Hurricane Rena's

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Bees Surivivng the winter despite mistakes I have made in their care.

Here’s some news about a learning curve that I am going through this year. The very first post I posted on this site was about getting my first bee hive, something I have always wanted to try doing, and have wanted to do more since I have learned about how important bees are to our food supply and the fate of the world in general. No mason bees for me, if I am going to care for insects, I will have honey bees.

I have been endlessly worried about my bee hive and whether it is surviving the winter or not. This is my first year of bee keeping and I made some amature mistakes that jeapordized the well being of the creatures in my care that I will not make again now that I know better.

I left a screen door on the house instead of a solid door when the storms and cold began. I fixed it a month later, but imagine if someone did that to your house? You might become more suseptible to cold and illness. If you had to live off of stored food, like my bees do, and it was in danger of going moldy because the landlord didn’t supply a door, it would not be good. If the basement flooded a little too because the house was unknowingly placed in an area that becomes swampy over the winter, it might increase your chances of illness and death as well.

I fixed that problem with the uneasy task of suiting up and moving the hive at a time of year when the bees do not want to be disturbed. My helper and I had to carry the hive carefully to avoid causing mass panic within and thus protective aggressive behaviour. It was extremely heavy and the ground was extremely slippery and muddy. But it had to be done, there was too many dead piling up outside the door, giving me the hint that things were not ok inside. I did some clean up, I swept out the entry way, now supplied with a solid wooden door, with pine sticks, and only one or two of the hives inhabitants buzzed around me. I put out fresh dry food, and one came up to eat it. But there were one or two where there were normally hundreds. So I wondered and wondered how many of the worlds most precious bugs had been killed by my previous beginner ignorance?

My helper, who is a more experianced bee keeper came around today and said we needed to open it up and look inside. This is the absolute worst time of year to do that. Today was the best day at the worst time of year to even try. So we opened the lid. We heard nothing. The new food has not been touched. There was dampness around the edges of the feeding box. Our hopes plummeted.

We took out the feeding box. There were a few dead in the deep super that appears to be still full of honey. We did not see or hear any signs of life. My helper took her hive tool and began to loosen the top box from the bottom box, where the bees have glued it shut with propolis.

Suddenly, we heard it. A promising sound. Buzzing. A stir from within.

Then, as we carefully lifted the top box, we could see the cluster of bees. It was a tightly packed cluster, a lot were in there. There was enough bees, my more experianced helper said to me, that the queen could be laying eggs and more brood hatching at the center of the cluster. It was a lot more promising that we had dared to hope for.

“She must be a really strong queen”

I felt ever so proud, ever so thankful to be the keeper of such resiliant creatures who survived and thrived dispite my lack of knowledge and mistakes made in what they need for their well being.




Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter


Last week I wrote about making sourdough bread using cooked whole grain dish leftovers. Today I will write about how to make and care for the Sourdough Starter.


My first sourdough starter was given to me by a friend, she said it came from the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. I carefully fed it every couple of days until finally, I forgot. It went rotten and moldy. I had heard that I could scrape the moldy surface off and keep using it, but I didn’t want to take that chance. Maybe in the pioneer days when the nearest package of yeast was hundreds of miles away, and if I wasn’t going to see anyone else I could get some sourdough starter from, maybe then I would consider scraping off the moldy surface of my rotten starter and keeping on using it. But such is not the case in my life.


I found several recopies on the internet and one in the Lighthouse Cookbook, by Anita Stewart. Its a cookbook that celebrates the unique cuisine that has evolved among the BC coast light keepers, where self sufficiency is more than a niche or an interest, its absolutely necessary for quality of life when one only gets food supplies once a month and everything must be pre ordered. No going to the store if you forget something around there.


I actually prefer to use both yeast and sourdough starter if I make bread. This is based on the recipe in the Lighthouse Cookbook, but is my own interpretation, of how I made it when I needed to.



1 tbsp yeast

2 cups boiled water, cooled to lukewarm

1tsp salt

3tsp sugar

2 cups all purpose flour


It can be made with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water as well.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add sugar and salt, then mix in flour. Leave out on the counter, loosely covered for 3 days. I store mine in a glass canning jar, with the lid on top but not tightened during this stage.

If you have wine or beer brewing in your house, keep the sourdough starter in a different room to avoid crossing yeasts.



Stir it each day, add a little bit of flour and water each day.

After 3 days, you need to feed it equal amounts of flour and water, and also give it “air” by mixing it up in an open bowl. Leave in the bowl for an hour or two before using to make sure it is activated.


This is a good time to use some or give some away to friends.


Return some to the canning jar after, and once every 4 or 5 days, feed it a similar volume to itself of flour and water. This is the basic sourdough starter that gets kept alive between using it, and improves with age. My current one is about a year old and tastes just like the “ hundreds of years old” one I was given that was part of the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. Strange how that happens, Eh?

But that’s because the same wild yeasts live here on the west coast as lived in San Francisco centuries ago according to experts.

