Monday, September 27, 2010

Bee Mentors.

I broke the frame as I was pulling it out to inspect. I was so disappointed in myself, luckily the bees were really happy about it.

These are my bee mentors. They are awesome. Jane Wild and her husband. What is really helpful is they watch me do it, they don't do it for me. I learn more that way.

Thank you for helping me out.
I have decided not to take any honey this season. I want to leave it for the bees, to help them through the winter. All three hives seem to be thriving now. I don't want to disturb them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Chick.

A White Crested Black Polish, named Stella. She really is a star. I am so excited I can barely breath. She is gorgeous. I was lucky enough to get her from my very good friend Jan Brett (author of my favorite kids book The Mitten). I have been hoping hoping I might be able to raise one of her amazing birds. Now it has happened. Wow. Thank you Jan!

Fall Feeding. 2:1 Sugar to water.

Shout out to my boys in MGH NICU.

My MGH NICU posse Andy and John hope they spring you soon. Preemies rock.

Google has beehives!

From the Google Blog

Show me the honey
9/20/2010 03:15:00 PM

Since we installed four beehives on campus this spring, the area around the hives has been, well, a hive of activity. Many Googlers took the beekeeping plunge, donning bee suits and diving into regular beekeeping activities such as regular checks for diseases and parasites. Today, we have more than 80 employees signed up to care for the bees. We’re happy to report that the bees have prospered at Google (must be all the free food) and the hives have grown from their original one-story “campus,” the Hiveplex, to five stories.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a ton of anticipation on campus as the hives filled with honey and harvest time drew closer. Each beekeeping team is assigned to one of the four colored hives, and some teams were spotted peeking into other hives to see which was ahead in terms of honey production.


Tending my bees, with a broken arm..

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What an Urban Farmer Looks Like - NY Magazine

YEAH ANNIE AND BEE (My friends in Brooklyn)

Photographs by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Until the mid-nineteenth century, most of New York City was farmland. Now, thanks to the constant drumbeat of locavorism, some of it is going back to seed. Urban horticulture has long been practiced at hundreds of community gardens around the city. But a new class of growers is more concerned with bolstering a sustainable food system and, if possible, turning a profit than with cultivating a peaceful vegetable plot. In studiously trendy neighborhoods like Red Hook, Greenpoint, and Long Island City, the farming is done on rooftops and old basketball courts, mostly by the young, idealistic, and educated. Some still follow the old church-pantry model, but others are more entrepreneurial, relying on restaurant sales and CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscriptions to turn farming into a viable business. Here, a portfolio of the city’s most prolific food producers, and a map of where to find them.

Read more: A Guide to the City's Urban Farmers -- New York Magazine

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Chickens on FB

I'm not really sure what to put on FB. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Good morning hens.


He is the big guy on campus. He is so boss.

Where the Salmonella Really Came From -9/8/10

CALM Action/flickr

Barry Estabrook

It's been nearly one month since the nationwide recall of 550 million eggs, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still hasn't figured out where the salmonella that sickened 1,470 people originated.

Well, I know where it originated, and I am about to reveal it here, both to save the FDA further trouble and to warn the public that the food safety bill currently before the Senate (which may be fast-tracked as election-wary lawmakers return from their break) might not prevent future food contamination epidemics. In fact, it could even cause serious harm to conscientious farmers whose meat, poultry, and produce has never sickened anybody.

Put simply, the cause of the current salmonella outbreak is industrial-scale factory farming, which has also been the cause of virtually every instance of bacterial food contamination the country has experienced in recent years. Huge farms and processors that ship their products across the nation have given us E. coli in ground beef and spinach, Salmonella in peanut butter and fresh salsa, and Listeria in processed chicken. Scanning this list of food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States in the last 15 years, I can find only one instance, Listeria-tainted milk from Whitter Farms in Massachusetts, where a small, local operation sickened its customers.

READ WHOLE article here

Sunday, September 12, 2010, thank you

READ whole article here.

thank you so much.

3 Hives = tons of honey

Today I went out to check on the three hives. We have had a dry summer and it seems to have had an impact on the hives. My "Celtics" hive which had been slow to get started was wildly busy today. In fact they were completely aggressive as we swapped out the old sugar water (now 2:1). They didn't want us there. So we quickly swapped the feeder and closed up the hive. The other two hives which were very productive early on have been doing well but seem kind of chill.

Right now 2 hives have 2 full supers, one honey super and a third empty super on top to protect the syrup. They are almost too tall for me to work.

Last weekend we went out to strap the hives together. Hurricane Earl was supposed to come to our town so we thought it would be best to strap them down. As it turned out Earl went someplace else.

I have decided not to harvest any honey this year but instead leave it for the bees to winter over. It is a little disappointing, but I think it would be more disappointing to come back in the spring and find empty hives.

Yes, I still tend my bees, barefoot.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Birds on That Brooklyn Rooftop? Chickens

Written by my friend Annie Novak at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
Aug 31 2010, for The Atlantic

As the heavy heat of summer presses down on New York City, coming up the stairs to the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, I'm met with new company. Looking across the green roof toward the East River, one sees the flowers and herbs first, then the vegetables, and then, behind the towers of cucumbers that match the distant Manhattan skyline, a small flock of chickens.

