Bring on the’ Mushrooms!

I come bearing more exciting news! πŸ˜€

Starting in August or September of this year, I will be learning how to grow and harvest a wide variety of wild mushrooms. πŸ˜€ There are two wonderful sweethearts who certainly know their mushroom knowledge who will be teaching all interns here at Crickets Cove. I will learn further on the bare-bones of marketing and selling organic (not the USA version of ‘organic’) to customers locally. From farm to table and from farm to restaurant. πŸ˜€

I‘ve been wanting to obtain knowledge in regards to wild-edible mushrooms for years. Never got to it, due of simply not having the time. Now I am in the gold-mine of opportunity of what I need to learn for the Butterfly Forests Homestead. ❀

I will be also getting a ‘refresher class’ on how to properly use a chainsaw. hehe πŸ˜› πŸ˜€

Also to note:

I will try and upload a few photographs whilst being at Crickets Cove. They have a limited bandwidth per month, and their internet connection isn’t the high-speed I am used to (we are in the middle of no-where).Β  Once I settle back home next year (it could be back in Boston or in Washington D.C. [Daniel might get a job as a web developer in Washington D.C.]) I will go back to all of my posts from Crickets Cove and update them with photographs. πŸ™‚


Water conservation: Swells

This morning, I learned how to save water in swells with connecting ponds. πŸ™‚

By using a hillside one can create tiers of land with small ditches. Each ditch has a mound of soil in a rounded ‘step formation’ with water. Each tier has various useful plants and trees nearby to help with stopping erosion and slowing the water loss. Depending how much water you want to store and if you plan to have fish in one of the lower tiers to help make the land more fertile – you could have three to five ponds with various swells between each pond. πŸ™‚

A water pump is used to help with water cycling in the water ponds and lower levels, and/or in times of need when a drought is happening. We are currently having an early drought this season in Virginia. So the water level is dropping in the ponds by inches. We need to have the swells kept at ground level for water. If we do not keep the swells full, it takes more water and trouble with water staying in the area .. and more water is used when the swells are low with how mother nature will automatically try with balancing things.

When it rains, the swells will fill to full capacity and overflow into lower tiers. Once the last tier fills and spills over – the domino effect proceeds in continuing to all ponds. If there is a creek nearby, it will eventually flow into the creek when the last large pond is over filled by rain storm. By having the swells, this stops the rain water from gushing quickly down the slope of the land and taking precious soil, organic nutrients, etc with it. By having the swell-tiers method, this helps collect water sources into pond reserves.

Excellent with improving the water-table’s surface where your plants shall be rooting best. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

Overall, it is a better control approach in regards of water storage/watering plants on a semi hilly to steep landmass. The tier-swell method really helps lands who have been ‘raped’ over many years by over grazing livestock, clear cutting trees and repetitive mono-crops heal faster overtime with new green growth and watering more effectively.

Crickets Cove Adventure!

Since July 9th, I have been in Virginia at a Bio-dynamic, Permaculture and Food Forest Garden. πŸ™‚ What a lovely place! πŸ˜€

Marianne and Cooper are the owners and founders of the one-hundred and thirty acre plot. It was originally clear-cut, and the Earth had been stripped numerous times by agriculture and grazing. What Marianne and Cooper have done in slowly restoring the land is magical. πŸ™‚

I am learning so-much from Crickets Cove. I plan to stay here for eight to nine months.. I might stay longer (it depends on Daniel with employment in web development, timing with visas for New Zealand, what is needed of me here, etc). I am pretty happy overall and flexible. πŸ˜‰Β  πŸ™‚

Cooper is a master blacksmith. There is a strong possibility I could learn how to work with metal. Perfect for making hand rails, hinges, hangers, hooks, pots and pans, to various other useful works of art. πŸ˜€ Probably on Sunday evenings, I shall learn overtime this amazing skill.

Also – Once a week, I will post photos of the gardens, orchards, herb beds and various future projects. πŸ™‚

See you soon! πŸ˜€

Tadelakt Workshop!

A few days ago we headed over to a wonderful Sigi Koko three day workshop, in Fawn Grove, Pennsyvania. We learned how to make a Tadelakt finish over our future sinks, counter-tops, shower walls, cob oven and various other waterproof surfaces. πŸ™‚

It’s not that difficult to make from the start, as one might think. πŸ™‚ You really need to be careful with using slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) though – due of it being able to strip the protein from your skin within roughly … after five minutes (it is not a strict cut-off. You should aim within five minutes so then you do not get into trouble). πŸ™‚ Simply make a nearby station where you are planning to create tadelakt with three buckets of: water, diluted vinegar and water to dip your hands into to neutralize the lime. πŸ™‚

Here are a few pictures I took whilst learning from the amazing-cute-beautiful Sigi Koko! πŸ˜€ *I did not have my Olympus camera with me for this trip; hence the non-high quality camera work. πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

Black Ridge Swallowtail Butterflies

During work today, my supervisor and I found ten Swallowtail Caterpillars on some celery seedlings inside of Allandale Farm’s large glass greenhouse. We placed them upon one of celery’s cousins, Angelica archangelica outdoors in the sunshine (A.K.A.: garden angelica, wild celery, and Norwegian angelica).Β  πŸ™‚ Not long after we placed them on the plant, did they begin munch-munching away at the flowers.

