Tag Archives: meat rabbits

forward into spring


Early season projects….


new hoophouse!

We skinned that cat, and now snug on the inside is a seed starting extravaganza-complete with heat mats, tables, a propagation sweatbox, a seeding table, and early garden beds out of the weather.  Spring break for farmers-it was 80 degrees in here the other day…..


it is all fun and games until the field voles find you….

Waiting for a break in the weather to fire up the new BCS-like all tools it is a little oversized for a 5′ 4″ woman and will take some getting used to-but I’ll get that tiger by the tail.

Daffodils are blooming, raab is raabing, bunnies are…. looking very pregnant.


Looking forward to the upcoming season-hoping to get some water catchment in place before the summer dry spell hits-El Nino will perhaps give us a little extra time on that one.  We have some big tanks in place, waiting for the smaller catch tanks to arrive before we set it all up.  Otherwise the seed trays and greenhouse are filling up quickly while we wait for the next break in the weather.  Rain or shine, we are still having fun.  Even if that means applying greenhouse plastic when you would rather be eating dinner.


wiggle wire anyone?


When I start freaking out about politics or global climate change or what the heck I am doing farming….I just stare into the heart of this Romanesco, and all is well.  It is like a vegetable tuning fork for the mind.  Or I would, if I hadn’t eaten it last week.  I am in the universe, and the universe is in me.  For the record, the universe is delicious.


Clearly it is time to go outside, rain or no rain.  Cheers everyone!



The farm ate my blog post

Busy Busy Busy…..

Here are some pics from the late winter/early spring.  We are just getting into the thick of things-our earthmoving guy comes tomorrow to terrace the hillside where the main gardens and orchards will go!  Super exciting.  The new greenhouse works fabulously-one of my jobs for today is to get the prop cabinet up and running-time to start tomatoes!  Got the onions and greens going-bottom heat for the onions and the greens don’t need anything other than the greenhouse protection and warmth….here’s some Arugula. A little leggy probably due to the big fluctuations in temperature from night to day (downside of a small greenhouse)-but they are in the ground now and doing well!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABaby bunnies are growing fast-hope to have some more on the way soon…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd these girls are almost old enough to add to the breeding program….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe shuksan strawberries are coming along….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy kind neighbor came down with his tractor and tilled up the lower garden for me-long term plan is this is where the perennials and berries will be, also some of the orchard trees (cider apples perhaps?  or Pears).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Dingo – aka My Six Strong Men or MSSM-has been awesome for amending the beds once I built them (by hand with a shovel-some day I will have one of these).  Also for setting posts for the deer and elk fence-yet to be installed but coming soon to a farm near you!

We have for the most part been having freakishly warm weather both outside and in.  You can definitely heat a 4 bdrm house with a wood fired furnace!

too hot for me, but minnesotan husbands love it

too hot for me, but minnesotan husbands love it

The unusual weather is more than a little worrisome-will summer be hot and dry dry dry?  Or cool and wet as mild dry winters in the PNW usually indicate? More kale?  Or more peppers?  Hmmmmm.  Anyway, any sun at this time of year is greatly appreciated-it has been a gorgeous late winter/early spring.


worlds most beautiful field mower IMHO

worlds most beautiful field mower IMHO

Hope you have some fair weather to enjoy where-ever you are!  Cheers-

Busy bees

Here is what we have been up to, not much farming but the fall rains are coming and we need to get the house in shape to live in safely… to prep for the electrician (complete rewire) and the plumber (complete replumb) we pulled trim and cut the lath and plaster at 40″ from the floor throughout the house.  Then we hired an amazing demo crew to come in and demo out the basement, the loft floor in the barn, and all the lath and plaster below our cut.  This will enable the electrician to get in and pull wire quickly, we also got a good look at the framing of the house (which looks amazing for 90 yrs old!), and made sure nothing else was living in walls besides the bees.  And we got those out too-took over a week and I almost got heat exhaustion, but it is done!  Oh, and we built a new set of stairs in the barn.

this fireplace is actually soapstone or marble painted to look like mahogany....it is a pretty good tromp l'oeil!

this fireplace is actually soapstone or marble painted to look like walnut….it is a pretty good trompe l’oeil!

found this beautiful floor under some gross linoleum in the bedroom with the bee closet.  I think we will clear coat and keep it as is.

found this beautiful floor under some gross linoleum in the bedroom with the bee closet. I think we will clear coat and keep it as is.

new barn stairs!

new barn stairs!

scary basement now significantly less scary...and we find out today hopefully if this old wood furnace is still useable...

scary basement now significantly less scary…and we find out today hopefully if this cool old wood furnace is still useable…

Huge huge thanks to Der Lovett deconstruction…they did a beautiful job with the demo and left everything spotless, and finished the house the basement and the barn in something like 14 hours.  They were awesome.  Now we are working on digging a ditch to the equipment shed for power, and hopefully if I get a chance building a colony for the rabbits…who do not seem to ever tire of blackberry canes for breakfast.  And did I mention?  Mustangs love thistles.  And generate a wheelbarrow full of ‘soil amendment’ every day while mowing. 

