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Monday, August 18, 2014

Deflecting cancer

Once rare , now common, cancer touches all of us. We have just lost our neighbour across the road and a dear  friend has just started chemo. The best help I've heard is from Jerry Brunetti,listen here: Food as Medicine  

Jerry is ( gorgeous BTW) a prolific speaker on farming and health and self treated survivor of non Hodgkin Lymphoma. His research is that tumours don't kill us. It is metastatic illness which kills us.  We all have cancer cells in our blood every day. It is our immune system that intercepts and deals with these "seeds" which emanate from tumours. Chemo weakens our immune system. There are heaps of foods that strengthen our immune systems and here they are  from the Weston A Price Foundation . I notice that everything but the seafood is available from us. We are very proud to be able to supply the variety and quality of food required to be healing and protective, from our permaculture. We have stopped frying in anything but animal fats and consume them gently heated if not raw. Only the cold pressed oils will do, such as olive , and these
Our avos grown with quality compost. The African Horned Cue is high in Vit C
 should not be heated. Not all people see the wisdom in paying more for their groceries but how much would they spend to cure a sick loved one? Diet related  diseases are  costing Australia, Canada and the U.S. a whopping  80%  of GDP.and of course cancer is a booming industry.
 In  2008, America spent $76.6 billion on caring for children ill due to exposure to farm chemicals. Its time to find out...How to Protect Yourself Against Cancer With Food

Once a rare disease, cancer is now widespread, affecting as much as one-third of the population. The rise in cancer in the West has paralleled the rise in factory farming and the use of processed foods containing vegetable oils and additives.
Orthodox methods for treating cancer (radiation and chemotherapy) do not prolong life. The best approach to cancer is prevention.
Traditional diets, containing animal and plant foods farmed by nontoxic methods, are rich in factors that protect against cancer. Many of these protective factors are in the animal fats.
Vegetarianism does not protect against cancer. In fact, vegetarians are particularly prone to cancers of the nervous system and reproductive organs.

Nutrients in Whole Foods that Protect Against Cancer

Vitamin A: Strengthens the immune system. Essential for mineral metabolism and endocrine function. Helps detoxify. True vitamin A is found only in animal foods such as cod liver oil; fish and shellfish; and liver, butter and egg yolks from pasture-fed animals. Traditional diets contained ten times more vitamin A than the typical modern American diet.
Vitamin C: An important antioxidant that prevents damage by free radicals. Found in many fruits and vegetables but also in certain organ meats valued by primitive peoples.
Vitamin B6: Deficiencies are associated with cancer. Contributes to the function of over 100 enzymes. Most available from animal foods.
Vitamin B12: Deficiencies are associated with cancer. Found only in animal foods.
Vitamin B17: Protects against cancer. Found in a variety of organically grown grains, legumes, nuts and berries.
Vitamin D: Required for mineral absorption. Strongly protective against breast and colon cancer. Found only in animal foods such as cod liver oil, lard, shellfish and butterfat, organ meats and egg yolks from grass-fed animals. Traditional diets contained ten times more vitamin D than the typical modern American diet.
Vitamin E: Works as an antioxidant at the cellular level. Found in unprocessed oils as well as in animal fats like butter and egg yolks.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Strongly protective against breast cancer. Found in the butterfat and meat fat of grass-fed ruminant animals.
Cholesterol: A potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals in cell membranes. Found only in animal foods.
Minerals: The body needs generous amounts of a wide variety of minerals to protect itself against cancer. Minerals like zinc, magnesium and selenium are vital components of enzymes that help the body fight carcinogens. Minerals are more easily absorbed from animal foods.
Lactic Acid and Friendly Bacteria: Contribute to the health of the digestive tract. Found in old fashioned lacto-fermented foods.
Saturated Fats: Strengthen the immune system. Needed for proper use of the essential fatty acids. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats. Found mostly in animal foods.
Long-Chain Fatty Acids: Arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help fight cancer on the cellular level. They are found mostly in animal foods such as butter, organ meats, cod liver oil and seafood.
Co-enzyme Q10: Highly protective against cancer. Found only in animal foods.

