Thursday, January 25, 2018

Back at it


It's that time of year-- time to get planning, planting and growing.
We've got great bibb lettuce growing in our hydroponic system in the greenhouse, we will be getting our seeds for the farm started in there as well.

This year, we will be planting hundreds of seeds in order to have a seedling sale in school.
All of the proceeds will be donated to the West Chester Food Cupboard.

We also have big plans down on the farm. We will be planting fig trees to accompany the fruit trees we planted in the fall. We will be planting a pumpkin patch this year, and we will also be planting a blueberry patch along with raspberries and blackberries. And we will be planting zinnias along the front of the deer fence to invite pollinators to our farm.

It's an exciting time! Can't wait to see all of the projects take shape. Keep up the great work!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bees and Beekeeping Blog

Bees & Beekeeping
By Luca and Harrison

On the first day of J Term, we had the opportunity to draft our topic that we would research and learn about through the next two weeks. As we strolled down the list of topics, we both looked at each other with one topic in our minds: Bees! After a bit of luck struck us as we picked the number one out of the hat, which allowed us to pick the first topic, there was no question what topic we would be researching.
A mutual attitude was felt toward our exciting J-Term trip to Greensgrow Farm. We were able to experience first-hand what it was like to be in the shoes of an urban farmer, this of which we both found to be quite interesting. She led us to the lot where their bees were kept, and they had nine hives, each consisting of approximately 30,000 bees. We learned that these bees were the healthiest in their area: a remarkable feat. In addition, the farmer told us that these bees produced about 10 gallons of honey in the late spring and summer, much of which was sold. As the day ended, we were reassured that bees were in fact amazing creatures.

Types of Bees
There are many different species of bees. Each one is classified into families according to their characteristics and abilities. Each families have different purposes in the environment. For example, the Apidae family is made up of the honey bees, bumble bees, and other stingless bees. Then, the melittidae family consists of four species of African Bees. To continue, the Andrenidae family are all the mining bees. This family is huge, consisting of over 1300 different species. The Stenotritidae family is made up of twenty one Australian species. These bees are very small. There are about nine different families of bees discovered so far, and more will most likely arise as time goes on.

Within the families lies the actual specie of the bees. There is a huge variety of types; however, some of the more familiar bee types include the honey bee, carpenter bee, mining bee, and the bumblebee. The honey bees are split into about ten different types and are all considered working bees. The carpenters like to live in wooded conditions and are known for their pollination skills. To continue, the mining bees have a huge population and like to work under ground. In addition, they are known for excavating tunnels underground. Finally, the bumblebees travel in tiny groups, consisting of about two hundred workers, and they work in the pollination process.

In 2006, a very important issue was discovered: European Honeybees (apis mellifera) were dying, specifically 30% to 90%. As it may appear to be an insignificant issue, it is in fact crucial. These bees have roles which other bees cannot fill. They pollinate crops, and without this pollination, the farmers would be unable to grow their produce, having a widespread effect. Also, this affects the food chain, the production of goods, and it causes the bees to be constantly moving. In an attempt to justify for this, some theories included that the bees had poor nutrition, were dying because of the pesticides the farmers used, and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This is when colonies just disappear and leave their queen bee behind. Scientists performed an experiment in an attempt to solve this major crisis. They found a hive which they thought had CCD. The scientists searched specific sequences and bacteria. They found the bees that had IAPV (or Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus) did not die, meaning bees with this disease were immune to Colony Collapse. Their conclusion was that the reason for the disappearing bees was a combination of CCD, poor nutrition, and pesticides, thought there is no definite resolution.

The purpose of beekeeping is basically to contain species of bees in a natural environment to allow them to live and produce materials. Beekeepers can contain almost any type of bee; however, bee species differ from each other and can affect some environments or the beekeepers in harmful ways. In addition, beekeepers have to wear special gear occasionally and prepare differently depending on the type of bee. To continue, the utilization of the bees materials is one of the primary goals for beekeepers. Bees produce several materials that contribute immensely to the human environment. For example, bees produce honey, royal jelly (Bee milk), and other substances. However, when beekeepers take these materials from the bees, they have to leave some of the products for the bees to survive and complete the cycle all over again. In order to speed up this process or help the bees survive, certain chemicals are used. Many people dread upon the use of chemicals on natural things including food and animals. However, depending on the type of chemical, the bees actually benefit from them. In order to do so, the bees collect the chemical and spread it around their hives as a protective shield. This kills bacterias and prevents diseases from getting into their hives.

