growing good memories

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This blog has certainly gone through an evolution from progress reports on our families transition to rural life, to being an outlet for the community projects and events I am so passionate about creating and promoting. Today I sit in a warm insulated space (for the first time in years) and look out on to our little mountain side farm and take in all of the blood sweat and tears that have got us where we are today…

Our Kootenay adventure started with a lovely piece of land and a gross moldy trailer. We started with gardens and chickens, built woodhenge, and a new road, two yurts, then a lovely outdoor shower house. We added hugelbeds and food forest systems, amazing onsite fertility programs, then came the rabbits and the bees. A cob rocket oven and a cob bench with outdoor kitchen space in the garden even a new green house. Perennial food abounds and now we are surrounded with community fresh water and love.

We couldn’t have done all that we have without the help, and love and support of our families and friends…. and our Interns. ‘Oh our interns…

Two years ago I took the advise of my friend and permaculture teacher Rob, he suggested I forgo the WWOOf’ers I was thinking about adding into the fold and look for folks who share our permaculture ethics and could really embrace and explore the techniques we are playing with here. So in 2011 I offered Permaculture Internships for the 2012 season, and for the past 21 months we have had continuous interns living with us.

Today is the first day Since Feb of 2012 that we are without interns, namely without Jordan. Jordan came here back in April of 2012 bright eyes and eager to live in the mountains and build on the solid permaculture education foundation he had. His 6 week commitment soon passed and we all decided that the energies we had as a team were worth holding on to.  All of our interns came and went for the season and Jordan was integral to their orientation and settling in.  Actually he was integral to just about everything around here, our fertility program was ramped up 10 fold as soon as we teamed up on the pitch forks! Jordan has a great ability to retain just about everything he reads (I am more of a skimmer) so having him drop facts and stats on a whim was always amazing. Jojo made all the crazy permie dreams totally doable, especially when he introduced us to his white board system of tasks and goals.  Every time I dreamed up another event or community project or planting guild idea, Jordan was there to back me up, or take on the challenge  himself and ace it. Not only is he a kind and amazing person we were thrilled to have here, he had also become my personal spell check / proof reader… you all can probably see by now how important that role is to me, as I’m a copy editors worst nightmare!  At the end of the harvest last year we took on a big project, out biggest ever and he was eager to stay through the winter and we were thrilled to have him, he was after all part of our little family by then. Together we starting creating our internship program for the coming season and soon realized, although we were overwhelmed with amazing applications and emails, we were going to build on the family we had made with Jordan. We invited his CSA team from years early to join ours and took on the lofty task of housing 3 full time – 3 season interns.

It was still snowy when Dave arrived from Victoria, and he was keen to chop wood, haul trees, wild craft and hone some carpentry skills. Jordan and Dave were living in the “Murt” together and built a really great loft space. Dave brought us music, and a good dose of laughter. Dr Kombuchy start brewing kombucha for all of us and caring for all the little critters and wee seedlings. We started our (2nd attempt) and breeding rabbits; we had a buck and 3 does and Dave took on that process entirely; from salvaging scraps of everything to assemble their new bunny palace, through the the daily care. Dave was a vegetarian when he arrived, however he was moving toward eating meat from small, local, organic and loving producers which was totally inline with the way we eat… he was in for a big surprise however when our little piggie, Bacon (raised by our friend) was ready for market shortly after Dave’s arrival. Poor guy sat nearby and watched me use every grueling nasty bit of that pig in preparation for Pig-in-a-day. Wow that was a tough 3 days for everyone; Dyl and Jojo did the killing and the skinning and scraping, and face peeling, and I boiled the heads and prepared the organs then created a workshop for 20+ folks to come and learn from our friend Ben the Butcher how to break that beast down.