A spring in our step

A few signs of spring, and the beginning of the growing season:

Here is our newest doe Cookie, daughter of Snacks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here are a few of her babies, all black and brown:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn spite of my lack of farm, I have started my onions at least.  I think these are Red Long of Tropea….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI built a couple of 24″x48″ heat mats out of 1×2, plywood and incandescent rope christmas lights.  Economical (about a third of the cost of similar sized heat mats).  For seed starting in the basement they work great, in my tiny drafty greenhouse they need a little supplemental insulation or cover (I use plastic draped over the table) to stay warm in weather like we are having today (39 degrees and rainy).  Here is a link on how to build them (one edit:  I’d cut the 1×2’s to 44″, not 40″).  The downside of these is monitoring, they are not on any kind of thermostat, so the ones in the greenhouse will have to be monitored on warm sunny days.  Or I can put them on a timer once things start to warm up.

Unlike today, yesterday was beautiful, and the bees were flying.  I lost one hive this winter, but the other two look good!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the warre colony, they are on year 4!  But I shouldn’t speak too soon, we are not out of the woods yet.  I never really relax in spring until the maples bloom, but so far everyone has plenty of stores.

Hope your bees and seeds and babies are doing well!

Bee Season

The grass is growing, the bees are flying, the trees are budding, the spring chinook are in the river, and that all spells one thing to this beekeeper.  Swarm season!  I plan to stash a couple of swarm traps out at the little farm-to-be this week (which is late!  I should have them up already!).  The earliest swarm I have heard of around here was on Easter Sunday, and that is next weekend!

For those of you new to beekeeping, swarm catching is a great way to expand your apiary.  It is also good to know how to catch your own bees if/when they swarm.  If you have never done it before, go with an experienced beekeeper once or twice to see how it is done.  I often teach a swarm catching class this time of year, but thought I would post for the world at large my swarm kit and some good basic recommendations for the would bee swarm catcher.  All of this is common sense information, but good to refer to when bee fever is in full swing.  A few good questions at the start can save you a lot of time and gas money.bees closeup


  1. Be courteous, calm, confident, and prepared to answer a lot of questions about bees.
  2. Don’t get in over your head.
  3. Don’t commit to removing the bees unless you are absolutely sure you can, and don’t feel obligated to put yourself in unnecessary danger.  You are a volunteer, not a superhero. Tell people you will do your best, but make sure they know that you can’t fly, for example, and that those bees 40 feet up in a tree really pose no threat to anyone.  Use phrases like “I will check it out and remove them if I can” instead of “I will take care of those bees for you”.
  4. Save yourself a lot of unnecessary driving around by asking a lot of questions before you go (see below).  Ask the property owner to call you if the bees leave before you arrive.
  5. Make sure the relationship is clear.  There are some kooks out there that want to charge You for removing their bees for them.  If people offer money I often suggest they make a donation to Zenger Farm  or the Xerces Society if they want to help bees.  Or you can accept it to cover some of your costs….
  6. Carry some printed information to hand out to people if they want it.  Make sure your contact info is on there, as other swarms may occur in the same area (or you might have left something behind!).



  1. Ventilated cardboard box or spare hive body.  Make sure it has a bottom, lid, and an entrance/exit that you can seal up for transport!  I use #8 (1/8th inch) hardware cloth and duct tape to seal the entrance….make sure the bees get plenty of air!
  2. Protective clothing:  I use a Tyvek suit tucked into boots, gloves, and veil.
  3. 1/1 sugar syrup spray in a spray bottle.  Mine usually has a few drops of lemongrass and mint essential oil.
  4. Ladder
  5. White sheet (lay this under the swarm and the swarm box to prevent bees from getting lost in the grass and stepped on)
  6. Time.  The process can take an hour or two, not including travel.
  7. Bee Brush, dust pan, sheetrock knife (this is less annoying to the bees than a brush if used gently).
  8. Duct tape (for sealing up box/hive body for transport).