Compounds in Processed Foods that Can Cause Cancer

Trans Fatty Acids: Imitation fats in shortenings, margarines and most commercial baked goods and snack foods. Strongly associated with cancer of the lungs and reproductive organs.
Rancid fats: Industrial processing creates rancidity (free radicals) in commercial vegetable oils.
Omega-6 fatty acids: Although needed in small amounts, an excess can contribute to cancer. Dangerously high levels of omega-6 fatty acids are due to the overuse of vegetable oils in modern diets.
MSG: Associated with brain cancer. Found in almost all processed foods, even when "MSG" does not appear on the label. Flavorings, spice mixes and hydrolyzed protein contain MSG.
Aspartame: Imitation sweetener in diet foods and beverages. Associated with brain cancer.
Pesticides: Associated with many types of cancer. Found in most commercial vegetable oils, fruit juices, vegetables and fruits.
Hormones: Found in animals raised in confinement on soy and grains. Plant-based hormones are plentiful in soy foods.
Artificial Flavorings and Colors: Associated with various types of cancers, especially when consumed in large amounts in a diet of junk food.
Refined Carbohydrates: Sugar, high fructose corn syrup and white flour are devoid of nutrients. The body uses up nutrients from other foods to process refined carbohydrates. Tumor growth is associated with sugar consumption.

The Weston A. Price Foundation

·         A reliable source of accurate nutrition information.
·         A strong voice against imitation foods.
·         Does not receive funding from any government agency, nor from the meat and dairy industries.
·         Campaigns for a return to healthy traditional fats.
·         Warns consumers about the dangers of modern soy foods.
·         Promotes access to unprocessed whole milk products from pasture-fed animals.
·         Keeps members informed through Wise Traditions, a lively quarterly magazine.

·         Helps consumers find healthy, farm-fresh foods through a system of local chapters.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ducky dream homes

Ducks are cheaper to keep than chooks because they just seem to get by without much grain. This is great for Permies, as we are usually penniless, building up real wealth (starting with the soil). With ducks you can plant stuff to attract slugs and snails, so the sappy , strappy and succulent plants (like agapanthus that usually get infested with molluscs) are great. Ducks love to snaffle around in them with their very busy bills, cleaning up slugs snails and their tiny, clear, caviar- like eggs. Get your organic minded old friends to collect snails from their gardens  for your ducks, and maybe you can return the favour with duck eggs. There is nothing nicer than a duck egg, such large and rich yellow yolks. To me they don't taste different but are just bigger. 

