Hey how are ya?

Me n my SonFI

First of all I want to say thanks for stopping by. If you’re just passing though, or if you’re one of my dedicated blog-followers, I can’t express what it means to me that anyone should take the time to read my words. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, lol─writing is something of an obsession of mine; it’s… Read more »

What’s next for Runamuk?

paul-smith-runamuk-apiary

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with the idea of walking away from Jim’s farm, and I fully admit that some days it’s still a struggle to accept defeat. As a beginning farmer, it’s already been a long journey with many twists and turns in the road, obstacles overcome and fears faced along the way, and this… Read more »

No honey to sell….again

honeybee on royal hybrid

It’s difficult to be at market and have to tell customers that I’m not going to have any honey this year, but that’s the state of things at the Runamuk Apiary. Two years in a row and no honey to sell. The reason for this honey-shortage is largely related to the fact that we’re still building up the Runamuk Apiary… 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 »

Maine’s Artisan Bread Fair

hootenanny bread

This past weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Maine Grain Alliance’s Kneading Conference and Artisan Bread Fair. I’ve always admired the local food movement that has been created in Skowhegan and have longed to attend the bread fair, but in previous years I had not been able to make it to the event. This year I had Saturday open so I invited… Read more »

Moving beehives

Hives on the truck

The sky was just beginning to lighten Saturday morning as I went out to the apiary with scissors and a wet sponge. The bees were not yet active so it was an ideal time to close up hives in preparation for moving. I manage a few hives for Ernie and Gwen Hilton of Hyl-Tun Farm in Starks; just as mine… Read more »

Zipties on a weed-whacker: an experiment

weed-whacker experiment

Maybe you’ve seen the post going around facebook that shows a homesteader using zipties on his weed-whacker instead of the spool of weed-eater line? This post came across my facebook feed last week and seemed like an ingenious idea, so this weekend as I worked in the garden I gave it a try to see if it really works. I… Read more »

Teaching kids to tolerate insects

Thank you card

I was invited to speak with the children participating in the Solon Summer-Rec program yesterday, so I pulled a couple of frames of bees and their Queen from a hive and put them into the observation hive and my younger son and I went off to talk about bees. Teaching folks about the importance of pollinators is one of the… Read more »

Gaining perspective

Atop Pleasant Pond Mtn_Selfie

Murphy and I, along with a good friend of mine, climbed Pleasant Pond Mountain in Caratunk on Friday, reconnecting with another passion of mine: hiking and climbing mountains. Not the scaling rock kind of mountain-climbing where you need harnesses and specialty rope─noooo, I’m not that coordinated, lol. But the Appalachian-Trail kind of hiking and mountain climbing for sure. I’ve even toyed with… Read more »

Garden Update

Blanching Peas_FI

With the sowing of green beans on Friday, the garden is finally complete. If I weren’t moving this fall it wouldn’t be “done”, I would continue with succession sowings, planning for fall crops and cold-frames to carry us into the winter with hardy greens. But things being what they are, the green beans are it for this year. The garden… Read more »

Farm vs lifestyle

jim's barn

I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I have flaws and weaknesses─many flaws and many weaknesses, lol. This post is about 2 of them; I am a dreamer, and I have a deep love for beautiful things. Sometimes these weaknesses are a huge asset. Other times they’re a giant hindrance. Since I was young I dreamed of the picturesque farmhouse. It took… 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 »

Rain!

Samantha Burns   June 29, 2016   4 Comments on Rain!
rain at runamuk

It’s been dry this season. Abnormally dry for Maine. Frighteningly so. Beachgoers and anyone who does not have a connection with the natural world around them are happy, I’m sure. But farmers and gardeners across the state have lamented. Getting crops to germinate in this season’s fluctuating temperatures was a challenge for many growers; it was hot and then cold… Read more »

Swarm!

Samantha Burns   June 17, 2016   1 Comment on Swarm!
honeybee swarm

A swarm of bees is a beautiful thing. A veritable cloud of bees all flying in every direction as they search for a pace to land their Queen. They choose a spot and form a protective ball around Her; a mass of bees with only one goal in mind: finding a new home. I didn’t even see the swarm until… Read more »

Kitten

Samantha Burns   June 7, 2016   No Comments on Kitten

My finger is sore, tender and slightly inflammed from the bite I received from a terrified kitten in fear for it’s life. But it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. It happened as I was leaving work at Johnny’s Selected Seeds last night…. I was glad to be done with the phones and happy to be free… Read more »

Even more bees!

new bees 2016

I got the call last week from the local beekeeper I’d ordered nucs with; they were ready. I was at Johnny’s at the time and could not contain myself─everyone around me knew my enthusiam and excitement. Yay bees! That moment of elation was quickly followed by a moment of panic. The loan I had applied for had not yet come… Read more »

Feeding ourselves

Bass FI

The season is well underway here at Runamuk, much as it is on farms across Maine. Trees are budding, pastures are greening up, and I am lulled to sleep each night by a chorus of randy frog-song out my window. And now that the dandelion bloom is underway, I can breathe a sigh of relief and count my blessings; four… Read more »

Market season underway

Harvest Bucks in Action

It was cool and overcast Sunday as the Madison Farmers’ Market came together at the Main Street Park in Madison. Fine friends I had scarcely seen since our last winter market back in December, cars and trucks loaded with wares, gear and market-equipment, some with their children in tow. Winter is finally over and spring has come to our part… 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 »

Growing season

2016 Spring Apiary_sm

It’s been a long few months leading up to spring and the start of the growing season. Temperatures have fluctuated unpredicatably from one week to the next, sunny and warm one week and frigid and snowing the next. But at last the weather pattern is smoothing out. I can hear the peepers in the pond at night, new shoots are poking up… 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 »

Friends at Johnny’s Selected Seeds

johnnys selected seeds

I’ve been back to work at Johnny’s Selected Seeds since the start of the new year, and while it’s always a little bittersweet to have to work off the farm, I’m really very happy to be able to work for this company. This is my 2nd year working in their Call Center in Fairfield, Maine. I answer the phone, take… 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 »

Greens in the ground!

early greens in the mini hoop house

Yesterday was mild here in central Maine, with temperatures reaching 50° so I seized the opportunity to get a jump on the season. I managed to get a few seeds in the ground inside my trusty mini hoop-house (check out these simple plans for my DIY mini hoop-house), which I had left set up on the garden in the fall… Read more »