Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eggnog Fail

I love eggnog. Plain and simple. Unfortunately, eggnog is in short supply to begin with and guaranteed to be non-existent the day after Christmas. So what did I do? I made my own.

I'm not sure what I did wrong, but my nog was far from delicious. Since we have two laying hens now I used fresh Frühlingskabine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and spices. Not only did it come out chunky... it was flavorless. We drank as much as we could and threw out the rest. Good thing I only made half of a batch! I guess I'll have to wait for next Christmas to get my fix.

Homemade eggnog? Fail.

Rabbitry Tour

Follow the tour through the Rabbitry and meet the cast...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Caring for Animals

I've been having weird dreams about our animals lately. I dream mostly of chickens escaping or rabbits not eating, both of which would be terrible. Have you ever tried to catch a chicken determined to be free? It's hard.

So last night I dreamt that I went into the rabbit shed to feed them their evening pellets, but when I looked in the cages the rabbits were no where to be found. All of the cage doors were still locked and there was no way to escape, but somehow they did. Frantic, I looked everywhere to find all three sitting on top of their cages looking at me. It seemed to be one of those things where you look once, not there, look twice, aha! Anyway-- when I woke up I was a little confused as to what was dream and what was reality.

I think I may be overly concerned with their welfare. Of course I did plenty of research before buying these rabbits, but the actual daily care is a little more than I anticipated. Angora rabbits require LOTS of grooming to prevent them from getting mats or eating too much of their own wool. Thistle's coat is twice as long as the two does so he is much more prone to mats. I've had to pick out quite a few already near his feet and on his side.

The constant worry of loosing such a valuable animal to something as stupid as ingested wool is apparently bleeding into my sub-conscience. At least all I have to worry about with chickens is frozen water... and brain-dead Honey flipping the nest box onto herself leaving her trapped. Other than that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Merry!

Trevor, Sarah, Cami,
Myrtle, Pearl, Agatha, Henrietta, Honey, Butterscotch,
Thistle, Clementine, Dandelion, and all the Bees...

Wish you all the happiest of holidays and joy into the New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Yesterday morning I went about my morning chores as usual. Feed the rabbits. Thaw the rabbit water bottles. Open the door for the chickens to come out into their run. Throw hot water on the chicken waterer to thaw it out. Check to see if their feeder was full. Glance around for eggs. Eggs? I didn't put brown golf balls in there to trick the chickens... that's an EGG! Holy crap! There are three eggs!

Needless to say, we fried them right up. I have never had an egg that was not from a grocery store, so this was a very exciting experience for me. They tasted delightfully rich and were fantastic even without salt or pepper. I didn't bother using either because I wanted my first real egg to stand on its own. And it did. If you've never tasted a "homegrown" egg... you should!

If you look closely at the picture you can see that all three eggs are slightly different colors. One egg was really long an narrow, the second was fairly average shaped, and the third was average shaped but had white speckles all over. It's amazing how hens can lay eggs that look so different from each other.

When I cracked the eggs open I noticed how thick the shells felt. Compared to market eggs, those suckers were difficult to crack open. Just look at how orange those yolks are! They even look fresh. I bet these would really turn a hollandaise sauce into something special.

- Sarah

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rabbits and Long Walks on the Beach

My comic

This past week we have all been getting to know our new rabbits better.

Some of us more than others. Anyway-- we seem to have discovered their little personalities. Or at least they are beginning to shine through.

Thistle, our ruby-eyed white buck is a charming but lazy boy. When I go in their shed I often find him laying around practically lounging. I half expect to catch him eating potato chips in front of a secret television. Silly rabbit. Despite his obvious love of afternoon napping, he always rushes up to the cage door to greet me. Although I'd like to think it was just me he is happy to see I do know better. He is always looking for hay to snack on and he has smartly made the connection between me... and hay. Silly rabbit.

