The Trailer Saga Continues...

It has been more difficult and time-consuming than we'd initially planned to get this old trailer repaired and functional, requiring deep cleaning to remove a lot of mold and things you don't even want to know about. It's nowhere near finished, but at least we've made it clean enough to cook and store food. The fridge works, the lights work, the shower works, we've identified and temporarily patched the water leaks, and the rest of it is getting there bit by bit. 

Welcome Home, Bees!!

Here are some selected pictures and videos of the apiary installation. We are so pleased that our five hives are doing so well!!

Ruby drove for 2 and a half hours with four little beehives in the trunk and one in the back seat. A few bees escaped into the car, but never more than a dozen at once. She stopped a few times along the way to let bees out - but she didn’t get stung!

We set up stern warning signs all around the apiary to make sure nobody wanders into the bee yard - and also to deter anyone who might be interested on coming onto the property. 

We set up stern warning signs all around the apiary to make sure nobody wanders into the bee yard - and also to deter anyone who might be interested on coming onto the property. 

Installing the hives - Ruby staged the small "nucleus" hives next to the big hives they would be moving into. It was like tetris but with thousands of bees.

Installing the hives - Ruby staged the small "nucleus" hives next to the big hives they would be moving into. It was like tetris but with thousands of bees.

This is a five-frame "nucleus" hive - Ruby picked up five of these small hives from a local apiary that specializes in "survivor bees" that are locally adapted to Southern Oregon. 

This is a five-frame "nucleus" hive - Ruby picked up five of these small hives from a local apiary that specializes in "survivor bees" that are locally adapted to Southern Oregon. 

Each nucleus hive was moved, frame by frame, into a bigger box with space for eight frames. The far left is a feeder (there is a special "bee tea" inside that will help them to build up their colony), then the five original nucleus frames, then two frames that were already partially filled with resources (honey, nectar, pollen) by last year's bees. 

Each nucleus hive was moved, frame by frame, into a bigger box with space for eight frames. The far left is a feeder (there is a special "bee tea" inside that will help them to build up their colony), then the five original nucleus frames, then two frames that were already partially filled with resources (honey, nectar, pollen) by last year's bees. 

The big bee with the pink dot is QUEEN CLEOPATRA. See how different she looks than the worker bees who are attending to her?

The big bee with the pink dot is QUEEN CLEOPATRA. See how different she looks than the worker bees who are attending to her?

This is all POLLEN that the bees collected and stored in the hive. 

This is all POLLEN that the bees collected and stored in the hive. 

We are planting native wildflowers and trees to supplement the pollen and nectar sources available for bees and local native pollinators. We planted two small patches of native columbine along the path to the apiary (and there's already a bunch growing on the land). 

We are planting native wildflowers and trees to supplement the pollen and nectar sources available for bees and local native pollinators. We planted two small patches of native columbine along the path to the apiary (and there's already a bunch growing on the land). 

This is the apiary, all set up! From left to right, the hives are named: Cleopatra, Sickle, Lil Kim the Queen Bee, Beyonce, and Queen Lateefah. 

This is the apiary, all set up! From left to right, the hives are named: Cleopatra, Sickle, Lil Kim the Queen Bee, Beyonce, and Queen Lateefah. 

Building The Greenhouses

Watch the process unfold from the beginning to completion! We started by marking the area where we wanted to build last fall, then in April Chris began excavating and clearing, built and skinned the first greenhouse (with a little help!), installed the solar panels and fans... and VOILA! We have a fully functioning, 100% sustainable solar powered greenhouse. 

The second greenhouse, like a second child, has far fewer pictures documenting the build, but here’s a few.

Is that an Umbrella in Your Outhouse or are You Just Happy to See Us?

The only permanent structure that was on our land when we bought is an outhouse. It's perfect... except for one thing... the roof leaks like a sieve.

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It rains as hard inside the outhouse as rains outdoors - the worst part is sitting down on a wet toilet seat (or maybe it's when the toilet paper gets soaked, it's all terrible).

Our land gets a ton of rain (and snow!) in spring and fall, so we had to do something to preserve the building (and our sanity). The umbrella was an OK temporary fix, but we needed a permanent solution.

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We found a roll of tar paper on the land - the previous owner had no doubt planned to tar paper (and maybe even shingle) the roof. So we lucked out materials-wise because we only had to buy the shingles.

Chris cut the tar paper into three strips in the right size to cover the roof with a 1-inch lip on all four sides, and we still have a ton left over that we can use for other projects. 

We decided that it was safer for Ruby to climb up there than for Chris because she's pint-sized - we didn't worry about structural stability. Plus she's not afraid of heights.

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This was one of those times where specializing by skill sets and physical capacities really worked well for us. Chris offered directions, support, and spotting from the ground while Ruby scrambled around the little roof. 

She climbed up on the roof (with a big boost from Chris), lined up the tar paper, and stapled it into place. Being so short, it was tough to get up and down - the ladder was just a little bit short so she had to kind of "jump" on the way up and "hang" on the way down to bridge the gap between the ladder and the roof.

It rained that night. We waited an hour or so before checking the outhouse... and guess what?! It was bone dry!! We haven't even put up the shingles yet, and already we've solved the rainy outhouse problem.

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Bringing Sustainability to Market

Bringing Sustainability to Market

When Ruby first started bringing our farm goods to market, she was astonished by the amount of waste produced by packaging, sampling, and otherwise bringing our produce to the public. We are determined to bring the same commitment to sustainability that we practice at home to market. This post highlights a couple of things that we've done to make our market presence as sustainable as our homestead.