Saturday, August 4, 2012

an observation

I've been riding Merlin on my road the last two weeks and I've noticed something interesting. People in cars and trucks seem to see Merlin and me as either an obstacle they drive around (usually at no reduced speed) or something that comes out of nowhere and surprises them around a turn. Both are understandable. But people on motorcycles seem to have a whole different appreciation for another non-car driver and go out of their way to cut a huge berth and make as little noise as possible. They always wave too. Some people in cars never even look at us. Why do you think that is?

what heals you?

I no longer carry conventional health insurance. I gave up the coverage for prescriptions and office visits when I gave up my corporate job, it's part of the trade off for working at home on the farm. Instead I pay $163 a month to Empire Health and that covers hospital care I may or may not need in case of an emergency. So when I feel a little under the weather, I don't call the doc. I go out to the garden. Now it is traditional herbal medicine I turn to and as of last week's upset stomach that meant blackberry root tincture. You see, I had a common stomach problem, one we are all familiar with (the one that involves fast expulsions of food from non-mouth orifices) that lasted too long. I did some research with my homegirl Rosemary Gladstar and found that Blackberry roots tinctures are the remedy. I didn't have blackberries handy, so I ordered some online. A company in the Ozarks mailed me a combination of pressed roots and grain alcohol and after a few doses s in tea three times a day and I was back to normal.

This was not my first adventure in healing myself. Do you remember me writing about the serious carpal tunnel I had? When I still had that health insurance I went to an orthopedic center to get an electronic test through wires and electric shock to monitor the seriousness of my wrists. I was told I needed surgery. Then I mentioned it to one of the elders at Common Sense and he kindly and patiently shook his head at me. He told me his carpal tunnel was so bad he couldn't hold a pencil. Then he started taking 100-mg of B6 and 50-mg of B2 a day and within three months he was back to normal. I've been taking the same and no longer sleep with wrist braces and unless I am typing for a long amount of time I do not even feel pain anymore.

I'm not saying there are supplements or natural cures for everything. I'm not against doctors either. You better believe I am keeping up with tetanus shots and doxy after deer tick bites...but I know a lot of people who heal many things with herbs and vitamins. I know someone who overcame depression with Niacin. And folks who flush Vitamin C through their systems and cure the flu. Many of us calm ourselves down from stress with a cup of chamomile tea or drink mint tea when we get an upset stomach. There are endless and ongoing things to learn in this field. And I have an idea...

I'd like to collect a pile of reader herbal remedies or folk medicines here in the comments. If you have or know of any herb lore or healing arts, share your homemade teas and tinctures here and all of us as a community can take notes. While some of you may be advanced herbalists, some of you may be more like me. So I shared my blackberry root tincture and carpel tunnel cure. What heals you? Share your own remedies and out of all the comments I will send one random winner a copy of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes. A wonderful beginner's guide to backyard herbalism and healing! P.S. Hey folks! Today is the last day to share your herbal remedies and stories. I had no idea there was this much interest out there! I'll keep you updated on my own herbal stories but for the now, you have till dusk EST to get in your ideas to win the fancy book. So keep the responses coming! I am taking notes like crazy!

some people get guard dogs...

Friday, August 3, 2012

uphill crawling

The first few weeks of a running program are hell, but somewhere between 4-6 weeks of jogging, five days a week, your body surrenders and finally exhales. It learns to work well under the strain and even enjoy itself in the process. Today was hot and balmy, but I still craved my afternoon soaking. It was around 90 degrees and humid enough to ring out your shirt after walking to the mailbox, but I was only going to the bottom of the mountain and back. The distance down to route 22 was only a mile, two till I got back to my door (the second half all uphill of course). It takes me twenty five minutes or so, but it isn't a race. I only know the time because that's how many songs I need to program on my play list for the pavement. I headed out today and within the first few steps I knew it was going to be a good run. The kind of run that makes people write about them. Thus.

Anyway, I was heading home, climbing up the mountain at a respectable clip when I got lost in the music. I ran with the song, a soundtrack in my pumping heart and I felt the extra air get pulled deep into my lungs as each little hobbit ham pumped and pulled me forward. I think of Merlin when I run. Both of us are not the versions of our species you see on calendars. We're both older, chubbier, shorter, and eccentric for modeling in the horse and human world. Okay, so we're not aesthetic superstars, so what? Just two days ago I was on his back and we were running up this same road together, as a team. We may not be centerfolds, but by Dagda we move like we are alive.

