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It’s Honeybee Swarming Season!



Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Why do #honeybees swarm? Because they are honeybees. Honeybees swarm for a number of different reasons, but the overwhelming most reliable reason why honeybees swarm is due to genetics. Genetics make honeybees swarm and it is also one of the primary ways that honeybees expand the population and genetic diversity of colonies in a geographic area. Honeybees can also swarm due to inhospitable living conditions such as, too crowded and not enough space, poor beekeeping skills (i.e. the beekeeper is new or not paying close enough attention), and pest infestation. Even though a swarm of honeybees looks very threatening, it is my experience that while honeybees are swarming, they pose little of no risk to people. Prior to an actual swarm, a pheromone based signal is given off, likely from the Queen, to prepare for swarming which causes many actions to start happening. Some of which are: scout bees go out and find a new suitable home and report back and the nurse bees build a queen-rearing honey-comb cell for a new future queen. Once the queen-rearing honeycomb cell is built, the existing senior queen deposits a fertilized egg inside. About twenty-eight days later a new and future queen bee emerges, soon thereafter, she takes a mating flight and the male bees all chase her, where I have read, a queen bee will mate with as many male bees as she can, sometimes over fifty!

Once the new and future queen returns from her mating flight, the existing senior queen has decided to leave, relinquishing the hive to the new and future queen. The senior queen already has made a crucial decision of where the next home will be and then she takes roughly 50% of the worker honeybees with her and by the tens of thousands, they take flight. Presto! You have a swarm of #honey #bees.

Over the next couple of weeks to two months, I will be out capturing honeybee swarms, where and when possible, I will post pictures of the little darlings wherever they land a give you all an update of honeybee hijinks.

Almaden Valley Farmers Market


We are out selling delicious local honey at the Almaden Valley Farmers Market. Fellow farmer Hector, owner operator, of Hector’s Organic Farm in Salinas, CA grew this amazing 6 1/2 pound cauliflower. There are so many amazingly talented #organic farmers here l, but today Hector wins honorable mention for demonstrating that organic farming yields are plentiful for the consumer and gainful for the farmer.

Yummy Tummy Farms 2013 in Review

Let me the 101st person to wish you, dear reader, a happy new year. I often wonder about why I’m blogging, why people would read my blog, what makes a post interesting? Based on how-to articles and my past experience, I thought I had a clue. Apparently, I have no clue about what readers find interesting except that I’m convinced pictures really help. As you will see below, the most interesting posts, based on reader views, were some of my simplest posts and the formula is more or less this: take a cool picture, write one to two sentences, and maybe conclude with a question. Part of me is thrilled with that simple formula because it means a lot less hours thinking about and working on content, but part of me is a bit disheartened because it means that anything I have written, of what I thought was substance turns out to be forgettable or unremarkable, based on views on this blog. The evidence is below in that my most popular post was a simple picture of an eggplant. What do you think? What would cause you visit this blog more? What types of content causes you to visit other blogs daily or weekly?

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Holiday Farmers Market


Festive seasonal organic honey and jam. Spring honey tastes of fruit tree blossoms; summer honey tastes slightly spicy- very complex; fall honey tastes of fennel and anise almost like very mild licorice flavor. Jams are plum, persimmon,  fig, Mandarin marmalade,  several other flavors. Patrons are using words like delightful and delicious to describe their tasting experiences. Happy farmer.

Farmers Market Sunday


Big day for our suburban farm.

Cambodian Green Giant Eggplant

This heirloom variety that we grew organically really lived up to it’s name. The beautiful green crown fades into a spotted white base- really stunning.


The flavor of this eggplant was delicious and mild with a soft supple texture. I first saw this eggplant at the National Heirloom Expo and I purchased the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. We will grow this eggplant again next year; its that good.

Back away from that chicken and nobody gets hurt!

Raw Chicken

I have to confess that as a vegan, I do not think about meat very often, but food safety is one of my passions. With the latest salmonella outbreak occurring in the U.S. apparently from a Foster Farms chicken processing plant, I thought to myself I hope nobody dies. Speaking as a former salmonella victim, I can tell you first hand that I would not wish salmonella on my enemies because the pain and suffering is really cruel and debilitating.

Here are the latest statistics of the Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken as of October 11th, according to the CDC:

  • Illness has been reported in 20 states and Puerto Rico
  • 42% of the 317 cases reported required hospitalization
  • 73% of the cases have been reported in California
  • No deaths have been reported…yet
  • Salmonella Heidelberg is multi-drug resistant meaning there are several commonly prescribed antibiotics that will not combat this illness; for example, ampicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline will not work.
  • Typically, 5% of people that contract Salmonella develop a blood borne disease; moreover, so far 13% of people that have contracted Salmonella Heidelberg have developed a blood infection- that more than double what is normal!

What can you do to protect yourself or minimally reduce your risk to exposure?

  • If you must eat chicken, stop eating chicken produced by large agro businesses, like Foster Farms, Tyson, Sanderson Farms, and Pilgrim’s Corp. Buy your heritage poultry from small local artisanal suppliers, it will cost more, but the flavor will be better and the bird was well cared for before it arrived on your plate
  • Avoid restaurants where they serve chicken, at least in the short term, unless you feel lucky and want to play the odds, do you feel lucky?
  • Never ever wash your poultry prior to cooking it; moreover, if you wash your poultry, you are taking unnecessary risk that is easily avoidable, according to NBC News: “People, stop washing your chicken!” The videos are pretty disgusting, so I hope you have a strong stomach.