 In old China it was common to rent- a -duck flock to clean up your garden in the winter. A guy would come with his ducks in a trailer pulled by bicycle. The ramp went down , the ducks emerged and went rifling through the plot . At the end of the day the ducks were enticed back into the trailer , or should I say the last duck up the ramp got a tap with a bamboo cane. The Chinese use to hatch out eggs in cane baskets heated and  insulated in some way. They would bond with their birds from hatching day and for the next 6 week. With cormorants the fisherman lived on a boat and when it was hatching time they would go below decks in the darkness with the baby birds for these 6 weeks  . They then had a faithful servant who for decades would catch fish for their master. But back to us:
  Comfrey is a great favorite with ducks but must be established a few years before they are introduced as they will love it to death. I have had to put cages over my comfrey to save it from ducks.
Oh crikey , they love chicory to stumps  too. So they have great taste and favour the deep rooted herbs which have lots of minerals. I haven’t got them on the seed catalogue but I do have some alfalfa and chicory seeds if you like to order some within Australia please email me ( beewinfield@westnet.com.au). There'll be a lot more very good plants which I haven’t observed yet but now that you’ve asked I will keep my eyes out. It would be good to have at least 2 pens and a house in the middle with hatches to either pen, to allow the plants to regrow between onslaughts.
 Put some hay in the house and if the house is locked up against foxes at night there will be nice clean eggs in the morning when you let them out for the day. We have a duck pond in their pen which is a bad idea: the sillie billies lay eggs in the water. On the good side, the ducks swim out over the pond to freedom of the fields very early, leaving their more destructive friends the chooks inside the pen ( as they cant swim)  till midday. Chooks really are like small rotary hoes whose energies are best controlled . 
 It really isnt groovy to allow ducks near the chooks water supply as they will muddy it up in seconds.  But you can easily block duck access to the water with a small fence that the chooks will easily jump over.  The permaculture principle of " turning a problem into a solution" means we can use the habit of ducks to foul their water to great effect if we place a movable duck pond such as the half shell plastic paddle pools available in the colder months for just $12.oo, in the orchard. The ducks will naturally congregate under the shady fruit tree at the pond. A hose can be connected to whatever irrigation system you are using for the trees. The dirty water is tipped out, the pond moved to the next tree and refilled as often as you can be bothered. The ducks will eat low fruit, but there should be plenty enough for you. The kahki Cambell and Indian Runner ( egg laying type ) ducks do not fly . The dual purpose meat and egg laying duck the Muscovey however, will fly even though they are a far heavier bird. They not only fly, they employ vertical takeoff like a helicopter, making them ever so hard to catch.  We only put up with them because of they are so funny to watch and have heaps of personality. Remember the duck in Babe? A muscovey.  I find them better layers and better mothers than our aging pekins too, but it all depends on the strain of duck you have. I once had some awesome Kahki Cambells. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chook Heaven

My friend wrote to me asking for help with her chooks. They hadn't laid an egg since December in spite of the best of care and conditions. I thought some of you dear readers would be interested in my reply. It has turned into quite a chapter on chooks, so here goes!
Hi Sall, 
Six months without eggs, that's tragic, whatever could be their excuse? First, to cover all bases I will outline the needs of a chicken. I said chicken for American readers. Better define the
 life stages of a hen first: In Australia, a chicken is very young, . It is fluffy and  hasn't fully feathered up.
Under organic standards for meat birds, your stock should come from day old chicks, week old for layers.This is because antibiotics are fed from day one in commercial operation.  After 6 weeks the chicks have grown their hard feathers and can leave their mother's  nest ( or the artificial equivalent ....the heat lamp).
hen on nest in clucky hen coop made by Bee
We call a newly feathered fowl a teenager here at Merri Bee Organic Farm, but officially it is a "started pullet", then a " grower", then at 6 months , a point of lay pullet, then a "layer"  or  chook . An "old boiler" is one who has past her prime as a layer. Now in commercial egg production, that is at just  18 months. We don't retire our fowls to chorizo or soup till about 4 years and many are  far older, but shame on us. You should really replace your chooks every 2 years for best production. 






Back to describing
 chook heaven.  What is it like, living the dream, if you are a chook?

 Bear in mind, modern fowls descend from jungle fowls in Asia.
mother hen and pullets