Fun Facts
  1. Honeybees flap there wings over 11,400 times a minute
  2. All bees fly at an average of 15 miles per hour
  3. Honeybees never sleep
  4. Depending on the bee species, a hive can hold between 40,000 to 60,000 bees.
  5. One ounce of honey can fuel one bee to fly around the whole earth
  6. One beehive can produce up to 400lbs of honey in a year

Our Experiences
We had the opportunity and privilege to go to Greensgrow farm, a local, non-profit farm, and see their healthy bees. We saw how many nests there were (about 10 or so), and she told us a little bit about them. In addition, we learned how the new queen bee enters her new hive and how the farmers at Greensgrow actually witnessed this taking place. To continue, the farmer explained how the bees actually hibernate during the winter and how the bees were just starting the hibernation process when we were their. We learned that these bees are major producers of honey, and that they do swarm often. Though our experience at Greensgrow was limited due to the season , we enjoyed it very much.

Cool Video

External Link
Works Cited
"Interesting Facts About the Queen Bee." N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Fun Facts about Honey Bees." Fun Facts about Honey Bees. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"" Scientific Beekeeping RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Bee Mimics, BeeSpotter, University of Illinois." Bee Mimics, BeeSpotter, University of Illinois. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Honey Bees: Queen Bee." Types Of Bees. N.p., 2014. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Catching Swarms Video Tutorial." Keeping Backyard Bees. N.p., 2015. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Hive Of 50,000 Bees Removed From Couple's House In Canada." Opposing Views. N.p., 01 July 2015. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
"Daisy's Honey." Daisys Honey. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.

"Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder - Lessons - TES Teach." TES Teach with Blendspace. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Bees & Beekeeping By Luca and Harrison

Day at Wyebrook Farm

Today was an interesting day. We toured wyebrook farm in Chester county. When we got there, we immediately got on a tractor. The tractor brought us around the farm. The first place we stopped was the chicken house. There was a lot of land for the chickens to roam and they had a dog to protect them from predators. The dog was named nugget and he had adapted to living outside. The farmers told us that Nugget did I pretty good job. As we moved on, there were more chicken coops that could move. They had these move because the chickens would eat all the grass and bugs in that area then would do the same to the next area. This helped the farm itself and would help the soil. Also in this vascinity there were bee hives. The ladies were telling us that their new bee keeper had plans to move the hives further in the forest because they had been losing bees due to the cold weather and the wind. As we continued to drive we saw more land that was designated for crop growing. Over the summer, all the vegetables in the restaurant came from that land. Also near the crops when a pen where the goat lived. Next we saw pigs. That was the most adundant animal at wyebrook. They have about 100 pigs. Wyebrook gets the piglets from a farm in Virginia and then keeps those pigs till they are 30 months. The pigs lived on a plot of land that was 8 acres. The one side was where the adult pigs were that were around 300 pounds while the other side had the teenagers that were 150 pounds. After this tour we went inside to see the butcher carry out his job. This was a fascinating skill. It was scary and gross at the same time. It is also very complicated because there are many cuts. I don't went sure about eating what we had just saw living but I order a pulled pork sandwich at the restaurant. It was very good. After a great meal we went to visit the piglets. There weee maybe around 30 piglets in the barn. Behind the barn were the cattle. Overall it was a good day full of life. We learned about how food gets to our plated and about the life cycle.

Pigs (Devon Whitaker and Caroline Burt)

How to raise a Pig
Build an enjoyable environment for the pigs
  • Build a pigpen.
    • Pigs need a dry, secure place to live that will protect them from the weather and provide enough space to move around. You should have about 50 square feet of space for each pig. Also the pen should be twice as long as it is wide.
  • Install a sturdy wire fence around the pen.
    • Use a woven fence with a board on the bottom to discourage digging. After that is completed attach 4×2 welded wire to the inside of the fence so that if the pigs push on it, it won’t move. A movable electric fence is another good option.
  • Include at least a partial shelter.
    • Pigs can sunburn if they do not have protection from the direct sunlight. In cold weather, pigs will seek protection from cold and wind. The best setup is a three-sided, roofed structure that can be placed inside the fenced in area. Many pig farmers recommend that you provide your pigs with at least 15 to 20 square feet of shade. The roof doesn’t need to be higher than four feet tall. It is important to leave a partial opening under the eaves of the structure so that heat can escape during the hotter months of the year.
      • One way to provide shade is to secure shade cloth to the top of the pen to block sun.
      • In the winter, you should put hay down inside the shelter that your smaller pigs can warm themselves in.
  • Consider providing your pig(s) with a mud wallow.
    • As we all know pigs love mud. Pigs have a hard time regulating their temperatures, and with a high heat, a mud wallow looks like a swimming pool to the pigs. The first thing you must do in order to build a mud wallow is to section off one part of the pen. You can build a low lying trough to keep the mud in just one section.Place fresh layer of sand at the bottom of your wallow when you first dig it. Then make an outer edge or brim that is raised so it keeps the mud in. Finally add water to the area once or twice a day. You can also add fresh dirt when needed.