There are so many observations about this life threatening foodborne illness outbreak that I want to talk about, but here are three questions that I hope you will consider and write a response below:

  1. Foodborne illness is a fairly common occurrence, has the latest outbreak caused you to change your eating habits in any way?
  2. If so, what changes are you adopting?
  3. If this outbreak has not caused you to change your eating habits in any way, what do you think it will take?

Heart Disease is Preventable

Health is Good

Health is Good

As a farmer in his forties, I often wonder what compels me to continue pushing the idea that a farm in the suburbs can be viable. In deep thought, I ask myself why not simply grow a garden, eat well, and live my life quietly? I do not fully understand the totality of why I cannot be content to stay quiet. I know there are topics and subjects that drive me towards a desire to engage my neighbors, my friends, and the larger web-based community. Health is one such subject.

#Health is something that many people take for granted and fail to appreciate until their health is compromised. Once your health is compromised, depending on the severity, you may never get your formerly robust health back again. Most people in the twenties and thirties should feel invincible in terms of health meaning these age ranges should only experience the (bi-) annual cold and some various seasonal allergies; moreover, no chronic health problems. However, you may find yourself in your forties experiencing more challenges to your health and wishing that you had listened to your doctors when you were in your twenties and thirties. Aging into your forties and having to pay the price for the arrogance of youth and wild dietary debauchery can bring your awareness of mortality crashing into your reality. While I understand that some people inherited genetics that makes them prone to developing disease, most middle aged people should not be suffering from heart attacks, stokes, diabetes, and cancer; moreover, 25% of all deaths from heart disease is preventable.

I claim to be a vegan; however, I’m a flawed vegan because when it comes to dessert, I downgrade in culinary discipline to lacto-ova vegetarian. This is my compromise to myself for maintaining a vegan diet in all other aspects of my life. Recently, on September 3, 2013 in the Wall Street Journal I happened upon an article written by Betsy McKay and Ronald Winslow entitled, “Heart-Disease Gains Partly Elude Younger Adults.”  From the referenced article, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said, “As a doctor, I find it really heartbreaking to know that the vast majority of people who are having a heart attack or stroke under the age of 65 in particular and dying from it didn’t have to have that happen.” Further the article stated, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., linked to about 800,000 deaths a year. In 2010, the CDC analysis found, 200,070 of those deaths could have been avoided, including 112,329 deaths among people under 65. The article concludes that many of the heart attacks could be prevented by improved health care and early detection, but this where I wanted more from Dr. Frieden because you could say that about any health related malady. I wanted some practical and applicable steps that I could follow, but I found none in that article; moreover, Dr. Frieden and the authors Mckay and Winslow really missed a golden opportunity. I understand from personal experience that changing one’s diet, especially for adults, is exceedingly difficult; therefore, while I’m a farmer and not a doctor, I’d like to recommend a moderate path.

Increase the odds that you will live a long life full of robust health by following some of the suggestions of my dietary heroes like Dr. Joel Furman, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, such as:

  1. Eat a plant based #vegan diet. Commentary: Start slowly by eschewing red meat then move on to chicken, fish, and dairy.
  2. Emphasize vegetables. Commentary: Buy your produce from a small local #farm
  3. Avoid nutritional ignorance. Commentary: Read labels and ask questions
  4. Avoid genetically modified organisms (GMO) most often found in processed foods containing corn, soy, and canola.
  5. Remember, a calorie is NOT a calorie.

In conclusion, 25% of the deaths from heart disease are preventable. What choices are you going to make to avoid being the in the 75%? Please comment.

Sugar Sugar Everywhere

Sugar Sugar Everywhere

Sugar Sugar Everywhere

The plagues of modern health are many, but some of the most egregious are: obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The sources of many diseases can have a genetic component, but there are many diseases that are completely preventable or at a minimum can be managed. Diabetes is definitely a disease with a genetic component; however, diabetes can be managed.

I got inspired to write about sugar from a comment left on my blog, by James B, and a post on the U.S. Health and Human Services website about research done by Qi Sun, from the Harvard School of Public Health. Mr. Sun looked at data from 1984 to 2008 which encompassed a population pool of 187,000 people and found some signs in the data.  Mr. Sun compared people who ate at least two servings of whole fruit per week; particularly blueberries, apples, and grapes against people who ate less than one serving of whole fruit per month. The data suggests that people who regularly eat whole fruit “had a 23% lower risk of (developing) diabetes.”It concludes with Sun saying, “We recommend people to increase consumption of whole fruits intake to facilitate prevention of type 2 diabetes.” I also found a fantastic blog post titled “10 Reasons To Avoid Refined Sugar”here,  this post is very well written and I encourage you to check it out.

What are your favorite whole fruits to eat and how many servings of whole fruit do you eat in an average week?



Red Okra Flower

Okra flowers are stunningly beautiful. Okra- generally, you either love it or hate it. Call me Switzerland because while I have not found very many recipes where okra is the star and not a supporting ingredient, I remain hopeful. I planted six red and six green okra plants with the intention of preparing pickled okra. I am planning to pressure can several jars with different brines and see how I liked it.

How do you feel about okra? Do you love it, hate it, or are you searching for okra greatness like me? When you comment, suggesting fried okra does not count because almost anything is delicious fried. What say you?

Just another Day on the Farm

Living a step back in time

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