Exciting New Programs: Three Roods Farm joins Back Track to Nature

by Karen Page

Warm weather has arrived in Michigan, we are hearing spring peepers and wood frogs, red wing blackbirds. The dandelions, stinging nettles and wild strawberries along the trail are beginning  to rise. The spirit of inspiration is in the air and it is good to be alive! Are you curious? Do you like to wander through forest and field? Is your mind begging to learn a ‘new thing’?

Join us and experience Nature and be inspired! Back Track To Nature will offer programs on two of Lapeer Land Conservancy properties plus Three Roods Farm and the Tibbits Nature Sanctuary both located in Columbiaville. You might like to learn about Organic Gardening, Permaculture Design, Water Harvesting, Square Foot Gardening, Agroforestry, Land Stewardship, Nature Photography, Nature Writing, Meditation, Juice Fasting and Wild Edible Plants.

We offer environmental education programs for scouts, seniors, home-schoolers, garden clubs, youth groups, retreats and other special interest groups. We can tailor programming to fit your specific needs.

May 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016            Three Roods Farm         4pm – 6pm

Agroforestry with Dr Greg Kruszewski

Join us on Three Roods Farm and learn about agroforestry, a practice

using the benefits of harvestable trees or shrubs grown among or around crops as a means of preserving and enhancing productivity of the land. Cost $10.00. Reservations are necessary.

Saturday, May 14, 2016   Tibbits Nature Sanctuary    10am – 12pm

Wild Tea Party with Gina Delisi

Join us as we explore, locate and identify plants in the wild, then we will

make blended teas and taste treats from the wild too. Dress for the weather and bring your sense of adventure! Cost $5.00. Reservations are necessary.

Monday, May 16, 2016      Tibbits Nature Sanctuary   10am – 12pm

Solar for your Home with Clark Tibbits

Join us for a tour of the energy efficient features of the Tibbits home which include passive solar design, attached greenhouse, solar electric panels and solar water heating. Reservations are necessary.

Monday, May 16, 2016    Tibbits Nature Sanctuary   12pm – 2:30pm

Introduction to Juice Fasting with Robin Mallor and Brandy Beck

Join us for a juice lunch and learn about types of juices even you can create from natural ingredients. Donations accepted.

Monday, May 16, 2016  Tibbits Nature Sanctuary 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Natural Building with Deanne Bednar of the Strawbale Studio

Join us for an introduction to Natural Building to learn what materials are needed, reed collection and thatching demonstration.

Cost $10.00. Reservations are necessary.

Thursday, May 19, 2016    Three Roods Farm               12pm – 2pm

All About Fasting with Robin Mallor

Join us and learn how to begin a juice fast. We will discuss and demonstrate types of fasts, includes a juice lunch. Donations accepted. Reservations are necessary.

Saturday, May 21, 2016  Sutherland Nature Sanctuary  8am – 10am

Bird Hike with Fred Townsend

Join us for the first bird hike of the season at the beautiful Sutherland Nature Sanctuary.  We will take a leisurely walk through field, forest and visit the wetland to enjoy a variety of bird species. Bring binoculars and water. Donations accepted. Reservations are necessary.

Saturday, May 21, 2016       Tibbits  Nature Sanctuary    8am – 9am Walking Meditation with Robin Mallor

Meet at the Hilton and Marjorie Tibbits Nature Sanctuary. Learn practices and yoga techniques for focusing the mind and walking in harmony with the earth. Reservations are necessary.

Monday, May 23, 2016       Three Roods Farm                  1pm – 3pm

Writing in Nature with Persephone Rivka

Join us for journal writing and build your skills in observation and writing

using our natural world as our source of inspiration.We will meet each month beginning in May through August. Cost $5.00. Reservations are necessary.

Thursday, May 26, 2016     Tibbits  Nature Sanctuary      8pm – 9pm

Walking Meditation with Robin Mallor

Meet at the Hilton and Marjorie Tibbits Nature Sanctuary. Learn practices and yoga techniques for focusing mind and walking in harmony with the earth. Reservations are necessary. Bring your own water.