I was half a mile from home when a Subaru passed me, then stopped in the middle of the road about 20 yards ahead of me. I cocked my head to the side, worried they broke down since there was nowhere to go but my driveway and it wasn't the car of anyone who lives on my road. They made a K turn and started driving back towards me and then rolled down the window. I halted my jog and pulled out my ear buds. A kind looking man in his fifties with his wife peered at me with mild concern. He asked, "Are you running because of some emergency? Do you need help?"

I smiled and huffed out that I was fine and I was just running to lose weight, get in shape. This was not a satisfactory answer to the Subaru owners. He returned with, "Oh. Well it's the hottest day of the year, don't hurt yourself" And he drove off. I headed back the last couple of strides home, convinced that I have spent my whole life running uphill with people shaking their heads at me, confused and convinced at the same time I am a nut job.

Maybe I am, but I'm beating my best time at it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

drought of sanity?

Because I spent 90% of my life within 30 square miles these days, I have not been following the news well. But recently I have been researching and following the conversations going on about the Midwest's corn drought and it is making gears turn. If you are not familiar with the issue here it is in a nutshell.

The USDA has declared that 50% of the corn crop is basically destroyed from the drought. Their exact words are "poor and very poor condition." This is bad news. It effects everyone since corn has gone from on-the-cob to in-everything-in-the-supermarket. Droughts happen, but this one might skyrocket the price of many foods that buy corn to make their product. Things like meat and milk, processed foods and packaged things. More American kids know what a Pop Tart is than a buckwheat pancake so I assume this will ruffle some feathers.

And here's the rub: it is law in this country that 13% of our fuel contain ethanol. So if there are ethanol factories that legally have to obtain this short supply of corn, the supply gets even more dear. So farmers are asking Congress to rethink this 13% mandate because it can only make things worse, and it opens a whole other can of worms, so I ask you:

Should food be turned into fuel?

EDIT: Tomorrow's issue of The Guardian will feature my editorial/comment on this subject. If you aren't following the comments, read them and join in the conversation. This is important!

merlin likes sprinklers

photo from

down in the willow gardens

MEAT RABBIT 101 Next Saturday!

I'll be hosting an introduction to meat rabbits later this summer here at the farm! It will be held on Saturday, August 11th. The 4-hour workshop will explain the basics of setting up a small rabitry for personal use. Patty of Livingston Brook Farm will be doing a detailed butchering demo and will have her beautiful flemish giants and flemish giant crosses for sale. Come learn about the other, other white meat. A friendly and compassionate introduction to backyard meat. Only 4 spots still available!

Here's a great article about raising rabbits for food from the NY Times, lots of great photos!

photo from

Get Your Axe On!

Hey gang! Alex from Old Fed Ax Co. wanted me to tell you guys that you can save $10 off his homestead skills DVD with free shipping to the US and Canada. Offer good till August 6th. Thanks Alex! Click here to go to the offer site. And if you don't want to buy anything, if you sign up for their emails you get a free e-booklet on axes, skills, and homestead safety and its certainly worth the 30-seconds of your time. I love free resources like that.

onion wisdom

I remember an old joke about the 80-year-old man with the amazing garden in his backyard. His young neighbor keeps trying to grow food and he asked his elder, in exasperation, "How do you manage to keep that garden so healthy!?" and the old man explained he stopped putting things he couldn't grow in his garden. This is wisdom.

I am a struggling gardener at the Jackson Farm. I was far better in Vermont where my the garden was fenced, and I only had a handful of animals so most of my time could be dedicated to it. If you go back and look at posts from 2008 and 2009 in July the garden is stupidly bountiful.

Here, I am good (read good to mean, groundhogs and deer do not eat) onions, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Yes, Italian food. My groundhogs are in no way affiliated with the mafia.

Bonus Tip: do not rub your eyes after picking onions.

winter prep update

Yesterday I made the decision that the 30 bales delivered by Common Sense Farm would remain in the barn, untouched. They are needed for winter and if I want to start stockpiling I need to start now. The hay was delivered as a barter. I have a friend who raises hair sheep in Hebron and I asked Othniel (head honcho on CSF) if he would be interested in trading feeder lambs for hay? Since his farm grows hay, and I could pay cash for the sheep, I would deliver the lambs and he could pay me in more hay than I could buy with the same amount of money I used for the sheep. So if I spent 200 bucks on lambs, he would deliver 300 bucks worth of hay. Everyone wins because I get more hay for my money, the farmer sells sheep, and Othniel gets livestock without spending a dime. So yesterday we talked with the sheep farmer, and put some deposit hay in my barn, and soon two yummy lambs will be delivered to Common Sense.