Being able to jump down from your secure perch early in the morning to catch and devour the protein rich fauna still moving about in the wet herbage is important. As we all know, the early bird gets the worm.
 As the sun climbs higher, the shade of trees and under-story plants, again rich habitat for insects, is a must. Living on the edge of a food forest would be ideal. As Bill Mollison says, create edges wherever you can. To peck ones fill from fresh green plants is vital, and as always a diversity of plants is best. In winter,  pampered poultry  have access to silver beet /chards , kale, cabbage, chicory,  lettuce, endive, parsley and pasture. Pasture consist of no less than 80 species for prize race horses, as highlighted by Peter Andrews in his book "Back from the Brink". Heavenly fields would contain the perennial grasses  with huge root systems: cocksfoot, phalaris, fescues tall wheat grass, kangaroo grass. Very  nutritious herbs with deep tap roots to bring up minerals from the deep include dandelions, marsh mallow and the all important comfrey, chicory and alfalfa. Scarlet runner  and choko are 2 perennial climbers which also die back in winter but come back for 7 years.
comfrey
Alfalfa or lucerne. Its roots go down 6 feet. 
These plants may die down in winter in cold climates but will power away in spring and  like the perrenial grasses , will stay green with minimal summer rain or irrigation.  The legumes will feed your fowls and your grasses , so look to clovers, trefoils , vetches, and again alfalfa or lucerne. Annual legumes like Broad beans, peas and lupins , nitrogen fixation nodules as well as  store-able protein.  In our hell dry summers, a mix of kale, amaranthus, marsh mallow, millet, sorghum , and sunflower seem to survive in the dust somehow.
 Sorrell and purslane are useful summer "weeds", the purslane being one of the richest sources of omega 3 oils besides flax or linseed which should always be sown in autumn for the fowls and menopausal women. With the first rains, broad cast the  annual cereals ( wheat, rye, barley etc), and mix in peas and lupins for protein and nitrogen fixation. In spring sow annual beans such as borlotti, snake bean , kidney , navy and the climber/ soil improver lab lab. They will do well in summer if they get their roots down in spring before the big dry. Lastly, pumpkin is important for its zinc rich  seed, so when you bung on some roast veges for tea, remember to put the seeds in the kitchen " chook bucket." I also put any compostable waste in there. They love trawling through for treasures such as macadamia nut meats clinging to shells, slaters etc and in the process shredding our paper waste.
Biological Paper shredder at work. If no rain , a light sprinkle with a hose will generate furious shredding  activity. Note the little gates in the corrugated iron which lead out to vege garden beds surrounded by cheap bird net. Its cheap but we are always sewing up the holes made by (we suspect) rats.


Of the tree crops useful to poultry Acacia has got to be essential as it's seed has  protein contents of 18%, is abundant on the ground under trees in high summer , easily collected and stored if you really want to, and the trees are fast growing shade and shelter .   Ever-lovin  Tagasaste , siberian pea tree mulberry and sea berry rank equal to the acacias. I can grow pigeon peas for a few years but frost usually takes them out well before they die of old age at 6 years. You will find many of the plants mentioned above in our seed catalogue http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/merri-bee-organic-seeds_3190.html

Acacia Victoriae  has particularly big seeds. 


 According to Juliette Levy in her Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, a mixture of dried stinging nettle, kelp and comfrey is a stimulant for egg production . I reckon even the feather dusters may start laying eggs on this mixture. 
In addition to the natural diet described above, the chook needs a dry area for dust bathing ( you can add ashes, dried leaves of insecticidal plants such as eucalyptus, southernwood and wormwood  to their dust bath for added protection against body lice /mites/. ) and ad- lib access to shell grit ( or powdered lime stone). Yes you can dry their eggshells out and crush them and add to the shell grit. We don't feed fresh egg shells because it may encourage egg eating, and \ if you have dirty eggs or none at all, suspect an out break of this. Any chook you catch in the act  should be despatched immediately, no buts. This vice is easily taught to other chooks and before you know it it will become far cheaper to buy your eggs from someone else! 
Water of course  is the most basic need  and going thirsty will definitely stop egg production if not kill your fowls. Bear in mind that chooks will not enter bright sun to access water  so in summer, water must be in the shade and access to it must remain in the shade throughout the heat of the day . Automatic watering devices are a must really, and cleaning off  the dark green algae that always grows in the water container now and then is only fair to them .
 You won't get any eggs if a fox eats your chooks so again, a statement of the bleedin' obvious: Lock your chooks up at dusk in a dog and fox proof enclosure. Don't listen if someone tries to tell you foxes wont swim across a moat to get your chooks, they do . See my earlier post on this blog http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/raising-chickens.html

Other predators in our area include the wedge tail eagle and the chudditch . It is commonly known by two other names, the western quoll and the western native cat. This species has become endangered due to loss of habitat and increased predator activity. Fires account for much of the habitat loss. The chudditch can be found in the Jarrah Forest located in south Western Australia, the population of the species in that location is estimated at 3,000 animals. This species is regarded as the largest marsupial predator located in Western Australia.
Goannas
will eat eggs and this can be a real problem in January around here. We have transported one daily visitor by car to far off forests but either he /she or another one in its place comes back every day to eat eggs and sometimes to chew the leg off a chicken!  Pogo is a cute little silky bantam that lost a leg in this very manner in her youth.