Saturday, May 28, 2016     Tibbits Nature Sanctuary     1pm – 3pm

Death Cafe with Robin Mallor RN

A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion with end-of-life concerns. Our objective is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” This is an opportunity to express feelings and ideas about death in a supportive environment.  We will meet at Tibbits Nature Sanctuary entrance, located on Columbiaville Road and walk the trails  Bring your own water. Donations accepted.  Reservations are necessary.

Volunteers, we want you! We are always looking for volunteers to help with any number of tasks at our Nature Sanctuaries. Volunteers are essential as we continue to increase wildlife populations, wetlands habitats and prairies. Bring your friends, your co-workers and volunteer as a group. If you have an area of expertise you could share with us or if your only available occasionally, we would love your help too.

Please complete the registration form at Lapeer Land Conservancy or call 810-969-1023.


The BTTN eNewsletter is emailed once per month. Photo by Karen Page on the land of the Hilton and Marjorie Tibbits Nature Sanctuary.

Pre registration is required for

the programs. Please email

Karen Page and provide your name, number of registrants,  phone number and email.

The summer programs will be sent to you soon.If you would prefer not to receive the program information you can

unsubscribe here.

No More Beekeeping for Me

For 21 years  I loved the bees.  Even when they stung me. Even when they swarmed. Even when they gave me no honey.

It wasn’t easy. I had little help at the beginning. As a 40-year-old new beekeeper, I was the young kid on the block.  The old men I found by searching far and wide, were tired and bent, although they loved talking about the bees.  It’s an obsession for those who do it. One old man talked to me about getting rid of his deeps (hive body boxes) and using only small and medium supers because he simply couldn’t lift the deeps when they were full of bees and honey.

I read books and when my colonies arrived, I hived them by the book.  I learned everything by reading and doing.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I bought my first extractor from W.S.  He had built it himself.  He’s the kind of guy who loves beekeeping.  Guys who like to weld or build  or tinker.  Unlike me, who did it because we needed pollinators for our farm. That extractor was a conundrum.  None of the screws were identical and it came with no manual.  Every year when I took it apart to clean it, it was a devil of a puzzle to put back together.  And heavy, too! But it worked well for many years.  I sold it to my neighbor, D.C. who was nonplussed by the enigma of it because he was that kind of a guy, too.

I bought my first extractor from W.S.  He had built it himself.  He’s the kind of guy who loves beekeeping.  Guys who like to weld or build or tinker.  Unlike me, who did it because we needed pollinators for our farm.  That extractor was a conundrum.  None of the screws were identical and it came with no manual. Every year when I took it apart to clean it, it was a devil of a puzzle to put back together. And heavy, too!  But it worked well for many years.  i sold it to my neighbor, D.C. who was nonplussed by the enigma of it because he was that kind of guy, too.  With the money I made from selling honey, I bought myself a Dadant 6 frame extractor that worked like a charm.

Dylan & T spin honey

I was also the only woman beekeeper.  I felt so young and beautiful with those old dudes.

Many farm interns were drawn to Three Roods because of the beekeeping offered here.  I enjoyed that part.  Teaching others what I knew.  The bees are fascinating insects after all.IMG_4701

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In the early years I tried every new thing I heard about.  I attended SEMBA meetings. When I learned that fall feedings were as important as spring feedings, I did that.  When I heard that black paper might protect the colonies through the winter better than straw bales, I tried that.    I planted mint around the hives when I learned that mites were repelled by it. Some times I just persisted in my old ways, like using the Boardman feeders rather than an inside feeder.

 

The bee club at Seven Ponds was the closest in the early days.  When I started, all the talk was about mite control; varroa mites and tracheal mites.  I used Apistan strips every fall and they worked for years. Then the bees built up immunity to them.  Colony Collapse Disorder opened people hearts to the plight of the bees. People who wanted to keep bees came out of the woodwork like termites.  We outgrew our bee club chapter in Richfield township within a few years.  Now our local chapter meets at Forest Township. We have 180 members and at least 50 come to the monthly meetings to learn from the more experienced among us.

