Just a wee update with some happy snaps because we’ve been keeping as busy as bees around here!
The bees are busy indeed and multiplying like rabbits. Time to expand their chambers or to do some splits.
I did end up losing one colony, the only one I have in the conventional Langstroth model hive. I’m going to blame myself for that though, I left a super on over winter and we had a really bad winter. They made it through alright from the looks of things, but left about a month ago, probably because their numbers were still too small to keep a mansion clean while trying to nurse babies to build up the colony again. There was no evidence of freezing or starving, so I suspect they left as a small swarm. That’s my story anyway.
Construction continues on the best project so far. Handy Hubby is building an addition to our house and I’m over the moon excited about it! This place was never meant to be a year-round residence, it was initially used as a weekend cottage and hadn’t been used for many years by the time we moved in.
We’ve been cramped for quite a while, but now we’ll have a new, very necessary and very functional, climate-controlled Utility room. Thank you, my love, better late than never! 😉
We aren’t cat people but we adopted a barn kitten last year to try to help with our mouse, vole, mole, gopher, snake problems. Apparently she didn’t get the memo, or realized the problem was so bad she needed a crew.
Our piglet population is back down to a manageable size since trading 2 piglets for a milking goat to be delivered next month and 2 others for a breeding ram after a friend has freshened her flock. We also traded a beehive for some bantam hens because they are known for their strong broody behavior, and sure enough, here’s one tightly tucked on her clutch. It’s one of my favorite things to trade with folks and leave Uncle Sam with his funny money out of our pockets for a change.
As for garden developments, I continue my efforts incorporating permaculture features. I keep experimenting with good companion plants; I’m planting more perennials amongst the annuals; I’m doing more succession planting; I’m getting lots of comfrey growing for ‘chop and drop’ composting.
My latest addition is a ‘poison garden’ including such toxic beauties as datura, belladonna and castor bean. I’m testing a few tricks like ‘spooning’ the onions, which is to remove the dirt from the bulb tops to encourage larger storing onions. I’m watering weekly with ‘poop soup’ that is, watered down cow manure I’ve gathered from the stray cows sometimes wandering our property.
As always, I let the herbs and greens go to seed, but this year I’m going to get better about seed-saving. The price of seeds is going through the roof! Another new project I’m dedicating time to is more propagating, but not just the easy stuff anymore, like figs and roses and mulberries.
I’m going for the big time—‘native’ trees! Wild cherry (because they taste so amazing), Osage orange (because they are so useful) and prickly ash (because they look so cool) are at the top of my current list.
As for foraging, a favorite spring activity for me, in addition to pokeweed and dandelions, I’ve got another new favorite: greenbrier tips—taste just like asparagus. The root, along with sassafras root, were once the main ingredients of root beer, which I plan to try soon. Yum!
It’s time again for some fun snaps. Apparently my ‘extremist’ opinions are not nearly as popular as far as posts go. What a mystery! 🙂
As usual, not suitable viewing for vegetarians.
But, our veggie of the year has definitely been the turnip. Not too sexy, I know. Personally I think the turnip is way under-rated. Lucky for us, they were so prolific this year we’ve been giving them away, feeding them to the pigs and eating them ourselves pretty much daily. Raw, baked, stewed, roasted, fermented—don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try ‘em! (And if you have any yummy suggestions for preparation, please do share.).
Our small asparagus bed was so over-packed we created 2 huge beds for them, had to go outside the garden fence and cut down a few trees to do it, and still had enough to give a big box away to a sister homesteader.
I also dug up the ‘naked lady’ lilies, day lilies and iris, replanted a bunch of them and still had loads to give away. I love to spread the wealth! It was A LOT of work, but hopefully worth it. Time will tell.
(Note to new gardeners: DO NOT crowd your asparagus, those crowns are a nightmare to separate once they get over-clumped. Lesson learned the hard way.)
Fava beans and lovely greens and my favorite herb, chervil.
Mama Chop, ready to pop! Papa Chop must be very proud, he got Virginia preggers too, her first time. Loads of piglets coming any day now.
We had to borrow another ram, apparently the last one was sleeping on the job. He’s been keeping very busy.