By the time Isis arrived in the spring there were still remnants of pig… I think she found a hoof buried in the food forest on her first day in the soil! And of course she enjoyed the smoked bacon we were serving. Isis came along to the farm right around the time that Jordan brought home Balou, son of Odin (our golden guard dog) and soon the 3 of them; jordan Isis and Balou were all sleeping outside in the wood shed and Dave had the yurt to himself. Isis was a magic addition to our growing team. Her days were often spent tending to the garden, weeding and planting, and most importantly observing! She is a stellar observer.  Isis and I decided before her arrival that this was the time to finally take on bee keeping.. something we both so wanted to do, so together with the help of some serious queen bee guardians; Elise and Christina, we had the confidence to welcome and care for our new holistically managed bee colony. What a joy. Isis also came to be my number 1 dishwasher (feeding 6 meant for lots of dishes), and wild crafting and harvesting goto. I soon came to know that tone in her voice “…and the cucumbers” this meant I had many a basketful she was hoping to bring in and have me process in short order “the squash, the tomatoes, the grapes, the cabbage (the blue ribbon cabbage that is)…” the list goes on and on. We had our most productive and abundant year ever and this I blame heavily on Isis and her garden fairy magic.

As harvest wound down and the wood supply stacked up it was time for Dave to move on, back to the coast again with a soul-craft stop over. Dave is working with “Farmer Mike” (who I look forward to meeting someday) doing urban farming in Victoria. Maybe Dave’s most important legacy he left in the Kootenays was our daughters new interest and skills in music namely the ukulele and the songs they rocked together at open mike! Dave we raise a cup of turmeric tea to you, and wish you nothing but the best. love + gratitude to you.

Isis and Jordan are back home in the rambling foothills of Alberta now ready for a new page in their adventure together. With a heated home (novel idea) and lots of land to craft and observe, manage and care for. Our community’s loss is Black Diamond’s gain. Those two will do great things together. Jordan, Isis we love you both so much, and can’t wait to see how your future evolves. We wouldn’t be here without everything you have done to help us achieve our dreams. Thank You!

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june at a glance

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Seems like things have been so busy it’s hard to find time to snap a few pictures and write a quick update… but here goes.

The sun has finally come back to us after a week and a half of gloomy grey rainy days, unfortunately it has come back with vengeance and we are bracing for near 40C temperatures YIKES. Good news is the spring has seemed pretty dry and hot, so it feels like the mosquitoes are at bay this year and the garden is in a full flush of green.

The green house which was a new addition this spring is a nightshade jungle with monstrous tomato plants, dozens and dozens of hot peppers and bushels of basil. We are all grazing sun warmed strawberries which is a far cry from the 3 berries we had last year. The raspberry canes are flush with not yet ripe berries (another berry first for us!), and the Saskatoon tree is near exploding with almost ready to bake berries, maybe two million of them, same with the cherry trees. We have a old little plum tree that has come into it’s own this year… I think one of the new varieties of plums we planted has actually become a pollinator for it and it is now drenched in fruit for the first time ever… how exciting is that?

As for the cob oven… with all the rain we haven’t gotten far yet, but we did build a cob-wood base to improve the mushroom like esthetic it had, and now I adore that shape. We have had 1 test fire of the rocket and it was awesome. Tonight we are going to try to bake in it, and hopefully that is the start of many future pizza parties! The bench is waiting on it’s cedar seating addition still along with the kitchen counter top and sink install… Poor Dylan’s to-do list grows everyday. I will report back on how the baking goes tonight!

The other cool addition to the outdoor living area was a major upgrade to the already fabulous shower house… we are officially off the juice for our heat, and have been heating our showers with only compost pile heated coil and it’s brilliant! We have worked out a few kinks out and are happy to host 5 minutes smoking hot –  mostly warm showers all with a big old mound of nitrogen and carbon! Compost is magic on all fronts!

Hmm what else is new? The rabbits are growing bigger and our moma has just spent a romantic weekend with Peter Rabbit so hopefully she has come home pregnant. Our silkie chicken is broody and setting on a small clutch, and the other chicks from early spring are getting huge and happy as can be. Our bee’s are AMAZING! they have made 6 or 8 new combs and are bringing in so much pollen, and working so hard in their new home.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with 6 pares of hands and more time and sense than money!

blueberry luv’n

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Way back in January we ordered 20 blueberries from our local perennial nursery Against the Wind. This week Jordan and Isis planted them with such love and attention that we just had to share this loving process with you all. I can’t help but feel these bushes have the best possible chance at rooting in successfully, and enjoying their life here at Tricycle Acres…

