Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's a real apiary!

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We officially have an apiary... because we officially have bees. A big thank you to Keith and Wendy who generously gave Trevor a nuc (a starter bee "nucleus"). See the bees by the entrance on the bottom front?

- Sarah

Thanks for the treats Ma!

Thanks for the treats Ma!

- Love,
Myrtle and the crew

Sunday, July 24, 2011


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All painted...

- Sarah

Part-Time Free-Range Chickens

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While it's not technically an "eggery" yet, I thought I would give a little update on our feathered friends. Unfortunately we are not able to let the girls free-range all the time because of the local predators, but they do get their time in. We have to lookout for: house cats, feral cats, mountain lions, stray dogs, raccoons, bob cats, hawks, and who knows what else!
By the way... They love finding crickets in the field and playing "tag".

- Sarah

The Hive is Here!

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Trevor received his bee hive kit in the mail Wednesday from Miller Bee Supply. The beginners kit comes with just about everything you need to get started: hive body parts, hive super parts, ten frames for the body, ten frames for the super, wax foundations for all frames, nails for assembly, hive tops, smoker, smoker fuel, Beekeeping DVD, bee brush, hive tool, hat and veil, gloves, screen bottom board, entrance reducer, and entrance feeder. We also bought a queen excluder for later.

Good deal!
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Let me tell you that while the assembly itself is easy, it sure is time consuming. Especially when it comes down to putting together all of those wax frames. Ten for the hive body and another ten for the honey super. Arg!

And of course our daughter felt the need to sit right next to the hive. Practically ON the hive... You know, just incase the bees need a welcoming party.

- Sarah

Deluxe Chicken Ark :: part 3

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Finished run with gate.
Finished back complete with door and lock.

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Inside view of the roost going from triangle front to triangle back.
Inside view of the sliding door.

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Our younger chickens on their outside roosting branch.
The hen house door pulley system. Just pull the rope to open and hang it on the screw. Let the rope off the screw to close the door.

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It's as easy as 1, 2, 3! When the door is open you see the red comb. When the door is closed, it reveals a friendly chicken! Ta da!

- Sarah

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review :: Modern Homestead

Book Review :: Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create by Renee Wilkinson

This book is more of a compilation of summaries of a few things that can be done to start your homesteading efforts. Unfortunately, none of the chapters go into detail on any one subject.
It also seems a little off balance. The book begins with lots of ideas on homesteading in small rented spaces, but then has a whole section devoted to raising goats. If your focus is renters, why devote so many pages to an animal most renters can only dream of having?

I also found that the first chapter a little irrelevant. It is all about what renters can do in small spaces and how to organize community gardens.
Obviously if you bought this book you are interested in homesteading so you will be trying everything that you possibly can in whatever space you have. I'm not sure most people need to read thirty pages worth of different combinations and capabilities.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book however. I just wouldn't have spent $30 on it.
I did have a good time seeing the author's humor in print and the book was very easy to read. I was also inspired to keep goats myself from the chapter on animals. The sections on chickens, ducks, and bees were also very informative and helpful for those starting out with our winged friends. I appreciated listings of common and recommended breeds for goats, chickens, and ducks.

Being that I know little to nothing about canning and preserving, I enjoyed reading the chapter that covered the different methods. It did, however, leave me wanting more on this subject. I think the unnecessary thirty pages on community gardening could have been used for this much more useful purpose.

All in all, it's a great book for people who don't know if they are well suited for "homesteading", but maybe not for someone who has already gotten started. It will still have a place on my bookshelf.

- Sarah

Deluxe Chicken Ark :: part 2

"In theory, this is going to be perfect."  --Trevor

One more trip to Lowe's this morning for MacGyver-style gate connectors, another pack of shingles, and some vent corners to turn into a self-feeder.
Supply cost subtotal: $70
Coop Cost Total: $280

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All the beam sets are up!
OSB board added to the back and the egg collecting/clean-out hatch is cut.

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The chicken door to the run is drawn out first...
Then cut and the OSB attached to the front. Mind you, these triangle frontp and back are two pieces: a long 4' tall bottom and a small 20"tall top seamlessly screwed on with a support between the two slanted side walls.

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Always have a chicken-sized kid test out the chicken-shaped hole from the coop to the run.
Gate frame and gate intalled.

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Painted with extra Weatherbeater exterior paint we had on hand.
Shingles being added. It turned out white shingles are the cheapest and matched. Lucky us!

Stay tuned for (hopefully) the conclusion on Wednesday... 
We just need to add chicken wire, the sliding chicken door, roosts, feeder, and the back door. 


- Sarah

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deluxe Chicken Ark :: part 1

Our chickens need a bigger and better chicken coop and after searching the Internet, I have come up with this blown up version of the one-sided chicken ark. Our budget is $300 because honestly, who wants to spend more than that on chickens? Follow along and if you have any questions feel free to ask.

The finished product should be a 8' x 4' coop with an attached 8' x 9' run for a total of 8' x 13'. It's an odd measurement because the OSB we are using comes in 4' widths and our chicken wire is in 3' widths.

Supply List (so far): 
Seventeen 2"x3"x8' pine lumber
Three 2"x4"x16' pine lumber
Six 4'x8'OSB boards
One 30 square foot package of shingles
Tar paper (had already)
Roll of chicken wire (had already)
Gate (had already)
One box of 2 1/2" Grabber screws
One box of 3" Grabber screws
Hinge for back coop door
Magnetic closure for sliding run door
Two keyed Master Locks
Staple gun with staples
Exterior Weatherbeater paint (had already)

Supply subtotal: $210

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Measure twice, cut once!
Laying out the foundation.

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Cutting the proper angles for the ark support beams.

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Beams are put together and the first one goes up!

