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.
Wow! It’s like you’re my long lost brother or something! We’re raising meal worms for our chickens. It’s a little slow-going because we’re still learning, but it’s making progress. I love lacto-fermentation. So easy and yummy. I don’t get to do as much as I like though. If you’re doing a lot of pickles and canning the usual way (with vinegar), try adding some calcium chloride into the brine. It keeps the pickles really crisp and makes a huge difference. I could never get crisp pickles no matter what I tried until my wife discovered this stuff. (I’m making pickles this weekend in fact.)
How much CaCl do you add for different applications? I am interested to know. The fermented pickles are the most crisp I have ever made. I do a lot of canning. This year we have had a very poor garden, but on a typical year we will can 400-500 quarts of different types of vegi’s and meat. We also will do anywhere from 30-100 pints of salmon a year. Some Friday I will talk more about my canning exploits. Thinking about sticking with the rants on Friday and maybe doing a wildcard Wednesday… We shall see.
Here are some pics from last years potato canning exercise…. We did 198 quarts over 2 days. Pure canning fun. 🙂
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Here are the directions from Ball brand “Pickle Crisp” – Just Add to Jar: 1. Prepare recipe as instructed. Pack vegetables into jars. 2. Add Pickle Crisp Granules (rounded 1/4 tsp per quart and rounded 1/8 tsp per pint). 3. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jars. 4. Process in boiling water canner or refrigerate according to recipe. Note: Does not replace heat processing in a boiling water canner and is not a preservative.
All the heat from the hot brine and canning process basically cooks the pickle into a limp noodle. The CaCl keeps them crisp. It’s not necessary for fermented pickles as they stay nice and crisp naturally (I have added grape leaves into my fermentation process for added “crisp insurance”). But fermented pickles aren’t shelf stable, so they’re only good in small batches.
Thanks for the info Bill. It took me a while to get back to ya. Sorry.
I’ve only made kim chi this season. I know Jack said he didn’t like kim chi, but it’s a recipe from Anita, and it’s a good one.
I’ll be eager to find out about your experiments to make bio-diesel. Is this related to the project that the high school kid thought up? If it is, I thought he and his project were brilliant.
I first heard about algae was on TSP. Yeah the HighSchool Kid. My friend is heavy into the stuff. I have my 250 gallon tote currently cooking. It is turning greener by the the day!!! 🙂 I have shocked it with some 12 volt current and saw the oil raise to the top. I am brainstorming harvesting methods currently. This year is experiment, next year I am going to try to start some production. 🙂
Haven’t made kim chi yet, but I have 3 more crocks and a friend of mine told me how to keep them from leaking so I am going to be trying to figure out new and interesting things to ferment!!! It is just so easy and the BULK factor is not lost on me!!!!
I was wondering what became of your BSF composter. Interesting idea. Good luck with your roo processing. I only have one rooster and I can’t believe how bad he is tearing up those poor girls. I’m getting rid of him soon. I hope to find him a nice farm somewhere otherwise he may end up on my plate. I just made fermented pickles for the first time this year too. Haven’t tried them yet. I hope they are good. Here’s the kim chi recipe if you want to give it a try. http://drbenkim.com/how-make-kim-chi.htm
Thanks for the recipe. I think you will like fermented pickles. We dig em’ around here.
Awesome! Bio diesel algae! This is the first time I have ever seen this done on such a small scale, Idk why algea isn’t pursued more aggressively then other “pointless” energy schemes like hydrogen (just a form of storing energy).. Or ethanol (um it used to be food?). Very cool, I love the fly idea too I always though it would be cool to make the compost produce something you can eat (by proxy) while it is turning into dirt.
There is information about BSF out there. I haven’t been extensively throught it, but there is a forum. http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/forum/
The BSF has been working out rather well around here.
Looks like you’ve got a lot more cool stuff going on than just beekeeping. Sounds like you might be familiar with permaculture. Also a fan of TSP too. So glad I’ve subscribed to this. Keep em coming.
I have read a lot about permaculture, but have not been through any classes. I have been away fishing for the last two weeks, but I am back now. Thanks for the comment. More content on its way!!! 🙂