Category Archives: Articles

The amazing co-evolution of plants and pollinators

bumble bee

When I took that initial foray into beekeeping, I didn’t realize just how amazing the act of pollination really is.  Ten years ago I was bug-phobic like so many others in our modern society, but through my husband’s affinity for insects I began to see them differently.  I was not a fan, but I learned tolerance and appreciation enough to… Read more »

Bombtastic bumblebees

I am a honeybee beekeeper, but the entire spectrum of pollinators fascinates me (this is the driving force behind Runamuk’s message of pollinator conservation).  Bumblebees are particularly interesting.  Maine is fortunate to have a large diversity of bumbles, like the Orange-Banded and the Rusty-Patch bumblebee.  Several species have gone extinct in states southwards, and while pollinators are becoming more and… Read more »

Women’s Work

Samantha Burns   November 5, 2012   1 Comment on Women’s Work
women in the kitchen

I think sometimes we don’t realize that it wasn’t very long ago that women weren’t encouraged to participate in what was considered a man’s world.  Up until the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries women–especially upperclass women–were generally constrained to the drawing room, where they were expected to occupy themselves with more “genteel” activities, such as needlework, music, and sketching…. Read more »

What really demonizes Monsanto

It was brought to my attention recently that Monsanto is not bad–it’s just a corporation looking to make money.  At the recent MSBA meeting Monsanto affiliate Jerry Hayes spoke about the company’s desire for sustainable agriculture (you can read that post here), but if that is true then there are some seriously misguided people leading that corporate entity.  In my… Read more »

10 tips on how to avoid GMOs

grass-fed meat

With genetically modified ingredients in just about everything processed, it can be a daunting challenge to avoid them when you go to the grocery store.  It’s startling when you begin to realize how pervasive GM-ingredients are–it seems like they are in all of the things you love and have been eating for years!  But with a little dedication and your… Read more »

How to get started keeping bees

how to keep bees

Keeping bees is a fascinating and rewarding hobby.  For many people, once they get started they are quickly infected with what is known as “Bee-fever” and there is no turning back.  Some beekeepers are content with a single or a pair of hives in the backyard, others can’t help but grow their little apiary year after year. If you’re think… Read more »

Monsanto claims commitment to the honeybee industry

The last speaker of the day at MSBA’s annual conference was Jerry Hayes–the beekeeper who is now working for Monsanto. I couldn’t help but notice that a number of people left before Hayes got up to speak, and I happened to overhear one pair of gentlemen heatedly discussing Monsanto as they walked past me, so I am sure their departure… Read more »

Maine beekeepers converge on Portland

tony jadczak

I was downright giddy as I left the house just as the sun was coming up Saturday morning. The only vehicles on the road seemed to belong to men dressed in hunter orange, and I imagine that my excitement at going to my first-ever beekeeper’s conference surpassed their’s at a prospective day of hunting. It took me two hours to… Read more »

How to make your own granola cereal

homemade granola

Cereal is getting to be quite expensive at the grocery store, and if you take a look at the list of ingredients you you might find yourself wondering at the necessity of it all. I mean–what is tripotassium phosphate anyway? I looked it up–tripotassium phosphate is an emulsifier or foaming agent used in food processing. Besides that is the fact… Read more »

What’s the problem with GMOs?

October is GMO awareness month.  In order to raise awareness of GMOs and in participation of Non-GMO Awareness month, I’ve put together a series of blog-posts to help inform those who may not know why this is such a big deal. What is GMO? GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, and they are plants that have had foreign genes from… Read more »

Making your own breads

There’s nothing quite like homemade bread still warm from the oven.  A fresh slice slathered in butter is a treat that can’t be beat.  Even after three years baking my own bread my family can scarcely wait for the loaves to cool enough before cutting into them. Making your own bread is a rewarding experience.  Not only will you be… Read more »

Managing beetles in the organic garden

If you miss the chance to take preventative action, such as in applying neem oil to the leaves and stems of your tomato plants–all in not lost.  In the organic garden, keeping up with the pests who would make a meal of your crops is a never-ending chore.  I go to great lengths to avoid having to cause harm to… Read more »

The beetles are coming! the beetles are coming!

japanese beetles

Now that the  bulk of the spring planting is behind us, I’ve turned my eye to the up-keep of the gardens.  That includes all of the weeding that comes with gardening, as well as combating the insects that would make a meal of my tender seedlings and vegetables.  With the arrival of the summertime heat comes the onslaught of the… Read more »

Certified pollinator friendly!

asters for bees

Runamuk Acres is now officially certified as pollinator friendly! A passion for bugs I couldn’t say why exactly I became so passionate about bees and pollinators–when I was younger I was like many other folks with an aversion to bugs-but I married an insect-lover who made me see that insects are beautiful in their own way.  That’s right, Keith is… Read more »

Moving forward into sustainability regardless of home-ownership

Since we found out that we won’t be able to proceed right away in buying a house of our own, I’ve felt a bit lost. How could I be a homesteader without my own home?  How could I move forward with my plans and dreams? But after much soul searching I’ve come to the conclusion that a homestead is not… Read more »

Heirloom seeds make sense

heirloom seeds

I received my first-ever copy of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog on Monday and I am so excited! The vegetables and fruits portrayed within it are all non-hybridized, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.  This company boycotts anyone related to Monsanto and any other gene-altering companies.  Plus, the seed they offer has come from all over the world, so some of… Read more »

Why you should shop at your local natural foods store

natural foods

I love going to the local natural foods store! We patron the Spice of Life Natural Foods Market in Skowhegan.  As far as grocery shopping goes, it’s a real treat to walk down the isles of ethnic and organic foods, to see the rows of spices and herbs, the organic teas, the bags of nuts and seeds to buy in… Read more »

Wildlife in the backyard

maine moose

A large part of our plan for the Runamuk farm revolve around wildlife.  In our home we love to watch the wildlife in our backyard: birds, bats, squirrels, butterflies and other insects–and so we garden with animals in mind.  After we’ve moved into our new home, I’m looking forward to increasing our efforts to invite nature to share our space. … Read more »

Homemade cheddar crackers

homemade crackers

One of the ways we try to live sustainably at the Runamuk homestead, is to make what we can by hand.  From the hive-boxes my husband constructs for me, to the home-grown vegetables and homemade bread that we eat.  Not only is it cheaper, but usually the quality is superior, and there is a certain amount of pride that comes… Read more »

How to store garden produce for the winter

All summer you’ve been enjoying the bounty of your garden, but now there’s a chill in the air and it’s time to harvest the rest of your home-grown vegetables.  But how to store it all for use during the winter? Gardening is returning in popularity as more and more people strive to practice sustainable lifestyles, but much of the knowledge… Read more »

Pressing plants

For a long time I’ve wanted to learn how to press plants.  I like the idea of creating beautiful framed works of art using pressed flowers and herbs.  I had saved two large squares of cardboard for the project, and today I begged some newspaper from my mother-in-law’s recycling bin.  I attempted to entice both the boys in collecting specimens… Read more »

Avoiding cabin fever in Maine

The snows and cold used to come a lot earlier to Maine thirty and fifty years ago, but now, in this time of increased climate change, winter doesn’t seem to really get underway until January and February. I remember my mother’s stories of snow that reached the second-story window, and how she and her brothers would slide right down off… Read more »