REWIND

Biodiesel Mixin’ Mixer

Backing up just a bit:

Sunday, May 16, The Biodiesel Mixin’ Mixer was another success with many attendees from across the Southland.

Thanks to all those who brought contributions for the potluck (it was quite a spread!) and toKPFK for spreading the word.

This past Sunday, we hosted PTF’s first Homebrew Biodiesel Workshop. Reservations were filled within days.

Due to the hands-on activity and because of the risk of certain chemicals, the size of the class was restricted, so we had to turn away quite a few but we hope to have another one sometime soon.

We all were glad to get that session behind us. With everything that’s done for the first time, there are jitters and anticipation of pulling it off.

JD worked on (always coming up with cool ideas! ) a pretty nifty titration card to help with the titration process, JM worked on another handout for biodiesel safety and terms.

Biodiesel 201
The afternoon went well. The attendees got to test and titrate four different WVO sources, did a test “blender” batch, and also made a batch in the water heater reactor. We provided each participant with safety equipment and a folder with all the various reference material and handouts.

One guy who attended, brought some plastic containers filled with used cooking oil – which we tested and found to be pretty good waste grease. He says that where he lives, people leave them on the side of the street. (Thanks for the grease Brian!)

GREASERS

Speaking of biodiesel, now that we are running B50 (50% homebrewed biodiesel) and working our way up to B100, the Suburban’s exhaust is smelling more like cooking oil and there’s no more of that black yucky smoke. (Still considering a SVO system – in time).

A recent news article posted on the web is fueling the revolution toward grease power —Drivers Eye Vegetable Oil As Cheap Fuel

Most SVO’ers argue that biodiesel is not eco-friendly – when in fact it’s less toxic than table salt. Yes, there is lye and methanol involved in the process – but these are all natural accruing materials. Don’t get me wrong we are neither on one side or the other – we are open minded and on a journey to find the best answers & solutions.

We’ve been receiving lots of emails and calls regarding biodiesel – the movement is starting to pick up and there’s a rash of people we know that are buying diesel cars — especially now with gas prices so outrageous.

Future of transportation?????

END OF OIL

Think gas is expensive now? Just wait…. yeah we heard all that before — but this time it’s REAL. Read National Geo article onTHE END OF CHEAP OIL).

It’s inevitable. But just how soon will the vital fuel become so scarce and expensive that we’re forced to make hard choices about how we live?

It’s the end of the world as we know it……

LOOKING FORWARD

A new journey has begun…

Water reclamation: Yesterday we ordered aGrey Water system from Real Goods. Yep, a big investment there – but the benefit will be to help cut back our water usage.

This will go down in the cellar (uh, if we can even get down there — the guys are starting to tunnel their way in through the spare wood and parts) to filter the tub and sink water.

The water will then be pumped out into a pond (constructed “wetland”) in the garden. We plan to stock the pond with toads (borrowing some tadpoles from the Arroyo Seco near our house) and other natural water plants.. It’s going to be a big job, but really look forward to reclaiming and using less water.

To help assist us, we borrowed the bookCREATE AN OASIS WITH GREYWATER from the library – great resource with practical applications.

Water conservation: A couple of weeks ago, we went down to Highland Park to pick up the dual flushCarmoa toilets fromC & L Supply.

This toilet will greatly reduce water consumption with a 1.6 / 0.8 gallon two button dual flush system. Thanks toPasadena PWP for their generous (time limited) $180 mail in rebate!

Love those rebates!

We still need to buy a waterless, non electric composting toilet for the back 1/2 bath — it is a bit more expensive, so we’ll have to wait on that. We are looking at theEnviroLet brand.

A recent acquaintance bought over three “rain barrels” (THANKS, Marie!)

These food grade containers are marvelous and what’s even better is that she can get more of them. Whoohoo!

It won’t rain here till probably at least December (if we are lucky) but that’s something else that needs to be done – harvesting rain water and building a cistern.

Water is definitely on the brain these days!

Roll out the barrel

First batch of CP soap

FIRST BATCH

The other night, we gals made our first batch of cold process castile soap. After seeing John Mikrut give the soap making class (See May 3rd posting), we were confident enough to tackle this project (THANKS – John for the great workshop!).

Thankfully with the garage as a workshop, we could do our stuff and not mess up the kitchen.

We still have yet to take it out of the molds to cure, but so far it looks to be turning out OK — we hope. If the bars cure well, they’ll be given to friends to try.

ANIMAL FARM

Life on our little farm is certainly never ending and there’s never a dull moment.