Dandelion is our fawn colored doe. She is shy, but sweet. I can tell. She is still getting used to us. An almost two-year old is a lot to handle in your face everyday. Believe me... I know. But Dandelion is coming around. She let's me pet her more and more each day, each time I pick her up it gets a little easier, and today she even let Cami stroke her head. She may have even enjoyed it. She'll come around.

And lastly, Clementine, she is our chocolate tort doe. Of all three rabbits I think Clementine is the most outgoing. She is always cheerful and happy to see us (even if it is under the guise of hunger) and is more than happy to receive her share of love. Clementine will let Cami pet her as long as she likes which is the best kind of rabbit for an almost two-year old to interact with.

I am even beginning to think that Clementine will be our first doe to breed in two months. She seems up to the job as far as temperament goes and this will give Dandelion a little more time to warm up to us. Which brings me to my next task... figuring out rabbit color genetics. What do you get when you breed a ruby-eyed white to a chocolate tort? I'll let you know when I've mastered Punnett squares.

- Sarah

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our Real Rabbitry

My comic

Wow! Our first real, official rabbit post. It's not all thinking and planning and plotting anymore. We actually have rabbits now. After a 15-hour trip to Eureka and back... we have our three new rabbits home and safe in their custom shed.


"Dandelion" the fawn colored doe. She is very calm, but shy. Dandelion is almost 6 months old.

"Clementine" the chocolate tort colored doe. She is a bit skittish, bit she is very sweet once she feels safe. Clementine is also 6 months old.

"Thistle" the ruby-eyed white buck. He is super snuggly and potentially my favorite so far. Thistle is 1 year old. We were both surprised when we first saw Thistle because of his size. He is certainly two whole arms full when you hold him.

None of the rabbits are related so I should have a pretty good breeding program for a few years before I need some fresh stock. Well, out to give them their evening meal!

- Sarah

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Frühlingskabine GIVEAWAY [closed]

We aren't too sure how many people actually read our blog and we aren't too sure how many people will enter this giveaway, but if you're reading this... your chances are probably pretty good.

Here's what we have for you here at the Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm. Drum roll please!

A set of twelve (12) hand stamped cards that feature my own carvings of assorted birds, a honey bee, and a rabbit. They are stamped using archival inks on nice, thick, cream-colored watercolor paper and paired with matching envelopes (not pictured).

Here are the rules:
- Leave a comment here letting us know if you are a new reader or have been following us for awhile.
- Be sure to include an email address to contact you at. It can even look like this if you're worried about spammers: fmicrofarm at gmail dot com
- This giveaway is open to all countries.
- This giveaway closes Friday, December 16, 2011 at 8:00pm Pacific Daylight Time when I announce the winner!

That's it! No pesky Facebook stuff... No pesky Twitter stuff. Just say hi.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gears Are Turning

So, we survived. We are pretty used to snow and heavy rain fall, but we are not used to wind. I mean, where did that even come from? What the?!

Most of our area (about 6,000 residences) was out of power for 24-hours which is normally not so bad, but we weren't ready. Any other time you can see the storm coming up to the mountain, you stock up on some non-perishables, get out the oil lamps and camp stove and you're good to go. But when the weather report says windy... it just isn't taken seriously. That is no longer the case!

Trees split buildings in two like a knife through hot butter, power lines were knocked out, trees were across the road. Crazy.

In other news, we are gearing up for a GIVEAWAY here on the Frühlingskabine blog. You heard me right! Keep an eye out for the post on Wednesday.

- Sarah

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sonora, The Windy City

It has certainly earned that title overnight. Yesterday we had 80-mile an hour winds here and it's not slowing down today. It wouldn't be so bad if it were constant, but the wind comes in short gusts so right when you may think it's over, SWOOOSH!

This will be a true test of the animal shelters we have built over the last few months. Both the chicken coop and the rabbit shed have withstood rain already, but a heavy wind is another story. We'll see...

- Sarah

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


We don't have many holiday traditions in our family, but we do have two really important ones that really makes or breaks a holiday.