This is the kind of thing I have been working with to prepare for winter. Ways to save money and still have what I need. I have decided I will need four cords of firewood (I have one now), 200 bales of hay (I have 30), two chimneys professionally cleaned (I know people do this themselves but I am scared of heights, don't own a ladder, and would feel better having someone qualified do it) and some money set aside, just a bit, in case of truck repairs or snow-related complications. That is my goal. Yesterday I chipped away at it and bought 6 extra bales from Nelson Green on the way home from Hebron to use now so I don't have to touch the larger stash. I asked Nelson when his second cutting would be in and he said next week. It was good to see him, and catch up. I had not seen him all summer and last time he was dealing with lung and breathing issues. Yesterday he was on the riding mower in his classic navy blue dickies and work shirt, strong as an ox.

I have some bills to take care of first, but soon as I can wrangle it I will order and stack that first cord of firewood (well, second) and when I have 100 bales of hay put up and 2 cords of wood I'll feel a lot better. I know it was just July but before you know it I'll be driving home from the Mother Earth News Fair in PA and calling Port-a-potty vendors about Antlerstock. A girl has got to act when her gut says act. Right now, my gut is only thinking about dead grass and trees.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

winter is coming

Fall is coming, faster than ever before. That's how it feels to me anyway. Now that I'm self employed and the company money stopped coming in, getting hay and firewood squared away requires a little more resourcefulness. I have two months to get in my 250 bales of hay, 4 cords of firewood, and some money set aside to cover any winter emergencies like truck repairs or snow removal. It's a little scary, actually. Not in a debilitating way, just the amount that has to be done before snowfly.

Today 30 bales of hay are being delivered, which due to limited pasture will be eaten before winter. I'll get one big delivery in the fall and load whatever I can in the barn and then rest under tarps behind the barn. It'll do. Firewood will be delivered a cord at a time as I can swing the wood fee. If anyone out there in interested in workshop barters for hay or firewood, send an email.

What are you doing to prepare your homes for winter?

rip those loaves!

August is the beginning of autumn to me, usually more in hint and spirit than in actual weather. Nothing is shouting FALL! into your ear, instead you notice it like whispers vibrating off the squash vines like a string on a child’s tin can telephone. Walk outside for morning chores and take in the heat, but even the novice to country living and feel the change. There’s less humidity, the first leaves are starting to fade and hang differently. The garden and the forest itself are heavy with the peak of its growth, like a bowl of milk about to tip over and spoil. Senescence is just around the corner and the break-neck pace of growth seems to only apply to weeds, which by this point I have allowed to devour parts of the garden without fuss.

They used to call the first few days of August Lammas, which translates from the old Anglo-Saxon into “Loaf Mass”. Since the summer wheat was harvested before other fall crops, it was the official start of fall to people in European agricultural societies. Which is understandable on many levels, since people are not only bringing in the first big crop, but are bringing in a crop that will be ground, stored, and set aside in casks and sacks to feed their community through the dark months ahead. This made the wheat harvest the first of several insurance policies for winter, and when you are out there cutting sheaves and grinding flour for winter bread I assume its pretty hard to feel like you’re still on summer vacation....

It was a day of work, but also a holy day. People brought loaves made of the first grains of the year into their churches to be blessed and then that sacred Lammas bread was not eaten, but ripped into four equal-sized pieces and placed in the four corners of their barns. There it sat as a happy little sacrificial offering. A tangible symbol of hope for a safe winter and good luck.

And If you think I am one to buck a couple hundred years of tradition, you have another thing coming. On this Lammas full moon, I am baking bread and you better believe the four pieces will be in my barn by evening. One in each corner, which will certainly end up being eaten by for the goats, chickens, and rats but who dines tonight in the red barn, well, that's not up to me. It's up to Lammas.

Next year, I'll be harvesting wheat. Mark my words!

August Johnson is the winner!

Of the FREE instructional DVD from Old Fed Ax Co.

email me, August, and I'll get you in contact with Alex!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the celtic cow pony?

