September 6, 2006


Posted by Anais Dervaes

The revolution continues to spread. In August the PTF website received over 3.8 million hits (nearly 400,000 unique visitors). Since April, when the site hit an all time high of 3.9 million hits, the site has continued to maintain slightly over 3 million hits / 350 thousand unique visitors monthly average.

We are a little frustrated that there's still so much work to be done on this site and so much more we'd like to do to share our knowledge and skills with others.

Unfortunately, we've given up estimating when part 2 of the site will be up. It's just hard to juggle everything right now.

Perhaps with the onset of early darkness and cooler weather, we'll get to working on the many website projects that are in the works.


Still hot and humid. Supposedly cooling down this weekend. 

Day of Appointments

Today the metal roof guy is coming as is the chimney inspector.   Hopefully, we'll have some good news after today's appointments. The metal roof guy says that the metal roof would be too hard to install ourselves... will see about that, at least we can help!   The chimney guy is coming to inspect the chimney because since this old house doesn't have any renewable heating source so we want to put in a small wood burning stove. The chimney hasn't been used since we've been here and probably even before that when there was a family renting our house. So who knows what problems we could run into and living in an old house, believe me, you expect the unexpected.   Let's hoping the chimney's in good shape and it won't cost us a fortune to get up to useable condition.

State of the Garden

The guys cut down some of the oldest tomatoes in the self watering tubs which were looking ugly and haven't been giving us much fruit. Unfortunately, even though we had some tomatoes, there was no bumper crop which would have allowed us, like in previous years, to can or freeze tomatoes for use in the winter.  

An artist and permaculture friend, who visits farmer's markets regularly, stopped by yesterday and said that they, the farmers, have reported thousands of dollars of loss due to the weather this year.   We wonder what winter will bring for all those who depend on the good earth.

Peaches on the dinning room table

Peeling Peaches

Since the large peach tree is not a free stone, they rot very easy, so, every time the guys bring in rubbermaids filled, we have to eat or preserve them within a couple days. The peach tree is located in our neighbor's yard but is hanging over the fence on our property.

It was planted about 15 years ago by a lady who lived there. She planted the seed from a peach she purchased at a store and liked. So it really doesn't have a name, although we like to call it Rita's Peach in memory of the lady who planted it.

The animals (goats, chickens and ducks) love all this food preservation that's going on - they get to eat the peel of the peaches (yummy!) turning scraps into compost almost instantly (well, within a couple of hours) - Can't beat this organic composting system!

In the Kitchen

Besides making peach wine, yesterday we canned a bunch of sliced peaches and made some homemade yogurt.    Like that old saying goes "make hay while the sun shines," today will be another day of harvesting and preserving.

Also making a huge batch of vegetarian chili with homegrown peppers and tomatoes that will go into the freezer for a nice chilly (neat pun?) day.   There's also lots of basil that will be made into pesto then placed in ice cube trays to freeze for later use.

Renewable energy source: muscle power

The Unplugged Kitchen

For over 30 years our family has lived without many of the so-called "modern" conveniences: that includes electric dryer, dishwasher, microwave and other kitchen gizmos. We are proud to say that our kitchen is "uplugged"   - well, that's except for our energy efficient refrigerator which many readers will recall that we lived without one for about 5 years.

Here's what our kitchen "appliances" consist of:
1. mortar and pestle & wood spoons
2. handcranked blender and food processor
3. handcranked grinder & popcorn maker

Old is new again, who would have thought old traditions would be "hip" once again.

Traditional mortar and pestle find new fans {Mercury News}

In the beginning, there was the rock. The first cooks in the archaeological record were grinding their seeds and grains in stone basins with rock pestles more than 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. Eventually most cultures adopted their own version of the simple tool -- from the coi of Vietnam to the molcajete of Mexico -- for grinding spices or making sauces.So why in this age of every imaginable kitchen gadget are modern cooks returning to the mortar and pestle their grandmothers cheerfully discarded for the electric blender? For Maria Helm Sinskey, it's the flavor....Once you have a mortar, it takes a bit of practice to learn how to use it. A rotating motion is used to grind seeds and spices, a straight up and down pounding motion to make pastes. The heavier the pestle, the faster the work.Still, muscle power is required.
read more

Connecting new pioneers

Across the Fence

For all you new readers out there, join kindred spirits and fellow travelers as they swamp stories, hints and tips at PTF's E-Neighborhood that's connecting online neighbor's "across the fence" worldwide.

Stop by and meet all the wonderful folks that contribute to this online community - you'll learn new things and perhaps even forge a new friendship.