1. Gather as many loud, outspoken, dark-humored aunts as possible around one table and then fill them with cider and booze.
2. Lefse. Lefse is like a Norwegian tortilla made from potatoes... that's how I think of it anyway.

If you want our family recipe (I'm pretty sure it's not a family secret), check out this post of mine from last year.

I was just about to type up the exact same thing I did last Thanksgiving... until I back tracked a bit and realized I've already gone down that road. Phew! Close one. Check out my lefse post anyway because lefse is what we look forward to every year. Make it once and you'll feel the same way.

- Sarah

Rabbit Shed Done!

Well... I still need a latch and a handle for the door... and a rack to put the cages on. But otherwise, done! Fancy painted door huh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Sometimes I feel I'm just being naive about my little "farm". My family jokes about it quite a bit, not out of spite, but because they don't believe what I am working towards could be considered a farm. It's hard not to let things like this get to you once in awhile. Am I just kidding myself with this "farm" business?This is what I was thinking about as I lay in bed this morning.

What is a farm?

Wikipedia says: 'A farm is an area of land, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food (produce, grains, or livestock) [and] fibres... A farm can be a holding of any size from a fraction of a hectare (2.47 acres) to several thousand hectares.

Frühlingskabine surely meets all of those requirements already. We have a large garden used solely for family food production, chickens that will hopefully start laying eggs for food soon, an Apiary for honey, and soon rabbits for wool or fiber. We are on much less than 2.47 acres... more like 0.23 acres, but it works.

I guess I (and others) associate "farms" with pastures full of cows, a big red barn, and rows upon rows of crops as far as the eye can see. Wikipedia doesn't seem to think all of that is necessary so why should I? We may not be able to add my dream milk goats, but we do plan to start fish farming and growing some grain in the next year. Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm is growing slowly but surely. Maybe someday I will wake up in the morning and feel like we really are on a little farm.

- Sarah

Monday, November 21, 2011

Work = Warmth

This morning I could see my breath in the house, which means it's too cold. My daughter and I went out to check on the chickens after breakfast, and their water was frozen solid. I guess this is the point in the year when we're going to have to start checking their water early every morning. After visiting the animals we came back inside and started a fire.

A few weeks ago, Cold Antler Farm's Jenna was blogging about "farmer's heat". Let me tell you, it exists. All I had to do this morning was feed the chickens, check on their litter, refill their water, and rake up their run. Just those few things warmed me up enough to tolerate the cold outside. Mind you, these few things only take 10 minutes max to get through and are nothing compared to my daily chores when we first moved in a few months ago. It seems like you can produce more "farmer's heat" in the summer when there's more to do, which is a pity, because who needs more heat in the summer? We need more chores in the winter!

Now, I know it's not quite winter yet, but in our neck of the woods there really are only two seasons. Summer and winter. Our summers may not be as hot and humid as it is down south and our winters may not be as harsh as the far northern states, but we don't have any seasons in between. It is freezing cold and snowing from November until May and tank top/air-conditioning weather from June until October. No kidding.

In any case, our winter chores will double one we bring our wool-producing rabbits home in a few weeks.

And on a side note:
Cami and I were watching Amazing Race at my parents house last week and one challenge(?) was to guide a rabbit to jump a course of hurdles. Now whenever she sees a picture of a rabbit her response is automatically, "Jump! Jump!" followed by a little jolt mimicking the jumping action. She's absolutely obsessed with jumping animals now. Thanks Amazing Race.

Well... I'm out to finally paint the door of the rabbit shed so I can share some finished product pictures with you. Between the rain and a mild case of food poisoning, I haven't gotten around to it until now. That's life. Enjoy the sunshine if you've got it!

- Sarah

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picking Up Rabbits December 10th

I apologize for all the rabbit posts, but it is practically winter around here and there isn't much else going on around the "farm". Some people around here think I'm silly for being so excited about finally having a date to bring home my our rabbits. I think I've been patient enough to warrant such excitement.