Look Sal, this one has me stumped. Old chooks should give you one egg a week unless they  are fully geriatric or in their annual moulting period. The moult  is obvious, they go around looking shocking with only half their feathers for up to 8 weeks. This usually occurs in mid winter, but flocks take turns moulting we have found. Each flock should have a rooster for protection and ideally should be no larger than 25 fowls. Then the pecking order is established and no daily squabbles for supremacy occur as happens in larger flocks where there are too many chooks to recognise and know! So, firstly, are they laying at all?  I want you to check the distance between pelvic bones of a few of your lazy  chooks . If you can insert 2 fingers between these bones , the chook will lay soon or is going off the lay. If you can insert 3 fingers , she is a good layer in fine form.  If only 1 finger will fit, she is soup mate.  Other signs of a non layer are:
* you see her going to bed early and getting up late 
* she has a small pale coloured comb
* is fat and lethargic. 
If  your chooks look like non layers, try adding kelp to the feed and  increasing protein in the ration. I believe the chook food you are buying is organic so we are safe from GM rubbish there,  but a protein hit like milk, meat , insects legumes may be needed . I understand your girls are very lucky and have free range . I do hope the land has never had organophosphates or organochlorines applied which hang around forever and would minimize insect numbers and of course contaminate your eggs with pesticide residues. These OC's and OP's lodge in our body fat and in the fat of egg yolks and accumulate as they do not leave the body easily, but I am sure you know that. Everyone running chooks, cows or pigs and eating their products should ensure their land is clean of pesticides by a soil test on day one. Sheep, not so bad but the above mentioned critters eating habits mean they ingest dirt. 
Just as awful to contemplate as a persistant pesticide residue is the only other thing I can think of: human poachers??? Long shot I should think. 
Anyway, get back to me with any more observations and I will keep thinking. 

If you are interested in attending a workshop on keeping back yard chooks for eggs and meat , where we will go into even more detail in a very hands on way,  please email me and register your interest. 



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chef Sean Carter asked me: Merri Bee , what are you on about?

Bee and Stewart (Merri Bee Organic Farm) recently leapt at the  invitation to join fabulous chef Sean Carter, Muster Bar & Grill, on the From Paddock to Plate stage at the Nannup Flower & Garden Festival 2014, with favorite  radio personality Louise Fitzroy (now engaged in promoting fresh produce with her  Paddock to Plate initiative).


Bee will appear on Friday 15 August, 11:35am – 12:20pm. Sean will be cooking a shoulder of  pastured pork  and some scrumptious herbs and veges straight from Merri Bee Organic Farm  .His idea for the dish sounds amazing: "a fennel & black pepper rubbed rolled pork shoulder with confit fennel, wilted kale and thyme infused roasted shallots" And a pork jus! And we all get a taste at the end!
Stew will be serving up  meals all weekend, maybe not so fancy but it is hard to go wrong with ingredients straight from nature, so look out for the  yellow Organic food van.
 Says Bee "Sean asked us what we are up to . As I often wonder just what I am doing in life I  had to think about our mission. So here it is:
Merri Bee Organic farm  honours the living systems of planet Earth. We want to rebuild the soil and  provide  families with real, natural, healthy food, We want to teach people how to do this in their yards and grow a lot more of their own food. We can't afford to suffer  the green-washed, health-washed,  toxic, low taste- and- nutrient ”food” in piles of gaily coloured  packaging from a health or environmental  aspect and lets face facts, all processed food contains GMOs and it only comes to us via the dwindling supply of fossil fuel.
 It is agribusiness which has largely  brought about the  mass extinction event currently taking place on Earth.   This is the 6th in our planet's 4.5 billion year history, and this time it is not caused by volcanic activity  or meteor impact , but by humans eating.
 Frankly, many farmers are brainwashed by chemical companies to believe synthetic fertilizer and chemical inputs are essential.  Tons of toxins are entering the landscape  causing  of not only massive biodiversity loss, but also CC (climate change) as eve soil microbes are killed. Farmers are both the unwitting perpetrators  and the first  victims of  CC. Farmer suicides in Australia numbered one every 4 days in 2009. In the past 5 years 4,000 of Western Australia’s 10,000 farmers have walked off their land . In addition, the “food” from conventional systems  is the cause of  unprecedented malaise and apathy in the human population.
 How amazing then that farmers are the ones who can single handedly save our Earth!  Farmers control vast areas of land and as such control our climate. By fostering instead of killing soil microbes, farmers alone can sequester  our carbon emissions  back to the Earth. By teaming with microbes , climate change can be reversed. http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/

