Archive for February, 2010

in my car with 30000 girls

Scott & Nicole & I drive from Santa Cruz to Aptos to pick up a bee hive containing a 6 lb swarm that beekeeper Tom caught last week. Driving back up the highway with 30,000 girls in my pontiac vibe is a unique experience. I have never been so alert for pot-holes and speed-bumps before. Tim and Jessica help me place the hive. Next morning at 9 am nobody is out—still too cold. At 11 am a gentle hum fills the air – the bees are orienting themselves at the new location. I let a few bees land on my hand. They are so docile. They do have an unusual color range: some are golden yellow, others are dark brown.


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it’s really happening

On a beautiful Saturday morning I meet Dan at 2410 Second Street at 9am. He has been managing this house for many years before eventually owning it. He is intimately familiar with all the little quirks and details of this historic and cute piece of 1894 Victorian architecture. After a detailed tour we open escrow. Afterwards I show Dan the original downtownfarm. It all still seems like a dream …

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on the interwebs …

… now with a spanking new domain name:

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the run

Adding the run to the tractor gives the chickens much more room … and much more visibility. Chickens seem to make people happy. They are like puppy dogs. Whenever people notice them they start to smile. Obviously they are popular with the kids in the neighborhood. I already got to meet some parents (dragged to my fence by their kids) whom I would have probably not talked to otherwise. I also had some neighbors who walked over to my place just so that the children of their visitors could look at the chickens.

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downtown expansion

Great news! The downtownfarm is expanding into the core of downtown Livermore. This evening I went into contract on another downtown property – an amazing 1894 Queen Anne Victorian. That means that there will be opportunities for like-minded folks to join this urban farm adventure and move into either location.

Dan my Realtor is busy preparing all the paperwork right now. He—a long-term Livermore downtown resident—shares my excitement to create an advocating example of green living.

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meeting Tom’s bees

Tom (a fellow “urban farmer” from Pleasanton) gave us a bee tour and some hands-on experience on what beekeeping is all about: we got to open one of his hives and inspect several frames. I was amazed how friendly and calm the bees were. Sure … being in the protective suit was reassuring but it did not really seem necessary. The bees were busy doing their thing and showed no aggressive behavior whatsoever. There was something truly magical about handling those bee-loaden frames. I am so looking forward to get my own hive.

I got to know Tom who maintains a website on bee-lining (a neat GIS & bees mash-up) through Linda Schneider who is running a visionary non-profit to create self-sustaining communities in El Cerrito.

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the coop

Right after returning from Culebra I moved the chickens into the new coop. Here are some pictures of the coop on tour through my frontyard.

Today I also attached the (finally finished) chicken-run to the coop.

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a soil sieve

Tired of hand-picking buckets of stones and rocks out of my lousy top-soil I put together a soil sieve with materials that were left over from building the coop. This simple tool is a gigantic help as I plant six lavenders plants along the street. Lavender is drought-resistant, no? In any case … it should be popular with the bees …

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The area behind my garage always seemed useless – a place good only for storing unsightly things. Or maybe the perfect location for a bee hive? After reading “Beekeeping for DUMMIES” and attending a webinar from brushy mountain bee farm I was hooked. The beekeepers Judy and Tom whom I contact by email both suggest to attend a meeting of the mount diablo beekepers association.

The meeting today was encouraging. Beekeepers are friendly and helpful folk. I get to know other beginner-beekeepers who live nearby. Among them are Tim and Jessica who maintain an awesome blog about their “adventures in apiculture“.

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