Monday, June 29, 2015
Dreams, they are wonderful things, aren't they? They keep you looking forward, learning and growing, and at times, push you out of your comfort zone a little bit. I have been dreaming about bees for a very long time. I did a workshop three years ago, my first experience hanging with bees, and I was mesmerized. It was a magical experience, and I was sure bees would be joining our little homestead the following spring. For various reasons, they didn't, and while I was sad about that, I knew when the time was right it would all fall into place.
Over the last three years, I have kept my dream of having bees alive, reading and researching, learning as much as I can, and gaining confidence that I could look after these amazing little creatures. A few months ago we made the decision that next spring bees will be joining us here, and with that decision came more questions, more research, and more planning. All of the beekeepers I know use Langstroth hives, and so it made sense we would follow the same route. That is until I found a beekeeping workshop focused on the top bar hive.
I spent a few hours on Saturday with a beekeeping enthusiast, and a handful of eager future beekeepers learning about the top bar hive, bees and their colony, and how to look after these magical creatures. It was an enjoyable afternoon, filled with lots of learning, and of course a taste test of delicious honey. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we couldn't open the hive, but we were able to take a look at it, discuss how it works, and even take a peek at what might be happening in the hive, based on the piece of paper you see above. Last week a piece of paper slathered with Vaseline was placed at the bottom of the hive to give the owners an idea of the mite count. It was rather amazing what this little piece of paper told us. At the far end, where it is bright yellow, that is fresh pollen, and shows us that is the entrance to the hive. Obviously as the bees enter the hive heavy with pollen some of it falls off, and was gathered on the paper. After that there is an area with less particles, that is where the queen and her colony are, and just past that there is some fuzzy looking remains, that is newspaper that was added to the hive to fill in a few holes. The bees obviously didn't like it so much, and chewed it up. This is a fairly new hive, and no mites were found, a good thing. It was amazing to be able to gain this much information about the hive from this piece of paper.
When the workshop wrapped up, I was on a bit of a high, and feeling the pull of the bees. We are excited to add them to our homestead next spring, and after much discussion on the way home, Justin and I have decided we are going to give the top bar hive a go. So exciting!!!
So, now the plans and preparations begin. Justin will be building the hive this fall, and I plan on doing more reading and research over the winter, thanks to wonderful resources shared with us on Saturday, and then late next spring we will be ready to welcome the bees.
This workshop was held at the most wonderful homestead/bed and breakfast in Kitchener, and I have to give them a shout out because that high I was riding when I left was not only because of the bees, but also because of the wonderful family that welcomed us into their space, shared information on building an outdoor cob oven (yes, we have plans to add one to our homestead), chatted with me about homeschooling, and made us feel welcome and comfortable on their homestead. Thank you Karin, Greg, Maya and Finley.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"
Reece, a second trip to the strawberry patch because you can never have too many strawberries tucked away for the long, cold winter to come. Once again you picked, and ate, searching out the best berries, and promptly eating them. I love that you have a connection to your food, understanding where it comes from, and how much work goes into growing it. This farm has been a part of our seasonal rhythm for five years, and not only do you have a connection to the berries grown here, but to the farmer and his wife, who greet us, talk to us, and welcome us onto their farm to pick. It's a special place, and it is so wonderful to share it with you.
Joining Jodi for the 52 Project
Thursday, June 25, 2015
We have settled into a nice rhythm with Mother Nature in the garden, rain every third or fourth day, usually in the evening, just enough to give every thing a good soak, but not too much to leave everything sitting in too much water. It is perfect, and the gardens are thriving because of it. My unwelcome guest, the leafminer, has been stopped in its tracks, for now. I have been keeping a very close eye on the beets and Swiss chard, and so far all my extra attention is paying off, and I am pretty pleased about that.
After a few weeks of heavy duty work in the garden, we had a definite change in pace this week. There was more time spent weeding, walking around, and just enjoying our space. I intended to do some mulching, but with our summer solstice celebrations taking up a bit of my extra time, it didn't get done. I have moved it to the to do list for this week.
