Networking and Community

A few days ago, I joined a facebook group which is based in New Zealand. The group focuses on primarily permaculture – but, overtime as we have been speaking with the members of the group; there is an endless abundance of knowledge in a wide-array of regenerative-sustainable building methods. .. From straw-bale, rammed earth, earth bag building, passive solar, where to purchase native plants, to food-forest gardening.

Connecting with others who are residents in New Zealand, was lacking and is a core necessity for the future. We need to have a strong interest from the kiwi public, or at least a small gathering of individuals; for a starting point of potential.

I really look forward to meeting several local kiwi [and those who are afar] in New Zealand. ūüėÄ Many new cherished friends shall be made along the way, and so-many new-found merry adventures. ‚̧

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Strengthening the heart

My internship with Community Rebuilds is just around the corner, and the thoughts of leadership come to mind. ūüôā While I am helping create an affordable home for a family, couple or singular person – it occurred in thought as to why, I continue training all of me.

I desire to be as useful for others as I possibly can. ūüôā Causing others to smile [be happy] with anyone I encounter [stranger or not], is a goal for everyday.

A handful of days ago, I came back from hiking a section of the Long Trail in Vermont. It challenged me in ways I hadn’t imagined it would. I still recall, having to carefully strategically figure out where to place my hands and feet – in order to not fall off the side of a mountain to my death. Keeping my calm [I am not necessarily in fear of heights, just the ‘impacting-death’ possibility] I allowed my mind to remain clear, without emotions and worrying thoughts to cloud my best judgements. This was a puzzle, a game .. It became second nature to me in how to solve it.

As wind-struck-peaks plummeted by nature’s-fury, several fallen trees covered my paths. Having no-other-choice, but to climb, crawl and slide my body under trees with my thirty-five-pound hiker’s pack. A few bruises and scrapes occurred, but the journey was clearly worth it.

Sure, there were certainly times in the early morning when I would wake-up from a shelter all stiff, dirty, hungry and cold.. but once I got moving – the journey was something I shall never forget or regret. ūüôā

From then on, I felt accomplishing a hike of 40 miles out in the harsh wilderness is a good start. Since being a leader.. a teacher, to working my arse off in forty-hour weeks [five months total] will only cause the ‘heart to become stronger.’ ‚̧

Community Rebuild Internship <3

I am very happy to announce that I have been accepted into a five month internship-semester starting [on July 15th] with ‘Community Rebuilds!’ ūüėÄ I will be back on December 15th [all supa’-sexy strong too! -From all of that heavy lifting, hammering, climbing, etc].¬† ūüėČ ūüôā¬† The site for the internship, shall be in Moab, Utah.

The building will have a marriage between natural building and elements of present-day construction. It will have a loft on the second floor, along with solar panels and parmaculture garden[s] nearby the home. ūüôā

.. What is this Community Rebuilds, you say?

Well, it’s an amazing program to help communities and families obtain an affordable home, with a low-carbon footprint. Interns like myself, will learn through forty-hour weeks [weekends off] from the ground-up in how to design and build a strawbale house for a client [future homeowner]. I shall be learning all of the last-remaining parts and pieces we need to learn; of what it takes to build a structurally-sound and safely-built home, within care of how this house can minimally impact the environment.

I shall also be gaining in-person training and experience upon what it takes to be a great teacher and leader. ūüôā Obtaining further problem-solving skills and extending more of a better grasp upon what tools we need [along with how to properly use them out on the field].

