Honey Bees

A big thanks to the wonderful Honeybee Teacher, Patrick Pynes, for coming out and working with our hive.

To give you some background, we were overwintering our hive in Cornville last year.    Usually we would move the hive to Flagstaff for the monsoon season and to help pollinate our garden in the summer.  However, life got the best of us and we never moved them.

Well in that time, the bees’ population grew to the point that they swarmed and requeened themselves.  The new queen mated with Africanized drones in the area which made for a pretty defensive hive so we move them up here in the fall to see is they would “calm down” or even survive the winter.

They did survive and became even more aggressive.  We tried finding the queen so we could remove her and introduce a more gentle queen, but she remained allusive.  It seemed like we might need to eliminate the hive, but to our surprise, she and half the colony swarmed again due to overcrowding.  This worked to our benefit because the new queen that the remaining colony raised, mated with local drones who are much more docile, reducing the colony’s temperament.  We went into the hive on Friday and the changes were drastic.  The new queen had calmed the entire hive, is producing brood, and an abundance of honey that we could even take some for ourselves.


If you need help with your hives or getting one started, call on the Honeybee Teacher.

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Rain water collection

Thanks to our neighbor and his generosity, we were able to add another 1500 gallons of rainwater collection to our system.  That makes 4800 gallons!  We also installed a water meter on the garden hose to find out exactly how many gallons we use for irrigation….that means more data! But it also means we can learn more about our water use in our home.

Loading the barrel and preparing to move...it fits!

Finishing loading the barrel and preparing to move…it fits!

A nice view for working....maybe some symbolism?

A nice view for working….maybe some symbolism?

It's new home!

It’s new home!

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Water Footprints and Your Food

Ever thought about how much water goes into the things you eat and drink?  Here is a nice article to consider when thinking about your water footprint.



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Row Covers and Barn Improvements

Thanks Hermosa Vida for helping us acquire the materials needed to protect our plants and our tools!

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The row cover offers about a 7 degree buffer from outside temperatures.  This addition to the beds will extend our growing season on the tail ends while offering protection from frost and hail and can be used as a shade cover during June.

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We replaced the rotting, 25 yr old plywood on the sides of the barn (you can see what to old barn looked like), repaired the rainwater catchment system, and then restained the whole thing.  We added some windows to reduce our electricity dependency and with some leftover money, were able to put in an automatic chicken door that opens and closes with the solar cycle and automatic chicken feeders.

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Rethinking Food

This John Oliver clip sums up many of the problems with today’s food waste problems in America.  We need to create better ways to get wasted food into the hands of the disadvantaged and needy, reduce the waste of food in our homes, and rethink our connection to food!  More trips to the grocery stores?  Make less food at a time?  Eat all the leftovers before they go bad?  Buy less when we are at the store?  They all make sense, we just need the will power to make it happen.


John Oliver: Food Waste

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Beekeeping Class

Hey Everyone.  Attached is a flyer for a wonderful, exciting, and interesting beekeeping class by the Honeybee Teacher, Patrick Pynes. Learn about beekeeping and visit Willow Bend, Flagstaff EcoRanch, and other local beehives.


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Water Stress

Here’s some good info on areas with stressed river basins from the World Resources Institute.



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Conditional Use Permit Passes!!

We did it!  We finally got our conditional use permit.  It passed with a unanimous vote at our public hearing on Wednesday night.  We want to thank all of our supporters who wrote letters to county officials and for those who showed up to speak up about how their involvement with the Flagstaff EcoRanch has impacted their lives.  We also want to thank county staff members for their patience and assistance while we sorted through the necessary steps to obtain the CUP over the past year.

In other EcoRanch related events, 6 of our 13 raised beds are planted and Kat, our intern from NAU is tending to their well being.  We have started harvesting spinach, chard, and radishes and successfully dodged the hail multiple times.  It seems as thought the summer monsoons are here, hopefully bringing an abundance of rain (hear that clouds, rain, not hail).

