“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien~

I know I could have separated this post into individual entries; but, just going to give you a “vegetable soup” of sorts post (little bit of everything) to savor.

Monsoon February

Well, they were right. El Nino is here – with a vengeance. Hadn’t seen this much rain in ages!

Another torrential downpour dropped 4″ on the urban homestead last Friday into Saturday.  The recent deluge and the devastating Station Fire combine to be a destruction combination causing massive mudslides in the foothills above Pasadena (hope our readers in those areas are ok!)

Rained heavy again Tuesday and we got almost another inch.

Cheese Making

A local Freedom Gardener brought over some goat’s milk.  Jordanne & I whipped up a batch of goat cheese.

The leftover whey I’ve already used in making biscuits, pancakes and starting some fermentation ala Sally Fallons Nourishing Traditions.

Bringing the milk to boil

Adding squeezed lemon juice to separate the whey



Squeezing out the excess moisture

Goat cheese

Using up some of the whey to make simple, flaky biscuits


Weed Tonic

Keeping the garden healthy and productive is certainly a challenge, especially in such a small space and using no synthetic fertilizers (Check out this article ‘The Dark Side of Nitrogen‘).

Here’s how to boost nitrogen level – naturally and with a common place weed.

Finally!  Been waiting for these weeds for a long time, but our travels postponed our spring tonic brewing.

Farmer Sergio finally hitched up his wagon and came into town (Saturday night) to deliver us a bag load of this nutrient laden weeds – and a few other goodies from the farm.  He harvests these stinging weeds by hand – no gloves. He’s no frills trick in picking nettles is to “grab their steams from underneath and quickly pull.”

Going to turn these stingers into a stinking gooey, sludgy spring tonic that will give the plants and soil a natural nitrogen-rich boost for spring.

Fresh nettles

Bucket of rainwater

In go the nettles and rainwater

Using an old metal baseball bat – pounding the nettles to get them all nice and bruised.

Will allow the mixture to sit for about 2-4 weeks to give the liquid fertilizer a boost – stir regularly to added a bit of oxygen to the goop.

Once this nitrogen rich concoction is ready to go Farmer Justin will be dumping bucket loads into the compost pile, diluting (1:10 or 1:5), using to foliar feed plants and drenching the soil

Casting Off

I know it’s taboo never to knit something for your significant “other” till you’re hitched but think I am safe and deemed our relationship “steady” with Mr Hotwater bottle here so I knitted him two nifty new outfits.  Yeah, I told you it was “steady” and he’s a “hottie” to boot.

Farmer Justin harvests delicious and gorgeous heads of broccoli

In the Garden

Our harvest tally for January is

Produce 130 lbs 5 oz

Eggs 18 (ducks) 15 (chicken)

Hmmm, here’s an interesting mass of green stuff growing in water in one of the greenhouses.

Busy bee

Pink and blue

Ducky profile

Pathway work with pavers

Chickens in a row

Bronze fennel.

Basketful of broccoli (seeds and basket are available for purchase at Freedom Seeds)

Rain & Snow


The rain we had on Tuesday left a coating of snow on the mountains and conditions are pretty icy here on the urban homestead this morning.


  1. Ecologystudent says:

    The stuff growing in your water in the green house is an Azolla species, a genus of aquatic ferns that fix nitrogen from the air. If I remember correctly, they are used in symbiosis with the rice paddies in Asia to provide nitrogen to the rice.

    I think it’s a cool little plant, but in areas where it doesn’t freeze it can quickly become a nuisance when introduced into natural bodies of water. It multiplies very quickly!

  2. Michelle says:

    good job on the cheese and biscuits!! They both look delicious…!

    Love the chickens in a row…it always makes me smile when my chickens all line up on their perch. So cute…

  3. Callie says:

    Got my seeds in the mail yesterday and it is snowing here in south Georgia today! Talk about ironic. Cannot wait for spring when I will begin work on my own “path to freedom.”

  4. Louise says:

    Nice joke about the hot water bottle! He is a “hottie” indeed.

  5. Rose says:

    Our eastern side of Australia is having a deluge at the moment, here south of Sydney it’s very hot and very humid. We are losing veg to the humidity and fruit fly, as you look forward to spring, ‘m looking forward to autumn. Cheers.

  6. kitsapFG says:

    Well that was a fun hodge podge of things to look at and think about! I rather like these kinds of posts – covering the waterfront of topics. The cheesemaking looks like it yields lots of good results for you.

  7. Jill Conger says:

    What a very pleasing combination of photos. Thanks so much for sharing. The goat cheese looks yummy. And your knitting is very inspiring.

  8. Smily says:

    I really like that term: “freedom farmer”. I think I’m going to start referring to myself that way. Like, what do you do? Oh, I’m a freedom farmer…it might sound better than: what do I do about what? (;-)

  9. CE says:

    Well… you got our fall/winter rain and wind storms and now you got our mountain snow. Hmmm. Talk about crazy weather systems. We are having a 55degree sunny week in the “rainy” northwest. Take a look at the mountains where they are holding the Olympics, no snow. Same here. Normally our mountains ( the Cascades) are very high-snow mountains and that snow feeds the rivers and lakes all summer and fall. If we are in line to get some of your forrest fires can we just say “Pass?’
    Love the photos. Hope you were able to make good use of your downpour.

  10. Noz says:


    I don’t know if you’ve looked up azolla yet, but it is an excellent way to generate fertility on your farm.
    (Hmmm, here’s an interesting mass of green stuff growing in water in one of the greenhouses.)

    Azolla is a nitrogen fixing fern, and is capable of utilizing simple forms of N from eg. ammonia or urea.

    You can then take this and compost! In perfect conditions it may double every day.

  11. PHEW! | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] nettles that Farmer Sergio brought over a few weeks back are a fermenting – I took a peek, er, whiff yesterday.  Gooey, gagging, goodness. MMMMMM or […]

  12. Julie says:

    Well I was all excited about making that nice nettle stuff, and gathered a bunch of weeds that I thought were nettle and stuffed them in a bucket and pounded away. But I did a search and found out that I’ve been pounding away at Prickly Sow-Thistle! 🙁 You don’t happen to know if that’s useful too, do you?!

    I’m so bummed….

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