We decided to plant the bushes 4 feet apart on the bias (in a triangle grid) which we do a lot around here, maximizing space. The blueberries were co-planted with a row of strawberries which I am hopeful will produce fruit for us this year as they are hearty and mature so… fingers crossed we will have our own bounty this time round. Here is how these bushes were welcomed to our garden:

First they dug a nice deep hole, at the base of which they placed a fist size rock. Why a rock you say? Well after Jordan spent 2 weeks at the clear sky meditation center planting an intensive cold climate food forest, learning from Richard Walker, he came back with more than one juicy planting tip. The rock for example is more conductive than soil alone and is able to pick up the earths current ever so slightly. Over 25 years trialing this method Richard has found that plants with a rock at the base of the root ball has proven to be more fruitful than those without the bonus conductor!

Next a slurry of peat moss and bone and blood meal was made and poured into the hole with the plant. Then came a layer of premium worm castings (which our very own DIRT BAG: aka Jordan) has begun selling and brewing as his off farm funding venture; more about that soon. The plants then got a layer of garden soil, and a nice serving of our own fungal dominated compost, and then another layer of soil. Then a nice firm pack and a little hand formed crater was deeply watered and top dressed with a thick layer of straw mulch.  Jordan then gave all the plants a boost with his “Better Soil Biology Extract” which consisted of worm castings and two types of our finished composts. The whole patch got a serpentine of soaker hose and a deep rooting growth blessing.

Oh, and we pinched off all the flowers, so that this year the plants energy will go into making roots rather than fruit 😦 I know sad right, but here’s hoping next year will be a blueberry flush… especially with our buzzing honey bees to pollinate them next year… who will be arriving here on Sunday, all 20 000 of them!

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~

Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #2 – Earth Crafters Gardens

Owned by Fonda and Allan Pusey

Entering our 4th year of gardening in Paradise, we are looking for eager helpers to share our knowledge with, learn from, experiment with ideas, and try something new.

Features:

We are a multi-generational family of 5 living on 9 acres of agricultural land on the Slocan River. We share our garden space with another family of 4; growing, harvesting and learning together. It is important to us that our wwoofers, interns and guests are child friendly as our children are a big focus of our life.

We believe in sustainable living, biodynamics, life-long learning, and principles of permaculture fit right in. All of our chickens and ducks are heritage breeds, providing tasty nutrient dense eggs. Most of our seeds are also heritage or heirloom varieties and we believe in growing a diverse selection of food rather than something that “travels well” or is “good for market”. We use all natural manures and composts, no chemicals are used on the farm, and we use and encourage only natural products in our home as well, being very aware that everything is returned to the land and water system that we love so dearly. Our water comes from a gravity fed supply from Pedro Creek and is the beautiful, clean, mountain water unique to this area.

We plant our beds in spirals, circles and other unique designs from sacred geometry with the belief that plants grow better in organic design, and bees pollinate in spiral patterns, creating harmony for all. We have been experimenting with different ways to plant, care for, “weed” and harvest our vegetables and fruits with ideas from permaculture, the Stella Natura biodynamic calendar, and from the Ringing Cedars books.

We live by a Self-designing philosophy of life and work, exploring and learning together, following our passions, co-inspiring and sharing. We encourage our guests to share their ideas for projects and ways of gardening so that we all may learn from each other.

Our meals are primarily vegetarian and organic with whole foods, and local foraged fare. We can easily accommodate vegan and gluten free requirements though some members of our family do eat wheat so we are not a gluten-free kitchen (yet). We encourage and appreciate wwoofers and guests to help with food preparation and clean-up.

Our property borders the highway with the Rails to Trails buffering us from the highway traffic. This allows easy access to local venues, festivals, and restaurants. We encourage our wwoofers and guests to explore the beauty of the area and to attend local pot-lucks, festivals and permaculture group projects and meetings with us.

We share a love of music in our home where you will always hear music playing in some form. You may even have the opportunity (or several) to enjoy some live “jamming” in our cabin, and join in if you are comfortable doing so.

