Entrance of animal enclosure, side backyard garden, middle backyard, entrance
to garden

The likelihood of one individual being right increases in direct ratio tothe intensity with which others try to prove him wrong.
–Leonore Fleischer (Heaven Can Wait, the novelization. Originally written
by Elaine May and Warren Beatty in the movie of the same name)

Here’s a brief run down of happenings here on the homestead. We have a busy day on tap – produce orders to fill, meeting with another roofing contractor, two local Pasadena writers, homestead chores, roof work, garden to tend and so forth. There’s nothing as refreshing as working in the garden on a cool fall morning – brings a natural glow to the cheeks (not to mention gets the blood going) Besides keeping you grounded, gardening/farming not only gives you healthful food, it keeps you healthy too.

What’s Growing?

The fall garden is off to a good start – new cooler weather crops and continually producing summer crops mingle together. Tomatoes, peppers, lima beans, pole beans, basil, meyer lemons, assorted greens, guavas (pineapple, pink and strawberry), strawberries, lettuce, pomegranates and more.


After last week’s on and off again chances of showers, the guys are back on the roof, working specifically on the repairs that need to be done to the eaves. Yesterday, they finished replacing the ~60 sq. ft. of damaged eaves with some reclaimed wood.   Living in the city one has to concern one’s self with not standing out too much. If it were up to us, we’d just slap on some corrugated iron and forget about it (don’t think the City would like that) You can only push the envelope so far in such a densely populated urban environment, especially with our public profile. For instance, we had to buy a composting toilet system when a bucket and sawdust would do… we still have to have respect for codes and ordinances. On the greywater system, well, we are working on that one. Right now we have a low tech way of diverting water, but Jules is working on a much better system.


Sad News

Besides all the behind-the-scene drama going on here on the urban homestead (yes, folks all is not calm as it may appear to be), we have some sad news. Ringo (one of our rescued male cats) was put to sleep last week. He was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (born with it). There’s not much that can be done. We had two options: 1. intravenous; tubes 2. put to sleep.   He had a good life, lived his days frolicking with the other two rescued cats, enjoying the sunshine in the garden. Ringo even had a short movie career as he made appearances in Ready or Not and In the Garden with Ann Martin – what better way for a cat to spend his life.   We are sad but glad that he did not have to suffer a long and slow decline.   There’s an empty spot in our lives, but there’s always a kitty or cat that needs a good home and, one day, when the time is right, she/he will show up for us to care for.    We’ll miss our little buddy.


Here on the urban homestead, everyone takes/picks a project which they want to research or work on (there are loads of R&D going on these days). Doing the research ourselves makes us quite knowledgeable. It’s a great learning experience.
This week, I was researching cisterns. With our small lot and no empty spaces, we’ll either have to go underground (in the mulched driveway) or in the cellar. Sure, we can get a few plastic 55 gallon drums (we can get some free from a local car wash) but we need serious water storage if we are going to do this right.   I called a man the other day and according to his calculations (using average rainfall, size of roof) we could collect 28,000 gallons of water from just our house alone!   Cisterns, he said, aren’t cheap, running from 75 cents to a dollar per gallon of water stored.   He’s supposed to get back with me on cost and schematics… getting oneself untangled from dependency on municipal services sure ain’t cheap. On the New Zealand homestead, water (household and drinking) came from rainfall which was collected off the corrugated iron roof and stored in a huge above ground ferrous tank – simple, low tech.    In Florida (10 acres) we had a well. Urban homesteaders don’t have it quite that easy – can’t dig a well nor can we have above ground water storage, especially for us who live on just a 66′ x 132′ property. There just isn’t any room (we are chock a block full already).   It’s certainly going to be a challenge, but the “c” word’s never stopped us.  

Oh, but it would be soooo nice to have a place likethis… who wouldn’t wanna be a hobbit and live in a shire as the battle rages for control of middle earth? Ah, yes, but then Frodo and companions left the green, simple life, agrarian of the shire for a life of danger and parts unknown.

Afternoon nap time

Animal House

Last week Jules and Justin built a temporary structure (out of scrap materials we have lying around) adjacent to the chicken house for the goats to sleep (neat, don’t you think?). Well, we aren’t the only ones that think the “double decker” structure is cool. The goats just love their new “digs” After it was erected they eagerly jumped on the shelves and looked at us and “ma-awd” as if to say “great job, guys.”   They are very contented (and spoiled) goats.   Once Jules puts his sketches of the 3-in-1 animal structure into a real life model, this temporary structure will be moved to the back of the animal enclosure and used as a play structure for the goats.

