City Chickens

After getting our first urban chickens back in 2002 and the last that remain living out their retirement days, it’s good to once again hear the cackle of laying hens (as if they want some sort of applause for their contribution).     When we are in the yard and the hens start up after laying, we congratulate them and they seem to settle down knowing they received acknowledgement for their gift.   Chickens are funny creatures.  One wonders what goes on in their heads, I just can hear them saying “Just so you are aware that I’ve laid an egg, where’s the applause now folks? I do deserve some applause or congratulatory statement here.”

I keep telling the guys that we urban homestead gals really love, love, love our new chicken/duck house.   The salvaged plastic bread tray fit perfectly with the layers of newspapers. Every morning I remove just one layer of newspapers that’s filled with nightly dropping from the hens which then goes into the nearby solar composter filled with thousands of hungry worms. When things start to run smoothly like a well greased wheel makes urban homestead life so enjoyable.   Not that it wasn’t enjoyable before but it’s all about the “E.”   Efficiency is key to a working urban homestead.

Answers From The Urban Homestead

Q. Duck Breed

What breed are they? I’m sure I missed it somewhere in the archives … are they good layers? – Lauren

Thanks for your question Lauren. Yep, I simply forgot to add the most important fact – their breed. Since 2003 we’ve raised Khaki Campbell ducks, an heirloom breed bred (they are on “the watch list”).   This breed is smaller than a Pekin which make them great for urban homesteads and exceptionally good layers, Khaki’s don’t go broody and lay almost every day. A well taken care of Khaki can lay over 300 eggs a year!    They are also land ducks, meaning they don’t need to live in water. Of course they like a small shallow pool for bathing but that’s about it.


We finally got a decent harvest to quinces from our dwarf bushes that are nestled in among other herbs and edible of our edible eden.   So this is the first year I’ll be making something with them — quince jam. Be experimental, unusual and heirloom edibles are making a comeback in back yards and front yards across the country.    Over a hundred years ago our grandparents diet consisted of a dollars worth of varieties. Three generations later we are dwindling near three cents.

Don’t forget about the wild edibles. Spotted on our walks – wild plums, elderberry, walnuts, water cress,   prickly pears and much much more.   There’s edible all around us even in the heart of the city.

Adapting to Climate Change

In Florida we had a pretty decent greenhouse (and a huge garden and lots and lots of bees) but ever since moving here really haven’t found a need for one until now.   Over the last few years we’ve noticed a change in the climate. So this winter decided it was high time we got a small (4 x 4) greenhouse to improve our garden’s productivity through sudden dips in temperatures.   Last year’s deep freeze (which we are still recovering from btw) got us thinking that we’ll have to adjust with the changing climate and start planting and thinking like our northern or eastern counterparts.

Looking Forward

This year we urban homesteaders have made progress, and, at times, digressed, on certain aspects of our low impact lives. Although we don’t plan on posting our “sins” on one of those eco confessional sites, I can say that next year we hope to even be better urban homesteaders and earth stewards. By better, I mean not letting simple things slip by.   When one gets busy one falls back to taking the easy path instead of being disciplined enough to go down the low impact path.  

After seven years we’ve seen a birth of the modern urban homestead and can attribute this homegrown movement to PTF. This past year has been a time of growth and change at PTF, which, while exciting, has also proved very challenging. Because PTF has been recognized and received some media coverage, there has been an overwhelming response from folks wanting tours, hosting their events and invitations to participate all over the world. In order to keep moving forward in developing the urban homestead we’ve had to scale back on tours and events, as well as decline several speaking invitations. It has become impossible for us to do everything and still remain grounded in the true urban pioneer spirit – working our land and living a simple life.   


Forecasters predicting more dry weather ahead {Pasadena Star News}

No relief is in sight for bone-dry Southern California. For months, the trade winds have been blowing east across the Pacific, churning the ocean and bringing cold, deep water to the surface – the hallmark of a La Ni a event. With La Ni a will likely come another mild winter, meteorologists say, without the rainfall needed to refill depleted reservoirs and dampen fire-prone wilderness areas. “Because most of our rainfall occurs in December, January and February, this is definitely going to impact us,” said Bill Patzert, a JPL meteorologist. “It’s not a good forecast.”
There could be some cause for optimism, though, for those who believe in mythology. Legend holds that oak trees become laden with acorns before a winter of heavy rain, Patzert said. “I’ve had a huge fall of acorns, it was like being in a hail storm some evenings, so many acorns,” he said. “If you have to put some money on it, go with the science,” Patzert said, “but I’ve kind of got my fingers crossed the acorns are right.”
read article

Are scientist or acorns right?    We are rooting for the acorns, besides, what good are rain barrels if there’s no rain?

Back Online

Oh, it’s good to be back online…. all those spams in the inbox, comment box, message board — gotta love the www. Anyhow, we are still waiting to receive all queued emails from Sat, Sun and Mon.