Love Drives Out Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (1 John 4:18)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.  (Psalm 23)

All you have to do is turn on ‘the news’ for 10 minutes to become painfully aware that we live in a scary world.  Fear is a tool of this world, used to distract us from God’s perfect love.

You are loved!

Honey Harvest

Honey harvest is a September activity.  After the first frost, or sustained temps of less that 50 degrees, I personally don’t like to breech the integrity of the hive and expose the bees to cold temperatures.

After the hives have been broken down and readied for the winter, I bank honey frames in the freezer for spring supplementation for the hive if necessary.  Lastly, I bring in the surplus frames to harvest the family’s share.

Our family does have a centrifugal force extractor.  It was gifted to us by a dear friend.  If we ever have a multi-site apiary or a large apiary we will use it to harvest.  Our current apiary only has 6 hives.  When we used the extractor last year, we noticed the inefficiency created waste we could just not tolerate.  We only harvest 2-3 gallons a year, and every drop is precious to us.

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Since we are so small scale, we harvest the very old fashioned way, by gravity.  After scraping the framed we first strain the through a large strainer.  This is just to remove the largest particles of beeswax.

After the honey has been strained through the large strainer by gravity, it is then double strained through smaller strainers to ensure that what is bottled up is 100% pure honey.  It takes our family about 2 weeks to gravity process our honey for the year.

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Front Porch Store

This last year as we cleaned out our house of all our extra ‘stuff’, to make more room for more life in our home.  We had some items we knew were no longer for us but still had a lot of value.

Serendipitously, around the same time we were reading quite a bit about the gift economy, as well as speculation about future economies being built on reclaiming and repurposing old discarded items.

As an experiment we set up a ‘store’ in our enclosed front porch.  We stocked the store with surplus products from our homestead, handmade jewelry, books that contain ideas we want to share, and all the items we wanted to hold onto until their next home was found.

So far the store has just been open to family, friends, neighbors, and dinner guests.  Yet we daydream of a community of neighbors, all with Front Porch Stores open to their neighbors.  A community like that would be the model of resilience!

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All Neighbors Welcomed

Last year my husband and I made the commitment to each other to make our community a bigger priority.  This includes our family, home, church, the natural world, and our Millwood neighbors.

Over the last few years we have noticed that there is a major leadership crisis going on.  Both in corporate and government arenas, our leaders are focused on such sensationally macro-issues that they have lost all their potency as leaders!  Public discourse has followed suit as well.  The vast majority of conversations today are about issues that have little real-life implications.

A year ago when we made our commitment, Scott and I decided we didn’t want to continue to spend our energies and resources fragmented on surface level efforts across a bunch of issues.  In response we committed to going deeper with our community.

What Does That Mean?

It means whole heartedly we are going to make our best effort to live out the greatest commandments, even when we feel awkward reaching out to neighbors.  We will do it, even when we are tired and one more volunteer obligation feels inconvenient.  We will passionately invest ourselves into the greatest commandments, even when no one is looking, because it isn’t about us.

Loving God and our neighbors means we are open.  We look forward to where the journey will lead us.  It means at our house, all neighbors welcomed!

Saving the Bees (Part 2)

February 2016 we took a beekeeping class at our local Washington State University extension office.  We also joined the Inland Empire BeeKeepers Association (IEBA).  On April 16, 2016 we picked up our bee packages from Tate Farms.  It was official, we were beekeepers!

Previous to becoming beekeepers we had heard about ‘colony collapse syndrome’, but we were not educated on issues of large scale bee farming.

We were not aware that 1/3rd of every bite we take is directly or indirectly linked to bee activity.  More than 1/3rd the more plant based your diet becomes.

Watching documentaries such as ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ and ‘More than Honey’, and our experience, have convinced us that the future of bees has nothing to do with innovating solutions to enable a small number of companies to maintain hundreds of thousands of colonies.

The future of bees will be innovating solutions that enable hundreds of thousands of new backyard beekeepers to engage in this noble work.

Saving the Bees (original post)

How to Start a Suburban Food Forest

In the last 3 years, my husband and I have planted 30 fruit bearing trees on our 1/3 acre property.  Next year we are planning on experimenting with installing two permaculture trios.

I first heard about permaculture trios by following biologist and educator Stefan Sobkowiak on YouTube.  According to Sobkowiak, the best way to start a food forest is to establish 2 trios and propagate your mature trio over time to establish new trios on your property.  He makes this recommendation because the initial investment is reasonable for average households.  Also, in establishing your first 2 trios you will learn everything you need to know about your skill set, what grows well in your region, and your land without risking loss of time and investment.

What is a Trio?

Each trio is made up of:

*  2 fruit or nut bearing trees

*  1 nitrogen fixing tree (a tree capable of sequestering nitrogen from the air into the soil)

*  9 fruit bearing shrubs (3 per tree)

*  30 perennial plants (10 per tree)

In a trio the trees will be planted per the nursery’s recommended spacing.  In between the trees, the shrubs and perennials are companion planted around the tree’s base.  This creates a biodiverse ‘forest’ that is capable of retaining water due to the living mulch of the perennial plant layer.  The nitrogen fixing tree ensures natural fertilization of the the soil, without the use of chemicals or soil amendments.

The result is a self-promoting living system that produces food year-after-year, with minimal inputs.  And as the trios matures you can propagate the trees and plants to establish more trios for your property!

