I just wanted to share this fantastic site, here’s just one of their high-quality articles, but there are many more of great value for beginners and old green thumbs alike! I’m learning so much from them, yippie!! 🙂
Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) belong to the genus Rubus, along with other cane berries such as blackberries, boysenberries, lawtonberries, loganberries, marionberries, silvanberries and tayberries. What’s quite interesting is that the whole Rubus genus is part of the Rosaceae (Rose) family, to which almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, hawthorns, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, raspberries and strawberries also […]
Oh my, I suck again. Of course I already knew goats are notoriously mischievous. And as a habitual novice, I expect mistakes and steep learning curves, but a nearly fatal accident before my new kids are here even a week?
Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending or I wouldn’t be writing it right now. I’d still be sobbing, watching chick flicks, eating popcorn, and overindulging in kombucha cocktails, like I did all afternoon yesterday.
I don’t handle this kind of thing well at all. In fact, even that expression ‘to handle it’ is too generous, because I barely do. What actually happens is I panic, get hysterical, panic some more, act out of sheer desperation, and then sob, whether or not I was successful. I have so much awe and admiration for real farm folk, the kind that grew up with livestock, so that all this life and death drama is second nature to them. But I grew up like most Americans, very sheltered from death and the other common dramas of nature.
I woke up yesterday morning and went directly to the corral where I have the new kids penned up, for their safety, of course. No, not at all of course. Phoebe, once the tamer and more exuberant of the two, had wedged herself in the feeder, she was on the ground not moving, I thought she was dead. Panic ensued immediately. I left the gate open as I rushed to her, and out bolted Chestnut, who then also panicked as the dogs began pursuing her eagerly around the corral.
Phoebe’s neck was twisted in a horrific way, but she was still breathing. And I couldn’t get her out. I struggled for what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably more like 2, absolutely beside myself. I thought for sure if her neck wasn’t already broken, I was breaking it without a doubt.
I did at last get her out, she tried to stand, head and neck terribly deformed, and fell right back down again. My mind was racing and whirling and the very thought that I was going to have to put her down had me collapse in a heap of sobbing.
She barely moved all day. Miraculously though, she’s now recovering. She doesn’t have her voice back at all, she’s more skittish, but she’s eating, and I am so grateful, and so lucky that my ineptitude and panic didn’t cause nearly as much pain as expected.
Something good in fact came out of it—I realized the wild grapes are ripe as I tore at the vines to bring the kids. Today’s a new day and there’s no time to keep crying over milk not even spilled.
Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead. And just wanted to share a bit of it with y’all.
Peek-a-boo, I see you, hiding in the geranium!
Handy Hubby crushes again crafting a chute for loading livestock.
I’ve just tried my first hive split of the season, fingers crossed! And I came across this excellent document, for any beekeepers, or wannabes, transferring a typical nuc/ hive into a TopBar. I’ve not tried it yet, but it looks very do-able on paper. I really like topbar, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons, like esthetics, lack of upper body strength and general laziness.
As much as I can appreciate spiders, this one had to be evicted from a bait hive, sorry little fellow, but I know the bees don’t love you like I do.
The garden is looking fabulous, fingers crossed again. With just a bit of good fortune, this will be our most fruitful year yet. After last summer, with almost no garden due to a shoulder injury and gaping miserably at large downed trees all over our property, it’s hard to even express how wonderful that feels.
Two antique roses I planted about 7 years ago and have no time to bother with, yet they still do their thing. On the left is Apothecary, a rambler great for rose hips. Behind Buttercup, our most agreeable model, is Chestnut, needing some serious pruning. Ain’t got no time for that!
Moving to the veggie garden, a friend gave me seeds of cardoon, a great heat-loving alternative to artichokes (which I’ve tried to grow every year we’ve been here, with no success). I’m hoping the cilantro will bolt more slowly tucked tight under the eggplant. I’m trying a new supposed cilantro substitute this year called papalo. We will see if it’s even remotely as delicious as the real thing.
One of my favorite herbs, chervil, aka gourmet parsley, with a hint of anise flavor, already bolting because it’s a cool season crop. And one of my favorite wild plants, mullein, because it’s really cool looking, but survives the heat just fine, not to mention it’s many medicinal benefits.
