Saturday, March 24, 2012

Giveaway, Rabbitry, and Apiary Updates!

Don't miss our Frühlingskabine GIVEAWAY! It just takes a quick comment for a chance to win.

And don't forget... We have a new website that we have been updating with posts about our Rabbitry, chickens, and bees! We would hate for you to miss out on any of our new D.I.Y. projects or when we start up planting in our garden in a week, so head on over to!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Frühlingskabine GIVEAWAY!

We are giving away some goodies here at the Frühlingskabine in celebration of launching our new website! Everything in our giveaway prize package was made (or photographed) here at Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm by us. Take a look at what you can win just by leaving a comment...

Buzz on over to our new website for the details!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicken Beauty Shots

Please check out the full post at our new website:


These are the better pictures I picked out of those I snapped today of our feathered friends. Let me just say, it is not easy to take pictures of bobbing chickens.



Dandelion Builds a Nest? Again?

Please check out the full post at our new website:



It would seem like Dandelion is building a nest. When I checked in on the rabbits this afternoon I refilled their hay racks. Dandelion immediately pulled out hay and carried it around the cage in her mouth.


New Website!

We have officially launched our new website! Yay! Hop on over and check it out. Also be sure to change your bookmark for us to the new website. We will be double posting, here and on our new site, for the next few weeks so no one gets left behind in our changeover.

And don't forget about our giveaway this weekend featured on our new website!

Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm's NEW Website

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This Week At A Glance

We have been anxiously awaiting the day we get to plant our seeds in the garden. It's difficult to wait when you have fantastical visions of an over-abundant Eden-like garden full of delicious vegetables and fruits. But we have kept our minds elsewhere until the time comes to plant in a couple weeks.

I made a stamp for our honey jars this summer.

I received my membership packet from the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA... like the AKC of the rabbit world). It included my membership number and card, Rabbitry registration certificate (Frühlingskabine Rabbitry is ARBA #D1391), and the best book ever on anything and everything you could possibly need to know about raising rabbits titled Raising Better Rabbits and Cavies.

Cami and I have been eating pear and cheese sandwiches. A lot of them. I use sliced Anjou pears, Monterey jack cheese, sliced homemade Dutch-oven bread and then I broil them in the oven until crispy. It makes for a savory sweet sandwich without all the added fat of buttered and grilled bread. It may sound weird, but try it. You'll be hooked.

Today Cami and I spent the morning making easy-peezy pretzel sticks. I usually make them in the traditional "pretzel" shape, but they are easier to dip in stick form. I'll post the recipe separately.

Other things going on here on the farm:

The Turkens are laying eggs again. Not everyday. More like every other day. Molter's feathers have come in nicely after a molt... obviously.

Dutch-oven bread (aka magical bread) goes way too fast. Our family of three goes through almost a whole loaf everyday. That makes my baking two loaves every other day kind of annoying. What I need to do is get another 5-quart Dutch oven and bake four loaves a week. That way I can just freeze two if I need to.

I spent the whole day yesterday slaving over our new website and it should launch... tomorrow evening! It is mostly the blog with the same type of content as we have always had, but I have included specialty pages including one for selling rabbits through our Rabbitry. We also plan on having some sort of a giveaway this weekend on our new website in celebration. More details on all of that tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

End of the Week, Start of Another

This week has been slow, fun, and relaxed. After being out of yeast for "Dutch Oven" bread for almost a month, I am happily back in my bread-making rut. We are also a couple weeks away from planting time around here so not much is going on in the garden other than regular weekly rabbit fertilizer dumps.

Speaking of rabbits, Clementine (and maybe even Dandelion) has another three weeks before we need to start looking for a litter, so again, not much going on in the Rabbitry either. I groomed everyone today and it would seem that Dandelion is beginning to "blow" or shed her coat. Prime spinning wool to come. And Thistle, if you are reading this, I would really appreciate it if you wouldn't insist on getting mats on your side that I have to comb out 3x weekly. The girls stay tidy... Why can't you?

Trevor applied his second "powdered sugar" treatment to the bees while the wind was elsewhere yesterday and it seems to be working well at getting rid of the varroa mites. I only put the words "powdered sugar" in quotes because I know if I were reading this and knew very little about bees, I would think this "treatment" was "made up". I use "air quotes" a lot in real life too.

We may be getting another "storm" (see?) this week. I'm thinking it will be on the wimpy side considering the last four "big storms" to roll through the Sierra Nevada foothills have been no more than a few hours worth of pin-sized rain drops and light breezes. We're used to trees on houses, a few feet of snow, and week-long power outages. I am certainly not saying anyone wants these things, but this year's winter has left a lot of people scratching their heads.