Handy Hubby’s Grand TajMa-Coop post coming up soon, it’s a beauty, so stay tuned!
As the United Nations, Club of Rome, World Health Organization and various other international ‘public-private’ partnerships try to propagandize the world into their vision of “Global Sustainability” there are a number of crucial variables they’ve left out, which localities could capitalize on, if they were made aware of this potential.
For example, did you know there are salt mines all over place in this country? Salt was the basis of our first ‘trade markets’ — long before exotic spices of the Orient — salt was King of the World.
Salt was, well, worth its weight in gold, as the saying goes. Why do we import tea, the ‘native Americans’ might have queried of the mostly British expats settling here? There’s perfectly good tea all around you, can’t you see? And they might have made a few good jokes about that.
But salt? You’re going to import salt, too? What the bleep for?! That’s not even joke-worthy, that’s just a dumb-ass death sentence! You know it’s everywhere around here, right? And the gold y’all so covet, what’s that for, exactly? Y’all are really so very attached to your adornments, eh? Good choices there, give over your salt, so you starve, for gold, so you can pay your taxes. Brilliant system!
Here on the wee homestead we came inspired to see how long and far a road it is to self and community sustainability. We were thinking like most homesteaders, survivalists, etc., are thinking—food, water, energy. Obvious, these are crucial.
But what about the salt? That, along with the water, was the very first thing either robbed, buried, or tainted by the industrialist-minded settlers. Not the ones who came for a better life more aligned with their God and purpose, the ones who came expressly to profiteer for the pay-masters back home.
Long before our water and air were compromised, our people enslaved to the State and our ranges overrun with slave labor, our salt was “buried” by the Global Regulators. There are salt mines and primal (renewable, sub-surface geysers, essentially) water available all over this country.
That was known centuries ago! But go ahead and demonstrate your loyalty to the State, that tricked and enslaved your Great, Great Grandparents and before, by wearing that muzzle of submission and voting for your next tyrant.
Don’t care where your salt comes from? Next you don’t care where your water comes from, or your food comes from, or your energy, or anything else.
I was called a troll yesterday on one of my favorite shows because I’m staunchly anti-vegetarian, unlike the hosts, who are vegetarians.It wasn’t the hosts themselves who called me a troll, because they are not adult-children, and they can stand some backlash from the peanut gallery.
No, it was fellow peanuts in the gallery who called me a troll, and an ugly troll at that!My sin?Stating unequivocally that vegetarianism does not bring one closer to nature.
I could’ve gone on.Vegetarianism is not sustainable.It’s not more compassionate.It’s not more healthy.It’s not how our ancestors ate.And more.
But none of those are even the most serious of the issue.
The vegetarian lifestyle feeds directly into an agenda of Globalism.This is because the vegetarian lifestyle requires massive centralization and vast supply chains.
It’s a question of economics.If folks were closer to nature, and grew their own food, they’d know it’s impossible in most places to grow enough vegetables and grains on a small farm all year long to sustain even a large family without livestock.Certainly there are exceptions in small heavily-populated regions like California and Hawaii.
I understand that vegetarians think they are being more compassionate toward animals and nature, but what about the farmers?How much compassion do you have for them?Vegetarians are making matters much worse for the small farmers, and they are the solution to Globalism.
Of course the industrialized meat system is cruel and disgusting!Yes, please, avoid it if you can!
But the answer is not keep the industrialist food system alive and thriving with veggie burgers and soy shakes.
Without a local market to sell their products, farmers can’t make it without these vast supply chains.The solution really is to buy local and eat seasonal, this is what’s good for the soil, and therefor the soul.
Find Nutrient-Dense Foods – The Weston A. Price Foundation TAKE THE 50% PLEDGE! Help us celebrate twenty years of accurate information on diet and health by strengthening your commitment to support local farms. Spend at least 50% of your food dollar purchasing raw milk and raw milk products, eggs, poultry, meat and produce directly from local farmers and artisans. email@example.com.)
I couldn’t agree more with Max Igan when he repeats that losing our life skills is assuredly one of the most serious vulnerabilities of modern civilization.
