Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Cost Mason Bee Service

Male Blue Orchard Bee
I just wanted to put a a quick post about a no cost mason bee service we are offering.  Head over to for more details.  In a nutshell Mason Bees are a solitary, sting-less bee that provides great pollination for fruit trees, and ornamental plants.  Their numbers are limited due to pests and limited range. 

Though management of  them we are able to increase their numbers, which provides more bees to more backyard gardeners, orchardists and insect lovers.  Eventually we will be able to offer pollination services to local orchards and farms. 

Basically the Bee Partner Program works like this:  If you have a good yard full of springtime blooms (fruit trees, shrubs and ornamental plants) and a source of mud. We will provide you with mason bee house and nesting block and some mason bees still cozy in their cocoons. 

You take care of these bees for about 3 months by simply;
  • putting up the house on the south or southeast side of your house or other solid structure
  • Give them a little mud to use in their nesting process. see Mud is the Key.
  • Keep an eye on them for insect eating birds
  • Don't use any pesticides in your yard
We pick them back up after about 3 or 4 months and take them into a protected environment where they are kept from pests and under climatically controlled conditions.   Late in the fall we go through all of the nesting blocks and tubes and extract out the cocoons and clean out the mud and pests.  We store them in the right temperature and humidity until the next spring when we repeat the process and share the surpluses with others in the area.

We are currently operating in the "4 corners" area of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.  We also have a program staring up in a couple areas of Utah in spring 2014.  Click Here to become a Bee Partner.  If you do not live in these areas, feel free to contact us, we may be able to put together a remote program for you and some friends or hook you up with a closer program if one is available.

For more info please visit us at were we not only are working to preserve our bees but create Bee Preserves where they can thrive.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Granola: Raw and Sprouted

In my efforts to learn to grow and use sprouts I wanted to make some granola with them.  I found a great video and website where they made raw granola, it looked pretty good but I wanted to adapt it some to my own tastes.  Around this time I also found a blog that talked about soaking oats (I have been unable to find oat groats nearby).  Soaking, just like sprouting, breaks down the Phytic acid in grains, making them easier to digest and increases the available nutrition of the grain.  Phytic acid is often called an anti-nutrient, it binds up vitamins and minerals as it passes through the body. 
Sprouted buckwheat, Soaked Oats, Swelled Almonds/sunflower

So I took the raw recipe, the soaked oats and a granola recipe from Alton Brown and combined them together into my version.  It is only slightly sweet, if you want it sweeter you could add some maple syrup or brown sugar or even a slight drizzle of honey in your cereal bowl with warm milk.

 Sprouted Granola

3 cups soaked rolled oats (soaked in yogurt overnight, drained see below)
Toasting Coconut in a hot Cast Iron Pan
1 cup sprouted (swelled) almonds
1 cup sprouted buckwheat
1/2 cup  swelled sunflower seeds (soak only for 30 min)
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut (roasted)
1/4 - 1/3 cup of local honey
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil (warmed)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 tsp Cinnamon (optional)

Mix all together and  layout on wax paper on your dehydrator trays.  Dry on 120 degrees or less till dry, crumbly and completely.  Remove from trays and enjoy.
Soaking oats in Yogurt and Lemon Juice

Soaked Oats
4 Cups of whole oats
4 Cups of water
8 Tbls. Yogurt or Whey or Lemon Juice
Soak for 12-24 hours, place in cheese cloth and drain.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My 5K Run

Yesterday I ran a 5K that a local charity was putting on.  It was fun though quite tough.  I literally have not run for years and years, it would have been a good idea to prepare some for it but I went ahead with it.  I decided to just go do it as a way of assessing my current physical fitness.  I knew I could walk 3 miles no problem, but I ended up running more than half of it, I would run and walk and run and walk...I did not do as well as I hoped but now I have a baseline to beat one day.

Physical fitness is an important aspect of living a provident life, keeping yourself fit and healthy is important as well as eating properly.  As of late I have been working on improving my overall fitness, not really working to loose weight or meet any specific result, just improve my overall state.   I have been working on getting more variety of exercise and hand labor, while working to eat far better.

My efforts in my fitness has more to do with being overall more fit.  I don't want to be able to run a marathon but unable to dig swales all day.  I am working for a more well rounded state while getting rid of my currently round state. 

I plan to run a 5k once a year or so as a way of measuring my fitness level.  I now have a baseline on how long it took to run yesterday's race.   I expect that as I further improve my health I will be able to run it straight without stopping.  I may run on occasion but you won't catch me out running everyday. 

I would rather get exercise that actually accomplishes something.  Shaun-ta' and I have been working on expanding our garden into the field behind us.  We have been digging swales on contour with wood buried under them which helps to hold water an increases the biological activity.  This is hard physical labor, but the time and energy expended produces something, running on a treadmill does not.        

Friday, March 8, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Results

Not to long ago as part of my 13 Skills for 2013, I set out with a 30 Day Challenge, no sugar(cane or hf corn syrup), soda pop(full sugar type) or fast food.  I really wanted to explore what effects these foods were having on my body.  After 30 days I have had some interesting results and some unexpected ones.