Raising/caring for a pig
  • Consider the time of year you want to buy your piglet
    • Pigs grow the fastest in warmer weather, so it would be to buy the piglet in spring or late summer.
    • Piglets usually start around 50 pounds when bought and they can grow to about 250 pounds within 100 days
  • Provide you pig with enough water
    • Pigs drink 2 to 4 gallons of water every day on average
  • Pick out a good feed for your pigs
    • You should plan to feed your pigs premixed meals so they have a well balanced diet
    • Depending on the weight of the pig, the percent of protein in the meals varies
  • Give your pig some leftovers
    • Many people relate pigs as being a living garbage disposal. You can feed your pigs fruits, vegetables, meat scraps, garden clippings, and even spoiled eggs. Don’t feed your pig raw meat because their might be bacteria in it which could make the pig sick. Lastly make sure you are not feeding your pigs only scraps.
  • Guard the pig against internal parasites
    • Many pigs get internal parasites because they play around in mud and manure all day. Ask a local vet to prescribe your pigs an anthelmintic that will kill any worms they might have.
  • Sell your pigs for money
    • If you would like to sell your pig, it is best to do so when they are around 200 to 250 poundS. When ready to sell, bring the pigs to a market where they will be priced based on size and health. You can then sell pigs at at a livestock auction or to individual or local stores. The next step is to make an appointment with a slaughterhouse.
What do Pigs Eat?
  • Pigs are omnivores, which means they can eat vegetables fruits and bugs
  • As I mentioned earlier, farmers create a well balanced diet for their pigs so that they stay healthy and grow.
  • Corn or soybean meal are used by many farmers as the main ingredient in a pig diet. Dried whey is an ingredient added by many farmers for protein and sugar. It comes from milk. The sugar gives pigs energy, and the protein helps pigs grow strong muscles
  • Farmers also give pigs important minerals. For example limestone is a good source of calcium and that calcium helps pigs grow strong bones. Some farmers also add salt and vitamins to a pig diet.
  • Organic dry peas, roasted soybeans, dried alfalfa and flaxmeal provide protein. Trace mineral salt, a mineral mix and vitamins are added to meet the nutritional needs of the hogs.
  • They are monogastrics, which means that they have only one stomach compartment
    • They can eat a bit of roughage, but not as much as a horse or cow,
  • Pigs are often fed out of troughs or heavy buckets.
    • It is important that there is enough room for all of the pigs to be able to eat at one time.

Sex/Age class
Type of feed
Amount fed (per day)
Birth to weaning
Hog starter
Free choice.
Weaning to market
Hog grower
Full feed. Feed may be limited to 70-90% of full feed after hogs reach 57 kg (125 lb.)
Flushing gilts
Sow feed
2.7-4 kg (6-9 lb.) for 3 weeks before breeding.
Gestating gilts
Sow feed
1.8-2.7 kg (4-6 lb.) or 1.5-2% body weight; if gilts are too thin, increase by 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lb.) in the last 3-5 weeks.
Gestating sows
Sow feed
1.3-2.7 (3-6 lb.) or 1-1.5% body weight; if sows are too thin, increase by 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lb.) in the last 3-5 weeks.
Lactating sows
Sow feed
Full feed, approx. 4.5-6.4 kg (10-14 lb.)
Sow feed
1.3-1.8 kg (3-4 lb.) when not breeding, 2.7-3.2 kg (6-7 lb.) when being used.

Pros and Cons to Having a Pig
  • Eat the leftovers
    • No food is put to waste
  • Nice animals/they are intelligent
    • Leave an impact on you
  • Entertainment
    • They are like kids
  • Make a profit from them
  • Meat (pork)
  • You can use their manure (waste) as fertilizer for your garden of crops

  • Have to poop a lot
    • Due to the amount of food they eat
      • Have to clean their pens frequently
        • Having said this, they have a little portion of pen in which they use as a restroom
          • May cause conflict for neighbors or neighbors may not approve of you having a pig
  • Intelligent
    • get out of their pens
      • It's difficult to then catch them
        • Need a secure fencing to keep them in
          • (Even electric fences)
  • Hard having to let them go
    • Over time you bond with the pig

  • Flies are a big issue with pigs, so in order to keep flies away you must cover their urine with a thin layer of garden lime.
    • This sweetens the area and kills the fly eggs

Breeds of pigs

Overview on Pork
  • It is a very familiar type of meat
  • Top parts of pig are thinner and less stiff
  • The parts on the bottom of the pig are thicker and stiffer