions and Registration can be made via email or by calling 250-226-7094

For an idea of the type of experience you might expect to enjoy this day check out our favorite UK small holder: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: of River Cottage and chef on the wild side: Follow this link to check out Hugh’s entire Pig-in-a-day movie. Or check out what our friends at shovel and fork in Northern Alberta are offering in there epic pig butchery workshops.

sunny starts

seed rack

We really ramped up our seed starting capabilities this year with this lovely new seedling rack, it holds 16 trays of 36 x soil blockers, which essentially doubled our indoor starts space. This new set up also features upgraded insulation for cold night, double the grow lights and with the addition of some light rope and reflectix foil we have made for a cozy germination shelf on the bottom!

Everyone came together on this design and implementation, and we are being rewarded with great germination rates and strong reaching sprouts! So far we have planted some cold hearty greens; orac spinach, rainbow chard, dinosaur kale, and my favorite asian green lettuce blend, along with 4 trays of onions. Next Saturday we will start the tomatoes and hot peppers. We have been following the biodynamic planting calendar, with our planting and pruning and are looking forward to getting into the moon rhythm a little more this season!

As the snow rapidly melts there is talk of our first compost pile of the season (flush with chicken coop spring cleaning abundance), and a quick brew of compost tea to welcome our new starts into our microbial rich soil conditions here. We have had two stunningly sunny days to wash away much of the snow, and our gardening anticipation grows as beds and and blooms are bursting from the snow.

Last week we welcomed our first intern of the season Dave, he comes to us from Australia by way of Victoria, and brings lots to the team as a fellow Permaculture Designer. We have got off to a running start and seem to accomplish so much with the extra hands and ideas! We have decided to host a core team of 3 interns this year who will all be here through to harvest, and there is talk of some market gardening! Right now the guys are building a loft in the Murt (man-yurt) so it can accommodate more than 1 bachelor for the season.

Speaking of hosting… remember of little friend bacon? Well he will be playing a key role in a Pig-in-a-Day workshop on Wed. April 17 at the Vallican Whole Community Center. Presented by the Valley Permaculture Guild  guided by our friend “the backroad butcher” the class will be lead  through the break down of a whole pig, and he and I will be working through the owful to create some delicious nose to tail treats for the day! More info on this event coming soon.

Smells like spring, with wafts of sizzling bacon and curing parma ham.

soil block starts

Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #4 – Cedar Creek Farm

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How does Heaven on Earth sound? we have a 10 acre organic farm in the heart of the Slocan Valley, Interior BC Canada. In addition to a market garden, we raise poultry (meat birds,layers, ducks, & turkeys), pigs, dairy goats & sheep. WWOOFER duties will be mostly focused on the 1/2 acre market garden. We have camping spots and a second house on the farm. Our ideal WWOOFER is self-motivated and nature loving. We expect workers to work 5 days a week, approx 5 hrs a day weather and project permitting. There is a full kitchen and bathroom available for use. Lunch will be provided on days you are working. Food will be provided for dinner. Sometimes dinner will be prepared and other times it will be up to the wwoofers to cook for themselves. You will need to prepare and provide your own breakfast and are responsible for all of your own dishes as well as contributing to general kitchen clean-up The mountains and waters of our region provide inspiration and recreation for your enjoyment. From fishing, canoeing, whitewater kayaking or just chillin at the beach, the lakes and river of our area are known to provide 1st class outdoor adventures. The mountains can be your playground as well, with hiking, rock climbing, hunting and mountain biking all easily accessible. If you want to learn about self-reliance and sustainability in the mountains, contact us for more info.

Spring projects:
Fence repairs, greenhouse bed prep and planting, seed starting, transplanting, garden planting, barn mucking, compost making, general spring clean-up, harvest over wintered carrots, clean and trim animal hoofs, raising chickens and turkeys, milking goats.

Early summer:
Compost tea brewing, weeding, transplanting, harvest and replant salad greens, fencing & cross-fencing, wild crafting/foraging, chicken tractor repair and use, turkey house construction, begin going to farmers market, milking goats.

Late summer:
Harvest, canning, drying, preserving, milking goats, farmers market, root cellaring, seed collecting, firewood/chainsaw skills, butchering chickens, turkeys, pigs & sheep, winterizing garden beds.

~PLEASE REPLY TO US BELOW AT TRICYCLE ACRES OR EMAIL vpg@rbrand.ca IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS FARM OPPORTUNITY~