Here’s some updates on the condition of our animals:

Moonshadow’s (our bunny) eye condition is continuing to improve (see May 23rd post) – though she still has a bit of mucus accumulation and is still a bit swollen over the top eyelid.   Homeopathic and natural treatments are much slower than shots or antibiotics, but it’s much better for the animal.Moonshadow after a hard day’s digging

Quack!Dawn, one of the ducks, is recovering from a small festering bump or lesion (bumble foot) she got from bruising her foot on a rock. It’s where a hard lump skin forms over cut.  JM treated it daily with iodine and salt water washes.

A local couple who adopted two ducks from us called the other day with the same complaint about one of their ducks, though their duck’s condition was much worse and dangerous. They had wanted to take her to the vet as the foot was inflamed and swollen and she was limping badly, but JM gave them some advice on home treatment and natural remedies.

The good news is that the duck is recovering nicely, although they had to cut out the hardened piece of pus – which we heard wasn’t a very pleasantjob.

Our chickens are doing fine and, with the warm weather, are giving eggs. Of course, some of the hens continue to go broody and need to be put into the broody pen. But like a scene from Chicken Run, they often break out in mass escapes.

Our “mascot” (the Un-Mighty Quinn, the pigeon who adopted us — read Nov 24 blog entryof his first arrival ) brought home a “friend” over the weekend. (We think the other pigeon is a female and Quinn is a male, but aren’t sure.)

They hung out together whole afternoon, though there’s been no sight of the other pigeon for the last couple days.

Quinn is certainly a character. When we have workshops or gatherings he makes sure to get in on the action, hanging around and intently “listening” and watching all the goings on. He wants to be included in the fun.

The Un-mighty Quinn

New grape trellis on garage

TRELLISING

JD designed and built ( with the help of JC & JR) a lovely new trellis above the garage opening. What was once a “nothing space” should hopefully be producing some tasty grapes this summer.

It was pretty cheap to build and looks like ” a million bucks.”

There are still more trellises and arbors that are in our plans to be built as we want to utilize as much vertical growing space that we can.

FABRIC GALORE

We are definitely going to have to find some time to start sewing some new “threads.”

We picked out some cotton pieces that caught our eye from the load we picked up from a friend’s garage we are helping clean (she has loads more in her house we haven’t even touched yet) and are selling the rest.

Our goal is to sew an outfit by the end of summer — yikes, summer’s almost here!

Groovy

GARDEN REPORT

The weather, as I mentioned in my last posting, is cooler. A dense fog bank from the coast keeps the sun pretty much hidden for much of the day.

JC is planting another batch of greens to replace all the ones that bolted during that heat wave of a week or two ago.   He’s also planting another round of squash, beans, tomatoes and more summer veggies to keep a continuous flow of new plants to replace those that will be finished in a couple of weeks.

The tomato plants are huge — and green! Hope the fruit will be as well.  We harvested our first sweet cherries – yummy! The French beans are producing and they are a tasty addition to our meals not to mention a big hit with our customers.

The Anna apple trees are loaded with small fruit, and we can’t wait till they ripen!

The Nasturtiums and Pansies are still blooming – with the help of lots of fish fertilizer and compost tea.   This is a tremendous blessing, as the customers continue to order lots of edible flowers and with the wedding season coming up we hope that they will order more.

Last week one of biggest customers had a large order of 40 boxes (2000) Nasturtium flowers, which we were happy to fill!

WHAT A RIDE!

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…’Wow! What a ride!’”

~ Author Unknown ~

JM is trying to track down a decent priced projector, she had found a real good one on Recycler, but when she called, the guy said it had sold – boy, those things go fast!

Whew, this post was a looooooongie – certainly making up for lack of time and not being able to publish due to some glitch in our Microsoft (duh) program.

Folks, I am still behind on emails, so please be patient. I will get to them as soon as I can. Lots of emails are coming in and I am trying to answer your questions as fast as I can. Thanks for your understanding.

I had a good chuckle from this posting on PTF’s forum :Dream about PTF (no need to worry Peg, the only grass we have is a pathway through the front yard – and the grass was salvaged from a dumpster after a commercial shoot. Have to say, though, this patch’s time will be short lived- it’s destined in the next few weeks to be replaced with native grasses.)

A friend came by yesterday and told us that we are overextending ourselves, when he heard that JD has an very painful inner ear infection and has not feeling well for the past couple days. We pray that he will be healed soon.

Thanks for all the positive feedback and encouragement. It’s really an inspiration to hear from fellow travelers. Wishing you all the best in each of your journey’s.

Weather Report: Back to cooling down.

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