the pigs are in here,  really

A curly tail means a happy pig. 
 For further info on the power of soil to soak up atmospheric carbon and methane see
http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/why-i-am-not-vegan.html
and

http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/nourishing-soil.html


We believe Permaculture can heal the ecosystems which drive climate  and our health .  Our dream is to help increase this  eco-literacy in the community.
We  teach the skills and techniques of permaculture and supply seeds to grow  food forests which will re-cloth the earth with green plants ASAP .

 That organics becomes mainstream is a matter of survival now. But real food doesn't come cheap, and we have become accustomed to spending  less on food and more on doctors and hospitals than ever before.


Grown in super rich compost, Merri Bee Organic plants ( and the animals who eat those plants)  contain every known and unknown nutrient, and come complete with an array of  beneficial microbes so essential but missing from modern agricultural soils and produce.  The same sets of beneficial  organisms  populate the soil and our intestines when we eat these plants.  They out-compete pathogens and protect us from disease. Just as a healthy plant does not put out the stress signals  which attract pest and disease, (making   pesticides  obselete),so pharmacueticals become obselete for organic gardeners and consumers.

 The products of a permaculture grow exponentially as the system matures. Although in its infancy at 30 years old, we have some exciting new food and drink discoveries from our permaculture to share with Sean, Louise and you all  on Friday August 15. Yours in  glowing health , happiness and hopes for a brighter future "

 Bee and Stew.

carob syrup ....discovery of the week

Do you ever fret that sugar is so energy intensive that we should not eat it, even if it was healthy? And we are  learning how very unhealthy is the high fructose corn syrup sweetener. This fructose is found in -well ,just about every processed food , especially fizzy drinks . The fructose corn stuff is GM,(  as is the soy that is also in every processed food) . High fructose corn syrup  is not recognized by the body as a food, but as  a toxin. Dr Robert Lustig , pediatric endocrinologist,  tells us this and many things in his speech "The bitter Truth about Sugar" which has had nearly 5 million views!! His latest offering "Fat Chance  Fructose 2.0"  is also very interesting
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceFyF9px20Y


So I am pleased to report that we just made carob syrup for the first time, and  it is surprisingly nice!   The carob bean is something like 78 % sugar .Traditional recipes call for 5 kgs of carob beans and 4 kgs of sugar, but I am quite happy with the carob on its own. The tree is dioecious ( and here spell check can’t help me)  It means there are male and female trees. It takes about 20  years to find out who is who and the females to start bearing .The bad news  is, only one in 10 is a female. On the bright side they are all handsome evergreen trees and  wow, do the females  ever crank out the carob pods!  If you are a clever clogs you can successfully graft  most of your trees with female scions. Might give it a go one day with no expectation of success.
These trees can handle any  amount of heat and drought once established. Carob pods are very sweet and mineral rich and a great stock food, but for me they are a tad fibrous. I call them a fibrous mars bar.  But lo! Carob syrup  can be rendered out of the pods . It fits in wonderfully with Mediteranean permaculture, because the pods ripen in May and can be collected and stored easily. Come June you will probably have a wood stove going , burning the latest tree that fell down on a fence to heat the home and boost your solar hot water. You just break  up the carob pods in your hands while talking on the phone ( its not messy), then soak this in a pot  for a day, then boil for an hour or 2, strain out the juice and put it back on the stove. Reserve the dregs for the pigs  to cheer them up on a cold, miserable day. With the fire going   the juice  evaporates down  overnight to a yummy syrup.It doesnt seem to need stirring. 
If you put cream with it and some roasted nuts,  it is heavenly. I think a new  winter tradition has just begun at our place.  All ingredients could come from any half decent WA permaculture , so  being a locavore doesn’t have to mean being skinny . At our place chestnuts, macadamias, walnuts and pecans fall from the trees in late May. The fuerte avocado is on in June/July and could be mashed and mixed in to extend what I can only describe as  a super healthy version of “nutella”. 