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Projects we intend to work on in the coming year:
build a chicken tractor
plant more apple trees
re-forestation of upper pasture
outdoor kitchen
outdoor shower/ wash space
build a treehouse for the kids
prepare for beekeeping
relocate seedlings and suckers
build a yurt
create a more dynamic space in the greenhouse; incorporating levels, watering systems, fans, and heat retention
expand raspberry, blackberry and blueberry patches
shape and prune trees and shrubs
create natural fencing in the pasture
house and cabin renovations

Typical duties/ projects by season:

Early Spring:
woodworking / carpentry for projects such as chicken tractors
firewood chopping, hauling and stacking
seed starting / garden planning / transplanting/ creating and shaping new garden beds
weed management
attending meetings with Valley Permaculture Guild –learning and implementing great ideas from other local farms
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Winlaw Water festival in early May

Early Summer:
soil building / weed management
garden planting / transplanting
woodworking / carpentry projects (fixing fences, building outdoor shower/ wash house)
wild crafting
foraging / harvesting early berries and greens
art-ifying: adding artistic elements to our growing spaces
attending meetings with Valley Permaculture Guild –learning and implementing great ideas from other local farms
tool maintenance
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Summer Solstice community gathering in June

Late Summer / Fall
harvesting / seed collecting
planting and transplanting overwintering plants
weed management
fermenting/ canning / dehydrating / preserving/ shelling/ jamming
foraging
art-ifying: adding artistic elements to our growing spaces
woodworking / carpentry (finishing projects, renovations to existing living spaces)
firewood / chainsaw skills, chopping, hauling and stacking to prepare for fall and winter
prepping pond/ greenhouse/ garden beds for winter rest
tool maintenance
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Unity festival in August, Sinixt Barter Fair in September

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

Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #1 – The Red Snowshoe

A little bit about us and life at The Red Snowshoe

We (Renata + Dino) moved from Vancouver to the beautiful Slocan Valley 4 years ago and although the learning curve was rather steep at first it is now at a much gentler slope!

We have a unique Bed n Breakfast www.theredsnowshoe.com in Slocan Park – I invite you to check out our website and blog to get a picture of whom we are, where we live and what we do.

We are interested in hosting ‘woofers’ this year. If you would like to get some hands-on experience and aren’t afraid of hard work then you might be the right fit for us! We expect 5 hours of work per day – 5 days per week. We provide lunch and dinner and ingredients for breakfast so you can fix something yourselves in the morning. The vast majority of our food is organic and/or locally grown. All meat in the house is ethically raised and vegetarians can easily be accommodated. We follow permaculture principles (the ones we know of so far – remember we’re still learning too!) and grow our food organically.

We have the ‘White Tail’ tent available when not booked (doesn’t get busy until June). When it’s not available we have a comfortable guest room in the house.

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Some projects planned for 2013:

  • adding more raised beds to the vegetable garden
  • soil building
  • gardening, gardening, gardening (did I mention gardening)
  • building a new deck
  • fencing
  • starting beekeeping
  • building (finishing barn extension exterior)

Other ongoing things to learn and do:

  • learn about dairy goats – we have Nubian goats and will be having more kids this spring
  • cheese making
  • learn about the chickens (layers) their housing requirements etc.
  • other things of a rural nature that we had no idea about until we moved here!!!

Leisure Time

  • we’re a half hour from Nelson and 15 minutes from Winlaw
  • 4.5 km to the Rail Trail for walks/bike rides
  • 5 minute walk to a swimming hole
  • Renata does fiber arts so if you want to have a go at spinning, felting etc while you’re here you are welcome to!

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

More Slocan Valley Farm Opportunities 2013!

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First Off THANKS for all the great applicants for Internships at out Farm this season… We have not got back to anyone yet, but promise we will soon! Keep your applications coming because we are extending our opportunities both here and at some fabulously diverse surrounding farms. We have a number of friends also interested in hosting Permies who want to learn about farming and implement various techniques on their farms sites. Over the next weeks we will be posting summaries about opportunities nearby and details about the various farms around, from organic market gardens, to all breeds of animal raising and processing, alternative building and many unique niches in between. Best of all they are all right here in the Paradise that is Slocan Valley, in the Kootenay Mountains of BC Canada.