I gave the tomatoes a little extra attention this week, removing suckers, and tying them up for support. The garlic scapes are ready, and I have been harvesting a few every day to add to our meals. A large amount was harvested on Monday, turned into pesto, and added to the freezer. Tomorrow I will harvest the rest, and more pesto will be made.
Along with garlic scarpes we are eating salad greens, kale, Swiss chard, basil, parsley, rosemary, chives, calendula flowers, and borage flowers. The first planting of snow peas are producing many flowers, and I spied a few pods ripening on the vines. They will be ready soon, and I can't wait.
Many medicinal herbs were harvested this week for tinctures, and oil infusions, and to dry for teas. Catnip, yarrow, heal-all, and comfrey all have a place in my kitchen at this moment as they are being prepared for medicinal use. The St. John's wort is flowering, and the bee balm is reaching for the sky. My calendula from seed is finally flowering, and goodness seeing those beautiful orange and yellow blooms makes my heart sing. This week will see the harvesting of lemon balm, for tincturing, and to dry for tea. The power of plant medicine never ceases to amaze me, and it makes me so very happy to be able to prepare them for my family.
I walk around the gardens a few times every day. The morning walk is slow and meditative, with tea in hand. During the day my walks are more about searching out work to be done, and getting it done. There is harvesting for meals, and sometimes a moment or two of stillness as I look around and take it all in. Before dinner I walk, sipping home brewed kombucha, and just relaxing into the beauty of the garden. And in the evening, as the sun sets on the day, I take another walk, usually with a cup of tea, and just soak up the goodness of it all. It really is a pleasure, growing our own food. It feels good, it feels right, for us.
How are things around your garden?
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Joy is everywhere, and as we enjoyed our morning nature walk yesterday I noticed joy all around me. There was joy in the sweeter by the day wild strawberries. There was joy in collecting...rocks in little hands, and wild flowers in mine. There was joy in harvesting dandelion leaves from the forest to enjoy in our smoothie. There was joy in the drops of water on many of the flowers in our garden. There was joy in the many herbs growing in our garden, some harvested yesterday for tinctures and oil infusions. There was joy in the birdsong that fills our yard, and in the fluttering and buzzing of the butterflies and bees. There was joy in the sunshine. There was joy in a quiet moment with a cup of tea and my book. There was joy in the laughter of two children playing in the backyard. There was joy as my hands reached into the dirt, pulling weeds. There was joy in my before dinner walk around the garden, harvesting food for us to eat. There was joy in simple meals enjoyed outside. There was joy in the eyes of my little man. There was joy in the last moments as the sun dipped down, and night fell upon us. There was joy in the stillness of our home as I slowly drifted off to sleep. There was joy in the simple things, the ordinary things, that made up my day. I made the choice to notice joy, and to let joy find me. What simple, ordinary joys will you notice today?
Monday, June 22, 2015
It's here, my friends, summer! And oh what feelings that brings forth....magic, freedom, and joy. The summer feeling is indescribable, and right now we are soaking it up.
We celebrated the arrival of summer all weekend long. It all started on Friday morning with a trip to the strawberry farm. This trip is our kick off to summer, a ritual that is marked year after year with great pleasure. Reece and I picked, tasted, and picked some more, heading home with more strawberries than we intended...we just couldn't stop picking. Back at home most of those strawberries were made into jam, eleven jars in total, some were frozen to be enjoyed all winter long, and some were left as is, to enjoy fresh. We have plans to head back on Wednesday this week, with some friends, and you can be sure the pantry shelves will have a few more jars of jam added to it.
Saturday dawned with a beautiful sunrise, and the beginnings of a gorgeous day. There was an early morning run for me, and a little lie in for Justin and Reece. The day was filled with bike riding, garden work, and lots of play. A certain little man spent a good chunk of time building a home in the woods, complete with a window, shelves, and a sink. It is a pretty special place, and he tells me he will be spending a lot of time in there.