Whole Wheat sourdough bread using up leftover Kutia

whole wheat bread made from leftover kutia

whole wheat bread made from leftover kutia


Eariler this week, while getting ready to celebrate Ukrainian Christams, I wrote a post about how to make healthier Kutia using sprouted wheat, and eleminate 6 hours of labour intensive preperation for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas food. Today, I will tell you about a method to use your leftover kutia from Christmas to make a beautiful loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread.

This method of bread making can use up any leftover whole grain dish. Kutia is especially good because it gives the flavour of honey, poppyseeds, nuts and fruit to the bread as well. I learned how to make bread this way when I was light keeping on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Bread does not travel very well by helicopter in boxes of other groceries, it ends up stale and squished and not that good within days of getting there. Better to learn how to make your own, a bag or bucket of flour travells well and keeps well.

So you get out your sourdough starter if you have one, and feed it. It gets fed flour and water, an equal amount to what you have of starter. Half of it gets returned to its jar. “Feeding the Pet” we say in our house, because sourdough starter is a living thing that needs to be cared for weekly if you keep it refrigerated and every couple of days if it kept in a warm place. I had a jar of sourdough starter given to me by a friend, who said it was over 100 years old, part of the original batch of San Fransisco sourdough. In my early days of sourdough baking, I forgot about it, it died and went moldy. I had to throw it out. Then I made my own from a recipie in the Lighthouse Cookbook. Funny thing, it tasted just like the 100 year old original batch of San Fransisco sourdough. I heard thats because sourdough starter captures wild yeast spors and the same wild yeasts live on the west coast now as lived in San Fransisco 100 years ago. If you don’t have sourdough starter, don’t worry about it. Just let your bread rise in the refrigerator overnight. It will become slightly sourdough within 24 hours.

In the bowl with your sourdough starter, if you have one, after you have taken some out to keep it going, refilling its home container with the same amount you took out, you mix in the leftover kutia.

You add 2 teaspoons of yeast pellets,and let the mixture sit for 4 minutes. Then you add an equal amount of flour as the mixture of liquids you are stirring together in your mixing bowl. Drizzle a little oil onto it if its getting sticky. Adjust the flour or add water to get a dough that won’t stick to your hands, or the bowl. Then knead it for 5 minutes.

Brush the dough with oil and let rise in a warm place 4 to 6 hours, or 8-12 hours in a cool place.

Once it has risen, the dough will be soft and sticky again. Flour and oil may need to be added as you punch it down and knead it again a little. Form into loafs, or put in parchment paper lined bread pans.

Let it rise again, 1 hour in its shape. Brush the top with a mixture of oil and water

heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread in the preheated oven. Bake at 400 10 minutes, then turn it down to 375 and bake for 30 minutes. By this time you can check on the bread. Tap on it to determine if it is done.  A cooked loaf of bread will sound hollow, a doughy loaf will not.

This bread will be a rich reddish brown color, with a nutty flavour. The slices are hearty and rustic, with a crisp crust, and slightly sweet. Best when still warm out of the oven served with butter.



wholewheat sourdough bread made from leftover kutia

wholewheat sourdough bread made from leftover kutia




Sailing the Farm, a valuable book for anyone seeking a self sufficient lifestyle aboard a boat

Sailing the Farm: Independence on Thirty Feet – A Survival Guide to Homesteading the Ocean


Sailing the Farm

By Ken Neumeyer

Across the top of the book it says “Independence on 30 feet” A survival guide to Homesteading on the Ocean.

This book I found in a bookstore in a mall when I was 18 years old, and was a tremendous inspiration in my quest for independence and self sufficiency. I learned how to make cheese, how to build a solar still and a solar oven, how to dehydrate food and store it in the environment of a boat. But more importantly, this books opens your mind to thinking in the self sufficient way, which we are not taught in much of our lives. There are chapters about foraging seaweed, about nutrition and finances, how to provision correctly for an extended voyage, what to do if civilization falls apart while you are at sea.

It deals with topics of composting, and growing your own food in a sailboat. There is information in this book that I have not found anywhere else in over 20 years of reading self sufficiency books of all kinds. It not only offers a way to survive, but to enjoy a life of relative comfort and luxury while you are doing so, comparable to most people’s occasional holidays. You don’t only survive, you can thrive following the advice in this book. My only regret in reading it is that I have not been able to get it together to implement more of its advice in my day to day life.

It was written in 1981, so it is quite an old book, and was already old by the time I got it. It captures the spirit of the freedom a previous generation of people enjoyed and took for granted as the way of the future, an openness in the world that just isn’t there anymore. All told, I would still recommend it to anyone looking to live a self sufficient lifestyle on board a boat

Ukrainian Christmas

Tommorrow is the last day of Christmas around here, the final feast, the last hurrah of the holidays for another year. In my family, Ukrainian Christmas eve is celebrated with a vegitarian feast of traditional Ukrainian food. Somewhat traditional. I am going to discribe for you a dish that I make in a whole new way from the way my ancestors made it. Kutia, wheat, the staff of life, according to tradition. The process for making it in my childhood included pounding it for hours with a baseball bat in a pillowcase, boiling for hours in pot on the stove and finally mixing chopped fruit, poppyseeds, nuts and honey in it for a whole grain pudding dish which was eaten first on Christmas Eve.