 

Nowadays I am surrounded by beekeepers. I know of 5 beekeepers within a 5 mile distance of 3RF. Since bees travel up to 5 miles to gather nectar, I know our crops will be pollinated.  And I know where I can get pure raw honey without doing all the work. If farm interns come along who are keen to learn beekeeping, I know several people who would welcome their help and their curiosity.  A big thank you to those beekeepers who are carrying the torch forward.  I salute you.

 

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2016 CSA Season

A new year. 2016. The year of the fire monkey according to the Chinese calendar. An election year here at home. Most likely a drought year due to El Nino. Who knows? We trust that the sun will rise tomorrow.  We trust that spring will come again. We’ll plant our garden. We hope you join us for the fun of it, for the health of it.

This is our 21st year!  This year will be different.  We are extending our season to include 4 extra  weeks at the beginning.  We expect the asparagus to be ready in May, along with rhubarb, sorrel, spinach and mint. Therefore,  the projected start date is Saturday, May 14th.  That will also be the Member Farm Tour and Potluck.  Harvests will thereafter be on Thursday mornings. The last harvest date will be October 20th. The cost of a share has risen  to include these early vegetables.  Shares are $425 for 24 weeks.  A great deal, averaging less that $18/week.  Working shares are available for those who can contribute 15 hours during the course of the season by coming 5 times for 3 hours.  Working shares are $350. Although early season share bags are light, with only a few different vegetables and fruits, by mid-summer, the bags are heavy with produce. The biggest complaint we hear is that we give too many vegetables.

To reserve your share, send  a deposit of at least half the amount. Checks should be made out to Robin Mallor and sent  to Three Roods Farm/ 4281 Our Acres Drive/Columbiaville  48421.  Call or email with any questions or concerns. rmallor@gmail.com.  810-793-2511 (this is a land line)

Here are a few photos from previous years to whet your appetite.  May peace prevail on earth!

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Meghan picks a winner.
Meghan picks a winner.

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Malaysian Backyard Permaculture

Happy is the farmer who can go abroad while the farm sleeps in winter. This year being my turn, i  am enjoying  banana fritters, coconut water, rambutan, jackfruit, starfruit, and other local delicacies of Malaysian culture on the island of Borneo where my son and his family have lived these past 13 years. If one looks at a globe, i am on the other side of the world, close to the equator in the tropical rainforest of Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia.

Here, my son, a chip off the old block, is a backyard horticulturist.  His favorite hobby is bonzai. I’m impressed with his creations, never having done anything like it myself.  Here are a few.IMG_0439  IMG_0441  Its been 4 years since I was last here. Tropical plants grow fast. Bamboo shoots spike up from the ground and within days they are above your head.  These shots of his yard show the lush foliage in every direction, including fragrant frangipani trees, tall coconut trees, and exotic fronds of every description.IMG_0432IMG_0451   A good permaculture backyard has chickens to eat the insects and food waste. Zayn’s backyard sports a fine flock of feathered poultry. They free range around the yard and the hens are broody. Zayn allows them to sit and hatch out their young rather than eating the tiny eggs. He tells me that when the flock grows too large, he has a friend in the next neighborhood who will take the extras. My grandson, Ridhwan, herds them back to the yard when they wander down the road. He’s been designing and building a better chicken coop, too.
IMG_0474IMG_0488IMG_0484    So here I am with only a few days left to enjoy this delicious feast for the senses and the love of my family. But I am happy to have had this time to relax and gear up for another season of Michigan farming. Here’s a parting shot, taken at a nearby fishing village. For those who are curious to know more about Malaysian life and culture, Zayn writes with humor and delight on his web blog. http://www.bingregory.com

 

 

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2015 CSA Season Ends

The CSA Season is over.  Thanks to our members and friends for being the ‘community’ in Community Supported Agriculture.  It’s been a good year.  Anyone interested in joining us for 2016 should contact me asap.  Many of our 2015 members plan to return, but there’s usually a few spots open for newcomers.IMG_9913

Eggs are available through the winter. Still $5/dozen. When the temps sink below freezing, we keep the eggs in the root cellar, so call first. 810-793-2511. IMG_4548The Farm in March 2012

 

 

Yoga at Inspired

Robin is stepping down from her role as yoga teacher for the winter. She encourages everyone to continue daily yoga practice at home, integrating what was learned from the classes. Also, make time to visit  Inspired, where she taught the classes.  Inspired is a gift shop on 4654 Water Street in the heart of Columbiaville. There are many unusual re-purposed and found items for sale at reasonable prices. Plenty of parking.

