The Cuthill family is enjoying an adventure in square foot gardening, beekeeping, rabbit raising, and chicken chasing in an unexpected place with a sense of humor to boot!
“We are urban farmers in a rural area. Confusing, I know! Our house is situated in a large housing development smack dab in the middle of grass-fed cattle ranches. Strange yet beautiful.” —Sarah Cuthill
Trevor and Sarah are learning as they go and are more than happy to share their journey toward self-sufficient living. Sarah believes if they can jump into small-time farming head first then so can you. May their story inspire you to plant a garden, become a beekeeper and create your own little farm.
The Frühlingskabine (German for “Spring’s cabin) is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At about 3000 feet in elevation, we get everything from 100 degree summers to foot deep snows in the winter. We love this area for its local lakes and tall mountains. Plus, it’s just a hop and skip from Yosemite National Park.
Is this where you both grew up?
Trevor grew up in Montana and spent summers on his grandfathers farm forty miles from the border of Canada. I however, grew up in the San Francisco bay area knowing nothing of farms or farmers until my family moved to this area when I was sixteen.
What is the size of your farming space?
We live happily on less than a quarter-acre with our two-year old daughter, Cami, and various creatures. Our rabbits are kept in a custom built 8×8 foot shed with stacking cages and we have a large play area set up for them under our deck. The large “chicken ark” coop was built when we first moved in over a year ago and features a fully enclosed run and a fancy door that can be opened and closed from outside the coop. We have two beehives under the oak trees on the far end of the house that have recently provided us with our very first honey harvest. Trevor is hoping to catch another feral swarm in the spring for a third hive. We also have a large garden completely fenced in to guard against all the hungry deer we have here. Too bad it doesn’t keep out the moles!
Can you tell us a little bit about why your family enjoys raising Angora rabbits, heritage breed chickens and honeybees?
French Angora rabbits have become our primary focus. The French Angoras provide an abundance of soft and silky wool that I use for spinning into yarn for hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, and felted toys for Cami. As “dual-purpose” livestock, we also raise them for clean, healthy meat. The heritage chicken breeds we raise provide us daily with fresh eggs and the honeybees –obviously– slave away to give us sweet honey and golden beeswax.
What do you grow in your garden?
Our garden is 32×20 feet and we use the square-foot gardening method to maximize our growing ability. We grow: apples, turnips, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, red cabbage, beets, blueberries, leeks, bulb onions, celery, tomatoes, peas, beans, carrots, various greens, and in the spring we will be adding buckwheat as a grain for bread!
Why did you start growing and raising your own food?
I really don’t know what happened. One day a switch just went off in our heads and we decided we wanted to work toward self-Sufficiency. We wanted to start working towards a life where we knew exactly where our food has come from, what our meat was fed and how it was cared for, and to just get back to basics. Our website was started over a year ago to show others what we have done on a small rented lot in the hopes that they would be inspired to start their own micro-farm. Now we have hundreds of readers everyday and feature DIY projects that just about anyone can follow along with.
When we first started looking into how other people were getting started we found very few websites or blogs that showed farmers (large or small scale) from the very beginning. We wanted to see the good and the bad so we knew what we were in for. Although they are far from “beginners”, we really liked the original Urban Homestead in Pasadena, California and we frequently follow Jenna’s farm in New York, Cold Antler Farm.
[In the photo to the right, Trevor is checking the honey hives.]
What products do you currently offer?
Products from Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm
What do you enjoy most about offering these products to others?
The most fun I have is chasing chickens around after morning chores attempting to get that perfect picture or trying to get baby rabbits to show me their good side. Being able to send off a little piece of our “farm life” in the mail is always a happy moment.
What time-honored traditions, old-fashioned skills, ancient arts or modern crafts do you and Trevor enjoy practicing today or aspire to learn?
By trade I am a potter, a painter, a candlestick maker… well scratch that last one… but seriously, we do have a few old-fashioned skills already. I love to sew clothes and crochet blankets and cozy winter accessories. I have been learning to needle felt and spin wool from our angora rabbits, preserve food from the garden, and bake bread. I recently learned to make cheese and grow my own sourdough yeast starter! We also built a cob oven for outdoor cooking. Trevor is getting better and better at building habitats and structures from nothing but a truck full of lumber and he hopes to eventually be making his own bee hives and boxes.
[Thistle is Cami’s favorite rabbit. Check out these cute little gifts Cami created for her “Grammas” with a few wool scraps from Thistle, some cookie cutters, water, a little bit of soap and help from Mom. If a two-year old can learn how to wet felt so can you!]
Do you currently offer any classes or workshops at your farm?
In the spring we will begin hosting small workshops on raising rabbits, butchering and tanning rabbits, and beginner beekeeping.