Yesterday trainer Dave wanted our lesson to be about western riding. It's what he rides, what he teaches, but that wasn't his real motivation with going across the pond, tack wise. Dave always tells me "riding is riding. tack means nothing to a horse" and I believe him. I ride English because it was how I was taught, and because its the culture of riding I come from. It's also the tack I have and what makes me comfortable. I like less saddle and more horse below me. I like the good experiences we have had together, in dressage and at the lesson barn. So I am biased and unapologetic about my love for the English Ride.

Tough shit, said the Universe yesterday. Time to leave that comfort zone behind and try something new and feral. I got a magical trainer and he says its time to git along little doggies. Git, I shall.

Dave had me get my barrel racing saddle I bought at the poultry swap last spring. I have only used it once with Merlin and that didn't go well. It was my second trail ride out ever and Merlin was fussy. I got up on that couch and felt like I had no communication or control, like someone had piled up a leather couch between me and my horse and we were unable to communicate. This is, of course, hogwash but how I felt at the time. It was too new to me, and Merlin was backing up and acting up and I was scared. Patty got me through it, even though my weird English Saddle fetish confused her, and we never went back.

Dave wanted to try a different method of communication and ease with Merlin. So far, Merlin and I have used a tight rein, a D-ring dressage bit, a hovering English seat and a crop. Dave wanted to put on my Easy Rider saddle, and use a minimalist type of bridle called a mecata, with rope reins held loose. His whole method of riding is through feel and mutual respect, using my intention and "feel" and using aids like legs and heels and reins as a last resort. I was a little worried about holding reins loose in one hand and sitting up on that couch again. I didn't understand his "feel" either. But let me tell you something about that first lesson

It was amazing.

A 100% turnaround from last week. I needed a lesson in western saddles and the best way to actually tack him up, but from there on it felt as natural as can be. Merlin was so willing, so good, so happy having his head back and listening to my body. I did not need to use a crop once. I did not need to be rough, or scold or use spurs. Hell, I didn't need to use my heels. In under one hour with Dave at the neighbor's field I could get Merlin up into a working trot from a lazy walk and stop him on a dime using Dave's techniques.

So am I a convert? I think I'm still more comfortable in my English tack, but I think what will work for me and Merlin is going to end up being a combination that suits us both and my goals. I didn't buy that horse to trot in an arena, I bought him to ride out in public, across roads and landscapes. To do that comfortably I think we'll end up combining everything I learned. Don't be surprised if this fall you see a photo of me and Merlin in a mecate headstall with black rope reins over an english endurance saddle with my saddle pad sporting a patch with a celtic circle with two crows in it. We're travelers, us. On the road to a better ride, a better relationship, a better feel.

cowgirl, up!

cat and the fiddle

meredith's socks

Meredith Green is a reader who knits the greatest socks in the world. Actually, a few of you have mailed me knit socks and as far as I am concerned, they are ALL the greatest socks in the world. When a package comes to the farm of a certain bulk and weight, I squeeze it and silently pray "socks socks socks" because a pair of hand knit, 100% wool socks are my homesteader crack. You have any idea how great a new pair of wool socks feel under your rubber boots on a November morning? It's like putting armor on against anything the farm can throw at me. Between their warmth and insulation and the Wellie's waterproofing rubber I feel better outfitted than someone in Gore-tex liner and Vibram soles. I am farm ready. I can step in a 6" puddle of almost-frozen water and poo and come out dry and toasty. And when you come inside from all that and

I'm thinking about this because I have two unworn pairs of Meredith's socks here and I am saving them for the first frost. They sit wrapped in my kitchen just as she mailed them, waiting to be called by name in a little pyrex bowl under the bookshelf. (My kitchen doesn't have a microwave anymore, I moved it to the tack room and turned it vertical to hold my western saddle, but I do have bookshelves!) It's almost August 1st and that means first harvest to me. It means it is time to start buying or trading for cords of wood. It means getting chimney's cleaned and the pony barn walls up. It means getting hay, A LOT of hay, put aside and fences mended. It means getting ready for the big Mother Earth News Fair and then Antlerstock on Columbus Day Weekend. Antlerstock is always a huge party but I am hoping to celebrate that weekend knowing that hay is in, wood is stacked, and I am ready.

I want this to be the winter I learn to make socks. I really, really, do. I can knit, purl, cast on and cast off. I can make hats in the round, and scarves of course. I think I have all the tools I need to learn socks and the darn truth is all I need to do is sit down, start knitting, and pay attention to some books, videos, and knitters. If anyone has any favorite beginner sock resources, the no-fail type, please let me know!