On December 10th, Trevor and I will hop in the car at around 3:00 am and take the seven hour drive to Eureka, California. The breeder will give us a quick grooming demonstration and then we will get back in the car for a long drive home. We don't expect to be home until about 6:00 pm. This is what Trevor is least excited about. Fourteen hours of rabbit talk in the confinement of our tiny car.

Three weeks! That's it!

My mom thinks I should send out birth announcements after I bring them home. I seriously considered it.

- Sarah

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Rabbit Shed :: Do-It-Ourselves

My comic

Let me walk you through our Saturday. I would have posted this sooner, but I took the kiddo down to the Bay Area for a much needed Ikea shopping trip.

So... Saturday. I had already picked up all our lumber Friday and drawn out the shed plans so we were ready to go first thing in the morning. I cleared out a pretty level spot next to our deck to put the rabbit shed.

Then we measured out all of our pieces so that they were ready for Trevor to cut with the skill saw. The plans required a 10-degree angle to make the roof go from 8-feet at its highest point and 7-feet at its lowest point. Keep in mind this is an 8 foot wide x 8 foot long shed.

In total the plywood we had was: the front top piece with a 10-degree slope for the roof and a piece cut out for the top of the door, two front bottom pieces to go on either side of the door, one whole 4'x8' piece for the bottom left side, one whole 4'x8' piece for the bottom right side, one rear top piece with a 10-degree angle for the roof, and one whole 4'x8' piece for the rear bottom.
The lattice we had were two pieces: one was a whole 4'x8' piece for the top left side and one 3'x8' piece for the top right side.

Then I was kicked off the construction crew. My brother and Trevor took over and started putting everything together using 2"x3" studs for supports and framing. [Per my instructions] they framed up the doorway, the seams where the tops and bottom pieces of each side met, and used 4"x4" posts as the corners. Sorry for the lack of technical terms here, but I was kicked off the construction team.

My budding graffiti artist struck again.

Here the boys are putting in the support beams for the roof and the squiggly things the corrugated roofing sits on.

Here's a photo montage of what got done on Saturday.

The door is now attached and the whole shed has two coats of exterior paint that matches the Frühlingskabine on it. We just need one more piece of roofing to overhang the front and rear walls better and I need to paint the door. But all in all, lookin' good!

Total cost: $320 (after additional roofing piece)

Still over $100 cheaper than buying one of those ugly aluminum sheds with no ventilation and about $1,000 cheaper than a nice wooden shed built by someone else.

- Sarah

Preparing the Apiary for Winter

My comic

Last week I got the hive ready for winter. This included wrapping the whole outside of the hive with black tar paper which absorbs heat and helps keep the hive (and bees) warm. This will help the bees keep the swarm between 90-95 degrees through the winter. Bees like to stay cozy.

I left the small entrance uncovered so that the bees could still go in and out if needed or if it's warm enough during the day to forage. In about another week or so, the bees will stay inside the hive (except to use the ladies' room) until about March as a type of hibernation. When the temperatures rise and show signs of spring, the bees will begin to come out and forage again.

The hive seems strong and should make it through the winter. We do get a few months of snow and freezing temperatures in our area so this will be the true test as to whether or not we prepared them well.

- Trevor

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rabbit Shed Comin' Right Up!

We are literally working on the rabbit shed right now. Like... as I type. But keep in mind that I am using the word "we" loosely. "We" means that I designed the plans, picked up the lumber, and measured everything. My brother and Trevor are physically building it. I won't lie, they can do a better job without me holding power tools, but I do have my hand in making sure everything goes where it's supposed to. That is a very important job when it comes to two men who like to "wing it".

The only downside is that the corregated plastic roofing is REALLY expensive and I didn't quite buy enough. I should have known better, but I was hoping I'd only have to buy three pieces at $20 a piece. It's looking more like I needed five pieces. Erg.

- Sarah

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rabbitry Update :: November 2011

My comic

Oh my goodness! I feel like there is so much to tell you! Really, there isn't much, but I am extremely excited about the news I got from the breeder on Tuesday.