If you are sad to be missing out on processed food because you don’t want to support GM corn and soy plantations, I salute you.  Smile now because  you can grow carobs , you can milk a jersey cow! We are going to be all right!
One of the 4 jersey heifers born this year on the farm.

 Local, organic,  superfood carob syrup is easily done and  no doubt can be bottled.  Now is the perfect  time to plant a heap of carob seeds and start a carob forest.  We can post you seeds for $3.50 a packet . http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/search?q=seed+catalogue

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nourishing Soil............. Compost and compost tea workshop September 27th -28th

Our planet Earth is perhaps named after the substance that all terrestrial life depends on, but that substance is being lost into the ocean at a rate of 75 billion tons per annum.
However a good soil doesn’t readily blow away or erode. It produces healthy plants which confer radiant health to the animals that eat them. It is dark and crumbly with a structure which means air and water are available to plant roots. 
.
When you learn that it is the activity of millions of tiny microscopic creatures (the members of the soil food web) that create healthy soil, and that they are killed by pesticides, clearing, ploughing, and synthetic fertilizers, it is easy to understand why they are extinct over vast areas of farmland and carbon  has largely left the soil and entered the air. Deterioration in our climate and human health is the understated result.

Bee Winfield is a farmer, one of that small band of aging folk whom the other 99% of the population expects to feed them, and cheaply! In light of C.C. that’s a difficult task, but she believes farmers and gardeners can simultaneously and single- handedly save the world by teaming with microbes to improve the fertility of the soil under their stewardship. Says Bee “I am an organic farmer, and as such I represent 1% of the  1%. Thank heavens microbes work for free!”
Please reserve the last weekend in September in to attend Merri Bee Organic Farm 's
"Nourishing Soils" workshop
This will be the distillation of all we've learned from Dr Elaine Ingham and Dr Mary Cole  It will also include our own discoveries "down the microscope" and the wonderful information shared by the truly  great gardener , the  holder of several Guiness Book of Records  prizes for the biggest  produce, and  all round great guy Haydn Cunningham. Haydn has had literally enormous success making and using compost and is now going for the highest Brix readings . Brix readings are an indicator of mineral density and sweetness in fruit and vegetables.


.Rest assured , improving soil and feeding ourselves without chemicals  is the best thing we can do for our planet and for ourselves. Morning tea and lunch will be provided from  Merri Bee Farm. We want you to taste the difference, feel the difference and know how to  make a difference!
 After the oceans, the soil is the earth’s
largest carbon sink – but plants are the
facilitators.






Through photosynthesis plants
convert CO2 to sugars to power growth,
releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The
activities of symbiotic bacteria and fungi,
associated with roots and fed by the sugars,
enable the exuded carbon to be combined
with soil minerals and made into stable
humus, which locks the carbon away.