    Swarm in my apple tree

    Swarm in my apple tree

Non essentials that are nice to have:

9.  Benadryl and Epinephrine just in case….

10. Loppers/pruners/pruning saw.

11. Long handled broom.

12. Bait for the box:  lemongrass essential oil, old brood comb.

13. Assistant (if possible).

14. Referral Cards and Information handouts, these bees may swarm again!

15. Cell phone.

16. Bee Vac/extension pole with bucket or net/other tricky high swarm gear


  1. Sure they are honeybees?  (not wasps, not bumblebees?)
  2. Sure they are swarming? (in a clump in a tree or on a fence etc, not an established colony in some cavity).
  3. How large is the swarm clump?  (if they are the size of a lemon, it may not be worth your time, if they are the size of a soccer ball then…Bonanza!).
  4. How far off the ground?  (people are terrible at judging this, but if it sounds like you need wings then don’t go unless they have a cherry picker to loan you).
  5. How long have they been there?  Minutes?  Hours? Days?  (This question will often sort out the swarms from the structural removals and established colonies in bee trees)
  6. Location:  Street address, contact person’s phone number, description of exact location (“in the apple tree in the front yard right at eye level”) if the property owner cannot meet you there.

Don’t forget to ask that they call you back if the bees leave before you get there!

This information is only partial, I would take a class or at least have a good handle on bee behavior and the biology behind swarming, and go with someone who has experience a few times if possible.  I am currently reading the book Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley, which I would say is a must read for anyone wanting to set up swarm traps or bait hives.  Here is another excellent reference on catching swarms (and I think Matt has now caught more than anyone I know!) from the Beethinking Website.

And finally, of course, you must be fashionable when catching swarms.  Diamonds are perhaps a bit much, but pearls (and cowgirl boots!) go with any occasion.

bee fashionistas

In other news:  the cart is finished, it turned out great and is currently being tested out at Square Peg Farm.  I will post about that soon…like when I relocate my camera.  Also, we got our first batch of baby bunnies last week!  So far I have counted seven, but they should be out and hopping about in a few days.  Happy bee chasing!

the gift of anticipation

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.

A. A. Milne

It is almost March, and western Oregon, bless it, brings spring early.  I can smell it, even before the viola odorata blooms in my local park.  Here are a few things I am already enjoying, by looking forward to them:

Giving this old barn and pasture some critters to shelter and feed (well patrolled by Sancho).

sancho patrols the barn

A new batch of baby bunnies (Momma buns had her first date of 2013 two weeks ago…Snacks is next.) In a month I should be enjoying views like this:

white bunnies

Purple peas are germinating in the greenhouse, soon to be planted in the garden.

purple peas

And, I bought a spring form pan!  I literally have never owned one.  Looking forward to lots of tasty tarts in future.  This is my first ever cheesecake.  It was lemon, and excellent. (Apologies for the terrible flash photo).


Spring is just around the corner!  Hope you are enjoying the anticipation as much as I am…..cheers!

Hello Hello

pretty washington county

pretty washington county


So, turns out looking for property can be pretty stressful and distracting….who knew?  We are meeting with some sellers this very afternoon about a property that is pretty unique….if the meeting goes well I promise to post more details, I just want to save you all the roller coaster ride of hopes lifted, hopes dashed.  The real estate market has slowed for the holidays, so not much new will come on the market until after the new year I am guessing.  Stay tuned….hopefully we will be out of the hunt by then :).

In other updates…since my last posting in October (yikes!  Where have I been?) Momma’s kits have grown up and will be harvested this week.  Snacks had 8 babies, one of which didn’t make it, but the other seven are in the three week old super adorable stage and are healthy and hoppy.  Two are darker shades of silvery brown, a really unique and beautiful coloring similar to their mama’s, but with black points instead of tan, and more of the silver coloring of Snacks’ Champagne D’argent heritage.  She will have raised 17 kits to Momma’s 20 for the year.

The garden is soggy and sad, but still producing some arugula and other greens, though I am not picking much now as growth has slowed to almost nothing.  Once the days start to lengthen in January and Feb we should be back in some salads from the cloches.  Cover crops all look good, and I also expect them to take off once the days start to lengthen.  The bees are tucked in their hives for the winter, taking cleansing flights and hanging out on the landing board when weather permits.  We still haven’t had a real hard frost in Portland yet, so there are unbelievably still some yellow jackets about, and the Dahlias and asparagus ferns have not yet died back.

I wish everyone the happiest and healthiest of holidays!  Here is my eggnog recipe, in the spirit of the season.

This serves 10-12.  Make sure you have a generous punch bowl to serve it in, as it triples in volume to about a gallon and a half.

12 dozen eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 cups whole milk

2 cups cream

2 cups bourbon

3/4 cup brandy

2 tsp nutmeg

Separate the yolks from the eggs, and beat the yolks and sugar together in a stand mixer for about 10 minutes until the consistency of butter.  S-l-o-w-l-y mix in the bourbon and the brandy.  Put in the fridge to chill.  About a half hour before you plan to serve, stir in the milk and the nutmeg.  Put the egg whites in the stand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold into nog.  Put heavy cream in stand mixer and beat until peaks form.  Fold into nog.  Serve immediately garnished with freshly grated nutmeg on top.

Ho Ho Ho!