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Class Descriptions

Urban Animal Husbandry
listed alphabetically



Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.


Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.


Backyard Chickens
Sunday April 25, 10am-1pm

Instructor: Jeannie McKenzie
Location: Montclair
$35-70 sliding scale
Fall in love with backyard chickens!
This class will introduce you to the fascinating world of backyard chickens and give you the information you need to get started with your own low-effort backyard flock. We’ll discuss life cycles, coop designs, breed selection, care and feeding for health and egg production, protection from predators and ways of integrating your chickens into your garden. You'll meet our flock, see our set-up and get hands on experience chicken wrangling. Plus we'll give you information on where to purchase your chickens and feed and resources for learning more.

Introduction to Natural Beekeeping (Top Bar System)
Sunday March 29 2015 10am-4pm
Location: North Oakland
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Cost: $60-90
sliding scale
Keeping bees is a great way to practice animal husbandry in the city, produce some local honey and stay in tune with seasonal cycles. In this course you will learn to keep bees in a way that promotes their health and natural exuberance. We'll peek inside the amazing world of this highly evolved super-organism, learn how they do what they do and what we can do to support them. You will learn about life cycles and biology, management strategies and equipment needed to get started as a backyard beekeeper using the Kenyan Top Bar Hive and how to keep bees healthy without using pharmaceuticals or other chemicals. The top bar system is an ancient, low-cost, natural system that promotes the health of the honey bee. The boxes can be easily built with a few handtools and scrap lumber and management is easy on the beekeepers body as you work standing upright and never have to lift a heavy box. The class will also include Information on the truth behind colony collapse disorder,common troubles that arise, how to get bees and where to go for continued learning. The class will culminate in a hands-on practice session working a beehive. Appropriate for those wishing to keep bees and those just curious about this magnificent insect.

Api-Centric Beekeeping One Year Mentorship
Beekeeping is both a highly entertaining and deeply spiritual practice that can keep you learning for many many years. While you can certainly get started by taking one class or reading books (both recommeded) many people experience confusion and doubt in their first years of beekeeping since the bees dont always act as expected and the information out there on how to respond is so conflicting. Having support of peers and mentors in your first years is vital.
This mentorship can start any time and lasts one year from the start date. It is highly reccommended to plan your start time to coincide with one of our Spring or Fall Intro to Backyard Beekeeping classes. The mentorship is intended to support you through your first year of beekeeping, however anyone in their first 3 years may apply. It is also intended for people who wish to learn to keep bees using alternative hive systems such as the top bar, warre or golden system. Langstroth system will be considered with consultation. The mentorship includes attendance at Intro to Backyard Beekeeping classes and Beyond the Basics Bees ,2-3 private practice sessions with our bees and your bees, emergency hourse calls when things go terribly wrong and unlimited phone and email support. Cost: Sliding scale $500-750 for the year. You must purchase/provde your own box , bees and equipment , we are glad to support you to do this as part of the mentorship.

Natural Beekeeping 2
Spring and Summer, Increase, Splits, Swarms and Backfilling
Sunday April 4, 2015 2-4:30pm
Location: North Oakland
Hos: K.Ruby Blume
sliding scale
We'll learn about beekeeping issues that face us in the spring and summer including how to make splits and catch swarms and how to mamnge the increase and honey flow without difficulty. Hands on practice. pre-requisite: Intro class or ine season of beekeeping.

Natural Beekeeing 3
Honey Harvest and Winter Prep
Sunday September 13, 2015 2pm-4:30pm
Location: North Oakland
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Cost: $35-70
We'll talk about when to harvest, how much to harvest, to feed or not to feed and winter management and prep. Time and honey allowinf we'll also harvest some honey hands on!

Advanced Top Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder

Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
In this afternoon workshop we will learn how to rear queens naturally in top bar hives as well as other topics of interest to more experienced beekeepers Is there a topic that particularly interests you? Please let us know and we'll fit it onto the agenda. Les has been keeping bees for 50+ years and working with top bar hives for 30+ years. He is one of the few people who has run a commercial honey business in top bar hives and recently published, Top-bar Beekeeing: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health the first comprehensive guide to beekeeping in top bar hives (there have since been others published). Les and his bees live in New Mexico, so this is a rare opportunity to learn with him. This class is for people with several years of beekeeping experience who have a good foundation in seasonal cycles and management. It is focused for the top bar beekeeper, but other experienced beekeepers may attend.

