Archive for April, 2012

Busy as bees!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

So much has been happening around here! Today we moved the high tunnel back along its tracks, in order to let the greens out under the blue skies. We plan to eventually put tomatoes and peppers in the new space that’s covered by the tunnel. Pastures and fields are nearly done being seeded, box elder trees are getting cleared and chipped, and fences are being put into place. The old barn foundation has been moved, and our driveway is being redirected.

We have ten ducks that are growing like weeds, on weeds! In addition to their feed we’ve been filling them up with whatever we pull out of garden and flower beds, and oh, they like it. They also very much enjoy the fact that their cage is mobile, and so they get fresh green grass beneath them every few hours or so.

The farm at La Finca has, this week, both a new orange cat and a new golden puppy.

And, my personal excitement is the three hives of bees we now have buzzing away several yards from the white farmhouse. We peeked in today, a few days after the initial install, to retrieve the queen cages and check on the girls. Despite a brief (and, for new beekeepers, stressful) robbing incident between the colonies, the bees are doing well, building up comb on their frames and top bars with purpose. It’s a thrill to see the bees zooming in towards their hive doors with the bright orange spots of pollen on either side of their bodies.

Today at our team meeting we sat down to discuss plans, ideas, and steps forward. And then we ate well, as is best when you are working hard to bring about good things.

April snow

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Well. After spring’s early onset and several weeks of balmy weather, snow doesn’t feel like the most natural thing to discover flying horizontally outside your windows.

A snowfall presents challenges this time of year, especially after the warmth has coaxed trees towards bud and blossom. Still, I had to go outside and appreciate the look of snow on our landscape.

As I walked around it occurred to me that visually, we seem to have three seasons colliding. With the early warming and the slow budding of the trees, we’ve ended up with red hues lingering on the branches for a several weeks. We all kept saying how it seemed like a mini-fall.

Now we have fall and spring and winter together.

Everyone likes to try to explain weather. Or bemoan weather. Or predict weather. Sometimes, it’s nice to just go out and be in it.

Even – and sometimes especially – if it’s not what you’re expecting.

Bloodroot

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Peter came across this little white woodland wildflower on the Hungry Turtle property last week. For such an unassuming bloom, it has quite a story for itself. Bloodroot, or Sanguinaria canadensis, is a somewhat rare and, in some states, threatened plant that grows primarily in the Eastern U.S., with a preference for little-disturbed areas on hills and mountains.

This spring-flowering plant has also been called bloodwort, coon root, Indian paint, paucon, red puccoon, turmeric, red root, snakebite, king root, sweet slumber, and tetterwort. The name bloodroot, which seems to be the most widely applied common name for the plant, stems from the fact that the plant has a thick “root” – actually a rhizome – that is red-orange and fibrous. When cut, blood-red liquid runs out. This juice was used by Native Americans as body paint and as dye.

Of particular interest is the plant’s medicinal usage. A quick Google search reveals that one can buy bloodroot dried or as an extract from various suppliers, yet at the same time the FDA has deemed this plant unsafe, urging people and herbal healers not to use it (the one exception being as an ingredient in mouthwashes for its anti-plaque properties). Bloodroot has long been used by American Indian tribes and has been considered helpful for treating sore throats, fevers, ulcers, and skin conditions such as ringworm, warts, and fungus. It has even been used to treat various cancers, particularly skin cancer. Internal use and self-medicating with bloodroot are discouraged as an improper dosage of the plant may cause vomiting, distorted vision, and unconsciousness.

Now that all sounds a bit scary and controversial. Other intriguing lore includes the practice of keeping bloodroot nearby, even carrying it around, in order to attract love or offer protection; people would place the plant over doorways and windows. For now, we prefer to leave our white-petaled flowers and their mysterious, magical rhizomes on our wooded hillsides, where we might walk by and appreciate them in their natural habitat.

Sources:
NC State University Horticulture Leaflets: Bloodroot
NPS: Shenandoah National Park: Bloodroot
USDA NRCS Plants Profile: Bloodroot
Wildflowers of the Southeastern U.S.

A Peek Into the High Tunnel

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Our collaborative high tunnel project began in August of 2011, with the placement of one high tunnel on RNH land and three at other farm locations. Spring’s early onset is surely toying with our outcomes, and will leave us considering how the tunnels might perform in more typical Wisconsin weather. Or, perhaps this early spring will be our new normal; only the years following can tell us for certain. In any case, we’re thrilled to be seeing green after this strangely beige winter. Here’s a peek inside our high tunnel this April afternoon:

This week projects some cold temperatures, but we’re discussing moving the tunnel back on its tracks in the very near future. Meanwhile, there is always weeding to do, and plenty of other projects have us brainstorming and planning. RNH now has three more people on site with new ideas to flesh out. Welcome to me (Erica) and Cella and Emmet! And happy April to all of you.