We’ve been experiencing warm temperature these past few days. So warm in fact that we didn’t bother closing the windows last night and slept with many windows open. Still going barefoot, no need for socks yet.

Stocking Up

Over the past week we just inherited 400 lbs of grain thanks to a friend who’s leaving LA. With this recent addition to our already bulk food store, we are  trying to make the storage a bit more organized. With the help from some new shelves also from the recent LA LA LAND escapee (*grin*) we’ll add a bit more storage space.   Over the years we’ve tried to faze out the use of plastics especially for food storage. Being the frugal kind, we figured we would use what had been given to us over the years; but ,ever since we were alerted to the dangers of plastics a few years ago, we’ve always were on the look out for glass containers. The small jars were easy and with the lack of thrift stores nearby (or picked over) we’ve finally bitten the bullet and ordered some large glass containers in a bulk quantity.   Not wanting to throw away the still useable plastic containers, they’ll be reused in storing animal food or organic fertilizers.

Olla patch

Ollas Oy vay

Looks like Senor Olla has been busy. Outside our front door there are 20 new ollas. We hope these new arrival will find good homes sometime soon. Each olla is made by hand by folks working at earth ministry cooperative and non profit   When you purchase theseollas, besides supporting PTF, you also help low-income communities worldwide improve agriculture by adapting low-cost, alternative technologies.   This group has helped introduce ollas in arid, developing countries like Afghanistan and Kenya. Another example of people helping people.

We are really excited about carrying this ancient method of drip irrigation. Ever since we put together ourclay pot irrigation bed last spring we are convinced by the look of the plants that these method of irrigation really does produce noticeable results – not to mention how it conserves water.

Wanted: Billy Goat

Last Friday we had a rough time calming both our goats down since they both went in heat at the same time. Every noise that came from the school behind our house, whether it be a school kid laughing or a gate closing, the goats would let out a frustrating scream/wail (not very pleasant sound if you didn’t know what it was). It’s good to know that they are healthy; however, to the untrained ear it sounded like someone was hurting the goats. And with goat heat cycle lasting from 24 to 36 hours, it was a long wait for them would calm down. If we had bigger property and no neighbors, then the goats could call for their billy goat to their hearts’ content; but, with our close proximity to the school, their cries would certainly be annoying and distracting. If the garage had doors, we could/would have put the goats in there so it would muffle their cries. They have gone into heat before, but this is the first time Fairlight cried (wailed). Usually her last three heats were silent ones. But, oh, did she make up for that on Friday.  And with Blackberry in heat and sounding off too – what a ruckus. Hopefully, the next time around won’t be so bad. We just have to get through these next few months and then we’ll be thinking about breeding them so that we’ll be able to have fresh goats’ milk.   It’s been awhile since we had fresh goats’ milk! Back on our 10 acres in Florida, we had a goat we milked.  There was also a lady down the road who had a small herd and would trade 1 gallon of goats’ milk for our honey. Ah, the good old days.

In the meantime, before we find that billy goat, we city folks have to find a temporary solution for male starved nanny goats and the loud ruckus they make.

100 Mile Thanksgiving

One reader wrote to us asking if we knew of a place to get local turkeys. Unfortunately, the place she eventually found (above Santa Barbara) was sold out till December. Of course, this question raised a question: if there are no turkeys to be found, then “why do we have to have a turkey.” What local foods (er, meat) can be substituted? Perhaps we need to start a new tradition of a truly regional thanksgiving feast. What are our plans? 

Well, we are not sure yet. We usually are invited over for a potluck style meal. Last year before going over that evening to our friends’ house, we were jack hammering the 30’x30′ concrete in the backyard. Can’t believe it’s been a year already.   The concrete removal certainly has made a big difference – one is that we don’t have to use so many self-watering containers. No doubt we’ll spend most of the day working on a few projects. If you haven’t noticed by now, we don’t get much into or celebrate the holidays or even birthdays for that fact. It’s all about the road less traveled….

OK, before I wander off,  back to local eating:

Helpful resources:
Food Routes
Local Harvest
Sustainable Table

This year, PTF is putting a “100 Mile” twist on our annual Harvest Gathering (fyi,: this event is full; however, this week we should know if there are any cancellations). Should be quite interesting to see what folks bring — although, I hate to say, with our being the hosts we hardly ever get to eat the tasty dishes people bring. Folks are so busy asking us questions about this and that we hardly have time to sit down and enjoy ourselves. On the other hand, it’s good to see others enjoy themselves.

Looking Ahead

Another year is coming to a close – where did the time go? Besides the “sustainable” roof project (which, btw, if you are wondering, it should be completed soon- I’ll get to that on a future post sometime), there are a few major projects that we hope to tackle this coming winter.

1. install gutters to collect rainwater

2. cistern

3. install the compost toilet

4. build a solar dryer

5. hatch ducks and chickens 

6. finish greywater system

7. finish backyard — driveway and north side of house area

8. build 3-in-1 animal house

9. get house and yard ready for the big city wide event happening in June ’07 (YIKES!)

10. breed goats 

11. finish the last fazes of revamping the website (“part 2,” add more video shorts, download materials, donation button, and more)

12. continue expanding and polishing the Peddler’s Wagon

13. write, write, write (from PTF publications)

14. expand outreach of Dervaes Institute

15. actually make profit to set aside “10% for the People & Planet”

16. PTF Productions videos

17. finish back deck 

18. fix up the PTF display (add more information) and much much more.

Oh yeah, in between all that, there’s the daily urban homestead life which we cannot loose sight of nor loose touch with. What’s the use of being overwhelmed with commitments, engagements, writing and so forth if we cannot live the life that we “preach.”  

Though the list seems somewhat (OK, insanely) overwhelming, we hope through our hard work and committed that we will be able to accomplish these and more.


  1. Joanne Poyourow says:

    400 lbs of grain – I presume this is for human consumption and not for the animals? How do you keep it insect free while you store it?

  2. Susan says:

    I have an intact pygmy billy that looks just like your blackberry. Maybe one day I could buy an olla, pick it up and bring chuck, he would need no incouragement, believe me. I have been reading you for a while and you have inspired me to try somethings. I am trying to compost unsuccessfully so far. I didn’t feel too bad about my tomatoes after what you said about yours this summer. Right now I have lettuce to pick, and collards and cabbage growing. I need some natural and nonviolent ways to get rid of my gophers. Susan

  3. Beth Freeman says:

    Can you use an olla in a raised bed for food plants?