Wouldn't it be cool to live love life together?

dream and discuss the___(allogamy)______idea here

Roommates or commune-mates? March 30, 2010

Occurred to me today that the search for new roommates might in some way be analogous to how new members should be approached for RainbowAcre. Something to ponder on, both from the perspective of co-tenants accepting someone into their family/lives and from the perspective of a landlord.



Notes: San Mateo Beekeeper’s Guild March 27, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden — indorfpf @ 4:03 pm

Let me just preface by giving my thanks to the San Mateo Beekeeper’s Guild for their free introductory lesson and for inviting us to it. The transcription of my notes to blog will be with minimal editing, so it may be a bit haphazard.

Bees need three things to survive: nectar, pollen, water. They communicate mainly through use of pheromones (can be blocked using smoke) and the “waggle dance” which mainly serves to help drones communicate location of resource pile. Type of resources heavily affects flavor of honey.

Uses for bees include their ability to pollinate yards, produce honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, pollen. Honey can be used as food or for folk remedies. Beeswax can be melted, strained, and molded into candles, beauty products, soap. It is mainly harvested in the growth phase of the honeycomb. Propolis is a sticky substance produced by bees that serves as a type of glue connecting comb to some foundation. It has some folk remedy application, such as an antiseptic. Royal jelly is a chemical that when applied to bee larvae will produce a new queen. Practical uses research? Pollen can be eaten. Keep in mind that beekeeping can be combined with beer brewing to make MEAD which is absolutely delicious.

HIVE ACTIVITY. Bees do not leave the hive when the outside temperature is below 50 degrees. Keep this in mind when choosing location for future farm. Brood chamber is the lower part of a standard beehive and contains the queen and food that will not be harvested but left for the bees so that they can be self sustaining. Lowest, highest bee populations- Around winter solstice bee pop can be around 10000 and skyrocket to 80000 during the summer months (may be particular to San Mateo weather). If the weather gets too hot the wax in the beehive will melt = BAD. Swarm is natural reaction of hives when it becomes too overpopulated. This results first in extra pop of bees swarming around hive. These bees particularly aggressive. After a time swarm may result in a splitting of a hive. Splitting a hive means that another queen is produced and sent off to start a new hive elsewhere, with spare bee pop in accompaniment. Splitting can be used to start a hive naturally from a wild hive as opposed to ordering bees in the mail. Time of year also affects type of honey production. Mid-March or spring honey produces a lighter honey and mid july produces summer honey which is darker.

ARTIFICIAL HIVE CONSTRUCTION. Generally pretty boring stuff. Research “California hive”. Make sure if bought separately that your parts are interchangeable. Consists of frame, foundation, boxes, bottom board, queen excluder, cover. Also optional stuff like pollen collector. Foundation can be made of natural wax or plastic (more effective). Make boxes out of water resistance glue (such as gorilla glue or tight bond) and nails.

Bees will have to make honeycomb prior to making honey. Takes about 3 weeks to due. Therefore, drawn comb, or comb that is still good and can be reused is highly prized. Comb does go bad when it turns blackish. Can feed bees if you so like by attaching a jar to the top of hive with 1 part sugar 1 part water. Only truly necessary at beginning or end of bee season when resources are scarce?

Do not paint inside of box. Outside latex works well. White works well for super hot temperature zones. Hive can weigh up to 200 pounds. Good idea to put on top of cinder blocks for easier access.

PLACEMENT. Place hive where it: has access to morning sun, where you can get to it, in inconspicuous places, where there is no wind like in a valley.

TOP BAR HIVE. A top bar hive, also called a Kenyan or Tanzanian hive, is built slightly different. In a sentence, the structure and upkeep are much simpler, but the amount and efficiency of resources gathered are lowered. In the typical hive the different compartments are physically separate and organized in a top down fashion. Kenyan hives start with a basic box with the open end facing up… the perimeter of the top serves as a foundation for strips or bars of wood to rest upon. Each piece of wood provides a starting point for the bees to construct comb while the width of the wood separates each strip enough so that the bees do not interweave the strips of comb together. The front third of the box serves as the brood chamber while the latter two thirds serve as harvest-able honey producing comb. Rule: leave at least half of the honey as food for the bees. Centrifugal force are not necesary. Honey can be harvested by sticking a whole strip of comb into a strainer, all within a bucket. Gravity over a week with pull it into the bucket. A wet towel overhead will keep bees from trying to retake the stolen wax and honey.

