Thursday, May 1, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - First Week of May 2014

Temperatures in New England are warming, with most days in the 50’s and nights in the 40’s.

Last weekend was spent installing 50,000 bees in new bee hives.   The process of package installation is straightforward.    First, the queen, who is kept in a separate small cage, is placed in the hive.    Below is a picture of preparing the queen cage for insertion.     Next 10,000 bees are gently poured into the hive.   Below is a photo of the process.    50,000 bees moved, no stings.   A great day.

Our bees are actively gathering pollen and nectar from the forests surrounding the farm and adjacent fields/orchards.    We want to support our bees with plants that bloom throughout the seasons.   We inventoried the major native and cultivated plants on the farm, evaluating their value to bees as food sources as well as their timing.   Barbara Keene Briggs of Tree Specialists Inc. created this chart to illustrate gaps in pollen/nectar flow and plants needed to fill those gaps.    This weekend, we planted the bee yard and you’ll see the young plants in the photo below.

In last week’s post, I mentioned a new trail that I’ve built, the Forget-me-not Glen trail with it’s 60 foot boardwalk.   It’s finished and below is a view from an island in the tream.

The vegetables in the hoop house continue to grow now that we have installed hardware cloth to eliminate vole and chipmunk access.

Kathy and I moved a ton of fallen poplar to our latest mushroom area and after 108 chain saw cuts,  inoculated the stacks of wood with 6 subtypes of Oyster mushroom.    For the next three months, they’ll incubate in black plastic bags for their “spore run”.   We’ll have 100+ pounds of oyster mushrooms this Fall, which we’ll sell at a local farmer’s market.

We cultivate Shitake, Oyster and Lion’s Mane mushrooms in our 5 mushroom yards.   Over the weekend, we loaded a few hundred pounds of chicken manure compost into raised beds and inoculated with Agaricus subrufescens, the Almond agaricus with a rich amaretto flavor.

Next weekend will be devoted to trail maintenance and herd health, weighing and examining all the creatures of Unity Farm.

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