9/2012 bees, ducklings, napa cabbage

bees & more ducklings

Yesterday it was so hot out- actually 93 degrees. Today it’s cool and rainy. We’re hanging out in the house mostly, working on inside projects, talking about the big things to finish and the big things to begin. But also enjoying the little things! Our next round of ducklings is hatching out and there’s a chorus of sweet little peeps filling our little house. Our first hatch a few days ago resulted in 9 gorgeous tiny ducklings who are suddenly growing like mad, and being very messy in their brooder tub. Just being little miniature ducks. In our livingroom. I love it.

here they are posing in the box for our own custom beer brewing kit created by our friend Scott at WindRiver Brewing Company!

I’ve been researching bees. It’s just like learning a new language, this apiary-ism. Nucs, bottom boards, queen excluders, outside feeder founts, deep boxes, frames, supers, nurse bees, 9 5/8th, queen cells, swarms, tar paper, telescoping covers…..Studying beekeeping terminology, equipment, prices, techniques is really hard!! But I keep at it, knowing there will be this moment where it will all become clear, just like when I lived in Bolivia for months before I understood what people were saying. I didn’t learn Spanish until I was immersed in it. That is my bee plan. Hopefully I’ll “get it” soon! Then we can get our bee equipment together and finally…. bees in the spring. After going through 18 quarts of honey this year, and purchasing another 12 recently, it’s really obvious we need bees, for more than just honey! We need them here on the farm, and the collective we of the world need bees to eat, since they do the lion’s share of the pollinating of our food crops. If you haven’t watched The Vanishing of the Bees, or Queen of the Sun, please do! I’d highly recommend both.

Speaking of pollination, today was another apple day, and maybe one of the very last of the year. Right after milking time this morning, I went to sweep the grassy areas under the apple trees – not too many there, but I wanted to bring the best windfalls inside before the rain. Got 2 huge 5 gallon buckets full, which will translate to approximately 20 quarts of applesauce and a 5 gallon bucket of apple stuff for turning into my delicious & fragrant apple vinegar. The sauce is simmering slowly, filling the house with an autumnal aroma. It has been so worth it to glean what I can from the apple trees, especially with such a “small” crop this year. Who knows just how many thousands of quarts of applesauce and how many gallons of cider we could have put up with a larger bounty of apples- that would have become our fulltime job, and that would have been overwhelming.

We’re establishing our methods this year and learning from our mistaken method ideas from last year. Always room to grow, improve and adapt. But you just have to start somewhere, somehow, and keep going. Next year we know what we’ll do with a bigger apple crop, if we’re so lucky. We’ll be prepared for it. The applesauce I have sampled at the Farmer’s market is very well received. I can only imagine if we had our own pressed cider to sample and sell too! The farmer’s market is a perfect fit for us. We love the people coming to shop there and the other vendors are awesome organic folks. It’s a great scene! We like it so much that we are planning to attend this market next season on a regular basis. Lots of planning for planting to come! Do we continue to focus on our value-added products at the market, so that we aren’t competeing with already excellent veggie farmers there? I personally would like to grow diversity in our garden for CSA shares, and increase the quantity of crops that are specifically for value added products, like cucumbers and peppers. We’ll see. We’ve also been seriously talking about a commercial kitchen…..oh boy!

napa-tite

At one of our Open Houses this year, we met a lovely couple who are customers of ours. As I was showing them the fall garden plants we had just transplanted in, I exclaimed over my favorite of all time….napa cabbage. The Japanese husband looked at me confused, and I told him it’s the shining star in many types of kimchi. Ah ha, he said, his Grandmother made kimchi with something called Na – Pa, pronounced very differently, & much more elegantly sounding than the Napa “Wine Country” in California.  Ever since I learned this, it’s grown my love of this vegetable even more.

I’ve been fretting since we’ve had some very hot and dry weather basically ever since we transplanted these babies in the garden at the end of July. I’ve been coaching them “Na – Pa…hang in there, look at your big barrel shapes firming up, you little beauties, you can do it, please…. grow for me.” And it worked—Look at this GORGEOUS NAPA!

View from the other side. Oh man, I am salivating. I actually ripped a smaller head out in the garden and ate nearly the whole thing right there. Do I have a problem? Nope just a “napa-tite” as my friend Sara cleverly coined it!

Now remember when I talked about soil blocks a while ago? They are responsible for this magic plant’s explosive growth (of course my coaching worked wonders too!) Here you can see the soil block still semi-intact with the roots extending out:

Isn’t that something!? Soil blocks (we make ours mostly made of compost and a little dirt) are so awesome for the plants who do not care for their roots being bothered while transplanting. Of course the tiny napas’ roots were still completely enclosed in the soil block at transplant time, but I just love to see those strong adult roots that made the massive veggie I love so much.

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