Our biggest highlight for the summer is that Hermosa Vida provided us with an additional $3000 to deepen and assist our programming.  With that money, we have already purchased row cover (which will protect our plants from the sun, hail, and cold temps while increasing productivity and be longer lasting and more sustainable than clear plastic which only last about 1.5 seasons).  We improved our barn to increase its usability to and offer better protection for our supplies.  Later in the season, we will add another rain barrel and more efficient irrigation.

Best of luck to everyone growing!  If you’re looking to come visit, take a tour, buy eggs, or even come and get your hands dirty, please get in touch with us.

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Egg Prices Rise


Worried about rising egg prices and the health of those eggs?  Come and get em from happy chickens at the EcoRanch!

Other related videos about chickens that will trouble your tail feathers!




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End of 2014

The 2014 season has come to end.  We are finishing amending the beds and prepping for the 2015 growing season.  We wanted to thank all of our volunteers, interns, WWOOFers, and visitors who have contributed to another amazing year at the EcoRanch.  Below are some quick data and accomplishments for your reading pleasure.  Our resource conservation strategies are working and we have not had to make significant changes in our lives.  Sustainability and being more environmentally conscious do not have to be hard or expensive and most importantly do not have to alter our lives.  Please continue to consider ways you can reduce your resource consumption and feel free to email us with ideas.

Quick Facts and Accomplishments

We strive to promote resource conservation, waste reduction, and community relationships and hope that through our efforts we can educate others on the importance of these issues.

Education and Interest

  • 309 hours donated to Flagstaff community (schools, programs) in educational presentations, consulting, volunteering
  • 6002 hrs ($48,000 equivalent) donated to EcoRanch from community members, Master Gardeners, CCC/NAU/ASU students, interns, WWOOFers, neighbors, high schools [NPA and Upward Bound]; all seek volunteer opportunities/ideas about sustainable agriculture/living
  • Local educators tour EcoRanch to provide a tangible operation to reinforce environmental and sustainable theories learned in classrooms. We provide a demonstration site for people to fulfill volunteer hour requirements and practice what they learn in classes. EcoRanch allows us to cultivate community conversations around conservation and sustainability.

Water Conservation

  • Saved 15,450 gal of water from our well and collected another 6,000 gal of rainwater in 2 years.
    • Met with neighbors to discuss/educate about rainwater collection practices
  • In 2 months we used 13,280 gallons of water. The average American would have used 28,718 gal of water; a difference of 15,438 gal and that includes irrigation of our crops.
  • Gardening efforts include buried drip irrigation, multiple water saving techniques, and no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (only compost, manure, and non toxic chemicals).
  • Low flow toilets, shower timers, collecting and reusing shower water in toilets, low flow faucets/shower heads, and biodegradable soaps for septic tank.
  • Permaculture techniques applied; berms built to keep any rainwater/runoff on our property.

Produce Production

  • 1057 lbs ($2300 value) – donated to Hermosa Vida/Killip – distributed to low income families in Flagstaff
  • 266 lbs ($1092 value) – donated to Flagstaff Family Food Center and other local food banks
  • 1000 lbs sold to Local Alternative, processed into veggie burgers, sold Flagstaff restaurants

Energy Conservation

  • Reduced our monthly energy use every month since 2012
  • Insulated windows, electrical outlets, and all hot water lines – passive heating/cooling when possible
  • Unplug all electrical cords when not in use
  • Move between upstairs/downstairs in summer/winter to conserve electricity and propane
  • Seeking upgrades to inefficient appliances
  • Air drying laundry = reduction in energy of 364 kWh ($60 savings) in 4 months

Resource Conservation

  • Weigh trash and recyclables each month to reduce inputs and outputs
  • EcoRanch = 0.4 lbs/person/day vs. average American = 4.38 lbs/person/day

Wildfire Prevention

  • Gutters are cleaned and spark arrestors are included
  • Trees/branches near house have been thinned, removed, and mulched used onsite
  • Pine needles/duff raked twice/year in a fifty foot radius around house and reused on property for mulching, water catchment, and reducing evaporation
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