The hens' coop sits at the far end of the farm, in the last row before the parapet and three-story drop to the street. As I climb the last few steps, the birds come barreling into the long chhcken wire-covered run like billiard balls after the break, crowing and crying out. They're hungry, as all animals suddenly are when they see someone who regularly feeds them.

Urban farming has many unique quirks, but one of the most profound in New York City is our search for good soil. Last year, I watched the crops suffer as the summer's heavy rains washed nutrients out of the green-roof growing medium. The weakened plants were prone to pests, so this year, I was eager to amend the unhealthy soil with something easily sourced and renewable. What better than chicken manure? When mixed into the compost pile with food scraps from a local pickling company and grounds from a neighborhood coffee shop, the chicken droppings and nesting hay would make a rich, cheap, and sustainable addition to our rows every 12 to 22 weeks.

Rather than raising birds in my apartment (the available warm, dry space was instead full of plant seedlings), I adopted the hens at laying age from Liberty View Farm, an organic apple orchard. From the start, I was sold on city chickens. They're fairly self-sufficient, multifunctional, and charming, like a good Le Creuset. When I'm up at sunrise cutting kale before the heat can wilt the harvest, the birds are frisky behind me, happily jogging up and down their run with the amnesiac curiosity of goldfish navigating their bowl.

It's not in my training to name farm animals (except for a close circle of favorites—barn cats and your best woodchuck-hunting dog). Nickname, perhaps—"Fatty" seems to christen most animals nicely. But here in urban farmland, with visitors constantly popping in and out with advice, the hens were all granted proper names within their first week on the rooftop.

Francis, a white Arucuna hen, was named in honor of Francis Perkins Academy, the North Brooklyn high school that built the birds' beautiful coop. Gina, a sophisticated grand dame of a Polish Standard with an incredible partridge-colored top hat of feathers, took her name from the donor who established the farm (an elegant woman in her own right). Lila was so dubbed by a 13-year-old homesteader from Massachusetts, Orren Fox, whose advice I'd come to rely on via his informative chicken and beekeeping blog. He told me that his bellbottom-feathered Cochin, Lola, was my hen's doppelganger. It was Orren who first noticed Lila's easygoing temperament. During a free public lecture on the rooftop on the art of chicken keeping, he held and handled her to explain a chicken's anatomy. Though her eyes blinked like a little raptor, Lila stayed still and unflustered as 60 or so people stared at her claws and comb.

article here

Bringing the barnyard to the backyard - Boston Globe

By Peter Schworm and Sydney Lupkin
September 8, 2010

They lose sleep to crack-of-dawn cackles. They catch grief from neighbors who assumed the block was a chicken-free zone.

But with a large recall of potentially tainted eggs raising concerns about food-borne illness, the growing number of people who raise their own chickens believe they are sitting pretty, with a steady supply of homegrown eggs they contend are safer, tastier, and more natural than their factory-farm counterparts.

“There’s something very wonderful and earthy about picking up a warm egg and going inside and cooking it for breakfast,’’ said Debbie Lewis of Brookline, who owns a flock of chickens. And homegrown eggs have far more flavor than their commercial cousins, she said.

CLICK HERE to read entire story

With my Beeks (Bee + Geeks = )

Thank you to Jane Wild and her husband for teaching me even more about my hives!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Earl

My chickens are quiet today. I think they must be able to feel the hurricane coming. Paprika my big bossy Brahma was oddly patient. I gave them extra food in case I can't get to them right away tomorrow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

With Salmonella, It's A Chicken-Or-Egg Conundrum - NPR

Courtesy of John Ingraham

Eggs themselves are remarkably resistant to germs like salmonella. The shell and proteins in the egg white normally do a good job of fending off pathogens. But eggs laid by a bird infected with salmonella will likely be infected, too.

"Eggs have been getting a bad rap lately as the number of people being made sick by eggs contaminated with salmonella continues to rise. But from an egg's point of view all of this is a bit unfair. Eggs get contaminated because the hen that's laying them is infected. Eggs themselves — if they come from a healthy bird — are remarkably resistant to contamination.

John Ingraham is particularly interested in how eggs stay microbe-free. He is a microbiologist and a chicken owner, and he happens to be my grandfather. He has spent years exploring the world of tiny organisms and so-called "retirement" hasn't changed that.

About a dozen chickens strut and peck in a large chicken coop tucked in between the clothes line and the gleaming pool in Ingraham's back yard in suburban Sacramento. They're quite vocal, and Ingraham points out the distinctive cackle that means one has laid an egg. They sound quite proud of the accomplishment."

READ and LISTEN to whole article here

Clearing out the hen house - NYT 9/2/10

Op-Ed Columnist
Cleaning the Henhouse
Published: September 1, 2010

"About 95 percent of American egg-laying hens are still raised in small battery cages, which are bacterial breeding grounds and notoriously difficult to disinfect. Hens are crammed together, each getting less space than a letter-size sheet of paper. The tips of their beaks are often sheared off so they won’t peck each other to death.

They are sometimes fed bits of “spent hen meal” — ground up chickens. That’s right. We encourage them to be cannibals. "