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?

Hive Inspection :: October 2011

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

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 10×10 feet to 8×8 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 4×8 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