Of course, I can’t agree with his ‘no private property’ stance, but that’s another post.
Igan’s outlook reminds me when I was first introduced to the theory of Spiral Dynamics, when my fellow students (mostly middle-aged women of a relatively superior income class) immediately ‘recognized’ themselves in the ‘highly evolved’ stage of ‘Turquoise’. Big surprise.
I was far too polite when I refrained from pointing out what was obvious to me even as a novice, having already been ploughing away on the wee homestead by then for several years.
“Your Turquoise is built on a house of cards, Madame,” is what was obvious to me immediately, and which I longed to express. If it were built on a house of sand you’d be far safer, I’d then add.
Even my favorite synopsis of this social theory fails to highlight the significance of ‘Beige’ — the foundations of civilization.This stage is considered to be subsistence living, hand-to-mouth, barely advanced to basic tribal existence.
The theorist here, Don Beck, demonstrates respect, even some reverence to their ancient wisdom, but with the assumption, it seems obvious to me, that an evolved civilization has technological immunity to such bio-psycho-social devolution that would accompany this exceptional vulnerability of modern life.
You think butchering and gardening, farming and foraging are skills beneath you, Family Silicon Valley?
Or, in the tolerant, nostalgic age they are, at best, quaint lost skills to pine about and imitate in your Petri dishes? Ya’ll can’t possible recognize your feeble attempts bound to fail as you attempt to fit all of creation into your teensy-BIG Smart World?
Think again, former friends. Here are the real skills armies and resilient cultures are built on.
Me, a cheese-maker? Didn’t see that comin’!
Here’s your reality, Family Turquoise, if the grid goes down, you can’t survive, not even for a fortnight. Psychic breakdown would occur almost immediately, due to lack of any authentic earthly connections or spiritual foundations in your personal or family or community unit.
Then the true reality of your vulnerability would hit home for real. You have NO LIFE SKILLS, at all! Not spiritually, not physically, not emotionally.
Most Americans these days can’t even cook from scratch.This skill was lost in barely two generations.And what’s worse, they can’t even fathom what happens to the individual mind, let alone the family and in turn the collective consciousness, when faced head-on with annihilation.
The more ‘superior’ one calls themselves in the modern world is directly related to how vulnerable they really are.Perhaps that’s what the well-quoted Bible translation meant in claiming, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
As a wise woman in an era of uncertainty, who are you going to put your confidence in—the wealthy CEO of Fiction, USA with a San Francisco loft worth a few million on paper—or the ‘poor’ man who can trap, shoot, butcher and even cook the meat for your table?
That the ‘A Class’ woman chooses poorly in this situation doesn’t surprise me at all considering our current state of affairs and the fact that of the many supporters as well as volumes discussing this social theory of Spiral Dynamics, I’ve yet to find one who gets the full nuance of Beige.
Modern folk just don’t want to go there.It’s like the old lyrics, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen gay Paris?” It’s hard work after all.
It’s not just whistling Dixie in your Tu-Tu, thanks anyway, Grandma.
So we get Soy-Boys who are good at sales, rather than competent men who can bring home the real bacon.The ‘elite-class’ calls this ‘evolution’.This is ‘spiritual’ advancement.
Why might they promote this among the plebs and their entertainers? Heaven knows!
If one isn’t capable of hurting a fly, then we’ve evolved to societal sainthood, according to these shysters. This is their Utopia.
As for the adult-children bolstering these Pied Pipers?How long shall the competent among a functional colony support them, I wonder?
Late summer here is my personal version of hell and I bitch about it every year.
What better time to take a break from my current reality where I feel like an indoor prisoner and wake up daily wanting to lash out at all the idiotic Geoengineering causing drought here and weather chaos all around the globe.
I even want to take a break from my last post pondering passivity and violence and just notice for a day, or so, all the little things and little ways we have improved upon since I last felt this level of droughtrage.
I know I am just a bit more blessed this year than last, mostly by my own sheer will and resilience, and that of Hubby as well, no doubt, and that of some inspiring neighbors and cyber-friends, and perhaps if I dwell on that fact just a bit, next year will be just a bit more blessed in turn.