I believe they are on their last instar before turning into chrysalises. I have not seen Black Ridge Butterfly caterpillars in person before. πŸ˜€ One day, it would be nice to experience the sight of Black Ridge caterpillars emerging from their eggs, for the first time. πŸ˜€

Tea Party and Virginia

I come bearing good news! πŸ˜€

I shall be heading out to work for eight to nine months at a lovely permaculture/food forest/organic/bio-dynamic – farm in Western Virginia. The farm is called: “Crickets Cove.” Pretty-much all of the skills which I need to acquire for the Butterfly Forests Homestead can and will be learned at Crickets Cove. I shall be gone, starting on July 9th. πŸ™‚ While I am away from the current home I am living in, I will be uploading photographs and various information I gather about how to run a successful, self-sustainable homestead. ❀

More than likely, I will be posting every now and then (once a week(?) with my adventures here. πŸ™‚

The tea party part, is in regards to celebrating this next very-important step in my journey. Also, to see everyone I care about before I head off for almost an entire year. πŸ™‚
I am not able to invite all those I love and care about to the tea party .. but – nonetheless, it will be great! πŸ˜€ ❀ .. Also, there is something special about a hand written letter, or hand made card.

Below are photos taken of the hand watercolored tea party invitations I finished a couple minutes ago. πŸ™‚ Of course, you are very welcome to use these images for your own tea party, if you would like. *The more tea parties in the world, the merrier! πŸ˜€ haha



Third to Fourth Instar Monarchs!

Only so many days until five or six of the sixteen will be in their final stage of caterpillardom. πŸ™‚ This evening, I managed to find the last one who is behind his/her brothers and sisters. He/she is now in his/her second instar, whist the others are getting so-close to making their very own chrysalises. πŸ˜€

While cleaning off the leaves, I discovered a molting from the little-no-more first instar baby. πŸ˜€ ❀ My maternal instincts are gushing with happiness, whenever I tend to these little guys and gals. hehe Interestingly, I am one whom finds herself motherly loving of all animals (human baby and non-human alike) that I shall personally-place into care. πŸ™‚ ❀

Second instar: Monarch Butterflies! :D

A little while ago, I brought the whole fabric butterfly cage outside to enjoy the sun. To my delight, roughly over fifty percent of the sixteen monarch butterflies are almost into their second instar. πŸ˜€

The little pairs of black tentacles (stinkhorns) are beginning to grow. One pair is growing on the thorax and another pair upon the abdomen. πŸ™‚

Monarch Butterfly Babies~!

As of 10:00 am today, we now have lovely ‘teeny-tiny’ Monarch Butterfly caterpillars in our home. πŸ˜€

Roughly (depending on how warm it is) Monarch Caterpillars will go through all five instar stages in an average of two weeks. πŸ™‚

Update: 5/26/17

How quickly they are growing! πŸ˜€
After refilling the water source for the milk weed cuttings this morning, (along with cleaning up after their poop droppings) – I found six are already in between their first and second instar progress. I shall have to take a current photo soon to show the fast growth rate in a few days past time. πŸ˜€

Making bread and Baby Moths


So, to my surprise, the two Luna Moths mated last night. I just ordered a Black Walnut sapling from the Arbor Day Foundation, and it should be arriving in so many days. Β It takes roughly a week for the eggs to hatch.

In the state we are currently living in (Boston, MA) – before the big move to New Zealand; the spring season has been quite strange.. So, in regards of the Black Walnut being late to be ordered right-now is not an issue. I think on a positive note with the odd weather and all – I think the Black Walnut sapling properly getting established into the pot, shouldn’t be a problem. πŸ™‚

Once I have set everything up for the new babies to be – I will give an update here. πŸ™‚
The mother and father are still very-much alive (tattered wings and spunk). I imagine, they will be flapping and resting about for the next three days or so. πŸ™‚

“Why did you mention making bread..?”

Well, since we are going to be about ninety-eight percent off the grid and self-sustainable in the future; I want to begin practicing my bread making skills again. πŸ™‚ It’s been a few years since I last kneaded a homemade loaf of bread, and I miss the joys of taking the time to make it from scratch (and not to mention, the lovely smell of bread baking in the oven!) πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰ Plus, the Butterfly Forests Homestead shall have fresh home baked goods for sale in the CSA shop. ❀ Β πŸ˜€

Below are a few things I have baked yesterday afternoon:
-Lavender Tea Cake
-Cheddar Rosemary Biscuit Drops