I was looking forward to watching Netflix with hot cocoa and a sleepy toddler curled up next to the fire. I guess I'll have to settle for watching chickens free-range with iced tea and a running/skipping/jumping toddler while planting seeds. One is just as good as the other.

Anyone else craving a luscious green garden yet?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hive Inspection :: March 2012

My comic

Two little snippets of video I took of Trevor doing his first hive inspection since closing it up for the winter. I'm missing the third part because the bees were very agitated after a 'powdered sugar treatment' for varroa mites. My daughter and I were not wearing appropriate beekeeper gear so we couldn't get too close.

Varroa mites can cause deformities and even death in a hive. We chose to treat them naturally and used powdered sugar in a shaker to sprinkle over the bees in the hive body. The sugar encourages the bees to clean each others hard to reach places on their backs where the mites hide. It also makes the bees too slippery for the mites to hold on.

Trevor checked back later and on the bottom board beneath the screen Trevor found many mites that fell off. Good sign! He will do another treatment and check the drone frame if the weather is nice and warm again later in the week.

Please excuse our neighbor's messy yard in the background... and the noisy and newly two-year old blabbering behind the camera.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rabbit Genetics :: Clementine's litter

Luckily, through Clementine's three-generation pedigree, I know almost her complete color gene sequence. I am missing just one space:
aa means "self" colored or completely one color
bb means chocolate ('b' is brown 'B' would be black)
Cc means dominantly full color, recessively albino
D_ means dominantly dense colored (non-diluted color) which keeps her color chocolate as opposed to the diluted version of lilac. The '_' blank space is an unknown gene.
ee means non-extension giving her a tortoiseshell pattern where a 'Ee' or 'EE' would make her appear darker over her whole body.

Clementine's color genes in combination with Thistle's albino color genes gives their litter a fairly limited amount of color possibilities.

50% chance of:
aa b_ cc DD e_ (color gene sequence)
Ruby Eyed White

37.5% chance of:
aa b_ Cc DD e_ (color gene sequence)
Black, Chocolate, Tortoise Shell, Chocolate Tortoise Shell

12.5% chance of:
aa b_ Cc d_ e_ (color gene sequence)
Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Tortoise Shell, Blue Tortoise Shell, Chocolate Tortoise Shell, Lilac Tortoise Shell

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Round Two

My comic

If you've been following along, you would remember that I bred our French angora doe Dandelion to our buck Thistle last month. Obviously that didn't take because it is well past her "day 31" due date. Yesterday I tried to breed her with Thistle again with marginal success. For the best results, you want the pair to breed at least twice... third time's a charm. Dandelion is very much against this little arrangement and refused to try more than once. That was my problem last month. Poor thing just isn't ready yet.

Today I decided to try my luck with our other doe Clementine. Thank goodness one of the girls wanted to cooperate! Thank goodness Thistle wasn't the problem!

Sure, there is a chance that Dandelion's potential pregnancy took after just one breeding, but I'm not counting on it. **Knock on wood.** Clementine was willing to breed twice since noon today and I think I will try to squeeze in a third tomorrow morning. Clemmie will give me a great chance of having a litter of little ones by Easter morn'. This also means I will be needing a second nest box for Clementine incase each doe needs one. Since I did breed Dandelion once, I have to assume that she is also pregnant and care for her accordingly.

Here is the break down on the Rabbitry calendar:

March 2: bred Dandelion 1 time
March 3: bred Clementine 3 times

March 13: palpate Dandelion (day 11)
March 14: palpate Clementine (day 11)

March 16: palpate Dandelion/ double check (day 14)
March 17: palpate Clementine/ double check (day 14)

March 29: put in nest box for Dandelion (day 27)
March 30: put in nest box for Clementine (day 27)

April 2: Dandelion due (day 31)
April 3: Clementine due (day 31)

Mark your calendars!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Big Things Coming

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit to those of you who are superstitious like me. If you aren't superstitious, disregard silly saying mentioned above.

We are working on upgrading our blog to official website status! Exciting, I know. The change over will hopefully be in effect by mid-March and will hopefully be a smooth transition for all of us.

Why the switch you ask? We finally feel like we have that magical trifecta of reasons: decent web traffic, substantial content to write about, and something to sell. In addition to our regular blog content of living the micro-farm life, we will be adding a "Rabbitry" page specifically to sell our pedigreed angora rabbit kits. We are now one of just two French Angora rabbitries registered with the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA is to rabbits what AKC is to dogs) for the whole state of California and one of eight in the nation.

Adding a Rabbitry page isn't the only reason we are upgrading. We would like to be more accessible and having a real life ".com" can do that for us. I promise we will be awesome. So keep an eye out for the thumbs up in a couple weeks and keep following our crazy journey in gardening, angora rabbits, beekeeping, and learning to be more self-sufficient.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Random goat butts picture from when we visited Harley Farms in Pescadero

I don't have any big news for you today. The exact opposite. I feel like I've done so much this week and really I kind of have, but a lot of my week has been about patience. That's exactly what my daughter's fortune cookie from lunch said today: "Be patient! The Great Wall didn't got build in one day." Fortune cookies aren't much for grammar (and the saying is originally about Rome), but it was still true.