Home Butchering: Fowl
Saturday May 30 2015, 1pm-5pm
Saturday October 24 2015 1pm -5pm
Teacher: K.Ruby Blume
Location: West Berkeley
Cost: $65-100
sliding scale plus $5 supply fee to be paid on day of class
As people who are used to getting our meat in the freezer section of the grocery store, one of the big questions about raising animals for meat is…Can I do it? Can I slaughter and process my own? This introduction to butchering addresses not only the why and how of it, but the deeper aspects of what it means to take life for our own sustenance and how to do it with the least suffering on the part of the animal.In this class we will learn to slaughter humanly including dispatching plucking and dressing the birds. We will talk about recipes for older birds, uses for organ meats and hygenic handling of meat. There will be a demonstration, hands-on experience of wielding the knife. For a more detailed leson on sectioning, deboning and cooking see our follow up class:

Micro-Farming: Quail
Saturday May 9, 2015 10am-12noon

Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Perhaps you like the idea of chickens and having your own eggs, but don't have the space for them. Quail can be raised in a small space, as little as 2 x 3 square feet and are one of the best "protein converters" around. For about $30 cost per season, you can have 15-25 dainty little eggs every week. The more adventurous can hatch their own fertile eggs and eat their quail for dinner. Quail can be kept on a balcony or on a porch, are not a lot of work and are a great way for kids to learn appreciation for farm animals.

Native Bees & Native Plants: Pollination to the People

September 13 2015, 10am-1pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This is an introduction to pollination ecology, the wild world of bees and pollinator friendly gardening for folks who are curious and want to nurture an awareness for these beloved hardworking critters. There are over 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4000 in the US and 1000 in California. We will learn about the lifecycles and biology of honey bees, and native bees, the differences between the two, the special relationship between bees and flowers and what you can provide to support more bee and insect life in your garden. We learn to how to tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a fly and how to identify a few of our local native bees. We will also introduce the idea of api-centric beekeeping and offer possibilities for natural beekeeping. We'll taste some honey, observe both honey bees and native bees at work, and get the lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder.


Urban Goat Farming
Sunday May 10, 11am-3pm
Instructor: Jim Montgomery
Location: West Berkeley

$40-70 sliding scale
Meet the goats at Green Faerie Farm and learn what you need to start an urban goat dairy. We will discuss the various breeds of goats, their strengths and weaknesses and practicality for different uses as well as issues specific to goats as ruminants. We will learn about goats' minimal needs and how to keep their lives vibrant and happy. This will include nutrition and preventative health measures, pen design and equipment, breeding and raising young. We will also talk about the process and equipment needed to run a small dairy including handling milk and dairy products that can be easily produced on a small scale.

Urban Rabbitry: Raising Rabbits for Fun, Food, Fertilizer & Fur
Saturday May 9, 2015 1pm-4pm
Instructor:r K.Ruby Blume
Location: Berkeley
sliding scale
Raising Rabbits is an excellent way to include animals on a small urban farm with limited space. They provide lean meat, fur and ample fertilizer for your garden. This class will cover the basics to get started with your own urban rabbitry. We will meet the rabbits at Green Fairies Farm and learn how to safely handle them. We will discuss approaches to housing rabbits, feeding and breeding, what to look for in choosing rabbits, available breeds and uses for each breed. We will learn how rabbits can be integrated into an urban garden and what other species complement them. Resources for continuing your learning, including books and online communities will be included.
It is highly recommended to take Rabbit Butchering & Tanning Demonstration as a compliment to this class.

Rabbit Butchering and Tanning Demonstration
Sunday June 7, 2015 10am-1:30pm
K.Ruby Blume

Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Following a tour of the rabbitry and a brief discussion on the benefits of rabbits as urban livestock we will demonstrate humane slaughter and dressing. Also included will be ideas for preparation of both rabbit meat and organ meats. Then the instructor will take you through a step by step demonstration of the tanning process. Some hands-on will be possible. It is highly recommended to take Raising Rabbits as a compliment to this class.