Last year’s late summer garden
Or rather, lack there of 🙂
Last year’s late summer garden vs this year’s, not great, but still better!
A new young friend who loves plants as much as I do helps me identify the hardy, native heat-lovers of our area, and diligently and graciously watched our wee homestead so I could join my extended family at a reunion in July. I look forward to returning the favor when her family vacations in October. This is the sort of small steps a resilient community is made of, not the top-down control of Rockefeller’s ‘Resilient Cities’, because it’s the neighborly reliance that brings real hope and treasures and peace of mind.
I still don’t like okra, but I’m harvesting it anyway for the pigs and neighbors! Every once in a while I throw a few into a meal, along with other traditional Southern favorites we didn’t grow up with, but are learning to appreciate, like collards and Southern peas, eggplant and jalapenos, all which have survived the heat, but would not be here now without regular irrigation.
It’s very hard to keep up with the constant weeding and mulching requirements in such circumstances, but these plants, along with the sweet potatoes, are actually successfully competing with the grasses in some cases. Amazing!
I won’t mention the melons, because I’m hell-bent on keeping this post positive. So let’s mention instead the ‘mouse melons’, aka sanditas, or, Mexican Sour Gherkins. 🙂
Instead, let’s mention the fact that the young sweet potato vines and okra leaves are edible and quite tasty!
And the fantastic find this summer which I’m most excited to expand next year considerably, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.
Crop of the year, in my humble opinion!
Even in the dead of summer, of brutal heat and no rain, we enjoy meals raised primarily on this land. As an added bonus now my raw milk source is 5 minutes away, whereas last year at this time it was 5 hours round-trip!
The aging fridge is full of cheeses we will enjoy all winter: Cheddars, Goudas, a Parmesan and an Alpine, several Brie almost ripe, a Muenster even! YUM! Last week I taught a couple of neighbor ladies to make 30-minute mozzarella and we had such a nice time.
Next they will teach me skills they’ve acquired—spinning, dying, soap-making–a few more small steps in our agorism adventures. Skill-sharing has been such a crucial aspect of our most successful ancestors and I would be challenged to express how rewarding it is for me still, at 50 next month, to be learning so much that is new for me. It is indeed a sort of middle-age renaissance!
I also foraged for elderberries, mustang grapes and peppervine berries, dried some and made some syrups and preserves.
And, Another 400 pounds of pears, or so!
I do believe still that’s thanks to our bees. For several years we thought it was a weather issue, late frosts, whatever, but I am beginning to suspect it was a pollinator issue all along.
We will see, that’s just a hypothesis so far. And in any case we continue for another year to benefit from the cider, the preserves, the cobblers, and the pigs are getting their fill, too!
The Datura remains an absolute favorite of mine, blooming in crazy heat and exhaling the most exquisite fragrance into the evening air. The thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano are gracefully resilient as well, I appreciate all y’all!
And our dear Tori, who just as I was typing this post chased an enormous coyote off our chickens!
The blessings are very close at hand, the frustrations a million miles away. I vow to maintain that truthful balance deep in my heart as I brave the coming days.
It’s been a busy few weeks processing all those pears—I canned over 30 jars of them, we’ve got 15 gallons of pear wine brewing and 9 jars of pear-ginger marmalade. I also harvested our first honey, a whopping 4.5 pints!
(I consider leaving out this part where I admit I did not mean to harvest so much, but I made the novice mistake of lifting out a bar full of capped honeycomb, which in a topbar hive should not be done in high heat, because the comb can pull right off the bar and fall into the hive, which is exactly what happened. It then smashed onto the neighboring comb, killed lots of bees, and meant I had to then harvest two combs and pull out dead bees with tweezers. Not my finest hour.)
Also, we’ve had another agoristic experience I’m happy to report: 3 wild hogs from a friend traded for a half-dozen dressed ducks. No cash exchanged, that means no cash to line the banksters’ pockets or to pay for more illegal wars. I love the idea of agorism, it makes so much sense to me. But, like with all things, the theory is always easier to come to than the practice.