We are still waiting for Dandelion's litter of baby kits. Nothing. The average litter is born on day 31 but can go until day 35. Today is day 32 for Dandelion. It makes me wonder if she's even pregnant. I hope she is... I've been waiting 32 days for goodness sake. It may be a case of 'a watched pot never boils' because we have been checking on her twice as much as usual. Hopefully she's just holding out for when no one is looking. Either way she is a fantastic nest builder.

I went shopping with my mom today and got a book on clearance that is just about making French macarons. I'm ecstatic! Now I just have to buy that $13 bag of almond meal to test out a couple macaron recipes. French macarons may be a little too pretentious for a farm (especially a German named farm), but I don't mind.

I also registered our Rabbitry with the American Rabbit Breeders Association, ARBA, today. As well as reserving the name "Frühlingskabine Rabbitry" --fancy 'u' and all-- I also became a member and bought a year long breeders listing on their site. For anyone unfamiliar with rabbityness, ARBA is the bigwig of the rabbit world and sponsors many rabbit shows. Look them up here! Check back in a few weeks and hopefully our listing will be there under French Angoras.

Other than those little bits of life it has been pretty boring around here. I blame the rain/brief snow. But be patient like the fortune cookie. It will be spring and then summer soon enough and then we can talk all manners of garden, and growing, and bees, and chicken antics, and baby bunnies. Soon enough my friends.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Garden Status :: prepared

The long awaited preparation of soil. We've been "beefing up" our half of the garden all winter by adding compost, adding nitrogen-rich rabbit manure, adding some decomposing leaves, and finally.... rote-tilling it all in.

We are trying a "square foot garden" this year to try to optimize space. I marked out our 4x4' beds with wooden stakes.

I drilled holes through the top of each stake so I could run jute through them, more obviously marking beds and paths.

See? Easy peasy. Then I hammered them in the soil really well.

Marked and ready to plant seeds in two weeks. Even with the deceivingly warm weather today, March always brings unexpected snow. We'll see if that stands true for this year as well.

This is a view of the rear fence corner. We will be trellising the Amish pie pumpkins, butternut squash, Amish paste tomatoes, and Golden Honey Moon melons (at different seasons) on this fence. Use what you've got right?!

Here is my layout for the garden. The garden gate would be in the bottom left corner of the garden plan and is the position from which I took all of these pictures.
The paprika peppers and garlic will take up the whole bed they are marked in, but are planted in opposite seasons. The blue circles are potted blueberry bushes that we are attempting to bring back.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nest Box for Dandelion

My comic

In this video post, little Cami and I prepare a nest box for our French angora doe, Dandelion. If she is pregnant, she will deliver her babies within the next five to ten days.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

DIY Rabbit Cage Rack :: tutorial

I waited months to put together a rack to hold rabbit cages and dropping pans stacked one on top of the other. If you've ever looked at rabbit cages (not the small pet cages), you would know that there are generally two types. The kind where the wire sides some down to form legs and the dropping pan can slide in and out like "drawer". And the kind that has no such drawer function and you're left wondering how the hell to balance a wire cube on top of a pan with 3" tall sides. All of the 30"x36" wire cages I saw that were big enough for my breed were of that second type.

Now, what do you do with a cage and a pan with no apparent method of putting them together? You could buy a stacking leg kit with a pan holder for $25 each. Or you could get crazy with some PVC pipe. I chose the latter.

These two racks are each capable of holding three cages and dropping pans giving me space for six cages now!

Here is how you can make your own:
**The following measurements are for "Pet Lodge" brand 30"x36" wire rabbit cages and the corresponding dropping pan. I have in no way been paid or otherwise compensated for using or writing about this brand... but that would be great wouldn't it?**

First collect your supplies:
You may need to cut the PVC to the appropriate lengths listed. All PVC pipe used in this project is 3/4 inch size. This tutorial is to build ONE rack that holds THREE cages. In the pictures I built two of these.
(Number Needed) Description --Part Label
(2) 20 3/4" PVC lengths --stableizers
(4) 11" PVC lengths --tops
(8) 21" PVC lengths --verticals
(6) 37" PVC lengths --horizontals
(4) 6" PVC lengths --legs
(12) 'T' PVC connectors
(4) Elbow PVC connectors
(6) 24" lengths of aluminum or steel 'L' angled metal; preferably with pre-drilled holes
(12) 1/4" threaded bolts, 2" long
(12) metal washers
(12) locking nuts for threaded bolts
(2 oz.) PVC pipe glue/cement

Assemble and glue (4) lengths: 21" vertical, 'T' connector, 6" leg.