*Photos, will be posted when I come back from this adventure. ūüôā

More details about Community Rebuilds can be found here:
https://www.communityrebuilds.org/

First attempt: Green roofing

This September, Daniel and I shall be learning how to construct a green roof, by Sigi Koko [Build Naturally] -in another wonderful hands-on workshop. ūüôā

While I am training for the 86-mile hike in less than two weeks from now – and around-the-bend, is the last part to completing our Permaculture Certification Course; I’ve been on a roll within sorting out what still needs to be done in regards of the Butterfly Forests Homestead. .. No, surprise – there is still plenty left to do! ūüėÄ ‚̧

Here is a first concept sketch of sorts, of what we might consider for the green roofing. ūüôā
The design I came up with could easily change overtime. We wanted to stick to succulents and plants that didn’t require much soil, due of rain-water collection.
-After some further research, it made me smile with what other options we could incorporate into our green-roofing design. ūüôā

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Three-Toed Sloth with baby

For the little treasures I shall be creating at the Butterfly Forests Homestead, will be hiding all-around the property. In small nooks-and-crannies, to easy to find places. Sort of like an eye-spy book, I used to enjoy reading as a child [and still do]. ūüėÄ ‚̧ .. I simply adore wildlife from all-across the globe.

The two-toed and three-toed sloth, is one of my favorite animals in plans to meet in person one day. In tribute to all of the exotic and local animals, there will be plenty of tropical animals to find among a little paradise for the young and ‘fine-wine-age’ to enjoy.

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The¬†plan is to incorporate living plants to grow slowly around each work of art animal/creature. Keeping each sculpture lovingly maintained and kept-up till my last breath. ūüôā Each artwork upon the property, shall be waterproofed and able to withstand New Zealand’s stormy-seasons and basking-bright sunny days – without being destroyed.

*The materials used for each artwork will be carefully taken into consideration of where it is sourced in how it might impact the environment, etc.

Red Panda Mailbox

While hiking, a thought ‘popped-inside-of-my-head’ upon what might be a great fit for a mailbox theme. ūüôā
Considering how much artistic-free-reign I have on the homestead, I felt .. well, the mailbox needed to be cute. Cuteness is a very important thing to have in greeting people. ūüėČ ūüėÄ

I can construct the Red Panda into two pieces, in order to have it easy to install and for weight purposes. I wouldn’t be surprised if I could kiln the red-panda-parts into a future cob oven. ^^ I will make sure to draw a colored version of the sketch later.

The base, will consist of cob with tadelakt and mosaic art. More than likely [knowing me and the love of all that is details] I will make the mailbox really pretty too. ūüėÄ hehe

The rose [sorry about the photo-quality below. It was taken with my CAT smartphone. I need to get a Canon Camera one day] represents “Rosetwig Music.” The butterfly at the end of the supporting beam, symbolizes the Butterfly Forests Homestead.

I felt it would be fitting to also add a flourish on the mailbox flag: It needs to be a wing, since I love wings and flight so much. ‚̧

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Planning out the gardens :D

For the past few days, I have been figuring out what we would like to plant into the grounds of the Butterfly Forests Homestead. ūüôā We shall be planting various herbs, fruit bearing trees, flowers, veggies, berries, etc.

Here is the current list I have written in my notebook, while taking breaks from training for a section of the long trail hike. I will be updating and modifying each list as I learn of the micro-climates upon the property, using a solar pathfinder, obtaining soil tests, grotech reports, and simply sitting and observing the weather conditions. ūüôā

I will be narrowing each list down, pairing in groups [polycultures] and all of the nitty-gritty research/details.

Flowers for bees and butterflies: [Also for dry, cut and sell into biodegradable pots]

-Allium                -Fennel               -Buddleja
-Lavender           -Sunflower        -Scabious
-Cornflower       -Heather             -Verbena Bonariensis
-Bee Balm          -Campanula       -Globe Thistle
-Borage              -Delphinium       -Echinacea
-Comfrey           -Thyme                -Mint
-Salvia               -Yarrow               -Butterfly Bush
-Crocus              -Catmint              -Blackeyed Susan
-Cosmos            -Dahlia                 -Cranesbills
-Milkweed       -Hollyhock           -Poppy
-Alyssum         -Phacelia

Trees to plant: Nut, Stone Fruit, Overall Fruit Bearing & Special Trees [In greenhouse and outdoors]