I’m enjoying a YT permaculture channel new to me, a bit high on the marketing for my taste, but loads of good info for the beginners or the old hats, nonetheless.
This is so hard, because it is so good.Kinda like when Elon Musk says, “It must be real, because it looks so fake.”OK, never mind, hopefully the opposite of that.
It’s just, well, here on the wee homestead things are really good.But, it’s hard to talk about that when I know so many are really suffering.I don’t want to boast, or say I told you so, or wag a shaming finger, because it’s not like that.It’s really not.I don’t want, like, intend, wish, prefer, or otherwise conspire to see others suffer.
Well, maybe once that happened.But he totally deserved it.
But, it’s not hard at all to talk about how good things are with many of those in our local community, because they get it.
(Or with the crew on James True’s livestream, whoever and wherever they are.) Lord, or God, that is the question.
We still greet with hugs and hand shakes.We’re not wearing, or home-making, masks, for the most part.Few noticed the restaurant closings or curb-side only service, because most of us can cook.Folks miss their churches, sure.Some miss the libraries.Some get annoyed at the grocery stores.
But otherwise, those I know mostly think this is all much ado about nothing.
And just as I refuse to pretend it’s good when it’s bad, I also can’t abide saying it’s bad when it’s good.That would be like pathological empathy.Been there, don’t intend to go back.It’s a road to nowhere.
Hubby’s employer has delivered their second round of layoffs, so he’s probably next to lose his job. (Note to self: Be careful what you wish for.)
Our nearest neighbors finally started a garden of their own, and even got St. Croix sheep, like ours.And livestock guard dogs.On our one little dirt road there’s now about 12 dogs, that’s about four per household.How fun is that?!
One local friend just gifted me three high-quality top-bar hives, since she’s decided to go full Langstroph after an overload of frustration. Lucky me!She has the cutest kids I’ve ever had the honor of knowing, homeschooled, unvaxxed, growing their own gardens and whipping through the fields on 4-wheelers at 5 years old. Beat that, Gates of techno-hell!
She also lent us her prize, papered, top-notch breeding ram, for free.He’s just been introduced to his latest harem, ours, and he was ON like Donkey Kong.We’ll have a meadow full of little lambs in no time.
Another nearby friend sold us her little old stock trailer for a good price and gave me seeds of a squash she loves that I’ve never tried before, Trombetta.Can’t wait to taste them.
I gave a SCOBY to another nearby friend, and now she’s as totally into Kombucha as I am, and along with the ram-lending friend, we are trading tips and recipes as excited as girls of the old Matrix trading Charlie’s Angels cards.
Sunday here is same as it ever was.
A walk in the woods. A gander into what’s coming out good this year (berries are abounding!) A dip in the creek. A tour through the gardens.
A lounge in the hammocks.A full scale effort to exhaust the dogs.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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?
If you plan to join the growing number of hobby beekeepers the very first step should be to define your goals.I learned that the hard way.
It’s a wonderful thing to see the popularity of beekeeping keeps increasing.I love beekeeping for many reasons, but when I was first starting out the learning curve was very intimidating. And that’s coming from someone who usually adores learning.
Not only was there loads to learn about the bees themselves, but also about how to manage their colonies, which changes depending on your hive type, which is dependent on what your goals are as a beekeeper.
The first question to answer for yourself as a newbie is if you are interested in beekeeping as livestock or as habitat provider, or maybe both.
I had several mishaps in my first years because I hadn’t asked myself this most fundamental question.I hadn’t asked myself this because in all the books, forums, courses and club meetings I’d attended, no one asked this question.The general assumption is always that the beekeeper is interested in bees as livestock, because that’s what most want.
In this case, follow the commercial standards, using their Langstroth hives and peripheral equipment, their treatment schedules for pests and diseases, and their feeding programs and supplies, and you should be good to go.You can buy nucs (nucleus colonies) in the spring, and if all goes well you’ll have some honey before winter.This is by far the most popular route to take in beekeeping.
But it’s not for everyone, including me, which took me a few years to figure out.Honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly, queen rearing, and other processes and products from beekeeping are the main goals of this style of beekeeping and there’s lots to learn from the commercial operators who have mastered many of these skills for maximum efficiency and profit.