Add to the top of that and glue in place: 'T' connector, 21" vertical. Be sure all of your 'T' connectors are facing the exact same direction and lined up.
(Not pictured): add to top of each pole a 'T' connector and 11" tops. Glue in place.

First measure that your 37" horizontals leave at least 36 1/4" between 21" verticals. This measurement may include the 'T' connector. Mark a line where the 'T' and the PVC meet so when you glue the horizontals into place, you are leaving enough space for the cage to fit in.
Glue 37" horizontals across and into both sides at the 'T' connectors. Repeat for second set. (Not pictured): don't forget that third set of 'T' connectors and 11" tops connected to the top from the last step. You should have (3) horizontals glued in place now for each set of legs.

Measure 3" from the bottom of each 'T' connector and mark a visible line. This should be a little more than the height of your dropping pan. Hold the metal angle so that the corner of the 'L' shape is just above your line. Mark a dot through one of the holes in your metal angle so that it is in the exact inside of the PVC pipe. Drill a hole all of the way through with a 5/16 drill bit. This is one bit bigger than your 1/4" bolts and they should pass through fine.

If you bought a long length of metal angle and then cut it into pieces you may end up with a cut hole at one of your ends like this. It's okay, truck on. Just use the next closest complete hole. Attach the metal angle from one set of legs to the other using a bolt, washer, and locking nut on each side of the metal angle. These metal angles will be holding your dropping pan allowing it to slide out for easy cleaning.

Repeat connecting the metal angle from one set of legs to the other set using bolt, washer, nut for the remaining (5) metal angles. The rack should look like this so far. A total of (6) metal angles connecting the two sets of legs from under the 'T' connectors.
Your sequence of parts should go like this from top to bottom: 11" tops, 'T' connector to 37" horizontal, metal angle attached to 21" vertical, 'T' connector to 37" horizontal, metal angle attached to 21" vertical, 'T' connector to 37" horizontal, metal angle attached to 6" leg.

Last, but not least, glue PVC elbows onto the top pieces facing each other as pictured. Glue one side of the 20 3/4" stabilizer piece into each PVC elbow parallel to the metal angles.

Two finished racks side by side. Now just insert cages, dropping pans, and... Rabbits!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Honesty in Building

My comic

I always try my best to be as honest as possible when sharing our projects around the farm with you. Especially when it comes to how much something will cost. Mostly because that's what I like to know first before I start a project.

This is all leading to the fact that we just got back from Orchard Supply Hardware store with the materials to (finally) build the stacking rack for the rabbit cages. We picked up enough materials to build two racks that hold three cages giving us enough room to comfortably house six rabbit cages.

Let me tell you now... It cost $95 dollars. Jeez! I know! Way more than I wanted to spend on cage racks, but still about $60 less than buying the kits. Worth it? I'll know tomorrow when I assemble them. I do know, however, that my cage racks will be much sturdier than the manufacturer's kits which is important to me and my large breed rabbits.

It shows in my rudimentary drawing that the legs will be 10" off the ground. I have since changed my mind into making them more like 6" so that the top cage won't be much higher than 5' tall (since I am not much taller than 5' myself).

I also wanted to share some picture updates of the rabbits. Their wool coats are really coming in now! I may wait another month to shear them because I want to wait and see how well they will shed their coat on their own.

Thistle, Ruby-eyed White buck(male)

Clementine, Chocolate Tortoiseshell doe(female)

Dandelion, potentially pregnant Fawn-colored doe(female)

You can't really tell because he's all one color, but Thistle has the longest coat. Dandelion is a month older than Clementine so her coat is a little longer than Clementine's also. Dandelion is quite the model isn't she?

- Sarah

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seeds Officially Ordered!

As of ten minutes ago, I officially ordered seeds for the garden from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Not all of these will be planted in the spring because I ordered seeds for the whole year. It all came to $50.25 including shipping. That is my kind of price! All of these are heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds and cost much less than other companies for the exact same thing. Here's what is in the mail:

Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli

He Shi Ko Bunching Onion

Leutschauer Paprika Pepper

Amish Paste Tomato

Cilantro, Slo-Bolt

Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

Early Wonder Beet

Detroit Dark Red Beet

Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts

Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage

Danvers 126 Half Long Carrot

Parisienne Carrot

Butternut Waltham Squash

Amish Pie Pumpkin

Contender (Buff) Valentine Bush Bean

West India Burr Gherkins Cucumber

Rosa Bianca Eggplant

Quinoa grain, Brightest Brilliant

Giant Musselburgh Leek

Golden Honeymoon Melon

Australian Brown Onion

Flamingo Pink Chard

- Sarah