As you can see from this picture, we have dog toys hanging down the structure. Goats love to mouth things and it was Jordanne’s idea to put up some dog chew toys which the goats love to play with – these kids are like little kids, always curious and mischievous at times.

We also put up the canvas tarp that we received in the mail, checking if it would span the part of the animals’ enclosure which we wanted to keep dry. Fits perfectly and looks nice (better than, say, a blue tarp or permanent covering). When there’s a chance of rain, we can roll it over and then back when the sun comes out.


Biotech instills fear and loathing in California rice belt {OCA}

…The U.S. rice harvest is imperiled by the discovery of small amounts of experimental strains of genetically engineered rice in storage facilities holding crops destined for the food supply. Bayer CropScience AG, the German company responsible for the mistake, is still investigating how the experimental rice got into the food supply. Federal officials say the company’s signature genetically engineered rice came from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri, but they don’t know where it was grown.
read more

L.A. replacing signature palm trees with natives {MSNBC}

Disease, old age take toll; so do lack of shade and fact they’re not native….The palms are vanishing just as Los Angeles is kicking off an ambitious project to plant a million new trees. On Oct. 1, officials gave away 3,000 trees, and they have compiled a list of nearly 60 varieties they are planting and encouraging residents to plant. Palm trees did not make the cut.
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“The Air-Conditioned Nightmare“ Revisited – and A Few Questions {CommonDreams}

… Americans, while living amid so much wonderful nature, have to a large extent divorced themselves from it, give it a really wide berth whenever possible and do so at great expense. They seem to prefer to live in controlled artificial bubbles, they seem to prefer fake environments to real environments – all of which costs an enormous amount of energy and money while it actually looks like a lower-quality lifestyle to me
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New Orleans gets a taste of real wildlife {MSNBC}

Alligators have been dragged from abandoned swimming pools. Foxes had to be removed from the airport. Coyotes are stalking rabbits and nutria (a sort of countrified rat) in city streets. And armadillos are undermining air conditioning units.In the year since Hurricane Katrina drove out many of the people of New Orleans, wild animals have been moving in.
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Is Water the Best Medicine? {AlterNet}

…It turns out that most of what we drink — tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol — dehydrates the body. Coffee and alcohol in particular rob our bodies of fluids, which explains the dry throat we experience after a pub crawl and the advice we hear to drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee. According to the prevailing wisdom, a dry throat alone is not a good indicator of thirst. Batmanghelidj also believes the body lets us know we’re thirsty by creating pain. His message is clear: Dehydration may be at the root of many sicknesses. And dehydration can be avoided.
read more

No Comments

  1. Wildside says:

    So sorry about Ringo…

  2. Anais says:

    Hi Wildside

    Thank your for taking time to express your concern over our loss. We appreciate it very much.

    Hope all is well.

    Much love,
    the Dervaes family

  3. Risa says:

    You could always dig a pond for part of your water storage. A 5′ by 5′ by 4′ pond will hold over 700 gallons. You can water your garden with it, and grow floating tray lettuce (aquaponics). Plus we have found that most of our animals prefer the “live” pond water over the well water. And they attract all kinds of wild critters. I’m sure the ducks would love it.
    Our microhomestead (1/4 acre)has one about this size. we don’t have to feed the fish because they eat the algea. The extra algea gets fed to the pigs and chickens.They love it.
    A hole this size is also fairly easy to dig by hand. It could save a little money compared to tanks.

  4. Anais says:

    Hi Risa

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions. You are right, ponds are a great way to store water. In fact, we dug 3 ponds on our 10 acres in Flordia so we know first hand the value of ponds.

    Unforunately, hate to say, but we’ve run out of room here on the urban homestead. The only untouched, unplanted, empty space left is the mulched 10′ x 30′ long driveway. We were thinking of squeezing a small pond somewhere on the property, but that would only take care of a few hundred gallons – better than nothing. Building ponds are easy since we’d had the experience, finding a cheap cisterna and place for it is another story and so we are starting early on the research and weighing all our options.


  5. emily says:

    I love the structure that you made for the goats! It reminds me of a cat tree. It looks like they’re enjoying it!