Wings of lace

I was very pleased to see this green lacewing on the coneflowers while I was photographing honey bees. Lacewings are a beneficial insect in a garden and as beautiful as any flower! This one was, most likely, feeding from the nectar of the flower along with the honey bees. It is the larvae of the lacewing that eats up soft-bodied insects such as aphids and caterpillars in the garden. They will, also, eat the larvae of other insects. To attract lacewings, you might want to plant (or allow to grow) flowers in the Asteraceae family such as sunflowers, dandelion, and cosmos and the Apiaceae family such as dill and angelica.

lacewing

 

 

Categories: Herbaceous Plants, Insects, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bagworm

Just a quick note on a new find.

bagworm

In the periphery of my attention, they looked like dead blossoms.  But, wait…that makes no sense. Big dead blossoms on my gooseberries? On my fruit trees? On my witch hazel? Only recently, did I investigate what appeared to be a cocoon of some kind. Sure enough it is the, nicely camouflaged, home of Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis, the bagworm. Here is a brief but very informative page about the insect from Penn State Extension.  I removed the, very firmly attached, bagworm cases as the insect can be destructive to the plant.

Categories: Insects | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Stella Too!

I started to study permaculture when I lived in Elkins Park, an inner suburb of Philadelphia. Permaculture was our gateway to gardens and chickens and bees. Our work on that tiny piece of land gave us joy, and it inspired connections with the people in our community. One of those people was a young neighbor. She gave one of the four hens a name: StellaLou. And, although our best chicken is no longer with us, she did make the journey to the new farm and inspire its name. “StellaLou” brings with it an association of beauty and function, of adventure, and of connection.

With our move to StellaLou Farm: more gardens, chickens, and bees…and honey…and mead! We had considered several enterprises on the land that could produce income. We thought that mead might be a good choice as a value added product for our honey, and we had been making mead for our home, family, and friends. We are focused on making mead with quality ingredients sourced from our farm and from our neighbors’ farms and apiaries. This inspires critical attention to right stewardship of the land and healthy function of the soil, the insects, and the animals, as well as the plants, shrubs and trees. It cultivates positive connections with our local communities. When we invite someone to sip a glass of our mead, we call their attention to the importance of these relationships.

And, yes! We get to do this!

meadtasting

Paul tasting a traditional dry mead aged in a bourbon barrel.

And a little bit of this:

mead

Hannah and Paul toasting in the new year with a dry black currant mead.

Aside from making a good mead, starting a meadery is a challenge. While we are renovating this farm, we are also making test batches, studying the techniques and processes involved in mead making, experimenting with equipment, and preparing for what is required for licensing.

Last week, we took the opportunity to visit California and take a Continuing Mead Making course and a Business of Making Mead course. Wonderful people and beautiful location! Some of the topics that were addressed included: Fermentation, Yeast, Sensory evaluation, Honey varietals, Mead faults, Honeybee health, Sustainability, Sanitation, Ecological footprints, Regulations, Labeling, Marketing, Planning, and Designing. Our heads are spinning with all the new information we can incorporate into our mead making and our business planning. Here’s some background on the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center that puts the program together.

Hannah has been working on our new logo for “StellaLou” Farm and “Stella Too” Meadery and I can’t wait to show you. I’ll be highlighting information related to Stella Too on this site so you can follow our journey. Maybe one day soon, we’ll get to share a glass of mead with you!

 

 

Categories: Abundance, Mead | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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