1. The kits (baby rabbits) have been born.
2. I got second choice on who I wanted.
3. Even though I got second choice, I still got the exact buck I wanted anyway.
4. I have paid for one buck (male) and two does (females) in full.
5. Now I am just waiting on the does to be weaned (ready to be taken away from mama rabbit) which is hopefully in about a month. Most breeders like kits to stay with their mother for 6-8 weeks.
6. The buck is already weaned and is being held for me until the does are ready.
7. None of the three rabbits had names yet, so the breeder let me name them whatever I wanted.

Here are the furry details:

This is Frith.

Photo above via Mad River Rabbitry

Frith is the sire (baby daddy) of the buck I just purchased. My buck is also a ruby-eyed white French angora... and he as the same strengths in body type to his pops. All that basically means is that he will be just as gorgeous as his father.

I named my buck "Thistle". The does I purchased are named "Clementine" and "Dandelion". Since the kits that were just born are still too young to sex, I won't know my choice in colored does for a few more weeks. I do know, however, that the two pairs bred were a blue with a chocolate and a ruby-eyed white with a smoke pearl. I'm still in the process of learning rabbit color genetics so I really don't know what a blue and a chocolate could possibly produce, but I am fairly sure that a REWhite and a smoke pearl will result in those two colors. I could be wrong. Rabbit color genetics is a messy business.

- Sarah

Planting Plan :: 2012

Around here it has already started freezing at night which means snow is soon to follow. This also means the end of any fall planting. If this weren't our first year in this garden I would be planting fall and winter crops in cold frames. However, it is our first year in this garden and soil is in desperate need of repair. While I work on adding nutrients to our soil, I am also making a plan of what we want to plant when spring does come.

I am trying my best to only make a list of things I know our family eats. No sense in planting, watering, or caring for food we don't even want to eat right?! Here's what I've come up with so far and I will include my visual plans according to season later. You know how I love me some graph paper!

2012 Planting Plan:

rye grass
green onions
Simpson lettuce
melon (honeydew?)
oyster mushrooms
spaghetti squash
swiss chard
red chili peppers
string beans

- Sarah

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Magical Bread

Let me start off by saying that I am by no means a patient person. At all. Not even a little. Usually when I bake things I don't wait for dough to set in the refrigerator, or dough to properly rise, or even follow the lengthy directions to the letter.

With that said, this is the awesomest bread recipe ever. It was easy and it makes me look like a baking genius. The loaves I made today were beautiful! Gorgeous! And again, they make me look like a genius. Just try it... the only odd thing this recipe needs is a Dutch oven. An if you're any real camper or homesteader you'll have one. The directions say a 6-8 quart, but I used a 5 quart just fine.

Happy Weekend!

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
recipe from Mother Earth News

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat or a combination of the two.
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

- Sarah

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Rye?

I'm currently looking into adding a small grain crop to our "farm". Mostly as an experiment to see how naturally I can grow a grain, but if I end up with a couple loaves of bread a month as a result... then all the better. When I say 'naturally' grow grain, I mean 'neglect' grain. As in... very little to no tilling of the soil, certainly no soil-repair or added nutrients, and no watering except for what our California skies provide.

Let me make it pretty clear that we have really crappy soil and not in the literal sense. It is practically a sandbox full of rocks. That's why rye grain is so appealing! It's almost immune to failure. Rye is hardy against frost, easy to harvest, makes a good cover crop, and loves to grow in poor soil.

It is recommended that you plant rye seed in early fall to winter. However, we have a harsh winter ahead of us and our area is already starting to freeze at night so I will be waiting until about four weeks before the last frost to plant our rye crop. That way it will be able to tough out the last of the freezing temperatures, but will still get an early start to the growing season.

Here is's guide to growing rye for seed production:

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Prepare your seed bed before planting. Rye prefers a light, sandy soil rather than a heavy, clay soil. However, it is drought-tolerant, so dry conditions are suitable.

