Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Time to get pollinating? June 26, 2013

Filed under: Food Activism,Home Economics,Politics — realfoodmama @ 9:57 am
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beekeepingAs you readers may or may not know, last week was national pollinators week. Unfortunately, the week was kickstarted by a horribly mass murder – namely, the loss of 50,000 bumble bees and assorted other pollinators. An Oregon Target parking lot was littered with corpses after thoughtless landscapers sprayed trees in bloom with toxic pesticides. This is a pretty serious blow to an already struggling group of flying insects.

As a gardener and someone who is concerned about her own food security, I am deeply troubled by the apparent disregard for the lives of these tiny foodies. I experienced low yields of tomatoes and squash last year as a result of, I think, diminished pollinator populations, and already this year I have watched my tomato plants flower only to see that several days later those same flowers have died and fallen with no fruit. It’s pretty terrifying, to be honest. All this work going into growing food plants only to have nothing happen because there are no bees.

Frankly, the obvious solution seems to be bee-keeping. I have an orchard and three gardens. I have drought tolerant flowering plants in my front yard. I already have livestock in the form of goats and chickens. Bee-keeping seems like the logical next step in my journey towards food security. The only problem is that I am “kinda” afraid of bees. With the stinging and the swarming and the flying into my face…

BUT, if we’re being completely honest here, I was also kind of afraid of chickens. With the flapping and the pecking and the crazy dinosaur eyes. I totally conquered that fear, so bees should be easy, right!? They’re so much smaller than chickens after all. And you get honey! Eventually…in theory.

In either case, I have some bee keeper friends who I will speak to about it and I am really thinking of just diving right in. Food security is reliant on our pollinators and small hives with access to organic and non-toxic food sources (such as those found in my garden!) are the best way, in my humble opinion, to stabilize the bee population. The first step in my journey I think will be to read up on beekeeping techniques and philosophies. I will share any reviews about books and how-to guides that I come across. In the meantime, Happy Eating!


Weening the kids June 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 3:24 pm

The time has come, once again, to ween my goat kids before selling them. There really is nothing quite like the horrible screaming to make me realize how quiet my goats usually are. As the owner of an urban farm I am always very aware of the proximity of my neighbors and do what I can to minimize any loud interruptions. Unfortunately there really isn’t much to be done when weening the vocal toddlers!

This year I bred my lovely Snubian girl, Amelia. Her mom is a full blooded Nubian goat (I call her my Papered Princess) and her papa is one of the many handsome bucks down at South Mountain Dairy, a local goat milk dairy near Albuquerque. Amelia was blessed with airplane ears and is absolutely adorable as a result. See, Nubian goats have pendulous ears that hang down, whereas the Sable Saanen goats, like nearly all the other breeds, have upright ears. The combination of a Nubian dam and a S.Saanen sire resulted in ears that stick straight out, like the wings of an airplane!

I’ve been antsy to have my goat milk supply back, since we’ve been forced to drink organic cow milk now since the beginning of the year. So while I appreciate that the kids may be driving my neighbors bananas, I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice in order to have my raw milk back. I miss the flavor and amazingly I also really feel a difference in my energy level. I realize that goat milk has higher B vitamin concentrations than cow, but I’m always amazed by what a difference it makes in how I feel.

In the past it has always been difficult to find buyers for my kids, and I hate the idea of them going to someone with no experience with goats, or who would be using them for rodeo work, so I struggle with offloading them. If I had 10 acres of pasture I’d just keep them until I was overrun, but given the size of my yard, that really isn’t possible. Luckily this year I have found them the absolute perfect spot. A local college is using goats to manage their landscaping and I was able to get in touch with the man in charge of the project. He will be taking the kids in about a week, once they are fully weened, and they will go on to live only a few blocks away with two other goats where they will be able to roam relatively freely and graze on a variety of plants while maintaining the beautiful campus. It sounds to me like the perfect place and I am so pleased to be able to help out this new project! I love the idea of using goats as landscape labor and I imagine they are pretty happy about it as well.

In either case, I still have to put up with about another week of loud noises until the kids are fully weened and ready to go. Let’s just hope the neighbors are able to tolerate it as well as I!