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