-Kauri           -Black Walnut      -Almond
-Pear             -Sweet Cherry      -Avocado
-Banana       -Mango                  -Cara Cara Orange
-Rainbow eucalyptus tree       -Hazelnut
-Green Tea Plant                       -Peach
-Honeycrisp                               -Blood Orange
-Fig

Vegetables:

-Cucumber                 -Carrots                              -Spinach
-Kale                            -Celery                               -Purple Corn [Tortilla chips and for wraps]
-Arugula                     -Beets                                 -Sugar-Snap-Peas
-Tomatoes                  -Butternut Squash           -Brussels Sprouts
-Sweet-Peppers        -Cauliflower                      -Broccoli
-Sweet Pumpkin      -Grape Tomatoes              -Artichokes
-Asparagus               -Butter-crunch Lettuce    -Jalapeno Pepper
–Purple Tomatillo¬†¬† -Chard (Beta Vulgaris)

Berries and Fruit:

-Strawberry        -Blueberry         -Raspberry
-Passion Fruit    -Watermelon     -Black Currants
-Blackberry       -Table Grapes    -Goji Berry
-Kiwi                   -Dragon Fruit    -Honeyberry
-Mulberries¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Melon¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –

Roots, shoots and legumes:

-Peanuts                 -Ginger                    -Turmeric
-Purple Potato      -Sweet Potatoes     -Watercress
-Onion (sweet)     -Scallions                -Chives
-Garlic                   -Chia

Herbs: [Some have already been mentioned from bee & butterfly flowers]

-Comfrey              -Sweet Basil           -Sage
-Rosemary¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Tyme¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -St. John’s Wort
-Mugwort            -Skullcap                -Mint [spearmint and common]
-Oregano             -Lemon balm        -Stinging Nettle
-Lemongrass      -Mullen                  -Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
-Calendula¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -MńĀnuka¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Cornflower [Bluebottle]
-Heather            -Marshmallow      -Hollyhock
-Sneezewort       -Yarrow                 -Sweet Violet
-Red Clover        -Nasturtium          -White Clover
-Soapwort          -Elder                     -Clary
-Blackberry       -Raspberry            -Rosemary
-Dog Rose          -Black Currant     -Lungwort
-Selfheal            -Silverweed          -Dwarf Milkwort
-Marjoram        -Catmint                -Common Poppy
-Watercress     -Peppermint         -Common Mallow
-Flax                  -Motherwort        -Garden Lavender
-Garden Iris    -Hyssop                 -Hepatica [American Liverwort]
-Sunflower      -Wood Avens       -Downy Hempnettle
-Rosebay Willowherb      -Meadowsweet      -Wild Strawberry

Herbs [Continued]:

-Coriander       -Tansy                          -Feverfew
-Chamomile    -Scented Mayweed    -Dalmatian Pyrethrum
-Caraway        -Pot Marigold              -Borage
-Daisy             -Tarragon                     -Kidney Vetch
-Mountain Everlasting                      -Dill
-Garden Angelica                               -Alkanet
-Garlic ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† -Onion ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† -Lady’s Mantle
-Cilantro

Sprouts and Planned Microgreens:

-Amaranth (Microgreens)        -Alfalfa          -Pac Choy (Microgreens)
-Green Chard (Microgreens)    -Red Russian Kale (Microgreens)


My little rant on CCD

[It’s not really a rant, just found out why we have CCD in North America: Colony Collapse Disorder and how to properly fix it]. ūüėČ ūüėõ ‚̧
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There’s no mystery why we have CCD [which isn’t actually a disorder]. It pretty-much has all to do with monocroping, conventional beekeeping standards and messing around with the species gene-pool/DNA themselves; causing them to weaken, due of our over-meddling.

