Well it’s Friday again. This week has been fairly stress-free and hence the “frustrative” juices just haven’t been flowing so I am not going to rant about anything. Instead I figured I would shed a little light on some of the other activities that are being juggled around here with the 21 + or – beehives.
The Black Soldier Fly (BSF) composter is churning out chicken feed, a.k.a – larvae. If you have never heard of BSF composting you are in for a treat. If you have chickens, fish, or any other animal that may enjoy fly larvae it is a great way to turn spoiled food and garden waste into something useful and nutritious. BSF larvae display an interesting behavior that makes them self harvesting. When they transform into their last larval stage they do not have mouth parts or a digestive system. At that point they lose interest in the putrid pile of whatever they have been feasting on and try to crawl away. I have a commercial unit that has a ledge on an incline going up the sides of the composter. Once the larvae make it to the top of the incline they reach a hole that drops them into a five gallon bucket. My chickens love them, though they haven’t gotten to eat a lot of them yet. I have been turning most of the larvae loose in hopes of getting their numbers up more in my immediate area. These things are HUGE and the flies they turn into are large as well. There is a lot of information about BSF on the Internet, and one thing that I read was THAT THESE THINGS ARE ABLE TO KEEP A COMPOSTING PILE OF FILTH FROM STINKING. My wife and daughter will attest that this has not been our experience. I am hoping that as time goes by more and more BSF will be living natively around me and they can actually keep the smell down.
Lacto-fermentation – The garden looks horrible. I have been afraid to water it for fear that we may run out. I don’t know my exact risk of running out of water here, but I don’t want to find out. Luckily for me the Okra has been doing fairly well despite the hot dry weather. Also I have a beekeeping friend who has been providing me cucumbers in mass quantities. I have canned pickles many different ways and haven’t found one yet that I really like. SO this year I have started to experiment with fermenting okra and cucumbers inside crocks in the utility room. I will admit it takes some bravery to skim the “scum” layer off the top of the brine knowing that you are planning on eating what’s underneath. I did a small batch of Okra about four weeks ago in a quart jar. It had the nastiness at the top, but after removing said nastiness I couldn’t stop eating the okra. By the time this entry is auto posted there will be a second crock of cucumbers and okra going. If you haven’t tried it YOU NEED TO!
Chickens – The young chicks from this spring are getting close to butchering weight. A lot of people who have no chicken experience may not understand why this must be done. Having too many roosters around is just plain inhumane to your hens. That means that one of these weekends there is going to be a bunch of work for everyone around here. At this time I don’t even know exactly how many “roos” we have. Typically we remove the meat from the bones and can it. Then all of the bones are put in a lard kettle with celery, onion, pepper, salt and a couple other ingredients I cannot remember off the top of my head with water to cover. I also scrub all of the feet and throw them in there too. The kettle is simmered for several hours until the meat falls off the bones. We then can the broth. If there is enough meat left in there it can be canned and used in chicken type soups. You just need to dig through it carefully to get all of the small bones out.
Algae – I heard about Botryococcus braunii on The Survival Podcast. It is a type of algae that secretes hydrocarbons that can be made into a form of bio-diesel. A friend and fellow beekeeper has been growing it and gave me a starter culture. It has been growing well in the 2 gallon jug. Later this fall when things slow down I will be subjecting it to electrical current in order to get it to shed hydrocarbons. I don’t have it growing on the kind of scale necessary to produce fuel YET!, but I am working on it. For the moment this is just another experiment.
Any comments? Questions? Just letting you know some of the other things that are going on around here. Have a great Friday.