Cutting out the soda pop I really had to make a conscious effort to drink more water.  Initially I had issues with being a bit dehydrated.  A large issue I have with soda is the high fructose corn syrup that is used in most of them.

Fast Food

Cutting out the fast food was a little difficult, because most days I am not in the office or close to home.  My work takes me all over the area, so fast food is convenient.  I addressed this by choosing to eat a places like Subway or Schlotzky's, where I was able to make good sandwich choices.  Eating at these places can be no better than fast food, but there are good options to be had.


It is surprising how much sugar we eat, even when as a whole we are eating pretty healthy.  So many of the everyday foods we eat has sugar in them.  I did allow myself to eat honey and homemade jam on homemade bread.  I did eat more of this the first week or so, but towards the end of the 30 days I didn't have much all all.  My body did not crave the sweetness as much. 

Surprising Results

I was not sure what improvements I would see but I expected to find more energy and be able to sleep better. I was surprised at the results that I received. 


I ended up with 14lbs of weight loss, I did not exercise beyond yard work.  I expected loosing some weight but not 14 pounds!  It feels good, I am down a notch on my belt and 14 lbs is enough my wife can see the difference.  I didn't exercise because myself and the whole family were sick, and some other things came up that made it hard to do.  If I had been exercising I would have seen more results.      

Acid Reflux/Heartburn

This is one of the biggest surprises, I had no heartburn during this experiment.  I tend to have acid reflux or heartburn most of the time.  On the 2 days where I did eat sugar I had heartburn.  There is no doubt a connection, I know drinking soda can increase the heartburn but I never expected sugar to be the main cause.  I eat a lot of hot food, I love my hot sauce, so some heart burn is expected, however during this experiment I did not have any from the spice or hot sauce.   

Energy / Stamina

I found myself able to go for most of the day without the need for food.  I would find myself late in the afternoon not really hungry but having skipped lunch.  If I had a good breakfast, I could go till dinner no problem.  Yes, I would be hungry but not with painful hunger pains.  In the past, I would find myself shaky and unable to focus.  When I would get to this point I would often reach for the sugar or soda to satisfy the "hunger".  Looks like that hunger I would experience, was merely my body starving for nutrition, by eating all of those empty calories, my body was missing out on the good nutrients it needed.  Cutting out the sugar, soda and fast food forced me to eat better foods with far better nutrition.

30 Days Down, Now What?

So it has been about 2 weeks since I completed the 30 Day Challenge. Yes I have returned to some of my previous trends.  Though now that I have returned to the sugar, soda and fast food, I find myself feeling not as good as before.  The heartburn is back here and there and a few days I have felt that shaky feeling.

So I need to return to the 30 day challenge, I expect I'll go back to about 95% of my previous commitment.  Make far better food choices, eliminate 99% of soda and keep my sugar intake to minimal levels.  By this time next year my honeybees will be well underway, and I plan to replace most of our home sugar use with honey.

For me at least, sugar needs to be consumed at a minimum.  Soda pop needs to be gone forever, on the rare occasion I do drink it I'll try to stick to the cane sugar stuff.  Obviously fast food needs to be a rare occasion and when I do eat it, I will stick to the better options.

Give it a try on your own, 30 days is not long, but long enough for the body to show the effects.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Use a spoon to easily remove an avocado from its skin.

I got a great deal on some avocados and I was really excited because that meant I could make guacamole. I really love guacamole, especially when it is made fresh. 
 First let me share with you the easiest way to peel and core an avocado. Take a sharp knife and run it all the way along the outside of the avocado lengthwise to the core. Twist both halves in opposite directions and gently pull them apart. You can pull the core out of the side it sticks to easily with your fingers. Now that you have two halves you can simply take a spoon and scoop out the whole half of the avocado. 
Slice the avocado while in the skin.

You can also slice or cube the avocado while it is still in the skin and then scoop it out the same way.
Remove the slices with a spoon.

See how easily the slices come out and you can make them whatever size you want. Before making guacamole I enjoyed some avocado slices on a turkey sandwich, so yummy!

So here is my recipe for Guacamole:

8 Large Avocados
4 Small Roma Tomatoes
1 Med. Sweet Onion
1-2 Jalapenos
2 Cloves Garlic
1 to 2 Tb. Fresh Cilantro
Garlic Salt and Salt to taste
Juice from 1 Lime
Fresh Homemade Guacamole

Chop the onion and garlic finely. I like to put mine in my mini food chopper so they are really fine, but if you like them bigger you can just hand chop them. Chop the jalapenos; then mash the onions, garlic, and peppers together with the avocados. Chop the tomatoes and cilantro and stir them in. Then stir in garlic salt and lime to taste.

This recipe makes quite a big batch (about 4 cups of guacamole), but if you ask me it is never enough. Jacob and I enjoyed it along side some chips, on top of some quesadillas, spread on a deli sandwich, and on top of a baked potato. They were all delicious. Super delicious and healthy. Plus, you get the benefits of eating raw onion and garlic.

This recipe comes from one of my friends that I worked with at the VA hospital in Salt Lake City. She also made some killer fresh Salsa, check out the recipe for it here.