In fact, I could have several more occasions for bartering if I felt more comfortable simply asking. We had a dump truck load of mulch delivered, the perfect missed opportunity. There are many skills involved that require me to up my game and learn things I’ve spent my life avoiding, because I’ve never liked doing them–like marketing, networking, various other entrepreneurial-type skills. I’ve never been that comfortable or concerned with money and I automatically zone out whenever numbers come up. New challenges pop up over the simplest things that hadn’t much occurred to me before, like how to assign value to things or services. What is a dressed duck worth compared to an undressed hog? This is a question a suburban girl never expects to ponder in her lifetime.
Also problematic is distance. I see that bartering sites are popping up quite a bit now in urban areas and folks are exchanging even more now using old standbys like Craigslist. But Austin, Dallas, and Houston are all about a 3-hour drive one way, which make regular trips there un-economical and far too time-consuming. While I’m thrilled to see how popular bartering is becoming, it’s not a decent short-term solution for us.
Now that I’m pleasantly and perhaps permanently unemployed I like the idea of trying to find other ways to exchange and earn that wouldn’t set us back so far that Handy Hubby would give up the plan of an early retirement. That’s our five-year plan. We don’t want to start a business, not in the traditional sense anyway. We like the simple, uncomplicated sort of life; we’ve adjusted to it now. I think it was once referred to as “subsistence farming,” maybe even without the negative connotation. That’s another concept I never expected to ponder in my lifetime.
I guess the criticism from a reader that I am a neo-luddite was valid after all. I’ve changed in our nearly seven years here. Our paradigm has shifted. Cities are too crowded, even social media is too crowded. I hate to think the only option for selling our surplus would be to go back into the matrix and try to navigate the (meta)physical marketplace. Not that I don’t appreciate it now and again, but I’d much rather go for inspiration than labor.
Such thinking of short-term solutions led me to surf the darkweb, to research the black and gray markets. It was a very educational journey full of potentialities. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about that here.
I’d love to hear from y’all–your links, ideas, thoughts, ramblings, all welcome, both practice and theory!
Our first honey harvest was an accidental success, I learned so much about what not to do!
Of course it’s Handy Hubby who does the real heavy lifting. I’m one lucky unemployed redneck wannabe!
Sweet potato success two years ago was two wheelbarrows full. This year, not a one survived, though slips filled two healthy rows at one time in early June. Two years ago, no pears to speak of, in fact only one and a half crops in 4 years. This year, a bumper crop from a single tree that will fill my afternoons for the next week in processing. Peppers one year, tomatoes another, melons everywhere like weeds three years ago, to this year, where are all the damn melons?! I don’t see how the farmers do it. Or, did our farming ancestors count on such extreme variations, whereas today there is an unrealistic reliance on consistency? Hence all the hybrids and GMOs?
I wish I knew. I suppose this has long been the struggle of man and nature that dimwits and intellectuals alike try to grapple with. I read and observe and attempt eternal patience, but in truth it is terribly aggravating all this not-knowing.
It’s baffling and annoying and funny. I try to keep records, but half the time I have no clue why something succeeds or fails, so I don’t know what to record–the temperature and rainfall and seed source and planting dates, ok, but that does not seem to get me very far at all, even when I manage to do it. One year an invasion of squash bugs, another year white flies, another year some unidentified wilt, this year, five different persistent grasses growing like bamboo mats engulfing everything in their path. This has been the most depressing summer for the garden I’ve yet experienced, but I get the sense now I’m repeating that mantra in some form every year.
I get hunches sometimes, for better or worse, and this year I thank the pear success to our beehives. I know timing of the last frost and first good rains fit in there somewhere too, but don’t ask me how. Also failed this year were the figs, one, like sweet potatoes and okra, also failed, were all ones we once called a fail-proof crop for the south.
Back to the drawing board, green thumb. Success in one area, as temporary as it might be, leads to thoughts how to better benefit from such success in future, only in future to find that was quite futile.
If I can get myself past the programming to stop focusing on either success or failure, I might get closer to seeing the bigger picture. Or so they say.
Pear hooch is bubbling happily in the crock. That might be my zooming out solution. One good solution surely leads to another. 🙂