Archive for beekeeping in Southwest Florida

Alva Island Family Farm

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by PickMeYard

It’s not every day that we get to visit a family farm on an island… their very own island.  It was such a treat for us.

They even have their own island taxi.

The Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida.

This is the taxi for the other occupants on the island... goats.

The family raises honeybees and goats on the island farm.  They have honey and goats to sell most of the year. 

Southwest Florida honeybees on Alva Island.

This is where we’re getting the latest additions to our family… two baby Nigerian dwarf goats.  Only one has been born and we’re still waiting on the other one. 

The Nigerian dwarf goat is a liliputian dairy goat.  The females (does) only reach 17″-19″ in height and the males (bucks) only reach up to 21″ when they’re fully grown.  That’s only up to our knees.  They do get wide though, especially when pregnant.  This special and rare breed has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a livestock dairy goat, which makes them eligible for our 4-H projects.  Both my kids want to show their goats in 4-H.  I’m sure my 3-year-old will knock their socks off with her husbandry skills in the pee-wee division.  Nigerian dwarf goats can produce a lot of milk for their size… up to 2 quarts per day.  Their milk is known to be higher in butterfat than other goat breeds and taste sweeter.  These goats are gentle, lovable and playful with the sweetest personalities. 

Entrance to Alva Island.

I love hammocks. I dream of them. One of these days I will have to time to get one of my own and actually use it.

A swing on Alva Island.

... and a see-saw,

... and lots of trees to climb,

... and the baby Nigerian Dwarf goats.

She was determined to keep this one.

This one is ours. Do we have time for this? No. Are we going to make time? Oh yeah!

She's a doeling with blue eyes.

The Nigerian dwarf goat nursery on the Alva Island Family Farm.

They have a vegetable garden as well. This is the entrance.

The island still has all of its native Florida landscaping which makes it incredibly beautiful.

Hog plums are all over the island. Click on the picture for information on hog plums.

They have pineapples growing everywhere too.

This is a huge passion fruit vine that went to the top of this tree! There are hundreds of passion fruit all over the ground. The kids were throwing them like baseballs.

Ripe passion fruit are delicious!

If you would like to see how they got their goats onto the island, check out their website at

Come grow with us!

The Extension System

Posted in Solutions with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2010 by PickMeYard

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension System is a reliable place to get information about plants and soil for your local area.  The “extension” is a partnership between State, federal and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and know-how to the public.

Grayson and I spend quite a lot of time at our local extension agency because this is where we attend our local  beekeeping meetings.  We recently joined the Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange Club   which also has their meetings at the agency.  We are delighted when we run into our favorite extension agent  (Roy Beckford) because his sense of humor always makes us smile… and he always finds the answers to our questions.

This is Grayson at our local cooperative extension agency, UF/IFAS. Grayson is standing in their fabulous butterfly garden.

Our local extension agency is called the University of Florida IFAS Extension.   IFAS stands for Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.  They have a ton of programs geared toward teaching individuals and families.  They offer classes,  seminars,  workshops, field days and tons of other stuff.  I’ve been trying to get into their “small farm day” tour where they all ride around in a comfy bus and visit great little farms.  It’s always full before I can secure a spot.   IFAS has a great website for small farmers at

Grayson and I are going to attend the “Goat Production and Health Seminar” at the UF/IFAS Extension Office this weekend.  There is always something happening there.  Check out their calender of events.

We love the UF/IFAS butterfly garden. We always check to see what is new.

Grayson is checking out their "Butterflies of Lee County" sign.

Kids can get involved with the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program with the UF/IFAS extension.   This program is designed to teach children (ages 5-18) life skills with hands-on projects.  They learn with the guidance of trained volunteers.  Grayson is hoping to show a goat in 4-H this year.  Each county offers different clubs that children can join inside the 4-H program.  Our county even offered a sewing and game playing group last year. 

The UF/IFAS office provides programs to teach a wide array of topics.  They offer resources and solutions for everything from selecting the right crop for your area to money management.   UF/IFAS can be found at Solutions For Your  Their website has an incredible amount of information.  Each of Florida’s sixty-seven counties has an IFAS office.    This is also where the Master Gardener Program  is offered. 

Grayson is sitting on the bench at our local UF/IFAS office with his notebook. He's taking some notes on the butterfly plants.

No matter where you’re located in the United States, a local Extension Agency  is probably nearby.   They are a valuable resource… use them.

Come grow with us!