*Random Updates*

I have an update about the Against the Grain Workshop. I am ordering books and printed cloth sacks for the seed distribution, but they have not arrived yet. I will mail out the packages for those taking part in the online or in-person workshop soon as I get them in. I wrote by August 1 but I didn't realize how soon that was, so expect them shortly after, before September. 

Webinar subscribers, you are not forgotten. You will get nine more videos, and your subscription lasts until they are delivered even if it spills over into 2013. Next up is Wool: sheep to spindle and is 20 minutes long or so. Your link will be emailed soon as I have the 5+ hours to finish it up, but since I am working on them every night they are coming along. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

I loved my first western lesson!

Interview with a woodsman + FREE DVD giveaway!

I recently contacted Alex from the Old Federal Ax Co. His life is dedicated to the survival and homesteading skills associated with the forest, and teaches about these things for a living. I asked him if he's be willing to do an interview here and get people who may be interested in being better with their own ax and woodpile. He is a kind supported of CAF and is a sponsor of this site, but he also offers a free e-booklet on his website, Old Federal Ax Co. That all of you can have for no cost to learn some safety and techniques. Go to to check out the resources. You won't be sorry!

Also, I will be giving away a copy of his 2 hour long instructional DVD titled, "Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness Survival." I own a copy myself and think its a wonderful asset to anyone out there on the land or anyone who hopes to be someday. To enter to win it, leave a comment here after this post. Ask a question, tell a story, or share your own tips and techniques. Winner will be picked Wednesday! Now, on with the interview!

Alex, welcome to the farm. Could you introduce yourself to the readers, tell us about your work?
Thanks for having me! I'm a survival instructor in Portland, Oregon and I focus on practical survival, primitive skills and tracking. I also teach nature awareness, what I call Intuition in Nature. Ax Skills are also a big part of what I do and teach - axe history, fixing handles, making handles, sharpening axes, technique and safety classes, felling trees, the ax as a survival tool or a homestead tool, you name it.

How did you get started in Survival and Axemanship?
My dad is a carpenter and woodsman so I grew up with axes and tools and ever since I can remember there's nothing I liked to do more than swing an ax. He taught me how to use axes safely, how to sharpen them, and how to replace the handles - then he set me loose.

I actually had some intensive survival training in the Boy Scouts when I was 11 and 14, which turned out to be some strange life-foreshadowing. I got started pretty young in the Forest Service on a trail crew, then the Park Service as a volunteer backcountry ranger then as a firefighter. At age 19 I went to the Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) in Southern Utah. I got seriously hooked on survival and taught there throughout my twenties.

Why do you think a basic understanding of wood—as fuel and a resource for the homestead—is important?
Oh yes! Understanding wood on all levels is so important, as a side note, I recommend Eric Sloane's book, A Reverence for Wood, for those to want to get to know wood a little more intimately. But yes, first knowing the trees and what they mean ecologically from the soil to the squirrels is essential, then the best uses of each type of wood, like what's the best wood for a bow or an ax helve, and that you want heartwood for a bow, but sapwood for an ax handle. Then knowing not just how different woods behave but different parts of the same tree behave, such as boards with portions of heartwood will bend or "cup" over time.

When it comes to fuel, knowing the BTUs and how each wood burns differently will make life a lot easier, such as how pine is a good fire starter but if it's your main fuel source, the resins in the wood will over time cause a dangerous buildup in your chimney. There's a lot to know and it's all important.

Can anyone get good at this skill set, or are some people just better at it?
I do think that some people just have a talent for physical things but practice and technique are the great equalizers. If I had a motto it would be "Let the ax do the work." Lack of upper body strength can be a limitation when using an ax, but at the same time I mostly see people using too much strength - too much tension in the shoulders. Folks need to get a little more Michael Jackson down in the hips - you raise the ax, relax your arms, then drop the hips and all the parts move together fluidly and easily.

An old firefighter joke was that we all had strong backs and weak minds but I would say that the ax is a thinking tool and that there's a smart way to chop or split wood. A person with less strength can be more efficient than a stronger person by going slowly, being systematic, reading the wood, and using good technique.

It is dangerous to work with splitting wood without proper instruction? are injuries common?
I've used sharp tools my whole life, yet the worst cuts I've had are from opening cans of soup. Axes are dangerous if used without experience or education but if people use good technique and learn a short list of dos and don'ts then it's pretty safe. A quick example, the most common injuries are to the feet and legs so boots and long pants are the most important safety items.

