Category Archives: Articles

Sprouts: easy DIY winter greens

sprouts-easy-diy-winter-greens

I’ve been eating sprouts during the winter for a number of years now. Sprouts are a quick and easy way to provide the family with fresh veg all year long regardless of where you live. They’re pure, fresh, and nutrient-rich food that can be produced easily whether you’re 3 or 103. I like to use the jar method because I… Read more »

8 tips for growing your own seedlings

tips-for-growing-your-own-seedlings

Growing your own seedlings is not hard to do and opens the door to new opportunities for the home gardener, homesteader or small farmer. You’ll have a vast number of varieties available to choose from, more control over the amount of seed you purchase, and you’ll save money by growing your plants yourself. Starting your own plants gives you the chance… Read more »

How to build a temporary chicken coop for a Maine winter; with free printable instructions

temporary-chicken-coop-for-winter

Housing for the chickens was a big concern during Runamuk’s Great Farm Move. It had taken a full year to rebuild the Runamuk flock following my divorce, and I was up to nearly 90 birds in varying stages of production when I made the difficult decision to let go of Jim’s property in Starks. As we build up our apiary… Read more »

Tufflite greenhouse film: tuff stuff!

using-tufflite-greenhouse-film

Two years ago I bought my first roll of Tufflite IV greenhouse film and have since used it in a variety of ways around the Runamuk farm and homestead. As I’ve progressed along my journey towards a sustainable life I’ve looked for ways to extend my growing season, ways to improve upon the things I am already doing, and methods for… Read more »

Putting the buzz in Johnny’s catalog

2017-johnny's-selected-seeds-catalog

It’s at this time of year─when the growing season for most farmers and gardeners is behind us and the world has become brown and drab, the days are short and the dark of night stretches long as winter descends upon us in full force─that we look forward to receiving all of the vibrant seed catalogs in our mailboxes. Those catalogs generate… Read more »

Vote with your fork to save our broken food system

vote-with-your-fork

The simple desire to feed my family wholesome, nutritious and delicious food was the driving force that led me first to cooking and later into gardening. The more I learned, the more I could do─and wanted to do─for myself. That compulsion led me down the rabbit hole in pursuit of a more sustainable life, and eventually led me to farming… Read more »

DIY mouse-guards: how and when to install them on your beehive

mouse-invasion_fi

Harvest is now past, the leaves are falling from the trees to blanket the Earth as we move deeper into the darker half of the year, and things are cooling down here in Maine. Now that I have 7 seasons of beekeeping behind me I know that I prefer to have all of my winter hive preparations finalized by no later than… Read more »

Feeding Bees in the Fall

feeding beehives syrup in the fall

It’s that time of year when beekeepers are ramping up winter preparations for their beehives. We’re inspecting hives for colony strength, putting entrance reducers and mouse-guards on hives, applying mite treatments and feeding to ensure colonies have adequate stores to overwinter on. I have 15 hives going into winter and some of them are incredibly heavy with bees and honey stores,… Read more »

Butchering Meat Rabbits

Butchering Meat Rabbits

**WARNING** This article discusses the slaughtering and butchering of livestock. The images below may not be appropriate for all audiences. On principle I firmly believe that as a homesteader and farmer I need to know how to manage my livestock from beginning to end. When my chickens reach the end of their egg-laying life it only makes sense to me that… Read more »

DIY screened bottom board “sticky-stuff”

diy screened bottom board sticky-stuff

The beginning of August signifies the end of the spring nectar flow here in Maine. At this point in the season there is a nectar dearth, meaning we experience a period of time when there is a scarcity of available nectar. In my neck of the woods the dearth usually lasts 2-3 weeks on average. Beekeepers in Maine take advantage… Read more »

Plants for pollinators

Plants for Pollinators_FIsm

By now it’s fairly common knowledge that bees and pollinators are in trouble. The media has spread the word of Colony Collapse Disorder and the vanishing bees far and wide; it’s been in the news, in magazines, all over social media, there are several movies, and there are spokespeople who give talks to educate the population. We know now that CCD… Read more »

What do farmers at Johnny’s Seeds say are the biggest challenges facing farmers today?

challenges facing farmers

Though farmers in general are a dedicated lot, farming has never been easy and today’s beginning farmers face numerous obstacles. There’s a steep learning curve to growing produce and raising livestock for food production. A farmer has to wear many hats and have a broad spectrum of knowledge and skillsets. There are regulations and legalities to be adhered to and… Read more »

