Author, teacher & wilderness woman. Born into a family of British cunning folk where the old ways were passed down since time out of mind. Lives with her cats, husband and a host of wildlife in the back of beyond, a magical twilight place between worlds, on the Welsh Borders.
This piece from FOE is both good and disturbing and, for me, the loss of habitat is as bad as the pesticides. People do not understand that their own actions – putting a concrete drive at their house house, perhaps even getting an allotment, having a better pavement for the school walk, a new road to help congestion, a farmer turning a field from pasture to arable – all steal habitat from wildlife, plants and so insects and bees, then birds, then animals!
We have to change our thinking and then our way of life …
Why are the bees disappearing?
There are two key factors in the decline of bee populations: loss of habitat and the intensive use of pesticides. In the past 60 years, we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows. Add to this the loss of much of our natural hedgerow and woodland thanks to modern farming methods, and you leave the bees without flowers to forage or safe nesting sites. Our bees are hungry, homeless and dying.
Then there’s the hotly debated issue of pesticides used in farming. In 2013, a two-year restriction was put on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides by the EU, after they were found to present a high risk to bees. The pesticides industry has been fighting the ban ever since and, as a result, a growing number of studies have been carried out that show that these pesticides do harm bees.
Just got a good review from Midwest Book Review – Julie Summers (it’s the 2nd one down). She says, “Unique, informative, exceptionally ‘user friendly’ in tone and substance, “Gardening with the Moon & Stars” is an extraordinary read and very … Continue reading →
Earlier this year, Tyler and I went to visit and help out at Marrook Farm – a biodynamic dairy farm on the Bulga Plateau in NSW, home to a small herd of gorgeous dairy cows and the most incredible yoghurts and cheeses made on site from their milk. David and Heidi are incredibly passionate about creating good food and nourishing the land, and they work very hard to achieve this on their farm. There are two milkings every day (cows don’t take holidays!), yoghurt-making days, cheese-making days, order packing days, there are fences to be built/moved, cows to be moved, silage to be made, cow horns to be filled and buried, pasture to be tended to, and quite a lot more that I have yet to learn about. The Marrook Farm herd is a true reflection of David & Heidi’s hard work and dedication, as are their pastures and their products. I plan on sharing our experiences from that first visit (yes, of course we have been back since then!) with you all, to provide a window into life on a biodynamic dairy farm. But before I share my daily dairy diary, I want to share with you all just a sample of the things I learnt while I was at Marrook Farm.
I just found this Facebook page for the Lancaster Beekeepers and liked it :-). they have some fab pix there, inspiring me for how I want my garden to look next year. Lots of hard work in the meantime :-).
Biodynamics has always known the vital importance of bees and I try to make my garden as bee friendly – indeed wildlife – friendly as possible. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust comes out with some excellent little tips about flowers for … Continue reading →
Herbalists talk a lot about their favourite medicines, menstrua and methods, but it is my unsolicited opinion that herbal honey doesn’t get near the attention it deserves. I have recently been turned on to the joy of medicine-making with unpasteurized … Continue reading →
We are at a time of year when wild flowers brighten up our countryside. Predominant colours are white, yellow, shades of pink, blues purples, and all of them are trying to attract insects to pollinate them. However the colours that we see do not look the same to the bees. So how do plants attract them?
The answer is that they produce designs that we cannot see but bees can…
Bee-centred beekeeping is an approach guided by the biology and nature of the honeybee. The bee-centred method is non-intrusive, low intensity and minimal stress for bees and beekeeper.
Colonies managing their nest environments without the well-meaning, but often disruptive, support of man are subject to natural selection which weeds out the weak. Strong, healthy colonies are capable of coping with varroa, viruses and other pathogens. This has been confirmed by observation of Bees in wild or feral settings where colonies often chose quiet, warm or well insulated sites several metres above the ground.
High up, in trees or buildings, Bees are often unnoticed and cause little nuisance while living alongside man and providing essential pollination services.
This sympathetic, considerate approach to beekeeping will enable people to live in harmony with bees, enjoying their presence in the garden and receiving the gift of honey.
I’m so delighted to see how quickly Wild Meadows has become a colourful carpet of wildflowers since our sewing the seeds here two years ago. Where last year we were treated to an explosion of annual species like poppy and cornflowers, this year has seen the perennials kick in; Ox-eye daisy, wild carrot and knapweed to name just a few. This profusion of floral magnificence is not only exquisite to look at, but it plays a very real and multi purpose role in the environment. Every plant stem is locking up carbon from the atmosphere, delivering water cycle services through roots and transpiration and, of course, providing food and sustenance to the legions of mini beasts and bigger creatures that depend on them. Any patch of land you are able to devote to wild flowers and native grasses will make a huge difference to the biodiversity on your patch too.
Alongside native flora, the single most important habitat you can introduce to your patch is a body of fresh water. From a small pond to larger water bodies, such as the one we dug here in Wild Meadows two winters ago, water is an essential ingredient for life and attracts a host of new species to even the smallest garden. Everything from the subtle sub aqua community like water beetles and boatmen, to the more showy pond stars like dragonflies and kingfishers may turn up making a massive positive difference to your patch. We will soon be making more ‘How To’ films on creating these habitats, so keep an eye on the website and our YouTube channel for updates. There’s really so much you can do to invite wild creatures to your garden, let us help take you on that journey…
It may sound obvious but 100 years ago Britain’s countryside was a very different place. Back then it would have been awash with colourful flower-rich meadows and grasslands that were an intrinsic part of our agriculture and people’s daily lives. … Continue reading →