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We have been weakening the gene-pool of the European/Western Honey Bee, by:

 

  • GMOs [Yes, there has been studies by reliable scientists who have proven over-and-over again GMOs are harming the Honeybee Populations]. Look it up, not by Monsanto [they cherry pick facts and leave out ongoing studies].
  • Pesticides [bees land on them, the bees carry the pesticide back to the hive, they get sick and die].
  • Feeding the bees sugar water [. . bad idea].
  • In labs you are messing around with their genes [from thousands of years Mother Nature has designed] – natural selection and evolutionary conditioning from the wild [wild animals are by-far more hardier and less prone to diseases, etc in comparison to the man-altered design].
  • Breeding the honeybee to become larger [for larger honey production] gives the varroa mite enough time to mature inside of the egg cell along side the developing honeybee. A European/western Honeybee when in it’s normal-smaller form, they develop faster, before the mite can fully develop – breaking the Varroa-Mite cycle.
  • Not allowing your beehives to swarm [when a hive chooses to swarm; it’s dividing, because it’s grown larger than the beehive can carry]. Allowing the beehive to swarm, creates a stronger-richer gene-pool and increases the honeybee populations. This is also a sign, it is time to create another beehive. ūüėČ ūüôā
  • The chemicals we use to try and kill the verroa mite [parasite] from the colony is deadly and toxic to the hives. It’s been known how the verroa mite is becoming immune to the chemicals we apply.
  • Purchasing nucleolus boxes in the mail from hives from across the country [local hives help strengthen the gene-pool]. Find a local beekeeper and/or look up professional swarm catchers in your area.
  • Feeding your hives honey from stores, as a last result: most honey jars/bottles found in grocery stores have spores.
  • Sending the honeybees across the country to pollinate almonds. Make these almond fields in a permaculture setting [make honeybee food accessible all-year round]. You save money, can produce more varied foods in the off-seasons, have your honeybees already there and not stress-weaken the honeybee populations.
  • Constantly checking on your hives and smoking them. This causes openings for pests, stresses out the colonies, kills bees, opens to honey robbers, weakens bees and is completely unnecessary. The front door of the beehive is an easy visual indicator of how healthy your beehives are. Check at most — once or twice a year, and they’ll trust and like you better. ūüôā

Also:

It was a given the varroa mite [along with other pests to the honeybee] were going to eventually leak into North America. If we actually had healthy-strong European/Western Bees, the Varroa Mite wouldn’t of became an issue.. the bees would of been able to fight them off and be fine. When the colony is suffering, it’s a big red flag something is wrong. If you actually payed attention, used your common-sense, and realised the symptoms are warning you -we wouldn’t have this issue to begin with. Buying packaged bees or by wholesale, doesn’t help the populations win with CCD.. it just masks over for a delusional-temporary ‘fix’ -band aid to the ongoing problem.

Plus:
Honeybees are very visual in communicating something is wrong [one of their main communications is by body language/dances]. We can see it and beekeepers are being shown these messages every day.. You can always find the source, if you take the time and look at the clear “paper trail” [having a journal log entry; writing down your observations]. .. .

So saying: “This is a mystery.” IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT. <– “OOohh! Iris Swears!” ūüėõ Yes, but only for good reasons.

We have the answers on how to stop and reverse CCD, America [commercial, large-scale monocrops and some beekeepers] just choose to not do it. :/ *sighs* So, yeah. .

The Flow Hive 2

Since coming back from a beekeeping 101 class, I have learned how much effort one has to go through in order to harvest honey. From hand scrapping the combs [which is in ways, therapeutic to me], to lifting the heavy supers filled with leaking honey into the spinner’s slots, hand turning it, using a strainer to collect the wax particles [to others like legs, etc] then needing to flip the supers… hand turn it again.. filter it again.. yadda, yadda..
*sighs* Well, you get the point of where I am going here. ūüėČ ūüôā

Looking at all of the plans and various other components of the Butterfly Forests Homestead; having four traditional beehives [or even owning one traditional beehive] will simply not do.. Maybe create one conventional bee box, for just the bees and educational purposes. We shall see. ūüôā
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The Flow Hive 2 is an improved system from the original model. From what I have seen videos, etc .. and seeing how much of a pain in the arse it is to approach beekeeping with traditional beehives: this is a by-far better, smarter, bee-friendlier option. ūüôā

Daniel and I [mostly me] will be working heavily on the farm with various tasks, projects and chores. Knowing that owning a traditional beehive will take too-much of my time. The Flow Hive 2 for us is more for the bees, than harvesting really.

