Solar shower & sun oven

Sorry for the lack of postings this week. It’s been just too nice outside and too many things to do around the urban homestead.   

The guys are working on the last phase in the expansion of the animal enclosure. Now that the sun is out, we re-foiled the solar oven panels so that we can start using it to cook our meals. The homemade solar oven is over 4 years old now and is still in good working condition – except for the plywood panels. We’d like to replace them with some light reflective metal one day. Otherwise, this oven works quite well and, since the guys mounted it on a cart, it’s easy to maneuver to follow the sun’s path.   This week, I finally got around to re-plastering the cob oven. The top set well with very little cracks; however, I am still having trouble with the bottom.

With the warmer weather, the solar shower comes in handy. Jules plans to add another mounted panel of coiled black garden hose; but, in the meantime, I had enough hot water to do a good job of washing my hair.

This week promises to be another busy one. Today, a few folks fromTreehugger TV stopped by to do a short on energy alternatives here on the homestead. They say that they would like a few more short segments, so we’ll see.

Tomorrow we’ll be going on our annual Memorial Day hike with a few friends.

On Wednesday, CBS 2is coming on to to a piece on the garden and on Thursday we’ll be visiting a local school, getting the kids involved in planting activities and, of course, we’ll be bringing along the goats.  

Busy, busy, busy.

A mockingbird is singing its heart out, bees are happily buzzing from flower to flower. The cats and other animals are frolicking in the sunshine.  Plants are getting lush and full – it’s nice here on the homestead.

Slowing down

Slow Food Dinner

Saturday evening we had about 16 friends and new acquaintances over for a “slow food” dinner – one of many we hope to come.   We served, thanks to everyone’s delicious contributions, a four course meal.   For many this was the first time sitting down to such a meal.    Our contribution to the dinner was fresh salad topped with bright & peppery nasturtiums, herbal rose lemonade and berry bars made with berries from the garden.

There was a wonderful assortment of appetizers, delicious vegetable side dishes and a hearty main dish (vegetable curry), creamy homemade flan (made with duck eggs!) and beautiful fruit bowl, hearty rolls and much more.

The flowers that Jordanne picked to decorate the tables and the nasturtiums that topped the salad were so fresh that the bees were working them right there on the tables.

After a filling dinner, a few of the guys (and Jordanne) picked up their guitars and started to play music (and some of us even joined in singing of a few songs). Justin started a fire (which everyone slowly gravitated to as the night wore on) to ward off the chill. We spent the rest of the evening sitting around the fire and engaging in some lively and thoughtful conversation.   It was around 1 AM before the last guests left.

Goats hanging out at school

Goats Day Out

Friday, Jules and Jordanne visited La Mirada High School to participate in their Earth Day celebrations.

Jordanne said the goats (Blackberry & Fairlight) were an absolute hit with the high schoolers. The girls wanted to walk them around, even the guys took interest and wanted to hold Fairlight and she obliged and even rested her head on their shoulders.   Jordanne said the goats traveled well and soaked up all the attention. When the bell rang for the kids to return to class and the field cleared, the goats let out a pathetic bleat as if they were saying “where did everyone go?”


Chews Wisely

Local or organic? It’s a false choice
There was a lesson here, one that often gets lost in the debate about which is better, local or organic? Too often this is understood as a zero-sum game
— that the money you spend on organic food at the supermarket will mean less
for local farmers. After all, the food you buy is being shipped from who knows
where and then often ends up in a processed food product.
read more

{Thanks, Jennifer, for emailing the article}

We’re Walking, Talking Toxic Waste Dumps

It wouldn’t be kind to say that these 10 are walking toxic waste dumps, but their levels of phthalates (found in such diverse products as shower curtains and fragrances), PBDEs (found in flame retardants, mattresses and furniture), mercury, pesticides, lead and other chemicals were high enough to make both scientists and subjects sit up and take notice.
read more

No Comments

  1. gerry medland says:

    Hi Anais,I have 3 new R’s thanks to your informative in depth postings;Re-vitalised Re-invigorated and most definitely Re-charged!As a lone traveller it is sometimes a daunting challenge to allocate and prioritise the many daily tasks that all need ‘positive attention’just to keep my feet planted firmly on the trail,however,reading your timely posts is a source of importance that conveys that we all CAN and ARE making a difference to a complex world just by getting ‘stuck in’no matter what!
    grateful thanks

  2. emily says:

    I love seeing your goats out and about. What a great life our Meg’s little doeling is having! Hot pink is definitely her color.

  3. Jeff S. says:

    “The homemade solar oven is over 4 years old now and is still in good working condition – except for the plywood panels. We’d like to replace them with some light reflective metal one day.”

    I was looking at your solar oven webpage and it says that you covered the sun-collector panels with aluminum sheeting. So I am wondering which panels you would like to replace with light reflective material – the box panels?

    Also, I was wondering where you found the plans for your solar oven. I was not able to find one close to yours by from my Googlings.

    A solar oven has moved up to the top of my list. 🙂

  4. Anais says:

    Hi Emily

    Meg’s little girl definitely wears pink well. She’s a cutie. Speaking of cute, here an interesting observation (if you are into people profiles) Jordanne said that when she was at the high school the guys gravitated to the pink nose (long-legged, graceful, poised), white goat, Ceolan (“Fairlight”) While the girls went for short and porky black goat — Pixie Dust (“Blackberry”)

  5. Anais says:

    Hi Gerry

    As always your insightful posts are greatly appreciated. Hope all is well at your homestead across the pond.

    Thanks for sharing the “new 3 R’s”

    You continue to give inspiration to us all.

  6. Anais says:

    Hi Jeff

    Thanks for your question. I should have gone into more details – sorry. When I am short on time postings can be very vague and confusing.

    Anyhow, the reflectors that you see on solar oven webpage were 1/8″ sheets of plywood/particle board covered with thin aluminum sheeting/flashing. They worked but were more expensive heavy and the metal sheeting eventually started to peel away from the plywood.

    We bought some highly reflective (and thin — what they use in the NASA program http://home.att.net/~cleardomesolar/solarflex.html) material and are trying to locate a lightweight sheet of metal we can attach the material to. In the meantime we re-foiled the plywood reflectors to use in the interim.

    You can get similar solar oven plans @ http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/radabaugh30.html. This model is similar to the one we made.

    Hope this helps.


  7. Jeff S. says:


    Yes, it does help. Thank you.

  8. Cherilyn says:

    Would love to have a link to solar oven recipes or tips you’ve discovered in using yours. I know, in all your spare time! If this is coming up in the second part of your website, then I’ll be patient, or at least try. 🙂