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Both coop beams are up as well as the end beam. The two center beams have yet to go up.
The two "roof" sides of the coop are on.

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The long center beam is in.
Our daughter with her trusty Phillips.

Look for more on this project tomorrow!

- Sarah

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I have been really truly inspired by Urban Homestead in Pasadena, California. This family of four has a high efficiency "farm" in the middle of the concrete jungle. On a fifth of an acre they house goats, chickens, ducks, bees, themselves, and still produce about 6,000 pounds of fresh produce in their gardens. I won't even get started on the outdoor solar shower or their homemade bio-diesel, but these folks are amazing.
They really do prove that even with just a smidge of land, anyone can lead a self-sustaining lifestyle.
Check 'em out!

- Sarah

The Vision

After perusing around the web and YouTube, looking at homesteading links, I started thinking about what my goals really are for Frühlingskabine. Do I have a real set of goals or is it really just a vision of what I want from life?
I think everyone eventually gets to that junction where wanting to do better for yourself and your children becomes doing better for yourself and your children. Changes need to happen in order to get where you want to be.

The Vision:
My vision is to be (somewhat) self-reliant or self-sustaining. I would like to wake up every morning to feed the chickens, collect eggs, water the garden, say hello to the dairy goats, feed the Angora rabbits, and harvest food from the garden for the days meals.

I would like both meat chickens and egg-layers since my family is by no means vegetarian... maybe 50 eggers and 12 meatsys at any given time. That way I have more than enough for my family and perhaps extra product to sell (which would at least pay for feed and water). The same would go for the dairy goats.

The most important thing for me, and I believe I can speak for my husband also, is that our daughter learns where food comes from. So she can provide for herself when the time comes and how animal husbandry is an important aspect of living.

Come September, I don't think we will be too far off. We will officially be moved into the Frühlingskabine, where our chickens already live, and our rabbits should be almost ready to bring home from the breeder.
I also just ordered a wool spinning wheel off of Etsy (more on that when it arrives) so I will be ready for my first Angora wool harvest. I'm also working on re-learning to knit and crochet. The latter seems to be easier for me.

Our bee hive was shipped today along with "swarm lure". Trevor is going to try and catch a local swarm. If that fails, we will just order a swarm in January when most places start selling them.

Again, chickens are already thriving at our Micro-Farm and will be getting a bigger upgraded coop in the next week or so. We are aiming for under $300 in cost. I'll let you know how that goes.

As far as gardening goes, we already have it going... in a sense. We will be co-op gardening with our neighbors who's backyard backs up to ours and is incidentally our landlord. In exchange for gardening/weeding help and some fresh eggs, we can have a share of some fresh produce. Pretty good starting ground I say.

Lastly, and unfortunately, we will not be able to keep dairy goats. So that aspect of the vision is postponed until we are able to buy our own land. It's good to always have a goal though and our landlords are very accepting and generous to let us keep our other animals. Someday goats will come into the picture, but for now we're happy with our other aspects of homesteading.

What is your family vision?

- Sarah

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wanted: Rabbits?

I've scoured... and I mean scoured the Internet and newspapers within a 100 mile radius for Angora rabbits. At this point I'm up for anything. But then again, I am looking for purebreds. No hybrids here at the Frühlingskabine... No sir!

Between "Bungalow Farm's" German Angoras in Sacramento and "Mad River's" French Angoras in Eureka, hopefully I can bring home at least two does sometime in September. Hopefully.

I've also been getting ahead of myself by looking at wool spinning wheels. Don't tell anyone.

- Sarah

Monday, July 4, 2011

Coming to a blog near you...

Well, we already have the chickens, but...
Look for our new Angora wool rabbits, bees, and co-op garden in September.

- Sarah

chickens: Batch No. 2

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After the massacre at the chicken ranch, we beefed up security on the chicken run. I also decided I needed a few more chickens to make up for our losses. At the feed store I found these cuties...
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The two yellow chicks are Golden Sexlinks named Honey (the darker one) and Butter (the lighter one in the right corner). The two that look like chipmunks are Silver Laced Wyandottes named Agatha (top corner) and Henrietta (in the picture on the left). They won't be ready to go outside for about 3 more weeks. 
I decided not to get more Barred Rocks because my brother said I needed to be "racially diverse with my flock". And since I believe in the buddy system, I have two of each. Here ya go Natie!

- Sarah

Chickens: Batch No. 1

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We converted a doghouse from Lowes into a chicken coop. I installed a roost inside (half the roof lifts up for easy cleaning), added nesting boxes on the back, and made a draw bridge door that locks. Everyone pitched in to put up a chicken wire fence and deer netting top for a run.
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Early last Friday evening I got a phone call from my mom. One chicken was mangled and one was missing. It looked like a cat squeezed through the wire somehow into the run and cut the chickens off from the safety of their coop. 
Myrtle and Pearl ran to safety while (I like to think) Maude distracted the evil cat. Maude was always looking out for the other girls. I'm sure the cat saw through Maude's ploy and swiped her with its claws then grabbed Eleanor in its jaws and retreated through the fence to its lair. Maude took her last few breaths with her two friends standing by her side, holding her wing.
Or at least that's how it went down in my head.   

Here are our two survivors, Myrtle and Pearl, chasing crickets and Camsters checking in on them.
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- Sarah

Chick Days

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We have to get caught up since we've already started on our chicken aspect of micro-farming. This post was originally posted 2 months ago.

For some odd reason I decided I wanted to raise chickens and for some odd reason my parents are letting my keep them at their house. I know, huh?! All I had to do was ask, "Can I keep chickens in your backyard?" Who knew? 
My first task was finding an appropriate breed. I wanted Dominiques, but I would have had to order eight or more online. Strike that! So my husband brought home four little Barred Plymouth Rocks. Score!