Friday, May 17, 2013

Bee Stings and Breakfast

Our eggs florentine turned out perfect for breakfast. (We snuck in a little bacon, too.) And it was a great way to use up some of that garden-fresh spinach. 

We served it with homemade toasted bread rubbed with garlic and butter. I am now obsessed with rubbing toast with a fresh clove of garlic. It's so yummy! Apparently this is something they do in Spain. Also, this is one of the many reasons work exchanging is so fantastic---meeting so many different people and seeing how they cook, eat, live, and garden, and just experiencing so many very individualized ways of life. You get exposed to things you might never try otherwise, like the time we helped make sausage in Asheville, or the Korean food we ate here for dinner last night. It's really a top notch way to widen your perspective of the world, even in your own native country. 

Kate and I having chocolate bread pudding with butter almond ice cream under the apple tree post-lunch this afternoon, thanks to Nitya from Woodsong Hollow. 

Kate and Tom's garden. One of their experiments is a micro-orchard, in the far left of this photo. The fruit trees are spaced about 4 feet apart with large comfrey plants in the intervening spaces. Planting the fruit trees so close together intentionally stunts their growth. You should never need a ladder to pick their fruit or prune, because they will never grow much higher than you can reach. This allows you to have a high variety of different fruits without taking up much space and without having an overabundant harvest. 
Using the comfrey is a trick of permaculture, which views everything as a system and looks at how plants can work together to preform functions, like pest control and soil amendments, and mutually benefit each other as well as the whole. Because fruit trees have shallow roots, they need a way to get more nutrients. That's where the comfrey steps in. It has a very deep tap root, so it is able to pull nutrients from under the soil to the top soil layers, where the fruit trees will be able to access and utilize them. Also, they prevent weeds from growing, and their falling leaves provide a mulch at the base of the trees to add more organic matter back into the soil. 

This is the moveable chicken coop, currently home to 4 laying hens. It is on 2 back wheels, and can be pulled to a new area of the yard everyday in order to give the chickens fresh organic matter and tasty bugs to nibble as a supplement to their diet. Also, moving them daily prevents them from completely scratching up any one area of the yard. 

These bees are from a guy in Vermont who does not medicate and breeds for only the strongest bees. The hive on the right is new as of last week. Unfortunately, they seem to be more aggressive than the older hive. Dave and I have both gotten stung when we were not even working near the hives. Apparently we're the first work exchangers to ever get stung, and Kate herself has only gotten stung 2 or 3 times, so our stings are really odd. Strangely enough, this was my first bee sting! I'm glad it happened now, because I tend to be really sensitive to insect bites and we weren't sure how I would react to a sting. It swelled up to about half the size of a baseball and has been maddeningly itchy, but nothing worse than that. To add my own two cents to the conversation about what holistic bee sting remedies work best, I highly recommend tea tree oil. Though the sting is still very itchy, within 2 hours of the first application, the swelling is completely gone! Tea tree is pretty amazing stuff. 


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