Broadcast your rye seed either by hand or with a seeder. If you intend to plant acres of rye, a tractor pulling a broadcast seeder is recommended, but you can hand-broadcast large amounts of seed. Most extension services recommend that you plant 60 to 200 pounds of seed per acre.

Till or drag about 1/4 inch of soil over the seeds for a light covering.

Roll or pack your seeds firmly so they make contact with the soil.

Water your seeds well on a regular basis before germination. The seeds require about 1 inch of rain or watering before they will germinate.

Harvest your rye once it reaches maturity and seeds form in the flowering spikes called inflorescences. Rye can be cut by hand with a scythe or with a combine pulled by a tractor. Mature seeds are usually tan or brown. Seeds that are not ready for threshing will not come off the grass easily.

- Sarah

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween :: 2011

I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween! It's just too bad it landed on a Monday this year. What's up with that? It messed up my internal calendar... I've felt like it's supposed to be Friday or Saturday all day long!

Well, a good time was had by all here on the ol' farm. We didn't dress up or go anywhere but the neighbors. We are such exciting people... I know. But our little one dressed as an "80's aerobics instructor" if not only to stave off princess costumes for one more year.

We were even able to teach her some aerobics "moves". Good times had by all. Here are the highlights. But keep in mind it's harder to get a decent photo of a toddler than it is chicken on run!

Yes, I bribed my daughter with candy....

Sorry if I posted this video twice, but it cracks me up.

YouTube Video

- Sarah

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little More About Us...

So I just set up a mini-profile on Urban Homesteading's site which is an extension of "The Little Homestead in the City" blog which I adore and have mentioned before as an inspiration of mine. I was instantly welcomed (always a nice feeling) and asked about my choice in names for the place. I instantly realized I never actually shared much of our backgrounds or the background of the property with you. I should have... I know.

Frühlingskabine. I'll save you the google search and tell you it means "Spring Cabin" in German. My dear Uncle Jack named it such. He was a man with great cynical wit that I like to think was passed on to me. Uncle Jack was great with the sarcastic retorts for anything said and he always delivered them with a sly little wink. I would like to remember him always by naming our tiny homestead attempt in his honor.

Thus, Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm.

I suppose we are really still leading up to the micro-farm part, at least in my mind. We do have a fenced in garden (we have to think of the hungry deer) that is 28 feet by 32 feet, a thriving beehive, six chickens, and come January three French angora rabbits.

I'm not really sure at what point we will really be a bonafide micro-farm, but I do know that we're getting there. Maybe when we actually produce more than vegetables? I don't know.

As for us, the workers, Trevor works at a full-time job and more than helps me around the yard on weekends. He is a "Jack of all trades" type, so he knows how to build and cook and help plan all my crazy ideas. He also tempers all of my whimsical ideas.

I am, as you can now tell, the one who wants to do everything. Grow rabbits for wool and meat, chicken everything, backyard fish farming, building sheds and coops and greenhouses, I even was seconds away from bringing home a turkey from the feed store to grow out for the Thanksgiving table. Thank god I have someone to temper my whimsical ideas. He makes me take it a day at a time.

Trevor grew up in a mixture of Montana and Oregon and I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Needless to say, I am the city-slicker gone country-girl. But, we all should do what makes us happy right?!

Our daughter (who is so often the focus of my camera) is almost two and already knows the path the deer take through our yard, that deer love rotten apples, that the chicken coop is where you look for eggs (I worry about any upcoming Easter egg hunts), that carrots are meant to be carried by their greens all around the yard, and that there are always red tomatoes in the garden. I am so proud that she already knows more about real life than I did at that age. How wise she is. Sign Language certainly helps too.

I'd hate to drone on, but our micro-family has found a special little place for our growing micro-farm in our hearts and it seems the more time we spend here the more we realize what we want our lives to be like. Someday we hope to expand to larger livestock (even goats would count in this category), but for now we do what we can with what we've got. Isn't that what we all aim for?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken Ark Video Tour

Just a little tour of the "Deluxe Chicken Ark" we built a few months ago...

