HOMESTEAD HAPPENINGS


Animal enclosure

The weather has shifted again, it’s a cool and slightly cloudy today. A heavy storm is expected Tues and into Wednesday which should dump from 1-5 inches of rain throughout the Los Angeles area.

The animal enclosure is nearly done. All that’s left is to put a trellis along the top to support the grapes. The area in front of the animal enclosure will be planted in varieties of edibles and someday in the future will be home to a rainwater cistern.   Jordanne, as she did in the case with all our animals, checked with the city of Pasadena code ordinance and surprisingly found out that it’s not illegal to keep goats! There are, however, stipulations that the goat/ goat house be placed 100 feet away from a house.   Lucky for us that’s about how far our nearest neighbor is away from our animal enclosure that is located in the farthest corner of the yard.

LOCAVORES

Going, going, gone… We are down to 1/2 filled box of blood oranges. There are a few guavas on the trees, but fruit season can’t come soon enough. It’s been a long time since we’ve eaten any fresh berries, apples or peaches. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and our heart, er stomach, is yearning for some juicy fruits.

Eating seasonally is one step towards breaking the 1,000 plus mile food cycle that is having environmental and global consequences. I was stopped the other day in our local neighborhood nursery by the staff who asked me to settle a debate whether organic vine ripen tomatoes sold in stores taste good, especially this time of year (late winter, early spring).

My having not eaten a whole “fresh” tomato in months, my reply was even though they are “vine ripened” there are still probably grown in a greenhouse or shipped from down south, way down south.   Our opinion, and it’s a hard one to adhere to, if there are no tomatoes growing in backyards or community gardens in your area (well, except for the early, winter tomatoes) then one shouldn’t buy tomatoes at the supermarket no matter how tempting. Taking a stand for organic, local food is quite a challenge really; but, by learning to eat seasonally you begin to appreciate food more and the anticipation of the first tomato, corn or strawberry of the season is definitely worth the wait.

This viewpoint is now catching on; the issue is not about organic anymore. Even with Fair Trade the focus has shifted to the obvious choice of local foods.   How many calories of fossil-fuel energy did you eat today?

My Saudi Arabian Breakfast: How to wake up each morning and consume a quart of crude oil and two and half pounds of coal.

On the table in my small Berkeley apartment this particular morning is a healthy looking little meal — a bowl of imported McCann’s Irish oatmeal topped with Cascadian Farms organic frozen raspberries, and a cup of Peet’s Fair Trade Blend coffee. Like most of us, I prepare my breakfast at home and the ingredients for this one probably cost me about $1.25. (If I went to a café in downtown Berkeley, I’d likely have to add another $6.00, plus tip for the same.)
… Well, if you’re in New York City picking out a California-grown tomato that was fertilized with organic compost made from kelp shipped from Nova Scotia, maybe it’s not such a bad question. But should we give up on organic? If you’re buying organic raspberries from Chile each week, then yes. The fuel cost is too great, as is the production of the greenhouse gases along with it. Buying locally-grown foods should be the first priority when it comes to saving fossil fuel.
..What I eat for breakfast connects me to the planet, deep into its past with the fossilized remains of plants and animals which are now fuel, as well as into its future, when these non-renewable resources will likely be in scant supply
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Picking pansies

MAKING A PROFIT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

It’s edible flower time and the pansies and nasturtiums are in demand with our clients. The next few months, till at least July, will be edible flower season. We could sell more flowers if we expanded our production as was the case about 8 years ago. Our little lot really cranked out edible flowers and we were gaining a reputation throughout the LA area of being a high quality seller of organic edible flowers. After a few years,  we  wised up and figured that even though they turn a huge profit they (edible flowers) are also a fickle source of income. At least when you grow vegetables or even herbs if you can’t sell them for cash then you can at least barter, eat or preserve them and save cash. Now, we still have a few patches of edible flowers left on the homestead that help bring in income to support our ongoing sustainable project.

HEATING UP

This week ABC Nightly News will take a closer look at the global warming scenario. The first of their report on Sunday night was frightening.   We are watching glaciers melt, extreme weather and species extinction and this has all taken place in our/my lifetime.   Being close to nature, in the garden, you notice subtle changes that may not be felt by the majority of the population. It’s scarier to think that we’ve gone beyond the tipping point. Peak oil is one thing; but if it’s too hot to grow food or too cold, water sources dry up, extreme this or that, how will we survive? We can, I believe, survive to some extent without oil; but if the climate changes, then what will become of our world that we were given as a gift?

Global Warming Con?

” Earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements,” said Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, in his testimony before the subcommittee. He would later say, “The warming of a few degrees is going to take us to a world that is perhaps as different from today as the last ice age is from today.”
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Cob oven

MANIC MONDAY

Yesterday after the film crew left, we rolled the rest of the beeswax candles. I’ll have to place another order for some more bulk sheets of wax. Today, we’ll be making another batch of soy candles. 

It’s Monday and what does that mean? Cob baking day!   We’ll make some dinner rolls, brownies, oatmeal molasses bread and try to make a dent and use up the three bags of free bread that we got on Friday from the tea shop to make some herbal croutons.  

Would anyone like cob-baked croutons?

No Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    Would you mind sharing your source of beewax sheets? They can be kind of pricey. I want to make candles with a group of teens I know.

  2. Kosh says:

    I’m not sure about others who regularly visit your site, but I’d love to hear more about, and see more photos of the animal enclosure. We have birds and a rabbit, they are separate, and the birds are in an ugly chainlink fenced pen. I’d love to build something to combine them so they can roam together and something that will be more appealing to the eye. (and practical, like yours is for growing vines up.) I’d love to see more pics and hear more about the construction and design… perhaps on the new website?? 🙂 thanks!Keep up the great work, your family is an inspiration to many others!

  3. Anais says:

    Jennifer

    Sure, sorry for not posting a link – a “duh” moment!

    Ever since Jules was beekeeper and supplier of beekeeping equipment for Dadant we’ve always ordered our supplies from them

    Here’s the link to the beeswax ( 2# of sheets for $9.95!)- they also sell wick and other neat stuff.

    http://www.dadant.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=80_76&products_id=272

  4. Anais says:

    Kosh,

    Thank you for your post and interest in how our animal set up is. I’ll definitely post more about how our animal situation is.

    Briefly, the animal enclosure allows the chickens, ducks, rabbit and even cats to roam freely about in a 300 sq foot area behind the garage.

    The rabbit has a hutch that is situtation above ground so that not much ground space is taken up by structures. We have a ramp that leads up to her enterance.

    The duck house is built into the garage. We cut a hole in the outside of the garage and built their house inside – saving more space.

    The chickens home is situationed/suspended in one of the windows of the garage (again saving room) This allows us to gather eggs from inside the garage without having to go into the animal enclosure.

    Pictures will follow…

    Hope this information helps.

  5. Joanne Poyourow says:

    For your tomato cravings, perhaps try currant tomatoes. At my place in Los Angeles, CA I grow currant tomatoes in pots on the patio. The currant variety seem to be part wild, the vines are very tolerant of the abuse of the seasons. They continue setting their great flavored tiny tomatoes until early November. One year I experimented by putting the potted currant tomato plants under a plastic sheeting “greenhouse” and the tomatoes continued ripening through Dec and Jan (admittedly I got no new sets because the plastic kept out the insect pollinators). This year I left the vines in place all winter, and lopped them back to a few inches tall when the long portions died back. In late Feb the plants began sprouting from the base again, and now in early April I have flowers (haven’t closely examined for sets) on the currant tomatoes, when my conventional tomatoes are mere seedlings.