There are two entrances to a regular hive, one serves as an entrance and one serves as an exit. Air circulation is controlled by the bees to also follow this plan in order to help keep the hive cool and not melt the wax. This is useful when using a smoker as it should be placed by the entrance and not the exit.

Bees do not fly at night, so any work done on the hive should be attempted during the day. Opening hive also cools the inside of hive. Remember: when temperature goes below 50 degrees all the bees head back home.

Black comb occurs more frequently the nearer to the brood chamber you are. Caused by movement of bees. When there is more than sufficient nectar for the bees, the comb on the top layer will take a whitish hue. Research good plants and flowers to put around hive to flavor honey.

3/8 – 5/16 = “bee space”

You can tell what kind of bees by looking at the cells. Queens pupae hang off the bottom of the comb, are larger. Worker pupae fill the regular cell and cap off the top. Drone pupae are bigger than worker pupae and appear slightly raised in comparison to rest of the comb.

A bee escape attachment serves much like a queen excluder except it allows bees to place honey in one section but does not allow them to go back.



Bees R Awesome. March 21, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden — lily @ 6:29 pm

I thought I only kind of liked bees, but as it turns out BEES ARE AWESOME. And so is the bee keeping club of San Mateo. Here is a link you must follow, read this Bee Link for Laughs (short, maybe 7 lines), and wait for the punchline!  It was so great of them to host this free beginner class and damn the turnout was impressive. So many hobbyists.  Soooo…remember that time when we went to that awesome bee class and then went to the beach together??? Yeah, that was yesterday.  🙂

So, I was impressed by the ease and simplicity of the top bar box design. Here are some links for us to remember and use.


BeeSource – I linked staight to their section on “alternative hives” which includes several different people’s take on top bar.

Ruby this is a cool lady with lots ‘o info on bees

Also, you can get a package of 3lbs (10,000 bees!!!) in the mail!! regular USPS!! Crazy.


Links/Farm Stuff March 10, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden,Random Stuff — indorfpf @ 3:05 am

Interesting article/website: Six Defining Characteristics of Co-Housing


A WEALTH of information on how to start and run your own small farm. Their animal section focuses mainly on chickens: http://smallfarm.about.com/

Orchards: apple orchards, blueberries, strawberries, MAPLE SYRUP: http://smallfarm.about.com/od/orchardsandberries/Orchards_and_Berries.htm


Another EXCELLENT site about starting your own farm. First link goes to animal husbandry articles. Second is specific to the pros/cons of ducks. Third, geese.: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/husbandry-topiclist.aspx

Ducks: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/raising-ducks-26820.aspx

Geese: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/raising-geese-14963.aspx – Did you know that geese eat grass and make great natural lawnmowers? I had no idea!!!


Dude’s short bloggish article on his first year with bees: http://www.bloomingthorn.com/pages/read/bees-my-first-little-farm-animals

More Bees, short video on how-to: http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-raise-bees-farm-240815/


Hobby Farming 101: http://www.smallfarms4you.com/


Homestead website: http://homestead.org/BrowseAllTitlesbyTopic.htm


Oregon State University Small Farming Website: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/crops Wealth of more advanced level farming topics. Perhaps searching the internet for other agriculturally focused colleges with yield similiar results? Think Virginia Tech.


Small hobby farm blog: http://www.squidoo.com/tinyfarm?utm_campaign=direct-discovery&utm_medium=sidebar&utm_source=alimack


Short article on general differences between fruit bearing trees… plums pears apples cherries apricots: http://www.yourguidetogreen.com/learn/articles/



An absolute TREASURE TROVE of information regarding many fruit trees, many ornamental flowers, and many vegetable plants.