YouTube Video

- Sarah

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hive Inspection :: October 2011

My comic

Checked in on the hive today. They seem to be doing well and the hive is very heavy. I was raising the back end so rain would run off, but could barely lift it. Rain was rolling off but dripping onto the landing board. So, I placed a small piece of plywood on top and put two 5lb weights on it to hold it down so it wouldn't blow off and made a kind of overhanging porch roof.

The bees were trying to fly and forage even though it was too cold. Some were having trouble because their wing muscles do not work well when it is below about 50 degrees. I filled the entrance feeder with a 2:1 ratio of sugar syrup and placed it on the hive yesterday. There wasn't much activity due to the rain, but as soon as the sun came out this evening, the bees made some short foraging journeys and cleansing flights.

A few hornets have been buzzing around but seem a little tentative about entering the hive to rob honey so the hive must be strong and defending itself well. I have also seen a few dead pupa outside the hive that the workers have removed. They may have just died of natural causes. I checked the pupa for any varroa destructor mites or signs pointing to why they did not hatch, but nothing unusual was detected. I will continue to monitor this.

All in all, I think the bees are strong and should make it through the winter unscathed. Their numbers naturally decrease in the winter when the queen stops laying and the drones are expelled from the hive. Honey stores are good and there are a lot of bees which should mean a strong hive.

- Trevor

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best-laid Plans

You know what they say, "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

We won't be building the rabbit shed next week... it will just have to wait for funds to come together next month. Even though November is not the best time to be building anything outdoors, these things sometimes happen and we just have to learn to cope.

I also decided to alter the size of the shed from 10x10 feet to 8x8 feet. Not that we're saving much money by doing this ($50), but because it will mean less piecing of materials. All of the materials we will be using come in 4x8 foot pieces. That makes it a pain to adapt to a 10 foot shed. I will have a little less walking space, but I should be able to fit just as many rabbits, just as comfortably, inside.

In other news, I finished assembling all four wire rabbit cages which took me three days. I didn't buy the special pliers for the clips so I assembled all the cages with regular pliers... and my fingers are so sore from bending little metal clips that I'm surprised they aren't bleeding. I also (finally) installed my MacGyver-ed feeder into the chicken coop. No more toppled feeders or need to constantly rake out litter and chicken poop from the feeder tray. Thank goodness for that! Right?!

In non-animal related news, I decided to build our daughter Cami a bed for her dolls out of scrap wood. Let's just say that I failed woodshop in high school. Obviously for good reason. I'm even ashamed to post a picture of it... it's that bad. But, it will serve its purpose until our IKEA trip next month where I can purchase dolly a proper bed. Poor dolly...

- Sarah

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hope Your Weekend is Happy

My comic

We are spending our weekend assembling rabbit cages and kissing chickens. Well... I'm not kissing chickens.

- Sarah

Horned Tomato Worm

Look at what we found in the garden yesterday! He was sitting on a tomato plant. We weren't sure if it was poisonous or not and decided not to give him to the chickens. This horned tomato worm was about four inches long and about 3/4 inch round in diameter. Huge!

My comic

- Sarah

Liquid Gold!

My comic

Isn't there something else called "liquid gold"? I think so... I just hope it's not dirty, because I am actually referring to honey. Anywho-- we secretly harvested one frame worth of honey from the hive today. Don't tell the bees.

We were just curious as to how our very own honey tasted and just couldn't wait until late spring or even next summer. Honey harvesting officially ended in August, but our hive was started a bit late (June) and we didn't get to harvest anything.

We won't be taking anymore until late spring since the bees will need it to get through the winter. And we are supposed to have a pretty harsh winter this year. Arg! That usually means lots of snow.

In the mean time, we will be holding on tight to our one tiny jar of honey.

My comic

My comic

- Sarah