Fruits and nut trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Hazelnuts (filberts)

*  Pecans

*  Walnuts

*  Apples

*  Apricots

*  Cherries

* Nectarines

*  Peaches

*  Pears

*  Plums

Nitrogen fixer trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Bladder Senna

*  Silk tree mimosa

Fruit bearing shrubs that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Blackberry

*  Blueberry

*  Boysenberry

*  Currants

*  Elderberry

*  Goji Berry

*  Gooseberry

*  Gumi Berry

*  Mulberry

*  Raspberry

Edible/Medicinal perennial plants that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Basil

*  Chives

*  Claytonia (Miners Lettuce)

*  Egyptian walking onions

*  Garlic Chive

*  Ginger

*  Good King Henry

*  Lavender

*  Lemon Balm

*  Mint

*  Oregano

*  Parsley

*  Ramps (Wild Leeks)

*  Rosemary

*  Rhubarb

*  Sylvetta Arugula

*  Sage

*  Shallots

*  Sorrel

* Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

* Sweet Potato

* Tree Collards

* Thyme

*  Yams

Providence

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  Amen  (Romans 11:36)

For my son, my deepest prayers are:

*  that he knows and loves God

*  that he is free to live a life of his design, surrounded by a community he builds

*  and that he is willing to accept the consequences of his actions and learn from that feedback

It is the same prayer I pray for every soul.

Rosehips and Honey

These past 2 weeks, in addition to food preserves, I have been preparing ingredients to be added to my homegrown healing library.  One of the exciting additions this fall is a healthy bowl full of rosehips that a dear friend gifted me.

To prepare my rosehips, I first rinsed them and then removed all the leaves and stems.  At the tip of the rosehips there are a patches of ‘hairs’.  Some methods of drying will recommend that after the rosehips are dried and chopped, you can rid your stock of the ‘hairs’ by using a sifter.  I want to store whole rosehips in my healing library so I chose to just cut the tips off before the drying process.

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After the rosehips were prepared, I oven-dried them until the skins had a reddish brown leathery quality.  Drying rosehips is just intended to remove extra moisture to increase the shelf stability.  The rosehips should not fundamentally change into a new product, like plums drying into prunes.

I stocked away a quart mason jar full of dried rosehips for future recipes.  This left a little over a cup of rosehips to infuse into Rosehip Honey.

There are 2 basic methods to infuse honey.  I have used both and select based on the material to be infused, and the time horizon I have to complete the project.  For dried fruit infused honey, I prefer to simmer the honey with fruit directly added to the honey.  I do this by placing the cooking pan with honey and fruit in a hot water bath so that the heat is evenly distributed and the honey is not scorched.

For more complex recipes, such as my turmeric savory honey, I allow time to infuse the material into the honey passively for 6-8 weeks.  After the dwell time is complete all I do is strain the extra material out of the honey and store infused honey in a mason jar.

Infused Honey

(Passively Infusing Turmeric Savory Honey)

Autumn Abundance

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

Everything seems to slow down this time of year.  The darkness outside beckons me inside to nest and prepare for a winter’s rest.

Yet there is still so much to do!

This is the time of year all the efforts of spring and summer come to bear and abundance abounds.

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This year we have been oven-drying tomatoes in mass to use for recipes for the next two years to come.  Next year we plan on canning tomato sauces and pastes for the next two years after that.

Alternating focuses every other year allows for better planning of which varieties of tomatoes to grow in a given year, in addition to not burdening the food preserver with too many items to prepare every year.

The amount of effort to save 2 years worth (as opposed to 1 year worth) of an item is negligible, the amount of effort to save 1 years worth of 2 items every year is significant.

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The first fall frosts tell us it is time to harvest the remainder of winter squashes and pumpkins.  Cutting pumpkins and squash from the vine with 2 inch stems left on their heads will allow us to store these fall treats easily for up to 4 months.

My family also deep mulches (with straw) cold hardy greens to extend the season as long as possible.  The straw beds also add carbon to the garden to be broken down over the winter into the soil for the next growing season.

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Last, we are up against time to winterize the five hives of our apiary and harvest the honey before it is too cold.

We triple strain our honey by gravity, so the honey harvest can take a couple of weeks to complete.  It can take months to complete making all the products we make with the leftover honeycomb and beeswax.

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Another of our fall projects we have underway is steam juicing plums and grapes for juice, jams, and jellies.  I hope to feature that process in a future post.

Winter Ready

The crisp sting of fall is in the air!

For us that means it is time to plant our bulbs.  Normally we plant lots of garlic, in a wide array of varieties, but this year we are trying something new.

This year we are planting:

*  Anemones

*  Crocuses

*  Daffodils

*  Hyacinthus

*  Irises

*  Muscari

*  Tulips

These lovely spring flowers will be an early season boost for our bees.  Since the areas we want to instal the new beds on are very rocky soil, we decided to experiment with a soil building technique and create new beds.

After setting out our bulbs in the desired pattern, we heavy mulched the new beds with alternating layers of 10 bales worth of straw left over from our straw bale gardens and about 180 lbs. of coffee grounds free from Starbucks. We installed 4 separate spring perennial beds in our front yard with this method.

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(Free Garden Grounds)

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(Winterized Roses and New Spring Bulb Garden)