Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Well the quail are getting much bigger and the chickens are too. Unfortunately, their smell inside the house is also unpleasant. I have them on thick pine bedding and will have to add more shavings before I go to bed tonight. They are just over a week old and I can tell that my patience will be running thin for their scent. In all the forums like backyardchickens.com or backyardquail, little is said about the smell. I have done a find job with feeders and waterers that maintain cleanliness, which has been a sought after goal of mine. Despite this, the smell lingers. Ideally chicks should be raised on wire so that their droppings fall through the wire, which can be cleaned on a daily basis. My brooders, which are the containers that chicks are kept in to maintain temperatures, do not allow for daily cleaning without a lot of time. So the reason I bring this all up... So perhaps another will learn from these trials. I assume that eventually I will have these little kinks worked out and my advice will turn from 2 cents to gold. So, there in lies the ultimate goal... to work out the problems so that I may contribute towards the societal movement towards sustainability, or more so the increased sustainability of the common-person. Maybe the average individual is puzzled about how raising quail or chickens contributes to sustainability, yet I must illiterate that all steps that are movements towards reclaiming our food sovereignty are leaps into the right direction. This past weekend I prepared tomatoes from the garden to can for the first time. They are not sitting in quart jars cooling down in the pressure canner. Even though I've had the canner and the ideas for this endeavor for some time, I've finally taken the steps to putting things good use. Even though I only filled four quart jars, I am relatively proud that I have accomplished something. More pictures and videos to come.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I am busy working on building content and creating videos for youtube. I am able to see my passion and ideas unfold in a direction of expansion and creativity. Although my time is being swallowed by my professional career and educational aspirations, I am continuing to make strides towards defining preparedness and sustainability in my life.  Here in lies one of the greatest challenges, and that is defining the role a new task or a hobby will play in our lives. We all know that taking more control over our food sovereignty and reconnecting with that which produces the food that is put into our mouths, yet a wall exists between taking that step into responsibility and being blissfully ignorant.

In order to get more people to buy into the mentality of sustainability they must see how their efforts can make an impact, yet not be so much effort that their way of life changes too much. Not that total change would be unwanted, it's that the effort should not outweigh the change factor.

I have decided to try quail again, for egg and meat production. Yes, this is where I take that step into processing my own meat from the BackYard. This may be the hardest decision, but I feel that it is time, and I have reached that point mentally that I want to take the responsibility for the protein my family eats into my hands. Although it may not supply all of our needs, I want to be the one that raises and humanely dispatches our food. This way it can be done properly with respect and in the most sustainable way.

Here is a video of the quail and chickens just hatched:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It is time for an update. Even though it has been some time since one has been made, check out the video which shows the progression of the homestead!

It's time to get people fired up about gardening. I am looking into what it would take to create a weekly podcast show that would be produced and created by myself. A lot of updates coming down the line. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The rain is falling and bees are flying

Last weekend I finished the garden beds that I started this past summer. It was more than a lot of work, but I am relatively pleased with the result. Taking advantage of new ideas like Hugelkulture, I am hopefully waiting for a bountiful harvest. Watch the video and follow me on YouTube!

Fall Garden Preparations!

 Now with the bees... they are exponentially reproducing. This will be an important note to the beginner: Based on climate and season, when ordering equipment pay close attention to ventilation. I ordered the solid bottom board + a solid inner over. I had no idea that the bees would be adversely affected. The result has been more and more bees spending nights out on the landing board.

Night time temperatures do not drop much below 80 degrees F here in South Florida. Of course it will get chillier during the winter months, but as I am observing now, the bees have been forced to deal with this. Although it may seem normal to have bees outside the hive at night, to me I can feel that it is stressing to have the hive extremely hot and unventilated. Picture it this way. The bees belong in the hive or on the comb, why because it's their job to nurse, protect and ensure the progression of queen, brood, and the hive collectively. If they are not spending nights on the comb then they are not fulfilling an inherent characteristic. Their genetic desire to ensure the health and progress of the hive has led them to extreme vulnerability on the outside of the hive--free for the picking from night time visitors that may be insectivores.

The bees know this, but are willing to sacrifice a few for the survival of the whole. Why does temperature and ventilation matter-- goes back to the basics of the biology and environment required for reproduction to take place. Anyone who has hatched chicken eggs in an incubator, knows how vital steady temperatures are, so is moisture, and other factors. This is also true with bees, as the eggs and brood require certain conditions for survival.

The ending result is bees that become stressed, because of their inability to fulfill an instinctual role. So lesson learned... use the proper equipment for the right time of the year and the right part of the country/world you live in.

On a extremely positive note: thanks to a friend for the gift of a table saw, I am starting to build hives and getting quite good at the exact measurements. I posted a pic of some of my work completed on Saturday of this past week. Additionally, my father and I are meeting up this weekend in Stuart Florida to pickup our next nuc. These are a special strain with hygienic behavior. Updates to follow.....


Sunday, September 9, 2012

A less testie, positive update

It was definitely time to makes some changes. After experiencing the wrath of some aggressive bees, I realized that it would be much more beneficial to attempt and recognize the bees' needs. During this time, there are few flowers blooming in my neighborhood, and even though bees have been busy during the day, they had yet to draw out any more of the frames after three weeks. It is painfully obvious that what I was doing was just not working.