Yes, I know I will not be considered a ‘true beekeeper’ since I will not be doing all of the other back-bending work one needs to do in order to harvest, etc with a traditional beehive… but- I will be tending to the girls and still bonding with them. .. Just not squishing them as often, stressing the girls out as often, or causing them to potentially swarm as much like a traditional bee-box design would. ūüėČ

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On a side note: Swarming is a very-good thing, mind you. Beekeepers should allow swarming with their hives, it’s a good sign that the hive is very-healthy and needs to expand into a second colony. ‚̧ ūüôā Yes, if you’re bothering them too-much or over-smoking them – this will cause them to swarm out of fear they are being attacked and the bees think the hive is no longer safe. There are far too-many beekeepers that over-smoke their hives, which is completely unnecessary.

.. Nor am I doing what the conventional beekeeper does [checking on the bees so often]. I will be providing them a lot of food and a good shelter. ūüôā Allow the strong to survive and the weak to die out. This is how evolution keeps species healthy for the next generation. . I will also never spray our bees with pesticides. I will not be so controlling..

Jaqueline Freeman, is an amazing organic Beekeeper to learn from [we have not attended a class from her, as of yet]. ūüôā We shall be using a grand deal of her approaches to organic beekeeping in order to form strong-healthy, happy colonies. ‚̧
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I have nothing against traditional beehives and the practices which go along with it [excluding the smoking part]. I really respect traditional beekeepers in how much hard-work they have to endure and if it wasn’t for the previous design, etc – we wouldn’t have honey; nor would we be able to evolve to the current model of beekeeping. .¬† Traditional Beekeeping is simply not my way of doing it, nor suits the needs of the Butterfly Forests Homestead. . Nor would I consider myself ‘cheating/being lazy’ or ‘missing out’ on what traditional beekeepers experience, by owning a Flow Hive. ūüôā ‚̧

Link to the Flow Hive 2: https://www.honeyflow.com/shop/flow-hive/flow-hive-2/p/388

Brainstorming gardens

Creating a collage of potential fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits trees we would like to grow at the Butterfly Forests Homestead. ūüôā ‚̧ This gets the creative-juices flowing and staring the gears into physical planning.

I am cutting out images and the names of the plants/trees out of magazines for now, as a visual start for the process.

Phase two:
Next, I shall create a list of perennial/annual plants and fruit trees we will actually be planting on the property.¬† I will then create a second list of these selected plants and fruit trees into groups of polycultures [also keeping in mind of the four-hundred-and-fifty olive trees on the property]. ūüôā We have plenty of space on the homestead, and quite a few of the gardens shall be encircling olive trees.

Phase three:
F
iguring out what shall co-exist with an olive tree in a guild/polyculture, along with having a list of the basics in need; will help layout what plants and fruit-bearing trees I shall need to plant first. Since, some plants and trees will need more time to incorporate into the soil, grow [mature] and take longer than their guild’s counterparts in producing a yield of food.

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By narrowing down what is needed to be planted first; will give us a better understanding of what our goal-budget will be… I will be planting fruit trees on the property in New Zealand in the three month visit next year, along with flagging, staking, marking out areas, etc.
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Phase four:
I shall be creating a list of tools, items, plants, fruit trees, house materials, etc so to see what our goal will be to save up for the future for a more successful establishment of our home. ūüôā Heaps of careful planning is required for us in such a ‘page-turner’, next year. ūüôā