Resources recommended by Johnny’s Seeds farmers

recommended resources for beginning farmers

Beginning farmers face a myriad of challenges and obstacles along their chosen career path. Operating and owning a farm has become much more difficult since the advent of the industrialized agriculture system. New farmers today face a steep learning curve, expensive prices for farmland, and high start-up costs. Despite all that, statistics from the USDA’s Agricultural Census indicate that─especially here in… Read more »

Favorite things from the farmers and gardeners at Johnny’s Seeds

Favorite Things FIsm

How could any beginning farmer go into a company like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, find themselves surrounded by a spectrum of farmers and gardeners and not want to pick their brains for useful bits of information? I already knew what I wanted to ask when I finally bucked up the nerve to approach colleagues at work for this series of articles. And… Read more »

The sustainable apiary─brood factories & bee bombs

For years now Mike Palmer of French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans, Vermont, has been working to convince beekeepers that they can raise their own bees. He proposes beekeepers use the brood and bee-resources in non-productive hives to make mid-summer nuclei, to overwinter for replacement bees. According to the statistics beekeepers are losing 42% over the course of the winter…. Read more »

Working with beeswax

working with beeswax

Carol Cottrill is a former president of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association and has held a number of other positions within Maine’s beekeeping community, including president of the Western Maine Beekeepers’ Association. She’s been beekeeping for years and has dedicated a fair amount of time over the years to sharing her knowledge with other beekeepers. I’ve invited Carol over to the… Read more »

Maine beekeepers State of the State Address

maine apiaries

Every year at the annual meeting of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association our state apiarist, Anthony (Tony) Jadczak talks about the condition of our bees throughout the course of the year. We all laughingly refer to it as Tony’s “State of the State Address”, but it really is important information to relay to the body of Maine beekeepers. Staying aware… Read more »

Honeybees and the landscape

runamuk honeybee forage map

Studying under Professor Frank Drummond at the University of Maine, Brianne Du Clos is a PhD candidate studying how bees use the landscape and what types of land offer good forage resources. She also happens to be a beekeeper and a member of the Knox-Lincoln County Beekeepers group, and she presented her research to the beekeepers at the November 2015… Read more »

Honeybee nutrition in pollens & nectar

Megan Leech is a masters’ student studying native bees under Frank Drummond at the University of Maine. She’s looking to see if bees are foraging for flowers that offer good nutrition and pointed out that different flower species provide varying levels of nutrients. The Honeybee Food Pyramid With a graphic that resembles a food pyramid, Megan explained that the image… Read more »

Keeping honeybees in frozen North America

mike palmer

According to Mike Palmer of French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans Vermont, success in the apiary is dependent upon two things: colonies that can grow large populations, and then─intelligent management of those populations. Mike took the stage at the 2015 annual meeting of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association and proceeded to tell the audience about his colony management plan. Regional… Read more »

How do you know what to do to be a profitable farm?

small farm

Let me say first and foremost that Runamuk is not what I would yet consider a “profitable” farm, lol. Runamuk does contribute to the rent and to the purchasing of feed, equipment, supplies, and livestock─but a large part of our income is supplemented by my off-farm employment.  Our finances here are tight, and as I’ve mentioned previously, I make a… Read more »

Maine’s local food movement

maine local food movement

The Madison Farmers’ Market, held a meeting Saturday evening at the Old Point School in Madison, to finalize plans for our upcoming 2015 market season. I volunteer my time and efforts as the market manager, organizing, planning and promoting our young little market, and working to both serve local agriculture, farmers and farming in Madison and the surrounding areas. The… Read more »

SWOT analysis of Runamuk

runamuk's swot analysis

Business planning and annual reviews are an important aspect of any business–big or small–even agricultural businesses. Typically most farmers spend time during the quieter winter months planning and preparing for the next season, and I may be a little late getting to it this year due to the disarray my life currently faces, but I have been reviewing Runamuk’s farming… Read more »

Conducting a SWOT analysis of your farm

SWOT_FI

No one gets into farming because they want to get rich, lol. But at the same time a farm is still a business, and a business needs to at least break even–if not earn a profit. Conducting a SWOT analysis of your farm-business annually can help you to determine what’s working for you and what’s not.   What is SWOT?… Read more »

Keys to successful bee stewardship

keys to succesful bee stewardship

This is the third segment of my coverage of the 2014 Maine State Beekeepers’ Association’s annual conference, and the second post regarding Dewey Caron’s lectures about good bee stewardship . This year Dr. Dewey Caron gave two presentations–you can read about the first entitled “Looking in the Beehive” by clicking here, and be sure to read about Matt Scott’s delivery… Read more »