Last Monday for labor day, I echoed my dad's efforts in picking up some essential oils. I found them at Whole Foods. Following the Fatbeeman, who can be found online and on Youtube, offers several remedies for bee woes with natural essential oils. To combat mites to ramping up growth, there are ways to approach challenges in the bee cycle. This cycle can refer to either stage of hive development, bee health, or the seasonal availability of certain nutrients.

A preventative to mite infestation, I picked up some Wintergreen food grade oil. It rant me about $7.99 for a .5 mL bottle. For more anti-fungal and anti-bacterial defense I found some tea tree oil. There was a range of availability and I picked up the largest bottle I could find for $13.99. The last bottle I found was for lemongrass essential oil which is suppose to spur growth and honey flow instincts in the bees-- it was about $6.99 I believe for a .5 mL bottle.

Before I ordered the hive and got started, I did some research and so many stated that the plastic frames were the most beneficial. Additionally, the black foundation was suggested by several sources. The lady I picked the bees up from and another local beekeeper said they "hate the plastic" and that they may never draw it out. This worried me until I saw the drawing out of the black plastic today. I think this is due to the feeding that I did with the essential oils.

I would have pictures, but I am completely out of batteries. Will have to pick some up. They have been going threw a pint jar of the feed mixed 2-1 ratio of sugar to water and a drop of each of the three essential oils per day. Given that this has only led to two frames being drawn out on one side and about 30-40%, they are being filled with pollen which shows the queen is laying a lot.

While going through the frames I was able to see large worm like brood, eggs, and pollen. I wore my glasses to try and see better. I even spotted the queen for the first time. She was dragging her fat behind across the back of a frame. She scurried around and I was quite pleased to see her. The queen was not a pretty shade of any color, rather she was almost completely black, with splattered spots of yellow and orange. Next time I will mark her and take pictures.

I can conclude that one must take time to understand the bees if they intend to manage them. Even if they plan to be a simple beekeeper, one must provide what is needed until nature is able to provide that component of health. They argument that bees will adjust and provide for themselves, which is the "hands-off" method may lead to poor health, yields, or even the loss of a colony in times of dearth. The feeding may have also contributed to a taming of the bees, as well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beehive... homestead update

It has been just over two weeks since I started beekeeping and so far it's been pretty good. I would say great; however, there are few blooms in my yard so I do not get to see the impact of my new addition. I do not see bees visiting the few blooms I do have in the garden either. The watermelon, Star Apple and Gefner Atemoya are going unpollinated. The two trees usually are pollinated by some kind of beetle, but I suppose bees could help.. eh. I will add that the cantaloupe melon that I planted randomly from seed had quite a few set fruit, but this dry heat is killing everything.

I am not a weather man, but I know Florida is suppose to be wet. Instead, this summer has consisted of two to three days of heavy rain 3-4 weeks dry. It's not what I am used to, and everything has suffered. The citrus tree leaves have been burned, same with many other plants. The fruiting vines have disintegrated. The raspberries, though in the shade, have take a beating, and withered down to brown fragile stalks.  And my garden beds are still solarizing. So it is difficult to name anything that I am excited about watching grow in the back. Even the seeds I started three weeks ago, disintegrated.. well the seedlings did. This is not something that can be controlled by more watering. This creates an ill-effect as the water seems to intensify the drying of the soil. It is as if the moisture magnifies the sun's intensity.

And back to the bees... The are getting testy. I will update later, but they seemed to be stressed about something, maybe will put some water out for them and see if they need some kind of moisture in the hive.... tough when there are no mentors willing to help a guy out. As for papa bear's hive, we did the transfer today( driving halfway each to meet up early in the morning.

The closing off of his hive was almost impossible. Hundreds of bees were hanging on the entrance this morning at 5 AM in complete darkness let only by the rays of moonlight shining through the startfuit tree. Thinking it couldn't be done I reached down for some primal cave man courage and swiped them away from the entrance and plugged it immediately. I duct taped all the cracks and used ratchet tie-downs to secure all parts together. Driving over two hours early in the morning wasn't bad, but keeping the car cold as ice so not to over heat the bees, was numbing.

 After waking up every morning much earlier than I have been used to since I was a swimmer in college, is frying my conscience. I am ready to get these garden beds back together and start growing again. Despite some of these set backs I must say that I am extremely grateful for my good fortune and cannot express enough gratitude for the blessings I have been given. Everything I describe, all the successes and failures are a pleasure. I just hope I can keep my eyes, mind, and heart open to the lessons in each adventure that awaits me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

This should have been posted yesterday....

I had to make an emergency 8 frame hive for my dad's nuc. It looked like it would have be longer than a week before we could meet up, so they had to have a bigger home. The box, bottom board, and cover took me only about two-three hours to build and another few more to paint. Cost was $28 in wood from Home Depot. I had 1 1/4" Screws,  2 1/2" Screws, and some galvanized nails in the garage. Glue and paint was left over from another project.

I made a video of the entire Nuc transfer.. Check it out!

Now that I have put together my first BackYard Phenomena Video Subscribe and follow the journey toward sustainable living and food sovereignty!