We don't watch much TV these days, but glad to have caught this essay Monday on PBS.
Essayist Julia Kellar Reflects on Labor Day {PBS NewsHour}

The nature of work has changed drastically since that very first Labor Day. Just ask the next blacksmith you come across. But the place work occupies in our lives hasn't changed at all. Labor is more than just what we do. It's who we are.
...Your basic 21st century city wants to be known for its sleek technological sophistication, for cool, hip economies that don't raise a sweat or make a stink, for wi-fi, for hands-free.....The way lots of us now make our living -- perched in front of computers -- feels a little bit like cheating. It doesn't offer the promise of gritty redemption that you can find in real labor.....As the world changes, work changes. We can do so many things faster now, faster and smoother and smarter. And, yet, there's something lost, too, when we no longer feel, at the end of the work week, that delicious ache of a body pressed to its very limit, a body that hums with the good/bad feeling of fatigue.Labor -- real labor -- tethers us to the world. Through that kind of labor, we can actually see what we have made and what we're made of.
read more

Jordanne has been dreaming of acquiring these cows for years, now seems everyone wants them. Besides being cute they are good for the environment and make great pets. They also eat less are "more fuel efficient," check out what two ladies in Central California are using their dozen miniature cows for.
BTW: if you haven't already guess Jordanne's dream is to have enough land one day that would save and house all sorts of heirloom breeds - from chickens, horses, ducks, goats, cows and more. For years she's been reading and compiling huge binders full of information of the heirloom breeds and holistic caring of the animals.
In this era of dwindling resources small is both beautiful and productive...
Mini Cows: The Next Big Thing {ABC News Video}

From Barnyard to Backyard - video clip

Posted on message board:
Many years ago all of the Jersey breed were the same small size as what we term the Miniature Jerseys of today. In fact, all farm livestock were much smaller than those we see today. After World War II the "larger is better" movement caught on and replaced the small-sized cattle. Robert Mock, of the American Miniature Jersey Cattle Registry , says that sixty years ago in his youth, he would see these little cows tied out in vacant lots and near roadsides in every town. They would be tethered during the day and taken to a backyard shed in the evening for milking. They also had them on his family's farm. Over the years as milk and dairy products became available in stores, they were replaced. Refrigeration made it possible to handle larger sides of beef. People in villages and towns no longer needed to keep a cow to supply the family with milk. So slowly over the years the little Jerseys disappeared.Now the circle is complete with more and more families moving to the suburbs and to small rural acreages. The need for a small cow is back. The large jerseys produce far more milk than the average family can use. The big ones also eat more, produce more waste, need more space for housing, require more space for storing of feed and hay, and can be hard on fences, hard to handle and just plain intimidating - especially the bulls! The time for a small, docile, easy to care for cow has come!

New mini cows perfect for milk? {MSNBC}

A Cuban rancher is breeding miniature cows for milk. The patio cows stand about 23 to 28 inches tall and are no larger than a big dog.
... Rancher Raul Hernandez’s cows look just like other breed — only they are no larger than big dogs. They’re a perfect source of milk for Cuban families, he says.
read more

Just another example how Cubans have adapted over the years as the forged a green and sustainable revolution.
An Ice-Free Arctic ? Happening Before Our Eyes {ABCNews}

Summer at the North Pole may be gorgeous, but the news from there is devastating again this year. "The land of the polar bear" — where in fact there is no land, only frozen sea surface — is melting. America's "summer air conditioner" — the vast fields of sea ice that constantly rotate around the North Pole and feed cooling winds that sweep down to the lower 48 — is continuing to shrink back this summer. It is the effect of global warming occurring far faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago.
read more

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  1. Oh my goodness, Jordanne and I would be dangerous together! I need a pocket cow. Maybe next years birhday present!


  2. I live in Altadena and am an amateur winemaker. I have expanded into fruit wines. While I am not an expert, I would love to share what I've learned and the results of my labors..
    I had inquired about the future of your driveway concrete a year or so back for a recycled paver project. A neighbor dumped enough on my driveway to have kept me occupied to completion last month. Must come by sometime soon. All the best.

  3. Hi Shannon

    LOL - I am sure you two would make a great pair.

    Dreams one day may come true...

    Hugs to all,

  4. Greetings Mr Holland

    Thank you for your offer to help with our new adventure into winemaking. We bought a basic kit from http://www.eckraus.com/ and have been following the instructions. I am sure there are tips and techniques that are learned over time. Would love to learn from your experience.... keep in touch.

    Thanks again for your offer to help - much appreciated.