Geek adventures with honey bees, gardens & more on a Blue Ridge homestead
This past weekend brought the first frost to the farm. The first night the forecast was for 30 degrees and they hit it bullseye. Forecasts are tricky here in the mountains where temps can vary depending on which mountain or valley is yours and where you are situated on the slope.Read More
When we were buying this farm one of the owners walked us around to a red clay patch of bare dirt on the east side of the house. It’s an area under an addition that juts out over a steep slope. A series of tiny arched entrances the size of your fingertip covered the slope like an adobe village in miniature. This was the first time I had ever seen a colony of miner bees or chimney bees…Read More
If you happen to have a little farmstead with chickens, ducks, dogs, gardens and bee hives you can find some fairly odd sounding to-do notes lying about in the kitchen. This one was from our place back in Arkansas. We had one banty hen who flew out of the chicken yard regularly…Read More
I’ve written here often of the joy of planting trees. I may not have mentioned my personal superstitions that it is good luck when a bird alights in a tree you planted and most splendid luck when a bird builds a nest in that tree! If that is true, this fellow is one lucky guy as tigers and elephants have come to live among the trees he has planted…Read More
Around the mountains the thin branches of willows and maples are beginning to flush yellow and pink. Even with the winter weather, beekeepers see those changing colors and know in just a few weeks honey bees will start getting ready for spring.
All during winter, or anytime temps are much below fifty degrees, honey bees gather to form a cluster inside their hive. Using stored honey as fuelRead More
Yes, right now in 2015 the farm is indeed covered in white and has been much of the week. The current white stuff is not the nice kind. It’s several inches of sleet frozen so hard its like an ice rink. There was a layer of snow that blew off in the huge wind we had while the real temp was four below and I don’t even want to know what the wind chill was that night. Now today, more sleet is forecasted.
In the spirit of lalalalalalalalala, here are some photos of the lovely, perfect powder snow we had this time last year….Read More
I’ve been thinking about soil a lot this week. Likely it’s the hard frozen ground outside and rare below-zero temps that have me pining for the smell and feel of rich garden soil in the springtime. Last year we worked a nice patch of ground into garden. The soil was fairly soft under the lawn grass, a few inches of decent reddish-loam. In most areas you could push the shovel all the way in. After years of gardening over gravel this is joyous! A bit deeper down there is sandy clay and big smooth rocks reminding me the creek was up here in some geological past before working its way down to its present bed.
The raised beds are a few inches higher than the paths once I shoveled the soil in the (future) paths on top of the (future) beds to give them more depth. The result was pretty good. It was after adding compost from Maytime Composting that the soil started to get that “alive” look and feel that makes this gardener swoon.Read More
The wassailing may be a little later than early January this year, but since spring arrives about a month later here in the NC mountains than it did back in Arkansas, Valentine’s might be just right. At the new farm, we will have the delight of toasting and cheering the five old apples trees our farm is named for, in addition to the tiny new trees I’ve planted our first year. One change since this post: Since we are in an amazing hard-cider making region, the libations this year will be the real thing. Woo hoo! This is a great tradition. Do try this at home.
love, LeighRead More
There is a silver can on the counter for kitchen scraps. In the mornings we put used coffee grains and the paper filters, now cold after the aroma has faded, into the bin. By midmorning broken eggshells, a paper towel and a bit of leftover oatmeal have been added. Lunch and supper bring additions of lettuce trimmings, those last beans left in the pot, the bruised end of a banana.
If it’s been a big cooking day, there may be a large bowl out on the countertop to put all the carrot ends, the potato peels and celery bits. The fridge clean-out that adds some old yogurt and stiff spaghetti noodles can create a golly-wow bonanza for you chickens. We use the bowl, not the silver bin for the chickens. They areRead More
How will a changing climate affect the way we farm and what we eat? How do we begin to build resilient and sustainable food systems? Join ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and Transition Asheville for a talk and panel discussion featuring Dr. Laura Lengnick, author of Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate and lead author of the recent USDA report “Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation.” Dr. Lengnick will give a talk on climate change effects on the U.S. food system, which will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local food system and climate change leaders sharing their work to understand and prepare for climate change.
Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate
Monday January 26, 2014 from 7-8:30pm
UNCA Sherrill Center – Mountain View Room (SHE 417)