Aside from getting a cut from an ax there are many more safety considerations like, hurting your back, cutting your hands on sharp pieces of wood, exhaustion and frustration that can lead to an accident, tripping while carrying an ax, or injuring the tool and creating a few hours more work of sharpening or handle repair. Done correctly, using an ax is a pleasurable experience that can be very safe. For me it's a deeply contemplative activity.

Do you think mastering hand tools is a lost art or something people are finding their way back to in the DIY movement?I think all this stuff is making a comeback in a big way. Portland is sort of a mecca for DIY so I have a front row seat to a huge artisan movement that includes sewing, blacksmithing, urban homesteading, permaculture, craft brewing, bikes, etc. Incidentally, this movement isn't just a subculture. It's been studied in depth and functions as it's own economy in this city.

The technology we have today is such a gift but I think we're also seeing that on a personal level it's only so satisfying and more and more people are getting back to simpler technologies. We're kind of feeling our way back in time with our hands and creating beautiful lives for ourselves.

How important is the quality of your axes? Is it worth the investment to spend a lot as a new backyard lumberjack?
Quality is important but the best axes aren't necessarily the most expensive. Older American-made brands like Collins, Sager, Mann Edge Tool Co., or Plumb that you score at a garage sale, or flea market have the best steel and are the cheapest and best long term solution. And because replacing and repairing handles is a lot easier than you might think, that's what I recommend.

Council Tool is a company I trust to buy an axe from the web, sight unseen. They're one of the last American made brands and are relatively affordable.

An ax is also a surprisingly specialized tool so just having the right ax for the right job is key. A serious budgeteer could get away with a splitting maul and a 3/4 ax. Most ax work these days is splitting rounds with a maul, then the 3/4 ax is easy to carry and can perform any needed field work and also be used like a hatchet for making kindling.

Any last thoughts or advice?
Maybe just that understanding that the ax helve or handle itself is a huge part of the equation and there is a lot of subtlety in picking out an ax with the right handle. Color, straightness, direction of grain, and just the feel of the handle are all things to consider. I guess we're running out of space but I could do an entire interview just on handles.

Thanks so much, Jenna, and happy chopping!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Beekeeping Workshop Raffle!

John Cullam!

His kind response!

"My wife and I were thrilled to attend the bee workshop and this is the topper to a wonderful time! Thank you for the 'day' and for this prize! We will now focus on our BEES and will have all we need to grow our colony thanks to Cold Antler Farm and Jenna for making it all possible!"

Thank you!

beekeeping 101 recap!

Meg Paska knows bees. Listening to her talk about about the ins and outs of beekeeping is like listening to Julia Child talk about braised lamb shank. She is someone who talks with enthusiasm, and it is infectious as all get out. Yesterday she gave a crash course in beekeeping here at the farm and folks from all over the northeast came to hear her spread the gospel of the hive. I mostly sat back and listened (when I wasn't running around doing chores or checking on the dogs) and took in the questions and anecdotes like adding ingredients to the stew pot. Her tales of urban and rural beekeepers were hilarious and educational (i.e some urban beekeepers paint their rooftop hives to look like brick chimneys so no nosy neighbors are any the wiser!) She was amazing, and so where the attendees. All of them excited and new to the world of bees, and you can bet some of them are breaking out in hives next spring...

Here she is talking with us in a general Q&A moment. You might need to turn up your audio, but you can hear some basic rapid-fire question and answers and see some of us sittin' lazy in the side yard. You can't see Gibson because right before I took this video he sprinted through the group of people to check on the rabbit hutch situation. Part of his regular rounds. No one even blinked when he thundered through, but a few laughed. I love that crazy pup.

She went into my hive and I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed at the state of it. I am a hands-off beekeeper who only checks in a few times a year and the last time was over a month ago. My hive had a build up of burr comb, and an unnecessary queen excluder which caused a big problem. apparently the original queen skipped down or died and the bottom of the hive had some queen cells of newly born queens but no new brood. Only a few laying workers existed in the hive and they aren't getting the job done. So what I need is a few frames from a healthy hive with young bees, some brood, and a new queen. I don't know if I can pull it off but I will email and drop off notes in some mailboxes. If I can save the hive, I will.

I only know this because of Meg, who looks at frames the way I look at paragraphs. She can read a hive like a page in the book. She knew within minutes the whole story of my hive, where it was going and how it could be helped. If you want to learn more about Meg, her workshops and her life, check out her site

And now for a whole day of Soap and candles!