Yoga classes may resume next year. Keep practicing on your own at home!yantra-lc

Greening with Life

April showers and sunshine are turning the farm slowly from brown to green. This is a panoramic view taken by Intern Mikayla Hood.

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Mikayla enjoys seeing Shah Jahan and Mumtaz outside her door when she awakens.

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We are upgrading the barn and constructing a new greenhouse attached to the long barn. New doors and roofing make it look and function so much better. The work is still in progress.

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 Chickens, ducks and peafowl are all getting along well.

DSCF3497The ducks are laying. We hope one of the ladies will start sitting on the clutch soon.

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 Baby chicks are growing fast.

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 Intern Daniel Lago dug a latrine in the woods for use when we are out near the tipi. He’s from Miami and is loving the cooler Michigan weather.

Still Some 2015 CSA Shares Left

The snow has nearly all melted as winter gives way to spring.  Many of last year’s CSA members have signed on for another year. New people are finding us and sending money to reserve their places.  If you are interested in being part of our CSA, which means an exciting journey of eating with the seasons, get in touch with me, Robin, as soon as possible.  rmallor@gmail.com or call 810-793-2511.

Read more about our CSA on the page called Subscription Gardening.

pussy willow pollenVery soon the pussy willows will open and the bees will be buzzing and the whole cycle of life will begin anew.   This year’s CSA members will get asparagus!

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2015 CSA Season Sign Up Begins!

DSCF3450Snow is no deterrent when it comes to dreams.  In winter we dream, we plan, we order seeds and tools, and we keep faith that spring will come again. We invite you to dream along with us. We are seeking those with the desire to eat fresh, local organic food in harmony with the seasons.

This year we will be able to harvest asparagus in large enough quantity to share with our members. This perennial comes in May, which is preseason, so we invite all members to tour the farm and share lunch and fellowship on Saturday May 30th at which time the asparagus will be distributed. Those who can’t make the event can make other arrangements to get their share.

The season will run from June 11th until October 22nd.  Price for a full share is $700, half-share $350. Those with the time and interest to help every few weeks get a discounted price: full share $650, half-share $325. A check made out to Robin Mallor and sent to Three Roods Farm/4281 Our Acres Drive/Columbiaville 48421 will reserve your share.  See the Subscription Garden page for more details.

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Dr Greg and the Friendly Pheasant

Once upon a time on Three Roods Farm, pheasants were seen at a distance if at all. That changed this year.

It started in summer. Several of us saw a large, mottled ground bird dart in and around the main garden. We thought her to be a female grouse. Sightings became more common as the bird was seen in amongst the young hazelnut trees and near the chicken coop.  DSCF3343 DSCF3358 DSCF3348 DSCF3349 DSCF3351 DSCF3355 We were confused by the lack of a clear white neck ring and the mottled colors. With hindsight, we know he was a juvenile pheasant.

A few weeks later, Dr Greg was rototilling near the tipi when he heard loud sounds in the woods. A pheasant seemed to be following him, watching him through the trees. Eventually, the bird cut in front of him with more squawks. He pranced around the rototiller making it impossible for Greg to work. Finally Greg got in his truck and the pheasant chased the truck back to the house.

The next day, the same thing happened.  Only this time, when the pheasant stood in front of him squawking, Dr Greg got down on his knees and caught the fellow by his legs! I know this is true, because he brought the pheasant to the front garden where I was working and showed him to me.  Dr Greg was so proud of his achievement, he had me pluck a long tail feather to put in his hat. He brought the bird back to the woods and released him.

To make a long story short, Greg and the pheasant have met so many times, that Greg has lost track of the number of times he’s caught and released the bird. He says there are 2 birds because they are not the same size. One is big enough to eat – but that is not the plan. Meanwhile, Greg wonders about the deep meaning here.  Why are the pheasants so interested in him such that they allow themselves to be caught. Is the pheasant Greg’s spirit animal? What is he trying to say? What do you think? DSCF3427 DSCF3429 DSCF3432