Leaking Pipe Farms

Oopsie. I meant to post this onto our newly updated GasperiFineArt.com website and accidentally posted it here to ARTfarm’s blog. Sorry to spam you vegetable lovers with non-produce related info!

Leaking Pipe Farms

(c)2007 Christina Frederick Gasperi

Happy Solstice from ARTfarm… Tomatoes galore at the farmstand today!

For today’s farmstand at 3pm we have boatloads of tomatoes in holiday colors, a pineapple or two for a lucky early bird, and fresh greens to go with them! Herbs, salad mixes, cucumbers, flowers, all our amazing fresh stuff…

Two happy people at ARTfarm showing off the new reusable shopping bags in front of crates full of fresh lettuce heads.

Our old friend Edward White is back at ARTfarm for a few weeks, and we’ve got snazzy new ARTfarm reusable shopping bags for sale! Happy holidays!

In 2012 we are going to move away from the use of plastic grocery bags at our farmstand. For years we have had a revolving system where customers bring in their clean grocery bags and share them with each other for their shopping. We figure if our customers have a snazzy and convenient, strong and roomy reusable, washable shopping bag to use here at ARTfarm AND at the grocery store, none of us will feel justified in picking up all those bags at the grocery store, and we can end the plastic grocery bags’ carbon footprint and inevitable journey to the landfill.

To make it easy to switch, we have some stylish reusable shopping bags for sale at the farmstand today, with a great ARTfarm design on it — for less than the cost of a tee shirt.  They stuff down tiny to fit in your bag, and are lightweight with a little snap so you can even keep it on your keychain. Throw them in the laundry to wash. They’d make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers – so cute!

Happy Solstice! And YES, we will be open Christmas Eve morning!!

Tomatoes…and introducing our new pasture management team.

Five hair sheep in a paddock at ARTfarm

ARTfarm welcomes the newest members of our Pasture Management Team: Sleepy, Coco, Yooyoo, Nobby, and Whoopsie. These local hair sheep are Dorper, St. Croix White and Brazilian Nova mixes.

We are now at the point in the season where we put up the giant “TOMATOES” sign, and you’ll start to see our cherry tomatoes in local fine dining establishments!

Saturday morning’s stand will also include fresh microgreens, sweet mix, spicy mix, teen spicy, a plethora of varied cooking greens, herbs including some new ones for this season (sage! holy basil!) and your old favorites (delfino cilantro, italian, lemon and thai basils, thyme, caribbean oregano, lemongrass, garlic chives, and giant scallions!)…cucumbers, lettuce heads, and of course giant zinnia flowers, chocolates and a few baked treats!

Please call or let us know at the stand,  if you’d like to special order fresh local meats: chicken (half or whole), lamb or goat (leg, roast, cut for stew).

ARTfarm gift certificates are beautiful and make a thoughtful gift.

And in other exciting farm news, our Livestock Manager has acquired five experienced new employees (pictured above) who are charged with improving our pastures and keeping things nicely trimmed around the farm. Please join us in welcoming Coco, Sleepy, Yooyoo, Whoopsie and Nobby. They’re all expecting! Christina plans to bring them out to visit at the farmstand after they’ve had a chance to get accustomed to their new home and the staff.

Come visit the ARTfarm!

Beeeeeee Sunday!

With all the fantastic rain and blooming flowers and growth it is swarming season for bees that have outgrown their hives.

A swarm in May is worth a bale of hay.
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly.

Over the last two days we observed a group of about 20-30 bees actively investigating various structures around the farm. They were curious but not aggressive or interested in us. (Bees are very singular in purpose. When they are scouting, they are not looking to sting anyone. They look scary as they swoop about in large groups, buzzing loudly, but since they are not defending their home, they won’t sting unless someone is swatting at them, crushes one, or shows aggression toward them.)

This morning the same smallish group of 20-30 bees was spotted scoping out a space above the back kitchen door of one of the historical buildings on the property. Within ten minutes, a deafening hum could be heard as literally thousands of bees descended and began moving into a 1/2 inch crack near a roof beam at the same location.

Christina called our beekeeper, Wanda of Wright Apiary, for assistance and the two ladies donned bee suits and were able to pry up a small piece of plywood covering the hollow space in the roof structure, and gently vacuum the extremely large and healthy swarm out of the inside of the roof and into two small cages using special beekeeping tools. A bit of smoke from a hive smoker along a crack in the wall encouraged most of the rest of the bees to come back out from the deep recesses of the roof structure.

About halfway through the removal process Wanda was skilled enough to spot the large queen and capture her in a special queen box. Wanda installed the queen, in her cage, into a temporary small hive box and we began the process of gently shaking and brushing pounds and pounds of buzzing bees from the now heavy small cages into the small hive box. Lastly, Wanda placed a bit of bee food in the hive box to help them feel invested in their new location.

The hive box will remain near the hole in the roof for a few days until the rest of the bees have found their queen. Then we’ll move them into a larger hive box with a comb or two of ‘brood comb’ where the queen, once released from her cage, can immediately start laying her eggs. This should encourage the bees to stay in the new hive, even though it wasn’t their first choice.

If you spot bees swarming around your yard or home, don’t panic. Bees that are out and about looking for a place to live are focussed on the move and are not looking to sting people. A large swarm hanging off a tree can look like an odd, dark colored termite nest. It’s thousands of bees surrounding their queen, awaiting directions from the scouting party. Keep a comfortable distance and be careful not to disturb the swarm, but feel free to observe them. They’re only in an exposed area like that briefly, and will be gone within hours or a day or two at most, as soon as their scouting party finds the perfect new hollow spot.

To prevent a swarm of bees from moving into structures, patch up or caulk up cracks. Bees can move into hollow spaces with just a 1/4″ opening available to them. If bees do move into a structure, you can call 911 for assistance and they’ll direct you to a local beekeeper who can remove (or exterminate) the hive using specialized tools, protective clothing and equipment.

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