With not too much science and lots of hand on practical demo's,
September 27    Day one will focus on water harvesting and quality compost making , with the operative word being QUALITY. Sign up for  September 28th , Day 2   as well, and learn all about compost tea.....taking our small amount of quality compost and spreading its goodness over broad acres . The price  of Day 2 also includes a DVD  jam packed with information, recipes and photos  of  everything covered , everything you need to do to improve your soil and  reap an ongoing  rich harvest. You will also leave with a  bottle of  aerated compost tea. If you are like me, you've heard so often  that "what sounds too good to be true probably is"( not true) but SURPRISE !!,This quality compost  really , truly ...works!
 We would like to be teaching a class full of farmers so please spread the word as far  East as you can! 
 Please reserve your spot now by paying in full for DAY 1, $175. If after first day you want more of the good oil,  I mean soil, (and we would be surprised if you didn't)  we will happily accept your payment for DAY 2, also $175.00

Those with existing  faith that Bee  will deliver in spades can sign up and pay for the whole weekend  for a total of $300 ( a saving of $50). Those who bring a friend or partner can claim a saving of $50 between you.  Find our sign up and payment page here:      http://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com.au/search?q=student+sign+up

Side by side trial.....The corn in front of Stew did not receive compost tea. The corn behind him did. See you tube video

Please email  for further enquires and to register to learn the powerful secrets of soil :  beewinfield@westnet.com.au 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Time to get the winter garden up and growing.

We just finished the Nannup Music Fest where we had a full on curry and smoothie stall, and what a great time it was.Caught up with lots of friends, flapped our gums for Steve Marsh, made some new friends and caught some wonderful talent on stage, was so nice to swing in the hammock and just listen during my siesta. Do  hope that was the last of the really hot weather though! However with our first cloudy day for what seems like forever I am reminded that soon the days will be short and cold.
Autumn is the busiest time on the farm, next to spring.
Now is a good time to get stuck into the garden, clear and compost the dieseased old tomato and zucchini plants and sow a lot of seeds. Some can be sown  in trays like the brassica family ( broccoli, cauli , cabbage , kale, bokchoy) lettuce, beetroot, parsley, celery. Direct sowing of carrots, parsnips, radish, corriander, peas  and fennel and silver beet would be good also. Up and till now many seeds would not have germinated due to high temperatures.
Sown now, seedings will get a bit of size before the very short days  of winter, whereupon nothing grows and plants may even get smaller due to slugs, slaters and snails.The brassica seedlings might get hit by cabbage butterfly ( its their green caterpillar babies that do the damage) so they may need to be protected by shade cloth or bird net or something. In the hopes of rain soon I will start winter gardens with the water we have left in tanks . I will spend the water on starting plants off because by the time the rain comes it is often too cold for anything to grow. Such is climate change. So sad . It use to be that early rains would bring up heaps of self sown lettuce and brassica veg which we could transplant later as the real rain set in. Now its a matter of pumping water, thankfully by solar power on the farm. And it takes a lot of water to rehydrate extremely dry ad hydrophobic soil. Employ furrows on contour and short bursts of irrigation to fill these with water, wait for it to soak in before re-filling. This may have to go on for days if the soil is low in carbon. The more compost the better to raise the mineral level. Mature compost , or humus, soaks up and holds  vast amounts of water .
 We will be trying to find time to  "dry seed" ( plant in dry soil ) oats, barley, wheat, lupins broad beans and flax in the coming weeks, because when the rain finally comes there is too much to plant all at once. 
Its a good time to make compost. About now  I like to clean the deep litter out of the chook houses  and get a BIG deep layer of new saw dust ,bamboo leaves, wood  chips and shavings into their houses and pens  which will last till next autumn.

Autumn is the time to load up the wood shed with dry wood and sticks for winter fires. Also we must collect and package and label the many seeds currently out there in the garden.
There are many fruits to pick and preserve about now: golden queen peaches, sugar plums, figs, apples , pears, perssimons, grapes,  limes and quinces.


Its last days for sun drying figs, grapes and prunes. Really why would we ever  need to buy sugar?  Have you tried a fig smoothie? Delicious , and a chocolate fig smoothie is extra nice. 

We put sheets of glass over these to keep dew off.
May you have a lovely Autumn with friends and family XXX Bee