I do something a little differently. I sprout the wheat first. Symbolicly, wheat represents the staff of life. However, wheat sprouts tend to occupy this place in my menatily. Organic wheat sprouts. It cuts about 6 hours off of the preperation time, adds vast amounts of nutrition, and changes a source of starchand carbohydrates to a source of vitamins. The staff of life indeed.

To honour the symbolism of the dish, one needs to make sure that the wheat being used is not geneticly modified, or sprayed with Roundup just before harvest, as a lot of conventional wheat has been known to have happen. This is actually being studied as the possible reason why so many people have developed allergies and sensitivites to the golden staff of life, so to speak. So honour our ancestor’s symbolism by using organic wheat. Anything else can hardly be considered the staff of life. Besides, it probably won’t sprout.

I get the wheat from a health food store that is sold there to be used for people growing wheatgrass sprouts at home for juicing and a superfood packed with enzymes and vitamins.

2 days previous, you fill a quart mason jar 1/3 full of organic wheat kernels and fill the rest up with water

drain the water in 24 hours, and rinse the wheat.

Rinse it twice a day for the next 2 days. There should be some splitting and tiny little wheat srouts poking out from the seeds.

The maximum nutrition from this dish would be if you were able to eat it raw, but the grains may still be too tough. Simmer gently in a pot with water or apple juice  until soft. Usually less than 1 hour.

add chopped almonds or walnuts, poppyseeds, dried cherries and honey. Blend in a food processor.

This is Kutia, a dish traditionally eaten first on Ukrainian Christmas eve representing the staff of life, which is an ironic food that a great many people have become allergic to in recent years. There are conflicting veiwpoints in society at the moment as to whether grains and wheat in particular is good for you. From wheat sprouts to white flour, from wheatgrass juice to the Atkins diet which reccomends eleminating it totally from our consumption. From being blamed for the obesity epidemic to being honoured on Christmas Eve, this is wheat, and its value, or its harm, is all in how it is prepared, and how it is grown.





Sunday Dennis

The Homegrown show for January 4, 2015 featured the music of Sunday Dennis, a Quadra Island/Comox Valley musician who’s clear sweet voice sing an awsome album full of orginial songs, except for one, Moonshiner, which is traditional bluegrass, I believe.

She gets played regularly on the Homegrown show. I have her album Bloom. She is also in the automatic playlists at Cortes Radio. I was searching the internet for an online link to promote her album, since she needs to raise 300 000$ for medical treatment as soon as possible, and she has published a good quality album that could do this for her if  people find it and listen.

She is at the moment experiencing a time of dire need, as she has been diagnosed with brain cancer and the better option for treatment to help her survive is not available in Canada. It would be a shame to lose this woman of incredible beauty and talent, from our community and from our world.

A benifit show for her is being held next Saturday night at the Waverly hotel in Cumberland BC.

here’s a link to her video Bloom

here’s a link to her crowdfunding page

here’s a link to some sample songs of hers on Reverbnation

Poem For Sunday

I hear your voice
Clear and cool as water
Soft as sunshine filtered through the forest
Loving life in all its chaotic splendour
Your thoughts speak to me through what you created
As a gift to yourself and the world
From within your mind
housed in your brain
encased in your head
now needing us to reach out to you
in your journey
how loved and treasured you are amoung us
how beauty and happiness hang by a thread in this world
from one day to the next
We give you love and light for your journey
we give you strength and sustinance
we give you the chance to experience the miraculous
and to know how well you are loved
and what a difference you have made.



This poem is written, and used with meditation and EFT to help someone, a beautiful, warm and caring person who is also a brilliant singer, recently diagnosed with brain cancer. This is for the community around the person to use directing the benifits towards the person.

Notice how the poem focuses on the person in health and happiness, not so much on the illness, aknlowdge it, but do not give it power.

Tom And Kate

Here’s a link to the album of two cruise ship musicians who found their home in Prince Rupert BC and recorded an album of original songs about their move. I use their music regularly on the Homegrown Show

Discovering Rupert

Tim Readman

Here is a  British Canadian artist I have been playing a lot of on the Homegrown Show, His album Into the Red includes such hits as 1000$ ring and On the Brink. His other album, In Black and White, includes They Don’t Write ’em Like that Anymore.


Tim Readman: Into The Red
Tim Readman and Fear of Drinking: In Black & White

Norbery and Finch

Judy Norbery and Joanna Finch recorded an awesome album together, with such hits on it as Black Widow’s Tango and Toad’s Lament, as well as Dreams of the Heart and Moon’s Garden. These sweet ladies from Comox have all original songs and are tremendously creative in style.

Here’s a link to their album Tease for Two

Norbury & Finch: Tease For Two

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