Later Saturday afternoon I left my two boys at home and headed over to a friends home for a mamas only solstice gathering. We began with a yoga class in her backyard, lead by a wonderful teacher, honouring the sun, and ourselves. After yoga we enjoyed a potluck dinner and gathered around the fire, where we sat late into the night chatting, drinking (tea for me), and laughing. We watched fireflies dance in the dark, we shared stories of motherhood, we connected in the dark under the glow of the fire. As I pulled out of her driveway to head home, my heart was happy and my soul full.
When I woke Sunday morning I was surprised, and so very pleased, to see the sun, they had been forecasting rain, which really would have put a damper on our Summer Solstice celebration. I stepped out on to the back deck, took a deep breath, and offered gratitude to Mother Nature for the wonderful gift of the sun. After a morning of Father's Day celebrations, and preparations for our solstice celebration, our friends arrived at our home. The dads and the kids headed over to the race track in our area, to take in the races and the car show, and while they were gone, my friend and I did a little crafting....soap making and rope bowl sewing. It was fun, and I so enjoyed sharing these skills with her. Once the dads and kids returned there was lots of play, good conversation, delicious food, a solstice fire, marshmallows (vegan and GMO free), sparklers, and lots and lots of laughter. It was a wonderful day, and one that I was sorry to see end.
The weekend has been full, in a good way, leaving me so very happy and connected. Connected to the earth, and to the beautiful people we are so lucky to call our friends.
A big hello to summer, I am so very happy you are here.
How was your weekend?
Saturday, June 20, 2015
"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"
Reece, while I was working to identify a wild flower this week on one of our walks, you sat on a bench nearby. You were very quiet, and a few times I looked over my shoulder to watch you; you were lost in your own thoughts. Gosh, what I wouldn't give to know what was going through your mind. As I walked towards the bench to sit with you, you stared right at me. Those eyes get me every time, so big and soulful. Sometimes I think you can see deep down to my soul with those eyes of yours, and I hope when you do, that you see just how much I love you.
Joining Jodi for the 52 Project
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Well, the summer project to get all the gravel moved to the garden pathways is complete, before the official start of summer. I am not quite sure how we managed to do it, but we did, and gosh it looks good. We are so pleased, and every time I go out to walk around, to harvest, to work in the garden, it all brings a smile to my face.
Since last week we have had more rain, and a tornado warning, mixed with equal days of sunshine and warmth. It really is the perfect weather for the garden, and everything seems to be thriving. The tomato plants grew overnight, the first planting of peas is flowering, the pole beans are starting to climb, the first sunflower is blooming, the first poppy has burst open, the yarrow is ready for harvesting, the calendula keeps sending out new flowers, and all the asparagus is up. The cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and pumpkins are doing well, and the arch is up and ready to help support their growth upwards this summer. The garden is alive, and I am loving it.
We have our first bug of the season, the leafminer. It has been attacking my beet greens and Swiss chard. I have been trying to stay on top of it, and so far, am succeeding. I can't ever remember seeing it this early in the season, but I did plant quite a bit earlier than usual this year, so maybe that is why. Whatever the case, I will do my best, and hopefully keep it under control.
Our harvests consist of the same things as last week....kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, salad mix, basil, parsley, and chives. I did clip a small branch of rosemary for some roasted potatoes the other night too, so good.
Over the next week I have plans to move more straw from the chicken run to the gardens, and I will begin layering in the hugelkultur bed, slowly getting it ready for a fall planting of bulbs, and then a ton of wildflowers next spring.
For those of you interested in the chickens, the two flocks are still in separate coops, but do spend time in the chicken run together for an hour each morning, and then spend the day free ranging in our yard, together. They seem to be blending well, and we hope in the next week or so to open up the wall between the two coops and make them one big happy family.
And that's the update for this week, how are things around your garden?