Well organized information on what to fill your forest (not orchard) with. Scientific focus: http://www.hort.cornell.edu/forestfarming/learning.html


Has small sections on varieties of nuts and fruit (even pomegranates and figs) trees that can be planted. Also includes other gardening and ornamental topics. Catered to dry, hot climates: http://www.hotgardens.net/


Tropical permaculture nut and fruit growing site. Also has a vegetable sections. The cashew section was illuminating… Did you know that there is a cashew apple? That cashew nuts have a shell but are bought post-shelled because cracking them open releases a stinging fluid?   http://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-fruits.html


Further keywords: hobby farming, market/truck gardening, ecovillage, homestead, back-to-the-land movement, permaculture, cohousing, commune, intentional community, how to skin an animal, fruit orchard farming. solar energy, wind energy. nuts, mushrooms, maple syrup, medicinal crops. small business viability of hobby farming. cheese, eggs –> care. how to build your own house. research fruits/nuts specifically not broadly. permaculture.

Fruit-bearing trees are perennial plants. The benefit of this in comparison to annual plants is that once planted, food can be gathered for several years with little to no work necessary for upkeep.
Smaller trees = easier to pick fruit, more trees per acre.
Important to keep in mind what time fruit ripens.
Cherries require cold, can not survive well in desert.
Peaches and apricots thrive well in the desert. Plums do average.
Peaches should be producing well after 3-4 years in the ground. Produces easily and plentiful.
Apricot trees require 400 hours of chill time. Produce less fruit than peach trees.Plant away from structures that hold heat.
Plum trees do moderately well, but usually only produce fruit every other year, 5-10 lbs of fruit per tree.
Apple harvest begins at end of Mat and concludes at end of July.
can produce several hundred pounds of apples.
Apple butter, Apple sauce, Apple juice, Apple cider.
Pears have problems in desert climate. Take 4-6 years before fruiting.
Only produce 5-10 pounds per tree.
Citrus can ripen as early as December in the desert through late spring, early summer.
Pears require crosspollination. Plums do better with crosspollination, but it is not necessary.
Apricot, peaches, apples, pears, cherries do not need xpollination.

Learn from those who came before us.

Filed under: Social Structure,Uncategorized,Vision — indorfpf @ 1:23 am

We are lucky to be in a time when intentional living communities are sprouting all over the place! A lot of thought will need to go into a project such as BlackAcre and I personally think that there is alot to learn from our predecessors that will make our jobs, and lives, easier.

Lily and I just recently watched the documentary Commune (available on Netflix) which spoke of the Black Bear Ranch in California. It is about 7 hours north of San Francisco and would cost about $5 per visitor per day to stay there.

There are also online indexes of intentional living communities such as the FIC. (Fellowship of Intentional Communities, “Intentional Communities in California”“Search: San Francisco”). The neat thing about the previous index is that it lists some local living communities that can be visited in a mere weekend! The 1080: Urban Living intentional community is on 9th and Harrison!

My point is two-fold: 1) We can learn much about intentional living by reading books, watching movies, and most importantly visiting intentional communities close by and abroad. These ideas do not have to be adapted into BlackAcre. However, exposing ourselves to the work done by established communities broadens our perspective on what can and can not be done (and how). 2) If on your sojourn through the vast web of previous human experience you come upon useful books or websites, please share!

Oh and… Does anyone want to go with me on a stroll to a genuine San Franciscan commune?

  • Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, written by Diana Leafe Christian. <Book Preview>





To inspire… March 9, 2010

Filed under: Architecture — indorfpf @ 11:29 pm

Didn’t know the best way to do this but here are a bunch of random houses that look super neat!



*Editor’s note: Please Add Your Thoughts to the Pages March 2, 2010

Filed under: Question: Needs Input,Vision — lily @ 6:06 am

This post is spurred in response to Clara’s excellent questions about what this blog is for.  So, lovelies, take note that there are two categories of content-adding available here: there are posts, and there are pages.

If you go to Edit under Pages (on the left also) then you can add your thoughts to these as well, and they can be more like documents that grow, as opposed to the more conversational posts.  I have made two pages so far: “community vision”, and “what is this blog for?”.   Check out what Phil and I have added so far, and put down your thoughts.

I am going to think a little more on my perspective on how we invite a wider circle of participants… who, how, and to what purpose.



p.s.  also note that the blog title, currently “wouldn’t it be fun to live love life together” is mutable and should be played with. find it under “Settings, General”