However, if you are interested more in providing habitat and learning from the bees, and creating truly sustainable, long-term, self-sufficient colonies in your space, following commercial practices is really not the way to go, and can lead to a lot of expense, confusion and frustration.
In the hopes of encouraging more beekeepers to become honeybee habitat providers rather than livestock managers only, here are a few tips and resources.
The conventional practice is to keep all your hives in a ‘bee yard’ for reasons of convenience and space.This is antithetical to bee colonies’ natural proclivity to nest far from one another. It creates problems of diseases and pests that spread rapidly in conditions of overpopulation, which is why so many treatments are needed, and then feeding when nectar/pollen flow is scarce, as well as being hyper-vigilant in your regular hive inspections to find issues immediately before they spread.Now that I have spaced my 6 hives out around a very large area I’m having far more success. But, only time will tell!
What else I’ve learned:
The typical Langstroth hive is made for easy transport and standardization purposes for the industry mainly, but they are not ideal for the honeybee habitat provider, because they are made with thin walls in order to be lightweight. This means they are poorly insulated and so not suitable for the long-term stability of the hive—getting too hot in summer in southern climates and too cold in winter in northern climates. Our top-bar hives and nucs have thick walls and insulated roofs.
If you want your bees adapted to your area and climate you don’t want to do the conventional practice of buying new queens every couple of years.Ideally, you’ll want your colonies to produce their own queens.Queen-rearing will remain an essential skill for a more advanced beekeeper, because occassionally you may still want to make splits to increase your numbers or to replace weak colonies, or to re-queen another hive displaying poor genetic traits.
When the colonies are weak, depending on the issue, they may need to be culled. This is rarely suggested by professional beekeepers who promote regular treatments on which the weak colonies then become dependent, while still spreading their weak genes on to subsequent generations and their diseases and pests to other colonies.
Just like the faulty logic of ‘herd immunity’ in the vaccine debate among human populations, many commercial beekeepers use the same complaint about those of us who want go au naturel,that is, treatment-free, with our bees.
Many scientists and researchers are trying to raise public awareness that this is not how herd-immunity works, not in livestock or in humans, and I applaud their efforts. I personally find referring to populations of people as a herd to be insulting. I think it actually trains individuals through neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to think of themselves and each other not as unique and separate individuals, but rather as cattle to be managed.
You’ll also want to mostly forgo the conventional practice of swarm prevention.The goal is for the bees to become self-sufficient, as in the wild, where colonies can live for decades with no hand from man to aid or to disturb.Some of these colonies are enormous, like one we found in an old oil barrel, there for over 15 years and thriving with multiple queens in the same colony, which most likely swarmed annually.
Swarming is a natural, bio-dynamic process performing many different functions for the colony, hygiene being an essential one. Everything the beekeeper takes away from their natural processes is a stress on them which must then be alleviated by other, most likely artificial, means.
Plant perennial and annual crops the bees like for your area and climate.Here in the south there are plenty of plants that bloom at different times most of the year, giving free bee buffets from early spring to late fall, like: bluebonnet, white clover, hairy vetch, wild mustard, vitek, morning glory, trumpet vine, yaupon, and lots of garden herbs and crops, too.It is my greatest pleasure to harvest cucumbers, peas, beans and arugula surrounded by forging bees—they love them as much as we do!
Experimenting and observing is the most fabulous feature of the honeybee habitat provider!
I know a homeschooling homesteader with an observation hive in their house that the children treasure.Not only do they learn from these fascinating creatures about how they operate in the hive, but how they are connected to the seasons and to their environment.They’re learning constantly from the colonies’ successes as much as from their failures.
I practice slightly different techniques with each hive to discover which methods work best here on the wee homestead: one hive has a screened bottom board, one I keep with a reduced entrance all year, one’s in full-sun and another partial shade, and so on.Not that this will necessarily solve the mystery of colony failure, but every bit of data helps!
Some unconventional resources:
The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters by Simon Buxton (2004)
The Dancing Bees: An Account of the Life and Senses of the Honey Beeby Karl von Frisch (1953)
Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder & Heather Harrell (2012)
Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture by Ross Conrad (2013)
The Girl Scouts was as close as this suburban girl ever got to learning any kind of traditional skills growing up.I quit it early on, considering ‘badge earning’ to be well beneath my expanding “cool kid” facade.
