When Susanna Seidensticker and her partner took a local community college class on natural beekeeping, the experience helped inspire the couple to search for a house with enough space to pursue their sustainable living ambitions.
“We were thrilled when we were able to afford a house on an acre of land as we truly thought that much space was out of the question for us,” explains Seidensticker, who now runs the organic Bee The Change Microfarm in Willits, California. “We hit the ground running and immediately got a few beehives, with chickens following shortly after, and the rest is history!”
Steps to Sustainability
Poultry has become a vital part of Bee The Change Microfarm. Seidensticker says that she was a vegetarian for a number of years before meeting her partner. When she began incorporating meat back into her diet, she wanted to do so in “the most sustainable and humane way possible.”
Quail emerged as a natural fit for the farm’s needs. “We were working with limited space. But more than that, [quail] mature extremely quickly, making them a great choice for meat,” says Seidensticker.
Spotlighting Quail Eggs
Going deeper into the advantages of raising quail, Seidensticker says that they produce nutritionally dense eggs.
“Interestingly, they contain no risk of salmonella due to the fact that their body temperature naturally runs too high for the bacteria to exist, making them ideal for raw applications,” she adds.
When faced with a variety of watermelon that “would split on the vine no matter how carefully I watered,” Seidensticker decided to try pickling the fruit.
“I didn’t want to waste them, so I decided to pickle them in the same way one would pickle the rinds,” she explains. “I used pickling lime to keep them crisp, which ended up being a bit more time intensive than I intended. But they turned out tasty.”
Food as Love Language
“Running a farm is infinitely hard and infinitely rewarding at the same time,” says Seidensticker, weighing up her sustainability journey so far. “Food is my love language, and being able to feed the people I care about with produce I’ve grown or animals I’ve raised is just so special to me. Likewise, being able to provide food for my community is an absolute privilege.”
“There’s also something magical about taking a plot of land and bringing life to it,” she adds. “Watching bees, butterflies, birds and frogs show up where once there were none, seeing worms in soil that was once lifeless—it’s not an easy life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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