But if there’s a badge worth earning, midwifery would be up there with the loftiest of them. I’m humbled and proud to say I got to experience it last night for the first time.
I bit of critical background:I’m squeamish.Considering we didn’t have children of our own and I didn’t have my own dog to take care of, let alone any pet previously to our dear Papi, at about age 42, it seems to me squeamishness pretty much comes with that territory.
It’s because I was well aware of this personal limitation that I NEVER imagined we’d have so many animals.
Chickens, for us and many other clueless homesteaders, are the Gateway Livestock.Then came ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and more dogs.But we both swear we’ll never get cows or horses.(Ahem)
Considering my penchant for ‘Too Much Information’ I’ve now been acclimated to loads of poop, vomit, blood and morbid sounds of all sorts.It also got me scared, very scared, about all that can go wrong with pets and livestock.And how painful that is, and knowing this truth in advance is useless.It does not help the pain by expecting it.It does help though to be prepared.So far I give us a C+ on that when it comes to the critters.
My TMI penchant leads also to so much online and in books about serious diseases and awful complications and the myriad very dirty deeds endemic in the farm life.Talking to others more experienced will also always bring sad stories and sometimes tragic ones.
Maybe I don’t quite deserve my badge just yet, but I’m fairly certain I saved our ewe and her young lamb last night by being at the right place at the right time and doing my usual C-level work.🙂
When our ewes have lambed in the past I was not there to witness the actual event, only woke up to find the lambs delivered, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.On one occasion I found one mutilated by our young puppy and I had to kill it.I cannot speak about this moment still today a year later without tears.It was the most confusing, stressful, tragic, sorrowful day of my life.Like most in the so-called advanced economies, we grew up very sheltered from death and from the act of killing.Hubby would’ve handled it far better had he been home.I was alone and a basket case.
I was alone again this time when Buttercup gave an unusual and very loud bark audible from inside the house that clued me in that something was going down.I went to the stalls and saw mama was in labor.I was determined to watch it all and learn.
I was hoping and intending to remain a bystander to nature’s miracle.
As it happened I could tell something was wrong right away.Then I doubted myself. Then I went back and forth a dozen times, yes, no, yes, no.
Then I concluded, no, something’s really wrong here, get help.Help?Like from who?I called two friends with more experience and they didn’t answer.I looked through our book on sheep, panicky by that time.I call Hubby.He calls his folks and searches online while I pace waiting for the bread in the oven to finish so I can go back to the stalls.
I muse, even in this stressed state: “Oh, we’re both waiting on buns in the oven.”Yes, that’s how I cope with stress, and most things really, goofy humor.
It doesn’t occur to me again that the fetus that the ewe cannot seem to push out is in fact dead until hours later.Yet, I felt it, even considered it immediately, instinctually at the very first moment I saw it. I just tried to over-ride that feeling with too much doubt and reasoning and wishful thinking.
On the phone with Hubby we decide there’s really nothing I can do alone in the dark with no experience and no equipment and no nearby vet.Then he calls back and has changed his mind.He urges me to go back out, put on some rubber gloves, and see if I can help her.
And he was right!As soon as I touched the fetus it was obviously dead and my foolishness at waiting hours to “realize” this washed over me.I strained, along with mama to get it out, knowing if not she would surely die as well.
At last it came free, followed by another smaller, but wonderfully alive little treasure!
I’m happy to report as of this writing about 16 hours later, mama and babe are doing well, eating and drinking and getting to know each other.
Yes, I was alone, but really, it was very much a team effort. Thanks y’all!
We just wanted to share a few updates from the wee homestead, on the winter garden and other news.
Dreary weather whiplash here, hard to say if our holidays will be white, green, gray or brown, but thankfully we still eat fresh, easily, every day.
Growin’ on now are: broccoli, lots of lettuces, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, kale, our favorite herbs–dill, chervil, cilantro–loads of collards for us and the critters, planted thick as green manure and spring bee food, too, like hairy vetch.
It’s high maintenance, we cover and uncover the boxes as weather requires, and it’s slow growing with shorter days and an abundance of overcast days.
But, the limited harvest results are DELICIOUS!
Triumph for the season:
I was interviewed about natural living on Crow777, a site I’ve mentioned here many times as a cutting edge, paradigm shifting, life affirming podcast I highly recommend.